Nichols once again subverts genre convention and slowly goes in directions you don’t always see coming. If his debut was a Hatfield and McCoy descent into familial darkness and his sophomore effort a psychological freak-out combining nature in upheaval and a devoted father slowly losing his marbles, then Mud (2013) is a coming-of-age drama of faith, understanding and friendship that defies convention resulting in an authentic urgency unique unto itself.
There’s nothing of merit to take away from Pain & Gain other than the fact that maybe in the hands of a different filmmaker something worthwhile could have been crafted, this pile of bombast as instantly forgettable, and in some ways lamentable, as anything I’m likely to see in all of 2013.
I can’t say this Evil Dead will be as revered or as influential as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without merit. Alvarez proves to be a horror filmmaker with passion, energy, style and vision, taking the Raimi/Campbell/Tapert concept into twisted new territory while at the same time paying just homage to the original trilogy at the exact same time.
Did Jurassic Park need a 3D upgrade? Heck no, the film confidently spoke for itself 20 years ago and its does so just as exuberantly now. Still, I will say that as post-conversions of older titles go, this is without a doubt the best one I have ever seen.
Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, his follow up to his Oscar-nominated Blue Valentine, is big, sprawling and highly ambitious. It is his attempt at an American opus that’s equal parts Tennessee Williams and Sidney Lumet, a movie where the sins of the father are passed unto their sons, so on and so forth, making the picture a multigenerational epic filled with interesting characters, heartbreaking situations and broadly emotional ideas.
The truth of the matter is, while G.I. Joe: Retaliation is without a doubt a far superior effort to its predecessor, while it does contain more than its fair share of fun moments and has more than a few performances worthy of a gentle tip of the hat, I don’t have the slightest wish to watch it again at any point in the foreseeable future. Make of that what you will.
I was pleased to discover how grounded and honest this potentially silly narrative turned out to be. Keeping the focus on Portia, never belittling her, always treating her with respect, never making fun of her actions or attempting to transform the character into a figure of ridicule or pity, Admission does a solid job of making her a fully-formed figure, and as such she becomes incredibly easy to relate to as things progress.
Not for the faint of heart, certainly not for anyone looking for a pleasant diversion or a happy night out at the multiplex, Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills is nonetheless a fantastical stunner and, without question, a work of art I’m unlikely to soon forget.
While nothing unexpected happens, while there weren’t any surprises, the comfort I felt in seeing this family break new ground while coming closer together as a unit still put a smile on my face, and as such The Croods ended up being a sojourn into the fantastically prehistoric I kind of adored.