Unbroken (2014): After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Poor Angelina Jolie. She is really trying to be a good director. But she's not. And it may be about time for her to realize she needs more than a script from the legendary Coen brothers and her own recognizability to make a movie good. First off, does it matter that Unbroken is merely an average film? No. The folks at Universal marketed the hell out of this war epic and as a result it was the big Christmas Day release of 2014. And I've got news for you....when you're the big Christmas Day release for that year....you're gonna make a lot of money. And hey! Unbroken made a lot of money, but at the end of the day, was it worth it? Sorry folks, but I say no. So, let's dive into why not shall we?
So, first off, the acting. A movie that features one character throughout and borders on a biopic gets the "official" rule of a biopic which is this: the movie is only as good as its lead. And, sadly, Jack O'Connell is simply asked to do too much as the lead Louis Zamperini. I'm not saying he was bad, but he was merely....average. In a role that required him to be exceptional. O'Connell was very bland as our lead character, and put in a rather forgettable performance. Which you simply can. Not. Do. In a movie like this. Honestly I wish they had cast Domhnall Gleeson as Zamperini over O'Connell. His performance as Phil was easily the best performance of the film. Don't know who I'm talking about? Well...you will. He's the top-billed actor for a little film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There were also a few cool moments from a technical standpoint, particularly with the initial plane crash, but after that (and I feel like I've been saying this a lot recently) the movie played things very safe and predictable, with very VERY easy-to-see-coming flashbacks to Zamperini's former life as an Olympian and typical invisible wall adhering cinematography. The lighting was also very bland. But then again why should I expect a movie to, you know, mix it up from a technical standpoint? These standard movie-making formulas do work for most people. But you know what? It matters to me. I am being spoiled by movies like Wild and Whiplash that take risks from an editing/cinematography standpoint and work. These movies benefit sooooo much when they are creative from a technical standpoint. Sure, sometimes it doesn't. Like in the instance of Annie. Boy was that editing bad. But, more often then not, it works! And it's creative! WHOA...creativity in movies??? No, I shouldn't expect that...
And here's my biggest fault with Unbroken: it has a theme (if you can't guess what it is, I'll give you a hint: it's in the title of the movie) and it wants to bash you over the head with this theme until you are exhausted and borderline frustrated. Unbroken is definitely 2014's Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It is (or was now, I guess) the "official" feel-good movie of the holiday season. And that's all it ever is. It never strives to be anything more than this, which, and I can't emphasize this enough, is OK. It's fine to be predictable and not tense in any way, shape, or form throughout its rather overlong 137 minute runtime. After all, a large chunk of Hollywood seems to think you can't make a feel-good movie with any sort of drama attached to it at all for some reason. But that's ok. I would much rather watch this predictable, feel-good movie over a Michael Bay film any day of the week. But, at the end of the day, a feel-good film is not a good film. You need more than one note to make a symphony just like you need more than one element to make a good movie. So, at the end of the day, while Unbroken is a feel-good movie about a hero who absolutely deserved a movie made by him by a high-profile Hollywood figure, it is not a good movie. It is merely...average. Better luck next time, Mrs. Jolie. Maybe mix it up and pick a not-so-feel-good subject for your next film.
The Critique: A one-note feel-good story about a man who deserves it. However due to a subpar performance from its lead, it is merely an average film.
The Recommendation: I think its safe to say that if you had any desire to see this movie you would have seen it already. If you haven't....go watch Saving Private Ryan again instead.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5.5/10 Slightly Above Average. So I decided to bump this up half a point at the last second strictly out of respect for Louis Zamperini. This man was a great man, and I am glad I know more about him now. Though I have no intention of seeing this film again anytime soon.
Inherent Vice (2014): In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
So. Uh....I just watched this movie and I only have one question: what? What the hell did I just watch? Look. I get that Paul Thomas Anderson's movie can be....out there. And don't get me wrong: I usually have bought into whatever he's selling. In my opinion There Will be Blood is one of the better movies of the 2000s. Magnolia and The Master are also great, but here's what they have that this movie does not have: throughout those movies its building to something. Here, we have 148 minutes of essentially nothing where every scene introduces someone new that you're just expected to know as you are introduced to several different cases all at once that you're just expected to follow while Joaquin Phoenix is running around to these locations that you're just expected to know and....ugh. Man while Inherent Vice is exceptional from a technical standpoint, never have I found 148 minutes of film to be as mentally exhausting and unenjoyable in 2014 as Inherent Vice. And it pains me to say that because I freaking love PT Anderson.
Ok. So. What to talk about....well, the acting is good. Joaquin Phoenix is up to his usual crazy tricks here as the lead. While it was nice to see the good ol' crazy Phoenix back in action, I did kind of miss the grounded and incredibly human Phoenix of Her here. The supporting cast is also excellent. I'll leave most of the performances for you to discover on your own cause I do need to talk about other things, however I will say Josh Brolin was AWESOME. This is easily the best performance I've seen from him in a loooooong time. The movie was also exceptional from a technical standpoint, as I said before. Actually, it is one of the best movies I've seen all year in this regard. Anderson makes the brilliant decision to have this movie be set in 1970, so you have a great homage to the era of the hippies while simultaneously being introduced to the me decade that was the 70s. You hear people saying groovy and right on and referencing Charles Manson all while Phoenix's character has long hair and is wearing Lennon-style sunglasses. The movie also shines from an editing and cinematography standpoint. The French New Wave of the 1960s I personally am studying in one of my classes (some of you would probably love the movies that came out of that era) is gushing throughout this movie with its clipped editing and crazy choices of camera angles. Were it not for this, I probably would've given up on the movie halfway through it. Ya. The story is that unenjoyable.
