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Count Down 100 Movies from 2013 (Multiple users) Tele page 20

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Hello friends. A few weeks ago, while not studying for finals, I did some calculations and realized I had seen over 80 films released in 2013. I don't know if I'll get a chance to see this many films in a year again, so I knew I wanted to formalize my thoughts on all of them and maybe even count them down and create a list of 2013 in film in order of my preference. I also knew that if I started this list I would force myself to get to 100 movies because I like big round numbers. Getting there wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and WOLF OF WALL STREET (which I saw earlier today) was my hundredth film.

Note #1: I feel I should mention this upfront: this was a revelatory year in cinema for me. There were so many good movies. More than that, it's been a year of strength in depth, full of movies exploring different facets and styles of filmmaking and storytelling. Truly individual voices have expressed themselves in films this year.

Note #2: There were hundreds of movies released this year. I've seen one hundred. This is because I only see movies I think I'll enjoy or get something out of and life is too short to see THE INTERNSHIP. You also won't find some films I really did want to try but couldn't because for whatever reason I couldn't see them: THE COUNSELOR, SHORT TERM 12, THE WIND RISES, KILL YOUR DARLINGS, THE PAST, and probably a lot more. But I still feel like my list is an accurate representation of the year that was.

Note #3: The list is designed as a countdown from bad to good, but on a more precise level the rankings are essentially arbitrary. I probably don't really think of CHOCOLATE TREES as better than THE DEVIL AND ARTHUR BANSHEE if I have the former at #70 and the latter at #71, because they are entirely different films with differing levels of success (presumably, as I made those movies up). But we as humans like ranking things. It makes life easier.

So without further ado...


"We're going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu."

This is NOT my least favorite film of 2013. That would be implying I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it, which is not the case for this animated comedy about time-traveling turkeys. The film is so uniquely awful that labeling it the “Worst Film of 2013” is a justifiable reward. I haven’t seen anything this fascinatingly terrible since THE ROOM, so I must congratulate Jimmy Hayward and the entire creative team on a job well/horribly done. Wrestling with this film has utterly consumed me. I saw it on what was essentially a dare, telling my friend on a lazy Friday afternoon that there was no chance I could sit through what looked like the worst animated movie ever made. A little while later, we were laughing our asses off as the film gradually lost any sense of its heightened reality and descended into bizarre non sequiturs and what must have been unfinished computer animation. FREE BIRDS is so endearingly racist that it equivocates the plight of the Native Americans against the Plymouth settlers with that of brainless, flightless birds. I love the negligence of this film almost as much as its absurdity.

#99: MOVIE 43

“Hello, 9-1-1? My friend is bleeding out of her vagina!” *cue laughter*

This is my least favorite film of the year, but I won’t even give it the satisfaction of calling it the “Worst Film of 2013.” You see, I think the lynchpins for this piece of shit wanted to make the worst film of the year. It was very likely designed to be bad, as the conceit of Dennis Quaid forcing a studio executive to buy his inane pitches is predicated on the most stupid, offensive humor possible. The only thing MOVIE 43 offends is comedy. Each pitch is a one-note joke stretched into the entire film and brought to life by a cast of well-known actors making fools of themselves for no money or amusement. How nauseatingly dull is MOVIE 43? In one sketch, Kate Winslet goes on a date with Hugh Jackman and her character wonders why Jackman’s character is single. He removes his scarf to reveal he has testicles hanging from his neck. This one joke goes on for six more minutes. And THIS IS THE FUNNIEST SKETCH IN THE WHOLE DAMN FILM.


‘You have to do this. He ruined my life. I have nothing. I am nothing. I want it done as soon as possible. ThenI will forget. I will begin my life. And I will forget that I ever met you.”

If Niels Arden Oplev’s crime thriller took itself a little less seriously—maybe if J.H. Wyman’s script acknowledged how batshit stupid its premise was—then I wouldn’t have minded it as much and would’ve forgotten about the whole endeavor more quickly. Unfortunately, every moment in this dark, brooding mess is underlined with some kind of symbolism or importance that is never discernible to the viewer. This is what makes 117 minutes at the movies feel like six hours. DEAD MAN DOWN is the emptiest, most clichéd and most unnecessarily convoluted film of the year.


