I really need to rewatch more movies. Yet again, a film I once dismissed as cheesy and tedious proves much more entertaining on a second visit. First, Conan the Barbarian went from being a bloody drag to a damn good time in my eyes, and now Tron, which I once considered fairly dull and lacking in dramatic impact, proves to be something more. It isn’t a flawless film–not by any means–but it makes computers cooler, more exciting, more abstractly beautiful, than they’ve ever been before or since.
I’m not going to say much about Borgman. By my rules, it’s a 2013 film, so I wouldn’t have to worry about factoring it into this year’s rankings or awards–and since I didn’t care for it, I wouldn’t have given it much, anyway. But it’s the kind of film I didn’t care for that I’m not going to categorically dismiss because…I can see why someone would like it. I’m willing to admit I might have just seen it on the wrong day (it was a rather stressful day, and certainly I’m only human), since this particular kind of nihilistic fable requires the right frame of mind to truly appreciate. But even then, it’s the kind of film which mostly just reminds you of better films.
Whatever Clint Eastwood is up to these days, it’s hard to deny that his recent track record has been shaky. Gran Torino was good and Invictus was fairly well-received, but Hereafter got mixed reviews at best, and J. Edgar was a mess, with a few strong scenes undermined by a clumsy script and some of the worst old-age makeup on record. Sadly, Jersey Boys isn’t much better, and as good as the Four Seasons’ vintage songs are, they can’t hide how bad the writing is, and as skilled as Eastwood is, he doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table.
I still haven’t reviewed this. Huh. Well, I’ll knock this one out quickly. Neighbors is a funny movie, and in a few choice moments, it’s legitimately thoughtful. It makes some lame choices which undermine its subversive quality, and Seth Rogen really needs to find a new shtick (hopefully The Interview will help with that), but on the whole, it’s still extremely enjoyable, and if nothing else, it proves Zac Efron can act when he wants to.
In 2011, I saw Kelly Reichardt’s minimalist Western Meek’s Cutoff and was, to put it mildly, affected. Without violence or any kind of overt dramatics, she created one of the bleakest, most despairing films I’ve ever seen. Night Moves is not on the same level as a film, but in its own right it’s an effective, contemplative thriller, and Reichardt only continues to prove her status as one of the great undersung voices of modern independent cinema.
Going to see Edge of Tomorrow, I saw a tide of teenage girls pouring out of The Night Before Our Stars (a special opening-night screening with plenty of bonus material featuring the stars and John Green, who wrote the source novel). I was glad I opted not to see the movie at the time (to put it mildly, I would have seemed out of place), but given the film’s high profile and strong reviews, I decided to give it a chance. And I’m glad I did. Despite its objective flaws, there’s enough emotional punch here that even I was pretty thoroughly moved by the end.