What I Watched, What You Watched #216

notte-uninvitedWell, I've watched as much of "Breaking Bad" as Netflix Instant will allow me to watch as they don't yet have the second half of the fifth season available. My Comcast On Demand only has the series finale available and while I could just rent the rest from Amazon, I have more than enough to watch in the meantime.

For instance, this week I also watched two great new Criterion titles, which I'll be offering full reviews this week, in Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte and Lewis Allen's The Uninvited. Both offer very limited special features, but what the small amount of features included are really quite excellent. More on that later.

Additionally I received the much-talked-about documentary Blackfish, which I can't wait to finally watch, as well as a trio of Bruce Lee titles on Blu-ray along with a couple documentaries on Lee's work. Like I said, I have a lot to watch not to mention a screening of Man of Tai Chi I may go to this week, a screening of Diana that may be tough to get to depending on my work schedule and a screening of Ender's Game I will definitely be going to, but enough about me, what did you watch this week?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    The Counselor -

    "You think you can live in this world and not be a part of it?"

    Before I really get into my review of The Counselor, I'd just like to first say a few words about my frame of mind over the last 2 years or so.

    After the impressive achievements of 2010 (which for me included films like Inception and The Social Network), 2011 brought what I considered a dropping off point. Sure, there were still great films like Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Skyfall, but those films were more concerned with aesthetics than they were intellectual ideas. I had grown cynical about the future prospects of what cinema had to offer. I had forgotten what it truly felt like to walk out of a theater in a daze, having been blown away by what I had just spent 2 hours watching. Enter The Counselor.

    I had made it a very specific point to avoid all publicity materials and reviews prior to seeing the film and I'm glad I did. While Manohla Dargis seems to have understood exactly what Scott & McCarthy were trying to get at, most film critics (and perhaps audiences) are at a regretful loss. Oh well, sucks for them.

    Sitting around discussing the narrative or certain story elements of a McCarthy work is relatively pointless. The Counselor is no more about the Mexican drug trade than No Country for Old Men is about a satchel of missing money. These things are little more than devices - mere tools Cormac McCarthy uses to communicate a worldview or to comment on a meaningless way of life. If you thought No Country for Old Men was black, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    Utter and total hopelessness is what McCarthy has to offer here - hopelessness for an economic model, hopelessness for a country, and finally, hopelessness for an entire race. The Counselor is where it all ends, and it's not very pretty. Finally, existence in this world, McCarthy feels, amounts to little more than a lifeless body discarded on pile of trash in a listless garbage dump. And I'm afraid I'm inclined to agree.

    What makes McCarthy's work so brilliant is the way he gets these themes across to the audience in a subtle and somewhat matter-of-fact way. It's the small scenes or a quick offhand remark a character makes that prove the most effecting and resonant. And it's the inclusion of these scenes that show not only McCarthy's talent, but Ridley Scott's as well. These are the type of things that get left on the cutting room floor in favor of a shorter running time. But Scott understands the power and significance of these moments, thus we have a random anecdote 3/4's of the way through featuring very recognizable actors who appear only in this scene and never again. The scene revolves around a brief conversation in which two characters discuss the contents of an oil tanker and the intended destination of its cargo. It is here, and in many other scenes, that we understand what McCarthy's tale is really about.

    It's in a short exchange Fassbender's character (only ever referred to as "Counselor") has with a saloon owner. "My entire family is dead," the owner says, "It is I who have no meaning." It's ultimately - and most disturbingly - in the face of a man who knows his time has come and that there is absolutely nothing to be done about it. All he can do is sit down and laugh at the insanity of his situation. Yes, the insanity indeed.

    Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy's The Counselor is thrilling, original, and finally, horrifying. The best film of the year.

    4 / 5 (possibly 4.5)

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

      Wow a possible 4.5 from AS? Between this review and Xarnis's just below it, I love the amount of attention people are giving to The Counselor here. Great reviews, both of you.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        I'm seeing it again in an hour. Hopefully it lives up to the first viewing.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    I watched a lot of good movies this week.
    Follow me on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/xarnis/

    The Counselor (2013; first watch) - "If you pursue this road, that you have embarked upon, you will come to moral decisions that will take you completely by surprise."

    Cormac McCarthy is all about ideas. All of his works revolve around a central thought. In The Road it was the goodness of man in a world depraved of it; in Blood Meridian is was man's lust for satisfaction through violence and the lengths they go to achieve it; and in No Country For Old Men it was the inevitable change in society, and how it is taking a turn for the worse. The Counselor is no different.

    The Counselor's primary idea is that of a destroyed society and way of life; as well as the power and corruption as a result of greed. Bleak and almost (if not completely) nihilistic views are the center of the film. The world is a bizarre place, where the greed and lust of man will bring its downfall, and this outcome is inevitable for those involved. In that way, it's excellently structured almost like a Greek tragedy. Yet, just like watching Cheetahs viciously roam the plains of Texas, the world of The Counselor is fairly disjointed, but several anecdotes and asides from characters come back to play a big part in later acts, which are really the strings that tie the non-linear narrative together - giving a sense of cohesion in an utterly senseless world.

    Contrary to popular belief, the overall plot is not completely incomprehensible. In its simplest form, the film is about an unnamed man called "The Counselor" who gets dragged into a dark world after getting involved with a drug trade. It is simple, yet executed in a somewhat unconventional way (much like McCarthy's novels). It leaves the audience to fill in the blanks, which is likely to frustrate people, when it really just hammers home the main point of the film. God forbid, we actually intellectually stimulate the audience! The structure keeps the audience on their toes, keeps their minds working, so the themes and messages can be more clearly understood (but apparently people still don't understand). As I said before, the narrative is somewhat non-linear, but it's all tied together perfectly in the end, thanks to McCarthy's brilliant script. The dialogue is fantastic and intelligent, and it creates engaging characters and scenes that are very memorable. Every word that comes out of the characters' mouths is a stroke of brilliance.

    Now, such an amazing script would've undoubtedly fallen flat if it weren't for the fantastic cast on display here. Michael Fassbender is fantastic as the titular character. His arc is perfectly portrayed, and culminates in a truly emotional scene, that's far better than anything at the end of Captain Phillips. Sorry Tom Hanks. Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz are great as well (with the former being a standout). Their lavish lifestyle of greed and excess adds to the film's message in the way it's portrayed. Brad Pitt is perfectly cast as middleman Westray - a southern cowboy who's experienced with the type of "moral decisions" The Counselor will be facing. Penelope Cruz is solid, but she doesn't have a ton of screentime, but she puts up a good performance in spite of it. All the actors are excellent and, if I had it my way, would all be considered for awards come February. There were, however, a few scenes where some of the acting fell flat; mostly in the cameo appearances. The line delivery fails, making the dialogue seem stilted and unnatural. But when the lines are delivered right, they're incredible.

    The Counselor also carries a unique sense of irony. The name itself (and the name of the main character) is deeply ironic, in the sense that the man who has the title for counseling is constantly seeking assurance for himself. Along with this, there are several other messages and themes under the surface of The Counselor that will be interesting to dissect, but I don't quite have a complete grasp on them in order to delve into the depths. Needless to say, I will be rewatching this film in the future.

    Also worth noting is the execution of the whole thing. The cinematography is very good, and it all looks nice which is basically a given with Ridley Scott films. The score is good as well. It doesn't necessarily provide any standout tracks, but it works perfectly in the moment.

    The Counselor is brilliantly written, acted, and executed. The complex multitude of ideas at its center are excellently conveyed. It is, without a doubt, one of the best films of 2013.


    Fargo (1996; rewatch) - I don't know what it is about Coen Brothers films, but everything in them just seem to "work." Fargo is no exception. A simple murder case with a Minnesotan twist, it's a darkly comic and entertaining watch. Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi are all excellent in their respective roles, and (as always) the Coen-penned script is nothing less than fantastic. Simply great, and it's one of the Brothers' very best.


    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968; rewatch) - Simply put, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of cinema's greatest achievements from one of its greatest masters. Utterly transcendent in all regards, brilliantly intelligent, and beautifully photographed; this is one of the best movies ever made. A masterpiece of the highest caliber, and one of my all-time favorites. Amazing.


