No critic enjoys year-end "best of" lists, but they seem like necessary parts of the job, at least for now. It personally helps me as a record of what I once thought was good... read on for what I loved watching this year, and please let me know if you agree or disagree.
The Film Forum pays tribute to Leos Carax's tribute to cinema in their re-release of his 1986 film Mauvais Sang, retitled for English audiences as both The Night is Young and Bad Blood (its literal translation). Carax makes a movie every five to ten years, so it would be a good idea to catch this one if you're a fan.
The New York Film Festival smartly kicked off its strong run of films this year alongside the start of its Jean-Luc Godard retrospective. Spanning his long, ongoing career, the retrospective anticipated Godard's newest film - a venture into 3D filmmaking - while returning to his both classics and less-known films. These weeks at Lincoln Center left me wanting more regular screenings of his films (and more audacity from contemporary filmmakers).
American sweetheart Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi give full-bodied, captivating performances in Paul Greengrass's latest suspense drama. Captain Phillips will leave you disturbed and anxious, but in a necessary way.
My most anticipated film of 2013 is finally here, and it is every bit as beautiful and moving as I expected. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an incredible performance, and Michael Fassbender completely gives himself over to a complex, difficult role. Filmmaker Steve McQueen has been a great recent cinematic force, and he continues to prove he is one of the more important, daring, and skilled directors working today.
I review James Franco's screen adaptation of the great William Faulkner novel As I Lay Dying. While not a great movie, it makes a strong case for the merits of adapting difficult literary works. This feature questions the notion of the "unfilmable" and defends ambitious filmmakers, of which Franco is an example.
I review Nicole Holofcenter's latest feature Enough Said, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. It is a wonderful exhibition of these actors' talents and a fine time at the movies. While not highly recommended, it will work to satisfy many tastes.
Make that 30 days 0 days, as a supplies run sets the scene for a wonderfully gross encounter with a slew of walkers. The season four premiere of The Walking Dead reminded me of what the show does best - and also what it ought to leave to better shows like the dearly departed Breaking Bad. Here are some brief reactions.
If you are going to see any movie in 3D this year, let it be Gravity. It is not just a film; it is an experience, and its full enjoyment depends on its 3D technology. Gravity is a science fiction disaster film set in space, but it also much more than that, which I explore in my review.
Paul Schrader's new film, The Canyons, smartly casts Lindsay Lohan and James Deen as its central trashy rich couple suffocating in a posh, Hollywood setting. It is a bad movie with a few redeeming qualities that might be worth a viewing for some though highly skippable for most.
I give three reviews of the recent number one movie in the country: Riddick. No matter how you look at it, Vin Diesel is a movie star, but that doesn't always mean something good. I here offer three takes, so you can decide for yourself which you believe and whether or not Riddick is for you.
There is so much to be said of Breaking Bad, the great drama that was brought to a close Sunday night. For now, I have these words to say about the finale, but I expect to be writing much, much more. I cannot let the best show on TV go that easily.
Granite State inches us closer to the impending showdown that will conclude the most beloved drama series since The Sopranos. Creator Vince Gilligan has said that next week's Breaking Bad finale will not leave any pieces dangling, adequately wrapping up five seasons of violence, deceit, menace, and gut-wrenching tension. I take a look at the ebbs and flows of this episode and what looks to be a conclusive, redeeming, but characteristically conflictive ending.
Here is my preview for the 51st New York Film Festival, to take place at the Walter Reade theater from September 27-October 13. If you live in New York and love movies, this is the place to be. The festival will be showing the newest films from the outstanding directors Steve McQueen, Coen brothers, Claire Denis, and Hayao Miyazaki, among many others.
Breaking Bad's latest episode is entitled "Ozymandias," after a Shelley poem about a man recalling his fallen empire. Here we see Walt lose all of what he has built: family, 80 million, a home, a drug business of the purest blue meth. The most devastating episode to date, this one had me shaken. I still managed to here write a few of my most immediate thoughts.
It looks like this is going to be a perfect eight-episode run of Breaking Bad. The narrative precision of "To'hajiilee" was astounding, as all the pieces simultaneously came together and fell apart. Handcuffs and Miranda rights don't amount to much when the Aryan brotherhood shows up to put things in perspective. Jesse and Walt finally part ways in the first place that had truly cemented their partnership. And more....
"Rabid Dog" is another great installment in the second half of Breaking Bad's conclusive fifth season. Thrilling, inventively shot, wonderfully narrated, it heightened the tension between its characters while putting to rest old hopes for peace. The end is nigh, and it won't come silently.
There were many confessions to be found in last night's brilliant Breaking Bad episode. Starting with Todd and ending with Saul, Breaking Bad's past came back to haunt the characters and send events spiraling. Here is my review of what happened in the most meta episode of the series.
