Wednesday movie catchup

I’ve seen 10 more 2014 films since I last posted any reviews. Allow me to just scroll through them quickly right now.

This is Where I leave You: A solid cast can’t overcome an overused story arch that’s been done too many times before. It’s about four siblings who return to their small town home to join their mother in mourning their late father. Of course, each sibling has their own personal problems they are dealing with. It tries way too hard to be overly emotional, and gets lost in an overload of subplots. But Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda do present a likable cast, and that’s really the one good thing you can say.

Wish I Was Here: I was pretty disappointed with this film, only because I expect better from Zach Braff. His script contains a surprisingly cliché narrative, and, for the most part, pretty unlikeable characters. There are a few quirky Zach Braff touches in there, however, that made us love Garden State so much, like rabbis on segways and people dressed up in space suits. But this tale of self-discovery just didn’t hit the mark for me.

How to Train Your Dragon 2: White not quite as good as its predecessor, it still possesses the magic that’s made the franchise so popular to begin with. Couple that with outstanding animation and a compelling enough story, and you’ve got yourself another hit.

Obvious Child: Two words: Jenny. Slate. The former SNL cast member absolutely shines in this coming-of-age dramedy. There’s a serious amount of laughs in this one. It’s a female-driven comedy about womanhood that isn’t afraid to be raunchy, which is usually reserved for male comedies. So it’s a nice refresher. You wonder how successful the film would have been with any other actress besides Slate, but, it doesn’t matter. A star is born.

Camp X-Ray: Easily Kristen Stewart’s best performance to date. She plays a member of the armed forces who is assigned to oversee detainees in Guantano Bay. While she’s there, she forms a precarious friendship with one of them. It was actually a perfect role to her, because she portrays  just that right combination of fearlessness and vulnerability that fits her character. Terrific performance by her co-star, Peyman Mooadi, as well. The movie also delicately portrays a very controversial subject without placing judgment.

Young Ones: I honestly have no idea what this movie is about. It’s a futuristic, dystopian world with a plot that really didn’t need to be set in a futuristic, dystopian world. Anyway, it takes place in a time where water is extremely hard to come by. No major dilemma is really established that makes you care about the characters, and it’s a shame because it’s a waste of both solid cinematography and Michael Shannon.

White Bird in a Blizzard: Shailene Woodley gets naked. Sorry, I couldn’t really hold that one in. And I guess it’s a commentary on the film that the prevailing memory is nude scenes rather than the actual story. It was an interesting role for her, because she’s really at a point where she could be in any movie she wants without needing to resort to nude scenes. But anyway, the story is somewhat compelling, and it’s supported by a solid supporting cast in Christopher Meloni and Eva Green. There’s a bit of mystery too that will keep the viewer interested. Also, did I mention Shailene Woodley gets naked?

Maps to the Stars: I don’t think a movie will ever be made that has more unlikable characters than Maps to the Stars. But that was the point. Director David Cronenberg creates a satirical drama about the lives of those who get caught up in the Hollywood glamour. It’s a cautionary tale of losing sight of life’s priorities. But you also get an exceptional performance from Julianne Moore. Other than her, the characters are pretty blah. This movie is definitely not for everyone. In fact, it’s probably not for most people.

Enemy: Director Denis Villanueve (Prisoners) has proven that he can make anything dark and suspenseful. Enemy isn’t even that dark of a movie, and yet, haunting music and voyeuristic cinematography gives the viewer an uneasy feeling. It’s about a man who sees his exact lookalike in a movie, and sets out to find him. But it’s a psychological thriller, and you soon discover there’s a lot more than meets the eye.

The One I Love: Mark Duplass has become the king of independent, quirky comedies, and in The One I Love, he’s found his queen in Elizabeth Moss. The pair are fantastic together and share tremendous chemistry, which is ironic, when you consider that they portray a couple in the midst of a strained relationship. Their therapist sends them off to a secluded home for the weekend to resolve their troubles, and they end up finding themselves in an extremely peculiar – supernatural  — situation. It’s a totally original movie with a great script.

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