    Room 237 (2013; first watch) - A film that presents things that would usually be deemed completely accidental or improbable... but makes you want to believe in them anyways. This is a fascinating documentary, that's highly entertaining and informative. While it's obvious that some of these theories simply can't be true, they remain interesting and the filmmakers do their best to make them seem believable. In the end It's well made, intriguing, and fun, and it definitely makes me want to watch The Shining again.


    In Bruges (2008; rewatch) - The perfect blend of drama, and dark comedy. A melancholy score and great cinematography sets the moot perfectly, and the character development is spot-on. The performances are brilliant, especially from Ralph Fiennes as he solidifies himself as one of today's best working actors. And despite some of the bleakness, it's surprisingly rewatchable.


    Lost in Translation (2003; first watch) - This film is truly remarkable. The human element of this film is so authentic, and so real that it musters up a flurry of emotions in the end; never feeling exploitative or manipulative. These characters feel real, and they're developed to perfection. Bill Murray's and Scarlett Johansson's performances are excellent, and their chemistry is superb. I haven't had an emotional response like this from a film in a long time, and that's a feat in and of itself.


    Pacific Rim (2013; rewatch) - There are many things wrong with Pacific Rim. That fact is undeniable. However, most peopel opted to ignore such flaws and take it for a fun spectacle - something which I don't necessarily condemn, since they have every right to do so - when in reality, it's a bland, dumb mess. The special effects, and sound design are really the only thing that mustered up my 2-star rating, as the rest of it is just stupidity of the highest visual standard.

    The story is unimportant, as it takes a backseat to simplified conflicts of robots punching monsters, most of the time in dark, rainy environments. The little story it presents happens in the beginning with Charlie Hunnam's dull, stilted voice over and genre tropes (which it continues to embrace as the film goes on), and then drifts into boring territory. Most of the time spent in the "Shatterdome" or whatever it was called is just monotonous. We see a forced love interest between Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, some training sessions, and the lead character needlessly butting heads with a rival despite working towards the same goal. All the while, the interactions between characters is awful, with some of the worst dialogue I've heard all year; which is ramped up even farther during the fight scenes. The human element is severely lacking, and although the film does attempt to establish some ethos, it ultimately fails while presenting the idea of drifting. Drifting is never fully explained, and sounds especially stupid when trying to explain it to another person:

    "So, there are two pilots, and they have to activate the 'neural handshake' because they can't handle the 'nueral lode' of a giant robot." - after stating this to my friends, they cracked up laughing.

    The whole idea feels like a gimmick in order to get our two protagonists relationship to grow, since they operate the same robot. But, as with the rest of the story, once the action ramps up, that whole idea is abandoned in favor of CGI-based spectacle. While said spectacle is admirable in terms of visuals and sound, taking front seat instead of underdeveloped ideas and plotlines does not work. And it's even worse when a spectacle takes over a plot that was already bad to begin with.

    So in the end, Pacific Rim may work for some who dig sheer spectacle, but I prefer a little more depth. For me, this film was half dull, half obnoxiously loud visual extravaganza. It's fun to laugh at, I'll give it that. Whoever's idea it was to build a wall to keep the Kaiju out should be fired.


  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    I will be posting later because I'm seeing Carrie in a few hours.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

    Must See -
    Marwencol (Explanation won't do it justice, please watch the trailer)

    Very Good -
    Dirty Wars
    Ain't Them Bodies Saints
    Good Ol' Freda (Documentary on The Beatles' long serving secretary)
    30 For 30: Catching Hell
    Unraveled (Financial Scam Documentary)

    Good -

    The Crossing Guard
    Death By China (Economy Documentary)
    Maxed Out (Financial Documentary)

    Ok -
    Escape From Tomorrow
    The Way Way Back

    Higher? Lower? Ignore?

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a film I gave a 5-star review (I absolutely loved it), and I really enjoyed The Way Way Back (4 stars). "Catching Hell" is a great ESPN Films documentary, as well.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

        I must have seen too many coming of age films because The Way Way Back seemed really generic to me and Sam Rockwell's character was as annoying as hell.

        • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

          Hm, I guess our takes on the film just differ. I loved Rockwell, and as a coming-of-age film, I thought it hit a lot of really great notes. I've seen quite a few coming-of-age films this year too (new releases and older ones), and though this one is generic in structure -- cliched, some may call it -- its genuineness in handling its characters and subjects is what makes it work for me.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Ha, I really need to see Marwencol.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

        There's a moment near the end that shows how Mark's alter ego deals with his own trauma that had me welling up(again).

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    Brad, for some reason Disqus isn't letting me subscribe to this article.

  • gp1086

    Lots of Breaking Bad. I have four episodes left in the fifth season (thankfully I recorded them all back when AMC was running the marathon prior to the finale). Love this show and have heard really good things about the third to last episode.

    Other than that I put on John Carpenter's 1978 "Halloween" in the background while carving / decorating a pumpkin on Friday with a friend and the GF. I will say that I can appreciate this movie as a slasher, but the more I seem to watch it, the less creepy / scary I find it. Had planned to take a couple years off from watching it, but it was requested.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

    I watched a couple of good movies this week.

    The Naked City- A good crime noir, it perhaps felt too long, and didn't have enough to warrant that length in my opinion. Still, I liked it, and would recommend it.



    Vampyr: This movie isn't very linear, making you pay attention as the film goes on and develops the mood of the film remarkably. It could be so caught up in mood that it forgets to explain some things, but it is a great work of tone and mood. Highly recommended.



    So, thats it for me this week. Thoughts?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      I still need to see The Naked City. Do you own Vampyr on Criterion? That set is damn impressive.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

        Yeah, my dad has Vampyr on Criterion, as well as The Naked City.

  • m1

    Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)-To see Alfonso Cuaron go form A Little Princess to this to Harry Potter to Children of Men to Gravity is astonishing. As tawdry as this film is, it has an undercurrent of humanity that increases its emotional and dramatic impact. An exceptional, complex film. 9.5/10

    Pleasantville (1998)-The social commentary and satire of this movie isn't overly surprising, but it's conveyed with effective humor and visual inventiveness that it becomes charming to watch. It also features strong performances from Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, and William H. Macy. 8/10

    Gods and Monsters (1998)-When the only problem you find in a movie is that you wish it had been longer, you know you've seen something great. Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave, and Brendan Fraser give remarkable performances in a movie that gets inside its main character's thoughts, emotions, and sexuality. Incredible. 9/10

    Trainspotting (1996)-This movie is pretty painful but it's also thrilling and absorbing. It teaches its drug prevention lesson with style and black humor. Ewan McGregor gives a fantastic performance in a film with a wildly clever script. 8/10

    As Good as It Gets (1997)-A refreshing, charming adult romantic comedy with a trio of great acting from Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear. It does hit some predictable points, but overall this is a funny, well-acted comedy that works. 8/10

    Face/Off (1997)-Despite some cheesy dialogue sprinkled throughout, this is a great action flick. It's a ton of fun seeing John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play each other and it moves at a breakneck pace. 8/10

    Think Like a Man (2012)-I've seen way worse but I've also seen much better. There are some interesting ideas but they become victims to formulaic plot developments and repetitive scenes. The cast is decent, with Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Hart standing out among the rest. So for a Friday night rental, it's not too bad. 5/10

    Jackie Brown (1997)-While it's a bit stylistically different from the other Tarantino
    movies I've seen, I still immensely enjoyed the numerous twists and turns it took. Pam Grier and Robert Forster in particular were great. I also liked Samuel L. Jackson although he's played this role many times before. I could have done without the Robert De Niro-Bridget Fonda stuff but otherwise this is a great movie that features the best soundtrack Tarantino has put together. 8/10

    Billy Elliot (2000)-A charming British comedy that has some strong dramatic
    flourishes as well. That lead actor gives one of the best performances I've ever seen from a child actor. I wish Stephen Daldry would go back to making
    movies like this and The Hours. 8/10

    Schindler's List (1993)-Stephen Spielberg's Holocaust epic might just have become one of my new favorite movies. The cinematography, the acting, the screenwriting, the directing-it's perfect in nearly every respect. What more can you say? 10/10

    The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)-Inventive in both visual and narrative, thismovie is fantastic. I had no idea it was a full-blown musical so I was surprised at how well the songs guided the story. I loved all the characters too. It has now become the go-to Halloween movie for me. 9.5/10

    • Falcon

      I think your take on most of these is spot-on. I have a soft spot for Pleasantville and have been surprised by the vitriol it inspires in some people. I would not rate As Good As It Gets quite so highly but it was certainly enjoyable. Schindler's List is the best thing Spielberg has done, but it is so tough to watch I would not call it a favorite.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    Planning on seeing The Counselor and Blackfish sometime this week. And I'm about six episodes into Arrested Development so far.

