Love Will Never Do (Without These):
Fall and Winter 2012
- A– - This shit is bananas, like Matthew Barney's lusty stab at Céline and Julie Go Boating. Melancholy undertow a surprise. Amour - I'm in for any movie that truly looks at what most movies avoid. Viva Riva!
- A - Perfectly shot Book of the Dead, showcasing partners more bonded to each other than to their child. Impeccably acted and cut. Zero Dark Thirty - Bigelow had me at Strange Days. Scope, context fascinating.
- B - Ace last act thrives on Bigelow's strengths. Previously halting, uneven in story, structure, style. Chastain iffy. Wuthering Heights - I'd follow Arnold anywhere, especially into austere erotic folly
- B– - Dour, statically self-regarding naturalism misses Brontë's pagan turmoil and eerie necrophilia until strong end.
- C+ - Proficient, minus The Town's tautness or Gone Baby's eerie peaks. Strong on period. Dodges complex engagement with its story. The Loneliest Planet - Day Night Day Night wowed me. Still don't know the twist.
- B - Bold, dilated minimalism as two-hour frame for two-second, bond-breaking outrage. Gutsy, well-shot, bit vague. Sister - I'm a sucker for any euphorically reviewed film by a rising female auteur
- B+ - Moving, unsettling parable of economic and emotional abandonment, without didacticism. Style closer to Denis than Dardenne. The House I Live In - I trust this filmmaking team to elucidate a complex quagmire
- B+ - Vivid, broad, pedagogically lucid. More coherent than prior Jarecki docs, despite repetitions and iffy spots. Silver Linings Playbook - R.I.P. "The"? I'd been told this was bad. But no, I guess?
- C+ - Acting from the gut. Writing from Jupiter. Direction highly erratic. Camera no help. Cooper easily MVP. The Wise Kids - Queer-childhood microcinema that's been building buzz for a year
- B - Perks of Being a Southern Believer? Can't claim much filmmaking finesse, but generosity of conception is remarkable Las Acacias - Sounds pretty minimalist, but the Cannes '11 reporting was inspiring
- C - Ionlyhave140charactersforthissprawlingstorysosorryIhavetorushnotemycollap singwallsandunbeatablegownsshameaboutVronsky The Central Park Five - I know enough to know I care, but details will all be new
- B - A potent record of railroading, but again, the Five carry the narrative burden. Contexts, complicities vague. Promised Land - I always want the last-minute schedule additions to be diamonds
- D+ - Finally, a vaguely Albee-inspired marathon of Growing Pains! So cute that Apatow's actual daughters shot and edited it. The Sessions - Computers didn't crash at Y2K, but Hunt did. Why? Welcome back.
- C+ - Sympathetic, appealingly played across the board, but feels oddly truncated in almost every direction. Abrupt finish. Skyfall - Apt use of Mendes' style-over-substance gifts? I even liked Quantum, so...
- C+ - Breathtakingly handsome shots alternate with flat set-ups. First-half scenes all feel slumpy. In-jokey for fans. Missable. Rust and Bone - To quote Helen Mirren, this movie sounds purple, and I like purple
- B– - Audiard's gifts at rhythm and texture, stylistically and psychologically, pay richer dividends than script or theme. Cloud Atlas - Despite bad Wachowskiing in my past, I'm sympathetic to ambition
- C - Wachowskis persist in joining rhetoric of revolution with dictatorial, pacifying image-making. Hit and miss. Ambitious. Lincoln - Hearing it's wonky has made me more eager, and War Horse surprised.
- B+ - Old-Hollywood clarity and roundness, laminated by modern, Eastwoody, chilly introspection. Steady rhythm. Quiet authority. The Bay - I'd have liked Rain Man or Bugsy more with open sores, rotting scapulas.
- C - Compulsive viewing but full of bad writing, cheap tricks. Dumb frame story. Shots needlessly repeat. Et tu, Barry Levinson? The Guilt Trip - Forget the Tiffany-lamp thing and the white mics. Babs is hilarious.
- C - Rogen/Streisand chemistry disarms, though they sometimes switch on cruise control. Needed the guts of Hope Springs. Les Misérables - I'll give Hooper stink-eye if I ever meet him, but I can be turned
- D– - Cheap pomposity. Unspeakable direction. Not one story beat or actor really well-served. Utterly abstracted emoting. This Must Be the Place - I hear My Sean embarrasses himself but I'll B there 4 him
- B– - Euro Americana in Don't Come Knocking vein, but more winningly idiosyncratic. Uneven, but out on fun limb. Middle of Nowhere - I'm so hooked on DuVernay's story, I'll see it no matter what
- B+ - Unfolds with the impeccable ease of a beach read, but writing, acting, versatile lensing give it uncommon depth Hitchcock - I'm more eager for Toby Jones, but casting is inspired. I loved Anvil!
