Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah. I liked it overall. Chris Pine has such a great blend of charm and menace. Accents are hit and miss. Biggest annoyance was the sets and costuming. The apocalypse looks a bit too much like a magazine spread. The score was written by the same woman who scored for the excellent, lovely-sounding, and harrowing Compliance. Good stuff.

Inside Man

Inside Man. I like that you can hear the basic summary (detective vs. bank robber/hostage-taker)… but what you see is a little bit smarter and not as interested in basic genre trappings. On the other hand, it wanders when you might want a little more spark and plausibility. Ebert says it well: “It’s not that the movie is hiding something, but that when it’s revealed, it’s been left sitting too long at room temperature.”

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave. Not sure how to talk about this one. Hard to watch. At times it is very, very on-the-nose. If you’ve seen Steve McQueen’s Shame and Hunger, this will be no surprise. But it’s strange that it doesn’t feel… dramatic. It is focused. It is facts. It also makes you feel some of the same unease (the score is a huge contributor here). The movie is all in the protagonist’s perspective, which unfortunately means everyone else can seem a little flat (despite the cast being awesome), or merely functional. But it also puts you in the center, witnessing the moral bargains and compromises, comparing and contrasting how each person manages an impossible situation, and perhaps suggesting the futility of passing judgment on how each copes. A couple more things to note. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but you don’t get the sense of time passing, though it’s ostensibly twelve years we see. Could definitely be by design – the monotony and sameness by design – I’m just not sure. And I gotta say, I’m not thrilled with Brad Pitt’s late appearance. He’s got too much star power to show up so late, in such a role, for so short a period. I couldn’t quite get used to him. It’s not his fault, though. Anyway, good movie. The contrast with Django Unchained could not be more stark.