    At Home:

    The Internship - A harmless comedy that's enjoyable for a one time viewing. There's been better (The World's End, This Is the End), but there's also been much worse (Identity Thief, Burt Wonderstone). This one falls right down the middle. There's more than enough laughs to merit a recommendation, but it's also generic and predictable. And there were times when they repeated the joke five times too many (i.e. "On the line", "What", "You're fat"). Again, there's nothing to get mad about, but not a whole lot to praise either. It's just a little bit better than average.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

    Parenthood (Ron Howard, 1989) 7/10
    The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976) 8/10
    Four Rooms (Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 1995) 7/10
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978) 9/10
    Dante's Peak (Roger Donaldson, 1997) 5/10
    The Number 23 (Joel Schumacher, 2007) 4/10
    The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973) 6/10
    Faster (George Tillman Jr., 2010) 6/10
    Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola, 1992) 7/10
    Vantage Point (Pete Travis, 2008) 6/10
    The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) 8/10
    Dragon Eyes (John Hyams, 2012) 3/10
    Four Christmases (Seth Gordon, 2008) 4/10
    Next (Lee Tamahori, 2007) 2/10
    Drive Angry (Patrick Lussier, 2011) 5/10
    The Sentinel (Clark Johnson, 2006) 6/10

    Best: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Worst: Next
    Most disappointing: The Exorcist.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Why was The Exorcist the most disappointing?

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

        Well, after all what's been said about The Exorcist and with the crown of the scariest film of all time, I expected much more. William Friedkin is a great director. Two years earlier he delivered one of the most original and inventive crime films The French Connection. He maintained his style in The Exorcist, but the screenplay didn't match it. I felt that there were too many ideas and side stories to tell and therefore the main storyline got hurt. In example, The Omen dealt with that much better, in my opinion. Also, Linda Blair's performance didn't convince me.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

    In Theaters:

    Before I begin, let me just say that the two new releases that I saw this week are not very happy films. In fact, between the two of them, we cover both the terrible places humanity has been and the terrible places humanity is going. However other than both casting Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, the two films could not be more different in their approach. One is a character-based emotional slap to the face that had me leaving the theater in a daze. I actually had to sit in my car for five minutes before I felt okay to drive home. The other favors the head more-so than the heart. While I walked out of the theater with a sense of enjoyment, it was in the coming hours as I played with what I saw that I began to understand what exactly I had just witnessed.

    Both films were dark, depressing, and extremely well made. Mark it down folks, this was the weekend when, for me at least, 2013 declared that it meant business. I can't wait to see what we get next.

    12 Years a Slave- Brutal. Just brutal. This is my first Steve McQueen film (though I have a Netflix copy of Shame sitting on my desk) and it was phenomenal. The visuals in this film are astounding. A body dumped in the water, blackberry juice polling in the bottom of a plate, a whipping scene for the ages- the cinematography in this film is some of the best of the year. However what impressed me even more was the sound work. Make no mistake, you may turn your head from a particular hanging scene, but unless you plug your ears, you will be haunted by the muffled gagging that goes on for minutes. The film is made all the more emotional because even the most minor of characters feels real. There are no caricatured victimized slaves or one-note vicious slave-owners here. Every single character had motivations. Every single character felt human, making the film so much better, and so much scarier. 4/4

    The Counselor- I'm not sure I have a handle on the whole thing yet, but let me just say that I see this as this year's The Master. It's a technically well-made film that I only appreciated after I thought about it and read other's interpretations online. The key difference being that while it was easy enough to find many interpretations of PTA's film, people seem nervous to face the meaning of this one head-on. It's easy to dismiss dialogue as vague and pseudo-intellectual if you don't think about it.

    Now I'm not say that this is a perfect film. Hell, upon repeated viewings, I might discover its a deeply flawed film. But the economic (capitalism and greed), political (washing our hands of wrongs done in another country), religious (three wise men and a virgin), sexual (not sure yet), and human (GREED!) implications are too great to dismiss it completely after one viewing. 3.5/4

    The Matrix (rewatch)- A personal favorite. I had never seen it on the big screen before. 4/4

    At Home:

    Pitch Perfect- Some decent laughs and I love Anna Kendrick, but dear lord is it cliched. Also, am I the only one that does not understand the appeal of Rebel Wilson? 2/4

    A Prophet- Haunting. If I hadn't just spent so much time typing about the two new releases, I'd love to jump into this one. Maybe I'll come back later.

    Three Kings- At this point in his career, David O. Russell hadn't quite nailed down the understanding of characters he has today, but he still knew how to make a good film. The use of white in this film is staggering to look at, and the ending feels truly earned. 3.5/4

    1) Thoughts on any of the films I watched this week?

    2) Walking out of the theater, what's the most emotionally stunned you've ever been?

    3) Interpretations of The Counselor, I'd love to hear them. Specifically, does anyone have a read on the sexual nature of most of the film? Could the opening scene be just to show intimacy between the two relatively "pure" characters in the film? Could the, ahem, catfish scene be only to show the need to dominate and the lack of intimacy by this "hunter?" Is it that simple? I think no, but I don't know where to go yet.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

      1) I think Pitch Perfect is hilarious. Haven't seen anything else.

      2) I'm not really sure. I don't tend to go see movies that end up leaving me emotionally stunned in theatres.

      3) Can't say, haven't seen it.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

      2. Revolutionary Road. Perfect and very emotional.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

        DiCaprio is fantastic with Winslet especially in the final furious exchange.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      You're spot on about The Counselor. Great review.

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      1. Excited to see 12 Years A Slave, not sure if I'll check out The Counselor or not. Pitch Perfect is one of those decent comedies I could throw in and listen to in the background; Three Kings is fantastic.

      2. Recently, Fruitvale Station left me pretty affected; that film is so emotionally raw and powerful. There are others I'm sure, but that one comes to mind as I saw it somewhat recently. Zodiac is another film that, every time I see it, leaves me completely astonished and enthralled.

    • http://moviereviewninja.com themoviewatcher

      1. 12 Years A Slave is incredible and Pitch Pefect is a fun movie.
      2. Not sure which movies but it has happened.
      3. Haven't seen it but want to.

    • m1

      1. I thought Pitch Perfect was average at first but after I really thought about how great the performances and music were I enjoyed it a bit more. I really like The Matrix although I think it relies too heavily on gimmicks.

      2. I don't watch too many of the emotional movies in theaters but Gravity left me stunned, as did Les Miserables last year and The Descendants.

    • Falcon

      1. Have only seen The Matrix and Three Kings and liked the both, but not real favorites.

      2. Schindler's List. That was a very quiet ride home from the theater. I expect 12 Years Slave will have a similar effect.

      3. Have not seen it and don't expect too. I can't say anything I have heard including from supporters makes me want to see it. Your comparison to the Master is interesting but while I was willing to give that the benefit of the doubt, Ridley Scott, with all due respect, is no Paul Thomas Anderson.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    This week I ended up watching more than I at first thought including one cinema viewing and a lot of home stuff. Though both those Criterion's sound extremely interesting, especially The Uninvited to me.

