*New Feature* – The Cutting Smörgåsboard: January 2016 Edition

So many New Year’s resolutions fall apart at some point, but hopefully this one doesn’t. Thanks to the inspiration of an acquaintance’s significant other, I decided that one of my resolutions for 2016, and potentially beyond, would be to post at least one article a month on the blog. For this new feature, I’ve decided to log all of the films I watch in a month and then write short, single paragraph reviews for them. Writing for PopOptiq, I don’t have the luxury of writing film reviews like I used to, so this will help keep my skills up and give you guys an idea of all the things I watch in a single month. Keep in mind that many of these films are available for streaming on Netflix or HBO! So, let’s get to it.

 

nymphomaniac

Nymphomaniac (2013), dir. Lars von Trier

The third entry in his ‘Depression’ trilogy, Lars von Trier returned with many familiar faces for his next act in cinematic provocation, Nymphomaniac. Told in two parts, the film focuses on Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounting a story of her sexual coming of age and then endless quest to regain her youthful sexuality to the lonely Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). Like much of von Trier’s other works, Nymphomaniac is not for the faint of heart and contains some expectedly pretentious symbolism, but surprisingly, here we find von Trier showing compassion toward his protagonist. The first is the better of the two, featuring a wholly committed performance from Stacy Martin. The second part plods away in spite of Gainsbourg’s own commanding turn. Overall, those who are patient will be relatively satisfied, but much patience is required to digest it all, especially if you choose the extended cuts of both parts.

2.5/4

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

 

The Hateful Eight (2015), dir. Quentin Tarantino

If you read my first PopOptiq article of the year, then you know exactly how I feel about Tarantino’s latest. In some ways, it’s the Tarantino we’ve come to know and love, but in many other respects it differs from the formula of deviation Tarantino has built his career upon. As much as I enjoyed it, I realize that this film isn’t as accessible as some of Tarantino’s other works. The narrative structure requires much patience as it quietly builds to an insane final act. Many of Tarantino’s best scenes are those that start slow, quietly build tension and then explode, and The Hateful Eight is a thoroughly enjoyable three-hour version of that.

3.5/4

WILLIAM BUCKLEY;GORE VIDAL

 

Best of Enemies (2015), dir. Robert Gordon & Morgan Neville

Have you become jaded about modern politics and the punditry that broadcast journalism has devolved into? Well, here’s the documentary for you. Best of Enemies looks in depth into a series of debates between two of the most respected political commentators of the 60s: William F. Buckley, Jr. on the right, and Gore Vidal on the left. This film exposes the ugliness of today’s popular news outlets by dissecting the piss and vinegar between these two men, all while highlighting its importance in a highly volatile era of American politics. If you are a viewer of sound mind and reason on either side of the political spectrum, this film will surely anger you about today’s political processes, and often times, anger is the greatest emotion a documentary can evoke from you.

3.5/4

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Blue Ruin (2014), dir. Jeremy Saulnier

Blue Ruin was one of the indie darlings of 2014, but unfortunately I must say that I felt fairly underwhelmed. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but it never quite lived up to the suspenseful revenge thriller I hoped it would be. Don’t get me wrong; it’s well-acted, well-told, often visually striking and appropriately grim, but the overall product felt too low key. Many indie films are pretty low-key already, but in this case, I don’t believe it works. In this case, that low-key atmosphere the film provides sucks much of the tension out of the air and makes this 90 minute film feel even slower than it should, completely affecting the viewing experience. Give this film a chance, however, because I’m merely one in a handful of voices of dissension. All the same, I can’t wait for Saulnier’s next effort, The Green Room.

2.5/4

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Super (2010), dir. James Gunn

Before getting the opportunity to direct Marvel favorite Guardians of the Galaxy, Troma-alum James Gunn unleashed a different kind of superhero movie: Super. Starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon, Super is essentially a darker, more cynical version of Kick-Ass; critiquing the thought process behind a normal person wanting to don the spandex suits and become a masked vigilante. The film is plenty giddy in the violence department, but the issues lie deeply in a lack of focus. Suffering from jarring tonal shifts and an unfocused narrative, Super never becomes the biting satire it wants to be. Strong comedic work from Wilson, and especially Page, barely save this film.

