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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Afleck’

Honorable Mentions: Chronicle, Killing Them Softly, Jeff Who Lives at Home

10. Argo — Ben Afleck’s thriller illustrates how stoicism and determination can heal a world frenzied by terrorism and celebrity. With a careful grasp on tempo and atmosphere, this swift film carries us through danger with unforgettable finesse.

9. Seven Psychopaths — Martin McDonagh’s sophomore feature film mutates our expectations when it comes to the gangster genre. He surprises us with conflicted yet sympathetic characters and stories-within-stories such that we care for these seemingly immoral people.

8. Skyfall — Although the latest Bond movie has several plot flaws, its personal turmoils make for a compellingly intimate espionage tale. Roger Deakins provides some of this year’s most memorable cinematography, and Sam Mendes proves that he is as talented at shooting action as he is at unfolding drama.

7. Looper — Rian Johnson blends together the sleekness of Science Fiction and French New Wave with the ruggedness of Westerns to create an appropriate experience that fits perfectly with his story’s sense of duality. His theme of how violence cycles from one generation to the next works as a wonderful symbol for the literal loop Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character deals with.

6. Holy Motors — This movie is a whimsical oddity that explores art within the nooks and crannies of this Earth. By inventing truly bizarre and random vignettes around Paris, director Leos Carax shows us how cinema can occur with makeup, imagination, and the willingness to unhinge oneself from reality.

5. The Cabin in the Woods — Not only do Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard deconstruct the realm of horror, they completely obliterate the ecosystem with their genre-bending film. Their shrewd commentary on how we as moviegoers revel in seeing people get killed serves as a way for some insane reflection on the current state of cinema.

4. ParaNorman — The meticulous passion that went into making this 3D stop-motion film shows that a juxtaposition of future technology and past techniques can create a charming experience. Similarly, it contrasts a child’s mentality with an adult’s, poetically highlighting issues we face no matter how old we are.

3. Indie Game: The Movie — It’s difficult for me to ignore this documentary when it captures material that I deal with every day of my life. Seeing independent video game developers risk their financial lives to produce something they wholeheartedly believe in is an inspiration not just for software engineers, but for anyone who’s dedicated to creating something from scratch.

2. The Imposter — Documentaries and unreliable narrators don’t usually cross paths. However, an allegiance between these typically estranged concepts created one of this year’s most probing, enigmatic theatrical experiences. Director Bart Layton toys with our perception as he documents the true story of Frederic Bourdin, an infamous criminal who impersonates a 16-year-old Texan teen.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild — We are often frustrated with things that ultimately define us as individuals. Our families always find ways to annoy us; our hometowns typically dissolve into memories we wish to banish; our former loved ones haunt us with pain we shared in the past. The characters in this film adhere to these ideas, but they find a way to embrace their roots – blemishes and all. This film has an unconditional love that cannot be torn by death or disaster, and oddly enough, that is why it’s my favorite film of the year.

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State of Play is a rather cliche political conspiracy thriller, following journalists Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) and Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) as they try to uncover the truth behind the murder of congressman Stephen Collins’ (Ben Afleck) mistress.

The plot is the heart of this film, and it’s a weak heart at best. The screenplay jettisoned far too many twists for it to explain in logical detail, just leaving us with an unsatisfactory, sloppy ending. A plot twist should be surprising and logical at the same time. The twists in State of Play were very forced, and they just made more holes in character motivation, and they could’ve been done without.

The second act of the movie, however, was really intense. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for something to knock my socks off. The way suspects and leads were revealed was entertaining, and it had my attention, but none of this great buildup ever really amassed to anything.

There were also a few scenes that were either misleading or improbable. The direction in some scenes was a bit off; the way some parts of a shot were accentuated, and the way music was played over gave the scene a tone that didn’t actually match with what was happening on screen. I didn’t think this was the intention of director, Kevin Macdonald. Rather, it was just poor craftsmanship.

As much as it seems like I hated this movie, there were several good elements. The editing  and cinematography were pretty great. Edgy, fast paced, fun. The entire cast delivered; Ben Afleck was a surprising gem, and Jason Bateman did well in a role in which we’re not used to seeing him. Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, and Helen Mirren gave me no complaints. The relationship between Crowe and McAdams is kind of adorable, and I wish there was a bit more.

Overall, State of Play had the formula to be a standout movie, but its sloppiness, especially in the last twenty minutes, made it just okay. The one big thing that came out of this movie was the idea of  journalists vs. FBI. What makes a story and what makes a case? How far should one go to ascertain the truth? These are interesting questions this movie brought up. So underneath an okay thriller, there were some insightful questions that were presented to the audience. Kudos for that.

7 out of 10

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I stayed away from this preview solely because I found the movie’s title to be horrendously uninteresting. Now, I’m kind of ashamed of  myself for the premature aversion, seeing as how this movie looks really really good. It’s not until I saw this preview that I realized that it has the formula of gold.

It’s directed by Mike Judge, the man behind one of my favorite comedies, Office Space. The cast is really incredible; Jason Bateman, JK Simmons, Kristin Wiig, Mila Kunis. Even Ben Afleck looks pretty darn good. This is just another title to add to the comedies that I’m looking forward to this year.

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