    At Cinemas -

    Captain Phillips (2013) - I actually felt as if I got off on the wrong foot with Paul Greengrass's latest outing thanks to a cack-handed opening scene involving Catherine Keener which really could have (and should have) been excised from the film and would have affected it one bit. However, although this didn't warm me up to the film right at the start I obviously hung around to see where we went. Being based on true events obviously elements are already known and anticipated and I soon enough again started to be annoyed by the film. Whether unconscious bias existed in Greengrass/Hanks and Co's head, the first part of the film seemed not so subtly to display Captain Phillips as the only person on the Maersk Alabama who seemed to be aware and tuned into the threats around him (his crew was lackadaisical, authorities brushed him off - when they could even be contacted) and the perception seemed to be getting made that Phillips was really the only on the ball person around. This may or may not be true (I'm aware of various claims and counter claims regarding the events) or maybe it's simply indiciative of the need to refocus and reorient some 'true' events for the purposes of dramatic fictional reconstructions. Either way, I wasn't really gelling with the film and indeed the midsection contains probably areas where further cutting could be made. However, where the film does finally emerge from it's slog is in the well noted and well praised third act. One we hit the final stretch the last half hour is a masterclass of acting editing, scoring and direction consistently building and building tension and emotion until it's all over and it's at this point that Hanks takes his performance beyond acting to just being the character in that traumatic moment and it's aftermath. If anything saves the film it's those last fifteen minutes or so where I could not and would not argue with an Oscar nomination for Hanks for Best Actor. His opposite in the form of Barkhad Abdi also impressed and I didn't feel the film tried to position him or his Somali companions as merely 'evil' under their circumstances. Overall, I don't see this as being a film I'll rewatch often (possibly never in fact) because the preceding 100 minutes has some issues, but certainly for the last act I will praise it unreservedly.

    At Home -

    Carnival Boat (1932): TV airing, first watch - There's a channel in the UK (BBC2) that for a few months now has very early on Saturday mornings played old, old, OLD movies long forgotten mostly early in the mornings and usually I miss them but this weekend I caught them all and quite enjoyed them. This one lasts barely an hour and features Ginger Rogers as a young Riverboat entertainer who comes between a young man and his father and the future of the family logging company. He wants to marry her and she him, but the old man disapproves and wants his son to stay and work. Simple simon stuff but it shows the old dramatic dilemmas never go out of fashion. It was entertaining, and managed to throw in a runaway logging train (which, interestingly reminded me indirectly of the kind of old style Hollywood stunt work Gore Verbinski probably had in mind with his train based finale to 'The Lone Ranger') and the blowing up of a logjam. There was actually some interesting footage of California logging at the time seen in the film which made it all pass an hour very easily.

    The 39 Steps (1935): TV airing, first watch - I had never seen this old Hitchcock film either and watching it now one can clearly see that in a lot of ways with it's innocent man on the run storyline that it was basically remade by Hitch in 1946 as 'Saboteur' and then again in 1959 with 'North By Northwest' (each version just getting more and more lavish as he went) but that doesn't prevent this old adventure from being hugely well made and entertaining even if it is nearly 80 years old now. At the time it was made to appeal to international audiences and so carried the (then) large budget of £60,000 to give it extra production values. And it does look great actually as well, running from London to Scotland and back again.

    The Fallen Sparrow (1943): TV airing, first watch - Not quite as good as the other two films but here John Garfield plays an American who returns from the Spanish Civil War to investigate the death of his friend, a New York Police Lieutenant only to discover much larger conspiracy. Noirish in nature but seemingly not one of the finer ones it nonetheless entertained and had some decent twists and turns for it's time.

    North by Northwest (1959): Blu Ray, rewatch - One of my favourite Hitch films anyway this was merely rewatched for the pure pleasure of it's adventurous nature and colourful production design.

    Last Year At Marienbad (1961): Blu Ray, rewatch - I watched this for the first time a few months ago and it stayed bubbling around in my head so I wanted to review it. Great Blu Ray presentation and extras package of a film which offers no specific answers to anything it attempts to lay down to the viewer. While the basic story of a man trying to persuade a woman they met one year ago at the vast estate or hotel they are currently both staying in sounds simple, the film could be anything or nothing at all beyond that depending on you the viewer.

    A Few Good Men (1992): DVD, rewatch - Not watched this for a long time either and I had forgotten how effective a well written and smart Courtroom drama can be (especially since it's one of those types of films that has kind of died out now - this wouldn't get made today I believe) in the right hands. Great performances all around and a script that mixes humour with plot it's wonderfully well made and entertaining.

    The Last of the Mohicans (1992): Blu Ray, rewatch - A personal favourite thrown in again for the pure pleasure of just watching it.

    Malice (1993): DVD, rewatch - A probably little known thriller starring Nicole Kidman, Bill Pullman and Alec Baldwin about a couple in a small college town where a series of student murders are taking place (check also Gwyneth Paltrow in a very small role as one of said students pre stardom) and the doctor they rent out part of their house to to make ends meet. Very twisty and turny it has a neat mid film shift of direction and one of those gloriously simple but fun final twists along the way. A bit 90's in feel and construction but nonetheless has a great little performance from Kidman before she became the actress we think of today.

    Moulin Rouge! (2001): TV airing, rewatch - But maybe for the first time in a decade. Baz Lurhmann's visual spectacular has lost non of it's visual style but I had forgotten (though after this year's The Great Gatsby) that visual splendour is mostly what it has going for it, aside from some dynamic musical sequences. The story is very thin, and a lot of the time the film is like a hyperactive kid you just want to sit down and make quiet. I kind of enjoyed it again, but won't be rushing to see it again probably for another ten years.

    King Kong (2005): Blu Ray, rewatch - Another personal favourite because.......put simply.......It's just so beautiful from start to finish. I could watch this for the visuals alone any time of the week despite legitimate issues others may not forgive it for (not least being excessive length). But it's so beautiful. I love this flick.

    Sunshine (2007): Blu Ray, rewatch - But another film I hadn't seen for a long time. This one frustrated me no end because there was so much potential here in this film that I think gets narratively squandered by the time the stupid slasher movie final act kicks in that I end up not liking it even though I can see so much of what could have been in it. If they had just stuck to the idea of the mission (to restart the Sun to save life on Earth - yeah, I know but don't bother questioning the hard science that isn't the point of the film anyway) being sent spiralling out of control thanks to one tiny tiny human error gives the film enough material to play with before said slasher style element comes in to thin down the cast before the end of the film. Beautiful (have I used that word enough today?) visual effects and production design help the film but it seems so confused as to what it really wants to be it just starts to veer off course (like the mission) after the halfway point.

    Lincoln (2012): Just a last minute rewatch really but even although I liked this film from the start I think I like it a little more each time I do watch it.

    I didn't do much on the TV front this week so that's all from me.

    • m1

      The King Kong remake is actually a really good movie. It's just too long. I also enjoyed A Few Good Men and loved Lincoln. I'm not sure if I'll get around to Captain Phillips in theaters or on DVD but it certainly looks like something I'd like (I loved United 93).

  • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

    Got to see quite a few really good movies this week. As usual, there are a few questions down at the bottom, and you check me out on Letterboxd for more: http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh.

    NOTE: Grades are out of five stars (★★★★★).


    All Is Lost: ★★★★ (tentative score)
    J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford as "Our Man" in a nearly wordless feature -- an interesting decision following Chandor's previous outing Margin Call, which was filled to the brim with biting dialogue -- is by far one of the year's most harrowing films. It is the third "survival thriller" I've seen in as many weeks (Gravity and Captain Phillips, the other two) and it just may be the best of the bunch. But the jury is still out on that one, in my mind. I'm going to need to spend a bit more time with this film, as its ending, especially, has been sitting with me since I left the theater.


    Before Midnight: ★★★★★
    Damn, I love this movie. Frankly, there's not much more to say about the film than that.

    The Cabin in the Woods: ★★★★
    The Cabin in the Woods is unique, and highly entertaining, but the film loses a little bit with repeat viewings; its novelty begins to wear off, but such is the case with most films of its ilk. However, this is still a good, fun movie to watch, especially this time of year.

    The General: ★★★★
    Film number two of my "Great Comedy Films" class, The General, is oft-considered one of the greatest films of all-time, a silent comedy that holds up well to this day and has kept audiences laughing over the years. It's certainly very funny in parts, and quite well structured, though the film did begin to lag a bit towards the end; I felt it could have ended about 10 or 15 minutes sooner. But that's not to take away too much from what this film does right, namely in showcasing the comedic talents of its lead. Keaton's tendency toward deadpan humor is something I really enjoyed about the film, as I like finding the subtle humor in semi-serious situations.

    Zodiac: ★★★★★
    Not just David Fincher's best film, but one of the very best films ever made, in my opinion; Zodiac is Fincher's masterpiece, which I am reminded of each and every time I see this film. The mood, the feel, the execution, it's all just so perfect. Fincher takes the idea of obsession and uses the most popular, chilling cold case in our country's history as a fantastic storytelling device. As the story moves forward, so, too, do the depths of each character's obsession with the case -- as well as my own obsession with the film.