2/4

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King of Devil’s Island (2010), dir. Marius Holst

It’s not too often that we get to see and hear Stellan Skarsgård speak in his native tongue, isn’t it? King of Devil’s Island is a fictionalized retelling of a rebellion at the infamous Bastøy Reform School in 1915 Norway. The film is as blue and bleak as one might expect to come from a Scandanavian film, but the real magic lies in the narrative, slowly building up tension until it can no longer be contained, resulting in a cathartic final act. The film shows maturity in its restraint, refusing to glamorize the events that transpired or idolize those young boys at the heart of the rebellion. Overall, it’s a very solid film, indeed.

3/4

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The Revenant (2015), dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Academy Award-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu returns so soon after much success with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) to direct Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in The Revenant. There’s a reason, or rather multiple reasons that this film accrued many Oscar nominations. The Revenant is a beautifully told story of survival with a mesmerizing, mostly physical performance from DiCaprio at the center, as well as an equally captivating performance from Hardy, who sure knows how to play the villain. Not to mention the involving cinematography that places the viewer directly into the beautiful scenery, and especially the battle scenes, while keeping them at a respectable distance. It’s certainly worthy of the nominations it received, but it sure as hell faces some stiff competition.

3.5/4

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Spotlight (2015), dir. Tom McCarthy

Documentaries don’t have the monopoly on producing anger from the audience. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is an expertly crafted fact-based drama about the Boston Globe’s uncovering of sexual abuse by priests of the Catholic Church on young children. Outside of the strong performances all around, two aspects in particular make me love this film. First of all, the film is insanely tense without presenting any real suspense. McCarthy knows that the story will end with the article’s publishing, but he definitely lets you know of the struggle to get it released and the resistance these journalists faced. Secondly, it effectively presents the hectic nature of investigative journalism and working on a deadline without letting the editing decide the pace. What’s presented on film is so captivating I never wanted to leave.

4/4

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The One I Love (2014), dir. Charlie McDowell

It’s doubtful you’ve seen another romantic comedy as strange as this one. Depicting a couple trying to revive their failing marriage on a weekend getaway, The One I Love is a twisty, surreal love letter to the work of Charlie Kaufman. The film is hilarious, touching and frequently heart-wrenching, featuring strong chemistry between its two leads, Elisabeth Moss and indie king Mark Duplass. Without wanting to give too much away, I highly suggest that you take the plunge into the wacky journey these two take, as well as prepare yourself for one emotional gut punch of an ending.

3.5/4

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Carol (2015), dir. Todd Haynes.

Continuing with more Oscar hopefuls, Todd Haynes’s Carol is perhaps one of the stronger Best Picture contenders. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s pioneering 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,” Carol beautifully presents the illicit love affair between two women during 1950s America. The film features two exceptional performances from its two leads, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. If you have yet to see the film, perhaps the Best Cinematography nomination threw you for a loop, but I promise you, it’s a worthy contender. The cinematography is quite dream-like, with many frames mimicking that of a photograph and capturing a retro feel that places you right in the decade along with its stunning costume and production design. Additionally, many scenes are accompanied with a strikingly melodic score, including some introspective piano sections. In short, Carol is sumptuous viewing.

4/4

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Brooklyn (2015), dir. John Crowley

Few places are more majestic than the Emerald Isle, and few films are as charming as Brooklyn, an adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s novel of the same name. Led by two fantastic performances from Saorise Ronan and Emory Cohen, Brooklyn is a feel good film that will often bring you back down to Earth. It strikes a delicate emotional balance and it’s immigrant story finds universality in its themes of duty and making home out of a new environment. It actually struck a chord with me on a personal note, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so invested in a character’s life. There are plenty of worthy Oscar contenders, but Brooklyn is my personal favorite for Best Picture.

4/4

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The Danish Girl (2015), dir. Tom Hooper

Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper returns after 2012’s Les Misérables with The Danish Girl, based upon a novel loosely inspired by the life and sex transition of Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Hooper is experienced enough to treat the subject matter sensitively, and while he deftly explores some illuminating themes and realities of the time, the film features some emotionally manipulative moments that undercut the power the narrative naturally owns. The film, however, is certainly a pretty sight to look at, with some decadent production and costume design that are further livened by the performances of Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne. Overall, The Danish Girl is solid film with, perhaps, a few too many scriptural flaws.

