Movies viewed in February:
Arbitrage (2012). Good thriller with an excellent performance by Richard Gere, as the businessman whose house of lies collapses around him. He’s been cooking the books and his daughter figures that out, just as an important deal is about to go through. His wealth and company depend on this deal and every minute of delay and uncertainty is torture, but somehow he gets off on it. As if things aren’t bad enough, he kills his mistress in a car crash and runs away. Detective Tim Roth is after him, wife Susan Sarandon knows more than she lets on, and it’s fun to watch Gere try to weasel his way out of all these troubles. This is a movie Warren William would have done wonders with!
Rage (2014). Pretty bad (and worse, boring). Reformed criminal Nicolas Cage’s daughter is kidnapped– now there’s plot we haven’t seen before–so he and his old buddies seek revenge, and they’re good at it. They take apart some bad guys before discovering, in a twist ending, that the kidnapping is not what it seems.
High and Low (1963). #1 of my 10 to watch in 2015.
Stories We Tell (2012). Sarah Polley’s documentary about her mother and how her life choices and early death affected the family. It turns into an investigation and a surprise discovery about her biological father. Interesting look at the truth of family stories and memories, I liked the device she used of “recreating” home movies, they blend in really well with the interview footage.
Away From Her (2006). Another movie directed by Sarah Polley, her first feature. Julie Christie as a woman with Alzheimer’s, whose husband Gordon Pinsent puts her in a home where she becomes attached to another man, as she loses memory of life with Pinsent. This is a Canadian film but rather like “Hollywood Alzheimer’s.” Great performance by Christie but based on my own experience with the disease, little of this was realistic or familiar. Christie’s character says things like “I think I may be beginning to disappear,” and so on, which seem too self-aware, philosophical and well-timed for someone who so quickly reaches the stage where she forgets her husband. I know diseases are tough things to realistically capture on film, so those are quibbles based on my own experience, that take nothing away from the importance of raising awareness of Alzheimer’s. One of mant scenes that rang true was the doctor’s initial screening, where you can feel Pinsent’s and Christie’s horror when she’s unable to answer the doctor’s simple questions (“where do you put a letter when you want to mail it?”).
Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s (2013). Documentary about the famed store and its place in history and pop culture.
Godzilla (2014). I liked Pacific Rim better. The story and characterization here are so thin, I wish they’d stayed with the Bryan Cranston character for the whole plot. Godzilla was impressive but the Muto monsters were lame and too many battles happened in fog and darkness. The huge scale of the creatures is well done and the fights are convincingly earth-shaking but I really got sick of, and dizzy from, the overuse of the camera spinning around as it follows a character’s astonished gaze to show us what they’re looking at. Great HALO jump, though.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Efficient and popular introductory newscast brings us up to speed on the aliens attacking our planet and military efforts to defeat them. This is the Groundhog Day of sci-fi and I loved it; fast action, scary-looking creatures that move like tumbleweeds made of spiders. Tom Cruise is an officer and a coward/deserter who has to relive his last day and death during a failed mission, each time with slight variations, and each time learning something new about the mission he’s been given. Each round he gets better at surviving, and that depends on teaming up with super-warrior Emily Blunt. In the many redos you’re shown things that are the same if they’re funny or touching, and the things that are different if they show you how Cruise gets tougher and smarter, is misguided or disheartened, recharges and does it all again. Nice part for Bill Paxton too.
A Man Alone (1955). Staying with Ray Milland after watching The Thief; review to come.
gifs: http://baddroid.tumblr.com/post/95800225051 http://olina.tumblr.com/post/109406769303/top-5-favourite-movies-of-2014-3-edge-of