Archive for December, 2013

Continuing my countdown to the best movies of 2013

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Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine brings us Disney divas as girls gone wild and it surprisingly works to great effect.  Fueled by a great score featuring Skrillex and Cliff Martinez, the film is a neon-colored, black-light lit fever dream featuring killer performances from the four young leads and an almost unrecognizable turn  by James Franco.

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Blackfish

A truly, great documentary can serve to affect social change by shining a light on injustice and inhumanity.  I can honestly say that after seeing the treatment of these beautiful killer whales at the hands of Sea World, I will never step foot into another of their parks.  And in that way, this is truly a great documentary.

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The Kings of Summer

This is yet another film in a great run of coming of age tales.  It’s a crime that it’s rated R simply for featuring young boys talking the way young boys do.  But I guess saying ‘fuck’ a couple times more worthy of the restrictive rating than the buckets of blood and violence seen in PG-13 blockbusters.  That point aside, this is a fun and sweet movie.

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Nebraska

Director Alexander Payne loves to send broken men in fractured relationships out on the open road to discover themselves and to dig deep into their damaged psyches.  His muse on this trip is veteran Bruce Dern who, with his son, sets out to claim a sweepstakes fortune.  At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a wonderful movie.

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Continuing my rundown on the great flicks that won’t quite make my Top 10.

The poster shows a flaming starship falling towards Earth, with smoke coming out. At the middle of the poster shows the title "Star Trek Into Darkness" in dark grey letters, while the production credits and the release date being at the bottom of the poster.

Star Trek Into Darkness

It’s not as consistently enjoyable as the first in Abrams’ rebooted universe but it is a lot of damn fun especially when focusing on the characters.  It leans heavily on knowledge of pre-reboot films but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  My biggest complaint was a lack of significant McCoy action.

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The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire

A superior sequel in every way that truly benefited from an increased budget.  And that’s coming from someone who rather liked the first film.  Jennifer Lawrence is on a roll and it’s a true pleasure to see her playing in big “tentpole” franchise movies as well as smaller awards worthy stuff.

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Evil Dead

What can I say?  I liked it.  It’s not as revolutionary as the original nor is it trying to be.  It’s simply trying to tell a fun gory story filled with blood and good jump scares and it does a hell of a job of doing just that.  Jane Levy kills it especially in a crimson soaked final confrontation that would leave even the most jaded horror hound breathless.

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Warm Bodies

Stronger films pushed this out of my top 10 as the year rolled on but I remained fond of the clever zombie romance tale.  The film is at its best when focusing on ‘R’ and his love for the stunning Teresa Palmer’s Julie but an action-filled clunky third act doesn’t distract too much from the proceedings.  It’s a tasty alternative from typical undead fare.

It’s been a pretty good year for movies.  I’m in the process of watching for a second time some flicks that are jockeying for position in my year-end top 10 but there were plenty of others that came close.  So for the next couple weeks leading up to the unveiling of my favorite movies of 2013 I figured I would share with you, in no particular order, those movies that came oh so close.

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+1 (Plus One)

This is a little trippy tale of high school kids and time loops.  There’s nothing too terribly original but it does set up a nice moral quandary for the characters with a somewhat disturbing conclusion.  The cast is fun and nice to look at.  It all makes for an engaging and clever flick well worth a genre aficionado’s time.

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Maniac

A slick remake of the 1980 grindhouse classic this time with Elijah Wood as the titular crazy man.  It is to the director’s credit that he somehow makes the murderous sociopath even remotely sympathetic.  Wood performs remarkably considering the 1st person perspective keeps him off-screen the majority of the time.  There’s also a killer soundtrack.

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Room 237

In this documentary, very detail oriented people discuss their theories of the underlying message and themes within Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, considered by many to be the scariest film of all time.  Many of the theories are straight lunacy but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of the horror classic.

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Byzantium

A pair of vampires, mother & daughter, have lived a nomadic life for centuries under the ever-present threat of a sect of male vampires that find their very existence an abomination .  Their carefully built life of lies faces its greatest challenge when they settle in a coastal town and the daughter falls in love.  Great stuff from Brit director Neil Jordan.