What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched #203

My week was extremely light, hopefully you can pick up the slack

This was one of the lightest weeks I've had in some time as I only watched The Wolverine in advance of my trip to Las Vegas this weekend, which means the floor is open to you entirely. In fact, I don't even have anything else to add as you've probably already read my review of Wolverine (if not, find it here) and now is just as good a time as any to add your thoughts in the comments below if you had a chance to see it and anything else you may have watched this weekend.

Have at it.

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  • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

    Not as good as last week, but I still managed to check out two great films.

    In Theaters:

    The Way, Way Back: A great comedy and easily the most enjoyable film of the summer so far. The film balances comedy and drama perfectly, without ever going too over the top. Liam James was impressive in the lead role, while Sam Rockwell was great and Steve Carrel was much better than I expected. I really loved this film and could see it being one of my favorites at the end of the year. A-

    At Home:

    Thirteen: While I’m not quite sure if the film is realistic (I certainly didn’t know of anyone taking part in this behavior at 13), Nikki Reed’s script is excellent. The fact that she wrote the film at 13 and that she and Evan Rachel Wood starred in it at around 13-14 certainly makes my accomplishments feel insignificant. Reed’s screenplay is not just “good for a thirteen year old”- it’s legitimately great, filled with complex characters and realistic dialogue. Holly Hunter also turns in another storng performance, and I loved how her character was deeply flawed but also easy to root for. I completely recommend this. A-

    The Squid and the Whale: It’s been ages since I’ve hated a character as much as I hated the characters played by Jeff Daniels and Jesse Eisenberg. But “The Squid and the Whale” is still a solid drama with well constructed characters and deeply affecting dramatic moments. The film is certainly a bit unpleasant, even though it’s techinically a comedy, but it’s refreshing to see a family drama that isn’t predictable or over the top. I wish the script was a bit more focused- Anna Paquin’s character, for example, is entirely unnecessary- and some of the quirkiness (namely the subplot involving masturbation) felt forced. But It’s still a solid film. B+

    Serenity: I’m a huge Buffy fan and love Joss Whedon’s writing style, but “Firefly” never grabbed me like it did so man people. I feel the same way about “Serenity.” The film is fun and fairly well written, but it’s not much else. I don’t really have any emotional attachment to the characters (which is what made “Buffy” so great), and I found that the film had a bit too much fan service. That being said, this is an entertaining action film and it still has an entertaining script and a talented cast, so I give it a mild recommendation. B-

    Only God Forgives: A mindless but visually stunning and entertaining film. I find the film’s attempts at subtext to be weak and really hurt the film. Refn tries to throw just about everything into the film, but much of it felt forced or just unnecessary. I think the film works more as just a beautiful looking revenge film that borders on pretentious but is so well directed that it’s easy to like. Kristin Scott Thomas is also excellent and the score is easily the best this year so far. B-

    Don’t Look Now: A pretty creepy horror film with an ending I liked a lot. The film’s plot is a bit too underdeveloped for my taste, but the film is unsettling and suspenseful. I’d say it’s worth checking out, though I don’t love it as so many do. B-

    Flirting with Disaster: A mildly entertaining, but overly quirky story. The film just gets more and more ridiculous as it goes along, but the cast is great and there are quite a few laughs. Josh Brolin, Tea Leon and Mary Tyler Moore were all great.C+

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: A film that feels incredibly dated and was pretty hard to enjoy. Outside of Spencer Tracy’s stunning last speech, the film feels way too over the top and cartoonish in the way it explores the issue of interracial marriage. I suppose it’s hard to be as riveted by this film as audiences once were- thankfully, interracial marriage isn’t a controversial issue anymore- but I just didn’t care for the film. As I mentioned before, however, Spencer Tracy is excellent C

    The Long Goodbye: Honestly, this was pretty boring. I hate writing off films for being boring, but I just really didn’t care for this at all. C-

    Struck By Lightening: I could relate to Chris Colfer’s character so much in this- I was the editor of my high school paper and had to run around practically begging kids to hand in their articles, only to spend hours re-writing them myself. But outside of that, this wasn’t a good film. Colfer’s script is tonally schizophrenic, with pretentious and unrealistic depictions of high school and family drama that feels too dark and serious for a film this light-hearted. There are a lot of good ideas, however, and I think Colfer will one day deliver a great film. He’s also a pretty great actor too. C-


    Nothing worth sharing this week.

    That’s all for me this week. Next week I plan on checking out some more Hitchcock films (I’ve only seen three- “Rear Window”, “Psycho” and “Dial M for Muder”) and I’ll be seeing “Fruitvale Station.” Anyway, here are my questions…


    1) Thoughts on what I watched this week?

    2) What are some classic films that you think have aged poorly? Which do you think have aged well?

    3) Which depictions of high school have you found realistic in film?

    4) Not including villains, who are some characters you absolutely hated?

    5) What’s your opinion of Joss Whedon?

    6) If you took part in the Barnes & Noble Criterion Sale this month, which films did you pick up? I bought: “Charade”, “3 Women”, “Harold & Maude”, “Night of the Hunter” and “America Lost & Found: The BBS Story.”

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AndrewC./ Andrew C.

      1. A great week for you, wish I was in your place. I don´t even know if Only God Forgives will reach my country theaters. :( And I wanna watch 13teen.

      2. Aged well - Citizen Kane ?

      3. Heathers :)

      4. I hate... I will answer when remember them. I love villains.

      5. He´s great. He will do a great job in film industry. Let´s just hope people won´t be reminding him as a supr-hero director flick.

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        Ooh, I love "Heathers." It's probably my favorite comedy. I don't know how realistic the high school setting is, but it's an amazing film nonetheless.

        And I agree about Joss Whedon- I love what he did with "The Avengers", but I hope people don't remember him as a super-hero director. He has some other excellent works that deserve to be noticed.

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

      1. I've only seen 'Serenity' and 'Don't Look Now'. The latter I like but I tend not to treat it as a horror film, because I'm more interested in the examination of grief that's more central, even though the supernatural also has a strong presence. I guess I feel the final twist (though foreshadowed) seems a bit like it's there just to help end the film but I can forgive it. I'm a big sci-fi fan and 'Serenity' is great for me. It had a tough set of things to accomplish considering no-one really saw 'Firefly' all that much. It had to introduce all the characters and the world and also try and wrap up storylines that had been planned to run over several seasons of the TV show and work for people who had never seen the show at all as well as hardcore fans of it. I think it turned out pretty good all things considered.

      2. Is there an agreed list of 'classic' films? I don't know for sure. But I would say the l

      3. I never was big on high school set movies.

      4. Kristen Wiig's character in 'Bridesmaids' immediately comes to mind. That's the most recent. I didn't hate Ryan Gosling's character in 'The Place Beyond The Pines' but I was relatively glad when his character ended the first act the way he did just to get him out the movie. I think there may be one or two more but they haven't come back to mind yet. They probably will as soon as I press 'post comment'.

      5. Big fan. I was around when 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' began in 1996 and everything that came after that. He's very into the idea of family and what being a family means but he's also smart enough to use cliché and convention to his advantage by having his characters always be aware of the clichés and conventions he puts them in. Not in a winking to the audience way, but in a realistic way. Within the fantasy worlds he works in. Not everything he does always works out the way he wanted to, but if you ever listen to his commentaries on his shows and some of his TV work then you know he's at least trying to do something and say something when he works as well as give the audience an entertaining time. I have a lot of time for his stuff.

      6. I didn't. Nope, no Barnes and Noble where I am!

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

        Shoot, I forgot to complete Q.2 - I think The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Double Jeopardy have all held up well, as probably a lot of Billy Wilder's do. A lot of Hitchcock films also have help up well for me. Some films have dated I think though. I watched 'Pillow Talk' for the first time a week or so ago and it's dated a lot because times and sexual politics have changed a lot, certainly in film, since 1959 and although it's a bit random one films I thought had aged horribly last time I saw it was actually 'Gremlins'. I don't know if that's a classic of it's type of film though technically. But man....................it's dated!

        • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

          I completely agree with you- Billy Wilder's films have aged remarkably well. "The Apartment" is excellent and really doesn't feel dated at all. I've found that quite a few classic romantic comedies have aged well, actually- "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Roman Holiday", for example. But I have to disagree with you on "Gremlins"- the film is a bit cheesy, but it never struck me as dated. I love the film though.

          And what you said about "Buffy" pretty much sums up why it's my favorite TV show. It's just a perfectly written fantasy world that works around the clichés. And I like what you said about the family element- Buffy's bonds with the other Scoobies help make the show special, and many of the best episodes involve her relationships with them and her family ("The Body", for example).

    • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

      I really loved The Way, Way Back. Will for sure pick it up on blu-ray.

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        It's really great, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I'll probably be picking it up on Bluray too.

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

      1. I love Only God Forgives, and I want to see The Way, Way Back.
      2. Aged poorly? Citizen Kane. I just watched it this week and didn't see the appeal. Aged well? Any Kubrick film, The Godfather films, and Lawrence of Arabia
      3. I haven't seen one.
      4. Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The biggest bitch in cinematic history. I don't know if she counts a villain though.
      5. I like his writing style, but I wish he would apply himself to something other than blockbusters (like Much Ado About Nothing)
      6. Man, I milked the sale like there was no tomorrow. I picked up Heaven's Gate, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, The Seventh Seal, On the Waterfront, Cronos, Shoah, The 400 Blows, The Blob, Le Samouraï, Dazed and Confused, Godzilla, Red Desert, The Game, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        I've been avoiding "Citizen Kane" for a number of reasons, but mainly because I've heard it hasn't aged well. I know I'll get to it eventually, but I just have no interest. But I agree with your other choices- all of the Kubrick films that I've seen and "The Godfather" films have aged remarkably well. Still need to see "Lawrence of Arabia", however.

        Nurse Ratched is a horrible person. But I agree, I don't know if you can call her a villain. Love that movie/book.

        I love Whedon, but I agree with your thoughts- I want to see him step away from superhero films. Hopefully when his contract with Marvel is up (2018 I believe) he'll work on something else. Even if it's a fantasy series like "Buffy", I'll be happy. I still need to see "Much Ado About Nothing", however. It never came to my local theaters.

        And man, I'm jealous of your stash from the Criterion sale. I wanted to pick up a few more (mainly "Black Narcissus" and "The 400 Blows"), but I'd probably have buyers remorse in the long run, lol. The "Godzilla" Criterion release is pretty impressive, however. I don't personally own it (I bought it for a friend) but it's really cool.

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

          Personally, in it's defence I don't think Citizen Kane has aged all that badly but it's importance for me has always been in the raft of technical innovations and techniques it played at the time it was made rather than the nuts and bolts of the story itself which I agree is not why I believe it's regarded as it is (although it's central theme of the rise and fall of a man seldom ages or dates in and of itself). I think sometimes people going into it for the first time are obviously expecting something beyond what it is because of decades of weight around it and I don't believe that's where it's regard and influence come from. Check out the Blu ray and it should have on it a commentary that serves as a good contextualisation of it's various elements.

          And if you check out Lawrence make sure it's the remastered Blu Ray edition you watch. Stunning doesn't even begin to describe the scale and scope of the visuals.

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

      1. I've only seen The Squid and the Whale. It's been a while, but I don't recall hating Eisenberg's character. I thought the younger son was more unlikable. I did like the movie, but agreed that it lacked focus. I was very surprised when the move ended because it all felt so quickly. When it ended, my reaction was, "Really, that's it?" It's one of those movies that would benefit from a longer running time.

      2. The first two Superman movies haven't aged well, but I still like them. I actually watched 12 Angry Men a few weeks ago and didn't notice any aging at all. It still feels relevant today.

      3. Out of all of the ones I've seen, I found Perks of Being a Wallflower to be the most realistic. The main thing it did really well was capture the mood and feelings of high school.

      4. I didn't really hate him, but Denzel Washington in Fligh was very unlikable. Actually, I didn't really like anyone in that movie, save for a few characters. Another recent one was Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief. Granted, the movie is awful itself, but I hated her character, especially when they tried to make her sympathetic.

      5. I haven't seen his TV work, but I do like him in general. I thought he did a terrific job with The Avengers and I hope he delivers again with the sequel. He strikes me as a very smart guy who knows how to make a good movie. Haven't seen Serenity yet, mainly because I haven't seen Firefly. Does it work as a standalone feature, or do I need to see the TV series to fully understand it?

      6. The only two I can think of are 12 Angry Men and Traffic. Those are e only two that I know are on Criterion. I'm sure there are more, but I can't remember them.

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        I hated Eisenberg's character mainly because I found him pretentious and a complete snob. I hated the way he treated his girlfriend too. I felt the most sympathy for the youngest son, though he was clearly troubled. His whole masturbation subplot was a bit unnecessary, however. And I agree on the ending.

        "12 Angry Men" has held up really well- its a simple film, but the themes are still relevant.

        "Perks of Being a Wallflower" is my pick for the most realistic depiction of high school. So much of what it shows- parties, dances, first dates and simply hanging out with friends- felt accurate.

        I think you could follow "Serenity" somewhat easily without watching "Firefly", but I don't think many people that haven't watched the series will enjoy the film.

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      1. Loved The Way, Way Back (gonna go see it again tonight), liked Flirting with Disaster quite a bit, haven't seen the rest.

      2. 12 Angry Men would probably be the best example of a classic that was aged extremely well. On the flip side I, frankly, don't think Citizen Kane has aged well at all.

      3. Dazed and Confused is great, and if we can throw in television titles, Freaks and Geeks is on there as well. Superbad certainly has its moments of absolute realism, though a lot of it is overblown (to great effect, I might add). Ferris Bueller's Day Off, too, though it would be hard to get away with Ferris and Co.'s shenanigans these days.

      4. Gosh, there are far too many to list, and somehow I can't think of them off the top of my head. Just about any part played by Melissa McCarthy comes to mind (her role in Bridesmaids included), as well as Galifianakis post-Hangover.

      5. Guy makes good movies and TV shows. I'm not his number one fan by any means, but I like what he puts out there.

      6. During BN's sale, I got: 400 Blows, Bottle Rocket, Carlos, M, The Red Shoes, Safety Last!, and The Life Aquatic (DVD).

      I may still try to pick up some combination of the following: The Darjeeling Limited, The Night of the Hunter, The Lady Vanishes, Vivre sa vie, People on Sunday, and/or The Last Days of Disco. Any recommendations in there, let me know!

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        I didn't think of it at first, but I agree on "Superbad"- obviously some aspects are over the top, but I felt like the interactions between the teenagers were grounded in reality and I think it perfectly captures that pre-college fear of losing touch with your best friends. Good pick!

        I like McCarthy in "Bridesmaids", but I absolutely hate Galifianakis, and just about every character, in "The Hangover."

        I'm not a huge fan of "Bottle Rocket", but "The 400 Blows" is excellent and I like "The Life Aquatic" quite a bit. As for the films you're considering, I love "Night of the Hunter" and am planning on watching it again tonight. "The Last Days of Disco" is ok, but not one I'd want to buy.

        • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

          I actually remember sneaking into Superbad while I was still in high school (and not old enough to get in to R-rated films), which certainly enhanced my experience with it, but you're right -- there is a very present fear at that time in your life of the changes you are about to undergo, and Superbad touches on that in a real, human (and very funny) way.

          I guess my thing is that McCarthy's shtick -- being overly loud and obnoxious while yelling crude, profane words and phrases -- just annoys me to no end. She has been the same character in every movie since Bridesmaids, which just amplifies my annoyance with her and her act.

          Only thing about Hunter is that I've tried watching it 3 times now and I keep falling asleep. That's almost surely due to exhaustion from work and activities, but I was hoping it would hold my attention a bit better. After 3 attempts, I've made it only 45 minutes in.

          My interest in Disco likely stems from my like of low-key, witty, dialogue-driven comedies. It seems right up my alley for some reason.

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

      1. Haven't seen any.

      2. I haven't really seen a lot of classic films.

      3. I haven't been to high school yet so I can't really say which depictions are realistic and which ones aren't.

      4. Hmm.. I can't really think of any at the moment.

      5. Out of his work, I've only seen The Avengers and The Cabin In The Woods, but I enjoyed both and I think he's a great writer and director.

      6. I didn't participate because there isn't a Barnes & Noble near me.

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        If you're interested in checking otu some classics, I'd recommend "Sunset Blvd.", "The Apartment", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Dog Day Afternoon"- they were some of the first classic films I saw, and I think they have aged really well.

        If you like "The Avengers" and "Cabin in the Woods", I'd recommend you check out Whedon's TV series. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (my favorite TV series of all time) is sort of like a combination of "Cabin" and "The Avengers." The first three seasons are a bit cheesy (mainly because the special effects are so bad) but the show is an excellent fantasy series that incorporates virtually every genre. If you're interested in something a more modern looking, however, I'd check out "Firefly" and then the film "Serenity."

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

          Thanks for the recommendations, I will try to seek those out!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rasmuspuggaard/ Rasmus Puggaard

      1) I've seen Thirteen, Squid and the Whale, and Only God Forgives. It's been a looong time since I saw Thirteen, but back then I liked it really much. The Squid and the Whale feels a bit strange and cut short, but the performances and the mood are generally good. Storyline feels a bit forced at times. I didn't particularly like Only God Forgives, finding it too pretentious and empty

      2) A couple of Hitchcock flicks come to mind regarding poor aging. Though I love Vertigo, I don't think it has aged particularly well; Notorious either. I saw Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan this week, and it has aged horribly. Also, a lot of movies that used CGI in the late 90s have aged really badly; Alien 4 and Star Wars Ep 1 comes to mind. Good aging includes pretty much every Kubrick movie; I also saw All Quiet on the Western Front a couple of weeks ago, and it has aged extremely well considering how old it is. This was just off the top of my head and after reading your comments.

      3) I went to high school in Denmark so I can't really answer this. My favorite depiction is probably Perks of Being a Wallflower, but regarding realism I don't know

      4) Having just seen 21 & Over, I hated every character in there. I also hated just about all characters in Bridesmaids.

      5) I'm not too happy with him

      6) No Barnes & Noble - or Criterion, for that matter - in Denmark :/

      • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

        I agree on "Only God Forgives" being pretentious, but I found the film (mildly) enjoyable anyway.

        Good call on 90s special effects- some ("Terminator 2" and "Jurassic Park") still look OK, but a lot of CGI heavy films just look awful.

        I haven't seen "21 & Over", but I tend to hate many of the characters in high school/college party movies. I spend most of my life trying to avoid people like that- why would I want to see a movie about them? But I disagree on "Bridesmaids." I'm a huge fan of the film, and liked the characters.

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

      1. I love Serenity and enjoyed The Long Goodbye, especially the recurring song.

      2. I found Easy Rider to be extremely dated. E.T. Is one that is almost unwatchable for me. I think Psycho has held up very well.

      3. I don't think I've ever seen a realistic high school movie. High school was pretty boring for me.

      4. I hated all the characters in Project X, it would have been great if they all died in the end.

      5. I love Joss Whedon's work, particularly Buffy and Angel. He is probably my favorite writer/director right now.

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

      Vertigo and Strangers on a Train are 2 amazing Hitchcock movies.

  • http://www.digitalkebab.com Shaun Heenan

    This week I saw:

    The Wolverine - 2/5
    2001: A Space Odyssey (rewatch in cinema) - 5/5
    Mud - 4.5/5
    The Look of Love - 2.5/5
    A Gun in Each Hand - 1.5/5
    Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox - 3.5/5

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AndrewC./ Andrew C.

    Hello, Brad... A very, very, but very light week for me too...

    I started watching only 2 features, but have not finished them:

    1. La Vie en Rose (La Mome). I really wanted to see Cotillard in her Oscar winning role, but I was able to watch only half an hour, I was very tired, so I´ll ckeck it later on.

    2. Stanley Kubrick - Life in Pictures. Only about ten minutes, my laptop did not let me see more :p. Definitely is worth watching, so I´ll be back into this one.

    Have a great week and talk to you next time. Bye :)

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

    I might be seeing The Wolverine tonight, but I'm still not sure. If I do, then I might just save my review until next week because it'll be late at night.

    At Home:

    Trance - Unfortunately, I have little to say on this film. It's a technical achievement; the cinematography, score, and visuals are all first-rate. The story, however, is a little lacking. My main issue is that I never cared about any of the characters. I was never immersed in it and remained emotionally detached throughout. The story is still the key problem here because it leads you to believe that there will be something truly surprising later on, but it never happens. It just goes on and on, eventually reaching its anticlimactic ending.

    The performances are all fine. Nobody really stands out, but McAvoy, Dawson, and Cassel are all serviceable.

    Trance isn't a bad movie by any means. It's definitely worth seeing for those three aspects I mentioned above, and Danny Boyle is a very talented director whom I respect. I just got the sense that it should've been something more, and it wasn't.

    Oblivion - It didn't leave a strong impact on me, but I liked it. The only reason I'm giving this a positive review is for the visual effects and the cast. The movie looks beautiful and, at times, breathtaking. Had I seen this on the big screen, I probably would've liked it a lot more. The sound effects and score are equally impressive as well. This is one of the few films that I would recommend solely on the visuals effects. That, and the cast does a fine job. If you're like me, a fan of Tom Cruise, then you'll probably enjoy his performance here. And having Morgan Freeman is always a positive no matter what the movie is. The story is not as strong as the visuals. Despite some nice, surprising twists, the story feels too big for it's two-hour running time. Some parts feel rushed and there's not a lot of explanation. The pacing is also uneven. What kept me interested throughout were the visuals and Tom Cruise. I'm probably being too generous, but I still think that it's worth seeing. At least it's better than Jack Reacher. Here's hoping All You Need Is Kill will be even better.

