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Film Review The Grand Budapest Hotel

I liked it, but wanted to like it more after having so enjoyed the trailer.

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Not entirely sure if I should approach this as more a political story or a personal one. I don’t think it comes to any conclusions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, other than to observe the difficulty of living under someone else’s thumb, though the ending — which felt abrupt but I might admire more over time — might represent the inevitable result of the cycles of violence and mistrust.

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Totally not as awful as I expected, which they should put on the poster.

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This reminded me of Shame in an interesting way: both are about troubling sexual behaviors, but neither is interested in the motivation behind those behaviors — or at least, not interested in explaining them to us.

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fading gigolo

This is a very goofy premise: Woody Allen convinces his friend John Turturro (who wrote and directed), apropos of nothing, to become a male prostitute. Sounds like the start of slapstick or farce, but Turturro guides it in a much more interesting, more meaningful direction that is attentive to class, gender, and clashing cultures.

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Luckily, what works best about the film is the most important part: the relationship between Elsa and Anna. They’re the best characters, and the only songs I cared about in the soundtrack were their solos or duets with each other; I would have cut the trolls’ song right out, and though it has some charming moments, Olaf’s song about summer feels like filler too. One criticism: Idina Menzel does great voice work, but she has such a big distinctive voice that I often felt a disconnect between the visual of Elsa and the sound of her singing, especially during “Let It Go,” which looks like a cartoon lipsynching to a Menzel track.

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captain america winter soldier

I saw this without seeing the first Captain America movie; I haven’t committed to the whole Marvel films canon, just pick and choose those that interest me. I might go back and watch that one now that I’ve seen this, because this is probably my favorite of the Marvel franchise films alongside The Avengers and the first Iron Man. That’s actually kind of faint praise, though, because I haven’t truly loved any of them; that puts this one at around a solid “B.”

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My Top 10 Films of 2013

Top 10 Films of 2013

It has been a while since I updated this blog, as I’ve focused on other writing that has taken me away from adding reviews here, but I couldn’t not come back for my favorite films of 2013 on the eve of the Oscars, when we put a period at the end of the long run-on sentence that was the year in movies.

I’ve seen 73 films released theatrically in 2013. I eventually may see more, but for now I think these were the best among them.

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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

the butler oprah winfrey forest whitakerDir. Lee Daniels
(2013, PG-13, 132 minutes)

The Butler is rough around the edges with notable flaws, but it’s also refreshing in one important way: It’s a story of racial inequality in America that takes the point of view of a black family. There’s a tendency in major motion pictures to tell stories about ethnic minorities or Eastern cultures through the point of view of white tourists (The Impossible) or white saviors (The Blind Side, The Help). Even science-fiction isn’t safe: in the 22nd century-set Elysium, a group of poor Hispanics need Matt Damon in a big metal body suit to rescue them.

Some of those films are better than others, and assuming a white point of view doesn’t by itself make a film good or bad, but taken together they establish a frustrating trend: do studios think a wide audience needs white protagonists to make such stories palatable? If so, why?

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