Enemy

Enemy-PosterChaos is order yet undeciphered.

I don’t think I got it. ?Most of it, I understand, I think. ?The crux of it, however, will take a while to bubble up from my unconscious–where I felt it–to my conscious thoughts. ?Enemy?(2013) is very similar to?Only God Forgives?(2013) in that way. ?Both use slick, beautiful cinematography (Nicolas Bolduc?and?Larry Smith,?respectively) and a beautiful face (Jake Gyllenhaal?and?Ryan Gosling, respectively)?to keep your mind at ease through the confusion. ?Though?Only God Forgives?created mountains of dread and atmosphere such that it made me?think?something else was going on there–while it turned out the surface world was, in fact, all there was–Enemy?builds those same feelings while remaining blissfully confusing. ?I thought to myself “what the f***” at least a dozen times in both films, but in?Enemy?it was more appreciative than accusatory.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest HotelDid he just throw my cat out the window?

The Grand Budapest Hotel?(2014) is?Wes Anderson‘s most pastel film to date and, as far as I’m aware, the most violent. ?However, apart from its sudden and dramatic use of violence, nudity, and swearing, The Grand Budapest Hotel has the same charming darkness Anderson usually provides. ?The film tells one story masquerading as three. ?First, we meet an author (Tom Wilkinson) in 1985, who tells the story of his younger self (Jude Law) in the 1960s, who had met the old man Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who tells the story of his younger self (Tony Revolori) in 1932. ?Zero Moustafa began his illustrious journey as a lobby boy in the Grand Budapest Hotel under the guidance of M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the finest concierge of his (or any other) day. ?M. Gustave attracted a legion of old, rich, blonde women who would dote on (him among other things). ?This leads to a tricky situation with a painting, made trickier by familiar political events, and a fair amount of hithering and thithering.

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Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the ProsecutionDamn you! ?Damn you!

In what may be the first spoiler alert in film history,?Witness for the Prosecution?(1957) ends with a narrator telling the audience not to spill the beans or else ruin the experience for everyone else. ?It’s been almost 60 years and the secret has remained very well kept. ?Such is our appreciative culture and literate writers that few great movies’s secrets and highlights go unreferenced. ?And while?Witness for the Prosecution?had been well known to me as a title, its cover suggested something out of?Matlock. ?Perhaps advertising types had either never seen the film or simply felt that the image of?Charles Laughton?in a barrister’s wig would not appeal, but the main character in the film does not grace the DVD cover. ?Instead,?Tyrone Power?and?Marlene Dietrich, those grand names that mean almost nothing to the vast majority, show up looking vampiric and hysterical, respectively. ?Few would know that they were missing another hilarious and clever entry in?Billy Wilder‘s excellent career. ?You mightn’t even know it’s set in Britain.

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The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises PosterLive your ten years well, Japanese boy.

Animation, like youth, is wasted on the young. ?What CGI opened up for adult-oriented films was always available in cels and paint. ?Wide audiences would not broadly accept mature stories with realistically rendered figures. ?Where the viewer has to relax their sense of reality, most will always rebel against it. ?It’s true of science fiction, fantasy, action, horror, and it is especially true of animation. ?The same thing has happened for films in black and white or the stylized acting that often went with it. ?How often do people seek out films or television precisely because they are said to be a “true story”? ?The Wind Rises?(2013), from “the?Walt Disney?of Japan”,?Hayao Miyazaki, in what he says will be his final film, shows us what we’ve all been missing this past century with a film about vision, drive, love, and war. ?It is dynamic and imaginative and real. ?It’s even based on a true story.

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3 Days to Kill

3 Days to KillLet them get the Albino, you get the Wolf.

Infamously, in The Big Sleep?(1946), a classic Bogart?film noir, the director Howard Hawks?couldn’t understand a central plot point: who killed the chauffeur? He contacted the author Raymond Chandler, whose novel he was adapting, and asked him. Chandler said, “Damned if I know.” A tight plot isn’t important if the rest of the film works well enough for you not to care about a murdered man. 3 Days to Kill?(2014), while it will never be called a classic, succeeds in the same way for those who submit to the beguiling charm it has to offer. I have no doubt that I will be in the minority, but I thoroughly enjoyed this film, overlooking all dead chauffeurs and transparent R-rating evasion. ?What does it matter if a story can be diagramed or motivations can be boiled down to a sentence or two? ?It was a great time.

