5 - 1
If Steven Spielberg were an up and coming filmmaker working in today’s cutthroat market, this would be his breakout, a showcase for the aesthetic of holding back on the “wow” factor while working to deliver both poignancy and character. Naturally, Gareth Edwards was criticized by some for not delivering the Summer season spectacle right up front, but anyone who saw his first film, Monsters, knew this wasn’t going to be some Michael Bay Jr. production. By treating the Toho titan with reverence and respect, we wound up with a terrific update of the old man-in-suit methodology, except this time, the terror is legitimate, not laughable. (Full Review)
This is about as close as we will ever get to seeing Alejandro Jodorowsky’s vision for Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic put on film. Utilizing interviews with the still-living members of the director’s handpicked “spirit warriors” and going a long, long way to proving his mandate for “a movie as prophet”, this definitive documentary leaves no stone unturned. From some surreal casting choices (Salvador Dali? David Carradine?) to the amazing ambition of the F/X crew (some of the stuff they wanted to do would be hard to achieve even by today’s CG-heavy standards), it’s all information overload, conflicting personalities, endless possibilities, and “what-if” wonderment. (Full Review)
The fact that we are even getting a chance to see Bong Joon-ho dystopian parable in its original form is reason enough to celebrate this otherwise fascinating slice of speculative fiction. Originally, distributor Harvey Weinstein wanted the traditional “20 minutes” cut from the movie, as well as the inclusion of narration and insert titles to help “the people in Peoria” understand this supposedly confusion story. In reality, it was just more manipulation from a man known for same. Bong’s “us vs. them” saga of a post-apocalyptic train filled with class-ranked survivors is obvious in its narrative and surprisingly dense in its imagery. (Full Review)
So far, not a single Summer blockbuster—not a singe one—can match the action sequences and fight scenes in Gareth Evans amazing sequel to his hit martial arts movie. Taking a more laid back approach to the plotline (we called it “a gonzo Godfather”) and filling in the character gaps with one amazing stunt-filled set-piece after another, The Raid 2 managed to top the already frantic and brutal battles of the first film. By expanding the backdrop to include even more crime family falderal, the director has designed a franchise that can easily be return to again and again. Can’t wait for Part Three. (Full Review)
Leave it to Lars Von Trier to take the potentially tacky subject of one woman’s overactive libido and turn it into a psychological dissertation on everything female. There is victim mentality and feminism flowing through every frame of this film, while the daring director of such masterworks as Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist, and Breaking the Waves pushes the boundaries of acceptable onscreen “interaction”. Current muse Charlotte Gainsbourg is brilliant as the title character, but a lot of credit needs to go to young Stacy Martin as the adolescent version of the troubled individual. Raising many questions while answering few, this is another strong work from Denmark’s determined maverick. (Full Review: Part 1, Part 2)
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