The Square (Jehane Noujaim) ***1/2 - This is a fascinating documentary about Egyptian uprising AFTER Mubarak stepped down through the eyes of a handful of freedom activists including British-born Egyptian actor, Khalid Abdallah and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a film I feel whose story is not yet finished since as of this writing, the struggle for true democracy and freedom in Egypt continues. This documentary allows us an insider glimpse into the struggle of freedom and democracy while never shying away from showing all the grey areas and the shocking violence. I don't think feel like I'm already expert in the issues surrounding Egypt but the film does give you a lot to chew on. Overall, an excellent piece.
Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse)
**** - A woman and a man married to someone else meet up again after
World War II. The woman hopes to maybe rekindle their past affair. At
first you think this is going to be bittersweet romantic film about two
lovers who can never be together but as the film goes on, it becomes
more and more bitter than sweet and goes into all surprising directions.
Someone described this film to me as "anti-romance". I can see how it
is. If it was made today, the film feels like it's giving the middle
finger to Nicholas Sparks and his ilk. The soapy, romantic elements are
often undercut by the darker aspects of the story. It's a compelling,
surprising film that will probably illicit strong reactions. This is my
second film from director Mikio Naruse. I will exploring more from his
You're Next (Adam Wingard) *** -
A family reunion goes terribly wrong as unknown assailants kill them
one by one. The film starts out as your run-of-the-mill slasher film but
the twist here makes it a better-than-your average horror film. Just
like Scream this one has lots of
in-jokes for horror fans but this time around, they are heavily
referencing and influenced by Italian horror, or giallo movies by Dario
Argento and Mario Bava. It didn't exactly blow me away but it does have
some really good scares and good kills. It's a pretty fun horror film
but nothing particularly outstanding.
The Palm Beach Story (Preston
Sturges) **** - A woman married to a broke architect decides to divorce
him out of "practicality". Along the way, she meets a charming
millionaire. I've been meaning to see more of Preston Sturges'
filmography since I really loved his other two films. This one is yet
another great one. It is a screwball comedy. Apart from a few
politically incorrect but of-its-time depiction of African-Americans, it
holds up very, very well. Surprisingly quite a bit racy! I'm surprised
the words "ass" and "sex" sneaked through. Is this pre-Code? I don't
think so. Correct me if I'm wrong! The dialogue is sharp and witty and
the cast plays it to the hilt. They don't make them like these anymore .
All is Lost (J.C. Chandor)
***1/2 - The film is deceptively simple: A man is in a yacht which
collided with a fallen metal cargo hold, punching a hole and destroying
his communication and engine and so begins his struggle to survive. We
don't know why he's out there. We don't even know his name. Only that he
wants to survive. With barely any spoken dialogue and pretty much
focused on only one character, the film still is tremendously gripping.
You care about this man despite not knowing much about him. This is
thanks to Robert Redford's terrific performance. I personally would have
nominated him but I can understand why he fell short. It's a rather
subtle performance with hardly any showiness and barely even speaking so
it SEEMS like he's not doing anything special. But a less than
competent actor wouldn't make me give a shit about him.
American Hustle (David O. Russell) **** - I'm normally a fan of David O. Russell's work but I think last year's Silver Linings Playbook
wasn't up to his standards, at least in my opinion. I was cautiously
optimistic about this and I think the David O. Russell I love is back.
This is an extremely well-acted and not to mention FUN caper film
loosely based on an incident that happened back in the late '70s. It's
funny, it's exciting and thankfully, I avoided spoilers so it was also
unpredictable. I kept on guessing who's playing who. Jennifer Lawrence
steals the film but I still think she's just a tad too young for the
part and personally, I would have nominated Jeremy Renner ahead of
Bradley Cooper but that's just me. Overall, this is the David O. Russell