A list of good and mediocre movies seen in 2014 | WTF Reviews #2

Only Lovers Left Alive

Vampires in existential reminiscence and survival in the now while contemplating the worth of living in the future. Immensely amusing to see the focus not much on how they live, but the narrative is of the totality of their existence as immortals.

After reading Uriel’s reflections about the latest vampire film by offbeat indie bad-boy Jim Jarmusch (Broken FlowersCoffee and Cigarettes), I was eager to dive headlong into watching.

Jarmusch’s decision to cast Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as cultured star-crossed lovers married for centuries was terrific — I could not imagine anyone else carrying such performances.

The exquisite detail in which we witness the immortal passion and passing frustrations of suave, retro-rock lovers Adam and Eve gives Jarmusch ample chances to weave his signature cinematic style.

Everything from the stylish soundtrack, to the surreal photography, to hip-heroin-chic-like performances that mirror the love and longing felt by these two lovers left me wanting more.

This is both a cinephile and Swinton/Hiddleston fan treat where every sidelong glance carries a meaning and every drop of blood is given its own unique trail.

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Labor Day (2013)

Tortured housewife (Kate Winslet) and single mother meets dashing, innocent felon (Josh Brolin). They make peach pies (watch for pie baking scene) and fall in love in small town America. That’s it. This sounds like a typical relationship weepie, but it’s Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) we’re talking about.

It appears to me that the writer-director is growing up and maturing, unafraid of tackling love and vulnerability. I like this new side of him.

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August: Osage County

Official synopsis: A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

As a fan of both, I admit to loving every minute of the verbal brawls between Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in this all-star ensemble black comedy by John Wells. It was refreshing seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of an underdog as well.

Tracy Lett’s screenplay makes a watchable drama by exposing the full extent to which emotional violence by toxic family members can hurt and damage their loved ones.

★★★

Other films I’ve seen that fall under this category: 22 Jump Street, 300: Rise of an Empire, American HustleAnything Else (2003), The Babadook (2014)Berberian Sound Studio, The Butler (2013)Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Phillips (2013), The Conjuring (2013), Dallas Buyers ClubEnemy (2013)The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gravity (2013)Gummo (1997)Her (2013), The Kings of SummerKrapp’s Last Tape (2000), La Dolce Vita (1960)Lucy (2014)Noah (2014), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Star Trek Into Darkness, Sin City: A Dame to Kill ForThe Spectacular NowThis is the EndThor: The Dark WorldUnder the Skin (2013), What Masie Knew (2012)

Movie Meter Count: 63

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The following list is a combination of rant worthy films that could qualify anywhere between the spectrum of disappointing, mediocre, overrated, unoriginal and/or boring.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

In the case of this Oscar nominated historical drama for instance, I could not get past the film’s overly sentimental, holier-than-thou treatment of a tired subject. While I totally get that slavery is bad and the white men were evil, what I seek when assessing a movie as an audience goes beyond historical and political-correctness.

Compared to Lee Daniel’s The Butler, also a biographical film of a black man and racism in centre weight — Steve McQueen’s treatment of the same themes came off overly simplified and uncreative.

In relentlessly victimizing Solomon Northup’s character in 12 Years a Slave, the film’s narrative desensitized the issue at hand and ventured too far out into the territory of self-importance. McQueen failed to engage in terms of emotional investment. Overrated and yawn worthy.

★★★★★

Other films I’ve seen that fall under this category: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Dead Man Down (2013)Edge of Tomorrow, Hollywood Ending (2002), Kick-Ass 2 (2013)Magic in the Moonlight, Maleficient (2014), Prisoners (2013)Saving Mr. Banks, Short Term 12 (2013)Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), The World’s End (2013)

Movie Meter Count: 76

and finally, movie duds of 2014…

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