“People like you don’t have friends.”

Moronic characters, ridiculous situations and over-reliance on mean humor weigh down plenty of Hollywood comedies. So why is IDENTITY THIEF special? It isn’t really, except that it squanders the immense comedic talents of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. The director of THE KING OF KONG is no more: between this and the marginally funnier HORRIBLE BOSSES, Seth Gordon’s new forte is comedies that make me want to hate actors that I like.


"At no time will you be anywhere other than exactly where I want you to be. So come close, get all over me because the closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see."

You need to see this movie to believe it. The story of a rag-tag group of magicians reaches almost unprecedented stupidity for a star-studded theatrical release. Leterrier keeps the camera in constant, dizzying motion, literally proving how that the closer you look, the less you actually see. So few fucks are given in this film—especially when the last twist is revealed—that I’m utterly amazed that so much talent was involved with a product so bad.


“Fee fi fo fum. Ask not whence the thunder comes. For between Heaven and Earth is a perilous place. Home to a fearsome giant race.”

Some films misfire on epic proportions because the filmmaker held onto the project too long and too tightly: Baz Lurhmann with AUSTRALIA, Andrew Stanton with JOHN CARTER, George Lucas with, well, you know. JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is not one of those films. From what I vaguely remember seeing in this $200 million fantasy adventure, nobody from Bryan Singer to the performers to the VFX designers must have given a damn about this project. It’s a dull, predictable cash-in on the recent large-scale storybook adaptation trend that not even a mustache-twirling Stanley Tucci can save.


“Earth's wealthiest inhabitants fled the planet to preserve their way of life.”

This ranking pains me. Neill Blomkamp’s feature film debut DISTRICT 9 is a fun, smart summer movie, and his second film, a big-budget science fiction thriller with Matt Damon(!), was one of my most anticipated films of the year. Unfortunately, by the end of ELYSIUM, even the film’s overwrought message on universal healthcare falls apart. Of course none of the 1% who live on Elysium were empathetic enough to provide any meaningful health care to the billions left on Earth. Of course it was Damon's character's destiny to change the world, even if he's an asshole until the final ten minutes of the film. ELYSIUM is a dismal movie and such a step down from DISTRICT 9 that Blomkamp shouldn’t be allowed to direct his own scripts anymore. Even Sharpio Copley's crazy villain isn't fun because like every character, there's no motivation behind him- we don't even understand why he's associated with or interested in Elysium in the first place. Blomkamp introduces his audience to a lot and leaves even more unfinished, rendering this mess the most frustrating film of the summer. Even the action, shiny as it may be, is borderline impossible to follow.


"What's the secret of getting in? I can't tell you. You'll have to find out for yourself."

I fell asleep for 20 minutes somewhere in this. I don't think I missed anything. Can Tina Fey only star in movies that she writes? Please?



Yeah. This movie. With 2009's STAR TREK, JJ Abrams was able to work past script flaws and create memorable takes on classic characters, killer action sequences and a timeline that paid tribute to the original TREK series while allowing itself to branch off and tell new, original stories. What do Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof do in the sequel? Bastardize THE WRATH OF KHAN by retreading the same lines andscenes with no understanding of the original moments, bludgeon the audience with pointless violence, and provide no substantial material for Cumberbatch or the rest of the ensemble to work with. It's pretty to look at, the score is nice, and Abrams can still shoot an action sequence. The script reaches TRANSFORMERS-levels of ineptitude.


"It takes fifteen minutes for your armed forces to reach the white house. We took it down in thirteen."

I'm starting to get depressed writing this list. I keep telling myself that it's literally getting better by the film. I'll give OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN this: the film is unabashedly what it wants to be, which is DIE HARD in the White House. The explosions you love, but with more, y'know, America. And Gerard Butler (the only guy who seems to know what movie he's in) is abetter John McClane than the current John McClane. The rest of the endeavor,however, is boring, ugly, stupid, and only spontaneously fun. Watching hundreds of DC civilians be bloodily shot down by North Korean planes is about as thrilling as it sounds.

