Monday, December 29, 2014

Pwaters' Top Ten of 2014!

2014: what a wackadoodle year for movies! I mean, we almost went to war over a Seth Rogen comedy! And speaking of comedy, we lost too many comedy giants this year: Harold Ramis, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Mike Nichols, Sid Caesar, god damn...the world just got a lot less funny. There were a lot of great movies this year though, even with the world of television and streaming services pretty much taking over in terms of exciting new storytelling possibilities (True Detective, Orange is the New Black, Fargo, Hannibal, Louie, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Walking Dead....and those are just the shows I've managed to catch up with!). I had a tough time picking my list this go-round, and I've swapped out the order and picks about 12 times over, but these 10 flicks have for whatever reason really stuck with me. So without further ado: here's my annual Top 10!

10. Chef
Dir. Jon Favreau

No other movie this year will make you hungrier than Chef, Jon Favreau's wonderful little indie flick that acts as his sort of break from giant blockbusters like Iron Man and the upcoming Jungle Book.  It's a little predictable and cheesy (both figuratively and literally), but still a wholly enjoyable father-son movie that works as both a quirky, fun family film and unadulterated food porn. Now I want a cuban sandwich.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pwaters' 2014 Movie Superlatives!

2014 is almost over! You know what that means...New Years resolutions that you quit on day 5, and also, BEST OF LISTS! Woo. Here are my movie superlatives for this crazy year of 2014, hope you enjoy!

BEST ACTOR - Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal has starred in some of my favorite underrated movies recently (Source CodeEnd of WatchPrisoners), and in Nightcrawler he adds to that list another under seen flick, with my now favorite performance of his.  Here he plays just-starting freelance videographer Lou Bloom, who captures graphic breaking crime stories on camera and sells the footage to a news outlet. The character is a thief and a complete sociopath and eventually starts to force his way into a position of power within the station. His manipulative, clinical, "straight" performance, even in front of truly horrific situations, was mesmerizing and disturbing. He's evil and personifies the worst of capitalism, but Gyllenhaal is fantastic and somehow makes it so you find yourself reluctantly comparing yourself to him. He's living out the American Dream through the eyes of a sociopath.

The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, Big Eyes, Unbroken Reviews

The Imitation Game
Dir. Morten Tyldum

Whether you knew it or not, WWII might have been won by a bunch of math nerds. The Imitation Game tells the true story of mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), an arrogant savant tasked with cracking a Nazi encryption machine called Enigma. Though his efforts are noble, his personality gets in the way of his work, alienating his co-workers, one-upping his boss, and gaining the suspicion of local law enforcement as being a Soviet spy, complicating matters in this race-against-the-clock thriller. Adding to the mix Turing's closeted homosexuality and Joan Clarke's (Keira Knightley) woman-in-a-man's-world position in Turing's team, the film is wrapped in multiple layers of meaning, and with a script as tightly woven and entertaining as this, The Imitation Game will definitely land in my Top Ten this year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mockingjay Part I, The Theory of Everything, Top Five, Wild Reviews

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
Dir. Francis Lawrence
Watch Trailer

The revolution has started. And its "mockingjay" is Katniss Everdeen. The penultimate film in the Hunger Games franchise begins with Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) suffering from PTSD after the recent events from the last film, Catching Fire, with her friend from the Games, Finnick (Sam Claflin) touting that he wishes everyone he loved was dead. Yeah, Mockingjay is a particularly dark film for a PG-13 "young adult" adaptation. Still a reluctant hero, Katniss has become a symbol of rebellion within the 12 Districts and is hiding out with the rebels organized by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore) while the outside world is heading towards an all-out war against the Capitol. The cast here is fantastic, and the tone is bleak - which pretty much falls in line with the other films. Although it has a stigma for being "YA," Mockingjay Part I, along with its predecessors, are rich sci-fi stories that deal with class warfare, murder, politics, and brings it together with memorable and likable characters. This is a solid first part of the finale and I look forward to seeing the ending!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Birdman, The Babadook, Citizenfour, Rosewater Reviews

Dir. Alejandro González Iñarritu
Watch Trailer

I always leave impressed when I see a movie shot (or seemingly shot) in one take. There's something about it that takes so much skill and dedication to pull off both behind and in front of the camera, it's almost like watching a ballerina dance around a stage, perfectly hitting every twirl and kick or whatever the heck they do, I don't know jack about the ballet. Alejandro González Iñarritu's latest film, Birdman, takes the "single shot" approach made popular from such films as Rope and Russian Ark and crafts a dark comedy/backstage drama/Hollywood satire around it, all while bringing Michael Keaton out of wherever he's been hiding all these years, giving him a solid role to chew on. The film is about washed up superhero actor Riggan Thompson (Keaton), who hopes a new, ambitious Broadway production will be the spark to revitalize his career. But when one of his lead actors is injured by a falling light, he hires the unpredictable, eccentric Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) to take his place, whose behavior could ruin the entire production, all while he has to deal with his resentful daughter (Emma Stone), a crazy girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), an ex-wife (Amy Ryan), and his personal existential crisis of forever being associated with "Birdman."

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