Okay so it’s 2014, but every year I have to catch up do to location. And this year I might never see some of them.
So worst is first. New ones in hot pink. (Movie count: 45)
Man of Steel – (I’m spoiling it because I hate it.) Utter garbage. If you haven’t seen it there is no need. It should not have been made. When they announced it I was perturbed. The fact is I didn’t want a new Superman after Christopher Reeve anyway. But when they cast Brandon Routh, I really liked him and gave it a chance. They messed that up, but I would have seen Routh again. I had no problem with him. This film, however, makes no sense to me. Okay they wanted to make money. But what else? I guess I can’t get my head around the idea that people who spend the time and effort that goes into a movie like this do it just for the money. But apparently they did because there is nothing here but a place to put logos like IHOP and 7-Eleven and an actual Sears with washing machines in it. Sickening. But about the movie itself I began to hate it ten minutes in, when they were still on Krypton. Krypton is apparently a very dirty Naboo, where they are so highly evolved that the only people they save from destruction are their criminals. I think in the old Superman movies, the people of Krypton were in denial about what was happening and therefore saw no need to leave. Here, the planet is blowing up while they’re “punishing” Zod and his no-name friends. Jor, of the family El, unbelievable, and General Zod, who’s a pod, and I’m a poet who didn’t know it, anyway, these two are dressed for Arrakis. I don’t even fuckin’ know. And they’re yelling at each other. And then there’s Matrix babies and Kal, of the family of El, good grief, is born the old fashioned way, then Jor lol is killed but not before he sends Kal to Earth ‘cause they might be smart and then Zod kills Diana Rigg for the lulz so they ban him from getting destructed with the rest of the planet. So then Clark saves his whole school bus from drowning. Fast right? But that might actually be after he’s really concerned about catch shares. IDK. They jumped around in time a lot. Anyway, he finds this space ship that has
a naked Indian his dad in it wandering around. Then Lois who looks older than his Ma, okay both Mas, can’t mind her business and gets wounded but he fixes it with his pinkeye. So yeah more time jumping happens. And Kevin Costner dies in a twister saving a dog because it’s hilarious. So messing with the spaceship sent Zod a signal which made them invade earth and turn off the lights and make Diane Lane drop a big bowl of apples. So sometime around now is when the smashing began and I completely stopped giving a shit. I was just waiting for debris to stop falling everywhere for them to get back to the “story” but it never ends. Once they start smashing into things and breaking everything apart, that’s all that happens for the rest of the movie. And then I guess Zod gets killed. So what? Who cares? But he gives this whole speech about being bred to defend the people of Krypton but now he has no people or some shit. The end. No wait. Smash something else first. Okay. And then Clark who apparently only Lois recognizes lololololol gets a job at the Daily Planet. Now you don’t have to see it. :p
Philomena – (spoilers) I mean I kinda hate her. And then the movie doesn’t make sense. And then it’s clearly meant to strike out at Republicans and the Catholic Church in the simplest “Boo, I don’t like you!” sort of way. I mean I’m sorry I don’t know if she was meant to be mentally challenged but the film was meant for the mentally challenged. And I don’t want to hear crap about it being a true story. Everything is nowadays. But it’s clear some license had to have been taken. Okay the woman had her baby stolen when she was a teen in those Irish convent laundries like we saw in The Magdalene Sisters, which was a good movie. Fast forward 50-ish years and she suddenly decides to tell her grown daughter that she had a son and he’d be 50 today. She’s just decided to go looking for him but she gave him a 50 year start in case he wanted to drop dead or anything. When smarmy reporter guy asks why she waited so long she said because of her sin and then she sinned lying about it and then her sinny sins were too much to bear so she just kept keeping the secret of sinning. So stupid. Then anyway her son is a dead lawyer for Republicans who’s buried in the yard of the same Irish laundry convent where he was born. He was gay and she knew about it because he was a nice kid and besides that she’s supercool with all gay things and totally hip to gay gay stuff even though she couldn’t look for her kid because she was brainwashed by the Catholic Church. Super Catholic who believes everything she’s told and yet somehow is down with the gay lifestyle. Makes all kinds of sense. She also is really rude to Mexicans as if she’s never been out of the house before. But she’s cool with the gays. Even though it’s obvious she’s never met one before or they would have combed her hair out better than that. At some point Coogan goes on the worst rant ever about how Catholics don’t like sex and that’s why everything is wrong in the world. Then the wicked witch nun who knew everything about the son but never told her for absolutely no reason is so superevil she backs up Coogan with the “they got to have sex and I didn’t so that’s why I sold their babies. See how evil I am?” Seriously written for little children or people with wee brains. And then all the idiot people in the theater with you cry because they probably liked Gravity too. The end. And if you still don’t feel bad enough about it, he had AIDS. So there. The
Rush – Really, really not for me. I think race car driving is pretty much the stupidest activity ever. So I waited until redbox. Then when it was on I couldn’t really pay attention. There was like no dialog just driving. And suddenly getting married and lighting people on fire and more driving and some crap about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and I was like, ‘Yeah, I knew this wasn’t for me.’ I don’t know if it’s even for people who are racing fans now or if you had to be a racing fan back then to care about these people’s story. I didn’t. ⌂ p.s. Why don’t race car drivers wash their hair?
