I’ve got some spare time for the first time in forever, so let’s fill in some movies I saw months ago that I never put down. These will be short and sweet, given the leaky box that is my brain.
Film #17: American Hustle
(Writers: David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer; Director: David O. Russell)
All these people wanted to hang out and put on funny costumes, so they made a movie at the same time. Because everyone involved is talented, it’s is entertaining enough, but nowhere near as entertaining as they think it is. As bloated as Christian Bale’s poor body, this still manages to hit enough of the right notes, thanks in particular to Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.
Film #18: The Bling Ring
(Writers: Nancy Jo Sales and Sofia Coppola; Director: Sofia Coppola)
Oh Sofia, what happened? This is rarely a criticism I level, but this movie is utterly pointless. There’s no force or direction to the narrative. Kids steal from celebrities. And do it again. And again. There’s nothing beyond that; no insight, no critique, no contemplation. Nothing. Israel Broussard is particularly terrible. We’ll always have Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, though.
Film #19: Side Effects
(Writer: Scott Z. Burns; Director: Steven Soderbergh)
This “retirement” of Mr. Soderbergh better be a long vacation to the Caymans. The man is an animal, and Side Effects is a perfectly paced, wonderfully acted thriller. I particularly love the way they used marketing to keep the viewer of the trail of what this thing is really going for. Like he did with Contagion, Soderbergh is able to spin an entertaining and thrilling story while also providing real insight into relationships and the world at large.
Film #20: Her
(Writer & Director: Spike Jonze)
A logical extension of our “modern condition”, Her isn’t really about the future at all. Instead, it’s about the age-old human issues: love, loss, existence, etc. If you can buy into the concept, there is so much goodness happening. Beautiful cinematography and set design as well (with a de facto great performance from Joaquin Phoenix).
Film #21: The Act of Killing
(Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, & Anonymous)
A nearly unexplainable documentary, here Joshua Oppenheimer gives former Indonesian death-squad member the resources to make their own film about their exploits (exploits that led to the deaths of over half a million “communists”). The results are predictably terrifying. One of the most interesting documentaries I’ve ever seen and a must for anyone interested in history or the possibilities of film.