    1. What are your thoughts on the films I watched this week?
    2. What are some of your favorite survival films?
    3. All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, or Gravity? Why?
    4. How would you rate (and rank) the films in the Before… series?
    5. What are your favorite serial killer films?
    6. What is your favorite film by David Fincher?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

      1. Only seen 'Zodiac' and 'The Cabin in the Woods' both of which I like, in fact 'Zodiac' was my favourite film of 2007.

      2. I don't believe I strictly have one.

      3. Just now, 'Captain Phillips' by default as I haven't seen the others, however by the time I have seen all three I expect it to be one I would not list at the top.

      4. I need to see them all.

      5. 'Zodiac' is up there, but I also like 'Copycat' and 'The Silence of the Lambs'. I can't offhand think of any other serial killer films that wouldn't also be slasher style films (which of course, are different).

      6. 'Zodiac'.

      • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

        5. A couple of Fincher's other films, Se7en and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, would fall into the serial killer realm -- these are two of my favorites as well.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

          True on Seven and TGWTDT - when pressed about lists I do tend to forget some of the candidates - although I'm not sure if I quite tend to think of the latter as a serial killer film (all the murders occur in the past) and more of a whodunnit from that aspect. Plus in TGWTDT the murder mystery is more the hook for audiences but the films cover other themes on top.

          • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

            I suppose this is a SPOILER for anyone who hasn't seen the film, but yes, while a lot of the film is a bit of a whodunnit in regards to past crimes, Martin has been periodically carrying out rapes and murders of women in his basement over the years. Various themes are tackled within the film, but one of the main threads is that of tracking down, as Blomkvist tells Lisbeth, "a killer of women." The film could certainly be considered a murder mystery, but seeing as Martin is still alive and still up to no good (read: raping and murdering women), I consider it a serial killer film. But to each one's one!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

      4. Before Series:
      All 9/10
      Before Sunset
      Before Sunrise
      Before Midnight

      All three films are great, but Sunset tops it for its unique atmosphere. And I think the whole story and setup is meant for this part. It is a peak of the mountain called "Before Series".

      5. Zodiac, Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, No Way to Treat a Lady, The Pledge, Perfume, Hannibal, Kiss the Girls.

      6. Zodiac.

      • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

        4. Interesting; Sunrise is actually my least favorite of the series. I give Sunset top billing (5 stars), partially for what you mention -- the stakes of that film are so high, the emotions that carry through it so raw and real. Midnight is a very, very small step down the ladder (5 stars), while I give Sunrise the lowest rating (4 stars), though I still enjoy it. I think Sunrise is perhaps too idealistic for me; I'm young, but parts of my life have caused me to be a bit more cynical than other people my age, so I don't have quite the wistful longing that Jesse and Celine have in Sunrise.

    • http://moviereviewninja.com themoviewatcher

      1. Love Cabin in the Woods and have seen some of Zodiac on TV and want to see the whole movie.
      3. On a techincal scale, Gravity. Otherwise, Captain Phiilips having not seen All is Lost yet.
      4. Haven't seen any.
      6. The Social Network

    • m1

      1. I thought The Cabin in the Woods was a great horror flick and one of the best to come out of Hollywood in years. I like Zodiac but find it a bit dry and pedestrian in places. I prefer The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in which Fincher really gets the chance to marry story with style.

      2. I haven't seen too many of these to say. I love Gravity and 127 Hours, and I enjoyed Life of Pi last year as well.

      3. I've only seen Gravity but I really want to see the other two.

      4. I still haven't seen Before Midnight (since it's the beginning of school the Netflix account is taking a break and will be restarted at the beginning of December). But I think Sunset is better than Sunrise.

      5. The Silence of the Lambs would probably be up there. Seven and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are also great. Wow, David Fincher loves making movies about killers, doesn't he? Not that I don't mind it. I'm really looking forward to Gone Girl next year as well.

      6. The Social Network is my favorite. It's the only film of his that I can genuinely say that I love, even though I like some of his other stuff.

      • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

        1. I love TSN and TWGTDT as well, but for me, Zodiac just flows so perfectly. It tells the cold case story of a series of killings, but rather than focusing on the killings, Fincher focuses his narrative on the obsession that drives each of the three main characters mad.

        4. I agree, Sunset is my favorite of the three, followed by Midnight and then Sunrise.

        5. Fincher indeed loves a film about killers. Gone Girl is one of my most anticipated films of 2014.

        6. Interesting, but I respect that. Zodiac, Seven, and TSN are my favorites of his, with TGWTDT and Benjamin Button not far behind. I like every movie he's made, save for Alien3, which I haven't yet seen.

    • ashdurdin

      1. The Cabin in the Woods is a favorite of mine, I think I should watch The General again, with a good score instead of the version I found on Youtube years ago.

      2. 127 Hours is probably my favorite.

      3. Gravity, because I generally dislike movies set on the ocean (though I really liked Captain Phillips and haven't seen All is Lost)

      4. I don't know what I would rate them but ranking would go, Sunset, Midnight, Sunrise, in the order I would watch them again.

      5. Shadow of a Doubt, Sweeney Todd.

      6. Fight Club.

      • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

        4. We've got the same order, nice!

        6. I find it interesting that Fight Club seems to be the majority's favorite Fincher film -- or at least, the Letterboxd and IMDb communities especially adore it. That's not to say it's a bad film by any stretch, but I've grown to like his other work even more. I first saw Fight Club when I was 12, and absolutely loved it, but while the film plays around with weighty themes like capitalism, consumerism/materialism, politics, masculinity, and more, I don't think it's as well executed as some of Fincher's other work.

        • ashdurdin

          I really like all of Fincher's films and I think the main reason Fight Club still sticks with me is because I watched it without knowing anything about the film, so the whole thing was really fresh and surprising. And people always talk about its themes, but what I like most about it is the love story.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

      Have you seen any of the Paradise trilogy? I've now watched Love and Faith and all things going to plan next week i'll have seen Hope. So far it's beating the "Before" trilogy and Three Colours.

      • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

        I've not; I actually haven't even heard of them. I do, however, love the Before and Three Colors trilogies.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

          I only discovered them a few weeks ago, and i had a great time watching them. They're from an Austrian director called Ulrich Seidl who i'm not familiar with. Perhaps check out the trailers and see if they're your thing.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

      1) I love Before Midnight, really like Zodiac and enjoy Cabin in the Woods, but found it to be a tad overrated.

      3) I haven't yet seen All Is Lost, but I'd definitely give Gravity the edge over Phillips. I personally felt that Phillips provided tension, but not much else. Gravity added some emotion and visual magnificence on top of tension.

      4) Before Sunset 4/4 (All-time favorite of mine)
      Before Midnight 4/4
      Before Sunrise 3.5/4

      6) Fight Club is my favorite with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a close second.

    • Cb

      1. Love Before Midnight, rest are movies I need to see.
      2. Gravity, Captain Phillips, Life of Pi
      3. Captain Phillips, though I haven't seen All is Lost yet.
      4. Before Midnight, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise
      5. Halloween, if it counts
      6. The Social Network

  • http://everyjohnhustonmovie.blogspot.ca/ Timothy

    Opening Night-

    Opening Night starts off a bit like a darker version of All About
    Eve, with Gena Rowlands playing a famous actress struggling to
    understand her character in a play. I saw A Woman Under the Influence a
    while ago, so this is only my second Cassavetes, however it's a lot
    easier to watch. I personally loved the first two hours, and was ready
    to give the film a very high grade, but the ending just ruined things
    for me.

    Personally, it just didn't make any sense. From Cassavetes yelling
    out that he is Superman to Rowlands running at him to try and grab his
    foot. I just thought that it completely destroyed the tone and strong
    characters that the film had built up until that point. I would
    understand why someone would want a film like this to have a happy
    ending, but it just feels so incredibly tacked on here. Ah well.

    Anyways, up to the ending, Opening Night is a taught, suspenseful
    drama with terrific performances from the whole cast, and Rowlands in
    particular. It may have not left quite as big an impact as A Woman Under
    the Influence, but it was just as excellent....until the end that is. I
    think I'd love Cassavetes, I just need to find the right film. 6.5/10

    Shaun of the Dead- Really quite funny, and yet very endearing at the same time. Damn entertaining stuff. 7/10

    I started watching Louie, and although I was rather indifferent to Louis C.K. before, this show has made me change my mind, he's rather funny. I also watched parts of Six Feet Under, Luther, Community and Twin Peaks, all of which were rather good.
    I've had a pretty slow week, so that's about it, I guess.