We’re the Millers – It was fine. I don’t know why I’m not as impressed with this group of friends’ movies. It was sort of entertaining. The cast was fine. I mean it’s for the people who like these things. I could have done something else.
Gravity in 3D – (spoilerish) Saw it today and I’ve forgotten a lot of it already. It wasn’t anything special to me. I shouldn’t have paid for 3D. This year is teaching me this. I’m no scientist but it didn’t seem too realistic either. All the floating and catching up and then floating and getting to different space stations. She’s really freakin’ lucky. Then Sandra’s performance is supposed to be great. However. She was a very dainty fraidycat the whole time George Clooney was there. The minute he’s gone she turns into a Ripley type badass. She seemed like she didn’t know anything about space, then suddenly turned on a dime and became a super astronaut. That’s all it was. Debris is coming. She survives. Debris comes. She survives. There’s a fire in close quarters and she doesn’t even get slightly toasted. And then there’s the symbolism. Oh joy. She’s a baby floating in space. Then she walks out of the ocean they way we all did. 2001 this ain’t. But it tried to be. It failed. And then it tried to be all synchronicity and heart strings. It won’t last past next year.
42* – Keep forgetting I saw it. It was okay. Nothing new to this remake. Harrison Ford might be rewarded with something. ⌂
The Great Gatsby* in 3D – I never liked the story. I didn’t like the old movie. But I like Baz Luhrmann and think that Leo DiCaprio is one of our best actors. So I figured maybe. I went with 3D because that’s what Baz wanted. I wonder how much is actually there without the 3D. It’s visually stunning. Baz and Leo do a great job with the material, but again, I can’t dig into the material. I do feel as though Carrie Mulligan was miscast but I probably would have cast her too. She seemed like the right choice but it didn’t work out somehow. Now Joel Edgerton on the other hand very nearly stole the movie. From Leonardo DiCaprio. And for some people, I think that he did. There is a great scene between the two of them. And the movie does get you invested enough to care about that, but I guess I never bought into Daisy and Jay. It was her. Definitely. Her acting is beginning to look gimmicky. I think everyone should see it. It’s really a visual masterpiece. But now that a fair amount of time has passed for me, it didn’t stick with me. In fact, I almost just stopped typing without mentioning Tobey Maguire. Forgot about him for a minute.
World War Z – It was fine. It’s a zombie movie. What are you gonna do? Brad Pitt runs around a lot from, like, zombies. And then he goes to Israel where there aren’t zombies but then there are. Then he figures out a way to defeat the zombies. Not a cure like in The Omega Man, which is the standard, but a different thing. I wouldn’t have guessed it. There was nothing great about it. But if you’re into this sort of thing. You should enjoy it. It made sense. The effects weren’t terrible but I did laugh at the zombies quite a bit. They looked like they were dancing. Like a sped up version of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. ⌂
Captain Phillips – Pretty decent action movie. I hate the shakycam. We all know that. But besides that, it wasn’t too annoying. Hanks was fine, playing Hanks with glasses and a beard. He did mimic the real guy’s voice pretty well. I’ll give him that. Otherwise it was a bunch of actors we don’t know playing pirates and Hank from “Twin Peaks”. There were suspenseful scenes and everyone pulled it off. But it’s on a lot of Oscar short lists and I don’t know why. It was just a normal movie. No great shakes. Nothing to complain about either. *shrug*
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone* – I saw this in the theater and either didn’t write about it or lj did something to my posts. Anyway, I liked it okay. Jim Carrey was the best thing in it although he’s become evil since then in real life. It was a nice if not particularly funny movie. Probably ranks just above the quality of your average Adam Sandler movie. Watch it for Carrey’s performance.
The Conjuring – Not being a fan of most current horror I intended to skip this. But I kept hearing how good and creepy it was so I figured I’d watch it. I probably would have eventually being a Patrick Wilson fan. But you know it’s just another exorcism movie in the end. It did start off suspenseful and frightening and had great 70s style but as soon as the experts show it’s just another possessed people/possessed house movie. Why don’t they ever just burn the house down and go for pizza? And let’s get some musicals for Patrick Wilson okay? We’re wasting him. ⌂
The Croods - Cute enough. It’s a story about a family of Cave people who don’t do anything new. And then stuff happens. Not meant for me, probably teenagers. ⌂
The Call – Really good thriller in the vain of the classics Speed and The Fugitive. Halle Berry has fun hair as she works as a 911 Operator. Problem is she messes up one time and someone gets hurt. So she quits but comes back to try to undo her bad karma when a similar situation arises again. The pace never slows in this one and keeps you on the edge of your seat until a strange left turn of an ending that they probably chose just not to be predictable. It actually looked like a reshoot. But anyway, I definitely thought it was worth the watch. Berry and Abigail Breslin made a very good team. ⌂
Killing Season – John Travolta and Robert De Niro. Why hasn’t this happened before? I can imagine a million mob movies where that would have been perfect. Here they’re war veterans who accidentally meet in the woods. ;) They decide to spend the night together, okay not really, but they stay up late telling old stories. They get along so well that DeNiro accepts Travolta’s invitation to go hunting the following morning. And then nothing happens. j/k Of course they end up hunting persons. But who’s hunting who and why I won’t tell you. But it gets pretty violent with one character even sewing his own leg with a rope. I’m telling you because it’s squeamy. Anyway, during the course of the film they work out their issues and waterboard people and get stabby. It’s actually not a bad film. For wilderness people and maybe Deliverance fans, although it’s not that good. ⌂
Gangster Squad - I really enjoyed it. To me, it's not really a "serious" film. I mean the cast list would have you believe that it's meant for awards talk. But it seems more like an action movie people would just have fun with if you like gangster movies. I don't mean that it's a comedy but there was something more graphic novel about it than Oscar bait. I thought it was close to Dick Tracy, but not that great. I consider that to be a masterpiece. As I said I love the cast. Anthony Mackie had little to do but in the end they all did. I kinda wish this had been a series instead. I loved the tv show "Crime Story" so this reminded me of it a little. It was super fast with as quick dialogue to move you along. Penn was over the top. The whole thing was. But I don't have a problem with over the top. Ryan Gosling is such a doll but I still liked Josh Brolin best. Is it violent? You betcha. It's more of a celebratory kind of violence so I can see why they freaked out when the Aurora shooting happened and moved it back. It's not really spurty or gorey though. It's more like your normal tommy gun type violence. It's also a great film about cops being good guys. You don't get those often.