3/4

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014), dir. Jermaine Clement & Taika Waititi

The only quotes you’ll find on posters for What We Do in the Shadows simply say, “Hilarious,” an apt description that’s as simple as you need. From and starring the minds behind Flight of the Conchords, the film uses the mockumentary style to play with the conventions of the vampire subgenre and of vampire folklore. It travels from one punchline to the next inside of its episodic narrative. The writing is superb and makes vampires entertaining again after a handful of dark years. What We Do in the Shadows is consistently funny from the first frame to the last, and you won’t find many horror comedies that are funnier.

3.5/4

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John Wick (2014), dir. Chad Stahelski

At 50 years old – at the time – it seems that Keanu Reeves has arguably found the role of his career as John Wick. Recalling the charisma of action movie heroes of old in addition to the restrained machismo of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western personas, John Wick the character is slick, quiet and absolutely badass. John Wick the film is slick, badass and anything but quiet. The action sequences are expertly choreographed and slathered with a thick layer of coolness. There isn’t as much cynicism as you might find in other neo-noir films, but the humor is certainly a lighter shade of dark. Finally, as hyper-masculine as the film and its hero may appear in highlights, John Wick finds a saddened humanity in its hero, setting it apart from the numerous action heroes who aren’t able to work through their past trauma and act out, instead.

3.5/4

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Room (2015), dir. Lenny Abrahamson

A lot of Oscar nominees this year are based on novels, it seems, and Room is arguably the most powerful of any other in that category. That is largely due to the pair of performances from the Golden Globe-winning Brie Larson and her young co-star Jacob Tremblay. Larson’s turn as the mother, Joy, is on par with Grace in Short Term 12 as the best performance of her career, and as young as Tremblay is, it was hard to believe prior to the screening that he would have been as emotionally impactful as he was. Tremblay often provides the sweetness of childhood innocence that keeps this film from being too bleak. Some have said that the film is too small to win Best Picture, but others who have seen it know it has a fighting chance.

4/4

Gueros

Güeros (2015), dir. Alonso Ruiz Palacios

Güeros is a Mexican road trip/coming of age film about three teens in search of a famous Mexican rocker, told right in the midst of the UNAM student occupation in 1999. Shot in black and white, Güeros rejects Mexico City’s reputation as a heavily polluted space and sterilizes the locale. In fact, there are a couple of moments when characters ask where they are when they have remained in Mexico City. But, the black and white accentuates the dazzling imagery the film is able to accomplish. Additionally, all coming of age films deal with identity in one form or another, however instead of character identity, Güeros deals with issues of Mexican identity as a whole. In fact, it means to suggest that Mexico is dealing with its own identity crisis, as characters often grapple with what left is authentically Mexican. My experience with Mexican cinema has been limited to none before now, and I can tell you, the bar is now exceptionally high.

3.5/4

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No No: A Dockumentary (2014), dir. Jeff Radice

It’s one of the most bizarre stories in sports; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter in 1970 against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. Those of us who didn’t grow up in the late 60s and early 70s would have merely known that singular story about Ellis’s peculiar career in Major League Baseball, but this documentary highlights everything that was so extraordinary and not so extraordinary about the man. The film appropriately highlights the history of African-Americans in baseball and the collision between baseball and popular culture during this time, and gives us ample insight into Ellis’s lively personality, his downfall and his redemption in later years. This doc is more touching than you might expect, and balances expertly between the entertaining and the heartfelt.

3.5/4

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Wetlands (2013), dir. David Wnendt

Based upon the German novel of the same name (although, the German title is “Feuchtgebiete”), Wetlands is a raunchy, subversively funny comedy about teenager Helen, her fantasies and her peculiar hygiene habits. Having not read the novel, I can only assume that, like the film, it is a giddy exercise in normalized vulgarity. It’s funny, witty and it critiques sexist mores of female sexuality, all while ensuring it makes the heartiest of souls disgusted. This film is plenty enjoyable with a heart of gold, like the raunchy comedies of the States. Aside from a slightly jarring tonal shift entering the final act, it’s only noticeable flaw that heavily affects the viewing experience is its heavy use of flashbacks and fantasies, disrupting the flow of the central narrative and slowing the pace down more than it should. Even still, it’s a cleverly entertaining film well worth a watch.

