REVIEW: Godzilla

Godzilla

Godzilla
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Written by: Max Borenstein (screenplay), Dave Callaham (story)
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe

The 1998 iteration of Godzilla will always hold a special place in my 7-year-old heart.  It is one of the first PG-13 movies I remember seeing in the theater, and the first thing I wanted to do afterward was go out and buy all of the Godzilla toys (yay, product tie-ins!).  Of course, watching that version years later isn’t good for much else but that memory.

Because of that movie, however, I also rented countless other old Godzilla movies, where the nuclear dinosaur faced off against city-eradicating nemeses like Mothra, Rodan, Bollante, Gigan, Mechagodzilla and, of course, King Kong.  I watched those showdowns indiscriminately alongside the English language remake of the original, reenacting the battles with toys and imagined skyscrapers.

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Our Favorite Performances of 2013

DiCaprio Wolf of Wall Street

1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street- A career-best performance for DiCaprio in his thrilling latest collaboration with Martin Scorsese.  He gives off machine-gun bursts of energy as Wall Street crook Jordan Belfort and shows an amazing knack for both physical and verbal comedy that his often-serious portrayals don’t let him bring out.  It’s both loud and rambunctious and deeply nuanced.  (Added Dec. 30) 

Frances Ha

2. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha- This fantastic turn is the stunning result of Greta Gerwig’s New Wave collaboration with director Noah Baumbach.  While also serving as co-writer of the movie, Gerwig captures a rocky period of this 27-year-old dancer wannabe’s life with a contagious charm.  The movie is very much built around her unpredictability, and she captures the pain and anxiety of post-college youth without overplaying her hand.  She is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl whose dreams are her own.

blue-jasmine-trailer

3. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen’s latest simply wouldn’t have been as good without this thunderous performance from Cate Blanchett.  She manages the difficult task of creating a loathsome woman that also elicits pity.  After a long string of privileged existence, Jasmine is finally forced to confront the depths of her mental instability when her Madoff-esque husband is caught.  Blanchett gazes unflinchingly into the abyss of depression with raw feeling and crucial sympathy.

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REVIEW: Blue Jasmine

Comedy-or-Drama

Blue Jasmine
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale and Alec Baldwin

Two sisters; one a blonde suffering from crippling depression and the other a brunette with a fatigued understanding of how to help her.  That’s the premise of Woody Allen’s latest, a bruising and mostly unsparing look at a woman who hides serious problems behind bourgeois privilege.

From that description alone, it should be fairly easy to tell just how heavily Blue Jasmine draws from 2011’s Melancholia, which is for me one of the defining films of this decade so far.  It’s clear in both films that the protagonists are surrogates of their respective directors, but Allen doesn’t have the film’s world mirror his protagonist or create a distinct editing rhythm that conveys her depression.  His movie rests on the more than capable shoulders of Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins, who deliver two distinct but masterful performances here.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Happy-Go-Lucky

Happy-Go-Lucky
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, and Karina Fernandez

Impossible would be one way to describe Poppy (Sally Hawkins), the flamboyantly optimistic center of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. With that one word, you can take her as impossibly happy, annoying, or over the top.  She is all of these things and more, as you and she both learn during the course of this off-beat life lesson comedy.

Hawkins and Leigh both approach this complicated woman with true zest and unapologetic heart.  This performance is a work of art inspired by a terrific actress and this director’s unique method.  Leigh casts his movies with only story in mind, and then works with his actors to craft improvised moments and write out the actual screenplay.

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