Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Youth

I did not see this film coming. From the trailer I thought this would be a light-hearted dramedy, but it was far more impactful and metaphorical than that. I have never seen a Paolo Sorrentino film before, so I certainly didn't expect the gorgeousness of the direction, and how every scene moved and felt alive. I was so moved by the music that I watched through most of the end credits to get the name of the person who composed some of the tracks, a man named David Lang. I am amazed by this film and deeply moved by it, far more so than I thought I might be. A true gem. 4.5/5

Youth on Netflix

Friday, September 23, 2016

Anomalisa

It's been a long time since I've seen anything by Charlie Kaufman. The last film of his I saw was "Synecdoche, New York", which I found altogether too strange and off-putting. But this film, this Kaufman let unfold slowly like a rose, one perfect petal at a time. It took a full hour for the true nature of the plot to be revealed, and I was stunned and very affected by it. It's wholly original in the way that his first film "Being John Malkovich" was. It's amazing and tremendously tragic and I will remember this one for a long long time. If you've given up on Kaufman, please do watch this one - you will not be sorry. 5/5

Anomalisa on Netflix

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Last Exorcism Part II

The problem with this second installment in "The Last Exorcism" series is there is very little exorcising going on. I feel like so many opportunities to deal with demons in creative ways were lost here due to an uncreative script. The shining light that saves this movie from utter banality is the acting of Ashley Bell, who is just amazing in this role. Her physical acting really sells me on her possession, particularly her work with her hands. Only because she's in this and knocking it out of the park did this get a three star rating - other than that it's really not good. 3/5

The Last Exorcism Part II on Netflix

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Nice Guys

Shane Black penned another smash with this hilarious noir dramedy. Gosling and Crowe have amazing chemistry, and Gosling's comedy had me in stitches half the film. The script was snappy, the direction tight and well-paced, and the plot was intricate and well woven. There wasn't a thing wrong with this film - it hit on all cylinders. Loved it! 5/5

The Nice Guys on Netflix

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Camp X-Ray

I've said it before and I'm going to keep saying it until everyone is hearing me. Kristen Stewart is a far better actress than what was seen in the "Twilight" movies. Her performance in this was subtle, emotional, and extremely nuanced. There's a scene right at the end where she's fighting with herself not to cry, and it was so poignant and eloquent I exclaimed to myself. The plot of this is very solid, and the direction is tightly wound and well-paced. A good film. 4/5

Camp X-Ray on Netflix

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Knock Knock

I think Eli Roth lost it some years back. I can't remember the last time he made a movie with a coherent plot and a meaningful story line. This movie falls apart when the change occurs a half hour in. Without saying much, Keanu Reeve's character simply wouldn't do what he did. It's not in the character that we meet a the beginning of the film. Furthermore, even had he done what he did, what happens over the last half hour of the film makes anything he did pale in comparison. I'm sorry, but I'm not buying what Roth is selling here. Yeah, maybe people eat free pizza, but it's not really the same thing, is it? Add to this that Keanu did his usually terrible acting job, and this was over before it started. 2.5/5

Knock Knock on Netflix

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Last Exorcism

#FTRQ "The Last Exorcism" - I steered clear of this film for a long while, mostly because I heard bad things about it. Bu the other day I saw a trailer for "The Last Exorcism 2", and I was intrigued enough to rent this first installment. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a young Caleb Landry Jones in this, as faithful readers will know I try to watch everything he's in. This isn't nearly as bad as I'd heard or feared. It was a well acted horror show, found footage style, which I admit I have a penchant for. The script was interesting and I really enjoyed Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell in this. I'm happy I saw it, and will now queue up the sequel for next week. 3/5

EDITED TO ADD: I'm glad I hadn't hit send on this yet, because I remembered seeing a song credit for Caleb Landry Jones in the credits. I just did a Google search, and just discovered he makes music too! I'm stunned. Now I'm grateful to have rented this film all the more!

