Mach6 wrote:We had about 3 days in a row here in Chicago where it’s been below zero, so it feels like winter to me. If Vargas isn’t going to start this thread, then somebody has to do the dirty work DAMN IT!
What can I say? I don't like to shovel. Henry Selick's CORALINE 3D (2009) on Blu-ray
for the first time. The original 3D family movie overshadowed by that "other" blockbuster 3D movie of 2009 (you know, James Cameron's big-screen adaptation of "The Smurfs"
), "Coraline" is just what you expect from the creative mind behind "The Nightmare Before Christmas" that isn't named Tim Burton. The story isn't all that special (girl wishes for family/friends other than the one's she has, gets her wish granted by a magical door on the wall and regrets her wish when she gets more than she bargained for) but the style, execution and imagination behind it's art design and special effects is nothing short of breathtaking. The behind-the-scenes material is must-see as it really enhances and makes you appreciate more what "Coraline" does as an example of old and new school filmmaking techniques at the service of a family-friendly and girl-power fun movie that doesn't overstay it's 101 min. running time. BTW, am I the only one who didn't think 'Wybie' was black until the very end of the movie when we see his grandma's sister? Martin Campbell's THE GREEN LANTERN (2011) on Blu-ray
. Watched the movie with 'Maximum Movie Mode,' code word for featurettes/interviews/pictures about the making of the flick as it plays. I shouldn't be surprised by this anymore, but it never ceases to amaze me how much effort, passion and good-intentioned work goes into making movies that turn out as tone deaf and badly as this misguided attempt to adapt something as vast and hard to encapsulate as the Green Lantern mythology. You can tell by this behind-the-scenes material that everybody was looking forward to doing sequels and earning steady paychecks from regular "Green Lantern" gigs... oops. Joshua Oppeneimer's THE ACT OF KILLING (2013) in theaters
for the first time. I sat for two hours stunned and in silence as I watched this documentary, even though there are scenes/moments that are clearly meant to be laughed at for the sheer absurdity and Chutzpah on display (by subjects and filmmakers alike). Years in the making (Errol Morris and Werner Herzog executive producing can do that for your production) and with fascinatingly candid and amoral individuals telling about the state-sanctioned mass killings they did for the Indonesian government in the 1960's, "The Act of Killing" is basically historical rope handed over to mass murderers so they can hang themselves by the amorality of their on-screen actions. Whether its re-enacting torture sessions with 20's gangster style garb or burning a village for the cameras or just recalling their actions as casually as they name-drop Hollywood movies and stars that inspired them, this is also a powerful indictment about how movie violence can influence warped minds for the worst.Haifaa Al-Mansour's WADJDA (2013) in theaters
for the first time. The scene when young Waad Mohammed is reciting a chapter of the Quran perfectly and her face lights up, contrasted with what she is actually saying (which she is too young to fully grasp), is one of the most heart-breaking and best movie moments I've experienced in theaters in this or any other year. "Wadjda's" characters have stakes so small and relatively insignificant (wishing for a better job, wanting a bike, etc.) that it makes its lead character's plight to achieve her goal all the more universal. This is what Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" (see below) should have been but wasn't.Woody Allen's BLUE JASMINE (2013) in theaters
for the first time. One of the few movies I had to see twice in theaters to fully enjoy the canvas of dark comedy and pathos it offers. Cate Blanchett breathes so much life and intensity into the title character that I don't think even Allen knew how much Jasmine would leap out of the screen, bouncing off a talented cast or Woody regulars (Alec Baldwin) and new-to-Woody players like Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay (both of which are quite good!) as a fire-breathing dragon lady on Zoloft. If Bruce Dern is a lock for Best Actor for "Nebraska" (see below) then Blanchett is likewise for Best Actress, and deservedly so. The ending is a brutal but rewarding metaphorical answer to something we've always asked when we see an old lady in the park talking to herself. Abdellatif Kechiche's BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (2013)