I think this movie goes to show that you can have a technical marvel, but if you don't have a good story it means very little. This story made absolutely no sense. It absolutely is the kind of movie you need to be high as a kite to understand while you're watching it, cause if you don't.....you're gonna sit there completely lost asking yourself who is that and what do they have to do with anything etc, etc, etc. It's a shame too cause the trailer for this movie was far and away the best trailer of 2014, but I can now officially say that not just the best parts were in the trailer, just about the only good parts of the movie were in it. Oh well. Can I also say that I hated this movie's portrayal of women? Every single woman in this film is objectified to no end, culminating in an incredibly uncomfortable sex scene that, like the rest of the movie, made no sense to me. To me, it honestly felt like a sex scene just cause, you know, nudity! Woot woot tits! That's what America loves right? While I highly doubt this is the reason that this scene is in this movie, it sure as hell felt like it. (I'm sure someone will remind me that PT Anderson is above this sort of thing, cause he absolutely is so this is not even remotely the reason why this sex scene exists-I'm just saying it was a very awkward scene fo sho.) But even other than that, every girl is groped or wears an incredibly short skirt or other revealing clothing in this movie at some point and it was honestly quite frustrating to me to see that. But that's just me. Another thing: this movie makes horrible use of its location. Which is weird, because I've seen plenty of occasions where PT Anderson has made great use of his film's location, but here the city felt pretty lifeless. And, especially after watching a movie like Nightcrawler where they made LA into a character in the story, I would expect more geographically speaking from a PT Anderson movie in 2014. Ultimately, Inherent Vice to me feels like a movie that PT Anderson threw together so he could have an excuse to make another movie. Because, you know, money. And while a lot of care went into producing the movie, that same care was not put into writing it. Go watch There Will Be Blood again for your PT Anderson fix, guys. You'll thank me later.
The Critique: A wildly mixed bag of...things. While technically impressive, Inherent Vice is a train wreck in terms of story.
The Recommendation: There is one way that this movie might be enjoyable. But I couldn't possibly recommend smoking pot and watching this, could I? Otherwise your time is absolutely better spent elsewhere.
The Verdict: 3.5/10 Pretty Bad.
Oscar Talk: Don't expect to hear Inherent Vice's name called on Oscar night. 'Nuff said.
A Most Violent Year (2014): In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city's history.
Breathless (1960): A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Breathless is a very unusual movie. The movie has a plot, but the plot never once feels very coherent. To me, this movie appears to be very abrupt and scattershot throughout its 90-minute runtime. There is one aspect of the movie that is great, however. That is the cinematography. The cinematography of Breathless was very unique and innovative in style, using spectacular long shots that would alternate between close-ups, medium-shots, and even some wide shots. One scene that stuck out to me in particular was towards the end of the film between the two leads. The scene involved both characters talking to themselves, and whenever they did the camera would follow them around the room directly in front of them and then seamlessly change to the other character, as they would begin to talk to themselves. To compare it to a modern film, I believe the cinematography of the movie Birdman almost certainly took some inspiration from the cinematography of Breathless, as there are many seamless wide shots involving Michael Keaton’s character with the camera placed directly in front of him during a self-dialogue.
Sadly though, other than this cinematography, Breathless was not my style of movie. The editing was either great or too awful to follow as we had a great use of the crosscutting style. However, there were also certain scenes that happened so suddenly it took me couple minutes to understand what had just happened. An example of this was when the cop was being shot at the beginning of the film. This may have been the intention of director Jean-Luc Godard, but I could not tell. At the end of the day, I’m glad I saw this movie, however I have no plans on seeing it again. To me, it was an average film.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average.
American Sniper (2014): Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.
Ok, guys. I'm about to take an unpopular opinion here. American Sniper is not good. I'm really worried that it's gonna win Best Picture because of its massive (and very undeserved) commercial success. If American Sniper does win Best Picture, this would be the perfect case study as to how successful a marketing campaign can be for a movie. Warner Brothers has spent a crapload of money on marketing this, both to consumers and the Academy, which is why this movie just beat out Avatar for best January release and got 6 Academy Award nominations. Cause, I got news for you, American Sniper deserves a nomination for, well, nothing. There were better acting performances this year and from a technical standpoint this movie is average. But America, f*ck ya am I right? If this movie doesn't sweep the Oscars then THE TERRORISTS WIN. If you don't see this movie then THE TERRORISTS WIN. I know there are some people that will come to the defense of this movie, even though they shouldn't, but here's its main problem: it's propaganda. It's the very definition of that. And it drove me somewhat insane. The movie has an good story with Bradley Cooper. He's great as Chris Kyle, yes. But the movie honestly doesn't offer a whole lot else. The movie is incredibly INCREDIBLY simplistic in nature, baby-feeding us its morals one issue at a time. There should've been a lot more moral dilemmas. There should've been a lot more issues at home with the family. And there should've been A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT MORE investigating into Kyle's time after the war and his issues with PTSD. But no. The movie is 132 minutes long, and we sure as hell can't have this movie any longer cause, you know, American attention spans suck so we can't have any of this stuff. Just unjustifiably small portions of each/
As for the acting, there are really only two performances in the movie worth noting. Actually, this is another problem I have with this movie. There is a large supporting cast, but nobody else even remotely stood out other than Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Who were both great. If I had seen this movie before the Oscar nominations list was unveiled, I would've said that maybe Cooper gets a nomination for Best Actor, but upon seeing Selma David Oyelowo absolutely deserved the nomination over Cooper. That said, he is still excellent here. And I love Bradley Cooper in everything he does, so there's that too. I'm happy he's received another nomination, but he by no means actually deserves the award.
