Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
First, I must say Merry Christmas to each and all of you...or Merry Xmas...or Happy Hanukkah...or Happy Kwaanza...or Happy whatever it is you celebrate this time of year. Glad you took a minute or two to stop by here and see what I've got going on today. Now let's get down to stretching that two minutes into three or four.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
This isn't technically a Christmas movie, but it is about the guy they named the holiday after, so here we go...
Monday, December 22, 2014
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Directed by John Wells.
2013. Rated R, 121 minutes.
Beverly (Shepard) is a man at the end of his wits. He's been married to Violet (Streep) forever and ever. She's a mean old biddy who has been stricken with mouth cancer, but keeps sucking down cigarettes. She medicates herself with as many pain killers as she can get her hands on. He prefers to drink away his pain. One day, Beverly goes out and doesn't come home. After a few days, Violet calls everyone in the family she can get a hold of to help her solve the mystery and the whole dysfunctional clan shows up. Her daughter Ivy (Nicholson) appears first, since she lives in the area. Then, in some order I can't exactly recall, the house fills up with up with people. There's daughter Barbara (Roberts), along with her husband Bill (McGregor), and their daughter Jean (Breslin). Daughter Karen (Lewis) arrives with "this year's man," Steve (Mulroney). Violet's loud sister Mattie Fae (Martindale) rumbles in, dragging her hubby Charles (Casper) with her. At some point, later on, Mattie Fae's and Charles' son Little Charles (Cumberbatch) joins the fray. Every one of these people has serious issues with themselves and each other. You know what that means. Oscar baiting ensues.
In seemingly trying to garner accolades for its cast, August: Osage County comes off more as a collection of clips worthy of awards ceremonies than the gripping drama it impersonates. The actors take turns showcasing their chops. More accurately, headliners Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts take lots of turns while the others get a scene or two apiece. Luckily, it's an amazing cast. Just about everyone is at their fiery best. Every line is delivered with passion and conviction.
Playing our main protagonist, Streep inhabits her role so fully, it's scary. She makes the cigarette between her fingers and the cloud of smoke swirling around her head while puffs of it punctuate her speech integral parts of Violet's persona. She's clearly a fire-breathing dragon once she gets riled up. While Streep is constantly on the attack, Roberts is busy counter-punching. A strong presence in her own right, she never withers beneath her co-star's massive light. Instead, she fires back in verbally violent fashion, commanding the screen as she does.
As stated, the rest of the players all knock it out the park when they step up to the plate. Margo Martindale provides the thunder to Streep's lightning. she is appropriately loud and angry. The difference is where Streep is sinking her fangs into everyone in sight, Martindale is usually trying to make someone do something. As her husband, Cooper fares best amongst the men in the cast. It's not that anyone is bad. Even the weakest links in the cast, either Nicholson or Breslin, are both very good. Ladies and gentlemen, when the masters decide to chew scenery, this is how they do it.
That I've spent most of my review to this point gushing over the acting begs the question 'why don't I love this movie?' The answer lies in something I snuck in a little earlier. It plays like a collection of clips. Due to the talent on display, they are immensely watchable. However, what links them just feels like a writer purposely throwing fuel on various fires to create melodrama. Between every rant, another problem is added to the mix until it all becomes too much for the movie to bear. Eventually, I just rolled my eyes as the next thing always and inevitably happens. In that way, it's very Tyler Perry-esque. We get one earth-shattering revelation after another until the film collapses beneath its own weight. What we're left with is a movie that is much less than the sum of its parts.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Posting my best and worst movies of 2013 made me re-think a certain aspect of my reviewing process. More accurately, those were the straws that broke the bull's back. From this point forward, I will no longer include "MY SCORE" as part of my reviews.
Over the last few months, I've become disenchanted with finishing off my reviews by trying to sum it all up in one number, or a score. The score serves as a hindrance to lists like the two mentioned above which I do enjoy making. The problem is I start to beat myself up over ranking one movie over another even though the scores I've assigned to them suggests that it should be the other way around. After all, what if someone actually went back to those reviews and called me on it?
The fact of the matter is that the score is actually the least reliable part of my review. Instead of being a true representation of how I feel about a movie, it becomes how I think I feel about it at a particular moment in time in comparison to other movies I've recently seen. For instance, I rated Blue is the Warmest Color as my third best movie of '13. My initial score for it was 8.5/10. A number of movies I ranked behind it had better scores, including 12 Years a Slave which I initially gave a perfect ten. For Blue I saw it at a time when I knew I would still see many more movies from that year and had already seen a number of its better movies. Most of them I had given an 8.5/10. I loved Blue, but wasn't sure it was head and shoulders above any of the others, so that score felt justified. By the time I watched 12 Years, the tide had changed a little. My initial viewing of The Place Beyond the Pines blew me away, so I immediately gave that one a 9/10. I thought 12 Years was clearly better, so 10 it was. As the weeks and months passed, my opinion of Pines started to wane a bit while that of Blue elevated. See how complicated this became?
It's an unnecessary and silly stress, too.
My true opinion of a movie is much better summed up in the actual reviews themselves. That's why I write them. The reasons I like or dislike a movie are far more stable than a number I slap on after the last paragraph. Those things are hard-wired into my feelings on what I've just watched. They're less likely to change since each review is a self-contained examination of an individual film. Of course, exceptions are made for sequels, prequels, and remakes when I often refer to their predecessors. Still, they aren't comparisons to other movies released within a given time period.
Not including scores is beneficial to you, the reader, too. It's too easy to forget what's been written about a movie because whatever score it's given carries its own connotations which overwhelms everything else. I might give a movie a glowing review, but give it a score higher or lower than someone thinks it should be and that's where the focus is. I've done it myself on a number of sites, perhaps even yours. It's a pretty natural thing to do, really. We've been doing it ever since that very first time a paper we turned in didn't get the 'A' we think it deserved. Without having that tidy little summation, the reader is forced to deal with the reasoning laid out and then decide whether they agree, or not. That's really all I want for my blog. Well, that, and to not fret over my own grading system when trying to decide if one movie is better than another.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
A few days ago, I shared with you what I think the worst movies of 2013 were. Now, it's time to turn that frown upside down and give you my opinion on last year's best. Just to get this out of the way, there are some critically acclaimed movies that I haven't had the pleasure of viewing just yet. Some of these include:
All is Lost, Before Midnight, Filth, Frances Ha, The Hunt, Kill Your Darlings, The Kings of Summer, Much Ado About Nothing, Philomena, Upstream Color.
With that all taken care of, let's move on. When we did the worst, we listed 20 movies. Since I like being positive more than negative, we're listing out 25 movies that I think are well worth your time. Click on the titles below to read my full reviews. One other thing, I never rank documentaries on these lists. Just doesn't feel right lumping them in with the rest. Silly quirk, I know, but it is what it is. Okay, I lied, there is one other thing. The order I rank these movies now does not necessarily reflect the scores I gave them in my initial reviews. Oh, well. Things change. And with no further adieu, here are...
The Best Movies of 2013
20. StokerFamed Korean director Park Chan-wook's American debut is a visually arresting and psychologically twisted tale. Much meaning and emotion is conveyed in every shot. All of them would make fantastic still photos.
If you want to take a trip to the dark side, check out: