It’s great, filled with superb set pieces and moments, not the least of which is a dynamic attack on the Stark mansion that had the majority of the preview audience sitting on the edge of their seats holding their breath, and I can’t say I was ever bored by anything that was going on. At the same time, there is an almost television-like efficiency that can grow stale, nothing ever popping out or calling attention to itself in a way I could ever say was entirely memorable.
The bottom line is that the director has a lot on his mind and a ton he wants to say, the majority of which I firmly believe deserves to be stated as loudly and as exuberantly as possible. But as good the cast is and as great as many individual moments are none of them are detailed or are as explored as fully as I felt like they needed to be, making [At Any Price] an intriguing oddity difficult to embrace even if in some ways it’s still relatively easy to recommend.
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.