Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Counselor

Over the past decade, Ridley Scott has taken some heat for directing films that are visually impressive but lack narrative weight. Here, he teams up with famed novelist Cormac McCarthy, the writer of "The Road," "No Country For Old Men," and "Blood Meridian" who makes his screenwriting debut with The Counselor. But old habits die hard: this is a stylish movie filled with sexy people, fast cars, and sharp suits, and though the film's premise is strong, McCarthy and Scott get trapped under the weight of their own attempts to tell this story in the "coolest" possible way.

The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz



Thursday, October 17, 2013

12 Years A Slave

Experiencing problems in your life? Having trouble at work? Unlucky in love? Watch Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, and you'll have an entirely different perspective on what it means to endure tough times. McQueen's gut-wrenching rendering of Solomon Northrup's autobiography is one of the most unflinching looks at slavery ever committed to film, and a monumental performance from lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor commands our attention even as we desperately try to look away.

12 Years A Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch



Friday, October 11, 2013

Captain Phillips

In the opening moments of Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks' title character chats with his wife (Catherine Keener) about how tough it is for up-and-comers to get their captain's stripes compared to when he was coming up. "You gotta be strong to survive out there," he says, lamenting the competitive environment in which 50 guys interview for every open position. The mantra of being strong is one that appears many times throughout the film, and it applies both to Phillips - whose ship is hijacked by Somali pirates - and to the lead pirate as well, a constantly disenfranchised man desperate to complete the task he's assigned. Though it's based on a well-known true story, Captain Phillips is one of the most intense films of the year, and with stellar performances by the leads and excellent direction by Paul Greengrass, it's also one of the most profound.

Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gravity

With his 2006 film Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron proved himself as a master of crafting long continuous shots and punctuating them with unexpected and exciting action beats, all while telling a dense, thematically rich story. Seven years later, the director takes that skill set to its logical conclusion with Gravity, a space-set thriller which contains some of the most impressive cinematic visuals I've ever seen. But while the film is unquestionably a technical marvel, there's also a deep emotional core at the center of its story; perhaps Cuaron's most impressive feat here is finding the perfect balance of those two elements.

Gravity
Co-writer/Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney