Perfect 10: WHIPLASH, THE BABADOOK, TOP FIVE, EXODUS: GODS & KINGS, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, ST. VINCENT, KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS, BEYOND THE LIGHTS, THE HOMESMAN, and HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 Reviews

One hell of a motley crew.

One hell of a motley crew.

Dear God. I have never been this far behind. This is just like college.

Basically, I had an assload of reviews that I was way overdue on. I saw five movies this past weekend (it would’ve been six, but I decided Laggies could wait), and that when I had five other reviews waiting in the wings. It’s absurd. I don’t know how it’s gotten to this point. I’d assume being swamped with awards-season shit is a big part of it, but…

Way back in July, I posted my first article about starting to get burned out and needing to take some time off. I’ve never totally bounced back from that point. For every high point like my Interstellar review, there’ve been many times when I find myself not wanting to write or not really having enough to say. And the truth is, I could scrap the whole thing and the only fallout would be disappointment. But I don’t want to do that.

I’m going to have to work on a few things going forward. A greater sense of self-discipline (which has never been my strong suit), and, I think, a judicious application of the “work smarter, not harder” principle. Saving the long essays for the films that merit them. And when a film doesn’t inspire lengthy commentary, keep it concise. But keep it truthful. I feel I owe you that much for your time.

(NOTE: I’m publishing this now, with 3 of the reviews written. I’ll update it with each finished review, along with additional illustrations.)

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KNIGHT OF CUPS Trailer

Taking a quick break from the deluge of awards news to bring you what will probably be one of my top films of next year.

Malick will always have a weakness for pretty people taking long slow walks in fields or beaches or wherever, but it looks like he’s adding a nice little dose of crazy to the mix this time. Bring it on, Terrence.

All Across the Land: Chicago, Phoenix, St. Louis, Detroit, San Francisco, and San Diego Film Critics Nominations

I’ve got a personal connection to Chicago.

My family–well, my dad’s family–has been in Chicago for…at least 130 years. Probably closer to 150. Assuming I move there while my uncle still liveth, and assuming I live to a ripe old age, our family’s presence will span two centuries of Chicago history.

Chicago, for me, is the perfect combination of the Midwestern millieu I grew up in (I’m from Kansas) and the cosmopolitanism of, say, New York. It’s home to great theater, to some of my favorite restaurants, museums, and zoos; as a child, the CTA stoked my fascination with public transportation, as a man, it represents, for me, just about everything I would want from a city.

It was home to perhaps the most beloved film critic the world has ever, or will ever, know. Great films have been made there; great minds have been forged there. It is the home of my forebears, and God grant that it may be my home someday.

We have four more cities to tackle here, but since the option is here, let us first see what Chicago, prince of cities, birthplace of love itself, has to say.

(UPDATE: San Diego and St. Louis announced their winners today. I’ll bold the winners. I have no real commentary except…someone liked Nightcrawler.)

(UPDATE II: Now Phoenix has announced–just as I find out that there are actually two awards groups based in Phoenix!)

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Surge Review

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The 90s return.

I was not the best 90s kid. I never watched Ninja Turtles, very little Power Rangers or Nickelodeon (Cartoon Network was more my speed), didn’t give a shit about Pokémon, have hated “Who Let the Dogs Out?” since I first heard it…and I never drank Surge. Not to my knowledge, at least. And for years, it was the great lost soda of the 90s, a lamented relic of our collective youths–though supposedly Vault was pretty similar–until now.

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CITIZENFOUR Review – ****

CITIZENFOUR evokes the two ideological bogeymen of the modern world; one threatens a world without privacy, where one cannot speak or act freely, and the other threatens a world with no security, where lives are lost and terrorism runs rampant as society falls into chaos. It tells the story of a man, Edward Snowden, who sought to fight the former while risking the latter.

A security expert working for the NSA, he realized the scope and illegality of American surveillance programs, and went public, meeting in Hong Kong with documentarian Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald (and later Ewen MacAskill), whom he recruited to tell the story in an objective and ethical manner. Now wanted by the American authorities, he lives in Moscow (for now), and whatever one thinks of him and his actions, their importance is unquestioned, and the film tells this vital story in as sharp and uncompromising a manner as it deserves.

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Golden Globes Nominees!

Hanging on by a thread.

Hanging on by a thread.

And now it’s getting serious. The Globes have put forth their nominees, and I must say, we’ve got a couple of surprises–and yet, it’s kind of clear where things are heading. Kind of.

I’m only going to cover the film awards. The TV awards will be shows I don’t watch competing against shows I don’t watch. (And reading over them, I occasionally wonder, “That show is still on?”)

(NOTE: I intended to include more illustrations, but owing to computer trouble, could not do so.)

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