- D - Pop-colored warren of blind alleys and broad in-jokes. Utter hogwash, but tiny embers in Mirren, Johansson, D'Arcy perfs. A Royal Affair - I wouldn't care if reviews weren't so strong, but since they are...
- B - Pacing, camera could be defter, but rivals Lincoln in blending character portraits with complex historical critique.
- F - Thankfully so laughable that the edge is dulled from its luridness. 100% miscalculated hackwork, from leads to locations. The Impossible - No arc? All white people? Soulless tech exercise? Probably, but...
- C+ - Verisimilitude impresses; moving moments. But one family's stamina and luck feel insufficient as window on tsunami. Arbitrage - Gere playing a smug bastard, Sarandon a tetchy pill sounds very smart
- B– - The opposite of innovative, but acted and mounted with conviction. A shrewd portrait of marrow-deep cynicism. Peak Gere. Smashed - Sounds like late-90s ensemble pic with Faye Dunaway. In a good way?
- C - Some keen observations in script and performances, but wobbly on the whole. Tone feels elusive. Overquick leap to last act. On the Road - I had dreaded this, but so did friends who have filed happy reports
- C+ - Prismatically shot and cut, but never feels multifaceted. Charismatically cast, but never fires the imagination. Fine. Killing Them Softly - The trailer is insufferable, but Telegraph boys sprang for it
- B– - Political, stylistic rhetoric dialed way up. Turgid valleys, hypnotic peaks. Prosaic baseline. Solid ensemble.
- C+ - Out of two frying pans (brazen voice, gutsy premise), into two fires (puerile bloodlust, QT's ever-duller images). Flight - Oscar sites, NYFF programmers all excited. Why? Must be some reason.
- C+ - Strong Denzel perf and cliché-testing idea about alcohol highs as mixed blessings. Still, full of crutches and cul-de-sacs. Life of Pi - Ads worse than Killing Me Softly's. Ang and I don't always get along.
- B+ - Quite beguiling, especially after a shaky first act. Defter and lovelier than Avatar, with a thornier idea at its core. A Late Quartet - Sounds like small fry, but I hear Walken's good. Casually curious.
- C– - Walken subtle, meticulous, and moving in a film that sadly inclines in all the opposite directions. Keener adrift. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - I'm sure I'll end up here, but do I want to?
- C– - 2D, 24fps, 41.9°N, 87.6°W: Splitting this tweet into three separate tweets but still no room to
- C+ - Series narrative getting sillier but scares still work. Handles logical transition to portable-screen setup.
- F - Raise the Red Lantern remade as FDR dramedy? Camera, script, score, edits all wholly disordered. Humanoid cast.
- C - Best scenes lift suburban weirdness to edge of delirium, and set old hands like Linney, Haysbert to fun new tasks. But.
- C– - Clever conceits and creative potential of first half-hour explode into eyesores, excess, and sticky sentimentality. West of Memphis - If (I'm sorry) I feel less played out of this media obsession
- A - Warmth and cold. Suspense and certainty. Western arthouse style merged with Ozu-esque themes and framing elements. Exquisite. Post Mortem - No raves help, but Guy Lodge has been stumping for two years
- B - Steady, muted accretion of Chilean political horror, intriguingly if unevenly joined to Lanthimos-style deadpan macabre Trishna - I know. I heard you. You think it's pretty bad. But I love Winterbottom.
- B+ - Taut, economical as ever. Strong kid's eye view. Thinner around adults, but Rongione great foil for de France. The Color Wheel - One of those indie-indies with a vehement following.
- B - Not to all tastes, arguably not even to mine, but I laughed a lot and jived to its raffishness. Risky ending works. Whores' Glory - I mean, with that title... Plus, festival journos went to the mat.
- C– - Many folks have really connected to this, but I didn't buy a moment of it, no matter how many "real people" it threw at me. Your Sister's Sister - Shelton still can't stick landings, I hear. But, those actors!
- C+ - Three spry, splendid actors animate a compelling-enough premise. Still, third act astoundingly non-existent. Crazy Horse - Wiseman's this living legend, yet his films just vanish. Where is it?
- B - Lurid edits and over-agitated handhelds but Binoche's bourgeoise and two well-acted teenage hookers echo in intriguing ways. Norwegian Wood - More old Venice news that I'm still chasing. Split opinions.
