Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

Months in Review: September & October films (part 2)

Continued from the previous post. Below the new-to-me films watched in October:

VENOM (2018) [ 2/5 ]

In the age of the Marvel Universe, Venom lives surprisingly isolated, coming at the heels of the momentous shift in the Marvel juggernaut brought about by the The Avengers: Infinity War.

In many ways, the film feels like a return to simpler times, where the superhero movies inhabited a space of their own, without the complexity of intersecting stories or the expectations of moving the needle forward, onto greater enemies and bigger spectacles.

In going back to the beginnings of the Marvel Universe, Venom also adopts some of the worst qualities of the early films. There is an overabundance of CGI that, as good as it may be designed, never quite substitutes the real thing. When it comes to CGI action sequences, few are as messy and unremarkable as the one at the film’s end. It reminded me of the Transformer franchise and its tendency to sacrifice clarity for pace and spectacularity.

One of Venom’s most egregious faults is that the script takes the rug from beneath the actors’ feet. The typically solid Tom Hardy is painful to watch here, especially when he shares the screen with the usually fantastic Michelle Williams. The two begin the film as lovebirds but I was never sold on their chemistry.

Same thing happens to Riz Ahmed, whose Macchiavelian Steve Jobs-type genius entrepreneur seems to haven been pulled from a particularly silly entry in the James Bond franchise.

BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) [ 5/5 ]

Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Favorite Films

One of my biggest blind-spots.

Before Sunrise unwraps like a fleeting dream, trapped within a finite context: one day in Vienna. Its scale, like other great romances, both large and intimate. A love story that is young, awkward and perhaps immature, yet wonderful and inspiring nonetheless. Soon, we find ourselves navigating the streets of one of the great European cities with Jesse and Celine, enchanted by the way they look and smile and talk to each other. Vienna is the backdrop, the reminder that these are real people, inhabiting the real world, but completely at their leisure, as if real life is suspended.

Before Sunrise pulls off a trick that only great films can: it captures ephemeral sensations. The beauty in Before Sunrise lives in the shy smile and the coy look. The film exists in the silent understanding between two souls, intertwined by the imperceptible and the flesh.

Before Sunrise is also a series of moments that I can’t stop thinking about. Like the one Jesse and Celine share inside a listening booth, or the exchange they have with a palm reader at an outdoor café. No amount of effort is wasted, no detail unexamined.

This is cinema at its purest; telling us a story as old as time and doing it with purpose, confidence and style. This is, without a doubt, Richard Linklater’s masterpiece.

BEFORE SUNSET (2004) [ 4.5/5 ]

Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Favorite Films

Making a sequel to a successful film is a very difficult task. If that original piece is Before Sunrise, then it’s basically impossible. Yet, somehow, Richard Linklater had the presence of mind to ask Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy to write the script to the next chapter in the story of Jesse and Celine, now 9 years later, meeting for a second time in Paris.

Before Sunset works because it trusts the legacy of the first film and its audience. The moment we see Jesse, we know so much about him already. As in the original, Linklater completely relies on his leads (or perhaps more), not just by asking them to pen the story of their own characters, but also by lending the camera entirely to them. Once again, the film manages to feel spontaneous, as if the conversation unfolds without a script, and we are but a fly on the wall listening in.

Perhaps the only thing that separates the two films is that Before Sunset carries with it the heaviness of adulthood. The world around Jesse and Celine no longer filled with possibilities and dreams. Their failures and misadventures play more like personal tragedies than momentary setbacks and, unlike Sunrise, their desire for love has been shaken. As such, Sunset plays more like a drama than a romance.

It is only in the last 15-20 minutes that Before Sunset recaptures the magic of its predecessor, but they are, by far, the most exceptional minutes of film I’ve seen in 2018. Within instants the film sheds all of its anger, frustration and sadness while Jesse and Celine share a car ride. At some point, the film flirts with disaster and Celine threatens to end it before it’s over, but the more they open their hearts, the more the two remember just how incredible their day in Vienna had been.

To close, Before Sunset leaves the streets. For the first time in two films, Jesse and Celine share a more intimate space. It is then, in that space, by themselves, away from the noise of the world around them that Celine gives in. She now knows what she wants and Jesse, just like every man with a pulse would, falls hopelessly in love with Celine all over again.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018) [ 3/5 ]

One of the unfair commonalities I found in the critical response to Solo centered on the performance of Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. I say unfair because it’s a comparison that, regardless of the quality of the young actor’s interpretation of the role, was destined to be scrutinized and subjected to exaggerated criticism.

Is Alden Ehrenreich the perfect younger version of Harrison Ford’s famous character? Not a chance. The problem is not so much about casting, but about the near-impossible task of finding an actor capable of inhabitting the role convincingly without resorting to mimicry. Do I think Alden Ehrenreich could have done better? Probably so. I think that his inexperience with large franchises and famous roles may have had a lot to do with it.

The latest offshoot of the Star Wars colossus actually suffers more with some of the supporting roles due to a mixture of less than inspired writing and questionable casting. While Paul Bettany and Emilia Clarke struggle to fit in and seem to be painfully reciting their lines, I was glad the always reliable Woody Harrelson and the very surprising Daniel Glover (what can’t he do?!) give some dimension and charisma to an otherwise mediocre experience at the movies.

A decent and entertaining enough thriller that will go down as one of the least memorable pieces of the Star Wars cinematic universe.

LEAN ON PETE (2018) [ 3.5/5 ]

Lean On Pete tells the story of Charley (Charlie Plummer), a young man in his teens, who lives a somewhat peaceful existence (though not entirely happy) with his loving, yet unstable father. A few days after Charley begins to work at a nearby stable, tragedy strikes and his life is turned upside down. The following two-thirds of the film are about Charley’s lonely psychological journey towards a new beginning.

Framed within a very traditional structure, Lean on Pete manages to avoid the pitfalls of melodrama, taking a rather somber approach to tell its tale, following Charley at an arm’s length, as if silently traveling next to him. Writer and director Andrew Haigh adopted a similar approach in his previous two features: the poignant 45 Years (find my review here), and the powerful gay romance Weekend (my 11th favorite film of 2011). In 45 Years, Haigh’s camera took the position of a witness to the fracture of a long marriage. In Weekend, Haigh was there, close to the characters, but the dialogue was so naturalistic, that it felt as if he was filming two actual people falling in love in real time.

True to his style, Haigh gives Lean On Pete an earthy and mundane backbone that keeps it grounded. In the film it feels as if we meet real people with genuine problems and complex personalities. No one is entirely good, and no one is entirely bad. Every character seems to have existed prior to the beginning of the film. When we meet Charley, there is already a hint of past troubles, but it is only when Charley is a direct witness to tragedy that something breaks within him. While his unconventional reaction to such a tragedy speaks to his immaturity, Haigh focuses on Charley’s stubborn determination to find his own happiness. At the end, I was moved not by the accumulated sadness, but by Charley’s strength to overcome the odds.  

A GHOST STORY (2018) [ 4/5 ]

How does a film like this get made? How is the pitch to obtain financing? How does it get financed? How does it manage to enlist two excellent actors? I couldn’t help but wonder about these more practical matters as I marveled at the poetic simplicity of A Ghost Story.

David Lowery’s film could be about many things: death, ghosts, loss, and loneliness among them. Regardless of the meaning you assign to it, these things aren’t talked about, they are felt. The film is an exercise in minimalism, foregoing typical narrative paths for a more experiential type of cinema that does with images, light and music what other films do with words and performance. In A Ghost Story there are no more than 10 minutes worth of dialogue (probably more like five). The script couldn’t have been more than a few pages long and most of what is said has an almost anecdotal quality, as if the film exists outside of time.

While the poetic simplicity of A Ghost Story is mostly an asset, there are times when the insistence on minimalism extends to a formal rigor that works against the film’s pace, even when it’s only a short 92 minutes (a particular scene with Rooney Mara eating a pie comes to mind).

Never before has a “ghost story” been so preoccupied with the rather abstract quality of our fears about death, and our hopes and ideas for what comes after we die. If A Ghost Story is anything to go by, our post-living “existence” is a rather somber and lonely one.

HEREDITARY (2018) [ 2.5/5 ]

For most of its running time Hereditary feels like a revisionist horror flick that plays against type. Instead of your typical demons, ghosts or monsters, the suspense and the tension comes almost entirely from a troubling family dynamic that comes to its climax after a shocking tragedy. While it builds upon grief and years of deeply personal guilt to make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable, there is an undercurrent of paranormal activity that adds to the film’s mysteries in subtle and effective ways.

Sadly, most of what Hereditary does right in the first half, soon begins to dissipate, abandoning storylines and interesting secondary themes about womanhood in favor of typical horror fare. As soon as it begins to do so, the film starts to cheapen the scares, taking a more common paranormal trajectory that isn’t groundbreaking in the least. Soon, we bear witness to seances, scribbles begin to appear on a sketchbook and people start climbing up walls and ceilings in what is now a very familiar choice in contemporary horror films. Though there are faint connections to the film’s more studious and patient beginnings, the paranormal portions of Hereditary are surprisingly confusing. At the end, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth, as if Hereditary had tricked me into believing it was a good movie when, in reality, it was far more interested in toying with our expectations and delivering a rather sinister ending.

PS. I was tempted to give Hereditary a higher rating due to Toni Collette’s lead role as Annie Graham, the wife and mother who goes through a roller-coaster of emotions to keep her life and her family afloat.

HALLOWEEN (1978) [ 3.5/5 ]

I’d seen fragments of the original John Carpenter film on many different occasions but, in October, just two or three days before Halloween, I sat down to watch it in its entirety.

It is always difficult to fully grasp the historical weight of a piece of film that is 20, 30 or even 40 years old. The original Halloween was an entirely new type of film that borrowed from the grotesque Texas Chainsaw Massacre of 1974 to make the “slasher movie” a Hollywood phenomenon. After Halloween, every horror film either copied its formula or borrowed ideas from it. The original left a definite cultural imprint. Michael Myers soon became one of the most recognizable characters in the history of cinema via a seemingly endless stream of sequels and remakes.

Given its place in movie history, it would be wrong and unfair to judge Halloween in isolation, as if it wasn’t the genesis of an entire catalog of films. To do so would be to ignore Halloween’s finer points. Watching Halloween in its entirety gave me a glimpse of feminist and religious undercurrents that my younger self would have surely missed. In the original, Michael Myers was not the indiscriminate killing machine we’ve come to know. Michael was a silent psychopath still, but one with a brain and a purpose. He didn’t set out to kill just anyone. Michael sought out young women who had started to explore their sexuality. It was, I interpreted, a countercultural statement. The film wasn’t so much about Michael Myers, but about what he represented: a violent and terrifying manifestation of religious conservatism.

Of all the horror films that have tried to emulate Halloween’s deeper significance within the confines of the genre, I am reminded of 2015’s It Follows, where a young woman must escape a seemingly unstoppable anonymous killer just after losing her virginity.

In both films the killers are the enemy not just because they kill, but because they are the violent agents of greater social threats.

PS. Though I concede I may be looking at Halloween from a contemporary and far kinder perspective, Carpenter is the kind of filmmaker whose craft and intent was often overlooked by his tendency to make films that were entertaining and friendly to mainstream tastes.

FIRST MAN (2018) [ 3.5/5 ]

I arrived at First Man with great expectations. After all, this is the same young director who, in the space of two years, would release two cinematic jewels: 2014’s Whiplash, and 2016’s La La Land. Born in 1985, Damien is a constant reminder for me (also born in 1985) of how little I have achieved in comparison.

In his second consecutive film collaborating with Ryan Gosling, First Man is a character study that is not entirely dissimilar to the ones in Whiplash and La La Land. All three films explore the tension between professional greatness and personal growth. In all three Damien argues that reaching for greatness often comes at a cost. While Whiplash and La La Land were more interested in artistic achievement versus romance, First Man poses the same tension but it’s motivated not by ego or desire, but by personal loss. It argues, for purely narrative reasons, that Neil Amstrong, the first man on the Moon, followed a very difficult and dangerous path because it provided an escape from painful memories.

