Blue is the Warmest Color
Though Blue is the Warmest Color, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, contains graphic depictions of sex, it is not a voyeuristic exercise but a complex, deeply intense film that elevates one young woman’s personal struggle into a drama of universal relevance.
Interior. Leather Bar.
I'd not dismiss this film out of hand. It might, like Franco's Child of God and As I Lay Dying, work in some introductory college course. But the title may be the best thing about it. It's another one of those ideas that someone with less charisma, manic energy, and ability to get an indie film made would have let lie, with no harm to anyone.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
It's not that "Catching Fire" is better than Part One: it's just that more reviewers have drunk the Kool-Aid. That didn't happen to me; quite the reverse. Let's hope somehow the story will reengage me in the followup.
Dallas Buyers Club
Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and based on real events, Dallas Buyers Club is the story of electrician Ron Woodroof’s (a homophobic "good ol' Texas party boy") personal struggles after being diagnosed with AIDS, as well as his efforts to spread public awareness of the disease and help reduce the suffering of AIDS patients.
Robert Donat plays a British spy in Knight Without Armor, Graham Greene's novel gets a gritty adaptation in Brighton Rock, John Ford directs Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in the early Fox comedy Up the River, Desperately Seeking Susan features Madonna at her best, and Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes shine in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby.
There have been some outstanding child performances this year including that of Tye Sheridan, Liam James, Kacey Mottet Klein, and others, but none better than little Sitthiphon Disamoe’s in Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket.
This is a Spike Jonze world of high concepts, with the hard edge, and a lot of the smarts, that Jonze is known for excised. Her is a soft, sentimental movie that's too little critical of the commitment- and relationship-averse world of today's American thirty-somethings.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
There have been several well-known films about autism including Rain Man, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Black Balloon, but none I’ve seen are more authentic or moving than Sam Fleischner’s remarkable second feature Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.
Sometimes a new movie by a director makes one question the merit of earlier ones. Prisoners is a thriller so overwrought and misguided it casts doubt on the French Canadian Villeneuve's acclaimed previous feature Incendies. The switch to Hollywood and English also may not have been for the best.
The Ravine of Goodbye
Tatsushi Ohmori’s The Ravine of Goodbye, winner of the Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival, tackles the controversial relationship between victim and victimizer in a compelling, though very somber story whose long pauses and lack of sustained dialogue make it a difficult watch.
The Spectacular Now
Based on a novel by Tim Tharp and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer), James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now takes us on a journey through Sutter Keely’s (Miles Teller) minefields of adolescence with little support along the way.
Lee Daniels' The Butler
Telling the story of an exceptionally faithful and enduring White House employee who served through many administrations, Lee Daniels' The Butler attempts to run through not just every president from Eisenhower to Obama but virtually the whole history of race in America.