Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I Say Review You Say Huh

I'm heading off for the holidays in a couple of hours but I just realized that if I don't write up some quick thoughts on some of the movies I've recently watched there's no way in ho ho heck I'll be able to write up thoughts on them in two weeks when I return from the break - my brain's not that sturdy. I do these little review things a lot but seeing as how I'm kinda just staring at the door willing time to evaporate this time around's going to take brevity even more to heart, I fear. I'm being super short, in other words. Prepare your loins for a real quick in and out, everybody.

Two Days One Night -- Marvelous and moving work from the Dardennes and Marion Cotillard, the latter of whom showed me all those surprise critics awards she's been racking up were no French fetish fluke. They all make it seem so effortless, telling this simple tale that feels like a timeless fable and a stinging indictment of capitalism all in one. Like the main character the movie swings moods on a dime, but no step ever rings the slightest bit false. I feel like I don't have to write a lot on this movie right now because I'll write more when it comes time to make my Favorite Movies Of The Year list; that's where me and this movie are at.

Goodbye To All That -- But speaking of effortlessness, Paul Schneider y'all. Nobody's going to be giving him any Best Actor awards, nothing he's doing is the slightest bit showy, but effective? In the affirmative. The movie as a whole I ran kinda hot or cold on - as great as Schneider is I did keep hoping it would swerve off a la Listen Up Phillip and make more time for other perspectives; but then maybe that's just me wishing every movie gave Melanie Lynskey more to do. (Heather Graham is very good in a too small part, too.) One funny side-note: there's a scene in the middle that's super generous to small-town life that reminding me like a lightning bolt of the movie Junebug; it was only just now looking this movie up that I saw Junebug's writer wrote and directed this.

Fury -- I really didn't expect to dislike this movie so much; y'all know that Brad Pitt's haircut was hyping me up all on its lonesome but I'm also a fan of director David Ayer and some of the actors (I am not talking to you, Jon Benthal) and I liked the trailer well enough. But this thing rang hollow from start to finish - lost in search of its own Private Ryan to make us care, failing to notice his brains squished under the tank-tread a full mile back. There was nothing in here that didn't feel cribbed from better movies.

Mr Turner -- Easily one of the most beautifully-filmed movies of the year (hell maybe even the decade) and as gorgeously observed a character study as Mike Leigh, the king of character studies, is capable of making. But good god, the use of light, it'll stop your heart. It might run a little long but that didn't stop me from laying there in a daze soaking it in, detail by detail, scene by scene.

Predestination -- I spend so much time recoiling at Ethan Hawke (never more irritating than in Boyhood, aka this year's critical darling that I'm not on-board with) I forget that in little genre movies like Gattaca or like this movie here that, if he gets out of the way of his affectations, he can actually be pretty alright by me. Predestination's a clever one, much more than it lets on at first, and I enjoyed the ride; it's kind of Cloud Atlas with all the fat boiled off the bone.

The Homesman -- Brutal little thing, isn't it? Didn't see that coming. Loved the score very very much, too. And shocker, Prieto's cinematography's stunning. I was somewhat distracted by the story though - it's like Crazy Lady Central. Why's every single lady in town going crazy? Even surprise-guest Meryl Streep said the word "settee" with bizarre red-eyed menace. This movie should be retitled Prairie Bitches Be Crazy. That's clearly what I'll be calling it from now on, come join me.

Mockingbird -- I saw where it was going fairly early on but this no-budget found-footage horror flick from The Strangers' Bryan Betrino's got... well, if not exactly tricks up its sleeve, elbows. Up its sleeve. Sharp, hey don't get too comfortable elbows, and it's not afraid to use them. Kind of a slow-motion nightmare that plays off its inevitability with a funny mean streak (or maybe a mean funny streak). It does come up with some good answers to the constant found-footage questions of "Why won't these jerks put the camera down???" but I think it could've used one more character, somebody who says eff-this and runs, because that's really where I would've been. And I also wasn't entirely keen on the ending but then I've expressed a wariness with regards to that trope several thousand times before (but I don't want to spoil anything).

Force Majeure - I love how many movies there have been set in the mountains this year! I haven't even had to take any big trips, I've gotten to soak in Alpine splendor all over the place. Not that Force Majeure really has being a pretty postcard on the front of its mind - oh the shots sit there, and they are pretty, but they are totally staring right back at you. Uncomfortable but shockingly funny - this is a movie I'm kinda glad I didn't see with an audience because I'm not sure I wouldn't have stuck out like a sore thumb I was laughing so hard at the exquisitely detailed self-propelled misery of these folks. Anyway I loved every frame and I want to snuggle with this movie (and its big bouncing ginger beard) in my sleeping bag.

Have you guys seen any of these? Thoughts?


Dave S said...

I am 100% in the minority here, but I can't get past the premise of "Two Days, One Night". It just seems implausible and miserable for its own sake. I don't doubt it's well performed but it sounds so extensively unappealing. I half expect the next Dardenne film to be a child who has 90 minutes, in real time, to convince their parents not to have a dog put to sleep.

DouglasG said...

AGREE 100% ON fURY! THANK YOU. hated it.

Glenn said...

The best shot in MOCKINGBIRD!

I was laughing uproariously in the press screening of FORCE MAJEURE and was certainly in the minority, but there was smatterings of giggles across the room.