Gosh. These modern military movies are like....they're like Call of Duty. A lot of people buy the games, but they offer very little in terms of advancement within the genre they are in. And yet everyone always thinks Call of Duty is the best shooting game every year. Cause it's the only game within the genre they've played. That's the thing I'm really worried about, here: people are going to only see this movie from the Best Picture list and automatically assumes it deserves the award. It does not. Not even remotely. And honestly, as I've let this movie sit with me longer and longer, I'm becoming more and more pissed off at it. This movie had a real opportunity to question the ethics of war and the morality that comes with having a man's life in your trigger finger and raise the question of how far is too far to save your fellow soldiers that, in my opinion, it dropped the ball on in a pretty spectacular manner. To me that question of morality is only effectively brought up once-when a kid picks up an RPG and considers firing it on an American convoy-but other than that it really sums up the war in a clear-cut us vs. them fashion. And even here it was obvious what the kid was thinking about in killing Americans, he just decided not to do it. There was never a moment in the film where Kyle has to decide if a kid holding a grenade running at a marine is trying to blow them up or simply, you know, hand them a grenade they found somewhere. This black-and-white approach culminated with a terrible third act and a fight in a sandstorm which, while tense, turned the movie into essentially a mindless popcorn flick. As a result, this movie felt like propaganda to me and nothing more. Yes, it is a movie, but it is marketing itself as a movie with a heavy dose of morality attached to it. It is not this to an almost criminal extent. The movie has barely resonated with me at all, as it has been thrown into the rest of these modern military "propaganda" pieces that make way more money than they should. And yet....it's about America. How can I hate it right? How can anyone hate it? 'MURICA.
The Critique: I'm going to defer to a Family Guy joke for this one. 9/11 WAS BAD. (Cheers)
The Recommendation: IF YOU DON'T SEE THIS MOVIE, THE TERRORISTS WIN. (Sarcasm-watch Selma instead PLEASE)
Rewatchability: NINE. (gasps) ELEVEN. (cheers)
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average.
Aaaaaaand cue the "I hate America" responses....
The Gambler (2014): Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?
God this movie sucks. Ok what is with Mark Whalberg and bad movies in 2014? I love this guy, but these two movies he's led in 2014 may very well end up in my bottom 10 worst movies of the year. STOP IT WHALBERG. PLEASE. FIND SETH MACFARLANE AGAIN. How do I not simply just rip this movie apart? Hm....nope. Nope. Can't do it. Ok, here we go then! So when I started this 111 minute film, I was looking forward to an interesting story of a man attempting to overcome his addiction to gambling while simultaneously having an interesting romance with Brie Larson. (This is how the movie is marketed, by the way.) I got neither of these. You want to know what Whalberg's version of gambling is? Hm? Going to blackjack (which they don't explain or really even show all that well, so if you don't know the finer rules of blackjack you're screwed) tables and betting everything he has on the hand. Then, if he wins, betting everything he now has on that hand. And again. And again. And again. You do the math...anyone with a brain can figure out that THIS STRATEGY DOESN'T F*CKING WORK. So, the "drama' of the actual card game is completely removed because YOU KNOW HE'S GOING TO LOSE. Ok where's Jason Bateman when you need him?
I know I just used this picture a few reviews ago, but I don't care. YOU CAN'T CREATE ANY TENSION WITH THE CARD GAME WHEN YOUR STRATEGY AS A PLAYER IS TO JUST KEEP BETTING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ON THE HAND. YOU CANNOT WIN. And when that's where the majority of your movie's tension is supposed to come from, that's....that's not good. Can we also take a moment to talk about how bad the writing is? This movie honestly feels like one monologue after another. Just all in a row. First it's Mark Whalberg. Then it's Michael Kenneth Williams (from Boardwalk Empire-who also happens to be the best part of this movie) giving some big monologue. Then it's John Goodman. Then it's Mark Whalberg again. Then it's Brie Larson. Then it's Jessica Lange. Then it's...GOD THEN IT'S MARK WHALBERG AGAIN. GOD D*MNIT. You cannot create a good movie that is nothing but monologue after monologue. Even if you have a very good cast. Who are all far more interesting that Whalberg's character, I might add. I wish the movie had been entirely about John Goodman's character rather than Whalberg's. Would've been a lot better.
There really isn't that many good things to talk about here. The music supervisor must've been on drugs or something because the song selection was all over the place. The production value was horrible. We had this very tense moment involving a college basketball game, and the team's playing each other were State and Wildcats. It felt like something out of an Allstate commercial. The movie did have some cool M83 music in it! Always gotta give a point to a movie when they use my favorite band. A lot of movies have recently actually...also it took me forever to figure out the movie was taking place in LA because the wide, establishing shots of the movie were crap. Only when there was a scene between Brie and Mark OH! I need to talk about that. Ok so there's this scene between Mark and Brie where they are in the desert all of the sudden and that's when I figured out the movie must be taking place in LA because there really isn't another tropical city in the country so close to the desert. YA. FIGURING SH*T OUT ON MY OWN CAUSE THE MOVIE REFUSES TO TELL ME ALRIGHT.
So can we talk about this "romance" between Brie and Mark? I can't even put romance in caps there. That's how bad it is. So it's a 111 minute film, right? With a whole lot of various scenes. Ya. There's my quick lesson on moviemaking: unless you're Birdman, you shoot your movie with a lot of different scenes. You want to know how many scenes of The Gambler even have Brie Larson and Mark Whalberg? Huh? 10? 15? Half the movie? Nope. 3. Ok maybe 4. But still. 3 or 4. There's supposed to be this big romance that changes Whalberg as a gambler because now he has something to loose, but it's set up with 4 whole scenes. And then he forces Brie to not help him in the third act as he tries to fix everything. Look. Every action movie knows that when you have a female character the main character falls for, YOU HAVE HER JOIN THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THE CLIMAX. That's how most of these movies establish a legitimate relationship between the two characters! Nope. Not here. "Wait for me. I'll be back." He might as well've just said that. Actually, I think he did. Just with a not-so-dramatic "I'll be back if I'm still alive." Moment. Yup. 10/10.
God this movie sucks. And you know what's worse? This movie had the audacity to release on December 25. On Christmas Day. With the biggest releases of the year like Unbroken, American Sniper, Big Eyes, Into the Woods, and Selma, here's The Gambler being released because they thought they had a legitimate chance at some Oscar nominations. Shame on you. Look, I love Paramount. Hell, I might even work there someday, (hopefully they don't read this....) but why did the execs watch this movie and think it was a good idea to not push this movie into the black hole that is January? WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THIS? YOUR LOGIC MAKES NO SENSE. IT WAS A LIMITED RELEASE TOO. You actually thought you had a chance at some Oscar nominations? Wow. I'm done here. I guess the Paramount execs can make mistakes sometimes. It's ok. Nobody's perfect. I still love you....
The Critique: MONOLOGUE. Some transition shots. ANOTHER MONOLOGUE. There. Just summed up The Gambler for you. Go watch the original before you watch this. Or Leaving Las Vegas if you want gambling addiction done right.
The Recommendation: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE (I must say I look forward to this moment of a bad movie review. I like giving that as my recommendation.)
Rewatchability: 1.5/10 Basically Unwatchable. Just for John Goodman, Michael Kenneth Williams, and M83. That's the only enjoyment here.
Whiplash (2014): A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.
I.....I....wow. This is...far and away the best movie of 2014. Not only is it the best movie of 2014, it is the best film I have ever EVER had the privilege of reviewing here on Enter the Movies. This movie is a complete and total masterpiece of cinema. Flawless. Perfection. I cannot recommend enough that you go and see this movie as soon as humanely possible. The theme set up here is a very thought-provoking theme, and it is sheer and utter genius on behalf of the filmmaker Damien Chazelle to leave the question this movie presents with this theme...unanswered. You don't see that nowadays. Now I know some of you may say, "Of course Joe likes this movie, he's a freaking music nerd!" But no. This movie is as dramatically intense as it is musically intense, if not more so! Never have I been on the edge of my seat more than when I was watching this 107 minute marvel. For the love of God, go see it.
So. This movie does everything right, and nothing wrong. But I'll just focus on a few of the highlights. First off, the acting. J.K. Simmons is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and likely the favorite to win it. This performance of his is the best I've ever seen from him, which is saying something. Easily one of the best performances of the year, Simmons is entrancing and intimidating as Fletcher, the instructor, creating one of the most unique characters I have ever seen. While Simmons is the performance everyone is talking about, we cannot forget to mention Miles Teller. His performance is extraordinary enough as is, but then when you take into account the fact that he's also doing the actual drumming in the film? He blew me away just as much as Simmons did. There's also an incredible and undeniable chemistry between these two characters from the first moment they interact all the way through the incredible and climatic finish. And the supporting cast is great too! Paul Reiser is excellent as Teller's father, despite only being in a few scenes. Actually his few scenes are incredibly powerful as he watches his son strive to be one of the greats and goes through a wide array of emotions during this journey.
And then there's the rest of the movie. The editing. The freaking editing! Some of the best editing I've seen in a long time. The editing just screams jazz. And the cinematography, too. The scenes involving drumming were shot beautifully, and will become synonymous with jazz. From closeups of the individual pieces of the drum set to crazy cuts between the pieces to symbolize the frantic pace of the solo, Chazelle and company simply left me breathless with these scenes. The story, also written by Director Chazelle, is obviously phenomenal. I would really love to know how much of this movie was improv'd between Simmons and Teller, because their interactions are so damn organic! But I will probably never know. Additionally, the character portrayed by Simmons is portrayed in such a relatable way. Everyone has, at some point, had a boss like Simmons who will stop at nothing to obtain greatness out of their employees. I know I have. And that's the incredible theme this movie has. With the right incentive, those who are good can achieve greatness. But the question is....at what cost? When does achieving greatness cost too much? That's the question this movie leaves you with. Unanswered. And that is why it is a masterpiece and the best film I have ever reviewed. Please. I know I say go see movies, but please. Go. See. This. Movie.
The Critique: One of the greatest movies of this decade. Whiplash is the definition of a masterpiece in its truest sense. The best film I've ever reviewed.
The Recommendation: An absolute must-watch for anyone. Even more so for those who love music, but everyone should see this movie at this point.
Rewatchability: Infinite (I've already seen this movie twice at the time of this writing, and I watched it for the first time less than a week ago)
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect
Oscar Talk: So the movie did receive several nominations (six!) and I think it deserves to win all six. However, realistically, I think this movie will win Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor. Seriously, though. Please go see this movie. PLEASE.
Big Eyes (2014): A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
Well, it has happened again. I don't really know what to say about this movie. Hm....Big Eyes is a very mixed bag of goodies. On one hand, you have a very interesting story concerning the Big Eyes saga, which did garner a rather significant amount of attention back in the 60s and 70s. The story is a very dramatic one, and as a result some of my favorite scenes in film this year thus far occur here, particularly surrounding the third act and Christoph Waltz. One of these scenes from this third act in my five favorite movie moments of 2014. But....on the other hand...the Tim Burton elements of the movie were unnecessary and unwelcome, and Christoph Waltz outperforms Amy Adams by such a wide margin it legitimately made me depressed. Ya. I know. I love Amy Adams. She's one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood, putting in my favorite performance by an actress last year for her performance in American Hustle. And she's good here still! But here is an instance where the screen-hogging of the co-lead was not welcome, and, despite Christoph Waltz being exceptional, he is screen-hogging, and it really diminishes the performance of Amy Adams. Anyway, let's begin.
So...I should preface this section with an unpopular opinion: I am not the biggest fan of Tim Burton. To all those who wish to lynch me now, I am sorry. But you can't deny Burton has a little streak of sh*tty movie going for him right now. I mean Dark Shadows? C'mon. Frankenweenie? Awful. So with his movie I feel like corporate might of told Tim Burton to make a bit more of a "normal" film. A lot of the Burton elements that make Tim Burton...uh...Tim Burton where removed, and the elements that still were there, like a really over-dramatic voiceover, was not very welcomed. Seriously. Why couldn't Tim Burton have watched Wolf of Wall Street and then model his voiceover after that? Nope, the voiceover here is trying to screen-hog, even though he's not even on the bloody screen. Also there were other Burton elements, particularly surrounding a character played by the great Terence Stamp, that were unwelcome as well. Actually, this character was overall very poorly written, which was a shame given the fact that its a very essential character to the story.