3/4

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The Trip to Italy (2014), dir. Michael Winterbottom

If you were a fan of the first film, odds are you’ll find The Trip to Italy an enjoyable excursion. Nothing has changed much since the first Trip; in fact, the two films are structurally identical. Coogan and Brydon bounce around from restaurant to restaurant, get a sense of the surrounding area and dine on first class cuisine while tossing around some first class barbs and impersonating legendary actors. The only changes are the scenery, which Winterbottom presents with expected splendor, and that the subplot is more Rob-centric than the first Trip’s focus on Steve. It’s hard not to enjoy the flow of Coogan and Brydon’s conversations, and if you’re not looking for much more than that, you’ll have a swell time.

3/4

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Blue Caprice (2013), dir. Alexandre Moors

When I recall Rob Zombie’s Halloween nearly eight and a half years ago, I remember Zombie’s intent to explain, perhaps even rationalize Michael’s madness through a horrible home life. Although it was probably the best part of the film, adding anger and rage to the Myers mythology undercut his ‘Boogeyman’ identity; he was no longer purely and simply evil. Blue Caprice takes a similar approach in showing how a young kid could fall in line with the twisted ideologies of a father figure and commit the DC sniper attacks in 2002. Led by a haunting performance from Isaiah Washington, the narrative pits you into a cycle of uncomfortable disquiet, jolting you with a sudden dose of chills and then repeats. Overall, the film effectively reminds you that evil can appear so innocently normal.

3/4

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Four Falls of Buffalo (2015), dir. Ken Rodgers

I might as well tell you that only sports fans need apply for this one. This film covers another bizarre sports story: how the Super Bowl Buffalo Bills reached four straight Super Bowls in the early 90s, and lost all of them. This doc, however, strictly covers the history, gaining some personal perspective from a handful of the team members and coaches. Anybody hoping for a deeper than surface level exploration will be sorely disappointed, but for those who want to learn, or relearn the history are in for a beautifully bittersweet story. Admittedly, it is a bit of a rewriting of history, and should you choose to give the film a chance, you’ll see what I mean.

2.5/4

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

 

The Martian (2015), dir. Ridley Scott

It’s a good thing that the Academy doesn’t break down Best Picture nominees by genre. The humor The Martian does have is merely a small portion of what keeps it from veering off course. First and foremost, this is a showcase for Matt Damon’s commanding charisma throughout every scene, but he is supported by a well-abled ensemble cast. Secondly, with all of the humor in Drew Goddard’s script, Ridley Scott’s deft direction finds a proper balance between the light-hearted and the human. The film is never too bleak, and the more uplifting moments are never too cloying. Not to mention the ending is so fascinatingly filled with suspense. I understand if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just wanted this film to win something.

3.5/4

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Headhunters (2012), dir. Morten Tyldum

Meet Roger Brown. He has a beautiful home and a beautiful wife. He’s a recruiter, 5’6” and compensates for it by stealing priceless paintings for cash. But, he will fall victim to a game of cat and mouse when a mysterious man slowly infiltrates his life. Headhunters is fast-paced, plenty violent, fairly funny (often darkly so) and contains a tightly twisty plot that damn near borders on confusing part of the time. But, that’s all part of the fun. Besides, when you craft an action-thriller this absorbing, a modicum of forgiveness is in order. Plus, it’s refreshing to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau play some who isn’t Jaime Lannister.

3/4

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Venus in Fur (2014), dir. Roman Polanski

It needs no mentioning how divisive a figure Roman Polanski is. Personal feelings about him aside, with this French adaptation of David Ives’s Broadway play of the same name, Polanski has created a thoroughly spellbinding film that wraps you up in all of its perverse absurdity and wouldn’t dare let you go. Even if you got on your knees and begged for it. Every successive frame thoroughly proves just how much fun Polanski had with the richly intelligent source material, and his actors certainly got a thrill out of their respective roles. Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife, have their characters and their chemistry down to a tee, and the film just wouldn’t be as hypnotic without their presence on screen. Rest assured, you will have more fun with Venus in Fur than you would have ever anticipated – assuming you aren’t familiar with the source material, of course.

