Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- I enjoyed it but I feel as if it might be getting a little bit overpraised. It really seemed to strain at the seams of its serial storytelling (that was a lot of unintended alliteration, sorry) to me, more than I've noticed previously in the Marvel movies - it really felt beginning and end-less, an ongoing middle. But Chris Evans continues being perfect for the part (and I swear his shoulders have gotten twice as large and his waist twice as small - he's seriously turned into an immaculate cartoon of a person), ScarJo has very much found her vibe as Black Widow, and the action scenes were all perfectly swell. It all felt so delightfully retro, enjoying old-fashioned fisticuffs and car chases; I love that they've embraced Cap's squareness so fully - they continue to play DC right off the stage for their mishandling of Superman.
The Grand Budapest Hotel -- I don't know that I should be reviewing anything I saw before I went to Italy (heretofore known as B.I.) since my memory is hella fuzzy, crammed as it is with all the glories I beheld, but I've got to say something about the new Wes Anderson, I just have to. I thought it was perfectly lovely, but a step down from the immense heights of my beloved Moonrise Kingdom... of course MK was my favorite movie of 2012 so topping that would've been a really big something or other, wouldn't it? Speaking of embracing one's squareness though I sure am happy that Wes Anderson feels no need to stop being Wes Anderson - those who can't stand his patented twee can just step away now, knowing he's not for them, and let the rest of us roll around in it thank you very much.
Under the Skin -- What a glorious year for out-of-body experiences - I tweeted after seeing this that it feels like a partner-in-eccentricity with Denis Villeneuve's dope doppelganger thriller Enemy, and after only a couple of days they've become pretty much fused in my brain as a yin and yang of feminine strangeness. Skin is cinematic Ketamine for the soul - an inward-bound explosion of total what-the-fuckery. Images of gorgeous transgression, body horror - every nightmare you've ever had played at half-speed and translated into severely alarming gibberish. Your nerve endings will betray you - every hair on me stood on end, packed a bag, and took off for the exits in a total panic. It puts the mumble into mumblecore and ships it into outer outer space. Slinky madness with a soundtrack of madness. Only the highest high praise for this sucker - your synapses will hate-fuck you.
Stage Fright -- This campy summer camp horror-musical tilted too much into the latter, uh, camp for me; I certainly perked up when they started slicing and dicing the theater folks but that adds up to maybe five minutes of an otherwise slightly excruciating whole full of sub-clever rock-opera malarkey. But if you've ever wanted to see Minnie Driver deep throat a butcher knife (and who hasn't) have I got the movie for you!