    Mud - I had a very difficult time writing about this. I thought it was great, and that's it. There's not much else I can say. I've already given McConaughey enough praise after he left those terrible romantic comedies and it looks like he's never going back. He does gives a great performance here, but the real star is Tye Sheridan. The rest of the cast is quite good as well. And the ending hits all the right notes. If the film has one flaw, and, sadly, it does, it's the length. Specifically, it's Michael Shannon. If I were the editor, I would've cut him out. His role doesn't add much and it's just one sub-plot too many after the parents' divorce and the kids' romance. Shannon gives a nice performance, but it's not crucial to the story. Overall, Mud is a wonderful coming-of-age story and certain to be one of my favorites at the end of the year.

    Les Misérables - I really do like this movie. The music is great, all of the production aspects are terrific, and it contains some very nice performances. Granted, the final hour is simply not as good as the first ninety minutes, but I still can't help but be moved by the end. It's a great musical and one that holds up well on repeat viewings.

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine - I didn't get to the The Wolverine this weekend, but this was on TV so I figured it would suffice. It's not a very good movie, but it's somehow more tolerable at home. Jackman certainly does his best with the material given. I like that he always takes the role seriously, even when the script is not very good. And that's a hell of a lot more than I can say for Bruce Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard. Origins is a generic and uninspired superhero movie, but at least it's watchable.

  • http://letterboxd.com/ragingtaxidrver/ RagingTaxiDriver

    I'll just comment on the best movie I watched this week, American Psycho. Here's a snippet from my review.

    The dialogue is pitch perfect and sardonic, and enhanced by its great visual-audio style. Highlighting the film for most people is the music selection, and rightly so. It’s a great representative of the entire film.
    - Huey Lewis and the News – “Hip to Be Square” represents the conformity in society and even examines Bateman (“…working out most every day, and watching what I eat.”) who doesn’t head the advice of the song (“Hip to be square”)
    - Phil Collins – “Sussudio” looks at the outlook on life and how narcissistic society is (“…now she don’t even know my name. But I think she loves me just the same”).
    - Whitney Houston - “Greatest Love of All” shows a little bit of Bateman’s motives (“I never found anyone who fulfills me needs.”). He can’t find a single love in his life, and replaces it with sex, material things, and heartless murder
    Underneath the great soundtrack is an impeccable score that adds a great eerie and comical feel. There’s a stark feel to the film as well – an emptiness represented by Bateman’s white apartment. Everything is chic but worthless. Many associate white with pure, but in this case it is emptiness. Patrick’s whole identity is exterior to him, and his home (the exterior) represents his empty identity that relies on items to fill it up.

    It's a pretty lengthy review, but you can read the rest over at my Letterboxd.

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

    I may have a buyer for your Criterion collection if things didn't quite work out in Vegas, Brad ;-)

    here's me -

    Recommended -
    The Lion In Winter (Thanks to Xarnis)

    Very Good -
    Beware Of Mr Baker
    In The House
    Pacific Rim (There goes my credibility!)
    Star Trek Into Darkness
    Iron Man 3

    Ok -
    Post Tenebras Lux
    I Want My Name Back
    25th Hour
    Pulling John


    What's your favourite sports movie? Mine is Any Given Sunday, maybe Pacino's last decent performance

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

      Re the question - I'm not actually all that big on sports films but I remember liking 'Bull Durham' and I do enjoy 'A League of Their Own'. Although personally I would say I thought the last really good performance from Pacino in a theatrical release was with 2002's 'Insomnia'.

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

      2.The Natural
      4.Bull Durham
      5.For Love of the Game(guilty pleasure)
      Baseball isn't even my favorite sport but I feel it makes for the best sports movies

      Also... The Wrestler
      Jerry McGuire

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

      Glad to see you liked The Lion in Winter!

      As per the question, I'd either say Moneyball or The Natural (I'm a baseball fan)

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

        a close second would be Field Of Dreams, that one gets me every time

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      I liked "25th Hour" a lot more than you did, and "Star Trek Into Darkness" a lot less than you did but otherwise I'm pretty much in agreement. I really want to check out "The Lion in the Winter."

      As for your question about sport films.. honestly, I'm not a fan of many. I really don't care for sports outside of film so it's hard for me to get excited about them in a movie. While it's not entirely a sports film, I do love "Jerry Maguire" so I'll go with that.

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

        i really like the bit in 25th Hour when everyone is being racist to everyone but im sure he did the exact same scene in Do The Right Thing

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

      My favorite sports movie? Well, i'm a baseball fan so the majority of my favorite sports movies are baseball but there are others from football and boxing, here are my favorite sports movies (in no order):

      The Sandlot
      Sugar (2009)
      The Natural
      Friday Night Lights (movie version, of course)
      Varsity Blues
      Remember The Titans
      Raging Bull
      The Fighter

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

        forgot about The Fighter, i've seen that tons

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

      Star Trek Into Darkness may wind up being my favorite blockbuster of the summer. Unless The Wolverine and Elysium somehow surprise me. I'd also have to see STID a second time to see how well it holds up. I also liked Iron Man 3. It has problems, but I still had a lot of fun.

      As for my favorite sports movies, I really like Warrior, Cinderella Man, Hoosiers, Caddyshack, and Raging Bull. I tend to really enjoy movies that involve boxing (well, except for The Fighter).

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      Off the top of my head, Moneyball. I like Any Given Sunday, but for some reason football just doesn't translate as well to the big screen -- which is unfortunate, because I like it more than baseball.

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

        i will watch Any Given Sunday just to see that Al Pacino speech, probably his finest moment in many a year

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

      I loved both Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. Haven't seen anything else.

      My favourite sports movie is probably either Moneyball or Trouble With The Curve. I haven't seen a whole lot of sports movies though.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rasmuspuggaard/ Rasmus Puggaard

      I've only seen Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3, but I found both of those very good as well

      My favorite sports movies are probably The Wrestler and Warrior, but I'm not too big on the genre

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

      Probably Moneyball or Jerry Maguire.

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

        Thanks everyone for your replies, i am surprised there is so much love for Warrior as i thought it was pretty ordinary, Nick Nolte was great in it though

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

    A very light week for me. I almost went to see either 'The World's End' or 'The Wolverine' on Friday night with a buddy but we ended up just having a night bar hopping instead and forgot all about the films. I think I'll catch 'The Wolverine' this coming weekend and then try and catch 'The World's End' around that at some point as well. Other than that a 50/50 week for me.

    At Home -

    The Apartment (1960): Blu-ray, rewatch - But first watch on my shiny new Blu Ray copy which was delivered on Saturday (thus saving my viewing week). I've seen the film itself many times and it's one of my personal all timers so having a new version with (finally) some bonus material was great. While the extras are slight (a half hour featurette on Director Billy Wilder and the film, and a nice commentary from film historian Bruce Block) to have them was more than I've had before on it. I love the balance of comedy/drama/social comment on the mores of the time and it feels very much like a very distant precursor to the likes of 'Silver Linings Playbook' with it's focus on relatable people doing their best to find a way forward. With great performances from Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLaine and a wealth of supporting players it's just a film that does not age or tire out for me at all.

    X2: X-Men United (2003): Blu Ray, rewatch - Last week I had been trying to watch all the first three films but due to the amount of extras which I had also wanted to revisit in full this time I couldn't get that done. So, last week was X1 and this week X2. For me, these two films are really one singular film. X1 is the introduction and set up and X2 is the 'get straight into it' payoff and if you cut them together you would have a film which completely works as one piece. It takes the characters and moves things along, escalating the scale but not forgetting the characters (and it has a few to juggle!) either. The entire back hour of the film is pretty much one multi-stranded finale but it works because the characters aren't ignored for the action entirely. It also continues the themes of the first film well and pays off emotionally at the end when tying itself up. For me, still one of the best comic book based films made since 2000 when it's own predecessor helped kick off the current cycle.

    Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): Blu ray, rewatch - I hadn't actually watched this for a while and I didn't actually enjoy it as much as I used to. I don't think it's aged all that well after 8 years and it's relatively messy (which I attribute as much to director Doug Liman's apparent inability to commit to a coherent story outwith the relationship between the two main actors). The central metaphor of the film as an examination of a marriage failing and fixing itself is fine, but is buried beneath layers of plot strands that never get bound together properly. It feels like there's probably an entire other film sitting in the cutting room floor somewhere (in fact, I used to have the definitive DVD edition which had been recut by Doug Liman but I forget where it differed except I think there was even less of Adam Brody who isn't even necessary in the film as it exists) at the very least. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had the chemistry down (as we all remember who were old enough to remember the tabloids at the time) great and the action mostly satisfies. But it is messy.

    G.I Joe: Retaliation (2013): Blu ray, first watch - Em.................well it was a rental. And I actually fast forwarded through chunks of this because I was so bored so quickly with it and it still seemed rubbish. I don't think I have a whole lot to thus add to it except I didn't think a film could make the 2009 first film look really good in comparison.

    In TV Land I merely continued with watching the weekly episodes of the first season's of 'Hell on Wheels' and 'The Americans'. The latter series though is definitely interesting. So is the former but they really need to slightly pick up the storytelling pace a bit. I also picked up with Season 9 of 'Cheers' again but I'm sure it will only be back briefly before some sports event replaces it for a while again. Seems to be the pattern on the channel broadcasting it.

    Anyway that was all this week.

  • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

    Doing from phone so brief today.

    First watch:

    Wolverine: Origins (2009) - Script / plot was incredibly boring. Did not enjoy. 5.0 / 10 or

    Re watch:

    The Conjuring (2013) - Theatre - Still great the second time around.
    8.0 / 10

    The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) - Continue to love
    It after all these years. 9.5 / 10

    • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

      Hit me up on Letterboxd yo under username GMan

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

    I haven't posted for a few weeks so here is what I've seen.


    Pacific Rim - One of the best of the summer. I will purchase this on Blu.

    Red 2 - Better than the first and a movie I really had fun at. However, I could have waited until it came out on PPV.

    The Wolverine - The best representation of Wolverine on the big screen and I thought this movie was fantastic. A definite purchase on Blu.

    Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox - DC animated movies are so good and this one is so far the best that I've seen. Not having read the source material I was surprised how dark this story is. Highly recommended. Will purchase on Blu.


    I've been watching Dexter, True Blood, Falling Skies, Longmire, Under the Dome, Perception, and The Bridge. All great shows, but I am eagerly awaiting the return of Breaking Bad...yeah I'm on that bandwagon.

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

    Polisse - Tough to watch at times but definitely worth it. A-

    Contagion - Nothing special but not bad either. B-

    Breaking Bad: Season 4 - episodes 9-13 - the best season of breaking bad by far.
    Justified: Season 3 - episodes 2-6 - This is my favorite show in the last few years. Olyphant is great.

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

    Weekend- Oh man....this was exhausting. Just as Pierrot Le Fou left me feeling drained and confused, Weekend makes me feel like I was just in a car accident. Disorientating. 6/10

    Winter Light- This film reaffirms something I have begun to doubt recently, since I saw The Serpents Egg. Thankfully, this shows me once again that Ingmar Bergman was perhaps the greatest director of all time. Yes, I know I cannot possibly make such a call, but in my mind he is the master, and no one can surpass him. Winter Light is the second in his faith trilogy, and just as Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence, it relies on actors and atmosphere to get it's point across. And never was atmosphere so well conveyed here. I swear I could feel the frigid winter air brushing over my skin. I felt as if these people and their anguish was so close, that I could just reach out and touch it. There was something so starkly beautiful of the image of a man standing in the frigid air that it made me tremble with anticipation. The acting is brilliant to. 8/10

    Exotica- Intoxicatingly beautiful. 7/10

    Superbad- Funny stuff. Really funny stuff. 6/10

    I Love You, Man- The laughs come few and far in between, but what really makes this one stand out is it's heart. The great chemistry between the leads doesn't hurt too (Though when Jason Segel said "Ridonkulous" I couldn't help but picture How I Met Your Mother.) I can slappa da bass on this one anytime. 6/10

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall- Whoa Jason....like get some underwear, or a towel or maybe a conveniently placed banana. I'm just saying, I know you're depressed and all but....seriously man. Anyways, you did manage to write one of the most heartfelt comedies I have seen in a while. And you were really good man, you did a good job. But I mean come on....maybe a plant? You really need to work on covering that up man, it's ridonkulous. 6.5/10

    Prime Suspect 3- The series seems to be descending in quality. The first was fantastic, the second was great and this one is above average. Despite dealing with homosexuality and pedophilia, it never really becomes that interesting, though Mirren is flawless as always and the villain is really creepy in it. B-.

    How I Met Your Mother: Season One- Oh man. This first season is sitcom perfection. The cast strikes a perfect balance between comedy and heart, and it becomes instantly endearing from episode one. A+.

    How I Met Your Mother: Season Two- Pretty much a continuation of the legen(wait for it)dary, awesome first season. Everything here is really funny, and really heartwarming. Just a fantastic show. A+.

    How I Met Your Mother: Season Three- Okay, maybe I binged a little, but I couldn't help myself. This is one of my favourite shows now, and even though season three is a bit less than the first two, it is still really awesome (also, who else loves college Ted?). A.

    How I Met Your Mother: Season Four- Don't worry, this is the last one. It's still awesome. Everyone here is incredibly awesome. The comedy is still hilarious, the characters are more endearing than ever. I'll suit up for it any time. A.

    That was pretty much my week.

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

    At home (first viewing)

    Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - A pretty dumb anti-Communist propaganda flick with some of the worst ADR I've seen (or heard, rather). Still, interesting to see where Tarantino got the briefcase idea.

    2.5 / 5

    Oblivion (2013) - The first half is a solid 2.5, but it gets slightly better towards the end. It was the Zoe Bell cameo, however, that redeemed it.

    3 / 5

    The Boss of it All (2006) - Interesting, with some humorous moments. Not one of Von Trier's best, but decent enough.

    3 / 5

    We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) -

    There’s no denying that Alex Gibney is extremely talented at convincing viewers of his worldview. His films, at least on a technical level, are always very well produced - incorporating interesting images and sounds to keep the audience engaged.

    For the first 20 minutes or so, Gibney does a fairly good job of making it at least appear as if he’s trying to paint an objective and balanced picture of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks (and maybe, initially, he was). But it doesn’t take long for Gibney’s agenda to take shape.

    Practically everyone interviewed in the film more than helps contribute to Gibney’s image of Assange – that he’s a narcissistic paranoid schizophrenic who probably sexually assaulted two women (this, despite the absence of any compelling evidence) – and Manning – that he was an alienated gay loner who leaked the docs to get recognition. The real substance of the issue (the actual war crimes, corruption and atrocities exposed by WikiLeaks) is only briefly touched upon in the two-plus hour documentary and when it is, it’s usually framed as “the biggest security breach in American history.” Whenever a war crime WikiLeaks exposed is brought up, Gibney quickly cuts to a US official who swiftly dismisses or shrugs its significance off.

    What’s perhaps most ironic about the establishment-friendly We Steal Secrets (a title which is itself a misnomer, as this is actually a reference to a comment Michael Hayden makes about the US government, NOT WikiLeaks) is that some of the most questionable and corrupt individuals are the ones who are being interviewed and casting judgment on Assange and Manning.

    As journalist Chris Hedges correctly noted:

    “[We Steal Secrets] interprets acts of conscience and heroism by Assange and Manning as misguided or criminal. It holds up the powerful—who are responsible for the plethora of war crimes Manning and Assange exposed—as, by comparison, trustworthy and reasonable. Manning is portrayed as a pitiful, naive and sexually confused young man. Assange, who created the WikiLeaks site so whistle-blowers could post information without fear of being traced, is presented as a paranoid, vindictive megalomaniac and a sexual deviant.”

    As Hedges understands, minor personal flaws (which can be found in all of us) do not - and should not – distract from the honorable work these men did:

    “Gibney is unable to see that humans are a mixture of hubris and altruism, cowardice and courage, anger and love. There are no ‘pure’ political figures—including Daniel Ellsberg. But there are people who, for reasons of conscience, discover the inner fortitude to defy tyranny at tremendous personal risk. Manning did this. Assange did this. They are not perfect human beings, but to dwell at length, as Gibney does, on their supposed psychological deficiencies and personal failings, while glossing over the vast evil they set themselves against, is an insidious form of character assassination. It serves the interests of the oppressors. Even if all the character flaws ascribed by Gibney to Manning and Assange are true—and I do not believe they are true—it does not diminish what they did.”

    Hedges points out that while the alleged sexual abuse scandal gets played up for maximum effect, the real, proven crimes committed by political/military elites goes unmentioned:

    "The personal sin is excoriated. The vast structural sin Assange and Manning fought is ignored. The primacy of personal piety over justice is the inversion of morality. It is the sickness of our age. David Petraeus is hounded out of the CIA not because he oversaw death squads that killed thousands of innocents in Iraq or because the CIA tortures detainees, but because he had an extramarital affair. The power elite can draw up kill lists, torture people, wage endless war and carry out massive fiscal fraud on Wall Street as long as they don’t get caught sleeping with their administrative assistants. Assange can lay bare the crimes they commit, but his act of truth-telling is canceled out by alleged sexual misconduct.

    Is the most important thing about Martin Luther King Jr. the fact that he was a serial adulterer? Did King’s infidelities invalidate his life and struggle? Do the supposed defects of Assange and Manning negate what they did? Gibney would have us believe they do. Manning, in a just world, would be a witness for the prosecution of those who committed war crimes. Assange would be traveling around the United States collecting First Amendment awards."

    Gibney portrays Assange’s taking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy as yet another paranoid and delusional move, highlighting his irrationally and dismissing the notion that the US government was actively pursuing him. Gibney doesn’t feel it’s important to mention the well-founded belief that the USG has already secured a sealed indictment of Assange.

    It is, therefore, unfortunate that We Steal Secrets will probably come to be regarded as the definitive take on Assange and WikiLeaks. It will, no doubt, receive much attention come awards season.

    3 / 5

    Sherlock Jr. (1924) - Sometimes I wish every film was this short.

    3 / 5

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

      You can find me on Letterboxd here.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/m1/ m1

    Sideways (2004) (rewatch)-Anyone who knows how much of a fan of movies I am knows I would never miss an opportunity to watch this film. It is one of my favorites of the last decade and of all time. It has a little of everything-romance, friendship, disappointment, sex, family, marriage. It's a thematically and emotionally rich film with four great performances from Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, and Sandra Oh. Bravo, Alexander Payne, for creating a movie that understands how and why humans interact the way they do. 10/10

    Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)-This was a very fascinating film that reminded me very much of the Before trilogy. The culture clash of the two protagonists goes in unexpected places as we learn their backstories and occupations during the war. The story does slow down as it reaches its end, but the final scene is still a startling revelation. A great directorial debut with two strong lead performances. 9/10

    Justified: Season 2 (2011)-Two seasons in and I'm still enjoying the show, but I'm not quite loving it yet. It might be the fact that watching people walk around with southern accents all the time can be tiresome. Also, Raylan's behavior is becoming more frustrating as his ex-wife is doing some pretty dumb stuff. Still, Margo Martindale is a strong addition to the season and the stories are still captivating, so I will continue with the show. 8.5/10

    Battleship (2012)-This actually could have been a decent movie if it had remained faithful to the board game and left the aliens out of it. But no. The filmmakers had to create a rip-off of Transformers, only this time set at sea. The subplot involving Brooklyn Decker and the soldier stranded on the island could have been left out entirely. Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson were not terrible but they were not great either. A boring movie and one that will be added to last year's worst of the year list (although it's not quite as terrible as This Means War and Project X, the two movies it will be joining). 4/10

    Changeling (2008)-Here is a film that has a great story, but its structural problems prevent it from telling that story effectively. After a certain point, the movie drags due to several unnecessary scenes and numerous tangents. It's a movie that still manages to be decent thanks to Eastwood's assured direction and Jolie's extraordinary performance. Even though there are many things to like, the movie still underwhelms. 6/10

    Shine (1996)-Like many biopics, this isn't a movie that reinvents the wheel all that much. However, it feels gritty and real thanks to its subject matter and a brilliant performance from Geoffrey Rush. It does reek of Oscar-bait a little bit and is a little choppy in the way it switches between present day and flashback, but it never feels watered-down or soft, which is the real strength of the movie. 8.5/10

    The Sessions (2012)-Sundance has been the origin of many wonderful films in recent years, and this beautiful movie is now one of them. Thanks to two emotionally (and literally) naked performances from John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, the film is able to find something that speaks to all of us past the very raunchy subject matter. It's not a movie that objectifies sex in the service of gross-out gags. It's much more mature than that. It's a bit too sappy in places but overall a good film. 8.5/10

    Jack Reacher (2012)-I was expecting this to be another dull paycheck movie from Tom Cruise, but thankfully this was a little better than that. This is a dark, edgy movie with some stylistic touches that set it apart from similar genre fare. The plot is muddled in places, with strange twists that occur towards the end. But Cruise's frightening, brooding performance here anchors the film a little. The rest of the acting ranges from terrible to decent. It's not Cruise's worst film of the past few years. It is a much better film than Knight and Day. But it would be nice for him to remind us of the ability he showed us in Jerry Maguire and Collateral. 6/10

    The Simpsons Movie (2007) (rewatch)-As one of the few animated movies out there strictly for teens and older, this movie is a breath of fresh air. it isn't much different from the T.V. show but there is still enough at stake for the characters so that this feels like a complete film. I am not a regular watcher of the show but it would be nice to see another movie about these characters. 8/10

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

      lurve that Sideways, the scene with the car and the tree gets me everytime

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/m1/ m1

    For this week's "One or the Other?" I have one pair to share. Which is your pick, Boogie Nights (1997; directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) or There Will Be Blood (2007; directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)? I pick There Will Be Blood because the story tackles materialism in a really unexpected way and Daniel Day-Lewis' performance is beyond incredible. Boogie Nights is also excellent but contains too many storylines. Still, both are great films.

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

      "the story tackles materialism in a really unexpected way"

      How so?

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

        was never a fan of Boogie Fans, although i think William H Macy's character is fab. There Will Be Blood on the other hand would be in my top ten all time films

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

      My answer this week is a two part answer.

      If I were to choose to watch one just now I would choose 'There Will Be Blood' because I haven't seen it for three or four years now.

