ian has written 21 reviews for films during 2014.

  • Ida

    Ida

    ★★★★

    Slight but expansive. Stunning, gimmick-free cinematography. RIYL stark European film a la Tarkovsky, Tarr, and Haneke.

  • Laurence Anyways

    Laurence Anyways

    ★★★½

    the way Dolan creates little moments of tension is remarkable. consummate storytelling.

  • Inside Llewyn Davis

    Inside Llewyn Davis

    ★★★★

    ILD didn't reveal much more on a second viewing. Still looks incredible and Llewyn is still a complex and compelling character. The music is still wonderful.

    One thing I did experience on second viewing was the thinness of John Goodman's portrayal of Roland Turner. There's not much there, and the comic relief fell flat for me.

  • First Winter

    First Winter

    ★★★

    Wanted to like it more than I did. It felt slight, and the denouement didn't really work for me. Was still an interesting watch, though.

  • Nurse 3-D

    Nurse 3-D

    Between Paz de la Huerta's agonized acting and the incessant, horribly written VoiceOver, I could only last 20 minutes. First walkout of 2014.

  • The Protector 2

    The Protector 2

    I LOVE Tony Jaa. When I saw Ong Bak, there were several times when I jumped out of my seat and cheered in amazement and utter disbelief at what I'd just seen Jaa do. Much of it seemed, quite literally, impossible.

    Ong Bak 2, the prequel, wasn't as good, but there was enough Jaa-mazement to hold my interest. The Protector 2, on the other hand, was an absolute chore to watch.

    There was literally nothing worthwhile. The story was a…

  • Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

    Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

    ★★★

    A difficult film to describe. The narrative is fairly straightforward; typical tragedy, man's reach exceed his grasp, etc., but it's the storytelling that's problematic. Things happen, but only later does it become clear why or *how* they happened, so one often feels lost, grasping for connection. That very well may have been des Pallieres' intention, but it makes for something of an uncomfortable watch.

    Still, the scenery, the performances, and Mads Mikkelsen's face made it worthwhile. Still, I came away wishing I'd just watched "Valhalla Rising" again.

  • The Counselor

    The Counselor

    ★★★½

    THE COUNSELOR was terrible, except when it was excellent. Often it was both at the same time.

    The cast, with the exception of Cameron Diaz, was uniformly excellent. There were scintillating visual moments, courtesy of Ridley Scott's great eye, and fantastic monologues poured from Cormac McCarthy's pen. But in aggregate, the movie did nothing, said nothing, was nothing.

    It failed as a thriller; I never knew what was at stake, or why I should care.

    It failed as philosophy, as…

  • Big Bad Wolves

    Big Bad Wolves

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    This is not meant to serve as a review; it's merely me jotting down some thoughts about this very problematic (for me) film.

    And this contains serious spoilers, like, spoil-y spoilers. So stop reading now if you don't wanna be spoiled.

    1. I crave ambivalence in films; I recoil if everything is black and white. That said, at some point ambivalence crosses a line into just being a mess. I really don't know what the filmmakers' intent was here. And…

  • Stranger by the Lake

    Stranger by the Lake

    ★★½

    Gotta say, I really don't understand all the hype around this, and I especially don't understand any comparisons to Blue Is the Warmest Color. I mean, other than being French films with explicit sex scenes, they don't have much in common.

    I'm sure I'll be processing this for a while, trying to tease out what Guiraudie was saying w/r/t love, loneliness, and desire. But despite the denouement near the very end of the film, it didn't seem to pack much of an emotional punch for me. (Franck and Henri's relationship is a notable exception; that was actually quite touching.)

  • You're Next

    You're Next

    If this qualifies as "fresh" and "unexpected," then the horror genre is in worse shape than I thought.

  • Short Term 12

    Short Term 12

    ★★★★

    This one really resonated with me. I worked in group homes in my 20s, and the scenes set on the unit really rang true for me. The love story was also understated and moving, with great performances from both leads. The narrative got a little labored in the 2nd and 3rd acts, with some unnecessary machinations, but that didn't neutralize this film's charm for me.

    Keith Stanfield turned in a really powerful performance as Marcus. The pain written on this kid's face... damn.

    Excited to see what's next from this obviously talented auteur.