4/4

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How to Survive a Plague (2012), dir. David France

Here’s a documentary with plenty of its subjects getting angry for you, not that you won’t grow irate on your own. Chronicling how groups such as Act Up and other AIDS activists fought the complacent, and in many cases homophobic powers that be from the ‘80s to the ‘90s, How to Survive a Plague is an energetic, cathartic documentary all the more powerful because of its authenticity. By authenticity, I am referring to the unprecedented archival footage of Act Up meetings, protests and patients receiving treatment at various stages in their illness. If you have questions about its narrative structure while watching, don’t worry, for the importance of its choices is made very clear near the ending. Simply put, this is as explosive a documentary you will find.

4/4

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People Places Things (2015), dir. Jim Strouse

Few things are as disappointing from a film viewer’s perspective than a talented cast gone to waste. Such is the case here with writer-director Jim Strouse’s People Places Things. Jermaine Clement (What We Do in the Shadows) and Kat Williams (The Daily Show) do the best they can with the material, even liven up the space for a few fleeting moments, but they are few and far between, Regina Hall (Scary Movie) is given absolutely nothing to work with and whatever she was given came across as stiff. Other similar films employ a mixture of sweet and dour moments, but the combination never quite works here, with the sweetness often verging on saccharine and the more serious moments being undercut by cringe-worthy pauses and that offbeat, quirky flavor some indie pictures love too much. The intentions are good and, though familiar, the story and its themes are presented with maturity, but overall, People Places Things is that awkward boat that’s mostly sunk, but still keeps bobbing above the surface for whatever unseen reason.

1.5/4

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The Last Five Years (2015), dir. Richard LaGravanese

Another night, another theatrical adaptation played out before the camera. This time, Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years gets the silver screen treatment with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan at the lead. While it, and its leads are certainly charming, I couldn’t say that I felt enthralled in the same way during Venus in Fur a night ago. The seemingly handheld cinematography often doesn’t work and it makes the staging feel slightly clumsy at times, but never fear, because Kendrick and Jordan carry the living hell out of this musical. Their energy and commitment is well above par, and it makes for enjoyable viewing when there are few breaks in between songs. The only slight that I have against the two is that sometimes they upstage the significance of the source material’s peculiar narrative structure through their solo numbers. Overall, the viewing experience felt like listening to an hour and a half long album, and I didn’t mind that too much.

2.5/4

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Weekend (2011), dir. Andrew Haigh

How long does it really take to make a connection with someone, and just how painful will it be when you have to let it go? These are just two of the ideas at the core of Weekend, a truthfully bittersweet drama about two men who struggle with the idea of making their one night stand something more meaningful. When the film isn’t very intelligently dealing with issues of being gay amongst heterosexual-dominant culture and modes of thought, it’s busy being a sensitive portrait of two contrasting individuals, both exhibiting differing levels of comfort with who they are, especially in mixed company. In short, Weekend is a testament to subtle naturalism, and every now and then, your heart will feel warm and cozy.

4/4

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Straight Outta Compton (2015), dir. F. Gary Gray

The songs of N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Ice Cube or any other artist featured in Straight Outta Compton would feel in place in most, if not all summer movies, but the film itself appropriately feels much like the often-sobering antithesis of what a summer movie is ‘supposed’ to be. Thanks to incredibly solid scripting and a fantastic cast across the board, the harsh realities are depicted in such a matter-of-fact manner that completely rejects the manipulative tendencies that many Hollywood flicks succumb to, all while never sacrificing its own raw power and emotion. Such a feeling is made perfectly clear in its opening scene. Thank god it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, at least, because it deserved much more than that.

3.5/4

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Diplomacy (2014), dir. Volker Schlöndorff

Calling all history nerds, those who crave character-driven dramas or perhaps those who simply enjoy good cinema. Based upon the French play of the same name by Cyril Gely, Diplomacy is set during the final days of Germany’s occupation of Paris and depicts Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling attempting to dissuade General Dietrich von Choltitz from following through on Hitler’s orders to destroy the city as the Allies advance. Featuring André Dussolier and Niels Arestrup as the two leads, the two take advantage of the strong screenplay from Gely and Schlöndorff and its scintillating dialogue to help propel a film that’s already surprisingly short. Clocking in at merely 83 minutes, the film, for the most part, rejects the temptation to delve further into the philosophical nature and issues of morality that the plot entails. Virtually none of the film is filler, preferring to plunge toward its known conclusion while using two strong performances to keep the audience entertained. Well, it works.