  • Michael


    At Home:

    Movie 43 (2013) (Netflix Instant, 1st viewing) -

    How in the heck did I actually ended up kind of enjoying this one? This was supposed to be awful, I was expecting to hate it but NO, I ended up laughing several times and not hating it. How this happenend? I feel so guilty but at the same time I feel i'm glad I enjoyed it despite the rating I gave it.

    Sure, some of the sketches were really not funny & painfully bad . On the other hand, they were sketches that I really liked & laughed hard at that probably made me enjoy it enough.

    The ones i'm talking about are:

    - Kate Winslet dating a "neck-balling" Hugh Jackman at beginning.

    - Naomi Watts/Liev Schreiber homeschooling their son out of insanely crazy and hilarious proportions.

    - Anna Faris asking Chris Pratt to poop on her and Pratt hilariously eating a burrito, drinking a bottle of laxative and trying to do it to her before all the crap gets out of him which I started laughing my butt off hard.

    - Chloe Moretz kissing this guy with McLovin playing his brother and watching them and appearantly she has a period and they all go crazy about it.

    - Halle Berry & Stephen Merchant on a date and they play truth or dare and then they pick it up notch by daring each other to every crazy thing that comes to mind.

    - Terrence Howard lecturing his basketball team that they are BLACK and they will win the game.

    - Elizabeth Banks fighting with Josh Duhamel's cartoon cat Beezel.

    I have no words, i'm speechless. This is the most surprisingly "kind of enjoyable & sometimes hilarious" movie of the year for me. 5/10.

    Barton Fink (1991) (Netflix Instant, 1st viewing) - Another good film from The Coen Bros. Another great performance from the criminally-underrated John Turturro. John Goodman as well. 7/10.

    The Evil Dead (1981) (Netflix Instant, 1st viewing) - Mmmm...decent. I'll be seeing this one again to see if I can enjoy it more but it's still a fun movie, I just wasn't in the right mood. 6.5/10.

    The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (DVD, 11th & 12 viewing) - 10/10.

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) (TV, 6th viewing) - The best and always, my favorite of one of my favorite movie franchises. 10/10.

    The Thin Red Line (1998) (TV, 3rd viewing) - Malick's last great piece and yes, I thought The Tree of Life was solid but it wasn't Terrence Malick at his best. THIS is what he needs to come back to, this is what made him such a terrific director and most importantly, storyteller. 9.5/10.
    Parks & Rec Season 5 - 9.5/10.
    Homeland Season 2, episodes 1-3.
    Boardwalk Empire Season 4, episode 7 - 9/10.
    Showtime Boxing
    MLB World Series - Last night's game was insanely amazing, one of the best and most controversial games you'll ever see in World Series history. While, the game was awesome, the Cardinals won and i've always hated them so i'm rooting for the RedSox even though i'm not really a fan of theirs (most of my family are including my dad, i'm a Cubs fan and several other teams including the Rays but mainly the Cubs since I was a kid), I want them to beat the Cardinals badly.

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      I'm impressed your thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises are still that high after so many viewings. I've seen it 3 times, and I've grown less kind to it since I first saw it. Frankly, the trailers, which I avoided as best I could before the film's release, sell a movie that I don't think Nolan made -- and the movie the promos sell is better than the one we ultimately got. TDKR isn't a bad film, but it's one that I seem to become more disappointed in every time I watch it.

      • Michael

        I know haha. It's just such a quotable movie, I love Tom Hardy as Bane so much (he has become of my favorite movie villains of all-time), Anne Hathaway is perfect as Catwoman, etc. I just love this movie so much, there's so much I love about the movie that I don't even have time to put a list of the things I love. Each viewing, I grow to love the movie more and more.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Chris138/ Chris138

      I love The Thin Red Line, that's also my favorite Malick movie. And you really seem to love The Dark Knight Rises, haha. Is it your favorite of the trilogy?

      • Michael

        Yeah The Thin Red Line was such brilliant filmmaking, hopefully Malick could go back to making films like that again. Yes, it is my favorite of the trilogy after the second viewing.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

    I saw The Hunt (Jagten) yesterday. There's not much to say that already hasn't been said, but wow, it's an intensely frustrating, beautifully crafted film. It's a really tough watch, but probably my favourite film of the year so far.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      What did you think of the ending? People seem to be divided. Personally I'm not sure it was at all necessary, but I understand the intention behind it.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

        That was the one thing about the film that kind of bothered me. Like you, I understand the point Vinterberg was trying to make, but it seemed as if he was 'beating a dead horse'. If that was the route he wanted to take, I think I would have rather seen Lucas have to move away from the town, or something a little less extreme. That being said, there was enough to respect in the film that I can overlook the small misstep.
        Also, I find it hard to penalize the director for going for 'shocking' when it was the shocking moments that really stuck with you through the film.

        (Sorry if this was kind of hard to understand, I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible. After all, it was a pretty powerful scene when it occurred, it just seemed a little over-the-top when I think back on it.)

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          Oh, I also wasn't a big fan of what happened with the dog. Felt that wasn't necessary either, a little too obvious.

          I say this having loved the movie and, like you, consider them small missteps.

  • Falcon

    On a five star scale:

    Rush 2013 ★★★★

    Excellent, adult look at diametrically opposing approaches to racing and life not reduced to terms of heroes and villains. Assured and visually beautiful at times with almost uniformly good performances. Though the bar is not that high, surely the best racing movie ever made.

    Another Earth 2011 ★½

    Annoying and ultimately silly. It's moderately interesting premise is spoiled by the film's self-importance and uninteresting performances. Technically it is a veritable how-not-to manual cataloging every intrusive cinematic device ever invented to call attention to itself. See it if you must, avoid it if you can.

    Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison 1957 ★★★★

    Beautifully told, perfectly paced story of tough Marine stranded on an island with a nun. Implausible premise is completely believable thanks to the performances, particularly Mitchum, who is quite moving as man experiencing real love for the first time and in the most impossible circumstances.

    Verboten! 1959 ★★★

    Interesting look at American conquest and occupation of Germany by someone who was there. Realistic and compassionate in approach if not particularly accurate historically or dramatically believable.

    Nosferatu 1922 ★★★½

    Effective if not really frightening. Well worth seeing for it's images and it's place in film, especially horror film history.

    Any thoughts?

    • ashdurdin

      Another Earth is a strange one for me because the film as a whole is really uneven, but it has one of my favorite endings of all time, so I don't really know how I feel about it really.

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    You should consider posting a review of BREAKING BAD once you're done with it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the show. As you can probably tell, I'm a fan.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    I'll just do some of my reviews now and return with my review of Carrie a little later-

    Pacific Rim- Just a bad movie. Very slow and uninteresting. Very dumb as well. Grade: D

    The Internship [rewatch]- Really funny movie. The cast is fantastic as well. Grade: A

    The Hangover Part 3- Hilarious and a great end to the trilogy. Grade: A

    Blackfish- A very emotional and powerful documentary. Grade: B

    Little Miss Sunshine- It's a decent dramedy but that's it. Grade: B-

    Beetlejuice- A very fun movie. Michael Keaton is fantastic in it. Grade: B


    The Big Bang Theory- B
    The Blacklist- B
    The Walking Dead- A-
    The Millers- B
    South Park- C
    Sean Saves The World- B-

    Well that's it for reviews for now, but I do have some questions for you-

    1. What are your thoughts on what I watched this week? Agree? Disagree?
    2. What are some of your favourite movies to watch at Halloween?
    3. What's your favourite Michael Keaton performance?
    4. What are some of you favourite documentaries?
    5. What is your favourite Guillmero Del Toro film? Why?

