1. To Rome With Love
2. Moonrise Kingdom
Argo (Not bad, but the fact that this won Best Picture signifies the weakness of the year for me: thinly-drawn supporting characters, a largely cold & clinical look/tone [which made the Hollywood scenes jarring to me rather than providing an interesting contrast to the main plight, the latter of which was probably the intention], weak direction. On the plus side it is an interesting true story & the dramatic situation pays off, but overall I didn't feel like it was much of a film)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (as a fantasy about a child I can appreciate it on an ephemeral level, but I didn't find anything of great significance here & personally the shaky cam gave me a headache)
Beyond the Black Rainbow (potentially intriguing, experimental material fit for a 15-minute film is padded & elongated to 100 minutes with a surprise descent into slasher movie territory then absolute absurdity for the finale - any isolated scene in this film is probably interesting until the finale, but the total of their multiplication is a bore)
The Cabin in the Woods (Post-modern, horror junk food, Grand Guignol zaniness that I've largely outgrown** - it's easy to watch but went through me faster than a candy bar & why is there so much CGI in this, where are the practical effects?)
Damsels in Distress (wonderful cast, but this was just a little too weird for its own good. It also doesn't resemble Whit Stillman's previous films, all of which I liked. I admire this film's lack of realism and its fairly unique quirks, but by the end too much of it seemed random. The golden, dreamy On Golden Pond-looking visual aesthetic was also a strange bit of direction. I did like how this film was *noticeably* scored by a composer in favor of the musical wallpaper approach most films get today.)
Django Unchained (I thought Inglourious Basterds was great, and I heard in this film Tarantino does for slavery what he did for Nazism, but in every way this is inferior. I'll admit that I liked most of the first half, but the second half is a disaster: the plot seemed more and more poorly motivated & slack and the violence (even for Tarantino) was mindless, and we have eight different endings before the final scene. Tarantino seems capable of balancing camp and deadly seriousness, but here the combination seemed downright nasty.)
Girl Model (a strange documentary juxtaposing two stories: one is about a wealthy & morally corrupt model scout with a hairy cyst growing in her stomach [!] and the other is about a 13 year-old Eastern European model winning a cringe-inducing beauty contest and subsequently getting signed to - and ultimately being treated poorly by - a Japanese modeling agency. The second thread makes a lot of sense to me as a documentary as it deals with one of the most deeply serious and solemn issues in an industry I work in. However, the marriage of both threads - odd enough to begin with - takes a turn for ridiculous when the model scout undergoes an operation to remove the cyst, and from there the juxtaposition seemed so confused and meaningless & once I figured out that the cyst removal was being equated to the model's bad experience... well, you get the idea. Even the model this film keeps coming back to thinks this is a lousy film.)
Gone (Amanda Seyfried is a good actress, and that's the only thing that kept me watching.)
Hitchcock (There's nothing interesting about the marriage strains of Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville, certainly not enough to have warranted 3/4 of a motion picture, so the main plot gets very tiresome early on. Alma's friendship with the screenwriter fares even worse. Both threads were reasonably inconsequential & not believable and took time away from the real focus which should've been the production of Psycho. The worst thing about this, however, was the "Ed Gein randomly showing up" schtick (think of Bogart showing up to Woody Allen in "Play It Again, Sam," except here it's deadly serious and suggests - of all things - that Hitchcock wanted to kill people in real life or something), which was just strange & inappropriately creepy & just confusing & what were they thinking? Much of it felt dishonest to me, too, and the finale is just a joke if you know anything about Hitchcock's obsession with 'Tippi' Hedren a couple years later. What remains are about ten minutes of neat scenes about filmmaking, which are not enough to save it. James D'Arcy gives an astounding and brilliantly spot-on imitation of Anthony Perkins, but he's only on-screen for maybe four minutes (and the script's characterization of 1960-era Perkins is also crushingly dishonest). I have no idea how this failed so badly in most every area but here we are.)
Holy Motors (Very quirky and at times the sort of surrealism that made Bunuel so good. The stuff that works was fascinating & the entire cast is down to do some really bizarre stuff, but overall I didn't think it had cumulative power.)
The Master (I loved the look and milieu, but the more I think about this film, the less I feel compelled to put it together & the more I side to the opinion that P.T. Anderson wasn't sure at all what the theme and point was here, nor do I believe he knew what story (or lack of story) he was trying to tell. It's a seductive surface that toys with an interesting situation that uses all of its devices to confound, frustrate, and bore.)
The Paperboy (third-rate pulp/Trash that doesn't add up to much. Good cast.)
Side by Side (the denouncement of this doc is basically, "film's dying, you can't save it, it sucks but you're stuck with digital & you know, if you can't beat em, join 'em," and for us still fighting for 35mm film this left a bad taste in my mouth. I did enjoy Keanu Reeves as the interviewer (he's clearly among the most "pro-film" people on display here), and it's basically well-researched, but I think it was a great big mistake for a film about FILM to linger so long on Lucas, Cameron, and the Wachowskis - they're certainly not going to be part of the fight and were all ready to give up film as soon as digital moved in & all their thinking about is green screen and RED cameras and 3D and who cares?)
Skyfall (A boring, anti-hero, politically correct Bond film. Ditch the men's magazine aspect and along with the end of the Cold War these films have no business being made at all. Also, I don't know if outrunning flames was ever a good idea, but it's been done so many times now in movies that they should ban it. Also bad, and always the sign that you've run out of ideas, is that the bad guy has attacked his agency's home base. Wait, this tripe made a billion dollars?!)
Twixt (it looks and feels cheaper than a fifth season episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? There's some interesting elements in the script but after the first act the unfortunately awful & tawdry visual trappings struggle to break free from what becomes a growing tonal awkwardness, and it gets worse from there. I still love Coppola so I'll stop there. I did like Elle Fanning's performance, though.)
I can't remember the last time I saw so many films in a given year that I just plain didn't care for and/or had so many problems with.
**I have since re-watched Night of the Creeps from 1986 and found it to be excellent, so I can still get into this sort of horror homage thing if it's done in a more classical way.
Last edited by Dylan on Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:47 pm, edited 41 times in total.