Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Raid 2

In this movie, the camera flips into the air, leaps into the action, glides above melees, swings in and out of multiple moving cars, and is choreographed as part of the action in astonishing long takes.  All considered, it sets a new paradigm for martial arts films in the fields of directing, shooting, and editing.

So it’s a shame about the plot.  Plot has never been the most important thing in martial arts movies, which generally present their narratives as clearly and simply as possible to allow fight scenes and star charisma to stand out.  Here, the convolutions of the plot obscure the drama and the stakes, removing proper tension from key scenes.  The relentless tonal sameness becomes monotonous and grueling.  It doesn’t help that the storyline is already pretty familiar (basically Eastern Promises bloated), though perhaps it plays as more fresh and exciting in Indonesia, where they’ve had fewer crime epics to call their own.  (I’m guessing here, I know nothing about Indonesian movies.)  And the violence of the fights is no joke--they don’t need to add in extra throat-slicing executions for impact.  It becomes excessive, and I wouldn’t blame anybody for deciding this is just too much blood for them.

The movie is most fun when it’s playing with genre conventions, as with the three colorful assassins called up for the final act: Wild-Haired Homeless Guy, Baseball-Bat Guy, and especially Deaf Hammer Girl.  A pity the other characters are dull and clichéd because we’re apparently meant to care about them.  That doesn’t entirely exclude our hero Rama, either: Iko Uwais is a terrific fighter and has star presence, but he needs a little more personality to be great.  Bruce, Jackie, Sammo, Jet--they all have personalities, personas, hooks, that make them stand out as memorable, and eventually become legendary.  Uwais still needs a little more hook.

Nevertheless, I’m still on board. Bring on Part 3!

Rating: 7/10.

(actually posted Feb 22, 2015)

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Dark Knight and the Western

Duel in the Street
At this point, it shouldn’t be controversial to discuss The Dark Knight as a masterpiece.  It is a work that managed to combine massive cultural and popular impact with major artistic achievement--a very rare thing in modern movies.  While of course not everyone agrees with that artistic assessment, there is enough consensus for me to bypass defending it and get to my point.

I am interested in superhero movies for a number of reasons--I find them entertaining, they offer larger-than-life action sequences, the characters have complex histories in comic books and other popular mediums, their iconography lends itself to diverse styles and genres--but one thing that feels paramount to me is right there in the name: superhero movies are about heroes.  They display/represent what we desire from our heroes, what we admire, what we wish we could be.  A discussion of American heroes throughout our history could take us down many unusual paths (from Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Natty Bumppo to Alvin York and Audie Murphy, or even Martin Luther King), but when looking at modern popular culture the view can narrow a bit.  When it comes right down to it, I think there are only two homegrown American film genres which deal entirely with the hero: the Western and the Superhero.  

Other genres certainly have heroes, but they do not focus on or require the hero to the same extent.  Film noir has the hardboiled detective, but plenty of major works in the genre omit him.  Robert Warhow famously saw the gangster as a tragic hero (in contrast to “the Westerner”) and there is certainly truth there, but my focus and comparison is a little more narrow--genres which explicitly set up their protagonists as heroic and admirable, and then discuss the nature of this heroism.  The “cop film” might qualify if it were not so vague and diffuse, with sub-genres ranging from police procedural to buddy-cop to vengeful-cop-on-the-loose.  The generic “action movie” is obviously so broad as to be meaningless, even if it offers an interesting variety of heroic types from Rambo to John McClane to Jason Bourne.  All of these types can of course be compared and contrasted with one another, telling us interesting things about the evolving nature of our fictional heroes, but my point is this:  the superhero is the first major genre (although its limited numbers may still qualify it as only a sub-genre to some minds) since the western to consistently explore the qualities of a hero as part of its raison d’etre.  This is important to us as a culture, and I hope to explore the implications further in the future.  For now, I want to circle back to The Dark Knight, because I think it’s interesting to consider the movie in the context of the Western.