- B– - Cedar's shallow, flamboyant direction tends to dull what's nervy and rich in his script. Strong actors. Strangling score. Dark Horse - Since I loved Palindromes I can't trust tepid reviews of Solondz
- B - Structure isn't the strong suit of this urban-downsizing documentary, but candor, sobriety, and imagery are all memorable. Ruby Sparks - Honestly, I'm only in to see Bening having a laugh. Just say daNo.
- D+ - Semicomic stab at critiquing male narcissism and creative labor suffers from rudimentary notions of both. Lumpy dough. People Like Us - Honestly, I'm only in to see Pfeiffer startle Pine with real acting
- C - Total dick takes baby-steps toward basic decency. Everyone claps. I'm amazed a joint like this clicks even a little. Sound of My Voice - Slow-to-debut sci-fi noodle from the Another Earth team
- B– - Richer, denser than Another Earth, but equally prone to implying space-time might be, like, WHOA. Uneven script. Natural Selection - SxSW/Indie Spirit hit seemed to die on vine. Too "quirky"?
- F - Tuneless, garish, not remotely fun. Nonstop travesties of mostly great pop songs the film neither spoofs nor respects. Brave - I'm exhausted of Pixar. There, I said it. Also don't love Kelly Macdonald.
- C - Not a farrago, but a dull cluster of missed chances. Story wonky, character designs off, limp songs. Who wants to be Merida? Chicken with Plums - Not as sold on Amalric or Satrapi as most. Try two bites?
- C– - Stone's lurid, overripe style tends toward the graceless. Film's ideas and metaphors are blunt...but at least it has some? The Amazing Spider-Man - Colin Low's vote for the performances might do it.
Holy Motors - Pola X is one of my tip-top favorite movies; this seems even madder
ANY TIME, ANY PLACE
Argo - Salivating over this is like hoping to date the Prom King. Obvious, but c'mon!
Anna Karenina - Of all the season's go-for-broke visions, this one seems gutsiest
THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE
This Is 40 - Trailer scores a lot of laughs in two minutes. Eager for Mann's big move.
In Another Country - I've never seen a Hong. Curious, though this one sounds iffy.
Sinister - Consensus is forming that this is really scary. Even Emily Rose got me.
Django Unchained - Let's skip to the one where an '80s PWA kills Jesse Helms
LET'S WAIT AWHILE
Ginger and Rosa - Potter is quite erratic, but every word about Fanning is a rave.
Paranormal Activity 4 - I missed 3, but I liked its predecessors. Time to revisit?
Hyde Park on Hudson - I could wait and watch Olivia Colman's bits on YouTube
The Details - If Linney's role is as fun as she's been saying. Still: Tobey problem.
Any Day Now - If The Gays get behind it. Still: dully earnest? Not an Alan fan.
Not Fade Away - If anyone thinks of one. thing. to sell me on besides Sopranos
Jack and Diane - If reviews pan out, and Juno agrees to a short break afterward
Wreck-It Ralph - If this gets How to Train Your Dragon notices. Still: cartoon.
COME BACK TO ME
(i.e., early-year releases I'm still hunting)
Elena - Played Chicago at worst possible time for me. Back for one night in Oct.
Polisse - Wesley Morris was gaga for it. Other reviews all over. I'm intrigued.
Goodbye, First Love -Also repeatedly eluded me. That Mia's a good egg.
The Forgiveness of Blood - Joe Reid and Criterion Coll. can't both be wrong
The Kid with a Bike - I'm not positive this is where I wanted Dardennes to go.
Bernie - Hosannas for Black, rare MacLaine, McConaughey's big year. Oh, my!
Breathing - "From the man who starved in The Counterfeiters" actually sells me
Elles - Good actresses, but getting a Whistleblower vibe of intentions > results.
Footnote - Good reasons to heed the skeptics, but Ashkenazi's a selling-point
Detropia - Ewing and Grady apparently knock another tough doc out of the park
2 Days in New York - Loved 2 Days in Paris. Do I need to meet its plainer sib?
We Have a Pope - Sounds negligible, but I'm a Palme Competition completist
Mosquita y Mari - Lesbian features are so rare I try to catch them all. Returning?
Lola Versus - Gerwig made me such a believer recently that I'll join her anywhere
Rock of Ages - Word of mouth very discouraging, but still sort of fascinating
Savages - Joe Reid had a ball. Tim Robey had a near-death experience. Tiebreak!
MISS YOU MUCH
(i.e., postponed to next year)
Frances Ha - Everyone says this is rich and adorable, so of course we must wait
The Great Gatsby - It'll be pretty, but casting mystifies. Not eager for this at. all.