Edward Norton

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

by Alan Rapp on January 2, 2015

in Top Tens & Lists

The Top 10 Movies of 2014

Family, friendship, and the struggle to find oneself’s place in the world were the big themes on my list this year. Looking back the year might not have offered me the clear winner to top the list (I gave out no perfect score for any film this year), but it still offered a solid list of ten movies worth noting and celebrating. As always, I tried to see as much as possible but there are a few films, most notably Whiplash and Gone Girl, which eluded me. Others like Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice, and American Sniper won’t release in my home market in 2014 (and which I was unable to view and/or review before the publishing of this list) are also not included (although you might see a couple of them turn up in my mid-year list of Best Movies of 2015 So Far next year). Enough with what didn’t make the cut, here is my list of the Top Ten Movies of 2014.

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  • Title: Birdman
  • IMDb: link

BirdmanWriter/director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s tale of a washed-up celebrity’s last chance to reclaim his career is a bizarre look at the life of a man who may, or may not, have super-human abilities who has bet his entire career on a Broadway production that is in continual struggle as opening night looms.

Making good use of Michael Keaton‘s role of Batman back in the early 1990s, Iñárritu casts the actor as Riggan Thomson best known for his role as a super-hero film series star who no one inside the industry takes seriously. Riggan is haunted by his former alter-ego Birdman who continues whispering to him in a gruff Batman tone voicing displeasure about the current state of the star’s life. In a script that ebbs and flows (and often gives us too many first-person walking shots down halls where nothing happens), Keaton keeps Birdman on track delivering his best performance since donning his own tights.

The rest of the cast and crew of the production fall into unremarkable (workmen, staff, etc.) or hopelessly neurotic (Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough) and egomaniacs (Edward Norton).

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

by Alan Rapp on March 27, 2014

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • IMDB: link

The Grand Budapest HotelFor his latest film writer/director Wes Anderson takes his trademark style to the fictional Republic of Zubrowka and a once-proud mountainside resort known as The Grand Budapest Hotel with a rich history to share. Relying heavily on narration, the film struggles a bit to get going by beginning in the present and slowly peeling back layers (each jumping 20 years or so into the past) until we finally arrive in the pre-World War II 1930s and the story of fastidious old-school concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his the new lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori).

During the overly-elaborate and unnecessarily complicated (although certainly not boring) first 20-minutes or so as the movie introduces an elderly author (Tom Wilkinson) beginning his own flashbacks to his time at the hotel as a younger man (Jude Law) when he happened to meet the elderly version of Zero (F. Murray Abraham) and thus learned his story, Anderson relies on a variety of his usual bag of tricks involving beautiful cinematography and set design highlighted by the use of some marvelous miniatures.

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The Ten Best Movies of 2012 (So Far)

by Alan Rapp on June 30, 2012

in Top Tens & Lists

Super-heroes, aliens, character studies, parents and their children, time travel, the Scottish Highlands, young love, monsters, and the end of the world. Halfway through the year we take a look back at the ten best movies from the first-half of 2012.

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Moonrise Kingdom

by Alan Rapp on June 29, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Moonrise Kingdom
  • IMDB: link

moonrise-kingdom-posterThere is never a doubt that Moonrise Kingdom is a Wes Anderson film. From the opening credit sequence to the final shot the writer/director’s latest is filled with his voice and style. I haven’t always been Anderson’s biggest fan, as at times I think he sacrifices substance for style (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and to a lesser extent Rushmore), but I enjoyeed The Darjeeling Limited and appreciated The Fantastic Mr. Fox enough to include it on a list of my the Best Films of 2009.

Anderson’s latest is a bit of a departure as it focuses on a pair of 12 year-old characters (rather than his usual choice of an ensemble of thoroughly damaged and eccentric adults). Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphaned Khaki Scout marooned on a small New England island with no paved roads and a group of unfriendly companions. Suzy (Kara Hayward) is the problem child of a pair of lawyers (Frances McDormandBill Murray) more comfortable discussing legal briefs than feelings.

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