The Son of No One

  1. The mustache was ridiculous.
  2. How many variations on one scene can we have? Tatum loses his shit, yells and curses a bunch, punches the wall.
  3. If you tell the kid to stay put and not go anywhere, then of course he’s going to take off.
  4. The cast was good, but I still don’t like Katie Holmes.
  5. Al Pacino was pretty reserved. This was a plus.
  6. Ray Liotta, as a crooked cop? Really? Who woulda thunk?

Missable.

The Big Short

What’s the saying? “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” Well a lot of people were not paying attention to the mortgage crisis of 2007-08, brought about by the packaging by the big banks of mortgage-backed securities that were anything but secure…

This is a deft telling of that tale, made palatable by the cast and the screenplay. Definitely worth a watch.

Spotlight

This year’s Oscar winner is a throwback to an “All the President’s Men” kind of film. Well done. Praise for the script, for the casting (although I’ll never be able to think of John Slattery as anyone other than Roger Sterling), for the acting, for the editing…

The Revenant

Brutal. Beautiful. Astounding. If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win the Oscar this time, it will be a travesty.

Tom Hardy is no slouch, either. But he doesn’t have to crawl in a horse carcass, or eat raw bison liver…

Hateful Eight

Sam Jackson.

You have to sort of think that Tarantino is fucking with us here, rubbing it in the faces of those critics who say he has a problem with race, that he overuses the term “nigger,” that he needs to give it a break. Um, if you are offended by the term, stay far, far away from this film.

If, on the other hand, you like Sam Jackson, run to the theater now. This is Jackson at his best,

Tarantino is known for referencing – some would say ripping off – films from that past that he admires. That is as true as ever here, notably any number of zombie films with characters projectile vomiting blood. Not to mention his own Reservoir Dogs, with Tim Roth here reprising his gut-shot dude writhing on the floor.

And did Tarantino ask Kurt Russell to do a John Wayne imitation? This I found irritating.

Yes, the film could have been at least a half-hour shorter. A few too many long shots of horses and carriages cutting through the snow… and the narration felt unnecessary. So no, not a perfect film. But a decent film from Tarantino is like 2 or 3 good films from anybody else.

Prisoners

Every parent’s nightmare – their child goes missing. Two children, in fact, from two families, at the same time. Very quickly it becomes clear that this is a kidnapping, and a suspect is apprehended. But he cannot be charged. The father of one of the children is outraged, and hatches a plan to find out what the suspect has done – he is sure – with the children.

And so begins the mystery. Is this suspect the actual criminal? What about this other creepy guy? And how is this crime related to the disappearance of a man from the community several years ago?

All of the clues are laid out for us, and while the mystery is solvable by the discerning viewer, it is cleverly twisted, and requires a leap to make the final connection. Well done, with excellent performances from Hugh Jackson as the distraught father, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead detective.

Copenhagen

One of the most despicable film characters I have yelled at in a long while. This guy is not just a cad. He’s more than an Ugly American. He’s a genuine asshole.

Yes, I admit that at the end he’s a better guy, but that’s not such an accomplishment.

There’s not very much in the way of acting, from the male lead or his buddy. But the Danish girl was terrific. Radiant is the word that comes to mind. She’s like a young Coco, from Quadron, and she’s what elevated the film to something watchable.

Blue Ruin

This is everything you hope for in an unknown film that you choose because the trailer and/or poster looks interesting. Beginning with excellent photography, an interesting script, a mystery, and actors you can believe in, and following through with genuine suspense, realistic action, and a cohesive storyline.

Bonus: excellent special effects in the bodily wounds department.

I’ve read comparisons to Blood Simple, and I agree that there are real parallels. This isn’t as visually stylized, but I think it’s an equally assured early effort from an unknown director. The real connection is in the amateur-hour efforts of the heroes, bumbling their way through the killing of others. If you yourself are not a professional hit man, you too may identify with the difficulties faced by the protagonist.

Some critics seem to think that the ending is a sellout, but I thought it was handled well, and is of a piece with the entire film. See for yourself.

Terms And Conditions May Apply

Plot synopsis: Read the Terms and Conditions before clicking Agree.

Actually, no, nobody is going to do that. And that’s what Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Linkedin, Apple, every corporation with a Terms & Conditions statement posted online, basically, is counting on. It’s just too much to physically read – the figure given in the movie is 180 hours per year that the average internet user would spend in reading all of the T&C they encounter and agree to.

And so this film breaks it down for us – here’s what you agreed to if you use these sites, here’s what data is collected and here’s how those companies buy it and use it to further their business objectives. Oh, and by the way, the government is in on the action too…