In the same year where Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood have formed a name for themselves through the iconic Dirty Harry comes something of a much slower, more melodramatic pace in The Beguiled. But unlike their usual pairing this wasn’t an action film, just a slow-moving wartime drama. If anything had come out from watching what it was that The Beguiled had presented though, it comes from how this transition had proved more on behalf of Clint Eastwood’s end as an actor given as he would already have been made a more recognizable name from the fact he was made a star from western films or action films. In The Beguiled, a more refined side to him is shown and the results from this rather unexpected Seigel-Eastwood collaboration are at the very least, extremely pleasing. Maybe in some extent it’s from the point of view I’m less interested in, but nevertheless it was nice to see another side to Clint Eastwood here.
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As far as my own opinions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have gone, I think it would be clear enough that I’m not a fan. This was perhaps a prime factor regarding why my own opinion of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy had turned out more favourable than my general opinion of their output and after having gone without seeing it since its theatrical run, it was nice enough to find that it still remained as strong as it did. With this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 has proven itself to be the strongest year for the MCU because their offerings then didn’t end up feeling like they were constricted by the grating formula to which Marvel has been sticking to over all the years, which was really refreshing to have found for films that have carried their name. This freedom was what the MCU had needed after all these years and James Gunn only utilizes it in the best manner.
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“The greatest story of the west ever filmed!” is what the marketing insists you, but as to be expected from the hyperbolic labelling George Stevens’s Shane carries enough in order to prove itself an entertaining ride while it lasts. Although I’ve not yet been blown away by any of Stevens’s films, he was always a filmmaker whose work has consistently remained engaging and Shane continues a long streak for him. On some count this is arguably George Stevens’s most famous film and it’s easy to see why, for it shows a beautiful portrait of the American West as occupied by a highly political environment, together with the iconic closing sequence – but I’ve found still carries another particular tendency with Stevens that has always bothered me, but that’s not to say it makes Shane any less of a great western than it is.
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James Gray’s films have always been a struggle for me to get into, so The Lost City of Z wasn’t one I was looking forward to so readily. The sort of material that Gray was set to cover in here wasn’t something I would have expected of him so I was hoping my issues with his body of work would be infrequent here. Thankfully it was the case with The Lost City of Z and as a result, a great film had come right out. For not only is The Lost City of Z the most ambitious that I have seen James Gray reaching through his career as of yet from what I have been able to catch, it also rings back to a classic era of adventure films with its own eerie spin – one if anything that helped in making a great theatrical experience inside of itself, and maybe more.
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I’d only imagine this was where Steven Spielberg was working on a certain technique he was set to establish when he made Jaws, which is arguably his most famous work to date. Originally a television film, Duel serves as Steven Spielberg’s debut film and it’s hard to believe that this film was originally conceived for such a medium at the time because the set pieces put at play are far more impressive than theatrical releases that carry bigger budgets. But Spielberg’s work from Duel has only set up more for whom we have come to recognize as one of the most bankable filmmakers working today, it sets up only a more exciting future by establishing a growing learner – one who would only use what he has been picking up in order to form something all the more intriguing. But this sort of craft is especially rare for made-for-television films, which is all the more impressive about Duel.
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I’ve seen Blue Valentine only two times in my life but I don’t suppose it’s the sort of film I’d really rush to revisit, resulting in this review coming straight from memory. Nevertheless it still remains what I believe to be Derek Cianfrance at his best, and so far, the only one that seems to have done anything much for me. Though I’ve been indifferent towards The Place Beyond the Pines and The Light Between Oceans, Blue Valentine is as close as I’ve gotten to finding something absolutely wonderful arising from him. Yet for the strong dedication I find inside of the craft I’ve always struggled finding compulsion to revisit it and none of it has anything to do with the film being bad at all, but because the film’s subject matter and how it has been approached always had been so troubling for myself. Nevertheless I’d imagine that was the intent and for what it is, it was a triumph.
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Forethought has never been a good friend to some of my opinions on certain movies after a first impression and when I wish to talk about my thoughts on The Neon Demon, it probably is only fitting I admit that I have a particularly conflicted relationship with the films of Nicolas Winding Refn. I’ve fallen head over heels for Drive with the fact it turns its own visual style into a new form of storytelling and while I’ve liked many of his other works, something about his work felt missing and it was evident from a path he took starting with Only God Forgives and now The Neon Demon. Both films have understandably polarized audiences, but Refn purists got what they wanted and then some. For every intriguing moment that The Neon Demon presents also comes a fairly self-indulgent one that drives upon his own influences – among many of his tendencies that always struck me.
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Paul Verhoeven’s return to his own homeland after the years he had spent in Hollywood churning out satirical classics have only proven all the more rewarding after he brings out Black Book. Being his first film to have been made in the Netherlands since The Fourth Man, Black Book brings back that touch he had made for himself during said years as he now brings said touch with eroticism and satire to the setting of WWII. In his own homeland, Black Book also holds the honour of being voted as the best Dutch film ever by the public and while that may be a stretch because I’m not so sure this would be amongst my favourite Verhoeven works, but I’ve grown up a proud apologist for his work and naturally it would mean a lesser film (minus two particularly bad films) is more impressive for many other directors’ best. With Black Book, Verhoeven satisfyingly retains this consistency.
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On some count this is arguably Harmony Korine’s most accessible film but it has also been divisive especially in regards to many misreadings and varying interpretations upon meaning by the general public. On my first watch, I didn’t expect particularly much because all I knew of it was that it was a different turn for teen star Selena Gomez and not too long prior to watching Spring Breakers as my first Harmony Korine, I was only washing away the bitter taste left in my mouth by Project X. Initially I went in expecting another sort of party comedy along those lines, where debauchery takes over the film’s running time – and I was proven wrong, but I didn’t get it then. I was merely fascinated by all the neon, although I suppose it’s a part of the point that Korine intended to get across.
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Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele have already made a name for themselves as two of the funniest men on television but after a seemingly rough start for their film career with Keanu (which played more as an overlong Key & Peele sketch) but now one half of them goes behind the director’s chair for a horror film. Get Out marks the directorial debut of Jordan Peele and it still carries his own dash of comedy, while intact remaining so terrifying. But I’m astonished that a man as funny as Jordan Peele could have made something like this given how he handles horror, and if Get Out signified anything for his future, he’s certainly on his way to becoming a great screenwriter and director. If he were to direct another comedy film or a horror film, count me on board.
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