Blue Jasmine -- Yeah it's basically A Streetcar Named Madoff, but did you ever expect a Woody Allen movie to vibrate on the same wavelength as Requiem For a Dream? That's the note it - specifically Cate Blanchett's shaky, devastating performance - left on my palette in the end, and I liked it. There's a frisson at work that's more interesting than anything Woody's done in awhile, even if I don't think it coheres on a fundamental level like say something more basic and assured like Vicki Christina Barcelona did - Cate's performance is something all its own, splitting the seams of what might have been something entirely else, in somebody else's hands. That's not to say she's the whole of everything - I'm a little bit sad that Sally Hawkins isn't going to get the credit she deserves for balancing this stormy ship as well as she does with a performance that's matching Blanchett's while existing in that whole other movie as well. She's dancing backwards in high heels, while Cate just levels the world.
The Grandmaster -- As is often the case with Wong Kar-wai's movies I feel like there's a whole universe that he's riffing on that exists just a smidge outside of my grasp - think 2046, a puzzle that only comes into semi-clarity if you're a diehard Wong fanatic. Here it's the Ip Man mythology that's leaving me in the dust, of which all I know is the briefest of basics. Oh we get the life-story here, at least its basics - how this singular man wrapped a cultural expression of balletic violence around his pinkie and turned it upon the world - but its all done up in the pretty pretty packages of eye-popping set-pieces that feel as if they'd have meant a little bit more to me if I felt the weight of Ip Man as a Cultural Force more than my most basic recognition allows. I marvel at the movement, the color, and the planes of Tony and Ziyi's faces, while still managing to feel just a little bit left out. The train just keeps leaving the station.
The Call -- A perfectly ridiculous thriller for ninety-seven percent of its run-time - that is to say, perfectly ridiculously enjoyable, in the way you can get wrapped up in this kind of mindless trash and have a lot of fun with it. It was probably a total hoot to see this in the theater, and be the sort of person who yells curse words at the people acting stupid on-screen. It's mostly relentless enough that you can set aside all of your qualms and just toss yourself into the situation - director Brad Anderson knows his way around a quickening of your heart rate. But what an infuriatingly moronic and offensive ending it has, as stressed-out and split-ended as Halle's Sideshow Bob hair-do, going twenty-five thousand steps too far and flushing all of my dumb fun down the drain in the process.