Movie Review: "Mommy (French)" A- January 23, 2015
Xavier Dolan is 25 years old, the writer and director of five critically acclaimed movies, and the co-recipient of a jury prize at Cannes, where the vote was split between his fifth film and Jean-Luc Godard's 39th. Knowing this, and having seen none of Dolan's previous work, I approached his Godard-tying entry thinking that it would probably make me want to find him and slap his pretentious face. I mean, come on.
Movie Review: "The Wedding Ringer" D+ January 16, 2015
The lesson all filmmakers must eventually learn is this: your movie can work even if it has a stupid premise -- but you have to try a lot harder. Audiences will swallow just about any kind of plot-related nonsense, especially in a comedy. But only if you make us laugh.
Movie Review: "American Sniper" C+ January 16, 2015
There are a few moments in "American Sniper" when it looks like the movie is going to start examining the psychological impact of being the deadliest military sniper in U.S. history. So much killing, even justified killing, the kind that saves your fellow soldiers -- that must weigh on a person, right?
Movie Review: "Blackhat" C- January 16, 2015
Looking at the known facts before seeing the film, "Blackhat" could go either way. On the one hand, it's directed by Oscar-nominated Michael Mann, a smart filmmaker with some established credibility ("Heat," "Collateral," "The Last of the Mohicans"). On the other hand, it stars Chris Hemsworth as a hunky computer hacker, and it's being released in the studio dumping grounds of January. (Mann's last six films all had prime spots in the summer or during end-of-the-year awards season.)
Snide Remarks: "Love and Sects" January 14, 2015
TLC recently aired a reality program called "My Husband's Not Gay," about Mormon women whose husbands are gay (sorry, ladies!). The title was presumably meant to be sarcastic, like when New Jersey is called "the Garden State," or when TLC was called "The Learning Channel."
Movie Review: "Selma" A- January 9, 2015
As advanced as we like to say we are, living in the future and all, it's astonishing to watch "Selma" in 2015 and realize the events it depicts happened only 50 years ago. In America! Mostly in the parts of America that have always embarrassed the other parts, but still.
Movie Review: "Taken 3" C- January 9, 2015
Say what you will about Hollywood, those people are very good at making sequels that utterly fail to capture what people liked about the first one. It's almost a gift. "Taken 2" had less energy, action, and butt-kicking than its predecessor, merely repeating what had happened before without raising the stakes or offering anything new (OK, except for using grenades and the speed of sound to triangulate someone's location, that was neat).
Movie Review: "The Interview" B January 8, 2015
[In theaters and Video on Demand.]
Miscellaneous December 31, 2014
2014 was a terrific year for movies -- and I say that without having seen several of the films that are appearing on others' top 10 lists, like "Selma," "Mr. Turner," "Ida," and "The Immigrant." (That last one has been on Netflix for months, so I have no excuse, but the others simply haven't screened yet where I live. For some reason, this year the studios were only interested in having their most prestigious offerings considered by critics in New York and L.A.)
Miscellaneous December 31, 2014
As always, you're not obligated to be interested in this. This is mostly for me. It's just a rundown of what I consumed in 2014, media-wise. Future generations may find it useful in reconstructing the collapse of civilization.