Unlike his previous work, Damien’s exploration of greatness is mostly emotionless. Gosling’s performance here reminds me of some of his past work, especially his turns in The Place Beyond the Pines and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive. By design, his Neil Amstrong is a shell that harbors within it years of silent pain. As such, the film becomes a somewhat repetitive grind through scientific and engineering challenges and unfortunate tragedies that fail to register, numbed by Neil’s lack of outward emotion.

Despite First Man’s somewhat rigorous approach to Amstrong’s path to the Moon landing, it does offer moments that illustrate the immense talent of Damien Chazzelle. The sequences in space are something special. They are limited in scale but still deeply effective in showing the dangers of the mission and the claustrophobia of being inside the spaceships. For once, the business of being an astronaut is portrayed in a more meaningful way that bears little resemblance to the romanticized view that Hollywood has helped to perpetuate.

Months in Review: September & October films (part I)

It is absolutely incredible to me that we are already in November. It feels as if Summer lasted about a week, Spring no more than 2 days and that Winter was about a month ago.

Per usual, my blog has been more inactive than I would like it to be but after 2-3 years of keeping the same pace, it’s about time I come to accept the infrequency of my blogging.

I have managed to stay within an average of watching at least 10 new films per month, with the goal of hitting at least 120 new films seen in the calendar year (I don’t think I’ve seen more than 10 repeats)

In September I watched 13 films averaging an unusually high 3.5 out of 5 score product of 6 films that hit 4 or 4.5 out of 5. Also an unusually high number.

In October, however, things went back to normalcy. I watched 10 films averaging 3.15, with only two of these getting a 4 out of 5.

To keep the posts manageable, I will divide them into two parts. One dedicated to September, and the other to October. Below my short impressions of each:

GONE BABY GONE (2007) [ 3.5/5 ]

Gone Baby Gone felt like an extended episode of Law & Order featuring a great cast that includes the likes of Morgan Freeman and Casey Affleck.

Set in a gritty, dark and unwelcoming part of Boston, the film tells the story of a private investigator and his partner searching for a missing girl. The characters are, for the most part, excellently conceived, filled with complexity and contradictions.

The moral question at the heart of the movie, which is presented to us in the last act, is one that is difficult to answer, probably splitting audiences in half back when the film was released in 2007.

What doesn’t work as well are the ways in which the film reaches those moral dilemmas, often opting to grab audiences by the hand, and never fully trusting viewers to make their own connections.

Casey Affleck’s performance is especially engaging in a role that has some of the ticks but not quite the range of his well-deserved Oscar-winning turn in Manchester by the Sea.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) [ 3.5/5 ]

The latest reboot of King Kong is an attempt to bring the big ape to a new generation of filmgoers, giving audiences an origin story that, in all honesty, fails to live up to the long cultural significance of Kong in the big screen.

Aside from a particularly weak premise that sets the events of the film in motion, Kong is packed with well crafted and entertaining set pieces that keep the film from succumbing to its general lack of originality. John C. Reilly’s late cameo is one of the film’s pleasures and the only character I found myself rooting for.

THE PRESTIGE (2006) [ 4/5 ]

The Prestige was very much a precursor to Christopher Nolan’s amazing work in Inception. Like that film, The Prestige is built upon a story that is rich in complexity where every shot and every bit of dialogue serves the film’s ultimate reveal. As with the rest of Nolan’s impressive body of work, The Prestige hides its secrets by limiting our point of view. It works only by placing us in the thick of the story, while leaving a crucial perspective out until the end. As engaging and wildly unpredictably as the plot is, the invisible hand that moves all the gears and fits all the pieces into place seems a bit more conspicuous than usual.

Being so familiar with the director’s work was a bit of a detriment to the experience, expecting the perfectionism and directorial dexterity of Christopher Nolan to sweep us up at the end, cleverly tying in the film’s many loose pieces.

Having said this, The Prestige is one hell of a cinematic experience that is nearly as imaginative and deceptive as the director’s best work.