in theaters for the first time. One of the greatest movie romances ever made, given ample time to breath and showing with borderline-acute precision the little moments (gestures, caresses, casual looks, etc.), intense ones (passionate and explicit sex that, yep, actually enhances the story) and average ones (dinners with friends, trying to get through the work day, etc.) that come into the fabric of a relationship running through its natural course. The graphic novel on which the movie is based was good, but Kechiche improved it dramatically and opens the narrative wide open from just a lesbian love story to something more universal. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux are both excellent (why one is getting more ink than the next is beyond me) and this is a three hour movie that, like "The Wolf of Wall Street," just flies so fast you can't believe it when it's over.Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's FROZEN 3D (2013) in theaters
for the first time. Judge Patrick Bromley's review and the film's come-from-behind Christmas box office push made me want to sample the type of movie I didn't know Disney was making again: Family-friendly (which means single folks can enjoy them) entertainment that is character-based (two princesses for the price of one), gives a new spin to tried-and-true Disney formulas (i.e. a girl doesn't depend on a guy's love for her happiness, comic relief characters with humanity behind their clown act) and doesn't make me hate the musical interludes because the tunes are so damn catchy. I'm a sucker for narratives about sisters that are distant learning to love one another, and the arc of Anna (Kirsten Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) is dramatic, funny, maddening and interesting enough to complement some amazing CG effects (Anna building her ice castle to the beat of "Let It Go" literally dropped my jaw to the floor) that are worthy of Pixar comparisons. At the end of "Frozen" me and other theater patrons talked and agreed that we wanted a sequel to this ASAP. Pretty good complement for a CG movie that's not a sequel and didn't feature any big stars moonlighting for a paycheck.Alexander Payne's NEBRASKA (2013) in theaters
for the first time. Will Forte steals the movie from a gauntlet of heavyweights (Dern, Keach, Squibb, Odenkirk, etc.) that both hold their own and enhance Payne's patented bag of emotional, hilarious and pathos-soaked story-telling tricks. At first I didn't think Bruce Dern was doing enough to deserve the accolades he's been receiving, but a second viewing showed me that Bruce and June Squibb are doing a lot more subtle work (mostly reaction shots) than I initially given them credit for. "Nebraska" is also one of the most gorgeous and best-looking films of the year, in ironic feat for a B&W film in which panoramic vistas aren't its main selling point.Spike Jonze's HER (2013) in theaters
for the first time. In a futuristic directed by Jonze with his usual flare, amazing production/photography and one of Phoenix's best performance to date, the real standout of "Her" is Scarlett Johansson's voice, the through line that unites an amazingly moving, funny and peculiarly romantic film. It gets a tad repetitive and lacks an antagonist or driving force (ala "Being John Malkovich"), but I guess having a relationship between a man and a computer program should provide enough drama for most folks who have been in love to relate to.Martin Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) in theaters
for the first time. Last year I saw Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom" for the first time, and I couldn't help but notice how much The Archers' filmography (and "Peeping Tom's" penchant for operatic displays of virtuoso camera work to make the viewer admire and even side with the crazy protagonist) informs Scorsese's compositions and mise-en-scene. You know Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio (in their best collaboration to date) are on to something when the immediate/inevitable comparisons of "Wolf" to "Goodfellas" and "Casino" fade away, and the lunacy and intensity of "Wolf" become their own. I'm not seeing what everyone seems to see in Seth Rogen's performance; he's fine but to me isn't as integral to the story as his character was in "Moneyball." My only, very real fear: The assholes from "The Act of Killing" will take on this film the same way they and their ilk looked at old Hollywood 'gangster' movies for inspiration. Asghar Farhadi's THE PAST (2013) in theaters
for the first time. "A Separation" blew me away the year it came out, and sadly for his next high-profile follow-up Asghar Farhadi seems to be trying too hard to match the dramatic tone of his previous film. An Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa, sensational) coming to France to formalize his legal divorce from his wife (Bérénice Bejo) so he can marry the new man in her life (Tahar Rahim), but a teenage daughter from a previous relationship (Pauline Burlet) gets in the way by actions that it takes the whole movie to unravel. The plot reveals and twists are worthy of a Douglas Silk melodrama, which is at odds with the serious tone and sober acting by a good cast that struggles to come across realistic when going through the soap opera antics. It's a fine, dramatic and well-intentioned family secrets drama, but it's not "A Separation."