This has become my mantra as of late with regards to reviews, but I am indeed super behind with these, so I'm going to attempt a mean feat and write up thoughts on a dozen, yes a dozen, as in twelve, movies all in one big ol' opinion dump. I'm gonna work backwards time-wise, from the most recently seen to way back before the holidays. And fun was had by some!
Gloria -- I tweeted a bit while watching this trying to get a fix on who lead actress Paulina García is in Chile because hot damn is she impossible to take your eyes off of on screen. I hope this movie's success, as far as little foreign-language movies about the late-in-life sexual exploits of chipper divorcees go success-wise, gets her into more things that make their way this way. She's a pip. The movie around her's a lovely intimate character study too - keeping itself fixed on a modest point, it unravels endless, previously little-touched-upon dramas.
The Wolf of Wall Street - Oh bollocks. Bollocks to you, Male Pattern Baldness: The Movie. I got home from watching you (after an interminable time in that goddamned theater - see I can swear too! How edgy!) and spent the next two days in bed sick, and I blame you and your screeching, your ball scratching symphony, your love letter to landing strips and the men who punch them. You, Pubic Hair On a Coke Can: The Movie, you sapped my will to exist - not to live, but to exist, in any tense, past and future - I'd rather be wiped off the map. But it stirs up such passion, such conversation, such intestine-sucking moral furor, a bunch of somebodies slavishly devoted to Scorsese say - hey I mentally jerked off to Taxi Driver too, but the bucks, swiped and coke-snorted, stop here - where once we clamored for Tom Cruise to "show us the money," now I just wish somebody would step back and show me the goddamned cocksucking motherfucking point. Oh yes I could write a sentence that's just a bunch of swear words for three pages long too, Marty - standing to the side and snickering knowingly that that's what it is doesn't give it much in the way of purpose or meaning.
The Past - It was only about three-quarters through Farhadi's latest exercise in endlessly interconnected tensions that it dawned on me that I could relax my shoulders up a bit and stop being quite so tense while waiting for the horror to fall - that the breaking point for this story happened as the title says and this is all a walk through its ruins, up to a reconstruction of small sorts. And how. A haunting film, full of grace, or steps towards it at least.
The Spectacular Now -- I get why a lot of people dug on this movie's inversion of all the high school movie tropes, with its slow, reality-based take on How Teenagers Really Behave, but I just don't like watching Miles Teller or Shaileene Woodley enough to get consumed by their miniscule tribulations. They actually both as actors borderline creep me out. While it's safe to say I'd always rather be watching the Brie Larson version of any movie, even ones that don't have Brie Larson in them at all, I'd really have rather watched Brie Larson's character's story here. The Kyle Chandler part is wonderful, though.
The Butler - I wish I appreciated the final products as much as I did that director Lee Daniels somehow keeps getting to make his insanely weird in a very personal to him sort of way movies, but The Butler just kinda sits there for all its Gumpian weirdness. He's kind of beholden to all the seriousness of real world history, I guess - I kind of wish he'd have gone all Tarantino revisionist and had Oprah schtupping JFK or something. But I will give him this - if given the opportunity to frame a handsome man well, Lee Daniels will frame his camera so we can appreciate a man's beauty and not let anything stop him, slight inappropriateness be damned. I mean how damned good did David Oyelowo look in that see-through blue shirt and period slacks getting fire-hosed down?
Byzantium - Surprisingly something! Similar to what Jarmusch has got going on with Only Lovers Left Alive once that sees the light of day (get it - vampires, the light of day, ha ha ugh) in sussing out a reason for us to give a damn about vampires for a quick second again, I liked the way Neil Jordan weasels out a new kind of weirdness for them. And Gemma Arterton rustle up oodles of personality from somewhere - a deep dark cave of pretty, silly metaphor on the side of a mountain perhaps.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug -- Much more fun than the first Hobbit movie - there's actually some momentum and liveliness to it this go around, a sense of purpose that seemed blinked out in the first one, as if everybody was just stumbling around to re-find their footing and justify so very much bloat. I dug the new characters introduced (give or take having to deal with my complicated relationship towards Noted Homosexual Luke Evans), getting back together with Legolas was a trip, and that bobbing for barrels battle-scene was pretty eye-popping. But it all pales in comparison to the titular dragon, which was just a fucking phenomenal thing to behold in IMAX 3D - watching him boom around with some epic voice-work from Benedict Cumberbatch was the best spectacle this side of Gravity I saw in theaters all year. And a heart-stopping final moment that's up there beside the ending of Catching Fire for best give-me-that-sequel-right-this-second cliffhangers of the year.
Open Grave -- I really should remember more about a movie starring two of the top contenders for the sexiest foreign men of middle age calendar I should be photographing right this second - Sharlto Copley and Thomas Kretschmann, that is - especially only a couple of weeks after seeing it, but man this one's just flown the brain coop. A vaguely Cube meets Triangle whiff remains, with a dose of zombie essence sprinkled liberally on top, but not really nearly as good as either of those two terrifically cornball genre entertainments. From what I do recall, Open Grave - funny enough given its name! - kind of smothers itself with self-seriousness. Loosen up, buddy! There's fun in your onion-peel of a concept that you don't seem to be seeing.
I Give It A Year -- Opinions seem sharp on this one with it getting some love and some vitriol at the end of the year, but I was pretty much in the former camp - it gets goopy at times when it oughta be sharper, but any movie that has Anna Faris delivering molestation zingers is gonna be good by me. (See also: Observe and Report.) Also good by me: Rose Byrne, and Rafe Spall's penis. We were meant to be, really.
Kick-Ass 2 -- In an unlikely last minute twist that rivals me digging a Michael Bay movie this year, I will set aside my to-the-death grudge-match with whatsherface and type out her name - my name is Jason Adams and I kinda liked a Chloe Moretz movie. And not just any, either! I feel a little nuts about it - am I gonna get stoned for saying that I actually enjoyed this sequel? People seemed to really not like it; maybe I just went into it so prepared for scathing - I hated hated hated the original one - or maybe I just appreciated how very much of it kept Aaron Johnson in his spectacularly tight jumpsuit and his spectacularly tight assets prominently framed. Who knows? Maybe I have softened. We'll see when the Carrie remake comes out on DVD what happens then - perhaps 2014 really is a new year. (Ha ha right.)
All the Light in the Sky -- If you're like me (and I hope to all that's good that you're spared that suffering) then without being entirely conscious of it you've been holding your breath for years waiting for a nice little ninety-minutes of Jane Adams getting let loose to dig in deep with something worthy of her delicate charm. This is that! Small in a way that's reminding me, only because of juxtaposition probably, of Gloria, All the Light in the Sky is the ninety-minutes of Jane Adams getting let loose, in her delicate charming way, that we've been waiting to see. If you're not like me and, heaven forbid, you're so far immune to Jane's charms, this could maybe change your mind too, because while totally her, it's sort of unlike what she's been given to play around with before. Anyway, she's great, be like me, like her.
Labor Day -- I really have no idea what anybody was trying to do with this movie. Kate WInslet, I love you, but no. Peach pies just won't solve all the world's ills, no matter how stiff and hyper-masculine (yes sensitive!) the manly muscles that knead 'em. It's really just all so ridiculous (and borderline, or maybe past borderline, offensive) I couldn't find an in.