LEGEND (2015) [ 4/5 ]

A magnificent dual performance by the always surprising Tom Hardy headlines this wild gangster film set in midcentury London. The thespian plays Reggie and Ronnie Cray; one the suave and elegant empresario with a talent for boxing who desires love and success, and the other his psychologically disturbed bloodthirsty twin with a lust for sex, men and, of course, violence.

Most of what the film tries to say isn’t new or particularly inventive, but I did appreciate its take on the weight of family ties and how one rotten apple can sometimes bring a blossoming empire crashing down.

I also appreciated the film’s dark and twisted humor, its rich assortment of characters and the evil pleasure with which it tells what is a rather tragic tale.

One of the most underrated films of 2015.

A MONSTER CALLS (2016) [ 4.5/5 ]

Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ 250 Essential Films

A beautiful film that moved me to tears. A story about loss and grief that I found extremely poetic and engaging. Though it may turn off some people due to its fantastical elements, A Monster Calls is, by no means, a kids’ film; instead, it is a carefully crafted drama of great emotional resonance that uses fantasy to great effect. I shall be posting a full review in the coming days.

NEON DEMON (2016) [ 3/5 ]

A slow burning and stylish film from Scandinavian director Nicholas Winding Refn set against flashing cameras and the orange glow of the city of Angels.

Like his film Drive, Refn spends most of the film’s running time enamored by the facile beauty of its movie star: Elle Faning, who plays a character both exasperating and relatable, humble at first sight but fundamentally narcissistic. She is treated both as the muse in distress hunted by jealous competition, and also as a sort of virus that has arrived to disrupt the natural order. Such dichotomy is at the heart of the film and it is ultimately what I found most interesting about it.

Sadly, the film lacks momentum, getting lost in its parsimony, with a script filled with holes that do nothing but serve Winding Refn’s brand of filmmaking which can often overwhelm the storytelling.


A biopic on the rise and fall of rap supergroup NWA that is entertaining without being particularly nuanced or thought-provoking.

Part of the problem lies on a script that is too heavily focused on the highlights of the lives that made NWA a reality. As a result, the film feels more like a made for tv 2-hour special, rather than an engaging study on the group members and what made them such a potent artistic force.

Straight Outta Compton also feels like a film that was tinkered and edited in post-production to take away the focus from weaker actors: O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Corey Hawkins, playing Ice Cube and Dr. Dre respectively; and give the spotlight to the always great Paul Giamatti, playing the sleazy and conniving manager, and actor Jason Mitchell, playing the late rapper Eazy-E with surprising emotional conviction.

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) [ 3.5/5 ]

Spike Lee has always been one of those directors whose persona has loomed large in my decision to approach his work trepidatiously. His oeuvre is one that I have only recently began to dip my toes in, first with Chi-Raq, and now with what many critics call his masterpiece: Do The Right Thing.

In defense of the modest 3.5/5 score I give the film, I found that Lee’s work in this predominantly African American treatise may be one of those that, in order to be appreciated, both time and successive viewings may be required.

While his most recent work in Chi-Raq is one that attempts to tackle many large subjects through a tight and clear story; Do The Right Thing is the kind of large, expansive, complex and theatrical exposition about racial relations in the United States that I found to be more relevant as a historical document rather than as an artistic piece. My problem with it is that I simply could not make the transition from the almost whimsical African American micro-universe that Spike Lee had created in almost 90 minutes of film to the very violent and tragic last act. It was an abrupt and hard transition that I simply could not get on board with, despite appreciating the boldness behind the choice.

In addition, I found it unfortunate that Spike Lee made the decision to also take on the lead role, often looking flat opposite an excellent cast of actors.

MOTHER! (2017) [ 4/5 ]

A film so intense that I left the theater feeling exhausted. In the days that followed my trip to the theater, my esteem and appreciation for Darren Aronofski’s latest piece grew, and could easily become a favorite in the years to come.

If you’re so inclined, you can find my full review of the film here

TOWER [ 4/5 ] (2016)

I was introduced to this very good documentary courtesy of the best podcast on film out there: filmspotting.net

The film is one that deals with a very current subject, mass shootings, but it does so by focusing on the victims, both dead and alive, of a single tragic episode without precedent that occurred at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.

