Sahara. Really dumb, but also kinda subversive! There’s some, uh, provincialism and casual violence that doesn’t age well, but it’s fun overall. Love the big reveal moment. Normally in these sorts of adventure movies it’s a room full of treasure. Here, it’s toxic waste.
Interstellar. As much as I whine about Christopher Nolan films, he’s got some gifts. My experience the second time around was almost the reverse of my first viewing: I was feeling the family story, and the epic space adventure had me twiddling my thumbs. I need an alternate cut of this movie that removes the “let’s explain the science” interludes. Just gimme the melodrama. The heightened emo stuff just wrecked me.
Frailty. A father reveals to his sons that God has called them to kill demons. I really like the use of sound in this one, the full range from silence to full intensity at just the right moments. Also some smart visuals, like how we see humans get killed, but when demons are destroyed, we don’t. It doesn’t give away the truth, because it’s not the point.
Kubo and the Two Strings. Absurdly gorgeous for stop-motion animation. I’m so impressed. The plot drags at times, but always dazzling in some way or another.
Interstellar. First time I’d seen anything on IMAX. Lives up to the format. It’s one of the best Nolan films since The Dark Knight, probably. But it’s very Nolan: he can direct the crap out of some spectacular action/space sequences, but it rarely moves me. (The truck/rocket scene above in the above screencap is a glorious exception). And it could use some trimming. I have to give him credit for directing original material though, and working with smart ideas. No one is doing crazy stuff at that level like he is. Maybe my second favorite after Memento? I need to re-visit The Dark Knight and The Prestige to see where it fits in.
Dallas Buyers Club. It’s not great, but never really goes wrong, and I like the moment-to-moment push and urgency of the thing. Great to see a likable hero who never remotely approaches perfection. Matthew McConaughey is something special.
Mud. Best summarized in this review I stumbled upon where I lifted the still above: “Mud reminds us that the most special effect is compelling characters caught in a vexing situation.” Check and check. I loved this movie. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now, after directing Shotgun Stories, and then Take Shelter, and then this. I’m excited for whatever is next.
Magic Mike. Soderbergh! Best movie ever about the economy and strippers. I’d rank this one behind only Haywire and Out of Sight. You’ve got Tatum’s stripper-slash-roofer-slash-artisan muddling through, but it’s hard to change course when he’s great at something he doesn’t love that’s still addicting in its own way. You’ve got Pettyfer’s teenage socially-tone-deaf bro drifter who’s having a great time being showered with money and attention–at long last! You’ve got McConaughey’s (too?) serious entrepreneur-impresario-emperor. There’s the promise of Miami as the great mythical somewhere else where things are different, some future day. Just a few more nights and then…? Contrast these three with Horn, who takes a more cautious, realist, rooted approach to every day’s compromise. She’s awake in daylight, she works and reads and goes out to dinner and enjoys a glass of wine at home. Hard and boring is okay. Pairs well with Spring Breakers.