Bullet to the Head - Nice action film. Very much set in the present. Walter Hill's style is evident if a little subdued. This is more for people who will watch action movies without needing them to be "fun". The cast is great. You have Stallone of course. If you're a fan of his you shouldn't be disappointed. You have the hunkalicious Jason Momoa. He actually had a line that made me laugh. Mr. Eko unfortunately plays a character who is disabled. I was hoping for a large man smackdown. The chick? Who cares. lol And the guy who co-stars with Stallone is really good. I don't think I've seen him before but would love to see him again. There isn't enough to the story to make it stand out more in Stallone's catalog. But if you like him, you should be fine.
Elysium – Okay so Matt Damon. But he doesn’t ruin it or anything. It’s not as good as I’d hoped since it’s from the dudes who made District 9. It’s about the future when there’s too many people (next Wednesday?) and the poor people are stuck down here on Earth in the dirt while the rich people live in a superawesome space station and have manicured lawns and machines that cure all the diseases. Anyway, Matt Damon gets sick and wants up to save himself, so they try to hijack a really strange talking William Fichtner to use his brains as some kind of ticket to ride. So it kinda works but they have to fight all the way because there’s nothing Jodie Foster and her calves of steel hate more than poor people. The stuff on Elysium happens way too fast or there’s not much of it so it’s just kind of action, action, resolution of plot, the end. They could have filled it out in my opinion. Jodie Foster is also incredibly badly dubbed which is unforgiveable. But the effects and Sharto Copley have to be given high marks so it sort of balances out. But you can see how it was that close to being a great movie.
Oblivion – Okay. I saw it a couple weeks back and I liked it, but now I’m kinda forgetting some of it. lol I also remember having to go the the IMDb because I didn’t understand the timeline and needed it explained to me. I don’t think it’s a flaw of the film. It’s my old age. Tom Cruise was good in it and it’s mostly on him. I’ve seen comparisons to Moon but I think they’re apples and oranges. Moon is much better but this is still quite entertaining. ⌂
Side Effects - Is not what I thought it was going to be. I already said on twitter that I think fans of Fatal Attraction should like it. I thought it was going to be anti-pills, which I am, but it wasn't. So I was going to be let down but it actually is pretty good and won me over anyway. Well, I guess you can call it a thriller. Point is, it's not what it seems. There were people in my theater that I could almost feel getting creeped out by some same sex smooching, which, grow up already. But I can see how people wouldn't have expected that. I didn't. I don't care, but some people want to know about that in advance I suppose. I dunno. I thought it was good, but you know I hate spoiling so... Anyhoo, the acting was good. There was a lack of Channing Tatum, mercifully. I'm just not into him. It really stars Jude Law. I don't think you can tell that from the commercials. It looked like it was a Rooney Mara thing. She's the lead female, but he's the lead lead. So you know.
After Earth – I liked it a lot actually. I think people resent Will Smith’s kids. And loads of people hate M. Night Shyamlan. I still consider myself a fan of his even if the last couple weren’t so great. This I thought was good though. It really is just the father and son duo. I can see how it would seem like an extreme vanity project. For most of the film they are separated however. It’s about fear and how we shouldn’t bow to it. I don’t think we can get that message enough. It was suspenseful and imaginative. It has a countdown clock format where if they don’t do a certain thing by a certain time they won’t make it. It goes along well with Oblivion and Elysium which were also SciFi films that didn’t do so well this year. Maybe people are over the genre. I enjoyed all three. ⌂
The Counselor – At first I really didn’t know. Something wasn’t jelling. And at times I just couldn’t make out the dialog so I was a bit lost. You’d think it would be the heavy accents but no. The real culprit was a mumbling Brad Pitt. I lost a lot of info in his first scene. But as you kept going with it you could see that this was a stylish something. Ridley Scott, imo, made a Tony Scott film. I prefer those. Here you had incredibly high gloss over the top characters played by some of our most charismatic actors. And it’s also where I found Michael Fassbender lacking. He seems disconnected. It worked in Shame and Prometheus based on what those characters were meant to be but here, I think the audience needed someone to cling to. Since he was the center of it, it should have been him, but he’s not very clingable. Cameron Diaz then becomes the focus but you can’t cling to her at all because her character is slicker than grease. Having said that she was great in the role. I really enjoyed everyone else’s performances too, especially Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo although those are basically cameos. But, I don’t like Natalie Dormer. I just don’t. Anyway as the story wraps up things become clearer and you start to understand the plot at the end which might be too late for some people. They may have already checked out. But for me I’m assuming that’ll mean I’ll end up liking it more on repeated viewings. But if anyone ever gives Brad Pitt brown contact lenses again, I will choke a bitch.
