The Anticipations of NicksFlickPicks
I badly missed my start time this year: I've been too busy teaching, advising, bungling other important site features, and hitting every film festival in North America, to a degree that even the programmers find remarkable. But late is better than never, as I can only hope Lauryn agrees. So, here goes. I've of course already seen several of these titles, but I did a handy System Restore on my own brain and remembered how I felt Before as well as how I responded After...
- TO ZION
- A– - Sure, the emotional allegory feels kind of shoehoOH MY GOD! THE CAMERA! Maybe a bit maudJESUS! DID YOU SEE AND HEAR THAT?! 12 Years a Slave - Hollywood finally taps major vein of U.S. lit and life. McQueen!
- A– - Solomon as open book and opaque protagonist, caught in a heightened nightmare and in yes-it-was-that-bad history. Bastards - Even at her most opaque, Denis commands loyalty like few other auteurs
- B+ - Sort of Denis' Skin I Live In, a handsome, tensile take on a story bound to repel. Semi-illuminating, fiercely confident. Blue Is the Warmest Color - Eager for any Kechiche, but especially a Palme winner
- B - Two very compelling characterizations in engaging but oddly proportioned film with few interesting images Faust - Two-year delay of release augurs poorly. But I'm still a Sokurov devotee.
- A– - Intoxicating, even if, like a lot of intoxicants, it puts you to sleep a little. Painterly, imaginative, and sells the myth. Her - Sure, premise could tilt into precious self-pity, but I have confidence it won't.
- B - Toggles between blunt and subtle approaches to its themes. Generous in spirit. Actors really lift it. Adams a standout for me. The Past - After Elly, Separation, I'd follow Farhadi anywhere. Breakout for Bejo?
- C - Turgid, sporadically wise wallow in exposition, with few stakes for viewers. Stale visuals. Farhadi's rhythmic gift fails.
- B - American cons, America as con. Film's a con at times, though Cooper, Adams never are. Uneven, for better and worse. The Square - Urgent topic for documentaries, especially from reliable Noujaim
- A - Prodigious in every sense. Typically lucid institutional survey, comprising many views of what ideas and politics mean. Inside Llewyn Davis - Tuneful blend of Coens' comic charm and scabrousness?
- B+ - Aloof, icy, yet almost secretly tender. Steel, sadness, and spook knitted together. Funny-ish. Isaac amazes. Captain Phillips - Even "lesser" Greengrass like Green Zone lands well with me
- B - US drama of Somali pirates, rendered as seasick immersion in a military precision strike. Uneven but ends strong. Blue Caprice - Shootings sure got to me in '02. Tour-de-force for a new director?
- B+ - Backstory of 10 murders that remain inexplicable. A grotty national and psychological moodpiece. Bracingly assembled. Carrie - Peirce a great choice to give high school rough textures, moral complexity
- C– - Halves of Carrie seem further apart than ever. Direction most invested in the Mom, production in the Prom. Ensemble flails. Mother of George - In Notting Hill, I'd be Hugh and d.p. Bradford Young my Julia
- B+ - Lustrous images heighten emotions of a rich, bold script; odd angles, sound mix keep it from feeling on-the-nose. Dallas Buyers Club - Felt stunty on paper but trailer and buzz for Leto encourage
- B+ - Moving, funny, excitingly angry. McConaughey hits Brockovich levels of typecasting, type-busting, and charisma. Fire in the Blood - Doc sounds very probing; a good companion to Dallas Buyers
- B+ - Hard work, which I'm not against. Sharp images, knotty plotting both entice. A Chinese Amores perros, but glassier.
- C - Enjoyable but rarely admirable beyond MVP actors. Script has great moments but smug calculations still rankle. American Promise - I hope it's more Love & Diane than Waiting for Superman
- B - Affecting, but director-parents may not have distance necessary to make a Hoop Dreams about their kids' schooling. Let the Fire Burn - Crucial but obscure U.S. tale has already inspired good films
- B - Less penetrating or contextualized but possibly more harrowing than other films on 1985 bombing of MOVE compound. Museum Hours - Not on my radar till many friends ranked it among year's best
- B - Elegant, involving, aloof by design; strong sense of the past within the present. Something a tad calculated about it. God Loves Uganda - Another promising doc; bookend to spring's Call Me Kuchu
- C - Fitfully affecting but rarely adroit. Soderbergh's King of the Hill from synthetic fabric. Enough Said - I'm still seeking a Holofcener vehicle that's as strong as her debut
- B– - After ace debut, Holofcener's follow-ups all have execution problems. Still, rich ideas for starved demos. Gandolfini! We Are What We Are - Notably strong reviews for a horror film and for a remake
- D+ - Markedly unsubtle for an explicit defense of subtlety. Broad, repetitive, untrusting. Nails a moving end, though. The Invisible Woman - Wasn't too jazzed till every review cited a pleasant surprise
- D+ - Never connects with Camille. Casting stunt sullies and disjoints the film. Alienating; next day, feels worse. Computer Chess - Beeswax was incomparably winning. Will I react that way again?