The documentary, directed by Keith Maitland, is as nuanced an exposition of the horror of such an experience as you’re likely to find. It’s both affecting and engaging, creatively crafted using a style of animation that is both painterly and evocative, capturing the emotional drama, while softening the horrific violence.

A must-watch for cinephiles aspiring to make documentaries on tough and difficult subjects with tact and attention to detail.

THE BIG SICK (2017) [ 4/5 ]

Based on the real circumstances that surrounded the relationship of writers Kumail Nunjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick is a breath of fresh air in the romantic comedy genre.

Apart from being genuinely funny from beginning to end, the film was surprisingly touching, giving each one of its characters tangible and credible personalities, with only the occasionally cheesy one-liner.

It helps that the relationship at its center worked, and both Kumail and Zoe Kazan deliver crafty performances that are witty and surprisingly nuanced.

The Big Sick is clearly a labor of love inspired by love. One of the best films of 2017.

THE DEAD ZONE (1983) [ 2.5/5 ]

One of the biggest disappointments of late. The Dead Zone is one of those cult films that has survived the passage of time based solely on the curiosity of cinephiles willing to invest a couple of hours to explore the odd pairing of director David Cronenberg and a rare lead performance by Christopher Walken.

The actor plays Johnny Smith who, after a 5-year coma, wakes up to find his fiancé has moved on, his job is gone and, more importantly, that he has psychic powers he must suddenly contend with.

Even when there is something of merit to be found in the film’s interesting explorations of the psychological ramifications of wielding such power, Cronenberg’s execution is terribly uneven.

The dramatic scenes feel staged, the performances unnecessarily heightened, the camerawork is sloppy and the major set pieces anticlimactic.

SNATCHED (2017) [ 2.5/5 ]

After the success and unexpected quality of Amy Schumer’s first starring role in a feature film in 2012’s Trainwreck, I half-expected the stand-up comedian to follow it with something catastrophically bad (in what the industry commonly calls the sophomore slump).

What is surprising about this mind-numbing slapstick comedy is that there is enough comedic chemistry between Goldie Hawn and Schumer as mother and daughter to make the film bearable.

Having said that, I still wish Schumer and Hawn could have done something a lot more worthwhile.

Months in Review: May, June & July films (part 2)

This is a continuation on the previous post. For all the reviews of the films watched in May read Part 1.


WONDER WOMAN (2017) [ 4/5 ]

A beautifully crafted big-budget Hollywood blockbuster that manages to excel at the little things. Surely some of the source material seems at odds with the more mature theme of female empowerment but, at its conclusion, the latest DC Comics venture comes off as more than the sum of its parts. It helps that Gal Gadot is an excellent choice to play Wonder Woman.

Continue reading Months in Review: May, June & July films (part 2)

A return to blogging. Best films watched in 2016. 


There is much I could tell you and share about the past year. About 10 months have passed since my last contribution to this tiny creation of mine. Fortunately for those who may still stumble upon this blog of mine, I will not bore you with the details of what happened or did not happen between then and now. Instead, I will attempt to give you my very succinct impressions about the best films I watched this year (released in 2016 or prior) despite my almost complete absence from the blogosphere.

In total, I watched 111 films in the last calendar year (7 more than I watched in 2015). The average score was a very decent 3.28 out of 5, which tells me I’ve managed to avoid a lot of duds. Notwithstanding the relatively high average, I only scored 4 movies at 4.5 out of 5, and none managed a 5 out of 5.

Without further ado, below is a list of the best films I watched in 2016 grouped by rating, but in no discernible order beyond that.

Continue reading A return to blogging. Best films watched in 2016. 

Months in Review: December & January (2016)


How quickly do months fly by when you are busy. It seems like only a week ago I posted my last review. As quickly as my newfound motivation to blog a bit more came to me on January 1st, as quickly it evaporated not from a lack of desire, but from a lack of energy.

