Tuesday, January 1, 2013



Rio Grande ****
Lawless **
Killing Them Softly ****
Gaslight ****
The 39 Steps ***
A Separation (re-watched) ****1/2
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ***
Harvey ****
Django Unchained ***1/2
Cosmopolis ****
Amour ****


30 Rock season 7
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
Dexter season 6
Downton Abbey season 2
Homeland (started season 1)
Parks and Recreation season 5
Sherlock season 1
The Simpsons (various episodes)

Notes: I watched She Wore a Yellow Ribbon at the end of November and watched Rio Grande at the beginning of December. That's two films from John Ford's cavalry trilogy down and I own a copy of Fort Apache so hopefully I can catch that soon. I had a top five John Ford list ready to go (the draft is still up on my blogger dashboard), but I didn't post it because it was obvious and similar to Jeff and Brandon's list. And maybe I'm still not sure which film I like more...The Searchers or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I know I included the former in my "best films of all-time" list but I'll be damned if I don't admit to being blown away by Liberty Valance.

Anyway, back to Rio Grande. I'd definitely rank it above She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (no offense to that film though).  RG offers a better story and a better flow. John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara make a great team, and their relationship was obviously one of the most important parts of the story; I didn't feel like John Wayne had enough to do in SWAYR. Anyway, my John Ford draft also had a line about how I wouldn't even try to do a write-up on Ford. Brandon said it all in his post. Beautifully done, my friend, if you don't mind me saying. 

I wrote the following about Lawless in another post that I never got around to submitting (I suck):

"I got Lawless in the mail from Netflix. Nothing about it stood out to me; it's very forgettable. And I'm sorry but there's nothing compelling about a relationship between Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska; I was bored just from typing that sentence. Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain are just 'okay.' Maggie's relationship with the Bondurant brothers felt very forced and unnecessary. It made think a bit of Ida Lupino relationship with Bogart in High Sierra, but obviously that one was more developed and effective; the Maggie/Bondurant thing felt like a failed attempt at that.

And back to LaBeouf--I actually wouldn't mind him if he wasn't such a douchebag. People love Ryan Gosling, and part of the appeal is that he doesn't seem shamed by his Disney past. LaBeouf has failed miserably at trying to shake that off; he's trying way too hard to be taken seriously and he just comes off looking like an asshole. I was channel-surfing one day and I saw that Freaks and Geeks was on. Shia was in this particular episode and he played a weird little goofball (similar to his character on Even Stevens), and you know what, he was great and likable. He'd be so much more tolerable if he embraced who he really is and what he actually does well."

My apologies for putting High Sierra and Lawless in the same paragraph.

I also started to write about Killing Them Softly shortly after I saw it at AMC. But I never finished it because that day also happened to be the Friday when the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy occurred. I couldn't bring myself to write about anything violent. At this time, I will say that I enjoyed Andrew Dominik's film quite a bit. And while Softly's overbearing political presence warrants a groan or two, I would argue that it does not hurt the movie at all. If the film had an identity crisis it would, but Dominik knows who his characters are and what they want. I also loved the juxtaposition between mob justice and bureaucratic justice. I wish I could watch the last scene with Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt right now. Great stuff.

I enjoyed Gaslight, but unfortunately I don't have a lot to say about it right now. 

The 39 Steps had its moments, but mostly I wasn't a big fan. I'm not about to criticize Hitchcock or say anything hyperbolic (gonna keep this dull), but it's certainly not one of my favorites. I want to see The Lady Vanishes soon; I have yet to see it. 

A Separation was just as good the second time. I still stand by ranking The Tree of Life ahead of it though. Are Jeff and I the only two to see this one so far? I'd like to hear another man or woman's opinion.

I agree with everything Jeff wrote about The Hobbit (shocker). Neither of us have read the book and I will say that's probably the only way one can enjoy it. There's definite fat to be trimmed, but mostly it's a fun adventure story. I also liked seeing more of Middle Earth and its other inhabitants. We meet trolls, goblins, and mountains that can move and fight. We also get to see more of the Dwarves and their history. In the review John linked but now hates, the reviewer noted that the scenes between Bilbo and Gollum are the best moments in the entire movie. Agreed 100%; really well done. Say what you want about Peter Jackson, but he and Andy Serkis created such an iconic character in Gollum. I would liken him to Darth Vader because as soon as you see him on the screen (or even hear him breathing) it instantly stirs up certain emotions. I don't feel like I'm alone in thinking that. Anyways, hats off. And honestly, no large complaints, but I'd be insane to list it among the best films of the year. It's a fun time at the theater...nothing more. 

Harvey is delightful. Jimmy Stewart is a legend. A third obvious thing. I loved the mix-up at the psyche ward when Veta is committed instead of Elwood.

Jeff also happens to be right about Django Unchained as well (Brandon too). It was a bit disappointing, though there were many things about it that I liked. Loved the Waltz/Foxx partnership. And while Leo was quite good in it and had some shiny/bright moments, I was mostly let down at how little Tarantino challenged him. Agreed gang, the ending is sloppy. Jeff and I have talked about this quite a bit already and we definitely agreed that it feels as if Tarantino rushed this one out. The ideas are there, but the execution is lacking. 

Cosmopolis was very interesting. I watched this one the other day, so I don't think I've fully processed everything yet. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it, but I know that I liked it. It's definitely top-ten worthy and even though I'm not too familiar with David Cronenberg's work, this was the kind of thing I'd come to expect from him based on what I've heard and read. A Dangerous Method was too safe and took no risks whatsoever. Cosmopolis is the opposite. And hats off to Robert Pattinson for no longer playing it safe either. Granted, starring in something as shitty as the Twilight saga isn't exactly great for one's legitimate acting career. But R-Patts actually does quite well for what he's asked to do.

I finished Amour yesterday and afterwards I immediately read what Jeff and Brandon wrote about it. Great stuff. I can't talk about this film too much without mentioning the performances of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva; even if the script was boring (which it isn't) and the photography was awful (it isn't), those two performances would've elevated everything. And even with the film being as good as it is, those performances do elevate it and make it that much better. Hopefully a larger discussion will follow. 

Tabu, This Is Not a Film, Holy Motors, and Rust and Bone soon. Thanks for that flash drive, John/Ben.


started Homeland and Sherlock this month. Both are enjoyable and I'll be sticking with them.

Maybe I can finally finish the second season of Downton Abbey soon; it's been somewhat of a struggle...just not as good as the first season.

I enjoyed the Dexter season finale. Maybe that wasn't hard for the writers to achieve given how shitty the entire seventh season had been. And even though I had predicted the final moment of the season a few months back, I did like how Deb's decision was presented to her. One more season to go.

I never do New Year's resolutions, but maybe I should make one to post more in 2013. I know I'd certainly like to. You're going down, Ben Spacey.

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