And yet....there were some truly great moments here. The story is very dramatic, and the writers (Scot Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) decided to focus primarily on the story itself and not the characters which I personally enjoyed. While it did make some of the decisions Amy Adams would make a little hard to follow, there was so much ground to cover in 106 minutes that I'm kind of glad that they covered the story. This made the events themselves much easier to understand. Additionally, Chirstoph Waltz decent into madness was fantastic to watch. This lead to a payoff that is one of my favorite scenes in a film this year. Amy Adams is good too, even though she is dominated by Waltz. Already had me thing on that so I won't go into it again. Um....what else....I guess the production value is pretty good! You need good production value when you do a period piece and it is solid, but not great.
I really don't know what else to say about this movie. I was a little disappointed by this movie. It's sadly just average, however it is one of the better average movies I've seen. Does that make any sense? No? Well, sorry. If you like art, or the big eye movement, or Christoph Waltz, go see this movie. If not, your time is better spent elsewhere I promise.
The Critique: An oddly average movie featuring a fascinating story and many poorly executed elements. A mixed bag.
The Recommendation: You know what I just said before? I'm gonna say it again. If you like art, or the big eye movement, or Christoph Waltz, go see this movie. If not, your time is better spent elsewhere I promise.
The Verdict: 5.5/10 Slightly Above Average
If you're looking for my thoughts on the controversy surrounding the snubbing of this film, scroll down towards the bottom. I'm gonna do the review first and that discussion second.
Selma (2014): A chronicle of Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
What a powerful piece of American cinema. While not without a few flaws, Selma is one of the best films of the year. It showcases a brief part of MLK's Civil Rights Movement that took place in Selma from 1964 to 1965. And it does this in spectacular fashion. Director Ava DuVernay creates a fantastic 128 minute movie that will, at several occasions, move you to tears. Without a doubt. I love this movie. David Oyelowo shines as the great Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rest of the huge supporting cast all bring their A games. The music is fantastic, the set design is perfect, and the cinematography is incredible. I honestly have one problem with this movie. However, it is a big one. The one problem I have with this movie is its depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson. I will go much more into depth with this in the discussion, but I will say here that it is a very inaccurate portrayal of the president, and it honestly left me with a rather poor taste in my mouth. Yes, all history-based movies are allowed (and often do) take liberties with its source material to make the movie more dramatic. But, this movie goes VERY out of its way to tell you that LBJ was an incredibly racist president, and that he wanted to dismantle MLK, when in fact the exact opposite is true. That said, I want you to realize (before you go crazy on me) that this is only affecting my overall score by half a point. That's it. While the movie is not 100% perfect, it's damn close. So let's talk about how great Selma is, shall we?
First off, the acting. David Oyelowo. David. Oyelowo. He absolutely was snubbed for Best Actor even more so than Jake Gyllenhaal was for the spot. It's tough for a recognizable actor to play someone as recognizable as MLK and be completely absorbed into the role. But to say Oyelowo is absorbed playing MLK is an understatement. This performance of his is on the same level as the performance of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln in Lincoln from 2012. It's that good. Then you have the supporting cast. Ready for this? (Deep breath) Carmen Ejogo. Oprah Winfrey. Tom Wilkinson. Giovani Ribisi. Andre Holland. Colman Domingo. Common. Dylan Baker. Wendell Pierce. Nigel Thatch. Cuba Gooding, Jr. Tim Roth. Martin Sheen. FREAKING MARTIN SHEEN. He's in two scenes! That's how amazing this film is. Someone as legendary as Martin Sheen is willing to come on the set for two days or something and say 5 lines just to be in this movie! And Tim Roth is great, too. You wanna talk about a tough, tough role to play as the racist and deplorable Governor Wallace. But Tim Roth fully embraces his responsibility and does not hold back in the slightest. Kudos to him. Not to mention the incredible African American supporting cast. Carmen Ejogo is awesome as Coretta King, MLK's wife. Her scenes with King in the privacy of their own home is just as powerful and gripping as the grand march on Selma itself. Truly inspiring work here in the acting department.
The rest of the movie is on point, as well. The music was fantastic. Common's Glory single over the end-credits is likely the favorite to win Best Original Song at the Oscars, similar to the Globes. The editing and cinematography were fantastic, as well. Though nothing to write home about, the cinematography mixes in an appropriate amount of wide pans and closeups to build tension while allowing you to understand where everything is. This is how every drama should be shoot. I also must talk about makeup. The makeup absolutely got snubbed. You could see every actor and actress had a very specific style for their makeup, including the makeup on MLK himself. I say the makeup and hairstyling had just as much to do with Oyelowo being absorbed into MLK as the performance itself did. Finally, I want to talk about lighting. This is something that I've really started noticing in the last few months, but the lighting here is some of the best I've seen. There was one specific scene involving a night march in Selma where the placing of the lighting did an incredible job of really setting the mood of the march. Kudos to the lighting department.
So, at the end of the day, you should see Selma. Despite some major historical inaccuracies. Because of these inaccuracies, I'm not going to predict that this movie will one day be shown in our children's high school American History classroom like I did with 12 Years a Slave, (which will absolutely still happen) but I will say that everyone who is connected to that time in American history should go out of their way to see this movie. It is an incredibly powerful piece on the Civil Rights movement. Easily one of the best movies of the year. Go see it.
The Critique: One of the best films of the year, Selma delivers a powerful and moving drama on the Civil Rights movement, despite some historical inaccuracies.
The Recommendation: A must-watch for all American history buffs and everyone who is connected to the Civil Rights movement in some way.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
Ok ready? Let's talk about all controversy surrounding the film.
