Sorry for the delay.
End of Watch (David Ayer) ***1/2 - There have been many movies and TV shows made about cops, both good and bad, and its various iterations. This one does not really break new ground apart from its found-footage conceit (well, mostly anyway). But thanks to the compelling, believable performances by its two leads, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, the film overcomes the potentially tiresome familiar tropes and actually makes the film into a funny, thrilling and very human look into the lives of essentially good cops.
Give Up Tomorrow (Michael Collins) ***1/2 - This is a documentary made in the tradition of The Thin Blue Line and Paradise Lost. It's about the miscarriage of justice, only this time it hits close to home for me. It tells the story of a young man (and 6 others) who were convicted of the brutal murder and rape of two young women but this guy could not have possibly committed it since the murders happened in Cebu and he was clearly seen in Manila, the capital city in a whole other island, by 40+ witnesses.. An eye-opening look into the justice system of my country. I always knew that there's lots of corruption and disgusting things happening in our government but I had no idea it was THIS bad. It's disturbing, infuriating and heartbreaking.
Brick (Rian Johnson) ***1/2 - With Looper coming out in my country next week, I've decided to familiarize myself with this director with a rather substantial fan base. All I've seen from him was his two episodes of Breaking Bad (which were great but indicates little of his own unique voice). So I checked out his directorial debut and man, he's one talented mofo. This film is basically a film noir set entirely in a contemporary high-school complete with a noirish plot and Dashiell Hammett-style dialogue. It is a cinematic stylistic exercise but it's got enough substance and character that it resonates on its own as a film. It's a terrific piece of work.
Sinister (Scott Derrickson) *** - The haunted house subgenre is given a refreshing twist in this horror film involving a true crime moving into a house and finding a bunch of disturbing home movies that depict vicious murders of entire families. I have to say that the set-up and the first two acts of this film are genuinely and refreshingly creepy and disturbing, just the way great horror films of this type are. Ethan Hawke gives a terrific performance on top of that. Unfortunately the film falls apart in its conclusion which is fairly derivative and predictable which is too bad because it made a potentially great horror film into merely just good.
Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore) *** - The film's plot is about as predictable, formulaic and cheesy as an episode of Glee. However, the film's strength comes from its funny script, the strong ensemble of actors who sell the material (most especially the hilarious Rebel Wilson who steals the picture) and its inherent, endearing charm plus the fact that its actors can really sing and dance quite impressively (someone cast Anna Kendrick is more musicals please!). It's far from perfect but it's still quite goofy fun for everyone except the most hardcore anti-musical fan.