New Release Capsule Reviews

Because honestly, I can't always be bothered
Fall 2013
The shining stars of the cinema firmament
The Setup: 
Catch-up on new releases I probably won't write full reviews for.

Hello you devilishly sexy readers, you--

Chicago has been good to me so far. I've been enjoying tons of small plays and there's a good movie scene and everything just so much less of a hassle. And I have found gainful employment! And people are generally nice and not angry, which is quite a cultural adjustment. So everything is going well. Thank you for your emails of support and encouragement!

Don't forget: Comments and Contact Form dead [they will live again, someday], so contact me at:

Thing is, I used to have an hour-long commute every morning, and that was when I wrote the bulk of my reviews. With my routine shaken up, I haven't settled into a standard review-writing time, and I find that there are a lot of movies I've seen but never sat down to write about. But, I didn't want them to get lost forever. Thus, we get a big ton of small capsule reviews here. Away we go:

All Is Lost
This is the second movie by J.C. Chandor, of the excellent Margin Call. It is a virtually dialogue-free film with one actor, Robert Redford, who does nothing but try to survive for the whole film. His boat is damaged far outside of any shipping lanes, his radio shot, and things just get worse from there. It's an achievement, there are breathtaking scenes, Redford is good, but... somehow... it's just not all there. You walk out like 'Eh, yeah, that was good," and it just doesn't stick somehow. Not a waste of time, by any means, but... just somehow not enough. Which is a shame, when you consider all the technical effort....

12 Years a Slave
Quite good. I was a bit unenthusiastic to find out even more about how awful slavery was, and review in extra-painful detail how people were chained and whipped, but this one comes with a focus on character, and one man's story, and a lot of moral complication and issues to think about. In one respect, it's the story of a highly-intelligent man suddenly brought to the life of an animal, and where his intelligence can be a liability. And it has a much stronger narrative than McQueen's previous film, Shame. I say see it.

Kill Your Darlings
I REALLY liked this movie, which makes me a bit bummed I never wrote a full review, but maybe I will yet. This is about the college days of Allen Ginsberg and his meeting up with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, as well as less-known member Lucian Carr. The movie is about Ginsberg's fascination with magnetic narcissist Carr, who is not gay but will sleep with men if it helps him get ahead. Carr has an old hanger-on in the form of a professor who writes his papers for him, and is romantically obsessed with him, and the movie charts the build-up to that professor's murder, as well as dramatizing the genesis of the Beats and showing where those opening lines of Howl came from, but without a simplistic this-led-directly-to-that feeling. And it charts Ginsberg's discovery of his homosexuality, handled intelligently.

Thor: The Dark World
Super-fun! It's got humor, a snappy pace and zippy editing, nice romance [stay for the second after-credits scene] and is all-around a total blast. Plus, it's a visual treat, with big-budget glosses on Viking ships and Arthurian trappings, and is also just about the silliest thing man has ever created. In my book, that's a plus, because it means you can just zone out and let the visuals tickle your synapses. If you get into your happy place and see just one 3-D visual spectacular this year, see Frozen. Which is flat-out stupefyingly gorgeous. But if you see two, see Frozen and this, because it's just a silly ol' good time at the movies.

I am just this side of outright hating this movie. Built on contrivance after contrivance--the main conceit being the humoring of an old man who believes he's won a million-dollar sweepstakes that could easily be demonstrated to be false--the movie then tries to hang moments of authenticity on this specious frame. We are asked to be transported by old folks being inappropriately sexual, rural folks being ignorant cretins, family ties being tested by the lure of money, and numerous pre-processed touching family moments. You know that feeling when you read a mass-produced greeting card and you say "I can't believe there are people who would fall for this?" And as for Saturday Night Live's Will Forte in a lead role: I spent the whole movie puzzling the question: "Why wouldn't they get someone who can act?"

Blue Is the Warmest Color
My friend and I walked out of this movie halfway through. Not because it was bad--it isn't--but because it is just a coming-out story and nothing but a coming-out story, and we both thought "Wouldn't we rather go have a nice dinner?" It's well-directed and well-acted and is just fine--if everything is just drawn out to maximum length--but if you're gay and have read a coming-out story or two, you have placed out. Straight people may be dumbfounded by this peek into an unfamiliar new world [and guys who wonder what lesbians "do" will find ample answers to their questions], but if you're gay you can just say with confidence that you've seen it, if not lived it, because believe me, baby, you have.

About Time
I have not seen this, but the sheer amount of times I've had to endure the nauseating trailer should earn me some sort of disability compensation. And I've about had it up to here with Rachel McAdams' "Oh-ho-ho-my God, I'm just so KOOKY HAPPY!" routine, making me wonder if her greatest role would be to embody Rachael Ray. No, the reason this is here is so I can wonder why NO ONE is observing that this is just an arted-up, semi-serious gloss on THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT!?!??