3.5/4

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Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015), dir. Kent Jones

Be forewarned; the title is a little misleading. Yes, the basis for this documentary is the weeklong interview that took place between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut and the 1966 book Truffaut published documenting those talks, but rarely does the film look into Truffaut, his career and his artistic stamp as a director. In fact, most of the information we hear about Truffaut is from Truffaut himself as Hitchcock asks him questions in archival audio files from the interview. Rather, the film uses the interview as a springboard to investigate Hitchcock as a director, his calculated style and his place in cinema while he was directing and where he stands now as a known auteur, which he wasn’t during his career – he was rather handcuffed and billed as an entertainer by the studios. Overall, it’s a fascinating look into an artist that most people probably know only on the surface as a master of suspense.

3.5/4

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The Two Faces of January (2014), dir. Hossein Amini

Speaking of Hitchcock, how about a film that revels in being Hitchcockian? Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, The Two Faces of January is one that would feel right at home in the master of suspense’s catalogue. The characters, the plot devices, the overall narrative arc and its themes all point to films from the director’s heyday in the ‘40s and ‘50s. It isn’t as stylish as Hitchcock’s films were, but it’s certainly beautiful to look at. For a majority of the film, each of the three protagonists appears more and more duplicitous as the film wears on. It’s an enjoyable watch, especially if you love thrillers of this caliber, but the pacing isn’t always consistent. An effective nod to classic suspense films, indeed.

3/4

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Girlhood (2015), dir. Céline Sciamma

2014 saw Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and now from Céline Sciamma, writer-director of Tomboy (2011), we have Girlhood, a familiar coming-of-age story done in a way you’ve never seen before. If there’s one word that completely reflects all that the film means to accomplish, it is ‘confinement.’ The confinements of peer pressure, and especially the confinements of patriarchal societal expectations as to how girls are supposed to act – just to name a few of importance – can be seen everywhere in this film (ex. mirrors), and the plot holding it all together is propelled powerfully by strong performances from Karidja Touré and the rest of the supporting cast. Aside from a third act not as compelling as the rest of the film, as well as being transitioned into very strangely, the story is beautifully told. There are a lot of French New Wave influences present, as well, and the film contains what might be my favorite shot from any film I’ve seen this month. Go watch Girlhood, but be sure to turn up the volume. It’s a little quiet.

3.5/4

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The Overnight (2015), dir. Patrick Kack-Brice

Normal sex comedies are defined by moments of awkward sexual encounters that never work out as the protagonists planned in their minds; The Overnight forgoes these sort of plot points in favor of sheer bizarreness. Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) have just moved to L.A. when kind stranger Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) invites them to dinner with he and his wife, Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). What begins as nice night in only gets weirder as Alex and Emily fall further down the rabbit hole Kurt and Charlotte create. The film clocks in at merely 78 minutes, which might sound short but feels appropriate given the direction that was taken and the relatively slower pace. The main cast does well, with Schwartzman feeling especially at home in his role as a new age jack-of-all-trades. The comedy is well written and delivered, but due to its spaced out structure, it doesn’t overshadow the script’s honest observations on keeping relationships fresh. This is the sort of film you should go for if you’re tired of seeing teenage boys try to lose their virginity.

3/4

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The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011), dir. Tom Six

F*ck off.

0/4

 

So, that’s it for January. 35 films is definitely more than I’ve ever watched in a single month, and I hope to keep the pace up. Anyway, I want to give you guys my personal top five films of the month. I am, however, going to exclude the films that are up for Oscar contention because, while I love most of them and they’d make the list in a heartbeat, there are other films on here that deserve some attention. I have a handful of honorable mentions, as well; I’ll try to keep those to three. So, without further adieu…

 

Honorable Mentions:

Best of Enemies, What We Do in the Shadows, and John Wick

 Top 5 Films of January:

  1. Venus in Fur
  2. How to Survive a Plague
  3. Weekend
  4. Güeros
  5. The One I Love

 

Cheers to the leap year! Here’s to 29 more days of Netflix streaming, and the W&M Global Film Festival coming later in the month!

Also, if you’d like a more detailed critique of that waste of space Human Centipede 2, message me in the comments below or on Facebook/Twitter (@wilhelmphoenix).

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