Pacific Rim – What terrible acting and dialogue. Jeebus. Maybe they should just go ahead and start hiring Americans to do American accents or make the characters British. I really think that was part of the problem. Also the words they were saying were so dumb. Here’s why this is so high though, the effects were phenomenal. The monsters and robots were amazing and beautiful quite frankly. The whole look of the movie was. Makes you wonder why in the heck Del Toro would make all of that so perfect and then just fudge the whole part with the actors. He could have had a great and classic movie on his hands. I think it still could be a classic based solely on the art direction, etc. It has to be seen to be believed. It’s like a supermodel. Big, beautiful, and dumb.+ ⌂
The Way, Way Back – I just realized I don’t know what the title means. This is actually set in my neck of the woods although I’ve never been to Water Wizz and didn’t have that kind of upbringing even though the story takes place very close to where I grew up. However, these characters are familiar to me. Pop n’ Lock is a great character. They tend to make kids too hip in movies nowadays. This kid was much more realistic with modern kid problems. Sam Rockwell plays a weirdo/mentor and I think he did a great job again. Toni Collette seemed a little more Massachusetts than Steve Carrell did to me. Go Figure. Alison Janney really is a great actress. She makes something out of everything. It’s a cute movie and I won’t bother spoiling it but I think it’s recommendable to everyone just as long as you carry a laser. ⌂
Dallas Buyer’s Club – Great performances from Leto and McConaughey no doubt. But the story fades pretty fast after you see it. It’s about a real man who started off as a bigot but then gets AIDS and becomes a smuggler of drugs that can actually help people in his position. It’s great to see that someone did that. Stood up to the evil FDA types and got something done but there wasn’t a lot of emoting except from Leto as Rayon. Maybe it should have been longer or they should have gone deeper into their personal lives. I dunno. But it’s a good film and again, the performances.
Broken City - Kinda worried this is going to be another Brooklyn's Finest. I hope it doesn't get lost but I fear it already has. Russell Crowe is a great bad guy. Mark Wahlberg is the star of the film though and the guy has to be given credit. He stays comfortably in his wheelhouse and it's working. No need to stray too far. He doesn't need the accolades but he gets them anyway. Catherine Zeta Jones also puts in another solid performance. This movie is for people who have no faith in the world or don't want to. lol Anyway, corruption. It's all corruption and can someone find a way to actually do something about it without getting swallowed up completely? I don't know why it's been pushed to a non-awardy time of year release date. Some of the performances were better than we had in 2013's supporting actor race. I guess you're probably going to have to check it out on video, but either way, you should.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I really liked it and then it ended. I thought the ending was really abrupt and that put me off. Otherwise I thought it worked seamlessly with the original and any similarities to Battle Royale have been left behind since it’s its own thing now. Of course Jennifer Lawrence is a wonder to behold, but the whole cast does their job. I kinda really liked Elizabeth Banks in this one though. I’m jealous that she gets to wear all those fun outfits but this time out her character was a little more real. I like what these movies are about. They give the kids someone to look up to and I think they’re smarter than I originally gave them credit for. I’m excited to see what happens next.
The Butler – I just want Drunk Uncle and Drunk Oprah to get married. Anyway, Forest Whitaker plays a kinda real kinda made-up person, who started his life on a plantation and ended up in the White House as Butler to a whole lot of Presidents. So his story weaves throughout our American story for the last half century. Which makes this a great movie for field trips. Kids need to learn and because so much time is scrunched into this movie it’s a great Cliff Notes version of what’s happened to us over the years and it’s also a great jumping off point for further lessons. All the performances were good even the people with cameos as Presidents. I thought that wasn’t going to work but it did and I have to single out James Marsden for getting John F. Kennedy’s voice exactly right. You know how many people have tried that and failed? Anyway, I should think Oprah will be nominated as well as Forest. Lee Daniels did a great job as well. It takes a lot to organize all that and have it not become boring. Only thing that I had a problem with was they skipped over Ford and Carter and it almost seemed like they were fast forwarding. The movie this is most like is Forest Gump. Run like the wind, Forest. :D
Her – I was surprised. It was pretty flawless and great. It’s just not my thing. Hence this low position. But if it won Best Picture I would not be mad, especially considering some of the shit that might win. Joaquin Phoenix does a great job playing this guy who actually falls in love with his operating system. Now in this near future it’s not even odd that that happens. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory but the film is somehow totally believable and might be the prequel to The Terminator. There are no nitpicks. Either you love it or think it’s very good. I can’t imagine anyone having a major gripe with it. I know some people wanted Johansson nominated. I wouldn’t go that far for this voice performance but all the actors were great.
