Best of 2011, pt. 5

Frontier metaphysics, tragic and comic.

Continue Reading 2 comments February 17th, 2012

2011: The Year in Film, pt. 4

Death as minor cosmic blip and show-stopping vengeance.

Continue Reading Add comment February 4th, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Criticizing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is almost redundant - the movie itself helpfully allegorizes just why audiences are likely to find it irritating from its first scenes. The film starts with a dad (Tom Hanks) imparting a valuable lesson to his son (Thomas Horn) by concocting a fanciful story - here, this NYC kid is sent on a mission to find remnants of a mythical sixth borough, which is really meant to help him improve his stunted social skills. As the film progresses and morphs into its own absurd fairy tale, you’ll realize that this is just what director Stephen Daldry is attempting to do for the audience. But unless you’re a child with a penchant for meditations on grief, you’ll probably be irritated at the movie’s fatherly condescension towards you, especially when its lessons are so banal and its window-dressing is so vile.

Continue Reading Add comment January 25th, 2012

2011: The Year in Film, pt. 3

Mumble-noir, scalping, and (surprise!) Fareed waxing eloquent about a superhero movie.

Continue Reading Add comment January 7th, 2012

2011: The Year in Film pt. 2

Raj discusses the biggest cinematic moment of the year, while Fareed takes on the tiniest.

Continue Reading Add comment January 5th, 2012

2011: The Year in Film pt. 1

“Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a small subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face, and the world makes a little bit of sense.” - Pauline Kael, “Trash, Art, and the Movies”

In lieu of our usual best-of exercise, we here at The Asphalt Jungle decided to shift gears this year and focus on the little things that made us love film in 2011 (we’ll be publishing our top 10 lists as well later on). These were the most notable scenes, performances, and moments, whether they were excellent exceptions in terrible films, unfortunate deviations in magnificent movies, or, of course, sublime parts of sublime cinema.

Continue Reading Add comment January 4th, 2012

Weekend Movies: Young Adult

Movie direction is basically a process of seduction, and Jason Reitman has had a traditional tendency to come on too strong. Reitman’s past films (Juno, Up in the Air) have their share of fans, but there’s not an instant in either where you don’t sense a filmmaker behind the scenes desperate for audience approval – every uncomfortable moment in the teen pregnancy story Juno is quickly smoothed over with a dose of stylized quirk, and even Up in the Air‘s harsh corporate-downsizing drama is eventually melted into goo by endless snappy one-liners and the tasteful indie tunes omnipresent on the soundtrack.

Continue reading at the Ace Weekly…

Add comment December 18th, 2011

Weekend Movies: Melancholia

Don’t let the movie star glamour and swooning operatic lyricism of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (playing at the Kentucky Theatre) fool you – at its heart, it’s not too far removed from the Midwestern grit and hard-bitten realism of Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter. These are both movies that explore how we might cope with the end of human existence – the only key thematic difference is that Nichols proposes the apocalypse as a tentative “if”, while von Trier prefers to think of it as a resounding “when”.

Continue reading at the Ace Weekly…

Add comment December 10th, 2011

Weekend Movies: Margin Call

The big running joke in J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call (playing at the Kentucky Theatre), a fictional account of an Lehman-Brothers-esque investment bank on the eve of the 2008 market crash, is that most of the employees at the film’s financial firm are as confused about what their company does as your average 99-Percenter might be. A low-level egghead (Zachary Quinto) investigating the firing of his boss (Stanley Tucci) is the one who first discovers that the company’s bets on subprime mortgages threaten to bankrupt half of Wall Street. When he attempts to explain this to superiors, however, he’s told to speak in “plain English” (Jeremy Irons’ CEO asks him to explain as he might “to a young child, or a golden retriever”).

Continue reading at the Ace Weekly…

Add comment December 3rd, 2011

Weekend Movies: The Descendants, Take Shelter

The Oscar movie season is in a unique state of chaos this year, though it’s nothing compared to the mayhem going on behind the scenes of the Oscar show itself (where producer Brett Ratner and host Eddie Murphy resigned after the former’s homophobic slurs during a press conference). This is the first time in years that a dominant Best Picture front-runner has not quickly emerged, like last year’s The King’s Speech. Instead, buzz is accruing around films that would be unlikely contenders in other years, like Alexander Payne’s modest family fable The Descendants.

Continue reading at the Ace Weekly…

6 comments November 30th, 2011

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