What Comics I’ve Been Reading- April, Part One

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/04/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

BlhyA5zIQAEJUj9.jpg largeI don’t get down to the comic shop as much as I’d like. Mainly because the closest one is in Memphis. Which, in terms of math, is distance plus funds plus mags costing on average about $3 to $5 equals rare visits. I mainly keep up with the goings on in trade paperbacks and similar. But when I do decide to take the advice of Tom and Donna to treat myself, I’ve always gone to Comics & Collectibles on Popular Ave. I’ve never really had a reason to go anywhere else. It has a nice atmosphere, great staff, and all the comics and trades you could want.

Recently my friend Cody and I visited C&C and this is some of new(ish) stuff I picked up:

comroyals-The Royals: Masters of War #1 and #2. Six part series. Vertigo comics. Written by Rob Williams. Art by Simon Coleby. Suggested for Mature Readers. $2.99.

It is the Royal family as you have never seen them before. Throughout history, the royal families of the world have consisted of individuals with super powers. The more pure the bloodline, the stronger the powers. Which might explain that whole inbreeding bit. But during WW2 the royals agree to not use their powers… until British Prince Henry can no longer take sitting by and intervenes. While the morale of Britain is at its highest, the young Prince has broken the treaty and all the countries of the world take notice.

This story is quite an ingenious idea, one that I am surprised no one has thought of before. Ever since Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards, the idea of alternative history has never been quite the same. This work by Rob Williams is probably the first truly fun story to come out since the above mentioned film in any medium. Simon Coleby’s artwork is beautifully dark and has a sepia-tinge noir feel, which adds a necessary depth here. Having read the first two parts, I’m now really intrigued to see where William will take this story. Part three is now available in local comic shops as well, and this series is well worth looking into.

-comempowEmpowered: Internal Medicine. Special one shot issue. Dark Horse Comics. Story by Adam Warren. Art by Brandon Graham (color) and Adam Warren (B&W). No rating- personally suggest older audience. $3.99.

Before this mag, I have never read any of the Empowered comics. I picked this up because of Brandon Graham. I have just recently become infatuated with Mr. Graham’s Gonzo graffiti-style of art and storytelling. He is one of my favorite artist working right now.

The great thing about this one-shot is you don’t really need to know anything about Empowered to enjoy the story. You get a pretty good idea about the character’s modus operandi and even get a crib sheet recap on the first page.

The mass of the story is by Graham, whose colors and art and puns are beautifully presented here. Graham is a brilliant pick for this female lead, as I believe few (male) artist represent strong women quite like him. He can pencil a voluptuous women in real-world dimensions and can make things sexy without making it demeaning to the character, which for some reason seems to be a difficulty for many. Mr. Warren’s manga-esque work here is in beautiful black and white. Together, these two make a fun and entertaining one-shot worthy of the $3.99 price tag.

I think what I come away with after reading this comic most of all is:

  1. I’m very interested in going back and looking at the Empowered trades now.
  2. I’d like to see Graham and Warren work together again.

comdoop- All-New Doop #1. Series. Marvel Comics. Written by Peter Milligan. Art by David Lafuente. Rated T+ (Personally, younger audience would be fine). $3.99.

I picked up this comic because of the Mike Allred (another favorite artist) cover. So I was a bit disappointed when I learned he actually only did the cover for this character he created years ago. The bright side though is that Allred’s wife Laura does the coloring here, which are some of the best you’ll find in a comic. Ultimately though, this first issue falls a bit flat. While it’s a standard first issue in many ways, the direction of where this story is going seems a bit aimless. It has its moments of zany fun and enjoyment, but I think it’s missing that one certain thing that really makes it interesting.

I plan on picking up the second issue when it comes out, but the little green X-Man really has to impress for me to keep picking up any further.

saga3-Saga, Volume 3. TPB collection of series #13-18. Image Comics. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art by Fiona Staples. Rated M/Mature. $14.99.

Image Comics is my favorite comic publisher at the moment. They have amazing creator-owned mini-series like Brian Woods Mara and Grant Morrison’s Happy!. They also have ongoing series like Sex Criminals and Great Pacific. Or have you ever heard of The Walking Dead? Yeah, they do that too.

But I think the best representation of what Image has to offer is the vaughn/Staples work Saga. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s rather simple. Marko is from Wreath. Alana is from Landfall. These two places have been at war with each other forever, but that doesn’t stop Marko and Alana from falling in love with each other. Eventually the two have a child, and both governments of each planet have no interest of letting the birth known to their citizens. The couple have to fight their way planet to planet against the like of bounty hunters and military officers. And worse of all, Marko’s parents.

Of all the now three collected story arcs in the series, I would say this is the weakest. Not to say that it isn’t great. The writing is still top-notch, adult, and witty. Vaughn’s art is still sharp and beautiful. And there is plenty of action and surprises to keep you entertained. But still this just doesn’t have the same bite or vigor. Only slightly though. Still worth picking up.

