The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The Riders of Rohan are the best. Loved’em in the book. Love’em in the movies. I think they nailed the melodrama in this one. And the build-up to the spider set-piece is pretty great. I still think the song during the closing credits is a huge misfire. Should have gone instrumental!
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. You can see the move ripping at the seams. There’s a lot of story to pack in here. Lots of it feels clipped, rushed, off-kilter. Romances are un-earned. Jarring shifts in tone. Gimli has a lot more to say. Legolas slides on a shield? It’s a mess, but may have the best landscapes of the trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Appreciated the soundtrack more this time around. Pretty sure it’s borrowing from Dvorak. Also reminded me of The Last of the Mohicans in mood. Great work with the suspense and setting the sense, and such a great ending. Not a teaser, but a promise of adventure.
Knight of Cups. After I watched it I wrote some snarky tweets rolling my eyes at this movie having beautiful people walking aimlessly. I meant it, and I also still liked it. The interiority that’s getting stronger in his films is interesting for me. Not so much just watching the characters but riding along with them. Also, he’s the only person making weird idiosyncratically Malickian movies with big names, whenever he feels like it. However he’s getting it done, respect. Filed under: Terrence Malick.
Carol. I feel like there’s enough there for me to like it more than I do, but it wasn’t for me. I don’t regret watching Blanchett and Mara for a couple hours, though.
The Aviator. I often struggle with biopics, but I liked this one a lot. I like how the film stock and coloring shifts with the passage of time, the recurring hands imagery, and the sympathy we feel as we see this man changing. “Nothing’s clean, Howard. But we do our best.”
The Talented Mr. Ripley. I had to re-watch after reading the appreciation in Bright Lights. Like Drive, this is one of those movies where I go in thinking, “I’ll just watch the opening 20 minutes or so, then skip around a bit”, and then an hour later I haven’t moved… Tom is even more pitiful than I remembered. Dickie is even more of an asshole. I can’t help but find Marge adorable–such a sunny, blank foil to the other two. Freddie is one of those characters you root for and also find kind of insufferable (Hoffman!). I still think Plein Soleil is a bit better.
Hanna. A blend of fairy tale and thriller-realism. I have some quibbles with premise, plot, and character, but a couple moments were pure cinematic delight for me. I’m thinking of the early chase in the bunker and the later one in the cargo container yard. The way that the natural ambient lighting, the camerawork, and the blocking all work in perfect sync… so cool. Great editing. I kinda wish Joe Wright had gone a little more in that style-over-substance/style-is-substance direction. Delightfully weird electronic-heavy score.