The Last Stand -Arnold is back! lol I couldn't help it. I really enjoyed the film. I'm sorry but you can have "Oscar worthy" movies full of honking flaws and then you have something like this that is fun, full of action, and has next to no flaws. It makes you wonder how we judge movies, or anything for that matter. I know I'm not spoiling anything if I tell you the bad guy is eventually thwarted. But the great thing about this movie is that what actually thwarts him is America itself. You'll see what I mean when you see it. Great diverse cast. Johnny Knoxville is even okay. lol The chicks all kinda look the same which is a little confusing. At least they're not all blonde. They're more of the Wonder Woman variety. I'd have no problem recommending it to anyone who can get into an R rated movie. Violent but I don't remember seeing any boobies or anything. It's a great suped up Western. So maybe in that way old dudes, or at least 80s action fans, will like it the most.
The Place Beyond the Pines* – Why did they do that? Seriously. Anyway great film. I assume this one will have a chance in the Oscar race. It’s two stories stuck together or maybe one story with a time jump. Anyway the whole cast isn’t there the whole time. Capisce? I really think I only have this movie this high because of Ryan Gosling’s movie star performance. He really gets it. I think he understands who he is and who he wants to be as an actor and is going for a Humphrey Bogart/James Cagney persona that will carry him film to film and make him into an icon if he’s not there already. He puts another flourish on that with this role. A guy who wants to be responsible but only gets himself into trouble. Women are bad news. You’ll find that out in more than one movie this year already. The best advice for his character would have been to keep on truckin’. But now his life takes a turn and it doesn’t get better. Then we have Bradley Cooper’s character who is maybe his mirror image in that he’s a dickhead who sort of gets what he wants through cowardly behavior. His story takes us to an eventual, unbelievable, karmic reach around. It was a bit too much for me. But people who still think life works out that way may think it’s the best movie of the year. The performances are great. Nice bit of Ray Liotta, as always.
12 Years a Slave – Brad the Mumbler strikes again. Seriously someone needs to talk to him about that. Anyway he was the only minor quibble I had with the film. Otherwise, it’s expertly made and all the actors did terrific work. You didn’t doubt any of them for a second. Except for Mr. Pitt who looked like an Amish surfer. Another thing I was struck by was the Sound. I heard everything. I usually don’t notice the technical categories. But I really heard every bug and bird and chain and cracking whip and was immersed in the film because of it. The moral of the story is “Don’t get too comfortable around Whitey.” The story is a true one about a free man who was kidnapped into slavery. I thought the film, especially in the beginning, moved at a fast clip which is unlike most movies about the South. They usually drag to me. Not here. The film was visually stunning. And that to me is what separates a great director from normal ones. Composition and what that means. So should McQueen win Best Director I’m cool with it. Same with Best Picture. It’s not my favorite of course. I enjoy a more festive film as we all know. But this is the opposite of one of the boring history lesson type films ala last year’s Lincoln. p.s. I love Hans Zimmer. (UPDATE: Steve McQueen and his film have lost my support. 2/1/2014)
Escape Plan – Yeah. I know. Shut up. But honestly I saw this in close time proximity of seeing Gravity and Captain Phillips and thought it was much MUCH better than both of them. So clearly me and the critics are diverging on what is a good movie in a big way. This is a MOVIE. Not a film. It’s not trying to win awards. It’s trying to entertain people which is the actual point of movies. And it succeeds wonderfully. Stallone is Stallone. This time he’s a Houdini of sorts who is hired by prisons to try to break out of them to prove how secure they are or aren’t. Anyway something happens and then he’s sent to a prison they don’t actually want him to get out of. The warden is a goofily evil Jim Caviezel. Then there is another prisoner who helps Stallone try to get out. A little known actor named Schwarzenegger. I love these two guys together. The only way this could have been better is if they made out. Watching them fight side by side and have lunch. Oh it’s a dream. And Arnold looked really good with the grey hair. He should keep it. Anyway, beside looking good there is this scene where he goes apeshit in German. Oh my God. Hottest thing ever. I also love how they right some wrongs by having one of their fellow good guy helpers be a Muslim. Anyhoo, this is 100% action the way we grew up with it. These guys are making these movies for us because they know we’re still here. Even if the newbies and critics are too cool for it. Time’s gonna tell on all of these. Just wait. Everyone will still be watching this on the TV late at night when they skip over whatever wins BP this year.
August: Osage County – I really was expecting to dislike a Steel Magnolias type movie. So not what it was. Focusing on Streep being mean in a comedic way in the trailers I think backfired. It’s actually a family drama. I thought it was well done with a great cast. I know people think Roberts is lead. I disagree. I think she’s supporting. Anyway, this family doesn’t look alike but then again they might all be cousins. Go figure. At first I couldn’t buy Roberts and McGregor as a couple but I got used to it. Loved Lewis and Mulroney. Cumberbunch and Cooper. I’m so confused. I was so impressed with the fact that they were cast as father and son because I’d never have noticed how similar their features were until I saw them together. Oh well. Sam Shepard seems to like being in movies for like 5 minutes then leaving. He was in 3 great movies this year for probably 10 minutes total. Streep didn’t do anything amazing. I suppose she was better than most of what’s out there. The story was solid. Unexpected but not shocking. There are people out there like that. I think we forget real life sometimes because we watch too many movie families. Stuff like this happens often. And you do become your parents. Firstborn inherits the traits strongest it seems. The more convoluted your family is, the more you’ll like this movie.
Nebraska – This movie was really real America. Bruce Dern was great as an old dude who seems to not give a crap but really does. He and his son, played by Wil Forte, set out on an Odyssey of redemption. His wife is annoying. His life is boring. He’s got nothing to do really and seems to be slipping. But he’s not. He knows what’s what and just keeps on keeping on until this chance for revenge. I love revenge movies. If you do too you might like it even if it seems like the type of movie you wouldn’t like.
