Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki) **** - This one is in serious competition with Spirited Away as my favorite Studio Ghibli film or even my favorite anime film. Hell, it's already zoomed in my top ten favorite animated films of all time. A princess from a post-apocalyptic world where a huge portion of the world is toxic and unlivable must stop an impending war between two huge cities. It's got pro-environment and anti-war messages all through out but doesn't hit you over the head with it. Instead you get a visually sumptuous, rousing and exciting science fiction adventure film. This is the kind of film I'd be watching again and again. It's wonderful piece of work.
Blue Valentine (Derek
Cianfrance) *** -Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both give
outstanding performances as a young couple whose marriage is falling
apart. The film cuts back and forth to the when they first meet and fall
in love and to the current state of their marriage. Despite some flaws
here and there and the fact that it didn't really break new ground, the
film's success lies in the performances of the two lead actors who
really elevate the material and made it feel real, raw and frankly
uncomfortable (in a good way). P.S. why was this ever rated NC-17? I
mean, come on! Seriously?
Cop Land (James Mangold) *** - I worked on this film. Don't let Sylvester Stallone's presence scare you off. This is actually a pretty solid ensemble drama about a sheriff in a small Jersey town populated by corrupt cops with mob connections. Stallone gives a very understated and very REAL performance, you really forget he's Rocky and Rambo and buy that he's just this ordinary guy who's genuinely conflicted.
(James Bobin) ***1/2 - I grew up watching the Muppets on TV as well as
watching many of the Muppet movies so imagine my delight and surprise
that this was gonna happen again. And for the most part, it largely
works. Screenwriters Jason Segel and NIcholas Stoller and director James
Bobin successfully transfers the formula of the Muppets to the 21st
century without trying too hard to make it "hip". Certain moments from
this film feel like pure child-like joy captured on film.
The Hunger Games (Gary Ross) ***
- I haven't read the books so I'm rating this purely from a movie
standpoint. I do know of the plot of the novel it's based on so I was a
bit surprised that Gary Ross was picked to do this film since nothing he
has directed or even wrote in the past is even similar to this but in
his first outing in this type of film, he did pretty darn well (it's
better than Seabiscuit).
Jennifer Lawrence fulfills the promise of her Oscar nomination and
carries the film expertly. Even though I haven't read the books and
don't know all the details, I was able to follow the film and I found it
to be solid entry in the sci-fi post-apocalyptic genre.