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Wednesday
Dec 31 2014

Screener Adventures from American Snipers to British Painters (Pt. 2)

Previously...I shared brief thoughts about rewatches ofBig Hero,Grand Budapest,Babadookwell asThe HomesmanandSkeleton Twins.

What came next in the home-screening adventures,you ask?Here I am to answer.I haven't had as much time as I'd hope (aint that always the case) but I've been trying to cram movies in.Here are a handful of notes on movies from the screener stack.

AMERICAN SNIPER
Credit where credit is due: For once a Clint Eastwood movie is not filmed like its sinking into an inky black void where color is a total affront to sober intent.It turns out Tom Stern can make movies that take place in reasonably well lit places.Okay,okay,let's not get carried away.It's still largely colorless but this time there is daylight though the subject matter remains brutal.I'm not sure what to make of its dead-eyed killings which aren't filmed with any rah-rah glee that you'd think would accompany the movie's conservative America is #1 conservatism.Even its one note patriotism is presented rather than,I think,fully endorsed: Chris Kyle,very well played by Bradley Cooper though there isn't much in the way of an arc,memorably refuses to engage with any criticism and is all "God,Family,& Country"in each scene.But something about its very matter-of-fact presentation and inarticulate hero wore me down after awhile despite gripping action sequences.I have no idea how Oscar might respond but my hunch is it's either full hog or both sound nominations only a laLone Survivor.

Meryl's Insane Bankability Continues!Well done,diva.INTO THE WOODS
Reviewed by ranking its musical numbershere.It was the second time I'd seen it having watched it on a big screen originally.Weirdly I think the cinematography,which often looked too muddy and dark on the screen works a little better on a TV.But anyway...let's hear it for Disney for a great opening weekend.It's important that musicals do well so that we get more of them!Into the Woodswon not only the biggest opening weekend ever for a Broadway adaptation butthe biggest of Meryl Streep's career,as well.I imagine we'll continue to talk aboutInto the Woodsfor a while --  multipleOscar nominations coming-- so I'll let this be all for this post.

THE JUDGE
I already peed on thatherebut it keeps haunting me like bad trip flashbacks.Especially the dye job on Vera Farmiga who deserves better Hollywood,come on.Also that scene where RDJ is like superhero-lawyer and stops a bar fight with the power of his wily words!

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
A love letter from Tangiers & Detroit to all of you who recommended this movie throughout the year.Though I was once the type who would rush to anything vampiric,I'll readily admit that Hollywood's overuse of the bloodsuckers finally wore me out;I've been avoiding all such movies for years now.But I should have trusted Jim Jarmusch to come at it from an entirely different angle and I don't know how I missed that it was shot by Yorick Le Saux who won my silver medal for cinematography in 2010 forI Am Love.Detroit has never looked so beautifully haunted,Tilda and Tom couldn't have been a more exotically languid well-cultured pair,its slow moods weren't trying but contemplative,and the ending was pitch-perfect delayed gratification.

Excusez moi


MR TURNER
A surprise.If you only listen to this movie as opposed to watching it (which is what I sometimes do when The Boyfriend is watching TV) it sounds rather like a horror movie.I'm not kidding.There are alotof scary animalistic noises supposedly emanating from human people (not just Spall's famed grunt speak) and the score byGary Yershonmight be the creepiest outside ofUnder the Skinthis year.

P.S.Speaking of The Boyfriend...
This time of year chez moi he watches a ton of screeners since he doesn't go to many critics screenings with me.I usually don't watch carefully (having already seen them) and drift in and out as I'm working.He is unpredictable about movies.He lovedPrideandIda(as most sane people do),thoughtMr Turnerwas "good.well made"but clearly had no passion for it.Cried huge apartment-flooding puddles duringStill AliceandWild,and inexplicably H-A-T-E-D bothForce MajeureandA Most Violent Year(what the what???x 2).Finally,he was paying so little attention toLove is Strangethat I had to make him shut it off.That wonderful movie from Ira Sachs is too delicate for half-watching.It requires your full attention or that glorious final 15 minutes just won't resonate.

Have you ever learned something new about a movie you loved by catching only pieces of it or hearing it in the background?