I'm going to post sets of ten films over the next nine days until I get to my final top ten movies of the year.

Edited by Gopher
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YOUR LIST DESERVES ALL CREDIBILITY BECAUSE YOU INCLUDED THE STEAMING PILEOF CRAP OF FREE BIRDS IN #100. It is probably in the 20 worst films I have ever seen though my 3rd worse this year as harry hill and guilt trip were so bad I couldn't finish those movies

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This is a great thread Gopher.  I will obviously disagree with many of your choices, but I'm fascinated to read your thoughts on these 100 films.  I'm looking forward to reading about every film you have seen.  And just for fun, after you are finished this list, I'm going to do a list of my own and post it here.  Seeing as we do like many of the same films this year, while still disagreeing on many films, it'll be interesting to see the juxtapostion througout. 

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Note #1: I feel I should mention this upfront: this was a revelatory year in cinema for me. There were so many good movies. More than that, it's been a year of strength in depth, full of movies exploring different facets and styles of filmmaking and storytelling. Truly individual voices have expressed themselves in films this year. 

AMEN! This is one of the best years in films for such a long time. My entire top 10 may end up consisting of films that could have been in my top 3 on even a strong year.


Also, I agree that Elysium/STID are huge letdowns, and Admission is boring (but I wouldn't rank it that low. Hell, I forgot I even saw it, hence its absence on my list of 2013 films)  :lol:

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 "12 million people have seen that video. You still want to tell me you think it's just a little website?"

We've already touched on a Cumberbatch performance let down by an underwritten script. Here's another. Bill Condon never gets a grip in this film on what he wants to say about Julian Assange or Wikileaks, or if he wants to say anything about them at all. As a result, he and screenwriter Josh Singer fall into all the tropes you would expect of a clumsy biopic. Every line in this film feels as obvious and blindingly simplified as the above quote. 



“It’s just that I think he’s kinda hot.”

SUPERMAN RETURNS gave us a weak Superman who never even punched Lex Luthor. Warner Bros decided to correct that... maybe a bit too much. In the latest reboot from "visionary director" Zack Snyder, Superman punches a bad guy for what feels like hours while Metropolis is destroyed, ash is raining from the sky, and hundreds of thousands of its citizens are dying. If you thought Superman was the appropriate venue for 9/11 comparisons, then this film is for you. Turns out an ultra-realistic, dark, brooding Superman is exactly as sad and unsettling as it sounds. Thanks to Snyder's endless action sequences (filmed with a handheld aesthetic, no less!) and David Goyer's convoluted plot and awkward dialogue, MAN OF STEEL is one of the most frustrating superhero films I have ever seen.



"When we get together, bad things happen and people get hurt."

"Yeah, but that's the point! It's funny!"

Can I give Todd Phillips credit for trying something different? For listening to the criticisms many had of the repetitive nature of the second film? Or should I fault him for making an utterly disposable comedy with few actual attempts at jokes and memorable only for horrific scenes involving animal cruelty? I'm leaning towards the latter. 



"You know, they call it a waterboard... but I never get bored!"

I thought with Jon Chu in and Stephen Sommers out that this franchise might get more inventive with its action setpieces. Turns out, the film was no more jolting, derivative and jingoistic than the first movie. Even the new editions felt old: The Rock continues to give the same performance he gives in every action sequel, and Bruce Willis continues to not give a shit (so long as he gets his millions). The scene with the ninja attack on the mountains was pretty memorable, though.



"Hi-yo, Silver… away!” 

“Don’t ever do that again.”