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The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie PosterWhat do I do? ?I don’t have my instructions.

All that I’ve read about?The Lego Movie?(2014) mentions that this is an extended advertisement for the plastic blocks. ?While that’s true, it is misleading. ?Writers-directors?Phil Lord?and?Christopher Miller,?with story help from Kevin?and?Dan Hageman, develop a theme that is resonant with any normal individual while also establishing the?raison d’être of the company. ?Of course, they also get to use the expansive catalog of Lego’s greatest (and not-so-greatest) stylings from pirates to astronauts in bricks to accessories. ?So, in the way that?G.I. Joe?(2009) was decidedly not,?this is very particularly?the?Lego movie.

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RoboCop

RoboCopIt’s not a suit Alex, it’s you.

Releasing?RoboCop?(2014) in February is hard to understand. ?There wasn’t word that production was taking too long like?The Monuments Men?(2014) or that it turned out to be junk like?Winter’s Tale (2014). ?No news surfaced high enough for it to cross my radar (read: Twitter). ?So I was left with an action-packed trailer, the poor recommendation of a reboot of a film,?RoboCop?(1987) quick on the heels of another?Paul Verhoeven?reboot,?Total Recall?(2012), which promised a soulless reproduction of a film with infinitely more soul (i.e.?RoboCop (1987)?than?Total Recall?(1990)). ?So, in that regard, it was only my bloodlust that drew me to even contemplate seeing this new, repainted?RoboCop. ?That is, until I saw one headline (that I cannot find) saying that this wasn’t a mindless heap. ?Then I got excited and can now tell you to see?RoboCop?without any fear of reprisal. ?Why February? ?No idea, but take advantage of the light offerings. ?My only in-movie note: “This movie is badass.”

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Blind Date

Blind DateBuckle up Walter, you’re in enough trouble as it is!

Blake Edwards, the middle brow genius, if you don’t mind my calling him that, behind?The Pink Panther?(1963), brings us an entry in that excellent comic sub-genre, the worst night ever. ?But unlike?After Hours?(1985), the night from hell in?Blind Date?(1987) is just the beginning. ?Edwards takes?Dale Launer‘s screenplay and finishes with a final act that is uniquely his own in style. ?One significant difference is that while the?Pink Panther films ended on ambiguous notes for hero and love interest, the 1980’s will not allow for anything but a set up for a final kiss and a happily-ever-after. ?The original music by?Henry Mancini?runs exactly parallel with its 80’s-ness.

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Beauty of the Devil

Beauty DevilI can give you another life.

Before the New Wave, there were French film institutions like Jean Renoir?and?René Clair.? They began with the silent era and continued on to direct, at least in Renoir’s case, what are widely held to be some of the best films of all time. ?Then came the French New Wave and the critic-filmmakers?Fran?ois Truffaut?and?Jean-Luc Godard?who pushed back against the institution–too frivolous, too much fantasy, cliché.??Beauty of the Devil?(1950), made in the Autumn of Clair’s career, would have been a film everyone knew if it were made in English (and/or color). ?It is charming, fantastic, and a classic in every way. ?It is the story of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the devil.

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Enough Said

Enough SaidDivorced…ten years.

Enough Said?(2013), from writer/director?Nicole Holofcener?in another addition to the middle aged relationship drama–because if I don’t reduce her work to a simplistic label, who will?–has gone for something a little more touching than painful. ?Sure, they hurt each other and?Catherine Keener?is around, so it’s still a Holofcener picture, but?Enough Said?inspires far more happy laughs and sighs of delight than her last film?Please Give (2010). ?What will attract most to this film, other than the Golden Globe nomination for?Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is that this is one of?James Gandolfini‘s final films before his untimely death. ?Many have felt some consolation that Gandolfini could go out on a film like?Enough Said?that was a quality movie and expressed his gentle, lovable side rather than another gritty tough-guy role. ?I just want to see some more.

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