This week on Recent Movie Round-Up: A man finds the patterns in the everyday, a hitman is forced to kill his future self, a woman is hellbent on searching for the greatest war criminal of this generation, a group of police officers take out an army of gangsters, and…Ron Burgundy plays the hell out of that jazz flute. MOVIES GALORE!
#6 – Pi (Darren Aronofsky, 1998)
Pi remains a harrowing, haunting film about the realtionship between science and religion and the nature of obsession 15 years after its release. I wrote a whole article on it right here.
#7 – Looper (Rian Johnson, 2012)
I’ve already written a review of Looper, but it should be noted that my original review listed a bunch of flaws that I had with the film. After my second viewing, all those flaws instantly evaporated. When I saw it a third time in the theater, I knew it was a legitimately great movie. And even with my fourth viewing on blu-ray, it manages to keep getting richer. It’s that rare sci-fi film that truly makes you think as much as it makes you feel. The entire cast is superb.
#8 – Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)
I’ve seen Zero Dark Thirty twice in the theater now, each time still thoroughly enjoying it. Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have crafted a gripping procedural that manages to be about so much more than just the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It also manages to ask what the sacrifice for freedom is, how much we’re willing to let go in order to keep a nation safe. In a way, it’s almost like the ultimate revenge film, with Maya representing the American zeitgeist during the War on Terror, and Jessica Chastain plays her marvelously. Maya remains enigmatic and without backstory, but all we need to know is her determination and ruthlessness, which come in spades. If you haven’t checked this one out yet, you’re missing out.
#9 – Gangster Squad (Ruben Fleischer, 2013)
Gangster Squad just sucks. It’s not bad enough to be good, it’s not fun enough to be mocked at, and it’s not serious enough to be taken seriously either. It’s just a vapid waste of space of a film; the cinematic equivalent of a long sigh extended for 2 hours; the apex of a film with potential in so many of its aspects getting wasted by the second. None of the actors of its fine cast allow for anything resembling a memorable performance, with the exception of Sean Penn, who is over-the-top in the worst possible way. Penn chews scenery like he’s on a different planet, but instead of using that over-the-top nature to inform the audience on his character like, say, DiCaprio in Django Unchained, he just wallows in gangster villain cliches and comes across more like a parody.
The direction is ugly in its slickness, the script is phoned in, each character is underdeveloped, and everything feels hastily slapped together in the most haphazard possible fashion. And the pacing makes it a chore to sit through. The film tries so desperately to be part of the big boys club, wanting to have its mobster movie cake and rip it apart too, and it ends up failing at everything. A worthless, bland piece of nothingness.
#10 – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)
Let’s play a game: Try watching Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy without quoting a single line of dialogue from it for a whole week. That’s right, it’s impossible. McKay’s gleefully silly period satire only gets funnier with age thanks to its dynamite cast, the ridiculous characters they inhabit, and the irresistibly quotable humor at the center of it all. And this year, we’ll thankfully get to return to these characters in the much-anticipated sequel. Lamp, oh how I’ve missed you so…