Yeah, my updates have been very sparse. Grad school has kept me crazy busy. Like I said before, I do still update my letterboxd account on a regular basis, mainly because there's less pressure to write well-thought-out reviews on there.
So this rundown will be a mix of re-posted.slightly refined letterboxd reviews and original thoughts. Let's waste no more time.
Riveting from start to finish. Brolin and Blunt are solid, but halfway
through, "Sicario" sneakily becomes the Benicio del Toro show, who gives
his best performance in years. A haunting, pointed film that
demonstrates to us why America's "war on drugs" will forever be
unwinnable and makes it undeniably clear as to who the real victims of
such a war are. Director Villenueve and DP Roger Deakins have teamed up
once again (after 2013's "Prisoners") and the results are electrifying.
The last 45 minutes, in particular, contains such a perfect combination
of acting, cinematography, editing, etc... cementing Sicario's status as
being one of the very best films of 2015.
Queen of Earth
A movie filled with ugly, mean-spirited, cruel, and hateful
characters... and I couldn't look away. For 90 minutes, "Queen of Earth"
plunges deep into the horrors of depression. This isn't merely a woman
on the verge of a nervous breakdown, instead you watch Elisabeth Moss's
character go through a slow, seemingly endless breakdown from beginning
to end. It's some pretty chilling, unnerving stuff. A horror movie where
the weapon of choice is barbed insults, insults that have the potential
to do just as much as damage as a knife or a sickle.
That first segment, in 1984, crackles. It's Aaron Sorkin at his best. Danny Boyle doing his best to stay out of the way. The performances are top notch and on point. It's some great, talky drama. Unfortunately, each subsequent segment is a retread of that first 1984 segment. The same arguments play out in almost exact same way. The same characters keep popping up, even when it seems like a stretch that they'd be there. The arguments they have suddenly have less drama or tension attached to them. Steve Jobs having the most important conversation of his life EVERY time he's about to give his big speech feels so overly contrived. Overall, "Steve Jobs" was a big dud for me.
We're starting to see a trend of big-time auteur-driven sci-fi films getting released in October/November every year. I, for one, am not complaining. I loved Gravity, thought Interstellar had a lot of great moments, and The Martian has proven to be Ridley Scott's best film in years. What stands out most about The Martian? It's not merely the visuals, it's the combination of humor, science, and close attention to character that really makes this movie work for me. Yes, it ends in a way that makes you wanna cheer. You'll go home with a smile on your face. It's popcorn entertainment through and through, but it's the type of popcorn entertainment that goes down smoothly and you don't feel all too sick afterwards. Watch this with family and you'll have a great time.
Man, Guillermo del Toro really walked the tightrope on this one. There
were so many times when I felt this could veer off into unsavory
territory, but damnit, he pulled it off. Mostly. Once I accepted that
the whole haunted mansion aspect was going to be more "spooky" than
downright scary, the movie really started taking off for me. It's really
hard to make a "gothic" movie these days, thanks to Tim Burton, but del
Toro really demonstrated that he can put his own stamp on the "gothic,
1800s-era" subgenre of horror.
Bridge of Spies
A masterfully made historical drama with just enough thrills to keep
you going from beginning to end. Tom Hanks may not be the most exciting
actor of our time, but like with "Captain Phillips," he once again
demonstrates why he's been such a revered actor for so long. Mark
Rylance also gives a powerful performance.
Naturally, expectations were high for me, especially when you have a
script co-written by the Coen Brothers with Spielberg (and DP Janusz
Kaminski) behind the camera. I'm happy to say those expectations were
met and then some. I wasn't surprised this turned out to be good, I was
surprised by how politically relevant this story is to modern times and
impressed that Spielberg acknowledged as much without turning Bridge of
Spies into a "message movie." On the surface, it's just a good
old-fashioned Hollywood drama, but as the story continues to unfold,
you'll find that America's decades-long "war of information" with Soviet
Russia isn't that much different than the "war on terror" that we
fought for the past 15 years.
This takes us up to mid-October.