Well thats more like it. Got through 20 films over reading week including three in theatres (which was awesome). Sorry for the lateness in posting but honestly as long as I get these up every week I’m satisfied. I’m skipping the class films for this week because I don’t have anything hugely significant to say about the ones that I did watch. One thing that is big in the past two weeks is that I’ve increased my total films watched that were released in 2014 past 50. So that is the pre-roll for this post. As of October 19, this is my top ten films (in alphabetical order) for 2014.
Begin Again dir. John Carney
Boyhood dir. Richard Linklater
Gone Girl dir. David Fincher
Grand Budapest Hotel dir. Wes Anderson
Fury dir. David Ayer
The Lego Movie dir. Chris Miller and Phil Lord
Locke dir. Steven Knight
Nymphomaniac dir. Lars Von Trier
Only Lovers Left Alive dir. Jim Jarmusch
RoboCop dir. Jose Padhila
Obvious Child (2014) dir. Gillian Robespierre
This is the best abortion comedy ever made that I’ve seen at least. Its hilarious and touching and controversial and bombastic and wonderful. This is everything I wanted politically out of Juno and cinematically out of Frances Ha.
The One I Love (2014) dir. Charlie McDowell
The last twenty minutes of this film kind of ruined it for me. It felt unearned and like it moved to pure genre rather than the marriage comedy/drama that was so interesting and compelling for the first hour
Frank (2014) dir. Lenny Abrahamson
The first hour of the film is actually really interesting and compelling. Once they actually leave the cabin though it falls apart and not in a good way.
Maps to the Stars (2014 ) dir. David Cronenberg
Solid film with a spectacular performance from Julianne Moore. If you’re a fan of Mia Wasikowska like I am you should really check this out because it is her most meaty role so far.
Jarhead (2005) dir. Sam Mendes
Jarhead is pretty much a less good version of The Hurt Locker. It has a spectacular soundtrack and the performances are decent, but the film seems lacking in the pithy humanism found in Mendes two previous films.
Winchester ’73 (1950) dir. Anthony Mann
I kind of love this film. Jimmy Stewart makes a great western hero. And the film also does some great things in terms of talking about native peoples (even if its all in brown face, scoff Rock Hudson scoff). Its just a fun if incredibly dark Anthony Mann western.
Fury (2014) dir. David Ayer
I’ve only seen one other David Ayer film and its not the one you might think (no I haven’t seen End of Watch): Sabotage. Whats interesting about these two films he made for this year is that they are both about the strength and simultaneous fragility of fraternity. While Sabotage was not a very good film, this is a great one and primarily because of how raw it is.
No punches are pulled here, it is bleak and nightmarish and as much as it is a WW2 film I think this film is commenting more about contemporary war. The things these men have to do internally to survive this ordeal feel to me (and this is a stretch on my part) like the reason that tech-warfare has become the hallmark of American foreign policy. Drones don’t get shellshock. Sure its a stretch, but this film tells a version of WW2 that is angry and depressed and passive aggressive and actively aggressive.
Palo Alto (2014) dir. Gia Coppola
Well that was sad. I’m also very very excited to see what Gia Coppola does next. She feels similar to her aunt Sofia but with a Linklater streak.
Sex Tape (2014) dir. Jake Kasdan
Rob Lowe is freaking hilarious in this film. Everything else is pretty much derivative trash aside from the chemistry between the leads. I just wish this made me laugh as much as Bad Neighbors.
Neighbors (2014) dir. Nicholas Stoller
I heartily enjoyed this film. It had everything I wanted out of a college film and a marriage film and made me laugh consistently.
Begin Again (2014) dir. John Carney
This is one of my favourite contemporary (non-traditional) musicals already. Kiera Knightly is spectacular and Mark Ruffalo brings his typical charm to the role. This film may be a contender, I’m not sure yet.
The Furies (1950) dir. Anthony Mann
I’m really beginning to love Anthony Mann’s style. These westerns are deeply cynical and filled with anguish and resentment. Barbara Stanwyck is the best.
Men, Women & Children (2014) dir. Jason Reitman
That voice over nearly kills this movie. Its uneven usage and pretentious tendencies are incredibly bad. However, the more Sofia Coppola like the film gets, the more descriptive the camera becomes, the better this film gets. There is a ten minute sequence in the middle of the film that inter-cuts between three couples. If the film were as judgmental as many critics say it is, this scene would not be as powerful as it is. But the film is not judgmental towards technology, it only judges people and even then, the judgement only comes from people’s self-realizations and not hamfisted interactions. This is a much better film than most are giving it credit for, and while the voice over is a legitimate criticism, its not bad enough to stop me from recommending the film as a whole.
Border Incident (1949) dir. Anthony Mann
Solid film. Maybe not a pure noir-western but definitely something I need to keep my eyes on as i do this project. Also, 30 year old Ricardo Montalban unf!
Pursued (1947) dir. Raoul Walsh
The flashbacks are kind of cool and the lighting is really interesting, but the conclusion is poorly handled
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) dir. William A Wellman
Oh Henry Fonda, this film is pretty much a darker 12 Angry Men except in a western setting.
Antichrist (2009) dir. Lars Von Trier
I had seen the scissor scene long before watching the rest of the film which had kept me from wanting to see it in whole. Its a truly beautiful and horrific film while it is still my least favourite part of Von Trier’s depression trilogy.
Gone Girl (2014) dir. David Fincher
Well, I want to be the person who writes the book on David Fincher in 10 years. His filmography continues to grow and evolve and this film feels like the natural successor to his past three films. Playing with time and narrative, screwing around with who we can trust and why, building an atmosphere as thick as pea soup and trusting the soundtrack once again to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. He’s an auteur through and through and this is one of his best.
Touch of Evil (1958) dir. Orson Welles
Umberto D. (1952) dir. Vittorio De Sica
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) dir.
22 Jump Street (2014) dir. Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Wasn’t as good as the first, but a worthy follow up for this incredible team of writer/directors.