Prisoners* – (I saw this a long time ago and somehow I forgot to write this.) Jake is great. Hugh is almost as good. The supporting cast did their jobs. But it’s the story and the cinematography that got me. There is a speeding car scene that is so beautiful it stays with you for days. I would like Jake Gyllenhaal to be nominated. He crafted a character here, but I don’t think he gets taken seriously enough and there are other movies that are going to propel their supporting actors forward because of their own buzz. So that’s a shame. Jackman could get nominated on popularity alone but it’s too crowded a category this year for him to deserve to be there, imo. The supporting cast were fine. Paul Dano is going to start scaring people in real life and I liked the Spoorloos ending. Other people had some strange reactions to that one. They need things spelled out for them, but the film was clear. If the Academy had guts you could see it in BP.
The Lone Ranger – Really good. I don’t know what’s wrong with people. It’s a classic Disney film and a western. For my money this Lone Ranger was the hero that Superman should have been. I guess they missed their demographic which should have been kids. I’ll also guess it was just people who liked the old westerns who made it to the theater. But you know, too bad, more for us. I really hope there is a sequel but since it didn’t do too well it looks doubtful. Both Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp were great. I loved that Tonto had shaman tendencies. Maybe that got lost on a lot of people. But I thought it grounded what is essentially a light hearted film. William Fichtner is also a great villain if not the true big bad. I don’t want to spoil anything but I thought it was much better than you’ve heard and I really must insist that people see it before they believe what they’ve been told. A great hero movie for a time when we needed a hero. *side-eyes fake!Superman*
This is the End – This one is fresh in my mind and it’s a fantastic comedy. Definitely for the Superbad crowd. In it the actors play themselves, or better yet, who we think they are. This especially holds true for Michael Cera, who I do think is like that. lol What happens plotwise is that Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are supposed to be hanging out at Seth’s for the weekend but Rogen wants to go over to a party at James Franco’s house. Baruchel hates that stuff and he doesn’t even live in LA. So it seems he hates the whole Hollywood thing. It starts out with him being upset that he’s being dragged along to this and being forced to be around people he doesn’t like. Well during the course of this party some kind of attack or disasters are waged on LA. The survivors end up holed up at James Franco’s house and need to try to determine what it is and how to survive it. That is the crux of this movie and it is fun-ny. Let me just say that I’ve never liked Danny McBride. And I don’t know but these people must be extremely self-aware that they got all their personas right. Beyond that, you will laugh and laugh and laugh. Tears were streaming down my face. I laugh/snorted loudly. Couldn’t be helped. I was going to give it a 10/10 but had to knock it down one because I didn’t get why they wished for what they wished for. But I am about 10 years older than these people so that probably explains it. Anyway, I want to say it’s the best comedy in years, but I can’t remember the last time I laughed like that so I can’t say how long it’s been. I did laugh hysterically in the theater for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but I know that was just me. The movie should be universally laugh out loud. I’ll give you an example without spoiling. Remember in Annie Hall when Woody Allen fights the spider? Okay, you can’t help but laugh your ass off at that. They have a scene like that, but it’s the whole group of them. And that’s just the start of rolling laughter that takes you all the way through the movie. Fair warning: THIS IS AN R-RATED COMEDY. R. Don’t bring pantywaists who are gonna freak out over body parts or gore.
Pain & Gain* – This movie is insanely hilarious but not back to front laugh out loud funny like This is the End. And you have to know someone to know if they’ll like it. It’s a black comedy. I mean black. Because it really happened. These guys are just clueless and this movie shows us why we should fear the stupid. However, the cast make you root for them anyway. I would make the litmus test American Psycho. If you enjoyed that film, you should love this one. Not the same by any stretch of the imagination but if you get the humor there, you should be fine with this film. I loved it. I think Michael Bay did a great job directing. I’ve always liked his movies, but because of the subject matter, they don’t get taken seriously. I don’t think that’s right. Some recent film school grad with a shakycam movie about incest in the woods will get critical praise. But never something like this. I think it’s a flawless piece of filmmaking. But that’s not what gets rewarded. It’s what seems important. What makes the film snots feel snottier. Well this ain’t it, but I truly enjoyed myself and know that it’s an awesome film. I’d nominate it.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in 3D – Look. It’s a Hobbit movie it can’t go that far down the list. What Peter Jackson has done and continues to do won’t be topped for a long long time. However, imo there was a huge drop in quality between An Unexpected Journey and this film. I thought that was right up there with FOTR. I think with these Middle Earth movies the middle ones suffer because they don’t actually get anything accomplished. But still The Two Towers was better than this. One reason is that this film had some piss poor Elf acting. It was that kind of Return of the Jedi cocaine acting. I don’t get it. Lilly, Pace, and Bloom have been seen before and seemed okay. Don’t know what was with all the face making and staring. Really odd. Next problem were sleep inducing action scenes. I really almost did a few times. That can be explained by the fact that this is a little book that’s been stretched into three movies but still, it felt really edited. Like you could sense where cuts were made for a special edition. So the fact that parts dragged but then you felt like something was missing made you think they’ve gone too far thinking ahead to the DVDs. One example is with Bard the Bowman. He’s new and interesting and I feel like we could have had more with him and his people. You know spent more time getting to know his village but I’m still iffy on his background. I also think it was fairly obvious that some kind of song number was cut. You know how the Hobbits sang in that pub on the EE of ROTK? Something like that seemed to be missing although I could have made it up. I didn’t need another big spider scene. They’re like car chases. I tune out. But the quality of the production will always save these movies. And I have to admit again how wrong I was about Martin Freeman. He is an excellent Bilbo, even if I keep thinking of Dudley Moore. I don’t actually think Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like Smaug, or the other way around, but he’s also supposed to be the Necromancer. But we didn’t see much of him either. Of course the film is still gorgeous. You believe in this world and it’s almost all fake. So the fact that it’s so realistic looking and your mind doesn’t doubt it for a second is something that is unmatched. People complained about the ending, but that’s how I would end a movie with an obvious sequel coming. As a middle film, it’s great. It makes the connection but as a stand alone film, well, it’s just not. So don’t bother thinking of it that way. I can’t wait for the third installment although that will mean the end of our journeys to Middle Earth. I already know I’ll want to stay there.