- B– - Seemed funnier during my first, more fatigued screening. A great premise with gold moments, but execution is muddy. Wadjda - Dramas with Noble Themes can break any which way, but I'm optimistic.
- B– - Lots of craft on display. Gutsy script. Real steel from Jackman. Virtually all of it poisoned by escalating absurdities. Black Nativity - Trailer looks a bit off to me. Still: Lemmons? That cast? Sure.
- C– - Earnest but perfunctory. Reads as if producer TD Jakes literally called more shots than snazzy helmer Kasi Lemmons.. Concussion - Nifty premise for lesbian drama. Weigert in lead is a cool prospect.
- B– - Story, chic images feel affected throughout, which only makes sharp script and Weigert's candid acting more impressive. After Tiller - Risk-taking profile of doctors who offer third-trimester abortions
- B+ - Operatic conception, playing romantic hope against inexorable forces of grief and myth. Cotillard, Khondji astonish. Foxcatcher - Such an odd tale, but you won't catch me betting against Miller
- B+ - Water, water everywhere, and not a bad or boring shot in sight. Exercisey but absorbing. Boy is Redford in good shape. Out of the Furnace - For those who wish Crazy Heart had featured more hitting
- C - Winter's Boner: characters, filmmakers treat grotty vision of rough, hophead Appalachia as macho proving-ground. Adore - A good movie seems too much to ask, but possibly deliciously bad?
- D+ - Unquestionably misdirected, stifling scenario's capacity to indicate more than tawdry melodrama. Wright saves what she can. Oldboy - I found Park's film both tedious and repellent, but at least I'm curious
- D+ - Early sparks gutter completely. Climactic montage ties anal sex to drug injection and murder. Opaque and inert. The Face of Love - Bening's lowest-profile work in years. Harris a good match?
- C+ - Pro or con to keep mixing tones and to avoid overstating analogies at the cost of vague, fitful storytelling? Your call. As I Lay Dying - It's my favorite novel, maybe. I think I just don't want to know.
- C+ - Actors very committed; moving as soldier tribute. Still, Berg wobbly director of action, dialogue. Ending feels off. All Is Bright - Director Phil Junebug Morrison is only draw here. But a big one.
- C - Two D's are for Dumb and Dumber. The other's for Delirium, which at least has its pleasures. Garishly but gamely stupid. Escape from Tomorrow -
- D+ - Payne still loves: banal images, banal music, using one character as bellwether of Reason and ranking others in relation. Sal - Film-star bio from the Franco factory that's sat around for two years? Sure!
- D+ - One-hand tally of interesting shots. Wonky edits abound. Flatly plotted in story and style. Elephantiasis. Labor Day - I hear it's safe for Kate, risky for Reitman, triumphant for neither
- B– - Flat technique; hashed final act seems more annoying with time. But funny. Moore is good, and Johansson deliciously great. Out in the Dark - Gay cinema can't cast enough bland hotties in familiar plots
- C - Scene by scene, the Serious Drama you'd expect about a handsome Palestinian guy and a handsome Israeli guy in love. Rush - Feels like an aging producer-director pair's idea of Youthful Excitement
- D+ - Tritely conceived, stylistically ragged. A dispiriting pile-up of shots and entire scenes that only pad or coarsen the movie. Salinger -
- C– - Talk about death that never feels deadly and whispers of revolution that never feel revolutionary. The Counselor - Sorta thing that seduces stars on paper, then explodes on them
- B - Charm, belly laughs, sweetness, and story momentum. Songs, character designs, backgrounds not on same level, but I liked it. Thor: The Dark World -
- C - AARP Hangover is funnier and better acted than Hangover. Looks awful and has unwell ideas about young women. Semi-sweet. 47 Ronin - The nobility of the samurai, minus authenticity or production values
Gravity - Even small steps for Cuarón are often giant leaps for popular cinema
American Hustle - I'm cool on Silver Linings but so far I dig this one's splashy vibe
At Berkeley - I'm not a Wiseman completist, but great subject for him and for me
A Touch of Sin - Jia always merits attention. Intriguing swerves in tone, content.