Most reviews of The Dark Knight when it came out brought up its supposed realism, and many (including me) compared it to crime dramas like Heat or The Departed.  Others, noting the villainy of the Joker, brought up serial killer movies like The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.  Certainly all these comparisons are valid, but I’m interested in the way Batman himself compares with Western cowboy heroes, and how the film as a whole deals with classic Western themes.

In what I like to call the classic “Town Western,” a heroic outsider comes to live in a new community.  This community is struggling (sometimes failing) to become a good, stable place, a genuine outcropping of civilization in the wilderness, but it is threatened by a villain attempting to either control the town tyrannically, or terrorize the citizens wantonly and destructively.  The heroic outsider is the only one capable of standing up to this villain, and whatever other actors are involved, in the end it must come to a showdown between the hero and the villain, usually as a duel in the middle of the street.  In the end, with the villain defeated, the hero usually leaves.  He may be seduced by the town, by the love of a good woman and the possibility of settling down, but he knows this life cannot be for him, so he rides away into the sunset.  We see this pattern in movies like Dodge City, My Darling Clementine, and Shane, but it extends across the length and breadth of the genre.  

In The Dark Knight, Batman takes on many qualities of the western hero: he is an outsider (though not born one), the only one capable of fighting the villain when the townspeople run scared and the old law and order breaks down, and in the end he must ride away into the light.  (It was that final shot of the Bat-pod driving into the tunnel with light spraying out that first clued me in to the resemblance.)  The comparison becomes stronger when we remember the discussion of ancient Rome that Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent have in the restaurant.  For the Romans, the city was the state was the nation was the civilization, something we might link back even farther to Athens and the Greek polis.  So it is with the town in the Western and Gotham for Batman: the city is everything, outside are barbarians bringing chaos.  Thus, the action of the film is confined to the city, not even allowing us a view of the outskirts or suburbs.  (True, there is that jaunt to Hong Kong, but except for the brief shot of the boat, its glass and steel skyscrapers maintain a continuity of milieu.)  He who threatens the city threatens civilization itself.  More resonances are embedded here as well: While the Western town often represents American decency in the face of World War II and the Cold War, Gotham represents America in the age of terrorism.  They both speak to our fears and our ideals under attack.

The Western that best compares to The Dark Knight, that engages with the myths and ideals of law and order most closely (indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were genuine influence here), is John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Here we see remarkably clear analogues for Batman, Harvey Dent, and Rachel in Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), and Hallie (Vera Miles).  Stoddard is a lawyer, schoolteacher, and eventually politician, bringing order and learning to the west and representing legitimate republican government.  Liberty Valance, like the Joker, represents anarchy, a “liberty” that rejects all rules and order.  Doniphon is the only one who can stop him, but in doing so he must participate in a noble lie that turns Stoddard into a hero and gives up Hallie, the love of his life.  (Shades of Plato in both movies--the necessity of lies to maintain civilization.)  Unlike Harvey Dent, Ransom Stoddard does not fall into madness, but his success as a symbol for the entire territory rests on something he did not do, while the true hero recedes into obscurity.  Tom Doniphon, like Batman, is the kind of hero society can’t afford to celebrate.  The kind of hero who breaks the law to uphold the law, whose justice is too rough for the modern system to officially countenance.  The Roman dictator who saves the city by ignoring democratic process.  Unlike Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine, who rides away to finish the drive he started, or Shane who rides away to die, Doniphon has nowhere else to ride to, no more wilderness to roam.  He just goes back to his ranch and lives out the rest of his days doused in whiskey, consumed by loneliness and regret.  (Note that while Harvey Dent dies and becomes a symbol himself, there is a third figure in TDK to preserve law and order and maintain his status as a public hero: Commissioner Gordon.)

