#35 Jack Reacher
From the trailers “Jack Reacher” looks like nothing more than Jason Bourne rip-off but in reality it is nothing more than a crime procedural. Christopher McQuarrie is a great writer and a competent director but there is something about the overlong nature of “Jack Reacher” and its aspirations to be something different yet derivative that makes it merely average. The car chase scenes filled with practical special effects was as exciting a car chase as any “Fast and the Furious” films but so much was put into it that the fact that there still feels like something is missing is a huge problem.
2:56 pm • 6 February 2013
#34 Devils on the Doorstep
Jiang Wen is a poignant satirist of China. His latest feature “Let the Bullets Fly” was a hilarious take on the Western genre. But, the film that got him international acclaim is the controversial film “The Devil on the Doorstep”. This film is a darkly comic tale about a small village during the Japanese occupation of China during World War 2. It combines its dark sense of humor with slapstick comedy, ridiculous reactions as well as the dread of war and occupation. In its black and white beauty it captures the irony of war in which both sides are human despite the dehumanization by both sides. This is a thoughtful fresh take on the Rape of Nanking and Japanese occupation which is especially refreshing coming from a Chinese film.
2:47 pm • 6 February 2013
#33 Ace in the Hole
Kirk Douglas was an extraordinary presence onscreen and combined with the satirical nature of Billy Wilder we get one of his most underrated works or maybe not underrated but under seen works, “Ace in the Hole”. His satire is ever present in this film about the lengths a reporter will go in order to sensationalize a story in order to gain national attention and fame. This is especially relevant today with the rise of the paparazzi who would go to any means to take pictures of celebrities or television channels that thrive on the exploitation of messed up individuals on reality television series. The poignant satire and cynicism is evident throughout the film and its fascinating.
2:35 pm • 6 February 2013
#32 Sexy Baby
This documentary tries to explain the age of new technology with the early burgeoning sexuality and the effects of that. Unfortunately for the documentary, it goes about the subject in a demeaning way. It goes about following three stories as if it was a cable reality program akin to those horrid shows on TLC. In that mood, it makes the subjects seem less important or at least the social phenomenon it is trying to touch upon. But, individual case studies is also not the proper way of explaining this anthropological issue. It tries to make this teen into the embodiment of all teenage experiences. There is a hint of exploitation here trying to make more of just a normal teenage experience.
2:27 pm • 6 February 2013
#31 To Rome with Love
Woody Allen’s Roman fantasy shows the root problem of anthology films such as these. Inter-cutting between several stories, there are bound to be some that are interesting but more importantly there are bound to be those that are boring or annoying. And watching this as Allen is using some fresh faced actors for the first time such as Ellen Page or Greta Gerwig that they simply do not fit the pace of his dialogue. It does not sound genuine coming from their voices. After the great “Midnight in Paris” this serves as a disappointment but that’s what happens when making a film every year.
12:03 pm • 6 February 2013
#30 Girl Walk//All Day
If life was a musical, this will be it. The Kickstarter funded “Girl Walk//All Day” is the most fun I have had watching a movie in a long time. Since I saw this abotu a month ago, I have seen it an additional 5 times showing various friends and families and the consensus is all mutual. There is no greater joy than watching this ode to music, dance and New York City. As a native New Yorker, watching the great Anne Marsen dancing down familiar streets, watching people watch her in either amusement or confusion, brought great joy to me. There is no more optimistic film or a magical film than this ambitious project. Now excuse me as I dance through the street listening to a mash-up album.
11:57 am • 6 February 2013 • 1 note
#29 Gangster Squad
After the fresh “Zombieland”, Reuben Fleischer’s follow up was a stylistic mess and this film follows in the same vein. Coming into the film Fleischer did not know whether or not “Gangster Squad” was an homage to the gangster pictures of old or a parody. That lack of decision making or the fact that they chose to do both while keeping it gritty causes for some severe tonal shifts in the film and puzzling occasions. The actors are the least of the problem when it comes to this movie. IT is filled with talent but each are saddled with an archetype that is never fully developed. The Gangster Squad are all suppose to have their unique talent but all of them utilize it just once, getting their obligatory moment of glory. The potential of this film was high which causes for a bigger disappointment.
11:49 am • 6 February 2013 • 2 notes
#28 Natural Selection
This small, quaint indie film is quite a film about a woman who tries to find herself after years of living under Catholic guilt and repression. Rachel Harris who is not known as an actress but as a comedian gives such a great, heartbreaking performance. She brings conviction and warmth to her character and serves as the central driving force for my enjoyment of the film. “Natural Selection” is a small film, a road trip film and a quirky film but under Harris’ performance it is a good film.
11:35 am • 6 February 2013 • 3 notes
#27 Ashes of Time Redux
I am a big fan of Wong-Kar Wai and his version of a wu xia film is an ambitious mess. It has the central hallmarks of a wu xia picture such as the revenge plot (its not wu xia picture unless a person is attempting revenge) but the film is more intended as a mood piece than an actual straight forward narrative. Actual scenes of violence comes few and far between but are handled with such skill in parts thanks to the beautiful cinematography by Wong-Kar Wai’s frequent contributor Christopher Doyle. But, not knowing what is happening forces me to disregard any of the characters. There is no emotional connection. You can be an art film director and make a great Wu Xia film. Look at the brilliant “Hero” by Zhang Yimou which mixes his sensibilities with that of a Wu Xia film to create a genuine masterpiece. But, I still look forward to “The Grandmaster”/
11:27 am • 6 February 2013 • 1 note
#26 Spring in a Small Town
“Spring in a Small Town” was voted as the number Chinese film by the Hong Kong Film Critics in the mind 2000’s. It is the perfect melodrama in the vain of the American, Douglas Sirk.. Unable to use the vibrant colors of Sirk, Mu Fei uses atmosphere and the howling winds of a small town. And although, the actors are not the experience veterans who know the method of film acting, they were able to rise above that to relay just enough emotions, proper for a melodrama of this ilk. The film is told through the feminist perspective which is rare with the filial piety nature of China and that really shows in the film as it is a whirlwind of moody emotions all balanced with the proper restraint of the director.
11:22 am • 6 February 2013