Ok. So I wasn't sure I was going to talk about this or not, but after actually watching the movie I feel like it must be addressed. Yes. The Academy did snub Selma. Yes. The Academy absolutely should've nominated Ava DuVernay to the Best Director category (she would've been the first ever female African American to be nominated to this category) and David Oyelowo to the Best Actor category. To me these are as big a snubs as The Lego Movie not being nominated to Best Animated Feature and Jake Gyllenhaal also being overlooked for Best Actor. I'm sure we've all heard the stats at some point over the last week or so. In 2012, the Academy was 94% White, over 65% male, and the median age was 62. YA! OLD WHITE PEOPLE WOOT WOOT. We've heard this. You want to go ahead and say that the Academy is racist because of this and with no other evidence in mind, be my guest. That is your right. However personally, I am not as furious about the situation. I am upset, yes, but I believe there are a few other factors we should keep in mind when thinking about this situation that I would like to point out here. I hope you have stayed this long and will listen to the other side of the argument as well and then make your opinion based on all the information from both sides. (This is what our media should be doing but that is for another conversation at another time.) Two main things to think about. (I will include the direct links to the sources I'm about to quote down at the bottom) One: according to my favorite movie review show, What the Flick?!, which consists of some of the highest ranking movie critics in Hollywood as well as the Founder and CEO of Rotten Tomatoes, points out that the producers of Selma sadly dropped the ball in pushing this movie to the Academy. (Jump to 3:30 in the WTF video if you want to hear it straight from them.) The movie wasn't sent to everyone in the Academy in the weeks proceeding the nominations, and, combined with its very limited release at the very end of December and the fact that there weren't that many screenings of the movie made available in Hollywood, could very easily have led to a large amount of the Academy not seeing this movie before January 15. Cause sadly, I've got news for you: the people in the actor's guild and the director's guild and all the other guilds composing the 6,000+ members of the Academy are very busy during Oscar season. This is a perfect example of a movie showing up to the party entirely too late and nobody noticing that they're there.
Another thing that I want to bring up is how the movie portrays LBJ. I know I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I want to go more in depth into it now. The portrayal of LBJ sucks. It's not just historically inaccurate, it's flat-out untrue. To the point that I might not even recommend history teachers showing this movie to their classrooms. Here. Let me show a few viewpoints I found in researching this part of the article. This is from Bill Moyer, who, in 1964 and '65 was LBJ's Domestic Policy Advisor.
On the historical depiction of LBJ opposing MLK's march in Selma in the movie:
So he asked King to give him more time to bring Southern ‘moderates’ and the rest of the country over to the cause, but once King made the case that blacks had waited too long for too little, Johnson told him: “Then go out there and make it possible for me to do the right thing.” [March on Selma]
On LBJ ordering J. Edgar Hoover to send a sex tape to the King's house:
There’s one egregious and outrageous portrayal that is the worst kind of creative license because it suggests the very opposite of the truth, in this case, that the president was behind J. Edgar Hoover’s sending the ‘sex tape’ to Coretta King. Some of our most scrupulous historians have denounced that one. And even if you want to think of Lyndon B. Johnson as vile enough to want to do that, he was way too smart to hand Hoover the means of blackmailing him.
On LBJ's speech proposing the Voter's Rights legislation:
Here the film is [also] very disappointing. The director [DuVernay] has a limpid president speaking in the Senate chamber to a normal number of senators as if it were a “ho hum” event. In fact, he made that speech where State of the Union addresses are delivered—in a packed House of Representatives. I was standing very near him, off to his right, and he was more emotionally and bodily into that speech than I had seen him in months. The nation was electrified. Watching on television, Martin Luther King Jr. wept. This is the moment when the film blows the possibility for true drama—of history happening right before our eyes.
Additionally, I came across another article confirming the first point made by Moyer from the viewpoint of Julian Bond, one of the main organizers of the Selma march. He also confirmed that LBJ encouraged Dr. King to go out there and march on Selma so he could get legislation going in Congress. (Skip to 0:52 in the video for his exact quote.) The impression this film gives off is the exact opposite of this.
One final point that I will make is this: both of my parents were alive and old enough to remember the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and the Selma march specifically, and they both agreed that LBJ was a major supporter of MLK from start-to-finish, as he was the one proposing many of these bills as soon as the country was ready for them. He did this from the view of being a "politician's politician" (which is sort of mentioned in the film) which meant keeping everyone in the room happy. He didn't want to propose new voter's registration sooner than Selma because he needed the Southern moderates to come on board, not because he was a horrible racist as the movie portrays.
Sadly, at the end of the day, Selma was snubbed at the Oscars. But I think this is more out of a series of unfortunate circumstances of the lack of an Oscar campaign for the movie from Paramount. The fact that they hadn't seen the movie by January 14, combined with the immediate controversy that came out back in December of the film concerning their very historically inaccurate portrayal of LBJ likely made the voters at the Academy shy away from giving the film more nominations. Not because they're a bunch of old racist White people. I hope I have helped to enlighten some of you reading/watching this so you will now have an informed opinion on this issue, before you jump to an immediate conclusion and start with the #OscarSoWhite stuff. Oh, and despite all of this, I am sticking with my prediction made back in November when I said Selma wins Best Picture. Because it absolutely still will. But I'll leave you with a great quote from my favorite film critic Alonso Duralde: "I think there are...[a few] things to keep in mind here. One, these [nominations] don't mean a f*cking thing.This is an annual Hollywood circle-jerk, and we will all forget who won in 6 months. It makes them [the Academy] feel better as it's this thing that's been hyped and we all talk about it all year long. But ultimately, it doesn't matter."
Peace out mofos.
Sources Used in Discussion
Ron Kathmann (18-19 in 1964-65) and Jean Kathmann (we'll keep her age private)
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/is-selmas-portrayal-of-lbj-historically-accurate/ (viewpoints of LBJ and Julian Bond viewpoint)
http://inthesetimes.com/article/17537/bill_moyers_lbj_selma (Bill Moyer, LBJ's Domestic Policy Advisor and White House Press Secretary viewpoint)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwnvXTZdRYY (What the Flick?! Discussion on nominations)
http://www.trbimg.com/img-5463c377/turbine/la-et-mn-afi-fest-selma-20141111 (cover photo)
Into the Woods (2014): A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.
