Wednesday, December 31, 2014

1. Boyhood

Another great film by Richard Linklater. This movie was filmed over the last 12 years with the same cast. Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring one of my favorite actors of all time Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents. Boyhood records the difficulty of growing up like no other film has ever done before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
The final product is nothing short of sophistication and joy, teaching the viewer to notice and appreciate the little things in life as well as all the people who help you through the difficult times. With Arquette in the lead as the mother who seems to be guiding her children in the right the path through life as her own life spirals in different directions. Ethan Hawke, as the runaway father who learns the responsibility of fatherhood from family, one of the greatest strengths of this film lies in the acting talents of its superb cast. An excellent must see film.

2. Interstellar

3. Whiplash

4. Birdman

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

I took my entire class to see the film, because most of my students are Was Anderson’s fans. The film stars the wonderful Ralph Fiennes as dashing concierge M. Gustave. The character has both grandiose and antiquated monuments in a changing world, there are views to vanished luxury that provide the perfect setting for Anderson's unique brand of whimsy.
The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of M. Gustave, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune—all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent.
The movie has a great cinematography a combination of 2d paper sets with 3d old and new school animation. Story was well kept and captivating no matter how kooky it was. It is Wes Anderson’s finest.

6. Foxcatcher

The movie has some of the best performances of the year, but before you head to the theater, you might want to get the facts of the twisted case. It is based on a true story of two athletes and a murder case.

These days, though, Hollywood stars like to stretch “the brand”. Steve Carell, the grand master of goofy witlessness, I have never enjoyed his performances to be honest.  He is playing a wrestling-obsessed, multi-millionaire murderer. It’s based on the real-life case of John du Pont, who shot dead US Olympic wrestling coach Dave Schultz in 1996. Mark Ruffalo is great and even Chanim Tatum is good.

A compelling piece of work, the film is notable for the intensity of both performance and plot. For this is not just a story about wrestling and madness. This is a story about the need to belong, the corrupting and isolating power of wealth, the potency of a shared delusion and the inescapable weaknesses that make us all human. It is a story of love, loss and betrayal.

7. Under The Skin

Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi horror is loosely adapted from the novel from the novel by Michel Faber. The result is visually stunning and deeply disturbing: very freaky, very scary and very erotic. It also comes with a sense of the absurd.

The heroine is an alien predator in Scotland. Maybe you have to be a Scottish to appreciate Glazer's masterstroke in casting Scarlett Johansson as the exotic alien in humanoid form, with her soft accent, black wig and sexy fake fur, driving a beat up white van around the tough streets of Glasgow, picking up men. She winds down the passenger-side window, skillfully engages them in conversation, and takes them back to her place. Between encounters, she roams, gazing at streetscapes, and making them alien with that gaze. There is pure situation genius in the bizarre spectacle of sleek Johansson being placed in this context, with lots of hidden-camera shots of real passers-by in real Glasgow streets and real Glasgow shopping centers, It is a a bizarre film but it is totally worth seeing.

8. Inherent Vice

A film by Paul Thomas Anderson with a great cast including Joaquin Pheonix, James Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Inherent Viceis is a legal term, used in marine insurance, which acknowledges that everything contains its own seed of disaster and that what can go wrong probably will. Eggs break, glass shatters and 1960s hippie dreams eventually going on the rocks of Altamont and the Manson trial. Here is a film that is as shaggy and funky as Joaquin Phoenix’s stoner private eye, all but tripping over itself in its search for some clues. This confirm Joaquin Pheonix as perhaps the best actor today.

Perhaps the movie it’s an invitation to simply turn on and drop out. But, stick with it, because there is a logic to Anderson and Pynchon’s illogicality. Because if the director’s previous film. This film is about the fracturing counter-culture of southern California, where LAPD cops moonlight as B-movie actors. Inherent Vice is one of the most weird and pleasing American pictures of the year.

9. Nightcrawler

10. Men Women and Children