2013 gave us two strong films that focused on the growing pains of young men. Fruitvale is clearly a more socially urgent film, as it is based on real life events, but The Spectacular Now also offers a sincere portrait of coming of age and the struggles of budding adulthood. Both are wonderfully acted and should, at least, be commended for their powerful lead performances.
Here are the shows I will be watching in the Fall television season. They include comedies on Fox and NBC, as well as the great dramas Homeland and Boardwalk Empire. There will also be some zombies. Meanwhile, I have the best of the best, Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad returned this past Sunday with its first of eight final episodes. "Blood Money" was a perfect installment in every single way. The best show on television is back, and I couldn't be happier. Here is my recap.
It is very sad when a show you like is cancelled. It is hard to know that the characters and stories you love to follow so much will be no more. However, it is even more painful when the series is only permitted one (just one!) season. Here are five of my favorite single-season series, including both comedies and dramas.
The 2013 nominees were announced, and I here list them as well as my choices to win and reasons why. Among my favorites for great TV with wonderful acting are Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Top of the Lake. Meanwhile, the standout comedies include Louie, Girls, and Enlightened.
The sixth season of the acclaimed drama Mad Men just premiered, and I here reflect on how it shed light on Don's relationship to his job as an ad writer and his relationship to his daughter. I focus on Don, Sally, and all the products that have stood in for the real relationships he missed.
In light of the very sad loss of actor James Gandolfini, I here briefly remember his great character Tony Soprano. Although I recall him well from his film roles, my strongest connection to Gandolfini is through his work on the Sopranos, which will be the focus of this ode.
Summer officially begins June 21st, but it's never too early to start preparing for the possible adventures to come during the summer months. For those on vacation and those stuck at home/school alike, these are some summer movies that will help you get your summer started.
Rains of Castamere (or The Red Wedding) of season three of Game of Thrones was a powerful episode that epitomized the show's perspective on the family bond and its relationship to political success and happiness - both often at opposite ends of the spectrum. I believe the episode is a testament to the series' general portrayal of humanitarian values as the cause of both tremendous grief and the strength for survival.
My review of The Kings of Summer, a sweet coming-of-age story set in the suburban woods. The highlight is Nick Offerman as a sarcastic and bitter - but well-meaning - father to the sensitive but charming young protagonist.
Last week, I attended the annual Columbia University Film Festival where Masters students showcase their work. With an audience of mostly friends, family and teachers, I felt a bit left out, which would have been okay if I also didn't at times feel left out of the film's subject matter, as well. There was, however, some promising work to be found.
In light of the impending release of the much anticipated Baz Luhrmann film The Great Gatsby, I return to my childhood to give a recommendation of 1996's Romeo+Juliet, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead male role. For my generation, it feels like a classic. Perhaps The Great Gatsby will have the same influence over the nine year-olds of today.
I give a list of the shows I will be watching starting now through the summer. Mad Men and Game of Thrones have already premiered, so I've been watching those. But there's still more to anticipate, especially Breaking Bad's final eight episodes.
I share some of my reactions to the two-hour premiere of Mad Men's sixth season. In a script by Matthew Weiner, "The Doorway" gave us Don on vacation, Don back to real life, Betty and the Francis household, Peggy being stern but successful at her new job, and Roger facing his mother's death.
What do Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, and Idris Elba all have in common? Along with seven other beautiful, talented men? They've never won an Academy Award for Best Actor. I would not be surprised if any of these ten actors were either nominated or awarded an Oscar within the next several years. Hopefully, I won't have given up on the silly award show by the time they make it.
I'm excited for many, many films in 2013. It promises to be a great year. Here I just name five of the ones I'm especially looking forward to, and I add several "honorable mentions" that, to be honest, on any other day, might have made the top five list. These include new work from directors Steve McQueen, Lars von Trier, Jeff Nichols, Sarah Polley, and Richard Linklater, with actors Michael Fassbender, Michael Shannon, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
In this feature, I list ten actors and actresses, under the age of 30, who have become magnets for me to go see a film. Some have already become stars, while others are still relatively under the radar. My favorite youngsters include Jennifer Lawrence, Elle Fanning, Michael B. Jordan, and, yes, Robert Pattinson.
I here list the television comedies and dramas I will be watching - and hopefully enjoying - over the next couple months. The best of 2013's winter television includes HBO's Girls, FX's Justified, and the return of AMC's The Walking Dead.
Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon.
Laughing with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and, oddly enough, The Mindy Project. And wondering how The Walking Dead is suddenly the best U.S. drama on television. Also, Masters of Sex is worth checking out.
Après Mai and 12 Years A Slave are two 2013 movies to watch, particularly if you like the work of Olivier Assayas or Steve McQueen. These days I have been consistently in the mood for Cary Grant. What happened to the Cary Grants of the world?