There will be those that who try to convince people 2014 was a weak year for film. They would be wrong.
Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making coming of age drama Boyhood following a young boy from 6 to 18 was a revelation for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its breathtaking, magnificently simplistic authenticity.
Force Majeure – An avalanche might have got them talking, but the troubles afflicting Tomas and Ebba’s marriage had been simmering underneath the snowy emotional perimeters of their hearts long before the rumbling and tumbling became all-too literal. A masterpiece of introspective eloquence.
Winter’s Tale – Colin Farrell attempts to save the love of his life with the help of a flying horse while demon Russell Crowe engages in heart-to-heart conversations with Will Smith’s Satan and, no, I didn’t make a single part of that description up. A disaster.
At the same time, even with the more than obvious shortcoming, American Sniper is a vital, organically poignant experience that got under my skin.
Big Eyes, for all its moments of inspired whimsy, for as much as it admires and respects the painter, it’s still oddly lifeless as far as the bigger picture is concerned. The canvass isn’t so much empty as it is incomplete.
Foxcatcher is so mesmerizing, so consistently fascinating even its missteps don’t feel as unbalanced or as unfortunate as they otherwise might have been.
More than that, though, it is the oddly warm, sunnily optimistic climax that really doesn’t work, the final scenes feeling much too out of place considering all the self-inflected emotional and physical carnage that’s preceded them. Much like its protagonist,The Gambler (2014) doesn’t know when to quit, a winning hand transforming into one that should have been laid down long before the cards were even dealt.
While changes have been made, most notably as things apply to the Baker’s Wife and to Cinderella’s Prince, they end up not having any sort of corrosive effect on all that Sondheim and Lapine are aiming to achieve. Into the Woods is a marvelous, dexterously passionate miracle, the film a fairy tale delight where magic isn’t always good and wishes oftentimes should not come true.