      If I were to choose based on my memories of which I preferred I would choose 'Boogie Nights' because I prefer the setting and environs of the film more than in 'Blood'. Although, technically it's probably the inferior film.

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      Haven't seen There Will Be Blood, so theoretically I should pick that, but I think I'd still choose Boogie Nights. I really liked it, and the desire to see TWWB has just never really kicked in for me, for some reason.

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

        You need to get on that.

        • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

          Meh, that's what I keep hearing. It just never seems to make its way atop my "to see" list.

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

            Well it's arguably the best film of the last decade, so you might want to give it a go sometime.

            • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

              I guess we'll see what I think once I get around to it, though I'm currently inclined to give that title to another 2007 film (Zodiac). I know it's very well-acclaimed, like I said, I just haven't found the desire or intrigue to see it yet. In due time I'm sure I will.

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

          two times

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rasmuspuggaard/ Rasmus Puggaard

      I really, really love PTA, and There Will Be Blood is my favorite film of his, because it's simply perfect technically. It looks so gorgeous, and the story and acting is beyond perfect. Boogie Nights just happens to be a masterpiece as well.

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

      Haven't seen either, but I want to see Boogie Nights more than There Will Be Blood.

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      I haven't seen "There Will Be Blood" yet, but "Boogie Nights" is in my Top 10 of all time.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MovieFan/ Movie Fan

      There Will be Blood wins unanimously because I have only seen that one and I own it on Blu ray

    • dslacker

      I'm not much of a PTA fan - absolutely hated Mangoiia and most of his others. But you asked me to choose between his two films that I think are absolutely great. There Will Be Blood is my choice - I think it's a masterpiece, whereas Boogie Nights is only excellent.

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

    I've had a very full week.

    Find me on Letterboxd here

    Casino (1995)
    Yet another masterpiece from Scorsese. This film is remarkable in every way. From the stellar performances, to the brilliant attention to detail, and the very human characters, Casino is a marvel.

    Sam Rothsteim (De Niro) is a mafia man, sent to run a casino in Las Vegas. He starts raking in the dough and meets up with Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and falls for a girl named Ginger (Sharon Stone). It's a great human story that takes a very dark turn, making for a very intriguing plot. It benefits heavily from Scorsese's attention to detail, and expert craftsmanship. Everything is executed with pure brilliance.

    Robert De Niro is easily makes the movie. His incredibly human performance makes his storyline that much more interesting and complex. It's intriguing and horrifying at the same time. The supporting cast can't quite live up to the De Niro tour-de-force, but they're all great. Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone are excellent in their own respect. Overall, the whole cast is superb.

    Scorsese directs the film with utter finesse. He makes 3 hours fly, and the tonal shift half-way through is handled perfectly. The cinematography is excellent and the sound is pretty great. It is very hard to fault this film, unless you don't like violence. Because its pretty brutal. Nonetheless, it all has weight and meaning and never feels excessive or gratuitous.

    Casino is often overshadowed by Goodfellas. While the latter is a masterpiece in its own right, Casino is the epic. One of the best gangster films of all time.

    The Kings of Summer
    A harmless, pleasant little indie film, The Kings of Summer was much better than I expected. Featuring a great turn from Moises Arias, an interesting (if unoriginal) plot, and a quirky script, this film is a good coming-of-age drama. However, it does nothing to buck the system and, at times, it feels very familiar. Still, It's a very fun film, one that feels like summer in all the best ways possible.

    The Lion in Winter
    Ah. A good, old fashioned medieval drama. This is the original game of thrones (without all the incest).

    The Lion in Winter is a criminally unseen period drama. It's a master class in acting, presenting an interesting plot filled with memorable characters and one hell of a script. It's a tour-de-force in nearly all it's aspects, whether they be technical or human.

    The film takes place during Christmas 1183, King Henry II desires for his youngest son Prince John to inherit his throne, while his estranged wife Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (whom he keeps locked away) favours their oldest son Prince Richard the Lionheart. Meanwhile, King Philip II of France, Eleanor's ex-husband, has given his half-sister Alais (currently Henry's mistress) to the future heir, and demands either a wedding or the return of her dowry. Like I said, it's very similar (and obviously influential) to the Game of Thrones book/tv series. It's based on a play, and therefore, very theatrical in its dialogue, setting, and acting. I, myself, am a theater actor so I especially appreciated these aspects. The plot itself is very intricate, and very interesting. It's a blend of political And family drama, and the two aspects are blended perfectly. The film is never slow or boring, in fact, it's riveting from start to finish. It's helped by the masterful script. The dialogue is fantastic, and some of the best I've heard. It provides excellent insight to fantastic characters and explains the plot in full, without sacrificing itself to accommodate the viewer.

    The performances are absolutely phenomenal. Peter O'Toole plays King Henry with such excellent theatricality, and subtlety alike. He has some of the best moments of dialogue in the film as well, making for his best character since Lawrence of Arabia. Katharine Hepburn is equally as great as Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her ever-smiling, yet sinister demeanor is utterly captivating. A young Anthony Hopkins is very good as Prince Richard the Lionheart and Timothy Dalton as King Phillip of France is quietly brilliant. The whole cast is pure brilliance.

    The film's technical merits hold up excellently for a film made 45 years ago. The film's score, production design, costumes, and makeup all fit the style and tone of the film. It's a period piece, so there isn't a lot of ways to go wrong there. Still, it's impressive and the most authentic medieval film I've seen in a while. The cinematography, however, is truly outstanding. Most scenes are stationary, but the opening and the shots on the river are very excellent.
    It's technical merits are excellent overall.

    Putting it simply, more people need to watch this movie. The performances from Peter O'Toole is pure brilliance and the plot is intense and captivating. While it does show it's age in spots, The Lion in Winter is a gem

    Citizen Kane
    While its technical merits cannot be overlooked, Citizen Kane was underwhelming to say the least. Instead of a ground-breaking masterpiece, it seemed I was watching an average drama with great cinematography. The performance from Orson Welles as the titular character is good, but he still falls short of the likes of true greats like Peter O'Toole and Henry Fonda. The storyline is interesting enough, but too often drifts into boring, melodramatic territory. The true redeeming aspect is the visuals, which are excellent. It's a very technically accomplished film, but it managed to disappoint in most other aspects. It left no impact on me, no desire to watch it again, no praise leaping from my lips. It's no masterpiece, and its not a bad film, but Citizen Kane was surprisingly... Average.

    Days of Heaven
    Featuring some of the greatest imagery put to the screen, Days of Heaven is Terrence Malick's best film. The simple story, likeable characters, interesting subtext, and drop-dead gorgeous cinematography completely won me over this second viewing. I couldn't help but get swept away into the picturesque farmland and loving story crafted with care by the great Mr. Malick.

    The story has been done hundreds of times before Days of Heaven's release back in '78, and still this film remains fresh. Fleeing the law, Bill (Richard Gere) and Abby (Brooke Adams) end up as field workers for a mysterious man known as The Farmer (Sam Shepard), who's house sits in solitude upon a knoll overlooking the golden farmland. The Farmer takes a liking to the young Abby, and takes her into his house, developing tensions between him and Bill. At the same time, Abby begins to fall for The Farmer and all his riches, living in the serene house and roaming the fields with Linda, her young sister. It's a serene tale of life, and love, that's as beautiful as it is effective.

    As we all know, stories like this can't go devoid of conflict, but when it happens (especially in the last 10 minutes) it feels somewhat forced. Some violence erupts, but it never feels necessary, other than providing a bit of tragedy to an already great story. Even so, you can't help but get swept up in the story of these simple characters, and their seemingly mundane tasks at the farm. It's a story that manages to be effective on a human level, evoking genuine emotions from the audience, which gives the ending some credibility. It becomes a harrowing character study that dissects the very essence of humanity, and the love we share. It's a timeless tale of love, friendship, and betrayal that will continue to affect generations.

    It is simply great, effective storytelling.

    Not only is the story captivating, the visuals are completely enthralling. The golden hues of the wheat fields bathed in the red rays of the sun creates a hypnotic atmosphere that kept my eyes glued to the screen. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, every single scene is framed in absolute perfection. The hauntingly beautiful atmosphere is helped again by the equally magnificent score. It adds to the mystery, and the beauty of the film. The draws you in like a good movie should, like a beautiful painting with characters you care about.

    There isn't much to be said of the acting, other than it's very solid through and through. Even with the little dialogue given, the cast manages to make their mark on the screen, and on the viewer. They craft relateable characters that pique interest and require attention. They are never dull, nor boring, but captivating. And the whole film follows suit.

    Days of Heaven is a visual masterpiece, plain and simple. Not only that, it backs up the impressive imagery with a timeless story and loveable characters. It is a simple, effective, beautiful work of art.

    RED 2
    This film piqued my interest with a quote from a trailer: "the only summer movie without giant robots, superheroes, or aliens. Just the best there is". And that statement rings true for the most part. It's generic story coated with the charm of faded stars back in action. It succeeds in delivering some old-school action, and some laughs, but fails to deliver a truly compelling story. John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins are the clear standouts in this all-star cast of old folks. They're easily the best parts about the film, with Malkovich providing legitimate laughs. Like I said, the plot is generic, and everything you'd expect, but its refreshing to see an actual human story told this summer. It's fairly funny, and fairly entertaining, making for a surprisingly decent film.

    Leave it to the great Ingmar Bergman to craft a hypnotic, ambitious, puzzling, and haunting piece of art. Persona is a very puzzling film, one that will surely leave me putting the pieces together for a while. But if there’s one thing I am sure of, after this first viewing, Persona is incredible.

    Bergman tells what seems like a simple story, but grows to become incredibly perplexing and disturbing. An actress, Elisabeth Volger (Liv Ullman), has suffered a strange form of stroke, leaving her mentally and physically healthy, but she has lost the will, desire, and (possibly) the ability to speak. A nurse, Alma (Bibi Andersson) is assigned to take care of her. I could explain more, but it’s best to go into this film as blind as possible. It’s a narriative that grows in its complexity, leaving the viewer confused, but intrigued at the same time. Bergman tells the story with such excellence, and narriative fluidity. The atmosphere and the performances left me hypnotized, despite not having full knowledge of what was going on. But the film ties up the main plot in the end, while leaving enough ambiguity to leave the viewer thinking after the film ends. The story is mind-bogglingly perfect.

    Persona proves that you can make a film that’s both ambitious and minimalist. It’s story is way ahead of it’s time, and genuinely perplexing, but it’s executed in a minimalist way. Everything is subtle, making it fun to dissect and pick apart. It’s a story of personality, individualism, and duality, featuring enough subtext to leave even the most analytical viewer satisfied. Also, the film only features 4 characters in total (not counting the boy in the prelude). The lead character of Alma is brilliantly played by Bibi Andersson. Much of the film consists of her dialogue, and she makes it intriguing and entertaining to watch. The subtle performance from Liv Ullman Is excellent as well, her steely gaze penetrating the screen with its intensity. Alma is very well-written, as well. She’s a great protagonist, and her counterpart is interesting.

    The hypnotic, haunting tone is executed with perfection. The film draws you in quickly with the fantastic black & white photography and ambient, minimalistic score. It creates an excellent atmosphere that’s equally interesting as it is disturbing. The sound design is great as well, even in its subtely. The technical elements don’t immediately stand out, but the film would definitely be lost without them.

    Persona is a perplexing masterpiece. While I definitely didn’t get it all on first viewing, it’s easy to see how important and influential this film is. It’s a benchmark in atmosphere, tone, and plot creating a visceral and mind-bending work of hypnotic art.

    Other Films I watched this week
    Coriolanus -- 3.5/5
    Trance -- 3/5
    Heaven's Gate -- 4/5
    Skyfall -- 4/5
    Monsieur Lazhar -- 3/5
    Becket -- 3.5/5
    Once Upon a Time in America -- 4.5/5
    Wyatt Earp -- 2.5/5

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

      Are you planning on writing a review for Heaven's Gate? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that one.

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

        I wasn't really planning on it. I might end up doing it eventually. I will say that I loved the epic scale, and ambitious nature of the film. The cinematography and the rest of the technical elements were fantastic. The performances were good for the most part, but the narrative is very sloppy. Underdeveloped characters and relationships, unexplored themes, etc.

        I really liked in the end. The Criterion blu-ray is excellent.

    • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

      Jealous of the number of movies you guys are able to check out each week. Need to revisit Casino

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

        Yeah, I'm on summer vacation, and my job doesn't start until August.

        Obviously, I love Casino. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

      I couldn't agree with you more, Casino is a masterpiece. It's IMO Scorsese's most underrated piece.

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

    Follow me on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/navaneethks/

    The Intouchables (first viewing) - 8/10 - Will definitely revisit this movie.

    Les Miserables (first viewing) - 6/10 - Too much singing for me.

    The Sessions (first viewing) - 8/10 - Interesting and well done.

    Fruitvale Station (first viewing) - 7/10 - Good movie. Scary to think a life can end anytime with no apparent reason.

    Sorry for being short. I have to head out to work.

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      Loved The Intouchables. Need to pick that up at some point.

  • http://themoviegurusblog.blogspot.com The Movie Guru

    I only watched two movies, but I'll post my long reviews for them.


    The most inconsistent franchise in the movie world, the X-Men have brought us some gems (2011''s X-Men: First Class, one of my favorite films) and some lesser works (2000's X-Men, 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand). So when there's a new X-Men movie in town, you never know what you're going to get. I went into this week's The Wolverine with optimism, as someone who likes the character, and as someone who actually liked X-Men: Origins- Wolverine. Plus, I enjoy movies set in Japan typically. The trailers for James Mangold's superhero flick have promised the film that will FINALLY fully delve into the psyche of a man that is immortal. A film that will push him to the limits of his ability and strength. A movie that would take away his immortality. Well, I'm here to tell you that The Wolverine is not about that. At all.

    And that's just the half of it. While many websites have proclaimed this film "The Wolverine movie you've been waiting for!", it's not. Honestly, this movie is more about the character of Mariko than it is Logan. The whole plot of this movie is setting up a relationship between the two characters, which is fine. It's perfectly fine, and often interesting, if a comic book film focuses on relationships. The Spider-Man films prove that they can be very entertaining. But The Wolverine is the textbook example of how focusing on relationships over plot can be really, really bad. There is no need for Mariko to be in this movie. There is no need for all the villains and plot baggage she carries along with her. She is a completely useless character.

    However, besides plot, it isn't all bad. The style of the film is really spectacular. The Wolverine is set in Japan and features lots of stunning shots that look right out of The Last Samurai. It's spectacular cinematography and I love movies that are set in Japan and look like that. Just a weird thing of mine. Secondly, the action is really good. The first few action scenes in Tokyo, when I still cared what was going on in the movie, are really great. The third act has some impressive action, but once again, like Man of Steel, if your plotting and story lose me, I really don't care about your film's action. Take notice directors of Hollywood.

    In addition, the performances are solid. Hugh Jackman is solid as usual, but in the climax of the film, I really felt worn down by his character. I was just tired of the screaming, the grunting, the yelling. Jackman is a great actor and I hated to see him reduced to that. He has some great lines and some great character moments, but the Wolverine's welcome has worn down a bit. I hope X-Men: Days of Future Past can do something good with the character. However, there were two other performances I wish to point out. Rila Fukushima is great. She's very entertaining and if the movie had just focused on her and Logan traveling through Japan, it would have been much better. Also, while he is barely in the movie, Hiroyuki Sanada has great screen presence and I really wish that he was in more films.

    Also, I was very engaged by the first forty five minutes or so. When it was Logan, and Yukio, and Yashida himself, I was very engaged. The first few action scenes were very exciting. Then I saw where the movie was going with its plot and just sunk into my theater seat in frustration. Wolverine is now some protector? I thought this movie was about him, not some Japanese lady?

    But when you look past the technical material, The Wolverine starts to fall apart. I plan on posting a spoiler review later in the week to delve deep into the story and point out how stupid it is, but for now, I will just say that it's so muddled, so full of characters, that it is borderline incomprehensible. Other people may not feel that way, but I was just so riddled with frustration. And the movie makes you ask so many questions, and never seems to give the answers. That doesn't make it more interesting, that makes it stupid. The producers tried to take a simple plot and add a love interest (because it's not a superhero without a love interest!) and made a bad film. It's as simple as that.

    In addition, The Wolverine screws itself over by adding a bunch of characters who are explained in one word sentences. Literally. Logan asks Yukio at least six times: "Who's that?". And she replies: "That's blah blah blah." And we're supposed to remember them. Yeah, right. Plus, there could have been good villains in this movie, but they chose to put in a guy with a bow and arrow and Viper. Seriously, Viper is the worst villain in comic-book movie history. The absolute worst. There's no method to her madness.

    When The Wolverine is focuses solely on the character of Wolverine/Logan, it's good. When it gets into the meat of the plot, it is bad. I don't know how else to put it. As I said, I was very much into this movie for the first hour. I could see where it was going, and I liked where it was going. However, there were a few tidbits that hinted at a plot that would be much less entertaining. And of course, the film just has to go the route of being boring. It just has to. Whoever wrote this film needs to be fired. Because there is so much good stuff going on. There is so much to like about this movie. The actors have charisma. Hugh Jackman is great. Rila Fukushima is great. The action is stunning. The setting is perfect. The style is great. Everything is good about this movie expect one thing. Unfortunately, that thing matters above all else. Story. The story in The Wolverine is muddled as all get-out. There were times when I wasn't even sure why anything was happening. I'm not sure if it was from shock, that the film hadn't gone the route I expected, or if it was just a poorly told story. It was just baffling. A total miscalculation by screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank.

    Another issue that is pervasive throughout all the X-Men films is that they pack the films with so many different character threads that you can't always keep up. But, they're fast paced fun, so it's easy to get wrapped up in the plot. But in The Wolverine, the middle act is so slow and that's when all the confusion comes in. That's where the bad part comes in. And it just kills this movie.

    That's what The Wolverine is. A total miscalculation. What should have been a cool, simple story told with visual flair and action packed fun, is ruined by a dumb love interest and muddy plotting with a bunch of characters none of us give a crap about. Just bad. But, hey, the fanboys in my theater seemed to love it, so the movie has that going for it. But still, skip this one. You can live without it. See something else. The Wolverine isn't a movie I will actively stop people from seeing as I think that the action is good, but it doesn't get a recommendation and it's easily forgettable.



    The coming-of-age movie, it seems, was most popular in the 1980's, when director John Hughes was around making classics like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. After Hughes death, very few directors seemed to want to make movies about the teenage experience. But, starting in 2011, that all seemed to change. It took a long time, but with JJ Abrams' Super 8, the genre started to creep back into the mainstream. In 2012, Steven Chbosky's The Perks of Being A Wallflower became the first film to truly bring back the coming-of-age movie. And now, in 2013, there are three films from Sundance that feel like they could have been made by the master himself: The Kings of Summer, The Way, Way Back, and The Spectacular Now. One of those films, The Way, Way Back, was directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who wrote Alexander Payne's The Descendants, one of my favorite films. They have an uncanny ability to blend the dark and light together and make a film that is so uncomfortably fun to watch. So it's safe to say that I was really excited for The Way, Way Back.

    I love Faxon and Rash's The Descendants (they wrote it), as I previously said. I think that it's tragic, funny and sweet, all at the same time. It's so genius in its mixing of tropical paradise and crushing despair that you just can't help but be hooked. In The Way, Way Back, Faxon and Rash attempt to find a similar tone and sometimes do achieve their goal. But you just can't help but think that they did it much better in The Descendants. The Way, Way Back is a comedy with a dark final 30 minutes. The Descendants is a dramedy. There is the fundamental difference between these two films. Faxon and Rash, while charismatic on screen, just don't add that same blend of drama and comedy to their directorial debut as they did to their Oscar-winning screenplay.

    I'm sorry, this might get a little old, but I will keep comparing this to The Descendants because I know what these two guys can do and this movie really let me down. It's still entertaining and passably fun, but it's not the same kind of achievement that the 2011 film was.

    In addition to tonal issues, The Way, Way Back has some major script problems. The romantic angle between Duncan and Susanna is way underdeveloped. I mean, it's just crazy underdeveloped. I really think that it would have helped if Faxon and Rash had just shaved that entire sub-plot off the film. There's no need for it to be there, and it didn't enhance the story at all. There's the problem. This movie has a lot of stuff that doesn't enhance the story at all. For the first hour, every adult in the film is completely wasted. It's funny at first but it gets tedious after a while. There's no need for it to be there. It would have been more fun if all the adults put down the kids all the time. Steve Carell's Trent is the closest to entertaining of all the adults in the film because he's just a jerk. The others are just drunk, which isn't entertaining.

    However, in addition to a slow start, those are the only real problems with The Way, Way Back. They're big problems (if script and tone don't bother you, you'll love this), but they're still the only problems that the film has. The acting is spot-on. Sam Rockwell is the best thing about this entire film, followed closely by Steve Carell. Liam James is the centerpiece of the entire movie and he is good, but a little too mopey at times. Toni Collete gives surprising depth to her character and Faxon and Rash themselves are good in their roles.

    In addition, all the stuff at the waterpark is great. It's a lot of fun to watch Duncan come out of his shell and the character of Owen is really entertaining. Another problem I had is that we don't know a ton about the characters. I thought that some were very interesting and it was a shame that I didn't learn more about them. However, it was nice to just let the relationships develop and not worry about back-story so much. The central characters of the film are very entertaining and you do care about them in the end.

    The film also has a very subtle way of making you care about its characters. I liked Duncan, and I liked Owen, but I didn't know that I cared about what happened to them until the spectacular end of the film. The film is subtle and doesn't go too over-the-top in trying to make you care about everyone involved.

    However, despite a lot of good stuff, I just wasn't all that engaged by The Way, Way Back. It's a Sundance comedy through and through. It has cute characters and a cute setting and it's fun. That's about the best I can say about it. I'm not saying that every film has to have a hard edge to it, but The Way, Way Back wants to have one, but doesn't have one. It wants to mix drama and comedy, but despite being the best part about the film, the dramatic edge isn't all that interesting. It's too formulaic and doesn't have enough compelling, unique things in it for me to be really wowed by it. It's too similar to almost any coming-of-age movie before it.

    The Way, Way Back is a fun little movie that you won't remember a week from now as it's too soft, too cute and not as memorable as any other dramedy of the last few years. I know that this might have been a standard too high for The Way, Way Back to meet but I know what Faxon and Rash are capable of. I know that they can mix the two genres together with awkward ease. And in The Way, Way Back, they kind of dropped the ball on that.


    Sorry, if the reviews are too long. I also watched Minority Report, which I would give an A-.

    A couple of big disappointments this week with The Wolverine being the big one and The Way, Way Back only a slight disappointment.

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

    I'm actually headed off to see Only God Forgives shortly...

    Be sure to read my full reviews over at Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/

    The Fury -- The Fury is not only one of De Palma's worst works, but it is also one that doesn't really even fit in with his filmography. His usual visual flair is not there, as well as the variety of other trademarks that come with his work (excessive violence, explicit sexuality).


    Fear X -- With the exception of Drive, I haven't been too enamored with the films of Nicolas Winding Refn (still have yet to see Only God Forgives). While Fear X is far from perfect, it still is a very entertaining, intriguing film, and one that I will call the director's best after Drive.


    The Friends of Eddie Coyle -- This film is pure 70s in every sense, from the dirty cinematography, to the realistic performances, and so on. What I found most fascinating (and this could apply to many other films from this era) is that there really is no central plot in the film; the film more or less just revolves around a great cast of characters, a group of criminals and robbers, and the different occurrences that they endure over the course of its 100 minute running time.


    Things to Come -- Eh, I wasn't expecting much from this, hoping to merely be entertained and witness some great designs. For the most part, this film fulfilled those hopes, although it still isn't exactly the most entertaining film.


    Cosmopolis -- Cosmopolis is a difficult film to enjoy. It isn't particularly cinematic, consisting mostly of individual, lengthy dialogue sequences that unfold over the course of a day. Recently, I criticized Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise for essentially being a 90 minute film where characters just recite their political beliefs and ideologies nonstop. I would argue that Cosmopolis is very similar in this sense.


    The Duellists -- The Duellists is a very good film, and a great debut. A unique story, interesting themes of obsession, and great duelings make this film more than worthwhile.


    The Tin Drum -- There are some pretty bizarre, surrealistic moments in the film, but what ultimately allows for it to succeed is the main character, Oskar, and his innocence; how the world, as it is torn apart by the Nazis, is seen from his point of view.


    Grindhouse -- The format of the film works great, the best part for me being the trailers and advertisements in between the two films. They are short, quick, and incredibly memorable. (I think it's telling that the trailer for Machete is better than the actual film.)


    The Insider -- The film's quality is increased by the fact that the story it is telling is true, making it all the more interesting. Though, the strongest aspect of the film are two great performances by Russell Crowe and Al Pacino.


    Shortbus -- There are moments in Shortbus where Mitchell is able to develop a meaningful scene with meaningful characters. The problem though is that he tends to squander this in favor of showing sexually explicit material.


    A Clockwork Orange (Rewatch) -- In honor of Stanley Kubrick's birthday, I thought I'd rewatch my favorite of his films, quite possibly my all time favorite film to be exact, to celebrate.

    There's not much that I can add to the conversation about A Clockwork Orange that hasn't already been said. This film is a true masterpiece, and easily one of the most bold and visionary works to have ever been made. The film is further proof that the 70s were the definitive era for filmmaking, and that 1971 remains one of the greatest years in cinema history, giving birth to films like Ken Russell's The Devils, The French Connection, and Straw Dogs, all in addition to A Clockwork Orange.


    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HelloKitty/ Hello Kitty

      Re Shortbus. Hard to believe he directed Rabbit Hole. Hedwig and the Angry Inch pops with color and music. Nothing earth shattering but its fun.

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


    Not a big week for me, and two of my three are re-watches.


    The World's End (Re-watch): If you have been paying attention, I saw this last week. Yeah, seen it again already. I love it, however I have character, age and location identification on my side!


    The Expatriate (Called "Erased" in the US): Half decent straight to video B-movie, with Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko. A bit of a Taken clone, which I preferred, mainly because I liked the cast more and I used to live in Brussels, so had fun looking at my old stomping ground.

    The Apartment: (re-watch) Like Winchester, I got the shiny new Blu-ray this week. It is my favourite film, so I just settled back and loved every minute.

    Only one episode of brilliant French series "The Returned" left, it's creepy, sexy and brilliant
    Only one episode of "Hannibal" left too. Really enjoying this, it's great, nasty fun.

    Good night and be good.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HelloKitty/ Hello Kitty

      Re The Returned. I watched episode one but never went back because the actions of characters were so unnatural. I would never react that way given the situation. Does it get better?

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

    Fruitvale Station-definitely one of the best movies of the year! This was so emotionally charged. Had a hard time holding back the tears. I haven't felt that in the theatre in a long time.

    Hope you had fun in Vegas Brad!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

    Follow me at: http://letterboxd.com/michael11391/

    Pretty busy week for me.

    In Theaters:

    The Hangover Part III (2013) (1st viewing) - Way better than I expected, had doubts about this one but it's a lot better movie than people are giving it credit for. Sure, it's nowhere as funny than the first and even the second one but it's different, it's more of a dark comedy thriller and it works for that matter. The original remains to be the best of the lot but this one despite enjoying the second one, it's a whole lot better. Much better movie than a lot give it credit for. 8/10

    At Home:

    The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) (1st viewing, Netflix) - A very unnecessary sequel especially after that terrifying ending to the original but nonetheless, this was a pretty decent watch. Ashley Bell is great once again, she's solely the best thing about this sequel. This isn't nearly as shocking & terrifying as the first one, this one has more jump scares, some of them work, some of them don't and it just didn't capture that shock factor the first one had. I know these movies aren't everyone's cup of tea but I'm a sucker for exorcism movies. I find them mentally very scary, realistic and interesting. I mean, look at The Exorcist, that is literally the scariest movie ever made to me. The Last Exorcism Part II may not hit a grand slam by beating the first but it hits a sharp single up the middle from Ashley Bell to make it a decent game. 6/10.

    The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) (1st viewing, Netflix) - Very funny in parts, a very talented cast in Carell, Wilde, Carrey, Buscemi & Arkin & great magic tricks. A nice one-time watch but given the cast involved, this really could have been funnier & better. 6/10.

    Hostel (2006) (5th viewing, DVD) - A great revenge, disgusting, intense and funny horror flick from Eli Roth. Jay Hernandez gives a convincing revenge performance. I watch this movie once a year, I just really like the pace of it. It starts off funny then it gets serious in the middle and then it goes bat-shit crazy as goes on from there. As far as both Saw/Hostel movies go, I always prefer Hostel to some of the Saw movies. I like what it has going on in it, it's funnier and more crazy than some of the Saw movies. Plus, Tarantino was involved in this too which is a bonus. 9.5/10.

    Hostel: Part II (2007) (3rd viewing, DVD) - Solid sequel. 7/10.

    When a Stranger Calls (2006) (3rd viewing, DVD) - I've always found this one underrated. Camilla Belle is gorgeous as usual and actually does a decent job more than most gave her credit for. This is better than a lot of scary remakes these days. 9/10.

    Ultraviolet (2006) (2nd viewing, TV) - I've always liked Jovovich as an action star, she may not have the acting skills but she always has the looks of an action heroine: she's drop-dead gorgeous and knows how to kick butt. It's been a while since i've seen this movie and it does have a bad script, bad acting but yet very stylish, cool and unique with some nice kick-ass sequences. This movie is a guilty pleasure of mine. 6/10.

    The Departed (2006) (5th viewing, DVD) - Always my favorite Martin Scorsese movie.

    I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) (4th viewing, DVD) - Damn, I miss these types of horror/slashers (of course, the Scream movies, Urban Legend, etc.) where you had a lot of fun and you had scream queens hotties like Jennifer Love Hewitt & Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ah, the 90's were the best for these types of movies. 8/10.

    I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) (3rd viewing, DVD) - 6.5/10.

    Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) (4th viewing, TV) - 10/10.

    Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) (3rd viewing, TV) - 9/10.

    Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) (3rd viewing, DVD) - 7.5/10.

    The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) (1st viewing, TV) - 5.5/10.

    MLB Baseball

    The Newsroom Season 2, episode 2 - 8/10.

    A couple questions:

    1. What are your top 10 Martin Scoresese flicks?
    2. What are your top 8 Quentin Tarantino flicks (i'm asking rank all of them haha)?

    Here's my top 10 Scorsese flicks in order (I still got to check out a few more of his, i've only seen 14 of his):

    The Departed
    Raging Bull
    The Aviator
    Shutter Island
    Mean Streets
    Gangs of New York
    Taxi Driver

    Here's my ranking of Tarantino's in order (all of them):

    Pulp Fiction
    Kill Bill: Vol. 1
    Django Unchained
    Reservoir Dogs
    Inglorious Basterds
    Kill Bill: Vol. 2
    Death Proof
    Jackie Brown

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      1. I don't know if I can rank 10 Scorsese films but some of my favorite is "Goodfellas." I also like "Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver" and "Bringing Out the Dead" quite a bit. "Cape Fear" and "Shutter Island" are also pretty good.

      2. I count "Kill Bill" as one film, but I've actually seen all of Tarantino's works and have ranked them like this:

      1. Inglourious Basterds
      2. Kill Bill
      3. Pulp Fiction
      4. Jackie Brown
      5. Reservoir Dogs
      6. Django Unchained
      7. Deathproof

      Also, 90s slashers are a huge guilty pleasure of mine. "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" is really cheesy, but it's pretty enjoyable for what it is.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

        Ah yes indeed on 90's slashers. I miss those movies a lot and I agree with you 100% on "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer".

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


      1. Taxi Driver
      2. Goodfellas
      3. Raging Bull
      4. The Departed
      5. The Aviator
      6. Mean Streets
      7. The Last Temptation of Christ
      8. Gangs of New York
      9. The Age of Innocence
      10. Hugo


      1. Pulp Fiction
      2. Django Unchained
      3. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
      4. Inglourious Basterds
      5. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
      6. Jackie Brown
      7. Death Proof
      8. Reservoir Dogs

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

        Nice list, Chris. I've been meaning to check out The Last Temptation of Christ & The Age of Innocence again as I don't remember them that much.

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

      1. I'm not sure I have ten but out of the Scorcese film's I've seen I like:

      Gangs of New York
      Shutter Island
      Taxi Driver

      With the small proviso that while I have seen 'Raging Bull' it was over fifteen years ago and I really only remember that I watched it at all. I really however, do not like The Departed and think it's wildly overpraised.

      2. I'm not really enough of a fan of Tarantino to rate them in order, but I would say based on memory my favourite would be 'Jackie Brown' and least favourite probably 'Death Proof'.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

        No problem ;)

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

        Add in The Age of Innocence above as well. Glad someone reminded me of it.

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


      Post Scream there was a LOT of silly and cheesy slashers that came out trying to emulate it's success but they were all more straightforward. I Know What You Did Last Summer/Urban Legend/I Still Know What You Did Last Summer were pretty silly but at the time good. I still have the first Summer flick on DVD but haven't seen the other two for a while.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

        Yeah, they weren't as good as Scream but I liked them the way they were.

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

      I can't rank 10 Scorsese films, but my favorites include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Hugo, The Aviator, The Departed, and Goodfellas. He is a great director.

      Still haven't seem Jackie Brown or Death Proof, but here's my ranking of Tarantino:

      1. Inglorious Basterds
      2. Django Unchained
      3. Pulp Fiction
      4. Reservoir Dogs
      5. Kill Bill: Vol 2
      6. Kill Bill: Vol 1

    • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

      Hangover 3 was way too criticized IMO. I found it to be pretty funny.

      I miss 90s style slashers too. Really would love a
      Scream 5, but unfortunately we're getting this damn MTV series

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

        Yeah people wanted it to be different (Hangover 3), well they got it but then they weren't happy with it. Now, they complain that the guys aren't funny when they are sober. I just don't get it, man. Anyways, I liked it quite a bit. I really liked the mix of action, comedy, thriller and a little bit of drama in it.

        I want a Scream 5, too. I'm with you on them making of series out of it which is bullcrap. I LOVED the 4th one so much, Wes redeemed himself with that after the decent yet disappoint third.

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

      1. Unfortunately, I've only seen one Scorsese film in it's entirety and that's The Departed, which I thought was fantastic. I'm hoping to watch more of his work before the end of the summer though and I might see The Wolf Of Wall Street when it comes out.

      2. I've actually only seen two Tarantino films and I would rank them

      1. Django Unchained
      2. Inglorious Basterds

    • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

      I haven't seen enough Scorsese flicks to count down...

      ... but when it comes to Tarantino:

      1. Kill Bill
      2. Death Proof
      3. Pulp Fiction.
      4. Inglourious Basterds
      5. Django Unchained (I like it less every time; used to be in my #2 spot)
      6. Jackie Brown (only seen it once)
      7. Reservoir Dogs

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rasmuspuggaard/ Rasmus Puggaard

      1) I'm still very much behind on Scorsese, so I haven't actually seen 10 of his movies. But I'll rank the ones that I have seen:

      The Departed
      Shutter Island
      Taxi Driver
      Gangs of New York
      Raging Bull

      As you can see, I'm very partial to latter-day Scorsese, and I didn't particularly enjoy Raging Bull. Loved all the others though. Impressively, 3 of the 7 are movies I've rated 10/10, so I should definitely catch up with him soon

      My ranking of Tarantino movies:
      Django Unchained
      Pulp Fiction
      Kill Bill Vol 1
      Inglourious Basterds
      Kill Bill Vol. 2
      Reservoir Dogs
      Death Proof
      Jackie Brown

      A huge fan of Tarantino, and I think Django is the absolute cream of the crop. Total masterpiece

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

    I haven't posted since WIW#199 so here goes!

    The Way Way Back: Just so completely lovable.


    Pacific Rim: I can praise the mechanical wizardry all I want, it doesn't hide the shitty shit that's underneath. Just so completely disposable.


    Crystal Fairy: Oddly enjoyable. Gaby Hoffmann and Michael Cera give amazing performances. Something about the aura of the movie is just inviting. For a road trip movie about basically nothing, I think that's an achievement. Definitely check this one out.


    Despicable Me 2: Basically, just as disposable, story wise, as Pacific Rim. Those minions though... My god, they are unbearably funny.


    The Conjuring: Scary, beautifully crafted, and story and characters that are actually interesting for a horror movie. But then I feel indifferent about it. I don't even know how to explain it.


    Only God Forgive: Weirdly, the closest comparison I have to make to this film is Kanye's album Yeezus. Superficially it's a masterpiece. Crafted so beautifully, you can just take in all aspects of it and not be bothered. Even the deep, philosophical themes, all in there. Just doesn't spark in the way My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy did.


    (P.S. Hope everyone understands this Kanye metaphor!!!!)

    Fruitvale Station: What's amazing about Fruitvale Station is how well everything comes together. Simply and surely, the movie just works. It's no frills really. A day in the life of this man who was tragically murdered. Coogler doesn't stray TOO far into the politics of it all but he is trying to make a statement. The fact that this movie is subtle and concise in it's argument and bold and brash at the same time is amazing.


    Blackfish: For a movie that so strongly affects my feelings towards the subject it's documenting, the actual assemblage of the film as whole is just too plain and by the numbers. I had the same problem with "The Invisible War" from last year. The interviews felt like a simple patchwork of the storyline. Nothing really innovative. In a time when Alex Gibney and Eugene Jarecki and all these other documentarians are pushing the boundaries of what a documentary is and exceeding what is possible in this genre, Blackfish feels just a little too safe of an execution for such a horrifying and interesting topic. See the film though. If anything for the knowledge of what is happening with these poor animals.


    I also checked out Fight Club in theaters again I truly believe it's one of the greatest movie endings of all time. Most likely seeing The Wolverine, The Hunt, and maybe I'm So Excited! sometime this week.

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

    High and Low - As you'll soon find out, I've been on a pretty big Kurosawa kick as of late. Until recently I hadn't really explored his work, but in these last couple of weeks I've been doing just that and it's pretty addictive. This film is, I think, one of his best and most underrated. I found the story to be thrilling from beginning to end, never losing my attention for its 143 minute running time. Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai are both great, and the film reminded me at times of Fritz Lang's crime thriller "M". That comparison became even more apparent for me in the last scene, which is pretty haunting and sticks with you after the film has finished. Out of all the Kurosawa films I've seen so far I'd rank this as one of his five best films. 5/5

    The Hit - This is the one non-Kurosawa film I watched this week. An interesting and often darkly funny British crime film with strong performances from Terence Stamp, John Hurt and a very young (and blonde) Tim Roth. The title music by Eric Clapton and Roger Waters is quite good and there is some good camerawork on display. All in all, a pretty good time and worth checking out. 4/5

    Yojimbo - This is often considered one of Kurosawa's best films, and I can see why. My favorite part of it all is Toshiro Mifune's performance, and I was glad to see that he won Best Actor for his role here at the Venice Film Festival. He is really the one who carries the entire film and is, at times, pretty hilarious. Mifune is great in just about anything I've seen him in, but I'd say this and his turn in Seven Samurai are my favorites. Very entertaining and darkly funny. 4.5/5

    The Hidden Fortress - This seems to be best remembered for being an influence on Star Wars, but it's a pretty solid film in its own right. The only real similarities I can see for Star Wars here would be the bumbling peasants (which are basically R2D2 and C3PO in Lucas' film) and the use of swipe screen to transition between scenes. There's also a princess involved, but I don't think she really had anything to do with inspiring Princess Leia. Those bumbling peasants did come off as being more idiotic than funny at times (perhaps there should have been a little less of them) but it's a minor misstep in what is otherwise a well told and very entertaining story. 4/5


    Kagemusha - I saw this film a few years back and couldn't really get into it. I find the whole thing to drag and didn't really leave much of an impression on me at all, except for some striking visuals. Since I've been on a Kurosawa kick as of late I decided to give it another go. This time I will say that I was more interested and focused on the story overall, but the film still leaves me somewhat cold by the end. It's very distant in comparison to Kurosawa's earlier films and not quite as gripping. The basic story is fine, but the film is far too long and feels somewhat empty. The visuals are still striking, but I'd say it's my least favorite Kurosawa film. 3/5

    Rashomon - Another movie I hadn't seen in a few years, but remember loving. Thankfully this film still holds up very well. This must have been astonishing to see back in 1950 the way Kurosawa uses flashbacks and nonlinear narrative to create the uncertainty within the whole situation. I was just as impressed with the film this time as I was when I saw it a few years ago, and I look forward to watching it more and more in the future. 5/5

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/rti03/ Tiago Rti

    So this are the movies i saw in the last 8 days.

    So i didn't really know what to expect from Elizabeth,i heard that Cate Blanchett was fantastic in here,and i knew that it got some Award love at the time,but that means little particularly the year 1998.
    In the first 70 minutes of the Elizabeth i was bored,i had seen this story been told,and there weren't any characters that i really liked.
    And then finally something good came,the plot started to go forward and finally i started to see what people had talked about,about Cate Blanchett performance.
    But even though the last 40/30 minutes of the movie are rewarding,i did not find Elizabeth to be an Oscar level movie,but again Shakespeare in Love isn't to.
    Good lead performance and costumes,but that's almost it,Geoffrey Rush is also but nothing really worthy of an Academy Award.

    So i was interested in seeing Akira Kurosawa´s Ran,for various reasons,one of them i heard a lot of good things about it,and because Ran was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Director,the only nomination Akira Kurosawa received in his career.
    But i was worried a 160 minute movie,by kurosawa a Director not know for his pace.
    But although i would say that Ran felt long,i was never bored,and Ran its actually a quite violent movie.Ran is also one Shakespeare best adaptations to screen.
    With a great lead performance by Tatsuya Nakadai,and its hard to believe that he was only 53 years old,great makeup and costumes made him look 75 years old.And who was 75 years old?that is right Akira Kurosawa made this war epic when he was 75.
    But the Academy and the other Awards can not give recognition to a foreign movie,even in a weak year like 1985.
    At 75 years old, Kurosawa delivered this epic, breathtaking cinematic spectacle of disgrace and tragedy falling upon mortal men. A major super-production with overwhelming war scenes and spellbinding visuals,even if a bit long and repetitive in its second half.

    Days of Wine and Roses
    So i saw Days of Wine and Roses,this was introduction to Blake Edwards movies,i knew that Jack got an Academy Award nomination and that Lee Remick also got one.
    And at the start i was not liking it,i was not finding it funny at all,and i saw myself predicting the movie very easily.
    But then the plot made the move that i already knew,and the performances started to come to life.
    Jack Lemmon has some really good moments,the scenes that show him go nuts because of alcohol are extremely powerful,and kind of heartbreaking,but he had little chances winning Best Actor in a Leading Role,because of his competition,maybe the Best Lineup of the 60´s.
    Lee Remick is also good,but the star of the movie is with no doubt Jack Lemmon.
    The audience is taken through the developing relationship and subsequent alcohol drenched years at such a brisk pace that it is really hard to get a feel for these characters as a coupl. What should be a gripping masterwork regarding addiction feels more like a really well acted commercial for AA.

    So i finally watched Ninotchka,i was really excited that i was finally going to see it i certainly had i expectations.
    This was also my first time watching a movie from the well known Director Ernst Lubitsch.
    Starring Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas and even Bela Lugosi.One of the main things that make this movie the classic that it is,is the interaction between characters specially Melvyn Douglas and Greta Garbo.
    A movie that still is funny,and political relevant Ninotchka still lives after 74 years.
    And maybe the main reason for that is the great screenplay written by Billy Wilder.
    This is a sweet, happy film about love overcoming ideology, nationality, and geography, and one that doesn't feel the need to beat us over the head with it. The relationship is well-developed, the characters interesting, and the execution top-notch.
    Ninotchka is a timeless,at times incredibly funny with great performances and screenplay a classic that you can not miss.