I’ll hand it to Gore Verbinski: he’s still one of the best directors in Hollywood when it comes to staging action scenes. The movie ends with a 20-minute train setpiece that is hilarious, inventive, and indicative of a far superior film that I had been watching for the previous two hours. Pretty much every choice that screenwriters Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe make is unwise: they seem so ashamed of the uncompromising heroism of the Lone Ranger that they try desperately to “reinvent” the character at every turn and resultantly create an unidentifiable protagonist. And the sooner we can forget Johnny Depp’s Tonto, the better.



"Everything's gonna be fine? Nothing's fine. I don't know if you noticed this, but... everything's been getting worse... every second."

Gory /=/ scary. In fact, that dissonance plagues most of this forgettable remake, as first-time director Fede Alvarez seems to be going for a different tone than all of the homages to the 1981 original would suggest. I was impressed from a practical FX perspective, as well as from some of the performances; otherwise, not enough of the violence in this film is actually enjoyable.



"I asked my son if he wanted Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber or Mandy Patinkin to perform at his party, but he asked for you." 

WONDERSTONE doesn’t squander as much talent as some other comediesI’ve already listed here, but a movie about magicians with Steve Carell, Steve Bushemi, Jim Carrey and Olivia Wilde should really have more than a handful of legitimate laughs. The most notable aspect of the film is that James Gandolifini had a supporting part and aside from IN THE LOOP he rarely took comedic roles. I really liked how much he took advantage of his limited screentime, and the above quote he delivered was my favorite joke in the whole film.


#83: 2 GUNS 

"You never heard the saying, never rob a bank across from a diner with the best donuts in three counties?"

Apparently I saw this film, but all I remember is Denzel Washington winking and the above quote. But both of those were in the trailer, so I wasn’t convinced that I saw 2 GUNS until I found the ticket stub in my wallet. It was sitting next to a Men’s Warehouse receipt from last May and a wrapped stick of gum. I really have to clean out my wallet. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. 2 GUNS. Don't see it.



"His flesh is weak now." 

I'm not sure how well the X-MEN films are working for me. I didn’t think this was a good film, and yet it's still the third best in the entire franchise. I appreciate director James Mangold going for something new for a superhero film, and I think he gets the Japanese setting and tone right. But seriously, my kingdom for a good screenplay. There's way too much romantic melodrama in this samurai movie for a relationship that is never organic or believable (I'm talking about Mariko- the Jean Grey dream sequences are actually effective). The third act blows the whole movie up and resultantly THE WOLVERINE loses its remaining goodwill. With the exception of its tie-in to next year's DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, I don't expect this film to be remembered so strongly.



"The only person you've got fooled is yourself."

It was interesting to watch Sam Raimi work within the confines of what is essentially a Disney theme park ride. His fingerprints are all over the movie, from camera angles to ugly prosthetics (Rachel Weitz at the end of the movie looks like something right out of Army of Darkness), and the third act goes off the rails in a pleasantly frantic way. Sadly, he can't save his own film: the plot and dialogue are deathly predictable, and the lead performances are distractingly bad, including James Franco's. Perhaps this endeavor was another Franco artistic experiment, as he laughs and grins as he wanders through Oz like he cannot believe he's acting in front of a green screen. So much of the film feels produced- the wisecracking monkey (a decision Disney chairman Alan Horn fed to Raimi himself) is just the most obvious example- that I was never surprised by anything, nor did I care about Franco's Oz character or any of the other one-dimensional characters.

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So far of the twenty films mentioned I've seen STID, Oz and MOS. Trek I liked when I first watched it though what actually happened in the film is fading from memory. Oz is becoming one of those background films. Nothing else is on so while you're cleaning the house you have it on. As for MOS, it's either a love or hate film. I've gone with the former

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Hey hey hey, two parts in one day!



"To serving our country." 

Perhaps it's because I prefer the unhinged Lee Daniels who gave us the ludicrous and delightful THE PAPERBOY. Perhaps it's because the president cameos here feel more like stunts than anything actually integrated into the film's world (although Alan Rickman can do a shockingly good Reagan). Perhaps it's because the more interesting story in THE BUTLER has nothing to do with the White House, but rather Cecil's son, who becomes involved in seemingly every landmark civil rights event in the 1960s. But this ultimately didn't work for me. There's so much contrived melodrama throughout the film, when in reality the subject matter is strong enough to stand for itself. The most enjoyment I got out of the movie was through its title, which added the director's name to avoid copyright charges from Warner Bros. When I grow up, I want to be Lee Daniels' butler. 



