NEBRASKA

Directed by Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne takes such a long time in-between making films that I just simply forget how amazingly gifted he is as a filmmaker. His newest is pure, midwestern poetry. He has the innate ability to make films that defy categorisation: they are simply stories about characters who move and grow on you the longer the films go on. Shot in beautiful black-and-white, Nebraska moves along like a gorgeous swan-song, anchored by a wonderfully anachronistic Bruce Dern. I await Alexander Payne’s next film in utter anticipation.

A

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MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS

Directed by Tom Berninger

Now, I might be incredibly biased because The National is one of my favourite bands. That said, this is still a wonderfully made documentary and a very interesting insight into sibling relationships, expectations, identity and responsibility. It’s a reminder that good art can, at its core, be simple as well.

B+

DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Dallas Buyer’s Club is probably most well-known for the powerhouse performance of Matthew McConaughey. Well the hype ain’t for nothin: he absolutely commits to the character, flesh and bone. The rest of the film however, doesn’t quite match his tempo – it suffers from flat supporting characters and plot turns and set pieces which are less than original. Still a very interesting story, but not quite Oscar-worthy in it’s execution.

B

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Winner of the Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival 2013

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into “Blue”. What I got was better than anything I could’ve imagined. This film was a thunderbolt to the chest, and Adèle Exarchopoulos is a tremendous force of nature in herself. The coming-of-age film to end all coming-of-age films, “Blue” shares many philosophical and social commentaries with “The Great Beauty”, but instead of keeping the audience at a distance, “Blue” is nothing but incredibly intimate and personal. Heavy on the close-ups, you never lose sight of every painful, confusing and liberating feeling of love shown of Adele’s expressive face. You’re there with her every step of the way, and she fucking owns every single frame. This is cinema the world needs more of. I wish I made this film. A beautiful, beautiful work of art.

A+

La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino

This is one of those rare films that make you sit in awe and think “How the fuck did they pull this off?” The film is a unique experience in itself, playing out over two hours in a series of tableaux touching on every facet of modern life: love, spirituality, time, power, status etc. It’s a very dense film but incredibly rewarding. The cinematography flies around like no tomorrow. This is what the Great Gatsby could have been, but can and will never, because The Grand Beauty stands as it’s own.

A

A Touch of Sin

Directed by Jia Zhangke

A very unsentimental essay on the nature of violence, and the senselessness of human behaviour. I’ve never seen such brave filmmaking from mainland China, and it was definitely a good wake-up call. There were slight occasional hiccups on the technical side, but the film certainly had a lot to say: especially through the silent shots of the characters lost in their own meaninglessness.

B

The Book Thief

Directed by Brian Percival

I haven’t read the book “The Book Thief” is an adaptation of, but I feel like I probably don’t need to now. The film played out like a novel would, each scene feeling ripped straight out of the pages. I was quite disappointed the film was in English and not German, and a lot of the dialogue was very cheesy and often unrealistic considering the circumstances. It’s a film with great performances, but if you’re a fan of a book, then I’d suggest to just read it again. Maybe in a different language.

C+

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorsese

A masterclass in pure, unadulterated insanity and excess. From the get-go, “Wolf” hits hard like a line of coke, and never lets go. Fantastic performances all-round. I did feel like 3 hours was far too long to spend with Belfort however: It’s hard to sustain black comedy for that long – as a result, it grew weary after some time. Also, there were a few editing issues around the place and I feel like Scorsese had a better opportunity to push the morals a bit harder: it’s easy to watch this film and feel like the material wealth Belfort achieved was not only deserved, but resulted in very light consequences. I know that I might be making too much of a big deal out of this, as it is just a film, but I just hope people learn the right things from watching it.

B+

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Directed by Adam McKay

It deeply saddens me to say, but the world didn’t need a sequel to Anchorman. I love the first film, which set up my expectations far too high. Unfortunately, what I got instead of amazing quotes and brilliant moments was just a typical sequel: ticking the cliche exposition points, and relying purely on the jokes established in the first film. Something that annoyed me was how they felt the need to continuously explain a lot of the jokes, which felt like quite a cop-out to audience intelligence. Milk was a bad choice: and so was this sequel.

C-

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers defy expectations yet again with a beautifully sombre story about a 1960’s folk-singer who just can’t get his shit together. Oscar Isaac embodies the role flawlessly as we’re given an insight into a man slowly but surely peeling away. What a gorgeous soundtrack. The Coen brothers mastered the art form a long time ago: “Inside Llewyn Davis” is no exception.

A+