    So i finally watched Mud,i wanted to see this for now 3 mounts and now i finally saw it.
    Directed by Jeff Nichols and with quite a great cast,Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland,Sam Shepard,Reese Witherspoon,Ray McKinnon,Sarah Paulson and Michael Shannon.And Jeff Nichols manages them perfectly,all the actors shine in this movie.
    Matthew McConaughey continues on a rising,showing is acting skills here,a few years ago he was a star but an actor,now we see that he has potential,and if he continues to choose good roles,i will not be surprised if he gets Awards recognition.
    The rest of the supporting cast is also good even Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon(wait what) gives a good performance.
    But the other actor that we might start to see more is Tye Sheridan,he gives a wonderful performance for a 14 year old,i got to say that the scene where he confronts Mud is quite touching,i am not going to lie,a tear came to my eye,beautiful acting.
    The whole mystery was interesting and i didn't think the movie was to long but what makes me low my rating is the last 15 minutes of the movie.
    First i thought suddenly the movie transformed to something completely different than it was,and it was kind of silly and convenient.
    Still Mud is one the best movies to come out this year,worth watching for the performance alone.

    Vera Drake
    So i saw Vera Drake,i actually wanted to see this movie for quite a while,and the fact that i recently watched Secrets & Lies made me even more interested.
    This was now the third movie i have seen from Mike Leigh,and i had big hopes because the movie also got Award love,getting 3 Academy Award nominations and won 3 Bafta´s
    Starring in the lead role of the movie Imelda Staunton this was te first time watching a movie with her and i am not going to lie,she is really good,shows a lot of emotion we truly care for her
    character,she did deserve the Academy Award nomination.Vera Drake brings teeming humanity to the controversial subject of abortion.
    The supporting cast is really good too,the acting in this movie is really moving,great,and i think thee movie as to thank Mike Leigh direction for that.

    Another Year
    So two movie in a row from the same director,Mike Leigh this time was Another Year.
    Starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville and even unknowns like Oliver Maltman and Katie
    This movie,like all Mike Leigh movies i have seen,is a very simple movie,with no big surprises,but still a movie that is quite touching and even too real.
    And the reason why Another Year feels real is of course because of the way it was approached,and because of the great acting the movie has,from everybody in the movie.
    Mike Leigh shows us simple moments of our daily life,and they are remarkably powerful.First he introduces the characters(Spring),then its a lunch with friends(Summer),then a surprise dinner(Autumn),and finally a funeral(Winter).
    Now i am going to get specific the performances,Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen are great as the happy couple,but the best performance and most interesting character,is Lesley Manville,she gives quite a performance has the depressed middle age women.
    Mike Leigh shows in Another Year quite a character study.
    Characterized by strong performances and the director's trademark feel for the nuances of everyday life.

    Letter from an Unknown Woman
    So i watched a movie,i had never even heard of till i saw it,this was also my introduction to a Max Ophüls movie ,and Letter from an Unknown Woman was definitely not a bad way to start.
    Starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan,just a curiosity both actors are still alive both 90+ years old.
    And Joan Fontaine is really good,she is believable has this innocent girl,and she is the only character that we really care about.Because we have all heard this plot,and its a fine one,a alright love story,but again what makes it special is Joan Fontaine.
    A good love fable,one of the best i have seen of the 40´s,with good performance by Joan Fontaine,Letter from an Unknown Woman,makes me have good hopes for the next Max Ophüls i will see.
    It is a wonderful film with lovely touches: the fake railway journey in the amusement park, and the musician's coffee club in Vienna are two of them. It is a lovely film

    While the City Sleeps
    So i wasn't really excited to see this movie,i knew nothing,the only reason i saw it was,because it was Directed by Fritz Lang.
    And i got to say that While the City Sleeps is definitely the worst,i have seen from him.
    Starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders.
    This is definitely not a great movie,really standard even for its time,the mystery has no mystery,the plot is very predictable and very dull.
    Although its cast is good,and all of them are alright,non of the performances are really that great.
    Another is that the movie is actually to long,the only thing that i really cared about was the mystery,and after the mystery is solved,the movie still takes 15 minutes to end.And i knew every step of what is going to happen.And that is OK in some movies,movies where the characters are good and interesting,and that was not the case.
    While the City Sleeps was a major disappointment,expected much more from Fritz Lang.

    So this was one of the couple of major Hitchcock movies,i had not seen yet,and i was expecting of course good things from Rope.
    As i said Rope is Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and it stars: John Dall, Farley Granger and the great James Stewart.
    And Rope is quite a great movie,one that should be talked more,really groundbreaking and inventive for its time.
    Rope is almost like a play,it only has 10 takes,and the cuts are perfectly done..
    Every take is 4 minutes plus long,two of them reach 10 minutes without a cut.
    And if you have long shots,you have to have good dialogue and acting,and Rope as both.
    We audience,feel like we are with the characters,in the party,because,of the environment,the dialogue and because of the camera work,very subtle,the camera at times feels like a character.
    And although the movie is predictable,its still entertaining,because has i said of the dialogue,and because of the character,we like them and we care for them,even the bad guys.
    A movie that everybody that likes Hitchcock should see,and everybody that its interested in cinema,definitely one of his best movies.

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    So i finally saw it,the only David Fincher movie i had not seen,i mean i saw it when it came out,5 years ago,i literately remembered nothing.
    But fortunately this time The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,made an impression on me.
    Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson they give wonderful performances.
    But the what really got me,was not the performances but the plot itself,its a thought provoking one,we put ourselves in the characters skin.
    And then technically the movie is great,specially the special effects and the makeup.I mean the CGI is really great,and it really is impressive for a 2008 movie,because the CGI is progressing very quickly.
    The cinematography is also great,this is a Epic,with a beautiful story and characters inside it,with great direction by David Fincher he truly deserved the nomination.

    Victor Victoria
    So i recently had seen Days of Wine and Roses,a Blake Edwards movie,and that made me curious to see another one,this time i saw Victor Victoria.
    It got my attention because it had 7 Academy Awards nominations,and it starred Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston,Alex Karras and Lesley Ann Warren.
    But the star of Victor Victoria is Julie Andrews,she is great,really funny but she is not the only one,i specially found James Garner and Robert Preston to be funny.
    The performances by Andrews and Robert Preston are great. James Garner plays the straight man, no pun intended, and he does so well. Lesley Ann Warren over-acts as Norma, King's ditzy girlfriend, but it all fits with the camp atmosphere created by director Blake Edwards.
    A problem that i find in Victor Victoria is the fact that when we getto the second act the movie slows down,even drags a little,i think this could easily had been a movie under 2 hours instead of its 132 minutes,still Victor Victoria is an entertaining funny movie that will not let you down.

    Le Samouraï
    So i was really excited,because i finally got the chance to see Le Samouraï,i was excited because i had recently seen Army of Shadows aka L'armée des ombres,and both are directed by the same director,Jean-Pierre Melville.
    And fortunately although i did not find Le Samouraï to be as good as Army of Shadows,i still really enjoyed it.
    This movie is almost a silent one,there barely is any dialogue,there are a lot of silences,and those silences great a lot of tension,like i said in my Army of Shadows review,the silences say everything.
    And to support the silences,Le Samouraï has to have a lot of things,and one of them is good acting,and although i wont say that the performances are brilliant they feel real.And one of the things that make this movie good,is Alain Delon performance,he keeps us going,he is mysterious and we don't fully understand him but in this case that is a good thing.
    And technically the movie is great to,the camerawork just amazing,and some of the chase are not really thrilling but they are realistic,with no explosions but with suspense.
    Le Samouraï great movie,really excited to see more from Jean-Pierre Melville.

    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
    So i finally saw Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,i was expecting good things from it because it was nominated for Best Picture and Director.
    And although Master and Commander is technically great,and cant help to say that i was a bit disappointed.
    Starring Russel Crowe ,he is ok nothing really remarkable,and this like i said the only thing remarkable about Master and Commander is its technicalities.
    The story feels very predictable,and the movie is just full of cliches that really took me out of the movie.
    I felt that technically it was great winning Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing,and the acting was alright,but the Screenplay was pretty weak,and the movie has a lot of parts,that are really convenient.

    And this are the movies i re-watched this week

    Citizen Kane
    This was my first time re-watching Citizen Kane,and its always good to see see movies like this.
    Orson Wells Directed,wrote and acted in one of his masterpieces Citizen Kane,amazing to think that he was just 26 years old.
    Citizen Kane is groundbreaking in every way,with its unique way of storytelling,visually amazing,great acting intriguing story,this movie has everything.
    For this amazing job Orson Wells should have won the 3 most important Academy Awards,Best Picture,Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role.
    Citizen Kane is also great in the casting a few good actors made their
    debut in this movie.Actors like Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotten give good debut performances in Citizen Kane.
    Like i said this movie visually is outstanding,the use of special effects,the cinematography,the sets,the shadows everything.
    Some people don't like the ending,to me the ending is perfect,and to me also quite touching.Rosebud is just a little piece of the life of Charles Foster Kane.
    A movie that has not aged 72 years later,still entertaining Citizen Kane deserves the reputation that it has,is no doubt a big landmark in cinema history.

    So it had been a while since i saw Chinatown,and because i have been lately re-watching movies,what a better than Roman Polankis masterpiece Chinatown.
    Chinatown stars the great Jack Nicholson,Faye Dunaway,the great director John Huston and even Roman Polanski himself.
    Chinatown brings back Film-Noir,this Crime/Mystery that is unique,a genre that is lost.
    The camera-work is really good in a lot of scenes we audience feel like the third character,and even though i knew what was going to happen i was has engaged by subtleness of the the plot has i was the first time i saw it.
    The screenplay is great(won best screenplay at the Oscars),and great direction by Polanski was everything the movie needed o had to its great Leading Cast.
    The performances are great from everyone,Jack Nicholson gives a performance worthy of an Academy Award,but he lost to Al Pa..wait he lost to Art Carney...WHAT?!?!?!?!.At least he one the Golden Globes.
    Chinatown ended up winning only 1 Academy Award,because The Godfather:Part II won almost every Big Category.But at the Golden Globes it was exactly the opposite,Chinatown won 4 most important awards including of course Best Picture,The Godfather Part II ended up Winning 0 awards.
    Two masterpieces in the same year,it mast had been close in both Awards.

    The Shining
    So i re-watched the the cult horror movie The Shining.
    And its pretty rare to see a Director as big as Stanley Kubrick and an actor as big as Jack Nicholson in a Horror movie.
    And i like this movie for different reasons,that most people like The Shining.Most people think that this is a just a good horror movie,but The Shining has some really masterful moments.
    And i was more interested in seeing this again,because in the beginning of the year i saw the documentary Room 237(the documentary that talked about the conspiracy theory's behind The Shining).
    And that is one of the reasons i like The Shining and Stanley Kubrick movies in general,because of the mysteries around almost all his movie,sometimes not even understating it completely.And i am not a fan of movies i don't understand like some Fellini´s and Luis Buñuel´s movies.
    And The Shining stars Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall,and i know a lot of people give crap to Shelley Duvall,and yes its true she does not give an incredible performance,but she was in a lot of pressure by Stanley Kubrick,and honestly i cant see the movie without her performance.
    The person that is great is Jack Nicholson,he is great as Jack Torrance,he gives a lot of tension in his scenes.By the away the kid in the movie is also ok.
    Because to me The Shining is not scary,what makes it good is the mysteries behind it,and also of course the technical side and the performances help.
    Because The Shining is not in every way a Best Picture contender,but i think it should have had a couple of nominations,for Best Score and Cinematography both incredible.

    Raging Bull
    So this was the second time watching Martin Scorsese´s Raging Bull,this movie might just be his best.
    Starring Joe Pesci,Cathy Moriarty,Frank Vincent and Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta.
    This movie is amazing in every away,technically Raging Bull might be one of the finest movies of the 80´s and maybe even all time.
    The cinematography is really good,the editing specially in the fight scenes is really good,the makeup everything is great,but the best thing in the movie are the performances.
    Joe Pesci gives a performance that should had won Best Actor in a Supporting Role(i am not saying that Timothy Hutton is bad,but why was he nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role he his defenitly the Lead Actor in Ordinary People).
    Cathy Moriarty deserved to be nominated for her role she is fantastic in the movie.
    But the star of Raging Bull is no doubt Robert DeNiro,he his this unsympathetic hero,that we love and hate at the same time,he shows emotion,rage De Niro gives maybe one of the Best Performances ever given by an actor,he changed himself physically and even mentally to play this role,and received one of the most deserved Best Actor in a Leading Role Award.
    Another person that should had received an Academy Award,his Martin Scorsese,even tragic than Raging Bull not winning Best Picture is Scorsese loosing Best Director for Robert Redford,this movie alone shows that Scorsese is a master behind the camera.

    Once Upon a Time in America
    So this was the first time i re-watched Once Upon the Time in America,and i have been re-watching some movies lately and this is the first one,that i felt was not as good as the first time i saw it.
    Directed by Sergio Leone and starring James Woods,Elizabeth McGovern,Joe Pesci,Tuesday Weld,Burt Young and the star is Robert De Niro.
    And i think my main problem with the movie is the fact that i started to like the characters less and less has the movie progressed.
    I really enjoyed the part of the movie when the characters are kids(and i do not usually like kid actors),to me that was the most interesting part of the movie.
    Then is skips to when they are in there twenties and i liked that part too,but the when the movie tries to skip 35 years,to me that did not work,was the less interesting part of the movie,and the predictability of the movies´s ending,took a lot of the power that the last scene of the movie supposed to have.
    Still Once Upon a Time in America,has a lot of good things,the cinematography,costumes,the great score by Ennio Morricone and the great vision that Sergio Leone put in this movie.
    A great 4 hour epic superbly directed, full of fantastic performances and with a beautiful story about friendship and betrayal that culminates in a profoundly bitter, achingly sad ending.

    Full Metal Jacket
    So after re-watching The Shining i went i re-watched Full Metal Jacket,this was more giving this movie a second chance,because the first time i saw it,i didn't like it.
    And unfortunately,i didn't like it again to me this is by far the worst Stanley Kubrick movie i have seen.
    I just don't see why people like it so much,definitely overrated.
    The movie stars:Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin,Vincent D'Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey.
    And i would say that the first 40 minutes of the movie are the movie´s best.We got two interesting characters,Vincent D'Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey characters,and its quite interesting,to see what marines go through in their training.
    But after that,we only see characters that we don't care about,and we see the other side of the war,and that side of the war,in Full Metal Jacket is quite boring and dull,nothing happens until the ending of the movie,and when it happens its supposed to be quite powerful,but it isn't because we don't care for the characters.Probably this was much more powerful in a post Vietnam war,but now it isn't.
    Still if you like Stanley Kubrick you should see this movie,even though i don't see his touch

    L.A. Confidential
    So another re-watch this time is L.A. Confidential.
    This is directed by Curtis Hanson,and he is kind of a one hit Director,because he has not made another great movie.
    With an Amazing cast:Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce,James Cromwell,Kim Basinger,Danny DeVito and David Strathairn.
    L.A. Confidential is a very special movie,it is a Film-Noir from the 90´s, a movie,a movie that delivers the thrills,has the performances and a great mystery.
    And this movie is really well written,it really deserved the Academy Award,perfect.
    And the direction just perfect,really hard to understand how Curtis Hanson,never made another great movie.
    The movie technically is great really well put together,and the performances are stellar.
    L.A. Confidential is one of those great movies,that almost every actor could have been nominated,specially in supporting roles.
    Pretty hard to believe that the only acting nomination in the movie went to Kim Basinger(she ended up winning unjustly the Academy Award,that should had got to Julienne Moore).
    Another hard thing to believe is how Kevin Spacey was not nominated for Best Actor in a supporting Role.
    Taut pacing, brilliantly dense writing and Oscar-worthy acting combine to produce a smart, popcorn-friendly thrill ride.

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

      Another Year i would definitely give an A, all the characters are well written and the script is a peach

    • dslacker

      After L.A. Confidential, Curtis Hanson next directed Wonder Boys and Eight Mile - in my opinion two excellent films. Won't argue with you about the crap he's made since then.

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

    In Theatres-

    RIPD- Let me start by saying that this movie was insanely entertaining. I really, really enjoyed it. It's one of the best films of the year so far and here's why. I just had a lot of fun with it. The performances here are good as well. Ryan Reynolds was good. Jeff Bridges was great. But the person who really stole the show for me was Mary Louise-Parker. She was great and she had me in hysterics when she was on screen. That's another thing..the movie's actually pretty funny. I laughed a lot during the film and so did a lot of other people in the audience. Now onto the bad stuff..the film's effects are pretty bad. I mean, this is the crap we get with a $130 million dollar budget? Also, everything up until the point where Nick dies is just not very good. But those vary the only bad things about this film IMO. So overall, I would recommend that you check out this film because it's a really fun time at the movies. Grade: A-

    At Home-

    Crazy, Stupid, Love. [rewatch]- Wow..this was even better than I remembered it being. The performances were great [Marisa Tomei completely stole the show from everyone else though] and the story kept me interested for the entire running time. There are also some really hilarious moments and some really heartfelt moments in the film as well. One of my favourites of 2011. Grade: B+

    Mr. & Mrs. Smith- It was decent. There were some good action sequences and some funny moments. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had good chemistry. Vince Vaughn was hilarious. I mean, there's really not much else to say. Grade: B-

    New Year's Eve- New Year's Eve is not a bad movie..but does that mean that it's good? No..it most certainly does not. It's actually an incredibly mediocre film which was shocking to me because I expected it to be a giant pile of crap. The problems with this movie are..well there's a lot. The performances in the movie are terrible and I mean TERRIBLE which is shocking because there are a lot of A-list actors in the film. Some of the stories are extremely boring. Others are extremely stupid and pointless [speaking of pointless, that's what the movie is]. But some of the stories are actually good. But your just waiting for those good stories to come while all the boring, stupid, and pointless ones are being shown on screen. Now I'm sure I just made it sound like I hated the movie despite the fact that I said it wasn't bad, but there are good things about the movie. There are some funny moments. The big plot twist at the end that ties some of these stories together was actually surprising. Yeah..that's about it. This definitely isn't a movie that you will hate yourself for watching, but it's still not a good film by any means. Grade: C-

    Snitch- Eh, it was pretty mediocre. The performances were pretty crappy. There were some good parts that showed potential for good movie but for the most part, it was boring. I mean, there's not much else to say really. If you wanted to see it, I guess watch it but you might end up disappointed. Grade: C-

    Our Idiot Brother- Best comedy of 2011. Really hilarious and heartwarming. There were some really great performances too. Grade: A-

    Beautiful Creatures- I was expecting this to be god awful..but it was actually decent. The performances were great. The story was actually interesting. It also wasn't as sappy as I was expecting. A decent flick that I would actually recommend. Grade: B


    Axe Cop- A really hilarious and entertaining new show that I would recommend to everyone. I think Fox has a big hit on thier hands. Grade: A

    High School USA- Fox's other new late night animated series is nowhere near as good as Axe Cop. In fact, it's not even all that good. It's actually kinda terrible. This is seriously the worst animated show I've seen in a long time. It's definitely not something I will be actively trying to watch every week. Grade: D

    Now I'll just be giving grades for all the new TV shows because I just wanted to review the two brand new shows

    American Dad- B
    Family Guy- A-
    Big Brother- B
    Robot Chicken- B


    1. What are your opinions on the films I watched this week?
    2. What are your opinions on the TV shows I watched this week?

    Sorry that's all the questions for now

    Until next week..

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

      Ah, the questions are easy enough this week.

      1. Only seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith off that list and you can conveniently see my thoughts above!

      2. I'm only familiar with Robot Chicken but never seen it, and I can sporadically watch random American Dad and Family Guy episodes but I'm no longer particularly big on either show.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      'Crazy Stupid Love' is way overrated. It was okay up till Carrell gave that speech at the school towards the end then I wanted to walk out of the theater so bad. The film is only watchable because of the cast, but overall it's a pretty shitty film.

    • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

      Love Crazy Stupid Love. I aspire to be Ryan Gosling's character in real life.
      Movie got better on re-watch

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

        I agree that the film gets better on rewatches.

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      1. I like "Crazy Stupid Love" a lot, mainly because I like the cast so much. There are way too many subplots, but it's a fun movie. Not a fan of 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith", however. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have great chemistry, as you mention, but the film itself is sort of bland.

      2. As I've said before I'm not a huge fan of "Family Guy" and "Robot Chicken." I have only seen one episode of "American Dad" and don't remember it too much, but I do remember enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I have never seen an episode of "Big Brother", but I don't really watch reality shows. And I haven't even heard of "Axe Cop" and "High School USA", but I rarely watch late night animated comedies.

    • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

      1. I really, really love Paul Rudd in OUR IDIOT BROTHER, and it was my one of my favorite comedies of 2011, behind 50/50 and possibly The Descendants.

      2.I don't watch any of those.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

      1. God, I love Crazy, Stupid, Love. The story, actors (from Carrell to Gosling to Stone to Moore to Tomei) and everything about it is excellent. It's one of my favorite movies of all-time. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is fine, I love Jolie & Pitt as actors so yeah. Our Idiot Brother is cute, Paul Rudd is definitely the best thing about it but I wish it was more funny given the very talented comedic cast it has.
      2. I don't watch any of those but I sometimes watch a few minutes of an episode of Family Guy on occasion not often.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/dam94/ dam94
  • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

    Whew. Didn't get a chance to post last weekend, as things got really hectic with work and weekend activities, so this is going to be a listing of what I've watched over the past two weeks. Unsurprisingly, the list is still pretty short. I've got a few questions down at the bottom for your guys as well, so check them out!