Before I start this review, I should mention that I saw this movie at the fantastic El Capitan in Hollywood. The El Capitan is owned by Disney, and they put a lot of money into ensuring that the movie experience was one of the best I’ve ever had. Into the Woods is a Disney movie. While I do not believe that has influenced my review in any way, I do want to make that known to you, the reader. If you feel that this creates a conflict of interest, then you are absolutely entitled to ignore my review. I won’t feel bad I promise. Up to you. Anyway…
So this movie is…interesting. Its source material is a bold undertaking as it mashes five classic fairy tales into one giant musical in the woods. (WHOA IN THE WOODS???) Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood all get featured in this musical. And for the most part this movie stays loyal to its source material. With two major exceptions. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are both left in the dust in this movie, likely per corporate directive. While personally I did not miss these two stories as much as others might, those who want to see those stories meshed in here will be sorely disappointed. However, my biggest issue with this movie involves what happens after happily ever after, aka the third act. Hey! We have yet another third act screwup! Woot woot! I’ll get into that in a bit. That said, this is still a good movie. But that’s all it is. Good. So, let’s jump into it yes?
So, let’s talk about what the movie does right. It’s a musical, surprise surprise, and guess what? The music is awesome. To watch Annie just a few weeks back and see how terrible that movie was, it is really nice to see a musical done right. All the actors can sing well, thank GOD. With the exception of Chris Pine, but fortunately he knows he cant sing so he makes up for it by overacting the crap out of his role. But here it is very welcome because he is ridiculous and he knows he’s ridiculous. He’s just having fun! That’s when overacting is acceptable. Actually that’s the thing with most of these actors: they are having an absolute blast with their roles. Meryl Streep is absolutely having the time of his life in this movie, and it is great to watch. But above all of that, yes above the legendary Meryl Streep, we have Emily Blunt. Finally. This is the role that will blow her into the mainstream of Hollywood. She blew me away as the Baker’s Wife, from her phenomenal voice to her phenomenal acting while singing, Blunt just shocked even me, one of her biggest fans, and put in one of the best acting performances I’ve seen all year. While it likely won’t be nominated for anything, (especially over Meryl Streep) and it likely won’t make my top ten performances of the year, Blunt will be remembered for this performance for years to come when we see here become a staple A-lister in Hollywood. You heard it here first, folks.
Let’s see what else does this movie do right? Um…the first two acts are great, story wise. The writing is excellent, thanks to the source material. The musical and movie does a great job mashing the stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, and Red Riding Hood together with the witch of Snow White. Until happily ever after. Then corporate directive takes the day.
Here’s the main problem with the third act. The story gets so scattershot as the movie delves away from the musical in order to avoid the adult themes brought up in it because, you know, this is a Disney movie. We can’t talk about anything adult-related. We can’t set up a love story between Riding Hood and Jack because they’re young! And the idea of young people having feelings for each other is…oh no we can’t have that! Absolutely not. Additionally, Lilla Crawford, who played Riding Hood sucks. She couldn't sing, and she couldn't act. But it’s ok! Not the end of the world to see a child actor who can’t act. Jack is ok, but he was faaaaar better in Les Miserables. Oh ya. Look up who he is in Les Mis and you’ll get a kick out of it. Promise! I’ll even leave it up to you as a surprise. Another thing going on here is that the movie never really gives you any understanding of just how big these woods that they are in actually are. Characters run into each other left and right, but yet it still takes hours to walk from one spot to the other? There was absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. But ya, that’s basically it. The movie is good, but because of a very scattershot third act that has too many things happening at once as the movie becomes too big for its own good keeps it from being great. That’s all I got. If you don’t like it, too bad. I still love you. I will always love you. AND IIIIIIIIIIII WILLL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUU. I’m….I’m sorry about that.
The Critique: A good musical that sadly becomes too big for its own good as corporate runs its hands over the final act. Emily Blunt shines, though.
The Recommendation: If you like musicals, check this one out. It is probably the best musical of 2014. Also if you like these stories check it out too.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.
Oscar Talk: Here’s another negative: while the music is good, there is no outstanding single. There is no Let It Go. There is no Skyfall. So, while I’m sure some song will be nominated for Original Song, it is not a sure-thing for this movie, despite being the best musical of the year. However I foresee nods for both original song and score. I also predict a nod for costumes at least. The costumes were amazing. Some of the best I’ve seen all year.
EDIT: WOW. No music at all. But I was right on the costumes! 1/2 right? In baseball terms I'd be a legend!
Foxcatcher (2014): The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul - a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.
2014’s official acting clinic of the Oscar season, Foxcatcher is an interesting movie. On the one hand, it features three incredible performances from Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, and Steve Carell. However, on the other hand, the story to me really missed the mark. Bennett Miller and company definitely bit off more than they could chew when they condensed this story into 128 minutes. However the performances from these three great actors still make the movie worth seeing. So, let’s dive into it shall we?
Let’s talk about the acting. There are three phenomenal performances here from Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell. It’s both impossible and unfair to these three actors for me to pick a least favorite, but I will say that the best performance of the three in my opinion was Steve Carell. Barely recognizable because of his extensive makeup, Carell is asked to do so much in the role of philanthropist John du Pont. But boy does he hit it out of the park. The very demeanor of du Pont is captured by Carell, from how he walks to even how he slouches when he sits. It’s a clinic on how to effectively immerse yourself into a character, and most certainly worth the price of admission alone. Likely the heavy favorite at this year’s Oscars for supporting actor, (if they actually put him in this category, which I think they should over lead) this is easily one of the best performances I’ve seen from an actor all year. And then there’s Ruffalo and Tatum. They were equally as amazing as the Scholz wrestling brothers, even though I did feel their chemistry as brothers could’ve been a bit better. But that’s just me being way too picky. Anyway, I will say that there are only a few other actors in this movie, and none of them really get much of anything to do here. This movie is essentially just Carell, Tatum, and Ruffalo.