It’s so much easier when our heroes die in battle, their moment of greatness preserved forevermore as their final legacy, so we don’t have to figure out what to do with them later.  What use can Batman have in peacetime?  He is more than just a man (a man who now has no hope for a normal life), he is a symbol, and it is in the shifting meaning of him as a symbol to the people of Gotham that we perceive the uses we make of our heroes and villains.  We may also perceive the potential of the superhero genre to investigate these uses, a potential it has yet to fully tap.  This potential is why I keep coming back to the superhero genre, looking for something more.

(actually posted Feb 2015)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Short Animation-- Duet (2014)

Glen Keane, man.

Watch as one of our finest animators shows how it's done.

There's a great making-of video below the break:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Notes on Miller's Crossing

Some unshaped notes on a film that really deserves instead some sort of bravura, free-form, Greil Marcus-style essay on the complex levels/codes/plots within it, what it says about the gangster genre vs. the noir genre, and what it says about the gangster as tragic hero, all woven together with its place in the American psyche.
  • Tommy is obviously the smartest one in the movie from the start, and that stays true to the end.  As soon as he gives his opinion on Casper’s request, we believe him and look to him as the protagonist, both because of the force and charisma of the performance by Gabriel Byrne and the way Leo defers to his opinion.  Actual bosses are both a little dim, advisors and grifters the intelligent ones.
  • Tom is a man who sees all the angles, who always knows what ought to be done, but nonetheless is profoundly self-destructive.  He drinks all the time, more than any other character, gambles badly and is always in debt (he understands people but aparently can’t win at cards??), and he’s sleeping with his best friend’s girl.
  • Key themes:  “Nobody knows anyone.  Not that well.”  (we can never be sure of anyone’s motives, esp. Tom’s); . . . “I’m talking ‘bout ethics.” (what kind of ethics or codes govern behavior in this world where the cops serve whoever’s in power and deal out death indiscriminately, even to unarmed men waving white flags); . . . Double-crossing is the one morta sin--even going to the other side is allowed as long as it’s done honestly, everyone is obsessed w/ the possible deceitfulness of everyone else; . . . “That’s what separates us from the animals.” vs. “We’re not like those animals back there.” (when ethics--even a distorted criminal code--erode, people really do turn into animals, no mercy or kindness, chaos is under the surface ready to bubble up at the first sign of loss of order)
  • Tom is like many noir heroes: moves between several groups, plays them against each other, and gets beat up the whole time.  See Bogart as Marlowe in The Big Sleep, Nicholson as Jake Gittes in Chinatown, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick (film which owes much to Miller’s Crossing)
  • Violence is excessive, tommy guns have unlimited ammo and all of it is used, people killed in unique and brutal ways throughout (a Coen Bros. specialty), but Tom and Verna both hesitate to kill.  Don’t want to get their hands dirty of because of love?  Perhaps Tom has heart at beginning but loses it by end?
  • Tom makes choice to go forward w/ plan in apartment w/ Verna when she says they both double-crossed Leo and he was well rid of them.  Tom seems irritated by this, sits in chair thinking.  Perhaps he realizes how badly he’s treated Leo, or how bad things are going to get w/ Leo making calls on his own.  This is where he decides to make a play of his own.  Clearly he doesn’t have everything planned out, he takes each situation individually and tries to use them as they are, but he has a goal in mind from the start--help Leo, keep him on top.  It’s never about getting power for himself or actually siding w/ Casper, it’s always about Leo.  But is it about Verna as well?
  • Tom clearly cares for Verna or wouldn’t have let Bernie go, but by the end of it he doesn’t seem too upset that Verna is gone. ---Perhaps he realizes Verna is yet another self-destructive tendency on his part, perhaps decides true loyalty to Leo is ideal he has to uphold and that means letting Verna go?   ---There is theory that Tom in love with Leo himself, relationship with Verna just sublimated/displaced lust, attempt to get closer, and it is very defensible theory.  Makes things easier, in some ways.  Don’t really like/agree with it, though.
  • Random:  there are moments when budget limits show, particularly when have to show town, but it ends up making the film more strange/out-of-time/existential;  . . . one of the most evocative main scores a Coen movie’s ever had, and that’s saying something; . . .beautiful image of man chasing hat--hat a symbol of dignity, honor, respectability, being in control, but “There’s nothing more ridiculous than a man chasing a hat.”  Supposedly ridiculous, but with this image film achieves poetry, drama, power, far deeper than genre pastiche.
A masterful film.  In close competition for the Coens’ best.

