Monthly Archives

November 2014

by Ty Landis Current Film

The Babdook | Jennifer Kent

November 28, 2014
The Babadook

In only her first feature, writer-director Jennifer Kent shows a scary assurance and maturity in plunging headfirst into the chaotic realm of psychological hysteria with The Babadook. Inspired by her short film, Monster, this particular Australian surprise not only stands out in a year full of underwhelming genre offerings, but offers proof that precision and patience can go a long way in elevating even the most potentially familiar of horror yarns. At its center — and fully embodying the film’s themes…

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by Veronika Ferdman Current Film

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night | Ana Lily Amirpour

November 21, 2014
girlwalkshome

With the recent Twilight series, the vampire myth had gotten caught in a rut, burying what had been an endlessly, richly expanding legend in a cesspool of teenage angst and not terribly inspiring romance. One couldn’t be blamed for looking at vampires with a sense of weariness as a result. With Jim Jarmusch’s cooler-than-thou vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive and now Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, however, 2014 has thankfully marked an artistic rejuvenation…

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by Matt Lynch Current Film

The Imitation Game | Morten Tyldum

November 21, 2014
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Ostensibly a biopic about pioneering mathematician Alan Turing, The Imitation Game’s opening credits play out under a recording of King George VI’s 1939 radio broadcast declaring war on Germany. If you’ll recall, that’s the speech from Tom Hooper’s 2012 Best Picture-winning The King’s Speech, the use of which offers an indication of writer/director Morten Tyldum’s safe, awards-friendly intentions. The Imitation Game is handsome, dignified, simple, and terribly bland.…

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by Andy Crump Current Film

V/H/S: Viral | Various Directors

November 21, 2014
vhsviral

It’s amusing to think that the V/H/S horror franchise has gone from bigger, to smaller, to smallest in the span of three films. Last year’s V/H/S 2 cut the first picture’s punishing two-hour running time down by about half an hour, resulting in a leaner, nastier, infinitely superior final product (and, consequently, one of 2013’s very best horror films). Now, V/H/S: Viral takes the concept of content reduction even further by shaving off yet another 10 minutes. It’s a micro…

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by Matt Lynch Current Film

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 | Francis Lawrence

November 20, 2014
hungergames31

After two Hunger Games films setting the stage for revolution in the future dystopia of PanEm, audiences are apparently finally ready for a third film setting up a feature-length climax evidently to be offered next year. In the fine tradition of modern studio-franchise moviemaking, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 takes the final novel of a young-adult series and cuts it in half, stripping out the exciting parts to save for a later movie while retaining all the exposition, thus making…

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by Carson Lund Current Film

Story of My Death | Albert Serra

November 20, 2014
storyofmydeath

Casanova, that notorious 18th-century lady-killer, ravenously consumes food during every one of Story of My Death’s first several scenes. Shortly thereafter, he defecates it all out in a bowl in his room and giggles at the sight of the steaming pile. Later, in a remarkably unfunny money shot (literally), another mound of his shit performs a Méliès-like transformation before our very eyes into shimmering gold. Add carnal sex to the mix and Albert Serra’s new film completes a holy trinity…

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by Carson Lund Current Film

The Homesman | Tommy Lee Jones

November 14, 2014
homesman

With The Homesman, Tommy Lee Jones’s torch-carrying efforts on behalf of the tried-and-tested beauty of the American West continue to be moving. Taking into account his feature appearance as a practical spokesperson for old western values in the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, his reverent direction in the Sam Peckinpah throwback The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), and his general tendency to appear in Hollywood productions that will bestow upon him the privilege…

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by Veronika Ferdman Current Film

Butter on the Latch & Thou Wast Mild & Lovely | Josephine Decker

November 14, 2014
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Producer-writer-director-editor Josephine Decker’s debut feature Butter on the Latch is simultaneously vague and direct in its intent. Decker mixes styles from shallow focus and extreme close-ups, to wide shots and deep-focus photography; from an inert camera to one that anxiously shifts in small stumbles, motivated not by the movements within the frame but by some sort of outside extra-diegetic nervous tension. The surface haphazardness of the style is belied by the precision of the editing, the specific…

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by Ty Landis Current Film

Actress | Robert Greene

November 7, 2014
Actress-2014

Opening with a tableau of a woman dressed in red, standing over her kitchen sink with her back to the camera, Robert Greene’s (Kati with an I, Fake It So Real) latest documentary, Actress, almost immediately establishes itself as a dizzying non-fiction force to be reckoned with. The woman in question is Brandy Burre, the subject of Actress, who stands still with the water running, while also clumsily toying with a glass in her right hand. Brandy’s voiceover narration in…

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by Andy Crump Current Film

Open Windows | Nacho Vigalondo

November 6, 2014
open-windows

Is Nacho Vigalondo prescient, or is he simply savvy enough to have tapped into our cultural obsessions with the lifestyles of the rich and famous? His third feature, Open Windows, may be two months past the “best by” date of August’s Celebgate scandal — in which a rash of phone hacks leaked nude photos of celebrities ranging from Kate Upton to Jennifer Lawrence across the Internet — but the film feels no less timely despite its late arrival. Maybe that’s because we’ve always been…

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by Matt Lynch Current Film

Interstellar | Christopher Nolan

November 5, 2014
interstellar

The self-consciously “epic” epic Interstellar is wildly ambitious, massive in scope, gorgeous to look at, often clumsily sentimental, very serious, and frequently overly expository. In other words, it’s the usual from director Christopher Nolan. The film follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a one-time pilot, now farmer, living in a near future amid…

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by Carson Lund Current Film

Nightcrawler | Dan Gilroy

November 5, 2014
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Part of the fun — and the discomfort — of watching Nightcrawler is in gradually adapting to the rules of its nocturnal world, a sprawling network of photojournalism castaways following police reports to grisly crime scenes to shoot them and package the footage for network news stations. Because the film is locked to the perspective of Jake Gyllenhaal’s maniacally ladder-climbing Lou Bloom — meaning, with the exception of some interstitial pillow shots of the city, he’s in every scene and we only see what he’s privy…

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