All Is Lost. Loved it. Perfect movie for the messy, rainy weather of late. Redford’s sailboat is hit by a freight container… and then he deals with it. Minimal script and music, the focus is on inventiveness, improvising, and the mundane aspects of making do. I appreciate that there weren’t any gimmicks that felt too dumb or contrived, like, I dunno, getting tangled in the ropes or something. It’s also a great example of how much more thrilling it can be to focus on the person facing peril, and how they react, rather than show a huge CGI wave vs. a tiny boat. I love the couple moments where he’s… enjoying himself, somehow? A sunset. A simple dinner. And there’s a beautiful, heartbreaking moment before he sends out a communication where he pauses – not quite ready – and then follows through.
Other good “peril at sea” movies: Captain Phillips and Life of Pi.
Other good survival films: Gravity (+ Aningaaq). The Grey. 127 Hours.
Another good movie focusing on one actor, one vehicle: Locke.
Another good movie with an older actor trying to get out of trouble: Arbitrage.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I had so much fun. Good action movies make you want to do the things you see on screen. Iron Man is fun to watch, but I don’t feel like I want to fly around and shoot beams out of my hands. But this? Yeah, I want to hold up a shield and run through locked doors. The First Avenger is still my favorite of the Marvel movies, but this is a nice elaboration and keeps the good drama/humor balance. Such a great character, becoming more suspicious, more wary of what he’s asked to do.
Three Days of the Condor. Dang, this movie is so fun. There aren’t many spy films with such appeal to your daydream fantasy fulfillment side, that seem almost within reach. The protagonist here? Just a dork with a day job that mainly involves reading about espionage – news, novels, magazines – and reporting on new ideas. BUT then he becomes the object of various gun-related machinations, and now he’s got to think his way out. There’s some strange sexual politics and some really good writing and some refreshing characterization. Redford and Dunaway are great. It took me a second to figure out why Max von Sydow looked familiar. Worth checking out.