    • m1

      1. I really enjoyed Pacific Rim and I think Little Miss Sunshine is terrific.

      2. I don't pick any particular horror flicks to watch around this time; I just see whatever.

      4. I loved Inside Job a few years ago as well as Man on Wire.

      5. Pan's Labyrinth. See it and I hope you understand why. It's brilliant on every level.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

      1. Completely disagree with you on Pacific Rim. Visually it was one of the most impressive films I've ever seen. Guillermo del Toro created a spectacular film, filled with great action scenes, brilliantly designed cities and some fine humor too. And did I mention the glorious soundtrack? It's really sad to see all these comparisons with terrible Transformers. Pacific Rim was much more original, creative and I believe, targeted at a little bit older audience than Transformers. Pacific Rim still holds #10 in my Top 10 of 2013.

      Ratings of other films you watched:

      The Hangover Part 3 - 4/10
      Beetlejuice - 8/10

      3. Jackie Brown, Batman, Beetlejuice.
      4. Koyaanisqatsi, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, 5 Broken Cameras, Palestine Blues, The Cove, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Other Dream Team, Searching for Sugar Man, Stories We Tell, Inside Job, Armadillo, Lost in La Mancha, Waiting for 'Superman', The Invisible War, Restrepo, My Perestroika, Starsuckers, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Before Flying Back to Earth, 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep, René, Black Sun.
      5. Pacific Rim.

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      1. Agree on Blackfish. I like Little Miss Sunshine quite a bit as well, and your mention of Beetlejuice certainly brings me back to my childhood.
      2. Mmm.. I'm not a big horror guy. I watched Cabin In The Woods this weekend, and Zodiac as well. Aside from that, I'm not sure what I'll decide to check out.
      3. Batman (1989).
      4. As I've mentioned before, I love all the "ESPN 30 for 30" docs I've seen. I also really like Man On Wire, Stories We Tell, Inside Job, Forks Over Knives, The Imposter, and several others.
      5. Haven't actually seen any of them. Oops.

    • ashdurdin

      1. Agree on Pac Rim and LMS (although I think Carrell is great in it). Beetlejuice is one of my favorite comedies.
      2. Evil Dead 2, Dracula, The Thing, House on Haunted Hill
      3. Beetlejuice
      4. Probably stuff about film, like American Grindhouse. Snuff is also a really interesting and disturbing documentary.
      5. Pan's Labyrinth for the visuals.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

        Looks like there's a typo on your Blackfish grade, shouldn't that read an A? ;-)

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

      1) I really like Little Miss Sunshine, like Beetlejuice, and dislike The Hangover Part 3 and The Internship. (The latter of which is my least favorite film of the year).

      2) Scream and Trick 'r Treat are my two go-tos. They both hit the right tone of scary-fun.

      3) Night Shift

      4) Exit Through the Gift Shop is the funniest/most rewatchable. Grizzly Man was the most absorbing.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Jake17/ Jake17

      1. Only seen Beetlejuice, I'd provably give it a B or a B-.
      2. Nothing in particular, I'll probably watch Scream, The Thing, and The Shining again. I'll probably rent The Conjuring and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I might watch Carpenter's Halloween.
      3. Toy Story 3. His Ken is phenomenal. His best movie is Jackie Brown.
      4. I haven't actually seen a lot of them. The Queen of Versailles is one of the best films of the decade. Seek it out.
      5. Haven't seen many. Pan's Labyrinth is very good, probably a B for me. Hellboy is dumb but decent, a C.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

      Ok so I just got back from Carrie...and I loved it! The film really gets your heart pumping. It's not really scary, it's just a very, very intense movie. Chloe Moretz is great as Carrie. In certain scenes you can really see the emotion in her face. But she doesn't give the best performance of the film. That title goes to Julianne Moore as Margaret. Margaret is a completely crazy woman and Moore does a fantastic job of portraying her. This is a fantastic movie that I highly recommend to everyone. Grade: A+

    • Michael

      1. I like The Internship, The Hangover 3 & Little Miss Sunshine. Will get Pacific Rim on Blu-Ray, I think i'm going to like it a whole lot more than others since i'm a big sucker for that type of movie. Beetlejuice was decent.
      2. The Exorcist, Scream franchise, Halloween franchise, The Grudge 1 & 2, The Ring 1 & 2 & the first two I Know What You Did Last Summer flicks.
      3. I've seen plenty but not a lot of his movies. I'll say Jackie Brown or Toy Story 3.
      5. Easy...Pan's Labyrinth. The two Hellboys are ok same with Blade II & Mimic.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Chris138/ Chris138

    Dirty Wars - An often fascinating documentary that has some great material from Jeremy Scahill and his work as an investigative journalist. Scahill is certainly one of the best journalists working today, and for that reason alone this film is worth seeing. The main problem I had, however, was with the way the film was made. A lot of it feels like a long advertisement for Scahill's book of the same name or, worse yet, an incredibly long news-intro. The film's mise en scène is distracting a lot of the time, and the scenes of Scahill reenacting his own investigations seemed unnecessary. The material is strong enough to speak for itself, so making this into a combination of the feature/documentary style of filmmaking didn't really enhance anything for me. 3.5/5

    Carrie (1976) - One of Brian De Palma's better movies. It looks a bit dated, but it's still quite an entertaining and, at times, creepy movie. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are both very good in their roles, having the difficult task of making such campy material seem credible. It's also interesting to see then-up and coming stars like John Travolta and Amy Irving in this. I'd say this is one of the better Stephen King adaptations that I've seen, especially of his horror novels. 4/5

  • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

    The Road (2009) -- I'm surprised that this film slipped under the radar of most critics and cinephiles back when it came out in 2009. It's actually a very good film, and certainly a faithful adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel (well, at least the 100 pages that I read).

    I was surprised by how well the novel translates to the screen. The film follows the novel almost exact, while still managing to be its own piece art, and a very entertaining one for that matter. Minus a few sentimental moments here and there, the film also does a great job of maintaining the bleak, dark tone of the novel.

    Viggo Mortensen easily steals the show here, in what is quite possibly his best performance. He was sorely dismissed by the majority of critical awards. Kodi Smit-McPhee is great as well. And it was also nice to see Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce in small cameos.

    Also, the post-apocalyptic world that is created looks really good. I'm not sure how much of it was practical effects and how much was CGI, but it still looked exactly how I pictured the novel.


    You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2008) -- This is definitely minor Woody. Not a bad film per se, though fairly unremarkable and ultimately forgettable. The story isn't all too interesting, and by the end of the film, I found myself losing interest. Many of the themes that run throughout Woody's filmography are present here, albeit in a lesser form.

    The performances are good all around, some standouts being Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, and Anthony Hopkins. Vilmos Zsigmond brings a nice, natural color palette to the film as well.

    Trivia Question: Gemma Jones' feature film debut was in which one of my favorite films?


    All is Lost (2013) -- I don't remember where it was, but I read an an article somewhere online that compared All is Lost with Gravity. While such a comparison may initially seem contrived, it actually makes perfect sense. At the core of each film is a simple survival story, in which the leading individual struggles against all odds to come out unscathed.

    The main difference is that while Gravity is more concerned with experimenting on a technical level, which is most evident in its use of long takes and visual effects, All is Lost is more concerned with experimenting on a storytelling level, most evident in its lack of dialogue and character.

    The biggest asset that both films do have in common, however, is that they rank among the year's best films.

    Like Gravity, All is Lost is a purely cinematic film. It really is a unique, thrilling ride, and I'm quite disappointed to see it hasn't received as much attention as it deserves. I mean, seriously, this film probably won't even receive a wide release. What the fuck...

    Robert Redford carries this film perfectly. He has very few lines and no back story to make us feel sympathy for him. He earns our compassion with his subtle, nuanced performance. He looks weathered throughout the film, and it is clear that the performance probably required a lot of physical and emotional strength.

    The film is also beautifully photographed. A multitude of underwater shots simply look stunning, and a sequence of a heavy rainstorm that serves as the film's poster is not only incredibly shot, but also very well edited and scored, among the other assets that the film has.

    As the film neared its end, I became somewhat unsure of how the film would resolve itself, as well as what would be the best ending to suit a film of this nature. Needless to say, the final few minutes of All is Lost are exquisitely done. I'd like to talk more about these memorable final moments with those who have seen the film. There is a bit to discuss here.

    Be sure to seek this film out if it plays near you. Even my family members agreed that it is a great cinematic achievement.


    I'll also be seeing 12 Years a Slave tonight, and hopefully both The Counselor and Blue is the Warmest Color next weekend.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      I found The Road terribly disappointing. Here's my review if you're interested.

      • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

        I actually read your review shortly after I watched the movie. Since I didn't read most of the book, I'm sure that caused me to have quite a different opinion.

  • ashdurdin

    Gravity: Really good theater experience, and I'm still thinking about it.

    The Great Gatsby: A decent movie, long but watchable.

    Detour: Weird low budget noir picture, has a lot to think

    Before Midnight: I still like Sunset the most, but this was
    good too.

    The Conjuring: Decent horror film that gets better as it
    goes along.

    The Island of Lost Souls: Great horror films from the 30s.
    One of the best adaptations I have ever seen.

    Short Cuts: Good, extremely long Altman film, with
    a large cast.

  • http://jakesaysstuff.blogspot.com jake_w

    Only God Forgives - Beautiful cinematography and a great score, but really that's all the movie has going for it.

    Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - Basically it's a combination of 'Jackass', 'Borat', and 'Little Miss Sunshine'. Overall I thought it was pretty funny, but it's not without it's dry patches.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

    Brad, good luck with Man of Tai Chi, one of the worst movies of the year for me. As for what I watched:

    The Councilor: 4/5 - A great crime drama with some super performances and fantastic dialogue.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      The likelihood of me going to Man of Tai Chi is slim, my Monday is stacking up already and I doubt a review of that film would be worth the time spent.

  • Gautam Anand

    Watched only 2 films this week:

    12 Years A Slave [4.5/5]: Brutally honest in its rendering, and unflinchingly told, 12 years A Slave, never shies away from its motive which is to show us [humans], the mirror in which we can see the extremities of cruelty that humans are capable of committing on other fellow humans. Full review here .. http://www.cinemaconfessions.com/2013/10/movie-review-12-years-slave.html

    Concussion [3/5]: Simmering in sexual tension, it's a fresh take on midlife crisis, though ending pours water on heat that's up until then. A happy climax completely unwarranted. Robin Weigert's searing, uninhibited performance, makes for an enticing watch.

  • http://www.silverscreenriot.com SmartFilm

    In Theaters:
    This week I saw Last Vegas, The Counselor, 12 Years a Slave and Blue is the Warmest Color.

    Here's a snippet of my thoughts on The Counselor:

    "When we think Ridley Scott, typically big, lavish spectacles pop up in our minds, which is why The Counselor comes as such an admirable surprise. Much more interested in cautionary talks than fits of physical violence, The Counselor
    plays mind games with its audience, toying with us intellectually and
    emotionally. One long con bleeds into a slow climb towards a heady
    climax of inescapable comeuppances, and we have front row seats to the
    scramble. If Scott's former films are a series of taxing somatic
    workouts, The Counselor is the glistening sweat beading from
    his forehead once the Western dust has settled. Like a man with an
    agenda tucked up his sleeve, Scott wields an unblinkingly grim look at
    the allure of the international drug enterprise and the heartless
    abandon of cartel justice. As a piece of purely adult entertainment,
    it's fearlessly mature and irreverent - the antithesis of studio

    Read more here: http://www.silverscreenriot.com/home/showcase/428-out-in-theaters-the-counselor

    At home, I got into the Holiday spirit and watched some horror films and ventured out to the always amazing Cinerama Theater here in Seattle to catch a screening of The Shining. On that big screen with its haunting, screechy score blasting and Jack Nicholson's face 30 feet wide, you better believe it was one of the finest viewing experiences I can recall.

    I also gave 'Maniac' a chance and found think to like about it although it had a lot of serious problems. 'Maniac' depends on a POV conceit that gives the film a bit of unique character while also providing for some of its more embarrassing moments. Moments where Elijah Wood narrates to himself are laughable, but the laughs halt abruptly as scalps start popping off. As a frothy slasher flick, the gory goods help bandage the less flattering elements, making it watchable in spite of its serious issues.


    Did anyone else "like" the Counselor? Either way, what did you think of McCarthy as a screenwriter?

    Also, have people been getting to see 12 Years a Slave yet? Any thoughts on the use of violence in McQueen's storytelling? Do you find it necessary?

  • http://gravatar.com/alexmeatlog Alexander Meatlog

    Burke And Hare- Good ole Johnny Landis! No one does Silly like Landis. Like when he dropped that helicopter on Roy Turner. Wacky!

    WRONG- Awesome, loved Rubber. Can't wait to see Wrong Cops. Fichtner has been turning in spot on performances since Liman's GO.

    Premium Rush & Stir Of Echoes- David Koepp double feature. Preppin' for Shadow Recruit. Both solid films. One of the best Matheson adaptations right along side Somewhere in Time. JoGo brought me back to the days of Bacon vs Cowboy Curtis on a ten speed. Take Shelter Shannon is always scary.

    Goonies-Upgrade to blu. "I want a bottle of fettucine, ah 1981."

  • interiris

    Last Saturday I saw Only Lover Left Alive at the London Film Festival and it exceeded my expectations. I saw An Education which is nothing special apart from an early Carey Mulligan's performance and she shines in it. I also went to see an encore live broadcast from the National of Rory Kinnear's Hamlet which won rave reviews a few years ago.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Only Lovers Left Alive is surprisingly good isn't it? I think it could have ended about 5-10 minutes earlier, but other than that I quite enjoyed it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    The Counselor (2013) Spots of great philosophical dialogue about life, death,
    regrets, grief etc. It's unfortunate it was uninterested in narrative, character development and basic explanations of who, what, when and sometimes where. I don't mind screenwriters not explaining 'how' it's fun to figure out but it's seems like Cormac McCarthy sent the audience into a maze blind-folded knowing good and well there was no exit. It a 2-hour movie, and I was never bored b/c of the atmosphere and occasionally great dialogue. I hate to arm-chair psycho-analyze but I can't help but thing McCarthy who is 80 and Ridley Scott who is in his mid 70s are struggling with their mortality, The Counselor is a film I really want to see again but I really do not want to pay for it again. A interesting failure this film.

    Rating: 75%

    The Royal Tenenbaums (first viewing)

    I've avoided Wes Anderson films for many years for the heavy amount of criticism I've heard towards them, for being 'silly', 'goofy', 'kiddy', 'zany' 'hipstery crap' all of which when I hear I avoid like the bubonic plaque. So after seeing Moonrise Kingdom and now Royal Tenenbaums loving each I'm a confused as to what that says about me. Maybe nothing, maybe Wes Anderson is the director who can make those traits not annoying.

    Luke Wilson can act.

    Rating: 90%

    In The Loop (I don't know many viewings, 20th-30th)

    So many quotables

    "I'm standing my ground......on the verge"

    "By god it's a useful hypocrisy"

    "Starting with you, you frat fuck"

    "General Flintstone..."

    Rating: 100%

    The Deer Hunter (Russian Roulette Scenes)

    Minus of the War & RR scenes, it's kind of a dry movie.

    Rating: 78%

    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Lean films are usually eight centuries too long but this 2 hours and 40 minutes epic was great. The actor who played Saito was incredible, the final scene was kind of ridiculous but I didn't care. Gorgeous cinematography. You don't and will never see film making like that ever again. The simple things like a giant tree getting cut down, actors(or stunt doubles) swimming in a large lake and an unedited explosion made everything in the film feel real majestic. Not like the edited, CGI crap that's almost customary.

    Rating: 98%

    Scott Pilgrim vs the World (first viewing)

    I hate this film, the goofiness and nerdiness of this film is relentless. I love video games and know the references that are being made but my god I wanted to give every character in this film a swirly and shove them into lockers.

    Rating: 35%

  • JAB

    "Blackfish" is an extremely tough movie to watch. It's one of best docs I've ever seen, but from both a human & whale (these creature are not animals) standpoint it is as emotionally wrenching as any movie I've seen in a longtime including "Prisoners".

  • RohanMM

    This weekend 25-27 Oct, another mixed bag of genres with a focus on horror movies:

    The Descent - 8/10
    The Thing - 9/10
    The Specialist - 4/10
    The Orphange - 5/10
    Scream -10/10
    Scream 2 - 8/10
    True Lies - 8/10
    Breathless - 9/10 (Maybe a straight 10 on a rewatch)
    Scream 3 - 5/10

  • yao21

    The East (2013): Interesting movie with good performances B


    The Royal Tenenbaums (2001): My favorite Wes Anderson movie, love all the characters and is just a special movie for me A+

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