(actually posted Jan 2015)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2001 vs. Blade Runner

Note: The following is a quick essay I wrote for a sci-fi literature class in the fall of 2011, which should explain its kinda weird opposing structure and goofy sign-off at the end.  Just thought I'd toss it on here, since everybody likes these movies and all.

Blade Runner  and 2001: A Space Odyssey both imagine times roughly 35 years into the future (give or take a few years), but their views of these futures are remarkably different, even opposed.  While 2001 sees human future as one of continual progress and eventual elevation to something beyond humanity, Blade Runner sees humanity improving in technology only, while declining steeply in order, civilization, and morality.
2001, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is primarily a film of formal brilliance.  It’s techniques, camera movements, and special effects are its primary draw, its appeal almost entirely intellectual rather than dramatic or emotional.  This technique draws from and reflects the film’s vision of the future, a future of cold and efficient order.  Future man is contrasted to prehistoric man through technology: prehistoric man uses bones as clubs, future man has spaceships.  The progress is clear---from primitive murder weapon to interplanetary transportation--but it is complicated by subsequent events.  The question is implicitly asked if human nature is any different, if missiles and space guns are really any different from clubs.  However, we are never shown any space guns or human warfare in this future, and it may even be an open question whether war has been averted or not.  Certainly America and Russia seem to be at peace, collaborating on space exploration and space travel.  Nor is there any evidence of a civilization-ending thermonuclear war, something that Kubrick’s previous film, Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, viewed as inevitable.  Future man, then, has successfully navigated the challenge of the Cold War and learned to collaborate on space exploration, solving the problem of interplanetary travel.

At what cost, though?  The future men of 2001 are undeniably cold and unemotional.  This can partly be attributed to Kubrick’s style with actors. Few of his characters ever act in an entirely natural way; from Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange to Jack Torrence in The Shining, Kubrick’s films are populated by inhumans and psychos, whose every move feels calculated, false, unnatural.  The men of 2001--and there are only men, no women characters allowed--seem similarly false and unnatural.  They have two subjects of conversation: bland, fake small talk, and serious, world-changing business.  There is no suggestion of genuine friendship, emotional passion, love, or sex.  This is emphasized by Kubrick’s supremely deliberate camera movement.  The spaceships and space stations are bare, narrow, uncomfortable, furnished with nothing that is not absolutely necessary.  Kubrick’s camera moves slowly, following characters from a distance, observing closely but not participating.  It is not until Dave Bowman’s battle with HAL 9000 that the camera is allowed to truly identify with a character and offer POV shots to the audience.  Before then, there is never a clear point of identification for the audience, no main character to latch onto.  Even the score is distancing--there is more beautifying music when observing the rotation of satellites than when observing humans in any capacity.  There is music when the astronauts are exploring the crater and discovering the monolith, but this seems to serve more to glorify the monolith than to express emotions in the characters, who seem rather less moved than we might expect.  All of this serves to build an image of the future as a time/place of scientific calculation, not emotions or relationships.
Blade Runner, in contrast, is a mood piece, where emotion is the central conveyor of theme.  Ridley Scott is a visual stylist but not a formalist of the Kubrick school; he creates images and environments, but not obsessively structured sequences of deliberate cuts and camera movements.  This gives the film a highly detailed, specific, and believable sense of place.  Instead of observing vast swaths of time and place like 2001, the camera plunges into a chaotic milieu of city life.  Set in Los Angeles in 2019, the world is in a postmodern tumult, filled with people attempting to lives their lives amidst a general moral vacuum, where rules, rights, and certainties are things of the past.  The city is a hybrid of then-contemporary L.A. with Hong Kong and Tokyo, and just a sprinkling of ancient Babylon in the massive ziggurat office-buildings.  This is a city of life--teeming multitudes populate shopping districts, shop-owners eagerly hock noodles on the streets--but also a city of death--homeless people lie in back alleys, tragedy and emptiness haunt the faces.  In this future, man has succeeded in traveling to new planets (an advertisement invites citizens to emigrate to the off-world colonies) as well as developing new technologies like hover-cars and videophones, but civilization as a whole seems to be breaking down.  The increasing diversity of the city leaves no one feeling at home, and the common sense of nationality, community, and purpose seems nonexistent.  There is a massive divide between the haves and the have nots, with the wealthy literally living on high in massive palatial buildings while the poor scrabble in the streets.  There is no evidence of government except the police force, which appears corrupt and ineffective.  This is a world where meanings are questioned and danger may lurk down any alley.