JUST WANT YOU AROUND
August: Osage County - Uneven play has high peaks. Eager for Roberts, Lewis.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete - Buzzy at Sundance. New sides of Hudson?
Saving Mr. Banks - For Emma, I'll accept anything, even from John Lee Hancock
Camille Claudel 1915 - I tend to like Dumont, even if I always feel guilty about it
Prisoners - Sharp-looking Villeneuve pic drew both hoots and cheers in Toronto
Touchy Feely - Things got awfully quiet after Sundance, but ensemble entices
Here Comes the Devil - Just read the setup and tell me you're not a bit intrigued
The Immigrant - Every still looks transfixing, but the Weinsteins seem ambivalent
Grace of Monaco - I liked La Vie en rose but let's kindly call Dahan a big variable
The Monuments Men - Your $11 can help these rich pals take a European vacay!
I FIND IT HARD TO SAY
All Is Lost - Sounds like awards-baiting stunt for Redford, yet I hear otherwise
Kill Your Darlings - Seems likely to glorify yet render dull a minor anecdote
Philomena - Festival audiences sure love it. Dench inspires hope. Frears doesn't.
The Summit - Climbing docs have gone wrong before. Still, a whopper of a tale.
Great Expectations -
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology -
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Evidently even Elba, Harris can't animate it?
Lone Survivor - Late add to season. Beefy cast. Berg a mixed bag. Trustworthy?
Machete Kills - Good, bad, or good/bad? Hoping for a Planet Terror groove.
Metallica: Through the Never -
Insidious: Chapter 2 -
Dracula 3D - Even with tepid reviews, dashing Kretschmann is hard to resist
Nebraska - Hated Descendants. Not that wild about earlier Payne, either. So...
Mr. Nobody - A Venice prize-winner that's sat around for four years? Why not?
Inequality for All - These films vary widely in quality but Reich's a good hook
The Best Man Holiday - Statute of limitations on credit for Undercover Brother?
Instructions Not Included -
I USED TO LOVE HIM
About Time - Gleeson's my hope. Curtis, McAdams have exhausted good will.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - The title begs non-converts to stay home.
The Wolf of Wall Street - Is latter-day Scorsese right guy to critique wild excess?
Finding Mr. Right - I'd go anywhere with Tang Wei after Lust, Caution. I think?
The Armstrong Lie -
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Anyone else getting a big Majestic hit off this?
Don Jon - I'm glad Juli & Scarlett get along with Gordon-Levitt. I usually don't.
Runner Runner -
NOTHING REALLY MATTERS
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Director's a trade up. Still not persuaded.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - Not if I missed the first part, it doesn't
Ender's Game - The only things I'm boycotting are iffy casting, awful preview
Winnie Mandela - Virtually laughed out of existence two years ago. A zombie.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - Uninspiring, but I never count this crew out.
Homefront - Franco in a Statham film written by Stallone? Is this an installation?
The Fifth Estate - Wan thrillers keen on trumpeting their Importance are the pits
The Family - Best show in town is watching Tommy Lee Jones hide involvement
Shepard and Dark - So there's this famous guy and this less famous guy, and... ?
Baggage Claim -
Frozen - Disney hasn't hit for me since Lilo. Images and cast list leave me cold.
WHEN IT HURTS SO BAD
One Chance - Clears path for Salt, Pepper, and Success: The Taylor Hicks Story
The Book Thief - Those Pyjamas are looking awfully Striped, if you ask me
How I Live Now -
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas - Perhaps unwisely, I stick to just his dramas
Romeo and Juliet -
Last Vegas - If we were talking Sally Kirkland, Diane Ladd, and Diahann Carroll...
Haute cuisine -
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 -
Free Birds -
Walking with Dinosaurs 3D - A feature? An IMAX Experience? No, don't answer.
FORGIVE THEM FATHER
Parkland - We've all wondered how JFK's murder went down for hospital staff
Escape Plan -
Grudge Match - What Ever Happened to Raging Bull? with laffs, mo-cap suits
Delivery Man -