"Well, thief! I smell you, I hear your breath, I feel your air. Where are you?"

The key difference between SMAUG and the tedious AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY was that I constantly saw the potential in this sequel. Somewhere in this film is a tight, effective action vehicle that delves into the same themes of power and corruption LORD OF THE RINGS reveled in. And yes, the production value is impressive (even if Jackson overrelies on CGI) and the fatal scene between Bilbo and Cumberbatch's Smaug is one to remember. But sadly enough, these movies still feel like busywork. You could blame the fact that this is a part of a larger story and that the film has no real beginning or end, but seriously, there's no actual humanity or storytelling to these characters. I didn't care about Bilbo--neither did the film, apparently--or Gandalf or the elves who captured my attention in LOTR. Even the best action sequences are immediately undermined by a lack of any meaningful purpose emotionally or narratively. In some ways, this is a more disappointing installment than the first one, filled to the brim with Peter Jackson's patented bloat. And yet somehow I'll return to Middle Earth for THERE AND BACK AGAIN. I don't know why.


"Fuck off, real-life Flanders."

There's probably a solid 40 minute comedy somewhere this 110 minute movie, which for the sake of excess (or just reaching a feature-length runtime) feels drawn out more than humanly possible. This makes Rawson Marshall Thurber's film better than the worst comedies of the year, because with MiLLERS there was at least a conceptual attempt at something funny, even if the execution was hit-or-miss. 


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#77: TRANCE 

"No piece of art is worth a human life." 

Think of INCEPTION without the central Dom/Mal relationship and that's what TRANCE feels like almost all the time. I spend so much time questioning the allegiances of James McAvoy's art auctioneer or Rosario Dawson's hypnotherapist because they never had clear character goals: as a result, Danny Boyle's constant trickery got boring very early. When it's impossible to connect with characters and story, well, you're pretty much done. 



"I write on water what I dare not say." 

Hello Terrence-- I'm not sure what you saw in Ben Affleck for the lead role in your movie. If you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of dialogue in your recent films, and instead there are a lot of people thinking while walking on pretty things. Which has mostly worked out for you, don't get me wrong, and your new film is still pretty and contemplative and stuff. But Ben Affleck... I love the dude. Who doesn't? But among successful actors, he's literally the least physically expressive. You must have noticed this at some point. His emotionless visage brings down most of whatever you had going on in what felt like a less inspired B-side to your amazing THE TREE OF LIFE. --Forever yours, Russell


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"Daddy, what's going on?" 

I admire the hell out of ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW from a production perspective. The film crew shot most scenes on location at Disney World and Disneyland without permission. Considering the legal ramifications and the film's negative, surrealist depiction of Disney, the fact that the film was released to the public is by itself astounding. And ESCAPE does start off effectively, thumbing its nose at corporate power and promising its viewers insanity on a rapidly increasing level. We kind of get that, but the whole enterprise sort of dissolves into a poorly scripted David Lynch knockoff. Considering the hype from Sundance, I was left disappointed. 



"I wanna rob." 

A wide number of 2013 releases have poked holes at the windy notion of the "American Dream" by reveling in excess and privilege. And while Sofia Coppola is such a talent that she probably couldn't make an actual "bad" film, BLING RING is probably the worst in her filmography. The first 20 minutes felt engaging and meaningful, but the rest of the film essentially repeats those first few points an awful lot. Still, I like Emma Watson in this. And in most other movies. And as an actual person. 



"Get... your... hands... off... my Jordans!"

Of the two "White House gets blown up" movies this year, this wasn't exactly a very good or memorable blockbuster (namely because it felt three hours long) but it was head and shoulders above OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN in both finesse and fun. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx didn't actually have many scenes together, but when they did, their chemistry was palpable. 


