2014 log (1-2-3)

Kenny Powers Toby
(30-31 Dec, 14, 29-30 Jan) Eastbound & Down (Season Three) (2013, Jody Hill & David Gordon Green) 65

[ Kenny Powers, still the consumate asshole, is now playing baseball in Myrtle Beach, but that soon isn’t the main thing on his mind. How could it be when he finds himself “stuck” with his baby son after former flame April disappears on him, which leads to many scenes in which Kenny demonstrates his so-called “parenting skills”. Back on the baseball field, as he’s trying to impress a Major League scout (Matthew McConaughey), he gets competition on the pitching mound from a new Russian player. There are also multiple references to “Top Gun”, as Kenny and new best friend Shane (Jason Sudeikis) argue about who of the two is Tom Cruise and who’s Goose. And then there’s the return of Don Johnson as old man Powers as well as the introduction of Lily Tomlin as his ex-wife and Kenny’s mother, in what is unfortunately one of the lesser episodes of the series. In fact, this third season as a whole isn’t that great, in my opinion. Season One was our introduction to Kenny Powers, Season Dos shook things up by taking the action to Mexico and now, Season Three… There’s the whole baby thing, I guess, but they kind of beat that thread into the ground. How many scenes of ridiculously incompetent parenting can we get? The season finale is also oddly contrived. Maybe Season Four is better? To be continued… ]

(6 Jan) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013, Adam McKay) [ review ] 68

(10 Jan) her (2013, Spike Jonze) [ review ] 82

(16 Jan) Dallas Buyers Club (2013, Jean-Marc Vallée) 71
[ Matthew McConaughey is not the only thing that’s skinny in “Dallas Buyers Club”: the film as a whole displays very little fat, it cuts right to the point and pushes its story forward without wasting any time. Here’s this guy, this redneck cowboy who somehow tests positive for HIV and is told he has only 30 days to live, but he won’t have any of it. We get all of that in barely 10 minutes, then they hit us with a “Day 1” title card. Here we go. There’s also no excess fat to Jean-Marc Vallée’s direction, which is very raw and edgy, mostly using handheld cameras and natural lighting and what looks like real locations. And then, yeah, there’s Matthew McConaughey who not only lost a scary amount of weight to play this part, but also put his all into it, from his charisma and natural energy to a whole lot of pain, desperation and fury. His character is a real live wire who just won’t accept that all signs point to him dying sooner rather than later and he manages to make us sorta believe that maybe he can beat this by doing some research, finding and importing experimental drugs and whatnot. Heroic stuff, but the guy is already your typical hero: he’s very much flawed, drinking, smoking and snorting cocaine his way through life… He also happens to be homophobic, which is quite the problem when the cards he’s been dealt force him to interact with the homosexual community, particularly a transvestite wonderfully played by Jared Leto. Both McConaughey and Leto recently won a Golden Globe and got nominated for the Oscar, and it’s well deserved. ]

Inside Llewyn Davis

(20 Jan) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Joel & Ethan Coen) 84
[ Even though I’m a big fan of most of the Coen brothers’ filmography, I didn’t rush out to catch their latest. I saw the trailer plenty of times and it just didn’t attract me all that much. The story of a down-on-his-luck folk singer, it seemed a bit too low-key and depressing for my taste. And those desaturated colors? I don’t know, man. These days, it’s like I need more brightness and liveliness, both in my life and in my cinema. That being said, I was still curious to see it at some point and now that I have, I feel silly for not doing so sooner. “Inside Llewyn Davis” has many things going for it, notably a loose yet assured sense of storytelling, an awesome folk soundtrack and the Coen’s typically sly sense of humor. I also grew to greatly enjoy Oscar Isaac’s performance as the talented but unsuccessful titular character, who’s a bit of a loser and an asshole, among other flattering things. Early on, there’s not much of a plot going on, we just follow Davis as he couch surfs his way through life, somehow getting stuck with a cat, trying not to further anger a lady friend (Carey Mulligan), cutting a session with a buddy (Justin Timberlake)… Then at the halfway point, we’re suddenly thrown into a road movie of sorts, as Llewyn decides to take advantage of an offered ride to Chicago with the quiet Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) and the loudmouthed Roland Turner (John Goodman). And then… Well, the film remains unpredictable until the end, it’s just this thing and that thing and this thing, the only constant thread being that almost nothing seems to work out for our poor Llewyn Davis. The Coen do find a clever way to wrap things around. ]

(23 Jan) The Wedding Singer (1998, Frank Coraci) review ]  75

(7 Feb) 30 Minutes or Less (2011, Ruben Fleischer) 31
[ This crime comedy is pretty dumb and low-rent, but it did make me laugh a few times. That’s thanks to the one thing it got going for it, which is a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride. It’s still rather forgettable. ]

(19 Feb) Need for Speed (2014, Scott Waugh)
(12 Mar) Need for Speed (2014, Scott Waugh)

(19 Mar) Muppets Most Wanted (2014, James Bobin)

(20 Mar) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, Anthony & Joe Russo) 83
[ Chris Evans is still perfect as Captain America and he has wonderful chemistry with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Meanwhile, the whole plot about SHIELD/Hydra is surprisingly engrossing and, well, surprising, like something out of a 1970s spy thriller. And the Winter Soldier storyline is rather affecting, in addition to leading to some awesome action scenes. Who knew the Russo brothers had such a badass flick in them? ]

(21 Mar) The Room (2003, Tommy Wiseau) 0
[ One of the worst movies ever made? Probably. So bad it’s good? Definitely! It takes a while to really get going, at first it’s just mediocre, but as the gratuitous sex scenes, instances of people throwing a football around and melodramatic bits pile up, it becomes increasingly hilarious. The writing, direction and acting are all spectacularly awful, with Tommy Wiseau to blame for all three. Quite an achievement! ]

(28 Mar) Noah (2014, Darren Aronofsky) [ review ] 88

(28 Mar) The Marine (2006, John Bonito) [ review ] 67

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