    Check me out on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh
    And at my new blog: http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/


    Fruitvale Station: Certain films beg for a reaction, not through genuine feeling or emotional attachment, but through manipulation of the audience. whether luring them one way and then yanking them the other, or by avoiding certain pieces of the story so as to create an ultimate reveal you likely wouldn't have seen coming -- though you would have if you knew all the facts outright. Fruitvale Station had all the potential to be that film, to be just another manipulative piece of storytelling that fails its audience by using cheap storytelling tricks. But it's not. Director Ryan Coogler's provocative debut film is a bonafide drama fraught with feeling, and at times tension, that will tear your heart to shreds and fill your body with anger, disgust, and sadness. Coogler's Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant's last day, focusing not only on the events directly leading up to the controversial incident that took his life but also working to tell the story of not just the shooting victim but the man, who he was and who he desired to be. It serves as a dramatized biopic, a morality tale, and an instant heart-wrencher. Don't be surprised if, while sitting in your seat, you find a lump developing in your throat, barely able to squeeze out a breath. This is one of the summer's finest releases, certainly not a blockbuster or an instant-classic comedy, but emotionally-charged storytelling film that evokes -- and deserves -- both reflection and reaction. Simply put, it punches you in the gut for all the right reasons. 4.5 / 5
    Check out my full review on Letterboxd.


    Dazed and Confused: My second time watching it, and I still love it, though it felt a bit slower this time around. Kind of makes me yearn for earlier times, although my basis for that is only the things I've seen in films, read in books, or heard in stories. 4 / 5

    Double Indemnity: Hailed as one of the greatest film noirs of all-time, Double Indemnity is one that has earned its reputation. The film is filled to the brim with thrilling twists, winding turns, and a complex plot sure to grab a firm hold on your mind. And Barabara Stanwyck just might be the perfect femme fatale of her time, playing an ambitious woman of extremely questionable virtue dead set on getting her way. 4.5 / 5

    Bottle Rocket: Crazy, charming, and witty, Bottle Rocket feels like a more straight-laced version of the films he has become better known for. The quirk is certainly there, but it's not as developed as in his more recent outings. That's neither complaint nor praise, but more an observation. I really enjoyed this film, and look forward to checking out The Life Aquatic this coming week. 4 / 5

    Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: An uproarious film noir parody that I wouldn't even know about if it weren't for Mr. Brad Brevet. To you, Brad, I say "Thank you." 4.5 / 5

    1. What are your thoughts on the films I watched the last two weeks?
    2. What is your favorite smaller-budget/independent release so far this year?
    3. What is your favorite Wes Anderson film? Least favorite?
    4. If you could make or watch a movie based on any real-life event, what would it be and why?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    This is actually a few weeks ago that I saw it but I thought I'd post it:
    THE MASTER: 'B' or '3/4'

    The performances by Phoenix and Hoffman are great, Adams is way overrated in this film, she didn't deserve a nomination in my opinion.

    As for the no noms for Picture, Director, & Writer, I totally agree with that since 'The Master' has absolutely zero emotional connection with the audience (it's in it's own world) and Phoenix is the only one keeping this film from being a failure.

    PTA has impressed me with films like 'Punch Drunk Love' since they are more intriguing and emotionally connective then 'The Master'. 'The Master' is beautifully shot and the score was good but inconsistently good.

    So all and all it's a solid film with some fine performances, but it's one that I'll never re-visit because of how unconnective it was.

    I know, I might sound a bit like a pretentious asshole, but this is what I think. I have experience with being a director, writer, actor, and moviegoer and I know what I'm talking about here.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      Nobody gives a shit? Okay I'm done.

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

        I think in time people will forget about The Master as PTA brings us new films, like most people i really struggled with it but persevered because of the director and actors. Shall never watch again.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rasmuspuggaard/ Rasmus Puggaard

    This is for the last couple of weeks, since I wasn't able to write here last week, so a rather big bunch for you here:

    Sharknado - HDTV, 1st viewing - 1/10. Sat down with a friend, had a lot of beers and watched some really crappy movies. Really nothing good to see here, and neither in the following two
    Sharktopus - DVD, 1st viewing - 1/10
    Piranhaconda - DVD, 1st viewing - 1/10
    Star Trek - blu-ray, 2nd viewing - 7/10. This is crazy entertaining, and looks really good. Not a masterpiece, but a very solid scifi flick
    Star Trek Into Darkness - cinema, 1st viewing - 7/10. Finally caught this. I think it's a tad better than the first one, since it just feels more large in scope. However it lands at 7/10 because of some rather gaping plot holes.
    Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan - Netflix, 1st viewing - 6/10. So I came home from the cinema very satisfied and decided I would try my luck with one of the old Star Trek's - had heard this was the best. It was a bit too slow for me, but still decent enough
    Margin Call - Netflix, 3rd viewing - 9/10. I just can't get enough of this. The writing and the acting is just perfect. Really really looking forward to All Is Lost
    Role Models - HDTV, 1st viewing - 7/10. I was really positively surprised by this; I enjoyed myself a whole lot more than I usually do when watching these kinds of movies. The script is based on the same blueprint as the rest of this type of comedy, but the blueprint just seems to be much better utilized here.
    21 & Over - blu-ray, 1st viewing - 2/10. This was really disgustingly bad. I hate myself a little for having watched all of it
    Ted - blu-ray, 2nd viewing - 6/10. A tad too stupid. Seth Macfarlane doesn't seem to translate too good to live action, but it's still overall enjoyable
    The Dictator - blu-ray, 1st viewing - 5/10. Like Ted, this just seemed a little too stupid, and a lot of the jokes were dragged out too much.
    A Clockwork Orange - blu-ray, 5th+ viewing - 10/10. The pacing, the music, the editing, the cinematography, everything is just so fresh and wonderful, I can't believe it's more than 40 years old.

    Regarding TV, I have caught up with the latest Futurama, which I enjoyed.

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

    What's with all the Citizen Kane bashing today? I love that movie. "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper?" is one of those lines I love to randomly say for no reason. Do you guys think it feels dated because newspapers are going extinct these days, or do you just say it's dated because you don't like it?

    Anyways, I'm about to watch Ginger & Rosa so I could post comments on that later. As for what I actually watched -

    Fruitvale Station: To me this is a perfectly constructed film. It made me cry, which very few movies do, and it actually earned those tears. It's not manipulative like Crash or its ilk. I laughed and smiled too. It definitely deserves Oscar love and I hope you all seek it out. My favorite film of the year so far is either this or Frances Ha, hard to say.

    The Help: I'd never had much desire to see this, but the other night I was hanging out with the parents and we needed something to watch. I wouldn't say it's a must-see, but I did enjoy it more than I expected to. The romantic subplot with Emma Stone was completely useless and just padded the running time, but the rest of the movie is definitely interesting. And having watched both The Help and Fruitvale in a 2-day span, Octavia Spencer is definitely an actress I'll keep my eye out for going forward.

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      Agree with your sentiments on Fruitvale Station (and Frances Ha, too).

      Per Citizen Kane, I think part of the problem is that so many people, myself included, have heard so much about Citizen Kane and how it is "the greatest film of all time" on so many of these lists, that those expectations become impossible to meet. And it fails to live up to lofty expectations in part because the storytelling formula seen in Kane has been used and improved upon so much in the past 70+ years that the film loses its luster and tends to feel very middle-of-the-pack compared to other films. To me, Kane is far more an important film than a truly great one.

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

        That's fair. I guess for me I know what my top favorite movies are, and I know a bad movie when I see one, but for all the good films in between I don't necessarily tend to pit them against each other. When I see a top 100 list like AFI or the one EW did recently, my only complaint is usually surprise that certain films are left off entirely. The ordering of the movies that do make the list, eh whatever.

        I guess that's just a preamble to say, I love Citizen Kane and don't really care whether it's the best movie of all time or not. I can definitely understand how the expectations from those lists can affect the experience though. It's similar to the debate that pops up periodically for BnL on whether expectations (and/or dubstep) affect reviews.

        • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

          Expectations? Nah. Dubstep? Most certainly.


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

      Ginger & Rosa: I wouldn't call this a great film, but it's worth a watch, and one aspect about it was very interesting to me (mild spoiler alert) - anyone who's followed any marketing or read any synopses of this movie probably knows that Ginger being in love with Rosa is one of the central themes of the movie. I do think the movie makes that clear, but I really liked how it doesn't beat you over the head with it. There's no voiceover, no teary confessions of love, no awkward attempt at a kiss. Ginger's unrequited, unspoken love for Rosa seems to be tearing her up inside, but until it's (sort of) mentioned in the final scene she doesn't really admit it to anyone including herself. Instead, it's all in subtext and a few glances, while Ginger channels her tormented feelings into activism for nuclear disarmament.

      Can you guys recommend other films like this, where the central theme(s) is never stated but still comes across through subtext? I find that interesting and preferable to the exposition-heavy storytelling we usually get these days.

  • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

    Whew. Didn't get a chance to post last weekend, as things got really hectic with work and weekend activities, so this is going to be a listing of what I've watched over the past two weeks. Unsurprisingly, the list is still pretty short. I've got a few questions down at the bottom for your guys as well, so check them out!

    Check me out on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh


    Fruitvale Station: Certain films beg for a reaction, not through genuine feeling or emotional attachment, but through manipulation of the audience. whether luring them one way and then yanking them the other, or by avoiding certain pieces of the story so as to create an ultimate reveal you likely wouldn't have seen coming -- though you would have if you knew all the facts outright. Fruitvale Station had all the potential to be that film, to be just another manipulative piece of storytelling that fails its audience by using cheap storytelling tricks. But it's not. Director Ryan Coogler's provocative debut film is a bonafide drama fraught with feeling, and at times tension, that will tear your heart to shreds and fill your body with anger, disgust, and sadness. Coogler's Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant's last day, focusing not only on the events directly leading up to the controversial incident that took his life but also working to tell the story of not just the shooting victim but the man, who he was and who he desired to be. It serves as a dramatized biopic, a morality tale, and an instant heart-wrencher. Don't be surprised if, while sitting in your seat, you find a lump developing in your throat, barely able to squeeze out a breath. This is one of the summer's finest releases, certainly not a blockbuster or an instant-classic comedy, but emotionally-charged storytelling film that evokes -- and deserves -- both reflection and reaction. Simply put, it punches you in the gut for all the right reasons. 4.5 / 5
    Check out my full review on Letterboxd.


    Dazed and Confused: My second time watching it, and I still love it, though it felt a bit slower this time around. Kind of makes me yearn for earlier times, although my basis for that is only the things I've seen in films, read in books, or heard in stories. 4 / 5
    Double Indemnity: Hailed as one of the greatest film noirs of all-time, Double Indemnity is one that has earned its reputation. The film is filled to the brim with thrilling twists, winding turns, and a complex plot sure to grab a firm hold on your mind. And Barabara Stanwyck just might be the perfect femme fatale of her time, playing an ambitious woman of extremely questionable virtue dead set on getting her way. 4.5 / 5
    Bottle Rocket: Crazy, charming, and witty, Bottle Rocket feels like a more straight-laced version of the films he has become better known for. The quirk is certainly there, but it's not as developed as in his more recent outings. That's neither complaint nor praise, but more an observation. I really enjoyed this film, and look forward to checking out The Life Aquatic this coming week. 4 / 5
    Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: An uproarious film noir parody that I wouldn't even know about if it weren't for Mr. Brad Brevet. To you, Brad, I say "Thank you." 4.5 / 5

    1. What are your thoughts on the films I watched the last two weeks?
    2. What is your favorite smaller-budget/independent release so far this year?
    3. What is your favorite Wes Anderson film? Least favorite?
    4. If you could make or watch a movie based on any real-life event, what would it be and why?

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

      1. I'm so excited to see Fruitvale Station. It doesn't have an Australian release date yet which makes me nervous.
      2. Spring Breakers, Mud or Before Midnight
      3. Favourite is The Royal Tenenbaums, I would say Rushmore is my least favourite but it's still a great film. (I haven't seen Bottle Rocket or The Darjeeling Limited, I need to check them out.)
      4. Hmm. That's a tough one, I'm going to come back to that.

      • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

        1. I hope for your sake that it gets one sooner rather than later, as it's a fantastic film. Certainly has a shot at making my year-end Best Films list.

        2. Still haven't seen Spring Breakers or Mud, but I plan to check out Mud when it hits home video in the next week or so. Looking forward to that one quite a bit.

        3. Ironically, I would actually call Rushmore my favorite, though everything I've seen from his is good so far. Still need to see Darjeeling like you, as well as Life Aquatic, which I aim to watch in the next couple days.

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

          Fruitvale Station doesn't have an Australian distributor as far as I can work out, so here's hoping! I can never figure out what the distributors are doing. The Bling Ring was going to be wide until a week ago, and now it'll playing in one arthouse theatre where I live. Lovelace was down for late August and has all but disappeared.

          Spring Breakers is my top film of the year thus far, and Mud is in my top 5. Highly recommend them both!

          Rushmore is great, it's actually probably between that and Life Aquatic as to which one falls to the bottom of my list. Wes Anderson has an excellent body of work.

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

      1. I've only seen Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and I liked it about the same as you.

      2. Side Effects if that counts.

      3. My favourite is Moonrise Kingdom because it's his funniest, his most heartwarming, and his most relatable film for me. My least favourite is The Darjeeling Limited because I just found it to be boring and stupid.

      4. I would make a movie based in the theatre shooting in Colorado last year because that's probably the most recent real life event that I've been the most interested in. Plus, I think it would make a pretty good movie.

      • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

        1. Yeah, KKBB is a movie that just doesn't get old for me. I can watch it just about whenever.

        2. I guess I wouldn't have been inclined to include Side Effects in that category, given the estimated $30 million budget and the wide release opening weekend and distribution. I will say, however, that it certainly has an independent, arthouse feel about it in many ways.

        3. Nice choice. I know Darjeeling gets a bad rap all the time, but I'm still intrigued to see it given I like all his other work.

        4. Though I think that would be a difficult sell given how it might feel all to real, that story could certainly make in intriguing film. I'd like to see a documentary of some sort on the subject, but something different than your traditional "sit down and interview people" documentaries.

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

          Yeah, the only reason I said Side Effects is because it's the closest thing to an independent film I've seen this year. Independent releases very rarely show at my local theatre. But my local library does get them sometimes, but the only one from this year that they have a copy of is I believe Spring Breakers. I think I'm a little too young to see Spring Breakers though even though I really want to. My apologies if I was rambling a little bit there.

          Yeah, I was thinking a documentary on the subject would be pretty good as well. I would also want it to be something different than your typical documentary.

          • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

            Ramble on, my friend, I do it all the time -- most of my responses to people on here tend to be far longer than I ever intend them to be! And that's totally fair on the independent film front; where I used to live, we rarely (if ever) got anything close to an independent film, so I love being in the big city now with my choice of arthouse theaters.

            I love films that focus on current events, but at the same time, I like films that explore lesser known events from longer ago -- Argo comes to mind here, though my enjoyment of it has dropped off a little since I first saw it. Still a good film though.

            On the documentary side, I really like what was done with The Imposter and Stories We Tell, two recent docs that play with the line between archival footage/reenactment and utilize really interesting story-telling methods.

            I find myself wondering how long it will take before we see a popular media piece (feature film, documentary) on the Aurora shooting, and how long it will take before the filmgoing public is ready to see such a production. I think it scarred a decent amount of people that the last thing they would want to do is see such a film in the theater, though it would certainly be interesting to see what happens. Of course, he trial will have to play out before we ever get any further with it.

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

      1. I really like Dazed and Confused and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. I've seen the first ten or fifteen minutes of Bottle Rocket, and wasn't too impressed, but I will finish it sometime soon because I need to explore more of Anderson's filmography.

      2. Before Midnight. I loved it and it might be my favorite of the series. I also really enjoyed Mud.

      3. The only two I've seen in their entirety are Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Fox is the best of the two, but Moonrise Kingdom is still pretty good. I really should see more of his films to answer that, though.

      4. It might be cliché, but the George Zimmerman trial has always intrigued me. I don't know how I'd tackle it, but I know there's something there. That, and the Jay Leno/Conan fiasco. It'd probably have to be on HBO like The Late Shift was, though. I was obsessed with the controversy when it first happened and I read the book, The War For Late Night, in an entire day when it came out. I'd love to make a movie from the perspectives of all the people involved and how it effected Conan, Leno, and NBC. I think there's a lot of potential for a good movie.

      • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

        1. Bottle Rocket is lesser Anderson, of the films of his I've seen, but it's still pretty darn good in my opinion. Of what I've seen I'd rank his films like this:

        Moonrise Kingdom
        Fantastic Mr. Fox
        The Royal Tenenbaums
        Bottle Rocket

        Haven't seen: The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited

        2. Gah, still gotta see Mud. My favorite film of the year so far comes down to Before Midnight, Frances Ha, and The Way, Way Back, and Fruitvale Station is right up there with them. It'll be interesting to see where those end up on my list once the year is done.

        3. I agree with your assessment. ;)

        4. The Leno/Conan story is certainly an intriguing one, and I could see it working as some sort of HBO Special production for sure. I wonder how long it will take for a Zimmerman/Martin film to come down the pipe, though I've noticed plenty who are more or less lumping that story in with the story of Oscar Grant as told in Fruitvale Station. It will surely happen in the near future, I would guess, in some way or another.

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      1. I'm not as taken with "Dazed and Confused" as many people are, but it's entertaining. "Double Indemnity" is pretty great though.

      2. There haven't been many small-budgeted independent releases that played at a theater near me so far, but I'd say either "The Way, Way Back" or "Spring Breakers." Both are basically tied for my favorite of 2013 at the moment.

      3. I love "The Royal Tenenbaums"- it's funny, but the sadder moments are absolutely heartbreaking. "Moonrise Kingdom" is a close second though. As for my least favorite, I really didn't care for "Rushmore." It's fine, but I found the main character unbearable.

      4. Hm... I'd love to see a film made about the fight for gay rights, similar to the play "8" that Rob Reiner directed a year or two ago.

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

        Since you have seen the film Spring Breakers, I have a question for you. I think the film looks pretty good and I am interested in seeing it but I don't know how appropriate for me it would be. Can you give me an idea of what kind of content is in the film?

        • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

          It's a very hard R. There is a lot of nudity and a pretty graphic sex scene. It's definitely worth seeing, however.

      • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

        1. I watched Indemnity as part of a little noir mini-marathon for the first time and really enjoyed it. Dazed is one that I really, really enjoy for a lot of reasons, but it did get a bit bogged down this time around for some reason.

        2. Ah, The Way, Way Back. Loved it so much that I'm going to go again tonight and pay to see it (got into a free preview screening a few weeks ago).

        3. Oh I agree, there are moments in Tenenbaums that cut pretty deep. The biggest one for me is when Ben Stiller's character says to his father, "I've had a rough year, Dad." That line gets me every time.

        4. I watched a bit of "8" on YouTube last year and liked what I saw but didn't catch more than about 15 minutes of it. I really liked that concept though, with the play.

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

      Nice review for Fruitvale! One way I thought of to sum up my feelings would be "This could have been a movie about a young black martyr getting shot. It isn't. Instead, it's a movie about Oscar Grant getting shot."

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

    Bit of a slow week for me, I ended up catching up on a lot of TV (Mad Men, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black).

    Reviews can be found here! http://letterboxd.com/lonelytourist

    This Is The End (3.5/5)
    Only God Forgives (4/5)
    Behind the Candelabra (3.5/5)

    Exit Through the Gift Shop (4/5)

    Mean Girls (4/5)
    Easy A (4/5)
    The Devil Wears Prada (3.5/5)

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      Gosh, I still need to watch Behind the Candelabra. It just sits in my HBO GO queue waiting to be chosen.

      You've got a couple solid flicks among those rewatches (Mean Girls, Easy A) as well. I enjoy both quite a bit, and find each to be good for a rewatch every so often. They just go down so easy.

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

        It's a really impressive film, I thought the script had some problems that prevented me from completely loving it but the performances were absolutely outstanding.

        Agreed! Two of the best teen movies of the past ten years, they're just so fun to watch and it's a testament to them that they hold up for repeat viewings.

  • http://www.smartfilm.blogspot.com SmartFilm

    In Theaters:


    The Wolverine is as good a movie about Wolverine that audiences will probably ever get. While that sentiment comes saddled with a huge qualifier, I'd go so far as to claim that it's a pretty good movie on its own terms. I dare say it might have been a great movie if directed by Darren Aronofsky.

    As you may already know, Aronofsky was originally designed to direct this sixth Hugh Jackman-led X-Men film but when the devastating 2011 Tōhoku tsunami hit Japan, he backed out due to a projected major production delay (ironically enough moving onto a movie about impending giant waves: Noah). Even without his physical presence on set, the film carries on with his signature fingerprints. Displaying themes of isolation and madness amidst a particularly genre-defying and soul-rummaging performance from Hugh Jackman, this is (until late in the third act) the least cartoonish superhero movie to date.

    We've been lead to believe that we know Wolverine before - having been presented his lackluster, but nonetheless enjoyable, origin story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Where that fell short, this bone-bleached view really digs into his character by stripping away the mutant world around him and plopping him in the midst of a modern samurai story. In prior installations, Wolverine has been a player in a massive web of mutant characters occupying the X-universe - though his importance is more similar to a queen than a pawn, or even a knight. But this is truly Logan's story. It's the story of a Ronin - a samurai without a master. In stark contrast to prior outings, he is the only "superhero" on display, even though that ubiquitous label may not suffice in this case study. We're mixing more with Logan than Wolverine here - the daring, rogue outcast rather than the metal-clawed animal.

    Unlike Wolverine's introduction in Origins, this installment does better than frantic doggy paddling while fishing for Logan's inner suffering. While his adamantium-laced body could have easily sunk, Logan manages to swim - in full, fluid strokes. It's always a treat to see a project that intends to do more than barely keeping afloat. Six films later, Logan feels as fresh and timely as ever because this particular iteration more closely resembles a passion project than a cash-grab. Upon inspecting the pieces that went into this, it is clear why.

