Archive for the 2010s Category

Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 8/10 on May 15, 2014 by chrisfilm

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

But Saul […] went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?  –Acts 9:1-5

What an odd and enchanting story. My soft spot for sci-fi is showing here and the blend of science fiction elements with art house technical and emotional presentation makes for an eerie and poignant experience. Johansson is fantastic in her nearly silent role – flirtatious to lure men into her lair, seductive to keep them engrossed, impassive after leading them to their end. And her emotional awakening to compassion and love is a beautifully quiet set of events culminated by an oddly tragic ending. And while you can truly sense her soaking in of the world around her like you can in no other alien movie, the most impressive aspect of this entire experience was the technical clinic Glazer puts on. Part shaky cam, tight framed, soft lit intimate cinematography; part boldly drastic, semi-surreal, high energy rush of visual and aural aesthetic. Highlighted by shocking trap Johansson sets for her victims – the mysterious black room, the way to men emotionlessly sink into the floor, the hypnotic pulsating music – a grandiose technical bravado. One of the most interesting films of the year, no doubt, and one that lingers in the mind long after.  8.5/10

under the skin

Joe (D.G. Green, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 8/10 on May 5, 2014 by chrisfilm

Joe (David Gordon Green, 2013)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  –Proverbs 28:13

A comeback for David Gordon Green? Well, as I’ve already stated, I pretty much considered Prince Avalanche Green’s comeback, so I wasn’t as down on him as some at this point. But, yes, this is even closer still to his earlier works than anything in recent years. Joe captures the lives of a certain sect of individuals; it’s harsh and it’s brash but it’s truth. Using several locals to take on the smaller acting parts, Green found a real gem in Gary Poulter as the drunk, abusive father. Poulter was a local homeless man (who actually died on the streets not long after filming has wrapped) who brought to life his character with such natural grace and affection. Sure, he was playing a despicable human being, but at the same time somehow made him unobtrusively sympathetic instead of a stereotype. (Nothing is explicitly stated, but the way he handles himself in certain situations both publicly and privately wreaks of an upbringing of extreme neglect.)

joe

I’m glad Green was able to bring this character to the screen because, to be perfectly honest, the title character’s issues and the main mentor/mentee relationship was a bit underdeveloped. To be quite frank, I didn’t follow Joe’s character arc at all. Maybe in Green’s attempt to make Joe flawed, he went too far the other direction and made him a silly mess with no real breaking point. It was an odd presentation. Still, much of this flaw is covered by the brilliant depiction of other characters and the mostly spot on tone and atmosphere that accompany. I love these representations of rural life even when they do focus on hardships.  8.25/10

Authors Anonymous (Kanner, 2014)

Posted in 2010s, 6/10 on April 7, 2014 by chrisfilm

Authors Anonymous (Ellie Kanner, 2014)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  –1 Thessalonians 5:11

I fully expected this to be awful, so I was pleasently surprised when it was truly humorous and uninsulting. While the fake documentary approach is becoming a bit overused, it works here because they truly stick to it. Side characters question the presence of the cameras, attempts are made to privatize conversations; it’s just an all-around good effort to maintain the documentary atmosphere. And while the humor isn’t overly intelligent or real-life, it’s not crude or forced either. I laughed, I enjoyed myself, I rolled my eyes at the awful ending. But, hey, it’s far and away better than the few high selling comedies that I’ve had the pain of sitting through.  5.75/10

authors anonymous

Best of… Series – 2014 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Posted in 2010s, 9/10, Best of... Series on April 1, 2014 by chrisfilm

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation; It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms with fine furniture and beautiful draperies. It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.  –Proverbs 24:3-6

Wes Anderson continues to be on top of his game. His style, always evolving but never abandoning what makes it his, has become a staple of high quality aesthetic in the modern film world. While this is one of the aspects that continually draws me in to his films, the heart of each is what causes me to realize he’s one of the premier filmmakers working today. And it’s in the heart of each of his films that they put their range on display – where each of his films becomes completely unique.

the grand budapest hotel

Much of the film is a wit-filled hilarious mystery full of turns in the plot and an interesting whodunit approach. It moves quickly but sleekly and Ralph Fiennes absolutely nails the tone of what this film’s protagonist needed to be. Where the film soars, though, is its approach to the evolution of Fiennes and his lobby boy’s relationship as employer/employee to mentor/mentee to father/son. The change is gradual, natural, and is somehow emotionally impactful while staying true to the silly tone of the film, heightened at the scene where Fiennes meets his lobby boy’s girlfriend and goes into full ‘father mode’. Another great relationship from a man who is more famous for his style than anything.  8.75/10

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (P. Jackson, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 7/10 on March 18, 2014 by chrisfilm

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson, 2013)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  –1 Corinthians 16:13

I’ve been avoiding writing this review for a while now because I just don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, but I have no insight here. It’s another fun movie in an ever-growing franchise that suffers from the same issues as the first Hobbit movie – too much CGI. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable and a nice chance to escape real life, but it doesn’t pull you in and somehow trick you into thinking it could be real like the original trilogy and its ability to avoid CGI whenever possible. I don’t always feel like I’m in Middle Earth; I feel like I’m in a computer. The adventure and storytelling were still enough to reel me in and keep me interested though.  7/10

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Her (Jonze, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 9/10 on March 7, 2014 by chrisfilm

Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  –Philippians 3:13

The melacholic broken flashback meanderings of happy images but sad implications dance with sunbeams and moody music in the mind of the lonely Theodore – a man in a hard place in life. Called a love story by everyone including its creater, it’s more accurately described as a relationship story. The flashbacks don’t merely act as gorgeous aesthetic breaks in the action but illustrate Theodore in a true state of love (the kind that includes ups and downs and involves a lot of work). But the relationship with the OS – the ‘love story’- while a truly interesting take on science fiction, is simply a rebound. This futuristic take on relationships and companionship is somehow frightening and comforting at the same time. There’s no dramatic absence of human-to-human contact, no drone-like quality to Theodore as he becomes more involved with his technology; it all feels very much like it could happen, hence the feeling of comfort and fright. But the relationship tapers off as quickly and as silly as it began; Theodore doesn’t feel a lot of pain, and he’s finally better able to move on from his past mistakes. Jonze does some wonderful things both aesthetically and thematically without sacrificing the film’s relatable personality, and it’s easily one of the best of the year.  9.25/10

her

12 Years a Slave (McQueen, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 8/10 on February 24, 2014 by chrisfilm

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  –Galatians 6:9

I think it’s really hard to make a movie centered around slavery that doesn’t feel like it should only be shown in history classes. But McQueen does as best he can and what results of a mostly successful character study that, to me at least, is more interesting as an illustration of perseverance and patience than slavery. To watch a man, who finds himself in a situation where a natural reaction would be an (understandable) impulsive move, bide his time waiting to make the smartest move is an odd mix of frustrating and respectable. Though McQueen struggles with pacing and making this actually feel like 12 years has passed, the meticulousness of our protagonist is very well presented. And despite all of this pushing runtime out a bit, the film includes some beautifully peaceful transition scenes despite so much of what occurs throughout being violent and repulsive. It’s a testament to McQueen’s filmmaking abilities; he lets small moments live when others would move on to the next ‘point’. It’s a very well done historical drama.  8/10

12 years a slave