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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

This is a strange film series for me. I loved the first episode, notably because it seemed to tell a complete story. So much so that I didn’t feel the need to rush to see the second movie, which I only caught up to when it hit Netflix. For better or worse, that second flick very much didn’t tell a complete story, ending just it was about to get really exciting. As such, I was quite eager to see what came next and I wound…

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Interstellar

“2001: A Space Odyssey”. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. “Gravity”. These sci-fi classics (we can already call “Gravity” a classic, right?) have all been singled out as points of reference by critics writing about “Interstellar” and they are all valid comparisons. But personally, Christopher Nolan‘s latest reminded me most of all of “Signs”. Now, I know, for a lot of people, comparing a film to M. Night Shyamlan’s alien invasion flick would be considered an insult, but I assure you this is not the…

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Maps to the Stars

I love David Cronenberg. And not just because of his early stuff. In the last 10 years, I put three of his films on my year-end Top Ten, namely “Cosmopolis”, “Eastern Promises” and “A History of Violence”, the latter at #1, no less. So it brings me no pleasure to write that “Maps to the Stars” might be the worst thing he’s ever made. Here’s a pretentious, contrived, disjointed picture filled with endless forced dialogue and preposterous situations. I guess screenwriter Bruce Wagner is to…

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Nightcrawler

Played by Jake Gyllenhaal in a career-best performance, Louis Bloom is the definition of an antihero. He’s a thief. A hustler. A liar. A manipulator. A narcissist. A sociopath. And he fits perfectly in the world of tabloid journalism, which he stumbles into unwittingly early in the film. All he needs to get started is a camcorder and a police scanner. All he needs to do is to drive recklessly to whatever accident or crime scene is happening in Los Angeles that night and get…

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

“How did we end up here? This place is horrible. Smells like balls. We don’t belong in this shithole.” Thus speaks Birdman, or at least a version of that comic book character whose gravelly voice constantly echoes in the head of the actor who played him on the big screen, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton who, as Tim Burton’s Batman, must know a thing or two about being haunted by a superhero role). It often feels like we in the audience are also in Thomson’s head,…

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2014 log (11)

(1 Nov) Big Hero 6 (2014, Don Hall & Chris Williams) (2 Nov) Nightcrawler (2014, Dan Gilroy) [ review ] 83 (4 Nov) Maps to the Stars (2014, David Cronenberg) [ review ] 19 (6 Nov) Interstellar (2014, Christopher Nolan) [ review ] 92 (7 Nov) Under the Skin (2014, Jonathan Glazer) 59 [ Visually dark. Narratively disorienting. Ominous score. Minimal dialogue. This is an art film, all right, the furthest thing from a crowdpleasing blockbuster. Then again, it stars the super sexy, sensual and…

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John Wick

It opens with a bloody, possibly dying John Wick (a bearded, semi-longhaired Keanu Reeves) stumbling out of a car… Then we flash back to a few days earlier, with John Wick being haunted by memories of his recently deceased wife. He’s now all alone in the world, until a dog is delivered to his house, a gift from his wife from beyond the grave. So when some motherfuckers kill the poor thing, no wonder John goes into a vengeful fury. The dog-killing motherfuckers turn out…

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The Good Lie

Based on her giant head on the poster, you’d think this was a full-on Reese Witherspoon vehicle, but she’s actually a supporting actress in “The Good Lie”, not even appearing on screen for something like half an hour. After a glimpse of grown up Sudanese characters boarding a plane to the United States in 2001, we flash back to 13 years earlier and meet them as kids in a remote village that is soon attacked by soldiers involved in Sudan’s civil war (like the kids,…

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it’s such a beautiful day

Back in 2007, Don Hertzfeldt’s “everything will be ok” totally blew me away. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time: “I saw this during DJ XL5’s Kaleidoscopic Zappin’ Party, in a gorgeous 35mm print. This is one of the most powerful examples of why film is superior to video I’ve ever seen. Hertzfeldt uses to its full potential the dreamlike state created on the viewer by images projected 24 frames per second and, for 17 minutes, he takes you on a journey into…

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Gone Girl

When it comes to big screen literary adaptations, having read the book first is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can mean you’re already fully immersed in the world of the movie, you know the characters already, maybe you’re even able to quote lines from the dialogue. On the other hand, that familiarity can mean that there is no sense of discovery for you, no surprises. Worse, it can mean that you’re only too aware of what wasn’t included in the film, all…

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