The Last Exorcism on Netflix

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Ones Below

I saw every twist of this thriller coming, but I found it still engaging enough to never look away from it. The acting was nothing to write home about, but I still liked watching the plot unspool. Good, not great. 3/5

The Ones Below on Netflix

Pink Ribbons, Inc

I have dear friends who are very invested in the Pink Ribbon movement, and I don't blame them. Cancer is a scary thing, and, on the surface, it seems like many of these campaigns could be of help. Sadly, this documentary discusses something I already had some familiarity with - that many of these pink ribbon campaigns do precious little to actually research, prevent or cure breast cancer. The bottom line is, if you really want to help do something about cancer, do your research and donate to funds that are actually doing quality work in the area of research. That's the only way we're really going to make serious headway into finding out what causes cancers such as this. Bravo to this documentary for bring that to light and really talking about it. 4/5

Pink Ribbons, Inc. on Netflix

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Clouds of Sils Maria

I don't know how I wound up renting so many movies with Kristen Stewart in them so close together, but this is another one. Again, I protest that anyone who still believes Stewart can't act needs to watch her in something like this, which is essentially a two woman powerhouse drama with her and Juliette Binoche. I maintain that anyone who can stand up to Binoche as Stewart does for nearly two hours is one heck of an actress, because Binoche is magical in this, as in all things. The problem with this movie and the reason it only has three and a half stars is the ending, which is... nonexistent. After investing so much time and energy into these two women, the ending we are given is, quite frankly, insulting. I understand the metaphors at play, I really do, but it is so unsatisfying that I docked a half star for having to suffer through the last fifteen minutes of this. A great movie for one and three quarter hours, but be prepared to hate the end. 3.5/5

Clouds of Sils Maria on Netflix

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dixieland

What a gem this was! This film is directed and framed so well I nearly cried. It's lush and picturesque and unexpected in its angles and palette. Honestly, it was so beautiful that, if the script had been garbage, I would have watched it for days. However, the script was as beautiful as the cinematography. It was layered and subtle and had an end that caught my breath in my throat. To top it off, Chris Zylka and Riley Keough were both just perfect in the lead roles. This is a truly gorgeous film that is affecting in every way. This is Hank Bedford's first feature film, and I can't wait to see what he writes and directs next. A true tragic joy. 5/5

Dixieland on Netflix

Monday, September 12, 2016

Backtrack

I really enjoyed this twisty thriller, even more so because, unlike many in this genre, it made a fair amount of psychological sense. Brody is excellent as always, and I was always one step behind the plot twists, which kept me guessing. A very solid film. 4/5

Backtrack on Netflix

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Anesthesia

I wonder if the public at large is aware of the incredibly impactful films Tim Blake Nelson has been creating for the past several years. I realize he's just that funny looking actor-guy to many, but he has grown into an amazing writer and director in these last years. This new work of his is a deftly penned non-linear drama with full-bodied characters, a well woven plot, and an ending that socked me in the gut. A wonderful film, very potent and affecting. 4/5

Anesthesia on Netflix

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Equals

I'm not sure why there are so many negative reviews of this on Netflix. I found this to be a very interesting and engaging film. Kristen Stewart was tremendous in this - anyone who still labors under the assumption that she can't act need look no further than this film. Nicholas Hoult was also marvelous, the script was solid and engaging, and the direction quite lovely. I really loved the ending to this film - unexpected and very moving. I recommend this one for soft sci-fi fans. 4/5

Equals on Netflix

Friday, September 9, 2016

Money Monster

Jodie Foster's newest directorial foray is a smashing one. Clooney and Roberts are totally on their game, and Jack O'Connell gives a star performance as well. The action was tightly written and tautly directed, and I enjoyed the unspooling of the plot. Very well done and extremely engaging - even with a bad migraine I couldn't look away. I highly recommend this taut thriller. 4/5

Money Monster on Netflix