Scott crafts this world with an appreciation for minute detail and a focus on dazzling production design.  Every scene is teeming with background detail, with streets visible that stretch into the distance and pedestrians hurrying by on unknown business.  Aerial shots of the city show it extending beyond the edges of the screen, filled with bright lights glowing in the darkness but illuminating nothing.  The style is a fusion of 1940s film noir and 1970s speculative  fiction and art, including European comics by Moebius.  The city is filled with shadows, unsavory dives, the proverbial mean streets.  It always seems to be raining, something definitely not normal to Southern California but highly evocative of noirs like The Third Man.  Scott’s cinematography is far from Kubrick’s hyperrealistic focus.  Instead, when not evoking the angles and silhouettes of Carol Reed and Jules Dassin, the style is dreamy and atmospheric, gradual camera movements that suggest existential drift.  This is helped immeasurably by Vangelis’ otherworldly synth score--which incidentally contrasts sharply with Kubrick’s constant use of classical music, structured as it is with such precision.  Mood is the most important quality of the movie--more important than the plot.  All contributes to the depiction of the future as a place of existential stasis, a crumbling civilization with a crisis of self, solitude in the midst of crowds.
2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner are both science fiction masterpieces whose visions of the future have influenced all those which have come after them.  Their styles are each  integral to their themes and visions of the future, form and effect inseparable.  (Interestingly, both look to what will come after humanity, and while their ultimate views may differ, both depict artificial intelligences as more sympathetic than average humans.)  2001 sees humanity as advancing inexorably toward a higher plane of existence, while Blade Runner sees the world in decline, full of lost people looking for purpose.  Which will prove right?  Only time can decide.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The First Time (2012)

A movie about puppy-dog high school love starring ex-Nickelodeon/Disney Channel stars playing wealthy white L.A.-dwellers?  No thanks.  And yet--I had heard a couple recommendations and my curiosity got the better of me.  And it turns out I actually liked it.  Far from being the dumb rom-com of high school clichés I was expecting, the model to think of here is Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset.  Of course, it’s not nearly as good as that seminal film, but the mechanics are similar:  A boy and a girl meet each other unexpectedly and begin talking, and their conversation continues through arguments, interests, statements of purpose, and philosophies of life as they gradually fall in love.  The film starts on a Friday night and ends on Monday morning, so the action never has a chance to get wild or drawn-out.  Instead the focus is entirely on the two leads (Dylan O’Brien and Britt Robertson), on their little ticks and quirks, the way they stumble over words and struggle with embarrassment while opening themselves to genuine romantic intimacy for the first time. Of course, it’s still shot with flat lighting, bright colors, and smooth-faced well-dressed characters that remind strongly of tween-aimed television.  But somehow the fact that it pushes past that, that we come to know these characters and recognize their emotions, makes the final result sweeter and more impressive than it would have seemed otherwise.  Among recent teen romances, it isn’t quite up there with The Spectacular Now, but it’s far, far ahead of something like Easy A.

Rating: 7/10 stars.

