Good ideas, good acting, the makings of a good thriller, or a good sci-fi think piece, or a good love story. However, none of the elements come together to satisfy in any of these categories, so a promising start fizzles. It is a film you can enjoy in a comfortable chair with your brain turned off, but it should be more.
Most superhero movies are a con, a sleight of hand trick. While everything's moving, you're fascinated, but when it's over, you're left with nothing but a lighter wallet. The Winter Soldier's pleasures linger a little longer, because amid too many bullets and explosions, there's a bit of character work and an expanding set of complications that never quite collapse under their own weight.
Way better than most of the early 2000s TV series, largely because it's concentrated into a single film rather than permitted to sprawl across a season of television. Kristen Bell is an engaging lead facing an interesting mystery, a decent personal conflict, and many familiar faces.
The Grand Budapest Hotel has a superficial resemblance to the Wes Anderson films you'd rightly roll your eyes at, but the story and a delightful performance from Ralph Finnes inspire Anderson to his best work to date. While Finnes' M. Gustave is a flamboyant dandy when he's not punching faux Nazis in the face, this is not a twee hipster handjob--this is a seriously entertaining piece of cinema.
Martin Scorcese's new film is a long, amoral mess. The story has no moral compass whatsoever, and after the Wall Street led recession of 2008, there's no excuse for that--Scorcese should be ashamed. And yet, The Wolf of Wall Street is a thrilling 180 minutes that very nearly makes up for lack of a soul through sheer filmmaking bravado.
It's murky, incoherent, slapdash, and sort of off-putting to the uninitiated. It's what moviemaking is like when a generation of children raised on sugary cereal gets a chance to play with cameras and computers. It has its charms, but if you're not already a fan of Marvel's superhero movies, this ain't your gateway drug.
12 Years a Slave is a powerful, brutal piece of filmmaking that wins entirely on the careful eye and discipline of its director, Steve McQueen, and star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. It is a relentless chronicle of nearly unimaginable brutality that manages to make that brutality seem almost routine, rather than sensationalized.
Controversial as all hell, winner of unprecedented accolades at Cannes, and clocking in at a solid three hours long, Blue is the Warmest Color is not the easiest film to review.
In short, the actresses are excellent and the direction is, in many ways, wonderful. But at the same time that Abdel Kechiche does marvelous things with a constantly roving, claustrophobically intimate camera, his storytelling choices are often a bit bewildering.
It's cold, it's artificial, it's not bothering to explain itself. But a powerful cast and Ridley Scott make Cormac McCarthy's stark, unyielding scrips come to life. It's a film that will have a hard time finding an audience, but it definitely deserves to find it.
If you've gone 14, 18 days without seeing Benedict Cumberbach portray a preening bastard, here's your fix. It's the key formative years of Wikileaks from the guy who made all his money directing Twilight movies. There are better documentaries you could watch, and better movies featuring these same talented actors.
It doesn't have enough chills to be horror, it doesn't have enough depth to be art. The Carrie remake is an exercise in squandering story and cast, and neither the screenwriters nor director Kimberly Peirce should be let off the hook for the disjointed, pedestrian failure they've thrust upon moviegoers.
Crap story, crap execution, by a bunch of indifferent hacks squandering the talent of three good performers who are clearly uninspired and underdirected here. Textbook definition of Hollywood mediocrity.
That was amazing. It's a lot more event than character, but as a visual achievement, as an artistic creation, as a nail-biting entertainment, this thing succeeds to such a degree that singlehandedly this smart, intimate thriller nearly redeems a disappointing year for blockbuster adventure. See it--in a theater, in 3D.