And that’s kind of the biggest problem with this movie. It is way too big for its own good. It brings up so many things that could’ve practically been its own movie, and then doesn’t even resolve half of them. Far and away the biggest example of this is right around the middle of the movie involving Tatum’s character, Mark, and du Pont. It was a very quick scene that definitely implied something that the movie could not be less interested in talking about afterwards, despite the fact that it changes the whole dynamic of the whole movie. It’s one of those moments where, if you zone out for 30 seconds or go to the bathroom at a certain point, you’ll miss the most important moment of the whole movie that really should’ve been talked about more. To me this was a major oversight that might’ve occurred because, as one of my favorite movie critics Alonso Duralde pointed out, the real Mark Scholz (Tatum’s character) was a producer for this movie. It is very likely that he didn’t want this dynamic between him and du Pont investigated any further than it had to be, even if it ultimately defined the entire friendship. Also it’s harder than you think to talk about specific points of these stories without actually spoiling anything. That’s my best shot at it. But there were also other points that were brought up, like the fact that at one point Tatum’s character lost 12 pounds in 90 minutes (which isn’t really a spoiler cause it’s not a major plot point in the movie, just an ‘oh by the way’ type of moment) that really should’ve been delved into further than they actually were. I mean, is it even physically possible to lose that much weight in that short a period of time? How does a man push himself that much without passing out? Don’t look to find the answers to these questions and many others in this movie. I’d throw it into the Oscar bait category because it, much like The Theory of Everything, does everything it can to avoid talking about things that we might consider controversial. Lo and behold a movie attempting to make it to the Oscars should talk about something controversial!
Oh well. In terms of a wrestling story, this movie is above average. However the masterful acting is why this movie exists, and why you should go see it. I fully expect this movie receive several nominations from an acting standpoint, as well as a few other categories too. Just…don’t expect to learn as much from a based-on-a-true-story story as you should.
The Critique: What do you get when you mix spectacular acting with a mediocre story? A good movie. ‘Nuff said.
The Recommendation: If you want to agree with the Academy when they hand Steve Carell the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, go see this movie. Or if you care about wrestling. Otherwise, your time is better spent elsewhere.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Oscar Talk: Carell is the likely favorite to win Best Supporting Actor, however Ruffalo and Tatum deserve nominations as well. Also expect a nomination for Best Makeup for the work done on these actors.
Before I Disappear (2014): At the lowest point of his life, Richie gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his eleven-year old niece, Sophia, for a few hours.
Ok. I’m torn about this movie. On the one hand, it sucks. It’s an indie movie that is way too full of itself and thinks it’s a way bigger deal than it actually is. It is very much a movie that the bro in filmmaking class who thinks he’s the next big thing would make. In this case that bro is Shawn Christensen. Sadly Christensen’s feature-length debut as a director could not have been a whole lot worse than this. Additionally, he wrote and was the lead in this 98 minute flick. Because that's always a good idea. And yet…there is one great storyline between a brother and sister rekindling a long lost friendship that had such a satisfying payoff. It almost made watching the rest of the movie worth it.
So, here’s what the movie does wrong. First off, it isn’t really grounded in anything. This may be the biggest fault of the movie. From completely losing a sense of time throughout the second act to thinking that a bowling alley could be the hottest place in town (there’s a speech the owner of the alley goes on at one point where he proclaims he’s created the hottest place in town that I couldn’t help but laugh at-I mean nothing against bowling alleys they are fun places but the place to go in a city in terms of nightlife it is not) the movie really seems to not have any basis in reality. Not to mention the kid in this movie, who is in the fifth grade and being raised by a 16-and-pregnant single mom is not believable in the slightest. In fact it is pretty unbelievable honestly. As awesome as the actress playing the kid was, Fatima Ptacek, who I also really look forward to what she has to offer next, I didn’t even remotely buy that her character would exist. And when she plays such a pivotal role in the main storyline…well, as someone might say…
Hm what else….the cinematography was TERRIBLE. There were all these uncomfortable close-ups of character’s faces with a lot of unnecessary hand-cam pans. It really felt like what a bro would shoot for his college thesis or something. It was quite painful and rudimentary. At least the production value was decent. Not good. Just decent. There was some detail put into the clubs and such to make them look gritty and somewhat real, (which counteracted a lot of other things that weren’t real) but then there were a lot of very generic choices done for the characters. Particularly from a costume standpoint. Oh can I also bring up the fact that Ron Perlman is in this? The same guy that was the ridiculously badass mafia boss in Pacific Rim with that awesome outfit and those kickass boots and everything? Ya I wish that he could’ve worn that costume here…
There really was only one thing this movie got right. The awesome payoff between the brother and sister. Were it not for this, this movie would be like a 2 on my scale. But it exists, and it made the third act pretty awesome, in my opinion. However many will likely be so done with the movie by then that they won’t care about this payoff. Can’t say I would blame you.
The Critique: Hi I’m meathead Rob Lowe, and I watched this movie. I saw it to support my college bro Shawn Christensen. It is a masterpiece of filmmaking, bro. You should go see it. Bro. (Translation: a pretty crappy directorial debut for Shawn Christensen. While there is a nice brother-sister payoff, it is nowhere near enough to save the rest of this below average movie.)
The Recommendation: Meathead Rob Lowe: Oh my God bro if you don’t go see this movie I’ll stop lifting weights while staring at myself in the mirror! You wouldn’t want that would you? Bro? (Translation: Don’t bother, unless if you want to have some bonding with your brother/sister that involves a lot of drinking through the first two acts then a nice awwwwww moment at the end)
Rewatchability: Meathead Rob Lowe: Wait what does this even mean? I don’t know I’m gonna go back to lifting weights, bro. (Translation: Low)
The Verdict: Meathead Rob Lowe: 17/10 (What the hell is that? I don’t even know what this means! Translation: 4/10 Below Average)
http://apnatimepass.com/fatima-ptacek-in-before-i-disappear-movie/fatima-ptacek-in-before-i-disappear-movie-8.jpg (Before I Disappear)
http://www.quickmeme.com/img/27/272b82c92c10ec2d9bde7406edb3077811b29ef205a7c5432a51f77c0665f840.jpg (Bold Strategy)
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6dptWrCYAAmwMZ.jpg:large (Meathead Rob Lowe)
http://img.pandawhale.com/91149-Hannibal-Chau-Pacific-Rim-gif-WOeQ.gif (Ron Perlman Gif)
The Drop (2014): Bob Saginowski finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living - no matter the cost.
Boyhood (2014): The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.
Still Alice (2014): Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.
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