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"Some believe that before the universe, there was nothing. They're wrong. There was darkness." 

Is THOR: THE DARK WORLD a good movie? Not really. The actual story is so arbitrary and uninvolving that Alan Taylor literally throws physics out the window in order to provide audiences with a satisfying (if nonsensical) finale. Not to mention its cinematography is so digital and airy that nobody in the film looks like a human. But is THOR 2 an entertaining movie? Once Thor's adopted brother Loki is re-introduced, sure. I wasn't a fan of Kenneth Branagh's THOR, which much like IRON MAN 2 felt like a film Marvel used to set the stage for THE AVENGERS and resultantly took much-needed screentime away from the actual story. However, I really enjoyed the Thor/Loki relationship, and in the sequel they added as much of Loki as possible to a story that had almost nothing to do with him. Not only that, but they shook up the whole dynamic post-AVENGERS and wisely positioned him as one of the good guys. Or not. I hope Tom Hiddleston sticks around for the rest of this Marvel business, even if I really don't want another THOR movie. 



"I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I mean, we're all dead. This girl is dead. That guy is dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead. Jesus, these guys look awful."

The most frustrating aspect of this "zom-com" (See what I did there? HAHAHAHA! Man, I'm clever. Giving myself a high-five right now. Right between these last two sentences. It felt more like an awkward clap, but that's okay, I'm still awesome. That's what the voices in my head keep telling me. Somebody please appreciate me. I'm cold. It's dark in here and they're eating my soul) is how the writers come up with the excellent premise of zombies gaining human emotion by eating brains, but they don't take the premise nearly far enough. The film relies on an unimaginative Romeo/Juliet homage mixed in with generic CGI villains because the stakes have to be higher. Still, I've seen worse February movies.



"Every day I wake up thinking today's the day I'm gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so. And then we can ride off to somewhere. Somewhere far away."

David Lowery's debut feature is so full of other directors' styles that it has no identity of its own. Which is too bad, because there's some great stuff in this crime drama (including the title), including the score, the almost distractingly beautiful cinematography and a tactful performance by Casey Affleck. But every edit and shot selection feels pulled from a Terrence Malick movie, as does Rooney Mara wandering though goddamned sun-dappled fields of wheat. Granted, Lowery made a slightly better Malick film this year than Malick, but it's not original enough for me to remember.



"What we didn't know was that our world was about to come to an end. And there were no rules on our cave walls to prepare us for that."

Sorry. I wanted a sexier title for this ranking. But here feels right for THE CROODS, a perfectly average cartoon memorable only for its somewhat ugly character animation and a great voice performance by Nicolas Cage. The actor hasn't been clogging up the movies for the past few years, and that's a real shame, because we're overdue for another iconic Cage performance. God, I love Nicolas Cage. What was I talking about? Oh, THE CROODS. Uh-huh. Nothing else to say here. 


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"Time to meet the devil." 

As a sharp right turn from DRIVE and a push-back to his PUSHER trilogy roots, ONLY GOD FORGIVES feels like Nicolas Winding Refn shooing away his newfound mainstream success and to go as dark, ugly and gory as possible. Yes, Ryan Gosling is once again his star, but instead of the emasculated man's fantasy he played in DRIVE, here he plays the emasculated man, seemingly tormented by his mother and his brother's murderer. It's a deeply uncomfortable tone poem that, with the exception of some incredible cinematography and scoring, seems uninterested in pleasing its audience on any thematic or visceral level. Yet there's something inside this film. It's hard to explain. Maybe I should rewatch it, but I don't really want to. 



"Mother Nature's a serial killer. No one's better. More creative. Like all serial killers, she can't help but the urge to want to get caught."