Out of the Furnace – Really liked it leaving the theater. Kinda loved it a half an hour later. It stayed with me and the more I thought about it the more it settled in as a great movie. Of course we worship Bale around here and this just proves why. He’s great and you believe that he is the character. Every time. Bruce Wayne is nothing like this guy although Batman might be a bit. If we’ve known this British born actor for decades and followed him film to film then why is it so easy to believe that he’s a downtrodden Pennsylvania mill worker? Because he makes it look easy. Those who aren’t impressed need acting to look more impressive (read: histrionics). The rest of the cast are also the cream of the crop. Casey Affleck has proved himself more than once and he does fine work here. And there are smaller roles from actors’ actors Sam Shepherd, Willem Dafoe, and Forest Whitaker. Zoë Saldana is the female lead in a smaller role. The story is America 2013. It’s how far we’ve fallen. Earlier this year we saw how far Jasmine had fallen. Here we see how hard the fall can be even when you’re so close to the bottom. I really think America is done. I think those who agree are probably the demo for this film. All the heroes and villains have the imprint “Made in the U.S.A”. All molded by circumstances it seems pretty impossible to break free from. I’m not going to go further to avoid spoiling the movie but suffice it to say things have been going wrong, they go wrong again and then they get even wronger. And then what’s left? Revenge. This would make a great double feature with Prisoners. p.s. We should stop paying cops.
Behind the Candelabra – Yeah this was great. It was meant to be a movie and that’s why it’s here. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon played a great couple in this film that is somewhere between Boogie Nights and Velvet Goldmine, two films I loved. Now I used to hate Steven Soderbergh movies but after last year’s Magic Mike and this, I have to say, retirement really suits him. lol This movie is beautiful to look at. The acting is top notch, especially an un-Emmy nominated Rob Lowe, who is so brilliant it boggles. I also thought the story was sweet. I think some people thought it made Liberace look bad but I didn’t think that at all. He was a powerful man. They treat people a certain way when they get to the top. It just happens. I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly mean about the way he treated people. It’s just human nature. You also have to give props to the people who did Matt Damon’s hair. I mean that was hair. It could have brought about world peace that hair was so perfect. Gosh I miss that time. Anyway, it would have been nominated for an Oscar had it been released to theaters. ⌂
Mud – McConaughey is fantastic again. And as I watched the film I couldn’t help thinking to myself how genuine he seems. Actors are actors and they’re all phonies to some extent but there are other celebrity actors who, right now, really get on my last nerve because of how phony they are. Call them paper tigers, or paper actors, or something. They just ring hollow as humans. I don’t care how good they are at “acting”. I can’t get past that. Anyway, McConaughey is the complete opposite. It seems like that’s him. You’re not getting anyone else. So even when he’s playing a role, and he is playing a role here, that rings true as well. In this film you have to believe that his character, Mud, stayed gold. Meaning he stayed as pure as he was when he was a 14 year old. I bought it. I don’t know how many other actors could have pulled it off, but he’s a troubled guy and his troubles come from way back then when he open heartedly walked into the situation that dooms us all. At this point he meets two young men at about the same age he was when he set his life in motion. They become friends and help him. The young actors were great. And I love that at no point does McConaughey treat them like children. Not sure if that’s the actor or the character but I’ll guess it’s a bit of both. Also Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepherd appear in supporting roles. The story is suspenseful and something you might expect from classic Hollywood. Some might therefore think it’s too “classic Hollywood”. But I like that stuff. Without being too spoilery, hint, I want to say that fans of Shane will love it.
Black Nativity – Too short. I have to start with that but otherwise I thought it was great and really the only movie I got behind emotionally this year. Not a lot of movie theater tears this year. The story. Jennifer Hudson and her son are about to be evicted. She decides to send him to stay with his grandparents, who he’s never met, until she figures out what they’ll do next. Oh and it’s two days out from Christmas. So her son played by Jacob Latimore, who does a great job, goes to Harlem for the first time and finds out about his roots. His Grandpa Forest Whitaker is a preacher and they clash right away of course. Angela Bassett is the nice grandma. He gets into trouble almost getting into more trouble a couple of times. All this happens with songs breaking out now and again. And the singers in this film can truly sing. Anyway, it wraps up nicely and quickly but is definitely something everyone should see. It’s a great Christmas movie. I only hope a longer version appears in the future. I’d like to hear Forest Whitaker sing more. I almost got the feeling that someone mixed his vocal to not be heard properly because they were jealous of his voice. Either way, I’d like to hear much more of it in an extended edition or in other movies.