With a bit of a delay, I share with you my brief thoughts on the films I had the chance to watch in the last month of 2015 and the first of 2016. A total of 21 films were watched, 12 in December and 9 in January. The average rating was a very good 3.35 out of 5. The following are ordered in the way they were seen:

Continue reading Months in Review: December & January (2016)

2015, The Year in Film


After nearly two months of no activity in my blog and a few hours away before the end of 2015, I simply couldn’t let December pass me by without offering something to reminisce about the year.
I hope this coming year finally gives me the purpose to really devote some time to blogging, as I’ve wanted to since I started it about 3 years ago.
There are also a couple of series to catch up with, like my reviews of the first season of Mr. Robot, and my ongoing monthly round-ups.


2015 was a year filled with great films, many of which I have yet to see. In lieu of a “best films of 2015” post, I will instead share thoughts on the films I watched this year, whether they were first released 50 years back, or just a month or two ago. The following list will comprise some of the greatest movies I watched (grouped by high ratings of 4.5 or 4/5 only as there were no perfect scores given) and some honorable mentions that did not quite make the cut . The following are limited to films I had not seen before or that I had not seen in their entirety until this year.

Continue reading 2015, The Year in Film

Months in review: March, April & May

Mad Max Fury

Sometimes it takes moving from one place to another, being extremely busy with work, renovating a new condo, dealing with some family matters and trying to sell the place you’ve been living in for the past year to realize that whatever you thought “busy” meant; it is probably nothing compared to how it has been lately.

Even though my blogging has continued to suffer, I still try to make time for movies. In the last three months I have managed to watch 25 films (11, 10 and 4 respectively). The average score in March was a decent 2.95/5, while April passed with a slightly better 3.1 and May was pretty great with an average of 3.875/5. Of the 25 films, four cracked the 4/5. First, it was the very bleak yet very powerful Oslo, August 31st, followed up by the very well-made documentary Life Itself that touches on the life of the late and great Roger Ebert., the moving doc Dear Zachary and the sensational Mad Max: Fury Road.

Below a summary, in order of viewing, with short reviews of each film I saw in the last 3 months. You might also notice quite a number of sci-fi films, especially those interested in robots and artificial intelligence:

Continue reading Months in review: March, April & May

Month in Review: February

Peaky Blinders 1

Though I have slightly increased my activity in the blogosphere so far this year, it has been difficult to go through many films. Most of what I’ve watched are blind spots from last year, but I still have a lot of catching up to do. As it has been the case in the last few months, I probably spent more time on a couple of TV shows. First, I went through the first two seasons of BBC’s original series Peaky Blinders and, in the last couple of days of February, I devoured the entire third season of House of Cards (I know…)

Continue reading Month in Review: February

Top 10 favorite male performances of the last 5 years

It has been over two weeks without a post from yours truly and I figured I needed to close the year in proper blogging fashion. Being that I will NOT be posting a best films of 2013 list before the end of the solar year, I thought I would gather my thoughts to share my favorite acting performances of the last five years.First, I will give you my favorite 10 male performances in alphabetical order followed, in a couple of days, by my 10 favorite female roles of the half-decade from 2009 to 2013 (warning: blind spots in 2013 abound!)As usual, I expect discerning tastes, and I would love to hear some recommendations as to whom should have made my list. Continue reading Top 10 favorite male performances of the last 5 years

The Best Films of 2011 (updated)

It comes 10 months into 2012 but, for the first time, I am confident enough to make my own list of the “best” films of 2011.

Imagine how important it was for me to wait until now to publish this list, that the film that eventually ends up at the top is one that I only managed to watch 3 weeks ago. Without it, this list would have been a crime against my own taste.

Instead of giving you a top 10 or a top 20, I simply give you a run-down of all of the films that received, at the very least, a 4/5 (very good) in my rating system. The result is that there are 17 films out of the almost 100 films from 2011 that I managed to watch, 11 of which received a 4/5, five films received a 4.5/5 and only one received the very rare 5/5.

Despite still missing some highly praised films released the previous solar year (it is impossible to cover them all), I now give you my favorite films of 2011 (and why they are) when we are already in October 2012:

Continue reading The Best Films of 2011 (updated)