I'll blame my incredibly low expectations, but I enjoyed more of Marc Forster's zombie epic that I thought I would. Sure, the plotting of how Brad Pitt and friends handle the outbreak feels very much like a video game, the hoards of CGI zombies sometimes look laughable, and one particular scene in Jerusalem threatens to unravel the film altogether. However, Pitt is a surprisingly capable action hero, and his final attempt to stop the virus features one of the most thrilling setpieces of the year. "Not terrible" isn't usually a compliment, but considering WWZ's hugely torturous production history, I'd call "not terrible" a victory. 



"Motor boating. Uncle Andy has a boat, that should be easy."

I've never seen an R-rated sex comedy about the study of disgusting activities that felt so quaint. Maggie Carey's film shares more with ADVENTURELAND than SUPERBAD, serving itself primarily as a 90s nostalgia film and a sweet coming of age story. The comedy isn't particularly great, but I'm still glad this film exists.



"We had a dream that we would always be best friends."

Imagine growing up during the nuclear panic of the 1960s and that’s what the titular girls of Sally Potter’s film are emotionally wrestling with on a daily basis. This is a small story that doesn't necessarily expand well to a feature-length film, but it's worth seeing just to watch a few great scenes with Elle Fanning's Ginger acting opposite her mother, played by Christina Hendricks. Usually these sorts of mother-daughter arguments feel whiny and inauthentic, but here they feel genuine and emotional.



"How are you sheriff?" "Old." 

In Schwarzenegger’s first starring role since leaving politics, the actor may never have been this stiff and inhuman before. But Arnie's charisma remains, and by THE LAST STAND's final brutal fistfight on a bridge, I felt like the guy was back in semi-full form. This movie is pretty funny, very light, incredibly violent, fairly disposable, and probably worth the admission price, at least in the desolate month of January. 


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"Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?"

I miss the old David O. Russell. Films like THREE KINGS and I HEART HUCKABEES felt authentic in their nuttiness. THE FIGHTER and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, though they were plenty entertaining and featured some great performances, felt like fine, accessible, Oscar-bait movies. I haven't held on to them the same way. HUSTLE is the same--Christian Bale creates a character just through motions and speech patterns, and like nine other men this year, he deserves a Best Actor trophy for his work. As for the rest? It may be apt that a film about con men creating their world feels phony itself, but here, Russell seems to be at his most detached. The film's fictionalized take on the ABSCAM operation feels sprawling and unfocused, filled with awkward tonal shifts and character scenes that ramble on so long the effect of great individual moments are lost. Weirdly enough, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence both felt horribly miscast to me. They're acting at about a 9 when the rest of the ensemble is playing at a 6 most of the time. 



"Thousands of years ago, early man gathered around the fire, developing the myths that define our culture. So we sit at the table, building heroes, seeing through them ourselves."

In a culture where the "geek" is now a mainstream commodity, Andrew Matthews and Katie Graham have created a film that seems to be the first piece of entertainment since FREAKS AND GEEKS that understands what being a serious nerd is about. Scott, an overweight geek who lives with his grandmother and hosts Dungeons & Dragons games in his kitchen, gets his world turns upside down when a hipster nerd enters his group and challenges his authority. There's a ton of cringe humor in this film involving Scott pissing off his closest friends and family--this is not a "likable" character by any stretch--which makes the comedy a hard sit for the most part. However, much like FREAKS AND GEEKS, the ending feels truthful to Scott's journey in the film. It doesn't end all that happily, but in some ways it's more uplifting than a conclusion in which everything works out. It's the one aspect of the film that took me by surprise. 



"Those are not your whales. Ya know, you love them, and you think, I'm the one that touches them, feeds them, keeps them alive, gives them the care that they need. They're NOT your whales. They own them!"

BLACKFISH has convinced me to never go back to SeaWorld. This is a powerful film that focuses on the mistreatment of orcas in certain marine mammal parks as described by five former SeaWorld trainers, and offers a peek behind the curtain that absolutely needed to be shown to the public. As far as documentary filmmaking goes, I do wish they addressed the fact that these trainers at SeaWorld were at some point in time complicit in acts that hurt the orcas, which could have been solved in the filmmakers asked why they didn't take any more immediate action. Otherwise, if you like whales, this movie will make you bawl.

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