American Hustle – My new favorite film of the year**. But it’s still got some flaws. What is it with 2013 anyway? Well the performances are outstanding. Our cast of con artists led by our lord and savior Bale have outdone themselves. And you have to love these people. You do. I’ve been both a Bale and Renner fangirl for a while but I was actually really impressed with Bradley Cooper here. I don’t know if he just excels at playing a psycho or if he actually is one. This movie is a comedy. When it was nominated for the Golden Globe a bunch of people started complaining that it shouldn’t have been put in the comedy category. Sorry folks, but it’s full of yucks. And I know technically, dramatic things do happened but laughing out loud that much, I personally would place it in the comedy category. First flaw, too much quiet time. We see these movies in theaters with other people, obnoxious people. If the actors are whispering a lot of the time you’re gonna miss dialog due to people explaining the plot to each other or crinkling bags, etc. I don’t think I did miss dialog but at one point I lost the plot. Other quietness: either there was a banging 70s hit or there was utter silence. There’s noise in real life. To go from pulsating “I Feel Love” to nothing is a bit too drastic imo. Maybe I just always need a background score. The place where I lost the plot: Okay spoilerish so I’ll cross it out:
They are supposed to be doing a deal with some mobsters. They go to an office to transfer money in person I thought. Then, they decide on the spot (?) that they can wire transfer the 2 million dollars. Now either I wasn’t paying attention or that was supposed to go exactly that way and Bradley Cooper’s character wasn’t paying attention. Anyway I couldn’t figure out why they were suddenly transferring 2 million dollars on what I thought was a 10 million dollar deal. So that knocked me out of the film for a second as did a scene where Jennifer Lawrence was singing and cleaning which at about 10 seconds was unnecessary and should have been cut. Were it not for these things, maybe it would have been the amazeballs movie that I was expecting. It was great. Just not amazeballs. I also think the trailers were more disco-tastic than the film and that may have led to expectations of a groovier time at the theater. I insist something awesome must have been cut though. It was long which I don’t mind but I could see how something I would have enjoyed would have been cut for time. And I feel like it might have been something between Bale and Renner. Because we know they developed a friendship, but I’m not sure we saw that much of it. I dunno. I could be wrong. But there is so much awesomesauce that the weak points really don’t make that much of a dent. Especially held up against the rest of the films this year that honestly don’t even try that hard in the first place. This film tried really hard and mostly succeeded. One day when I rewatch it, I might find out that it was me and that it was perfect. There was a lot going on but I usually don’t need a second viewing to get everything. We shall see.
Blue Jasmine – Oh so close to being a new favorite, maybe it is. Cate Blanchett is astonishing in one of the best performances by anyone ever. I mean really. And this is one of Woody Allen’s greatest films. He really has made a layered mature and complete story that’s entertaining and perfectly cast. I always feel like saying less about the great ones. I’m so much better at complaining. People have compared it to A Streetcar Named Desire, but I don’t like that movie. I can see how Woody could have used it as a jumping off point. But anyway, enjoy Peter Sarsgaard, Bobby Canavale, Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Alec Baldwin, and especially Andrew Dice Clay and Galadriel. (UPDATE: moved this back up due to a rewatch from the redbox. 1/30/2014)
The Wolf of Wall Street - I don’t know anything about the real guy. But Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Jordan Belfort is one for the ages. He carries an entire hefty film on his shoulders. His group of merry men aren’t that much different than our con artist friends from American Hustle. Except those guys were sweetie pies and these people are freakin’ awful. This group is completely selfish. In fact the only person who isn’t really awful is probably his first wife. Plot. Bad dude gets normal folks to buy penny stocks at their own peril and makes lots of money. At first this is legal but eventually as time wears on and he pushes and pushes the envelope he just becomes a money grubbing sex pervert drug addict who wants it all and then more of all and then there’s gotta be something else besides all. But there isn’t. And he’s a completely self-centered person through and through. This movie makes you aware of that every step of the way. People who hate the film are afraid that Jordan Belfort will become another Tony Montana or Gordon Gecko. Characters who should be despised but become role models for people who watch these films and don’t know how to pay attention. The fact is that probably will happen. People are pretty stupid. I’ve never understood those who idolize those classic characters but I have known a few. That’s not the filmmakers’ fault nor the actors’. And it isn’t here either. Leonardo DiCaprio deserves at least an Oscar nomination. I’d give one to Jonah too although I didn’t think he needed one for Moneyball, so I’ll call that even. Matthew McConaughey’s whole role was in the commercial, but I want that money chant as a ringtone. I’ve been complaining about 2013 at the movies saying that almost everything I’ve seen isn’t an Oscar worthy film. This is definitely one. And the running time was perfect. The people who have issue with this film either don’t like movies, take issue with the explicit content, or like something else and want that to win. For right now it’s clear to me that this is a better film, but in the end American Hustle may end up being a favorite of mine when this won’t. That will be down to the likeability issue. But as far as the craftsmanship goes, this one wins. (seen on December 26th)
** = as of December 20, 2013
⌂ = watched at home
* = watched a while ago so I may have forgotten some details
+ = no supermodels were harmed in the writing of this comment