(actually posted Jan 2015)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

If I Gave the Oscars: 2013 Edition

The premise is simple: these are how I would give out awards to the movies of 2013, if that was a power that I had.  I'm not going to go through all the exact same categories as the Academy Awards, because some of them are just tiresome and others require inside knowledge that I do not possess.  This post is obviously meant to be complementary to my Best of 2013 post, where I listed all my favorites, so I have left out Best Picture nominees here; they would be the same as the top 10 from that post, so no need to list them twice.  

Each category is listed in order of preference, with the first director/actor/etc. being my choice for the winner.  Things should be fairly self-explanatory from there.

Best Director
1. Hayao Miyazaki (The Wind Rises)
2. Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
3. Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone in Love)
4. Terrence Malick (To the Wonder)
5. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
HM: Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), Shane Carruth (Upstream Color)

Best Screenplay (Adapted or Original, doesn't matter)
1. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
2. Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)
3. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
4. Shane Carruth (Upstream Color)
5. Spike Jonze (Her)

Best Actor
1. Leonardo DiCarprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
2. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
3. Simon Pegg (The World's End)
4. Chiwetel Ejiofer (12 Years a Slave)
5. Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

Best Actress
1. Olga Kurylenko (To the Wonder)
2. Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)
3. Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
4. Brie Larsen (Short Term 12)
5. Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color)

Best Supporting Actor
1. Matthew McConaughey (The Wolf of Wall Street)
2. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
3. Jiang Wu (A Touch of Sin)
4. Tadashi Okuno (Like Someone in Love)
5. Nick Frost (The World's End)
HM: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Zhang Ziyi (The Grandmaster)
2. Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
3. Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
4. Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin)
5. Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now)

Best Cinematography
1. Emmanuel Lubezki (To the Wonder)
2. Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
3. Hoyte van Hoytema (Her)
4. Nelson Yu Lik Wai (A Touch of Sin)
5. Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
HM: Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave)

Best Editing
1. Keith Fraase (To the Wonder)
2. Shane Carruth, David Lowery (Upstream Color)
3. Bahman Kiarostami (Like Someone in Love)
4. Eric Zumbrunnen, Jeff Buchanan (Her)
5. Shigeru Nishiyama (Wolf Children)
HM: Takeshi Seyama (The Wind Rises), Paul Machliss (The World's End), Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Best Musical Score
1.  Joe Hisaishi (The Wind Rises)
2.  Arcade Fire (Her)
3.  Steven Price (Gravity)
4. Hanan Townshend (To the Wonder)
5.  Shane Carruth (Upstream Color)
HM: T. Bone Burnett (Inside Llewyn Davis) for an expert collection of beautiful folk songs

Best Scene
1. The Opening Dream (The Wind Rises)
2. Quaaludes (The Wolf of Wall Street
3. From 1st Grade to 4th Grade (Wolf Children)
4. "My head is made of the same substance as the sun" (Upstream Color)
5. Final Homily (To the Wonder)
6. Earthquake (The Wind Rises)
7. Please Mr. Kennedy (Inside Llewyn Davis)
8. Sky-Diving Rescue (Iron Man 3)
9. First Impact (Gravity)
10. Roll Jordan Roll (12 Years a Slave)

(actually published Feb 28, 2016)

Best of 2013

1. The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)

1. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

2. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Bros.)

3. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)

4. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)

5. To the Wonder (Terrence Malick)

6. A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)

7. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

8. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)

9. The Grandmaster (Chinese Cut) (Wong Kar-Wai)

10. Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki (Mamoru Hosoda)

11. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

12. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)

Honorable Mentions:  The World's End (Edgar Wright), Mud (Jeff Nichols), Ernest & Celestine (Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner), Iron Man 3 (Shane Black), Pacific Rim (Guillermo Del Toro), Monsters University (Dan Scanlon)

Most Overrated:  American Hustle (David O. Russell)

Most Underrated/Underseen:  The Lone Ranger (Gore Verbinski)

Favorite Guilty Pleasure:  The Wolverine (James Mangold), I guess?

Worst Movie I Saw This Year:  Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)

(actually posted Feb 2015)