    Based on Wolverine's beloved Japanese story arc, Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) is behind the first draft, James Mangold, accolade-dressed director of Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma, sits in the captain's chair, and Hugh Jackman as Logan is as committed to the role as ever. While a talent-mash doesn't always result in success, this is more than just a sum of parts. Their acute commitment to novelty has inspired something largely unique that actually delivers on the promise to do something new. Though it does stray from the bold course coming into the home stretch, the willingness to ground this in a different culture, a different country and a different cage makes it an experimental success.

    The film starts with a harrowing vignette in which Logan, a prisoner at a WWII Japanese war base, saves a young Japanese soldier, Yasida (Hal Yamanouchi), from incoming B52 bombers. With commanders performing traditional harakiri around them as a nuclear warhead detonates silently in the distance, the scene is measured in subtlety, foreshadowing motifs of the horror of war, the explosive shock of sudden desolation, and survivor's guilt.

    Waking from this flashback, Logan encounters the only thing really tethering this story to the previous X-Men entries: Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). Logan's dreamy, introspective chats with Jean help flesh out the man he is and the internal battles he's fighting. He's a man who has sworn off violence, struggling with the animalistic urges that have driven him in the past. Considering that this story takes place after the events of X-Men: Last Stand, where Jean transforms into Phoenix, becomes a major mutant mind-terrorist and is killed by a remorseful Wolverine, we're weary of her presence in the film, but soon learn that she is really just a mirror into Logan's soul. As an ethereal guiding presence, Jean functions as a proxy to Logan's conscious rather than a character with her own motive. In reality, Logan is truly alone.

    Living amongst grizzly bears, blanketed in snow, and using evergreen trees as scratching posts, Logan is holed up in a graveyard of whiskey bottles, his unkempt beard and seedy appearance speaking volumes about his decaying fortitude. Shying away from the world at large, his attempts to go incognito run dry when his rage breaks lose in a bar fight and red-haired Japanese warrior, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), drags him out of his self-created hellhole to face fortune and glory all the way over in Japan.

    Dumpster-rummaging, nightmare-driven exposition like this helps set the groundwork for Wolverine's journey, which takes him from the backwoods of Canada to the towering megalopolis of Tokyo. At the behest of Yashida, the soldier he once saved turned tech-guru, now on his deathbed, Logan is wary to join but when he does, he's a fish-out-of-water in Japan. With Japanese-based set design that calls attention to the ideas of old conflicting with new - tradition against innovation - Toyko is a living, breathing platform that serves to magnify Logan's isolation.

    Caught in a time warp where wounds heal and faces never age, Logan is haunted not by death but by life. Having lived hundreds of years already, Logan welcomes the idea of putting an end to his suffering but when Yashida unexpectedly offers to rid Logan of his eternal nature, Logan begins to realize that his gift might be worth keeping after all. Let's just say that things don't quite go that way and things aim towards the Spiderman 2 route where old Peter Parker stops being so adept at wall climbing.

    Stripped of his powers and forced to experience life as an everyman, this is the story of the man behind the muttonchops, the bones beneath the metal-casings but that doesn't mean there aren't the requisite action sequences. Trust me, they're there.

    Instead of the building-smashing, chaotic entropy of recent superhero fare, the spectacles are honed in on traditional Japanese warfare - the art of the katana. Logan's initial disregard for the time-honored Japanese sword later plays into the overarching themes of respect but, on a purely popcorn level, it makes for some great swordplay sequences. With a hierarchy that sets close quarters skills above gun blazing carnage, this is more of a samurai film than a superhero movie. Even the commercially succulent, bullet train-top sequence introduces the idea of stasis as victory - a riff on the old notion that the tortoise can beat the hare. In these regards, The Wolverine takes far more notes from The Last Samurai than The Dark Knight.

    Even from a visual standpoint, The Wolverine doesn't contain the bleak imagery of gritty affairs as Ross Emery frames everything in a splendor of picturesque Japanese vistas. In these choices, X-Men remains the boldest superhero franchise still breathing. Had Fox had the decency to stick by McQuarrie's script - in which Wolverine was the only mutant, and axed Svetlana Khodchenkova's poison ivy-esque Viper, they would have really had something on their hands. But with blood on his claws, stumbling through a mob of broken English, Logan's battle with the consequences of immortality is entirely watchable. Top that off with perhaps the best mid-credits scene in the history of credit scenes (one that actually is an important and meaningful scene, far superior to the weakening teasers from the Marvel camp) and you have a reason to go to the theaters this weekend.

    GRADE: B


    *Warning: Spoilers follow. If you are unfamiliar with the true-life 2009 San Francisco Fruitvale Station event, don't read on.*

    As the lights pull up on Fruitvale Station, there wasn't a dry eye in the theater. No one was hustling to get out first. Cell phones weren't clicking on left and right. For once, everyone was somber, respectful and obviously moved by what they had just seen. In fact, in the midst of the moments where the film goes mute, lingering on lost moments, you could have heard a pin drop. That palpable, humbling silence is proof of the magnetizing power of Ryan Coogler's first feature film. Like Muhammad Ali, he floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.

    Opening with real cell phone footage of the 2009 San Francisco Fruitvale Station incident -in which a motionless, handcuffed 22-year old African American, named Oscar Grant, is shot in the back and killed by a police for no evident reason - we're jolted into the tragedy to unfold. Rather than make us uncomfortable hostages to another "important story," the hovering camerawork and winning, congenial tone invite us into the fold.

    Ex-jailbird, Oscar is a member of a loving, supportive family. He's got the good fortune of a loving daughter and a forgiving baby-mama but he just can't seem to get his act together. Trying to internalize Oprah's mantra that "it takes 30 days to form a habit", he's seeking a new life that won't result in a third prison sentence and further in more time spent away from his little girl.

    Taking a real-world event and transforming it from just another tragedy to shake our heads at into a visceral theatrical experience, Coogler has done more than the average filmmaker. He has made a film with a razor sharp point that grabs us by the neck, pats us on the head, and then sits us down for a talk about why daddy is gone.

    Speaking of his intentions behind the film, Coogler claims, "I wanted the audience to get to know this guy, to get attached, so that when the situation that happens to him happens, it’s not just like you read it in the paper, you know what I mean? When you know somebody as a human being, you know that life means something." In this goal, Coogler has succeed tremendously.

    The merciless gunning down of a two-time felon like Oscar Grant, played here with sterling commitment by Michael B. Jordan, is easily overlooked in the grand scheme of national calamities. We live in a world peppered with headlines of worldwide manhunts, massive bombings, increasing firearm massacres and counts upon counts of gang violence. In a way, we've become so accustomed to the shit that we don't bother to notice another dump in an ocean stained brown. From the distant confines of our living rooms, it's easy to shrug off these horror stories and go about our daily lives. It isn't even entitlement, it's Psycology 101. If we were to break down over every single case of injustice across the globe, mulling over each and every catastrophe, we wouldn't make it to the supermarket without melting into a full-blown nervous wreck. We don't get bogged down because we can't. We blunt ourselves because the abominations of reality are too abundant to process.

    But when it's in our cities, in our towns, in our families, there is nothing more emotionally crippling than the loss of someone who've known and loved. This is Coogler's aim; to introduce us to a man and see the resulting devastation when he is ripped away as hostilely and abruptly as a Brazilian wax. Like a top spinning and spinning and spinning and then woefully split onto its side, the true life affair is reeling with life and then suddenly, harrowingly still. We feel this resounding loss deep in our souls, shaken from our apathetic sidelines. But instead of trying to rub our noses in our indifference, Coogler has respectfully set out to present us with the full package that is Oscar Grant - the good with the bad.

    Does Coogler reach too far trying to make Oscar a relatable character? Maybe, but, in all honesty, isn't that the point? I never knew the man outside the context of the film but I feel like I got to know someone here. Whether he was an invention or not, I cared about him and it made it that much more devastating when he is gunned down like a dog in the street.

    The point is, this could have happened to any of us. Coogler's not trying to turn Oscar into a martyr or a saint, he's just a normal guy in shitty circumstances. Do these so-called circumstances have to do with him being black? Most certainly. In this, Coogler cuts to the heart of an unsettling cultural epoch that accepts racial stereotyping as commonplace police methodology. Driving the film into something more than a mere biopic, Coogler's is a stinging indictment holding the cruel reality of a modern police force where racism has come to fester and thrive up to the light.
    Fleshing out what feels so much like a true recounting of events, Jordan is a sensation. He commits fully to his role, disappearing into it with warm familiarity. A prison-bound scene in which he demands a hug from his mother is especially affecting and could earn Jordan an Oscar nom on its own. As Oscar's loving but stern mother, Octavia Spencer is a powerhouse - throttling between a strong matriarch and a grieving mother who's life force is sapped by the loss of her baby child. As she weeps over him, it's impossible to not feel a lump growing like a balloon in your throat.

    But Fruitvale Station doesn't bank on the brand of weepy, sentimental tearjerkers that leaves you with the bad taste of manipulation. It's something entirely different and entirely beautiful - a genuinely power, superbly acted trainwreck spilling over with throbbing purpose. Even for those not absolutely spellbound, it would take an incredible degree of jaded indifference to shrug this powerful experience off.

    GRADE: A


    Michael Cera is on a tear. He absolutely ripped up the screen in his raunchy, self-caricaturing bit part in This is The End, he was one of the best parts of the new season of Arrested Development and here he goes to bat with a new persona - a jagged narcissist with acid wit and a penchant for substance-induced mood swings. His largely unlikeable character is hung with the reactive humor Cera has always brought to the table but instead of his familiar coy and breathless delivery, here he is affronting, biting and plain old mean.

    We meet Cera's Jaime at a party in Chile, chomping through brews, slugging down lines of blow and making a general ass of himself. He's got the charm of a cactus and his prickly nature drives him from one engagement to the next, offending and putting off the mostly Chilean crowd with his brash Americano ways. As for why exactly he's plopped down in Chile, he's not a student or even a teacher working abroad, he's just another reason Americans get a bad name internationally. Jaime reveals the true intention of his international journey boils down to a special plant called San Pedro, better known as peyote.

    In the grasp of an alcohol and cocaine cocktail, Jaime meets Crystal (Gaby Hoffmann) dancing with arm-slinky, air-grabbing moves, looking like a stoned fool, another American making an ass of herself. But her's is a different jackassery: she's an exemplar of the unshaven granola clump, proud of her pit hair and open spiritual convictions. Mocking her in the wings of the dance floor, Jaime's bitter persona seems to skip a beat and he winds up inviting her along for his quest. Exchanging numbers, Jaime gives Crystal the low down on their arrangements and tells her to meet them the next morning.

    After a late night spent making beans and rice for transsexual prostitutes (don't ask), Jaime wakes with a brooding hangover, being called up to by Chilean friend Champa (Juan Andrés Silva) awaiting in the street below. Gathering Champa's brothers, they embark on a ride up north to hunt down the mystical cactus, but a phone call from Crystal confirms Jaime's suspicions that he was a little too faded the night prior. Although Jaime totally wants to blow her off, Champa's good guy sensibilities insist that Jaime swallow his pride and follow up on his promise to include the eponymous Crystal Fairy. What follows is a clash of sly-tongued titans.

    In one corner, Jaime wants what he wants. He's the caliber of fella who will steal his beloved cactus from an kindly older woman if need be. He'll mock Crystal's abundant body hair, slowly degrading her with his sandpaper snide comments. Crystal is all about sharing, caring and opening up. As she tries to get to the root of Jaime's cutting animosity towards her, she runs into brick wall after brick wall, dismissed and degraded by his nonchalant dismissal of everything she stands for.

    Preparing to launch into a full blown, 14-hour drug trip together, relations between Crystal and Jaime couldn't be more strained. Jaime can't even handle sharing a task as simple as cutting thorns off the cactus with the frumpy Crystal nor will he participate in her yoga sessions and even dumps the "spirit stone" she provides him. He won't buy her new age philosophy, a fact he's glad to throw in her face.

    As harsh and callous as he is, Cera is as hysterical as he is committed to his character. Out in left field, this version of the funnyman shows a diversity that has escaped him for a majority of his career. Ditching traditional Hollywood comedy and going on a limb like this shows that Cera has broken the box and is now reforming it into something new and far more interesting.

    As Crystal, Hoffman is perfection. We've all met this new-age spirit in all their mumbo-jumbo slinging glory and we've all been irritated by their condensing manner and fax-spiritual jive. And while Crystal's act is off-putting, it's also dipped in truth and topped with character. She's more than another version of a hippie-dippy cloaked in flowy clothing, dipped in flowery patterns and a late stage reveal gives us all a reason to sympathize with her boggled outlook.

    Director Sebastián Silva has based this story on an experience of his own and tells it with riotous but compassionate understanding. It's funny for much of the same reasons that hanging out with your friends is funny. The laughs come naturally, and don't feel like jokes are retrofitted one-liners hashed out by a team of writers in some remote room. Why? Because they were largely unscripted, with most of Jaime's swings and dings straight from the twisted mind of Cera.

    Crystal Fairy is Silva's answer to indie comedy. Rather than getting wound up in dramatic, Silva lets his talented stars loose to dust comedy in generous handfuls. Mixed against broken English and a foreign landscape, Jaime and Crystal's battle of wits is extremely digestible indie fare that exits on top with a wistful note.

    GRADE: B


    A little slow on the upkeep, The To-Do List is Aubrey Plaza and Maggie Carey's answer to the strain of 90s comedies probing sexual exploration. This time around, the placeholders are flipped on their heads, as this enterprise of intimacy is from the perspective of a real, live 21st century woman.

    Subverting the framework by having the female protagonist on the hunt for man-bod (rather than the boilerplate convention of bumbling dudes trying to shake off their v-cards) frames the film in a new kind of light - a post-sexual, pro-Planned Parenthood brand of soft light that gently makes you look better than you are. Going so far as to demarcate it as a feminist effort though feels juvenile and a distinction that only the most staunch of conservatives would bother discerning. There just isn't that sort of agenda at play here. It's meant for simpleton, oafish fun and in that regard and that regard alone, it works. Plaza and Carrey do run aground issues, and let their film flop flaccid, when they expect us to acknowledge this familiar mold for something that it's not: fresh.

    As an awkward parable on the confusion of first sexual experiences, The To-Do List is gross, crude, and often funny, but very much derived from past efforts. From behind the two-way mirror, this is, no doubt, the girl's version of American Pie. Hunting for clues of sexual transcendence, working her way up the pyramid of carnal deeds, Plaza's Brandy is essentially an amalgamate of Jason Bigg's painfully hapless Jim Levenstein mixed with a hormone-enraged Napoleon Dynamite. Brandy's deadpan delivery and chronic poor timing are obvious derivations of these past comedy behemoths, but she's also stirring over with the same crude, monotonous angst and strange sexuality that constitutes her character April Ludgate on Parks and Recreations.

    While April is an underachiever by nature, Brandy is a top-of-the-charts perfectionist. As a self-described girl who needs no introduction, Brandy's academic aspirations have stood in the way of her social standings, evident by the fact that even the principal helps to whisk her offstage in the midst of her Valedictorian speech. With the pressures of high school cooling and a pre-college summer to boot, this cumming-of-age story takes aim at Brandy's unexplored nether-regions. Terminally a planner, Brandy presumes the road to sexual success is a carefully coordinated ladder of erotic conquests, which she labels: the to-do list - hence the title.

    Much of the comic gold is buried in Plaza's distant sexuality and her view of intercourse as homework. In sum, it's girls gone mild. Her butterfingered advances are painful at times with a repeating gag of her freeze-framed sexual "triumphs" serving as the comedic apex of the film. It doesn't hurt that Plaza is surrounded by seasoned comics like Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse but a straight-laced Clark Gregg, as Brandy's conservative father, scores the biggest laughs.

    Hader is on a welcomed autopilot as Brandy's bemused boss (a pool manager who can't swim) just as Samberg works well in his hastily laid character bit as a small-town, narcissistic rocker. Mintz-Plasse continues to work his slightly lisping, majorly out-of-touch, pre-hipster clown as Scott Porter fills the square box of the Goldilocks, hot dude who is apt to pop his shirt off. Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development is a disappointment as the loose but lovable best friend while partner in crime Wendy (Sarah Steele) represents the reason why we thought girls had cooties in the first place. All of the high school stereotypes are there in broad, familiar sketches - hackneyed characters picked from a buffet of other comedies.

    Like most so-called "funny" movies, when the laughs do stop coming - particularly in the emotionally stalled, third-act woes - the film goes limp. In spite of these droopy moments, the shot-callers have managed an acceptable ratio of funny bits to keep us from pulling out too soon.

    Even though it's dressed in a modge-podge of genre clichés, the breezy 90s settings, and the jokes derived from the inimitable hallmarks of that generation, gives enough life to hum happily along with. Continuing to blaze the trail of the strong female-lead comedy, this first time writer-director seems to waltz around all the bases too easily, knowing where to mine for laughs but leaving the rest a mess. In a way, she flaunts her virgin status rather than wrapping it up in plastic. The plot jumps and writing are as bumbling as Plaza's lead character but you can tell that Carey has had these jokes bouncing around in her brain for a while until she finally just had to pop.

    Penis jokes aside, you can't shake the feeling that this is indie comedy d'jour - a palatable, if forgettable, entry to that erectly popular, sex-ed genre. Before romping around in the sheets with Plaza and Co., be sure to note that this is a shower, not a grower. Still its little-engine-that-could personality might manage to break free of the restrictive wrapper around it. And with Plaza at the lead, Brandy's frigid procedural approach to romance makes this sex-as-math comedic soaked in backdoor sniggers.

    GRADE: C+


    In the aftermath of Blue Jasmine, the thing that people will be talking about most is Cate Blanchett's performance - a role for which she is assured an Oscar nomination. But while Blanchett is busy giving her powerhouse turn as titular Jasmine, Mr. Woody Allen is in the back corner shamelessly plagiarizing. This accusation rings true as the characters, beats, themes, and plots are pulled straight from the pages of Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire. Those unfamiliar with the iconic play - or the Marlon Brando film - will be more willing to engage with the material on different terms but Allen's project seems to have been the result of a little too much glancing at his neighbor's work and we can't help but mark him down for it. This fact does not, however, take away from the considerable work from Blanchett's corner.

    Playing an uppity socialite, Blanchett harnesses the manic hysterics of a character crippled by her own snobbish worldviews. Even though Allen has not put himself in front of the camera for much of his recent work, we all know that Allen still remains on the screen - just in another form. As Midnight in Paris injected star Owen Wilson with a more whimsical and charmed version of Allen, Blanchett's Jasmine is Allen's neurosis and angst cranked up until the dials break. She is a self-critical, self-loathing masochist, bottled up and shaken until she can't help but pop, lashing at the the world around her just for existing.

    Throughout her life, Jasmine is a woman who has come to define herself by her wealth so when her investment scourge husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), is sent to jail and stripped of his fortune, Jasmine not only loses a husband, but more importantly, her affluence. In her eyes, she may as well have been executed. Jasmine has spent her life building up this ideologies of herself, formulating a persona who is "engaging" and "attractive" even though she would be hard pressed to understand these terms outside of a dictionary. She's a fake, a phony and her entire bio is a blatant fabrication. Even her name is contrived - having changed it from Jeannette to the more perfumed and "elegant" Jasmine in order to become a more eligible bachelorette.

    Her impending "poverty" (which is still accompanied by custom Louis Vuitton luggage) inspires her to exile herself from New York, an alternative superior to becoming a high-class saleswoman, which in her mind is the equivalent of some lower-class social pariah - a bug to be stepped on. So Jasmine flees New York for San Francisco to the one person who will take her: her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

    From minks and jewels to a pullout couch at her sister's place, Jasmine keeps her hoity-toity superiority in tow even in the midst of her existential crisis. Even scraping rock bottom, Jasmine keeps her veneer, refusing help from anyone, but we can see the shallow act for what it is. Jasmine is a mirror for the one-percenters, a shell of wealth that begs questions of self-sufficiency in a patriarchal pyramid of more, more, more. To communicate this idea, Allen ratchets up his iconic neurosis to a paralyzing degree and Blanchett is crippled by her inability to cope "without". As Batman is the symbol of justice, she is the iconoclast and definitive "crazy, rich bitch".

    When not dressing down those around her, she's chattering away to herself. From the very first scene, Blanchett is revealed to be unhinging, blabbering on and on to what seems like a close friend but turns out to be a unfortunate neighbor. We wonder if Jasmine is Allen's ironic, self-critical hand at work - mocking his own wealth and manic compulsions - or if he's trying to unhinge an international pathos: a continuum where greed begets greed and wealth is an object of desire in and of itself.

    While Allen's intent here is more unclear than it is in most of his other work, this fact may be explained by the fact that this is also his most heavily borrowed film. The themes, characters, and tone are pulled straight from A Streetcar Named Desire making this one of Allen's few films utterly ineligible for the screenwriting nod, which his work has become so accustomed to. While there is no inherent problem with building on, or borrowing from, themes from other works, Blue Jasmine is so directly congruent to William's play that entire characters and relationships feel more plagiarized than reinvented.

    You pity sister Ginger, whose life is hijacked by Jasmine's overbearing presence and disillusioned megalomania, much like you pity Stella. Ginger sees herself as inferior to Jasmine - a relationship that her crooked, older sibling fights to preserve - and so excuses Jasmine's selfish behavior while letting her own life hit the fan. Poor Ginger and ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) were even duped by Hal to invest their life savings in his Ponzi-scheming dealings. It's the loss of this nest-egg that leads to their eventual divorce and yet Ginger goes on defending her elder sister.

    Another character torn right from the book of Steetcar is Chili (Bobby Cannavale). You already know him as he is Brando's Stanley down to his wife-beater tank-top, lower-class European roots, and penchant for sudden violent outbursts. It's a wonder that he doesn't belt out, "Ginger!!!!" in the middle of a dark night but a scene in the grocery store where Ginger works is a close equivalent as he's publicly begging her forgiveness.

