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

Backroads (Noyce, 1977)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on March 26, 2014 by chrisfilm

Backroads (Phillip Noyce, 1977)

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit  –Proverbs 10:2a

A fun little minimalistic road movie with several quiet moments and beautiful natural images. A couple of nobodies steal a car and go on some meaningless travels, picking up friends and strangers along the way. Much of what I love about movies exist in this one – lingering pace, a moody soundtrack, lush outdoor cinematography; it’s an aesthetic wonder. But it’s a bit minor when it comes to character care. I never felt any real sense of need to see these events in these people’s lives and it’s probably because they don’t do much but drive around and mumble. Noyce never attempts to make any sort of emotional connection. It’s a fine safe approach and beats going overboard the other direction, but it does prevent it from being a masterpiece.  8/10


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


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


5th Annual Chrisfilm Awards (2014)

Posted in Chrisfilm Awards on February 27, 2014 by chrisfilm

Every year, to celebrate the Academy Awards, I come up with my personal list of nominations and winners. As per usual, my awards look a lot different than the Oscar nominations, but hopefully this will give my readers an idea of some other quality movies from 2013 that the Academy did not mention. I only saw 3 out of the 9 Oscar Best Picture nominees though, in case you are looking for a point of reference to how ‘in the loop’ I am, though I really only have interest in 2 that I didn’t see. Hope you enjoy my take!

And so begins the 5th Annual Chrisfilm Awards.


Best Supporting Actor:

Javier Bardem, To the Wonder
bsa, Javier Bardem To the Wonder

Ray McKinnon, Mud
bsa ray mckinnon mud

Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives
bsa, Vithaya Pansringarm Only God Forgives

Andrew Sensenig, Upstream Color
bsa, Andrew Sensenig Upstream Color

And the winner is…

Mark Strong, Welcome to the Punch
bsa mark strong welcome to the punch


Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, Man of Steel
bsac, Amy Adams Man of Steel

Chiara Mastroianni, Bastards
bsac, Chiara Mastroianni Bastards

Andrea Riseborough, Oblivion
bsac andrea riseborough oblivion

Kristin Scott Thomas, Only God Forgives
bsac, Kristin Scott Thomas Only God Forgives

And the winner is…

Rachel McAdams, To the Wonder
bsac, Rachel McAdams To the Wonder


Best Cinematography:

Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
upstream color cinematography

Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
grandmaster cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki, To the Wonder
to the wonder cinematography

Bradford Young, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
ain't them bodies saints cinematography

And the winner is…

Larry Smith, Only God Forgives
only God forgives cinematography


Best Actress:

Sandra Bullock, Gravity
bac Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Olga Kurylenko, To the Wonder
bac Olga Kurylenko, To the Wonder

Rooney Mara, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
bac Rooney Mara, Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Ziyi Zhang, The Grandmaster
bac Ziyi Zhang, The Grandmaster

And the winner is…

Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color
bac Amy Seimetz Upstream Color


Best Actor:

Casey Affleck, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
ba Casey Affleck, Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
ba 12 years a slave chiwetel ejiofor

Jude Law, Side Effects
ba jude law side effects

Michael Shannon, The Iceman
ba Michael Shannon, The Iceman

And the winner is…

Joaquin Phoenix, Her
ba joaquin phoenix, her


Best Director:

David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche
david gordon green prince avalanche

Spike Jonze, Her
spike jonze her

David Lowery, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
david lowery ain't them bodies saints

Terrence Malick, To the Wonder
terrence malick to the wonder

And the winner is…

Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
shane carruth upstream color


Best Picture of 2013:

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
ain't them bodies saints

The Grandmaster
the grandmaster





Only God Forgives
only God forgives

Prince Avalanche
prince avalanche

To the Wonder
to the wonder

And the winner is…

Upstream Color
upstream color

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