Patton (1970) - dir. Franklin J. Schaffner

It’s hard to put it - the power of George C. Scott’s performance. I’ve always heard about it, and I’ve always been a Scott fan. He’s terrific in Anatomy of a Murder, Dr. Strangelove and the Hustler, but this performance is easily his best. In order to best compare this, I’d say it’s similar to Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street… but it’s a better performance still. Apart from Scott’s portrayal as the megalomaniacal George S. Patton, the film is still quite good.

Brevity is not its strong suit, but that’s never been an aspect of war. The cinematography is gorgeous (the Blu Ray remastering is perfect), the set designs are absolutely terrific. It’s an odd movie, an epic surrounding one man, but it still holds up nearly forty-five years later.

8.0

In Time (2011) - dir. Andrew Niccol

Niccol is a pretty darn good screenwriter, so it’s a little disappointing to get four minutes into In Time and already feel like we’ve seen this before. Because you have. Maybe not with this premise (time as currency), but you’ve seen it done. It’s no cornier than Elysium or Snowpiercer but the filmmaking is a step down. I’ve no qualms with JT running the show, it’s an action-dystopian flick, the main character doesn’t need to be terrifically entertaining,

But the action should be. And that’s where the film let me down. It never really went too far into the zone of terrible, so I’ll give it a pass, but I never once cared about any of it. I did appreciate that Amanda Seyfried was given the unlikely opportunity to play a character her own age.

5.6

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013) - dir. Declan Lowney

I’ve always gotten a lot of flack for being too harsh on comedic films, well now I’ve got the perfect example. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (especially if you’re not at all familiar with the characters or the cast) is exactly what I want from the genre I’ve dubbed: stupid comedies. It’s stupid. The film has no point. Partridge (Steve Coogan) is no different at the end of the film than he was at the beginning. The film is downright unfathomable, the characters are moronic personifications of a single human trait, and there are even a handful of poop jokes.

But it’s also kind of brilliant. The humor is informed, the comedic timing is on point, and Declan Lowney’s direction really takes this film from a funny script to a legitimately funny motion picture. The camera helps to tell the story, Coogan is terrifc (as always) and the supporting cast (especially the wonderfully talented Colm Meaney) are all brilliant. There’s every kind of comedy in here, and they pull it off without a hitch. There’s no let-up, the jokes just keep on rolling, the story keeps spiraling out of control, and the ending is big, over the top, and plays with stereotypes. It’s the perfect stupid comedy, but stupid it still is.

7.3

After Earth (2013) - dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Well, this was disappointing. I heard so many negative things about this film, that I was ready for a completely detestable submission into the canon of Hollywood cinema. With veterans Shyamalan and Smith at the helm… well what else was I supposed to expect? The film was pretty imaginative for what it was, it worked exactly the way they wanted it to, the weapons were actually pretty cool and I always forget that Shyamalan is capable of scene-to-scene greatness.

Sure, the script is flawed, the CGI looks like CGI and the lead character was just an angsty teen with a fake british accent (Jaden’s terribleness is the only thing that held up to my expectations) but doesn’t that sound like every other PG-13 film on the market? I think people took too harshly to the film’s nepotism. If it wasn’t Will and Jaden smith, why would I watch it? I guess if you wanted to make it better you could’ve done the same film with Julianne Moore as Cypher and Chloe Grace Moretz as Kitai, but that might’ve made it worse. And Thomas Newton Howard’s score is pretty great.

Still, nothing to sneeze at, but didn’t offend my eyes or intelligence in the way I expected.

5.4

Rousing Album Series
FKA twigs - LP1 (2014)
I would like to formally thank Bjork and Prince for inspiring this new movement of future garage/singer-songwriter/r&b shit. Whatever they’ll end up calling it - I love it. FKA twigs is like the female version of Abel Tesfaye. Her lyrics are sexy, her beats are James Blake good, and the atmosphere created is visceral and lush.
"Two Weeks", "Numbers", and "Kicks" highlight the album, which you can listen to here. It’s not overly new or refreshing, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t gone down smooth thus far.

for fans of: James Blake, the Weeknd, and Niki & the Dove

Rousing Album Series

FKA twigs - LP1 (2014)

I would like to formally thank Bjork and Prince for inspiring this new movement of future garage/singer-songwriter/r&b shit. Whatever they’ll end up calling it - I love it. FKA twigs is like the female version of Abel Tesfaye. Her lyrics are sexy, her beats are James Blake good, and the atmosphere created is visceral and lush.

"Two Weeks", "Numbers", and "Kicks" highlight the album, which you can listen to here. It’s not overly new or refreshing, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t gone down smooth thus far.

for fans of: James Blake, the Weeknd, and Niki & the Dove

Cloak & Dagger (1984) - dir. Richard Franklin
I totally get the “don’t-let-your-kids-play-video-games-because-of-the-violence” thing. This film came out in 1984, and we have a young boy (Henry Thomas) coping with the loss of his mother by spending all day playing a combination of Atari and make believe. He walks around with an all black walkie talkie, an all black water pistol (that looks like a real pistol and shoots fake blood) and his imaginary friend Jack Flack (clearly played by the same man who is Davey’s (Thomas) father). I’ve no qualms with stories about eight-year-olds running around a big city on their own (it’s what my graduate thesis was)… but the gun creeped me out.
Quickly, Davey’s make-believe world crosses into some form of reality… meaning, the eight-year-old gets caught up in secret government plots involving Russian spies, a copy of Davey’s favorite video game and two kind old folks who make a side comment about pedophilia that didn’t sit right with me. The film begins well and ends as expected, but in the middle it’s this creepy little capsule from 1984, and I could tell that I would have loved this when I was a child. 
6.2

Cloak & Dagger (1984) - dir. Richard Franklin

I totally get the “don’t-let-your-kids-play-video-games-because-of-the-violence” thing. This film came out in 1984, and we have a young boy (Henry Thomas) coping with the loss of his mother by spending all day playing a combination of Atari and make believe. He walks around with an all black walkie talkie, an all black water pistol (that looks like a real pistol and shoots fake blood) and his imaginary friend Jack Flack (clearly played by the same man who is Davey’s (Thomas) father). I’ve no qualms with stories about eight-year-olds running around a big city on their own (it’s what my graduate thesis was)… but the gun creeped me out.

Quickly, Davey’s make-believe world crosses into some form of reality… meaning, the eight-year-old gets caught up in secret government plots involving Russian spies, a copy of Davey’s favorite video game and two kind old folks who make a side comment about pedophilia that didn’t sit right with me. The film begins well and ends as expected, but in the middle it’s this creepy little capsule from 1984, and I could tell that I would have loved this when I was a child. 

6.2

Manhunter (1986) - dir. Michael Mann

This is a whacky little genre flick. There are shot-for-shot reconstructions of scenes from Manhunter in Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. You get the feeling Gil Grisham (William Petersen) from television’s CSI is based off Manhunter's Wil Graham (William Petersen). You can feel the 80s pulsing through every neon shadow. You know Winding Refn saw this and it helped him make Drive.

The film is laughable at times, iconic at others. But the atmosphere created is incomparable. The shootout at the end is flawless, the beginning is flawless. If you were able to swap out Brian Cox’s Hannibal Lecktor for Anthony Hopkins Hannibal Lecter… well you’d have one of the finest genre films I’ve ever seen. In fact, you still do. I can feel the threads of this film holding together so many of my favorites… and I’m not even a Michael Mann fan.

9.1