    Continuing down the checklist, Jasmine's romantic interests further the parallels to Streetcar. Like Blanche before her, Jasmine is an attractive, if past her prime, woman so she earns the attention of the local townspeople. None, however, are up to her lofty standards. On a few occasions, she mutters to herself, repeating her character's important through-line - that she's looking for "something substantial." While she never fleshes out what exactly she means by this, her battling with romantic inadequacies only serve to fulfill the ideology that "something substantial" only comes in the form of wealth. When she meets a politician-in-the-making with the trappings of old-money in Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), she sees a way out in much the same way that Blanche does in Mitch. Regardless of the swooning character differences, both barrel towards the same inevitable conclusion.

    Even though the film delivers some full-bellied laughs and is anchored by Blanchett's knock-em-dead performance, it feels too borrowed to herald as "the return" to Allen's heights. There's no denying that Allen is aware of the many resemblances to William's work but he fails to deviate far enough from the path to make this anything more than minor Woody. It's worth watching, especially if you're unfamiliar with William's work as this definitely serves as an ample introduction, but it won't change the stratosphere. If you are trying to discover early Oscar-nominated performances in their theatrical run though, be sure to catch this as Blanchett is nothing less than a shoe-in.

    GRADE: B-

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

      Your review of Fruitvale Station made me want to go out and see the film right now.

      • http://www.smartfilm.blogspot.com SmartFilm

        You ought to. It's quite good.

  • http://www.cinemaconfessions.com/ Gautam Anand

    I watched Only God Forgives, easily one of the my most highly anticipated film of the year.

    Visually striking, tantalizingly languid and purposely abstract, Only God Forgives is more of an experiment in film-making than an achievement. Since the film has a wafer-thin plotline, all that's left for viewers is either to appreciate the immaculately designed production sets, or ponder over the intricate philosophical theme, if any, that film is trying to convey. Though the title itself might be the biggest help in demystifying the abstractness within the film. I usually, grab any challenge a film presents in order to completely understand or appreciate it, but Refn leaves it so wide open or rather so unjustifiably unethical that it's difficult to truly appreciate his vision.Read my full take on it here ..

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MovieFan/ Movie Fan

    12 Monkeys
    ( B+ )

    - A Few Good Men
    ( A )

    - Turbo
    ( B- )

    - Despicable Me 2
    ( C+ )

    - Scent of a Woman
    ( B+ )

    - Casablanca
    ( A+ )

    - The 400 Blows
    ( A- )

    - Collateral
    ( B+ )

    My longer review is on http://letterboxd.com/moviefan1996/film/collateral/

    Jack Reacher
    ( C- )

    - The Wolverine
    ( C )

    - Next Friday
    ( D )

    - Driving Miss Daisy
    ( C- )


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

      Loved The 400 Blows when i saw it a few weeks ago but the real stand out is Twelve Monkeys, personally i thought it was a modern masterpeice

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

    A busy couple weeks, with little time for movies. I fit in plenty of Breaking Bad, but we'll get to that soon.


    A lot of backlash seems to have come towards Scream in recent years, and I'll just go ahead and say it's completely undeserved. As a whole, this has aged beautifully. Not only is Scream hilarious, but it is also truly terrifying. Take that, The Cabin in the Woods.

    Kevin Williamson's script is filled with delightful satire, riotous lines ("Did you really call the police? My mom and dad are gonna kill me!") and a vicious, gory bite. Wes Craven gives the film an eye for the perfect angles and shots to scare you, and ways to lessen the gore that is shown (probably to get cut down from the NC-17 that the film originally recieved.), while still giving us plenty to cringe at, or if you're rel squeamish, look away from. Together, they make an unstoppable writer-director team.

    The performances are all very strong. As we all know by now, Drew Barrymore doesn't get a whole lot of screen time, but she does terrified well without being completely incompetent or defenseless. Courtney Cox is great as a bitchy, self concerned yet very likable reporter looking for her big break. David Arquette plays sweet and awkward to perfection, and makes a great pair with Cox, his future (now ex) wife. Matthew Lillard is the comic relief throughout, and he certainly delivers plenty of laughs. Neve Campbell proves herself even more than anyone else, as Sidney Prescott, a teenager still reeling from the rape and murder of her mother almost a year ago, she is everything a horror 'scream queen' should be: strong and resilient in the face of danger and even emotional torture.

    All this comes to one more point: these characters are actually strong, they put up a fight, and you care for that reason. This isn't a dumb slasher where you root for the killer, there are real emotional stakes because these characters aren't stupid. They try and keep their lives, and they make mistakes that result in their eventual deaths, but they don't just sit still and cry.

    There really isn't anything that bad to say about Scream. No, it's not a perfect film, but it is perfectly entertaining, and it has something to say, a rarity in both of the genres the film masters.

    Grade: A

    The Great Gatsby:

    NOTE: In honor of this messy movie I've written a very messy review. Enjoy it.

    Baz Luhrmann jerking off, throwing copious amounts of glitter into the air all while listening to Jay-Z isn't fun to watch, and therefore The Great Gatsby has very little that is exciting, and even less that isn't drowned in Luhrmann's style or Tobey Maguire's terrible voiceover work. It's like the parties in the film: the energy is off, everything is out of sync. Almost as if Luhrmann and his crew knew the book had a grander meaning, but instead went for every single Baz Luhrmann plot synopsis: forbidden love yada yada yada parties and glitter and crazy outfits and modern music yada yada yada TRAGIC ENDING. It's not as if I hate the guy, but he needs to leave adaptations alone, he doesn't seem to get what Fitzgerald was going for, and it wasn't a love story.

    Let's be honest, though, Luhrmann does melodramatic love stories well. I ended up really enjoying the middle part of The Great Gatsby because Jay and Daisy are an interesting pair. But yet again, that's not the story Fitzgerald was going for.

    Another thing was some of the actors and actresses were horribly miscast. Carey Mulligan's character is called Daisy Buchanan, but she's not the Daisy I remembered. I was shocked to learn she was actually quite awful. Tobey Maguire is just as annoying and bland as ever. DiCaprio is fine, but even he feels a bit miscast, or maybe just a really safe choice for the part. Isla Fisher is wasted anyways (in a small part that could have been far more memorable) but doesn't feel right for Myrtle Wilson. On the bright side, Joel Edgerton and Elizabeth Debicki are great as Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker, both main characters whose on screen time feels far shorter than it should have been.

    Luhrmann creates Gatsby's world, but he defeats himself by making his film everything Fitzgerald condemned: indulgent, extravagant, and empty. A real shame.

    Grade: C

    Breaking Bad Season 3: Starts out slow, stuck trying to unwind from the silliness and chaos of the last season finale, but the second half is undoubtedly some of the best TV I've seen. Fly and Half Measure/Full Measure (the two part finale) and just stunning. {A}

    Other films I've watched:
    Minority Report: {B-}
    The Happening {WHAT? NOOO! FFFFFF-}
    Fast and Furious 6: {B}

    That is all so far. This week I'm seeing The Conjuring and Fruitvale Station at the theater, and maybe even The Way, Way Back, The To-Do List (love me some Aubrey Plaza) and The Bling Ring, with Die Hard, Broadcast News, Breathless, Badlands, Blue Velvet and Sideways high on my priority list at home.

    1. What do you think of the movies/TV shows I watched? Agree or disagree?
    2. Have you seen any of the movies I'm thinking of watching this week? Would you recommend them?
    3. Anyone planning on seeing The Wolverine? The descriptions in the reviews have me intrigued, though I don't know if I can sit through any more comic book movies in the near future.
    4. Your favorite/least favorite Spielberg movie? I'm no a huge fan of his, but Raiders and Jaws are excellent. Raiders would be the best, and Hook is a giant disaster. Easily the worst movie I've ever seen, though Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is pretty bad, too.
    5. What are your favorite movie soundtracks? What about original scores? For soundtracks, I really love Dazed and Confused, Do the Right Thing, Chungking Express, Goodfellas, Lost in Translation, Magnolia, The Big Lebowski, anything Tarantino, Harold and Maude, (500) Days of Summer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Moulin Rouge, Once, and several more, I'm sure. For scores, 2001, There Will Be Blood, The Social Network, Psycho, True Romance (that You're So Cool theme is phenomenal), Fight Club, The Thin Red Line, Inception, The Dark Knight, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Hanna, Adaptation, The Fountain, Taxi Driver, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Upstream Color, Mulholland Drive, Atonement, The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Tree of Life, Oldboy, Cloud Atlas, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Up, The Incredibles and Sunset Boulevard all come to mind.
    6. What would you consider your favorite quirky comedy? I'd go with Harold and Maude. It's also quite close to being in my Top 10 of all time.
    7. Is there a director whose stylistic approach bugs you? I know people really like his style of filmmaking, but Danny Boyle's films have a very distinct look and feel that I don't really care for. Or, at least they do from the few I've seen.
    8. What is your favorite horror-comedy? I'd be inclined to go with Shaun of the Dead, but while it makes homage to the classic zombie movies, is it really a horror film? For that reason, I choose Scream.

    That's it for now! Have a great week!

    • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

      1. I love "Scream"- it's an excellent slasher, an incredibly entertaining film and the script is really smart. I love it. I also liked "The Great Gatsby" quite a bit- though I love Baz Luhrmann's style. And "Breaking Bad" is one of the best shows on TV. If you liked Season 3, then get ready for Season 4- it's probably the highpoint for the series.
      2. I strongly recommend seeing "The Conjuring" and "The Way, Way Back" in theaters. But "Broadcast News" is in my Top 5 of all time, I can't recommend it highly enough.
      3. I have no interest in "The Wolverine." I'm growing tired of superhero films and nothing about this one interests me.
      4. I'm not a huge Spielberg fan, but his best films are all pretty great. I love "Catch Me If You Can", "Minority Report" and "Saving Private Ryan." "Schindler's List" is also excellent. My least favorite would probably be "Hook", which is just awful. Strangely, I'm not a huge fan of his most celebrated films- "Raiders" and "Jaws." They are both fine, but I don't really love them.
      5. For soundtracks, I love "Garden State", "Almost Famous", "Adventureland" and "Empire Records." For scores, I really like "The Social Network."
      6. Hmm... I love "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Moonrise Kingdom", and "Being John Malkovich"- which is in my Top 5. "Harold and Maude" is excellent too.
      7. I wouldn't say that it "bugs" me, but I'm not a fan of Terrence Malick's style. He's a talented man, but films with loose narratives and lots of beautiful but somewhat random imagery doesn't really interest me. I also fine Tim Burton's style hit or miss, with many of his recent films unbearable.
      8. I agree with you- "Scream" is an excellent horror comedy. I also love "Piranha 3D"- it's such a fun, enjoyable film and great to watch with large groups.

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

        Yeah, I remember you mentioned your own love for Scream in the comments on my review. I have little problem with Luhrmann's style when it's utilized well, like in Moulin Rouge, but Gatsby just felt so messy to me. I've just started Season 4, and Gus Fring scares the hell outta me. Can't wait to get even further into the season.

        Yeah, I keep meaning to Broadcast News, but this week I was away and didn't have time. I'll get to it this week. The Conjuring is one I'm certainly seeing this week, I've got quite a few friends coming and I'm excited to see it with a group of people. Other than that, I have some time to kill this weekend and I'm going to choose either Fruitvale Station or The Way, Way Back. I'm pleasantly surprised both films are playing in my area!

        I can't blame you. I'll probably rent it, since the descriptions I've heard- samurai movie meets comic book meets romance- sound like a weird combination.

        Still haven't seen Catch Me If You Can and Schindler's List. I should watch both of them soon. I wasn't a fan of Saving Private Ryan (I think I'd give it a C), and Minority Report is solid with great performances from Samantha Morton and Max Von Sydow, but the film itself is a little long and suffers from a bad ending. Shame you don't like Jaws or Raiders, but glad we agree on Hook. What a mess.

        Man, haven't seen any of those yet. I keep forgetting to watch Almost Famous, I've got the Bootleg Cut which I've heard is even better than he theatrical version, but I just haven't popped it in yet. Adventureland is in my Netflix queue, Empire Records sounds like something I'd enjoy, and while I don't hate him like most people, I've never been a fan of Zach Braff.

        Good choices. I need to re-watch BJM before I continue to criticize it, but I do love the other three.

        I understand what you're saying with Malick, yet I disagree. I find his style thought provoking and fascinating. I do agree with you about Tim Burton. Alice in Wonderland is a perfect example of style overload.

        Piranha 3D sounds like a awful movie, but that type of awful movie I might enjoy. I do think the gore and tasteless kills (my friends have told me one or two of them) might be too over the top for me to appreciate the stupidity of the film.

    • http://letterboxd.com/jmbenesh/ Jordan B.

      1. Scream is good, Gatsby is decent. Those are the only ones I've seen! I keep meaning to pick back up where I left off with "Breaking Bad."

      2. Go see The Way, Way Back and Fruitvale Station for sure -- I'm going to see TWWB again tomorrow. And for your films to see at home, I'd make Broadcast News and Breathless your top priorities.

      3. No plans to see The Wolverine. Much like Man of Steel and Pacific Rim, it just doesn't intrigue me all that much.

      4. Saving Private Ryan is my favorite from Spielberg, though he has made many other greats. You mentioned my other favorite, Raiders.

      5. Recently, I am still listening to the soundtrack from Frances Ha. As for scores, I love Up, The Dark Knight, The Social Network, Dragon Tattoo, and Midnight in Paris (great songs in there, too).

      6. Rushmore and Frances Ha are probably my two favorite quirky comedies.

      7. No one in particular comes to mind.

      8. Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Cabin in the Woods would be my favorites here. Scream is certainly good as well.

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

        I'll make sure to watch Fruitvale Station and The Way, Way Back very soon. I'll almost definitely watch Broadcast News this week, and hopefully Breathless, too.

        I would have recommended you see Man of Steel. Despite its flaws and occasional logic issues, I really did have a blast watching it, but it won't be the same at home. I can't say I have any interest in Pacific Rim, either, but The Wolverine seems to, at the very least, be trying something slightly different, based on what I've read.

        Not a fan of SPR, too sentimental and ham fisted for my tastes, though I do see its wide appeal. I'm glad we agree on Raiders, though!

        All good choices on scores!

        I love Rushmore. Sadly, I didn't get the chance to see Frances Ha, it never expanded to my area. I hope to watch it after it becomes available on DVD.

        All of those are good, though I can't say I'm as big of a fan of The Cabin In the Woods as most were.

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

      1. I thought The Great Gatsby had a great first and third act. The second act dragged and felt exhausting, but I thought it picked up once Gatsby reunited with Daisy. I also loved the cast, although I don't get why people loved Elizabeth Debicki. She was fine, but great? I don't know, that seems like a real stretch. She didn't have enough screen time to be considered great. Still, I thought the rest of the cast all fit their characters perfectly. Minority Report, I think, is a great Sci-Fi movie and I also really liked Fast & Furious 6. It's one of the more satisfying blockbusters this summer.

      2. You picked a great set of films to watch! I've only seen Die Hard and Sideways, both of which are quite good. Except for The To-Do List, I plan to check out the rest of the films that you mentioned.

      3. I'm not in a rush, but I'll see it at some point. I like the X-Men franchise, even though I wasn't that impressed by First Class or Origins. I've heard pretty good things about The Wolverine and I'm interested in giving it a look. The whole superhero film fatigue hasn't hit me yet, and to be honest, I think it's a petty complaint. There are just as much, if not more, art house/independent films to focus on instead of comic book movies. To me, the problem is more other blockbusters than superhero movies. If the studios would spread them all out throughout the year, instead of cramming them into the summer, I don't think people would be tired of them.

      4. I'm a big Spielberg fan. He's made so many great movies, but my favorite is Jaws and my least favorite is Hook. His most underrated is Catch Me If You Can.

      5. The Social Network has a great soundtrack. And I'll listen to anything scored by John Williams.

      6. The only one I can think of is Moonrise Kingdom. I didn't love it at first, but it stuck with me after I watched it and I began to appreciate it more. I'd really like to see it again just to see if I like it more.

      7. Nicolas Winding Refn. To be fair, I've only seen Drive but even that relied way too much on its style. And from what I've seen, Only God Forgives looks like the exact same thing to an even greater extent. I plan on skipping it because there's no way I'll like it. I'll either hate it, or have an indifferent reaction towards it. Terrence Malick also comes to mind, but I've only seen The New World, The Tree of Life, and To the Wonder.

      8. Mine is probably Shaun of the Dead as well. It is pretty funny. And I'm not even a fan of the zombie genre.

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

      1. Scream and The Great Gatsby are both great. Haven't seen anything else.

      2. Only seen Die Hard and I really like it, but I don't love it like most people seem to.

      3. I might see it. I'm not the biggest fan of the X-Men franchise but I think it looks good.

      4. Haven't seen a whole lot of his films but my favourite is Schindler's List and my least favourite is Raiders Of The Lost Ark (although by no means is it a bad movie).

      5. Soundtracks: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower has a great one. Scores: Drive and The Social Network immediately come to mind as two great scores.

      6. Hmm..probably Moonrise Kingdom.

      7. Not really.

      8. Would the first Scary Movie count as a horror-comedy? Or is that just a straight comedy?

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

        The Happening is one of the worst films of all time for me, such a joke

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

    I missed last week, so prepare for a long list!

    Before Midnight: I finally saw the finale to the trilogy that warmed my heart, and my god, how do they repay me?!? The film took a little longer to draw me in than the last two, although I must say, the first shot of Celine just said everything the last 9 years couldn't. The dialogue during their walk was not as good. But when they get to the hotel...I'll stop there, other than say I haven't felt that way in years. This is Linklater's best directed of the series, and while it is my least favorite of the three, it is still a solid 9/10

    The Way, Way Back: My whole family went to see this, and we're greeted by the Cinemascore people themselves! That was a fun experience. And for such a film! This film had me laughing nonstop, had my mom in tears, my harsh on movies father said it was one of the best he's seen, and had great performances all around. The script is top notch, and it just felt natural and was a great nod back to the summer movies of yore. Everything that can be said of Sam Rockwell has been said (his call for a hero had me dying), but I feel Steve Carrell not only had the harder job, but pulled it off just as well as Rockwell. I truly, truly loathed him. If I disliked anything from this movie, it is that no one punched him in his scruffy face (that's not a spoiler, right?). Anyway, solid 9.5/10, and a Cinemascore of A

    Superbad: meh. Not much to say. I chuckled a couple times, McLovin was great, but it wasn't anything to write home about. 5/10

    Primal Fear: I really enjoyed this film, and Ed Norton gives one of the best performances I've seen. 8.5/10

    Do The Right Thing: I really liked it. It was very well made. 9/10

    Heat: I was somewhat disappointed. While the direction and cinematography were great, the film didn't impress me, except for moments of the second half. Although, like Vince, I greatly enjoyed the Great Ass scene. 6.5/10

    Network: the script, direction, and acting were all fantastic. I think Howard Beale is one of my favorite characters ever.

    Diner: the performances were fine, but I though the script and lines were the best thing about this film.

    As part of the Disney Marathon, we watched Alice, which was good, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty, which were fantastic, and Lady and the Tramp, which was decent

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

      Whoops! I forgot to review the last two. Network is an 8.5/10, maybe a 9. Diner is a 7.5/10, maybe an 8

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RandallPMcMurphy/ Randall P McMurphy

    I saw Pacific Rim and my thoughts were kind of the same as Brad's except I wasn't that harsh on it.

    Pacific Rim - 6/10

    I tried hard to like it, I hate being too critical of it, but even though it was an okay movie, its also easy to forget the next day. Unlike movies like "Fast and Furious 6", "Pacific Rim" gives nothing to talk about, no big action sequence or anything we haven't seen before. The movie is just scenes from other movies put together.

    Full review: http://letterboxd.com/randle_mcmurphy/film/pacific-rim/

    I'm so Excited - 7/10

    Much better than expected.

    House of 1000 Corpses - 6/10

    More of a comedy than horror

    The Wolverine - 6/10

    What could've been a great R-Rated standalone Wolverine feature, turns into just another Marvel episode around the third act.

    Full review: http://letterboxd.com/randle_mcmurphy/film/the-wolverine/

    Blade - 2/10

    I don't like when movies make me suffer while watching them, specially when:

    - every single line of dialogue makes me feel like vomiting.
    - the main character is the biggest douche in the history of cinema.
    - unnecessary twists come up just to make the story feel worse then it already is.
    - the soundtrack sounds like one from a lame video game.
    - every actor seems to put as little effort as they can.
    - fight scenes seem like the actors are emulating Michael Jackson.

    Full review: http://letterboxd.com/randle_mcmurphy/film/blade/

    Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/randle_mcmurphy/

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

    Heat, Network and Do The Right Thing i love but with the later i never understand why he's the one that kicks things off by breaking Sal's window(spoiler ;-)) That scene always makes me uncomfortable haha lurve Radio Raheem though

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

      This seems directed at me, so I will answer! That confused me to. I've seen a lot of sources say he throws the trash can through the window to draw the crowd's attention to the store instead of Sal himself. Which makes sense, I guess.

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

        That kinda makes sense but it still breaks my heart every time i see it

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

    Mud: 4/5

    Mud benefits a great deal from creating this atmospheric sense of place as it sweats and glides during a largely captivating runtime. It is a charming coming-of-age story in the foreground as an abstract sort of love story plays behind-the-scenes.
    Tye Sheridan (Tree of Life) is the phenomenal star in the film playing a kid who is trying to find a sense of hope in the idea of love only to have it come crashing down; he is an expressive powerhouse. His sidekick, Jacob Lofland, plays a rough do-it yourselfer admirably as well. All the characters in fact fit the setting of the story wonderfully and give you the feeling that they belong to the story. Matthew McConaughey’s impressive selection of roles continues; he is far from the run-of-the-mill rom-com actor, quite the transformation.

    The only minor quip I had with the film was its third act. I didn’t feel it coming full circle for the backstory in particular. That emotional high came involving Mud’s character, but then faded a bit quicker than I wanted it to.

    Overall, Mud is an impressive film with some genuine emotional moments. It is a must watch for the heartfelt story of Ellis, played exceptionally by Sheridan.