Believe the hype, folks. Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu faultlessly crafts Birdman, a film that appears as one long tracking shot, using clever filmmaking skills to pull off the remarkable style. Michael Keaton makes an incredible comeback in a momentous performance that deserves all of the praise and awards that it’s sure to garner, but it’s Edward Norton who steals the show with a paramount performance that perfectly encapsulates what the actor is really like. This is an ambitious, breathtaking, and technically impressive work of art.
Wardaddy: It will end, soon. But before it does, a lot more people have to die.
Fury is a well-acted, mediocre war drama that features Brad Pitt and company killing nazis. It’s a straightforward WWII drama, nothing more and nothing less. Pitt channels Lt. Aldo Raine as the first billed actor, but it’s Logan Lerman and Shia Labeouf who outperform him in wholly transformative performances. The sound design is top-notch and the action sequences are visually stunning. While there’s little substance and underdeveloped characters, Fury remains a pretty good, albeit clichéd picture.
Alexander Cooper: You gotta have the bad days so you can love the good days even more.
Steve Carell is a versatile actor. He has a certain charisma that he brings to the table; he’s hypnotizing in his ability to entertain. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a pleasing, schmaltzy, sentimental family farce that delivers on its premise thanks to Carell’s absolute charm. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a straightforward comedy that features good morals and upstanding family values. Clocking in at a brisk 80 minutes, this is a harmless little film with fun to be had.
Horns is a darkly comic horror fable from French director Alexandre Aja based on the book written by Joe Hill. I entered the film with relatively low expectations and came out with a fat grin on my face. I assumed it would be typical YA fare with a predictable story. I could not have been more out of line. This is an engaging tale of extortion and disaffection mixed in with fantasy elements headlined by an astute performance from Daniel Radcliffe.
Hilary Altman: For the next seven days, you are all my children again and you are all grounded.
Sometimes a film works merely based on an all-star cast. You can get away with some passionless writing if you have a convincing cast. This Is Where I Leave You is the newest film from director Shawn Levy and has enough fluff to entertain those familiar with the talent on display. It’s fun watching these characters deal with the unbearable situations they manage to get themselves into and how they revel in each other’s company. Imperfections aside and bolstered by first-rate performances, I was delighted to sit this Shiva.
Robert McCall: I am offering you a chance to do the right thing. Take it.
Denzel Washington’s latest vehicle had great potential. It mixed all the right ingredients; a solid cast, a big budget, and the teaming up of Washington and director Antoine Fuqua who worked together on Training Day. So what went wrong? Well, for starters, there are serious pacing issues going on in this almost two and a half hour train wreck. Secondly, the action scenes are choppily edited. Lastly, the writing is substandard and the villain is feeble. The Equalizer isn’t as exciting, intricate or captivating as the filmmakers think.
Nick Dunne: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.
Back in the fall of 2010, a little film came out called The Social Network. The movie, directed by David Fincher, gained huge commercial and critical success, taking in three Oscars and several other accolades. It defined a generation, but most importantly, because of that film I dove into the world of film critique and acquired a new taste for the art of cinema. It’s only fitting Fincher’s latest outing has gotten me back into the swing of things following a two-year hiatus. Gone Girl is a terrific film that hits all the right beats with its chilling score, stellar acting, and tight editing which all makes for great visual storytelling.