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Reader Comments (16)

Eastwood allows much more ambivalence to come through in American Sniper than I'd expected - this is much more in the veign of his WWII movies than embarrassing jingoistic schlock like Heartbreak Ridge.I think it's a really interesting,complex film - it's probably the one that has most stuck in my mind in the last month.

Very funny observation re: Mr.Turner.I saw it from the second row at NYFF,and from that POV it was kind of a horror movie even while facing the screen.

I had a whole list of movies that I wanted to catch in theaters or on dvd/VOD before the end of the year,but visiting family and the holidays have totally blasted that all to pieces,so it's going to spill over into January.But I do love this last rush to try to get everything in.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

The Boyfriend correctly ignored Love Is Strange.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Funny you should ask!My mom was watching American Hustle this Christmas (odd choice indeed!) and while I was listening to the insane dialogue and the 70s score I felt I had to watch it again because I was loving it way more than the first time.

P.S.Love that 'Meryl by the numbers' link.Especially the adjusted for ticket price inflation list.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Actually,I almost hated Force Majeure,so I'd say that your boyfriend has pretty good taste.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Glad you loved Only Lovers.It's up there with Under the Skin and Ida as my favorite 2014 movies.I keep repeating those 3 titles like a mantra.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I know The Judge is a bad film and nearly every cast memebr is struggling bar Duvall,i would like to know Nat what you thought of him in it.

The b/f and I were watching Still Alice the other day and he of little actressy knowledge said out of the blue "She bugs me that Cate whatever always making these miserable films"only to be corrected that is was GOD and we had watched Far From Heaven on our first date 12 yrs ago.hope u like my b/f story too.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

I was rewatching Ida when my teen daughter came in and sat down.After a half hour,she got up and said as she left the room,"Does that chick do anything but stare?She's got dead eyes,like a shark."Wow.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I was watching Pride a second time at home recently,after seeing in a cinema a couple of months ago.In the cinema,I laughed a lot,and came out on a high.
While I was watching on TV I was listening while playing a game.I was hearing all these voices and what came through was the love - all the main characters seemed to be displaying so much of what love genuinely is.
Pride is a great film,it was uplifting both times in different ways.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I am dreading seeing Duvall getting in for "The Judge."Please members,consider Alfred Molina,Jamie Bell,Matthew Goode,Andrew Scott,John Hurt,Riz Ahmed,Tom Wilkinson,or anyone from "Grand Budapest Hotel."Duvall has never been hammier,and that was the worst movie I sat through all year.Absolutely inexcusable.OVER 2 HOURS OF MY LIFE WASTED.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Patryk -- i feel the same.but i think the problem is so few people realy campaigned that votes will be dispersed.My only hope now is a coattail surprise for TOM WILKINSON or CHRIS PINE (since their movies are hot right now) or JOSH BROLIN (since he's genius in the movie and maybe they'll watch it?)

December 31,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The toughest part of January is deciding which of the contenders in the "big 8"categories I can skip while still declaring myself an Oscar completist.There are so many movies I'd rather watch than American Sniper and The Judge.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'm kinda relieved you enjoyed OLLA as one of those that have been harping on about it....The performances and imagery really linger,and I think Tilda is more interesting here than GPH or SP...Although she has more to work with.

Is it safe now to start pushing for a NathanielR screening of Blue Ruin...?

This is the wrong threasd but I've been absolutely loving all the recent interviews!!

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrG

American Sniper is très weird,no?There's so much patriotic talk,but I *think* it was meant as an anti-war film.The wife is viewed sympathetically though the other characters who question the war aren't viewed so favorably.And then there's the audience reaction-- my audience,full of 20-something straight men,clapped wildly at the end of the movie...until that first bit of text in the credits appeared.They left the theater so confused.

As for realizing more about a film,I made my dad watch Land Ho!last night.Listening from afar as I did some work,I realized it was much more about just letting its characters just interact than about the journey in Iceland that they're on.Nobody's talking about this film and it is indeed very quiet itself,but I totally recommend it.It's now in Redbox.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

It's actually nice to hear that someone else hated Force Majeure.There is always that ONE foreign film EVERY YEAR that people gush about - and it is always the film I can never understand people liking.Just hated it!

Blue Ruin!I can't stop freaking out about how good this movie is!!!

December 31,2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavey

I did think Duvall's Oscar clip bathroom scene was too much.

December 31,2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Hate Force Majeure too!

December 31,2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

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