Part two should be on the way soon…

 

 

Should Have Spent More Time Being it’s Namesake; Divergent, in Review

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/03/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

divergentMany times on this site, I have gone back and forth on what I think a good book adaptation is. Honestly, I feel like if you are going to make a book into a film, I kind of expect you to make it your own. Stay true to the story but make it your own. If I want the story that is available in the book, then I’d rather use my imagination and read the book. But I guess that would be an “inspired by” situation and not an adaptation, such as Divergent.

In the distant future, a great war ravaged the United States and has left the entire country in an apocalyptic state. In a wall-in city that was once Chicago (the place of choice for destruction in literature now), a society of people have decided on a class system that keeps everything (and everyone) in order. People are divided into five subcategories, called factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the truthful), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave).

Fast forward many years and Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley), the daughter of an Abnegation government official, is preparing to take the test that will suggest what faction she should join. But when her test reveals that she doesn’t fit into any of the factions, called Divergent, she is warned not to tell anyone and to choose the faction she comes from. Will Beatrice carve her own path or stay in Abnegation during a turbulent time for the factions.

I’ve read all three books in the Divergent series, which I enjoyed far more than most young adult fantasy books that have been coming out lately, including The Hunger Games. Maybe the final book in the series, Allegiant, fell flat but still enjoyable all the same. So you would think with this great source material, Summit Entertainment could produce a real competitor for Katniss Everdeen…

But instead of trying to carve its own path, Divergent decides not to be divergent at all. Instead it has been branded, marketed, and filmed as “the next Hunger Games” when it should have tried being original or more faithful to the source material.

Potentially this film could have been both edgy and grown up, but instead decides to play it safe. Why director Neil Burger stays so complacent for a film about being different and revolution is beyond me. I’m not saying R-rated violence or substance is needed, but I none-the-less find it distracting when someone gets a bullet wound and nothing comes out. When did the young adult genre get redefined and overtaken by pubescent preteens?

The standout performance comes from Kate Winslet, which is a bit sad because Shailene Woodley should be the strongest of the bunch. I’m not saying miss Woodley is not strong or puts forth a good performance, but I maintain that she isn’t the best choice for this role. What young actress would have been stronger, though? I can’t really say. Maybe Emma Watson? Regardless, there is a certain amount of verve that is missing for this strong and feminine character. But much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed Theo James as Four/Tobias. That is when he is not attempting to let his English accent stray into whatever androgynous accent he was aiming for.

*Spoilers in this next paragraph. Be thee warned.

As for the rest of the cast, they are mostly forgettable. This really is not their fault though. Again, the fault lies with straying from a strong character-driven story with plenty of action to a film focused more so on the action. This leaves the viewer with murky relationships and without fully understanding the characters. So when Will is gunned down by  Tris, you really don’t feel anything because you don’t really feel any connection to the character. Or when Al kills himself by diving into the chasm, you don’t really feel sorry for the lad. Or who even remembers what happened to Edward.

There was a lot of potential here. And a lot of it was wasted. Where there could have been a new king over the YA genre; instead it is just a forgettable foot soldier.

Verdict: Rent it!

*Rated PG-13/ UK: 12A for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some sensuality. 139 minutes. Directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless).

**Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this with me.

Totally Straight, Sweaty, Muscular, Dude Action: 300: Rise of An Empire in Review

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23/03/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

300I never fully understood the appeal of 300. Or most of Zach Snyder’s directed or produced films, frankly. Especially Sucker Punch, which a lot of people misguidedly consider some sort of feminism manifesto, even though it is created by a male manifestation of the song “Blurred Lines”. But that’s a discussion for another time. I understand these films have the trifecta of macho man stuff- blood, boobs, and brahs (and latent homosexual feelings). But why these historically inaccurate films seem to continue stimulating young men across the land continues to baffle.

Set during the same time King Leonidas is being massacred at Thermopylae, legendary general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) is waging war against the Persians on the Aegean Sea. His fight is against Artemisia (Eva Green), A Naval Commander with a hatred for Greece. With a small fleet compared to Artemisias, Themistocles must prove his legendary status and unite the Greeks as one.

There really isn’t much more to this story. The rest is filled with what you expect from this sort of show. Graphic decapitations and delimbings with unrealistic spurts of muddy CGI “blood” abound. Scantily clad muscular dudes running in slow motion (but don’t worry bros, this usually happens as some maimed body part flies across the screen. Totally not homoerotic. I mean, Eva Green totally show her tits, yo). There are such witty dialogue such as “You’ve come a long way to stroke your cock while real men train” and “You fight much harder than you f**k”. And thinly veiled misogyny, to round out the substance over story structure.

Which, with all that stated above, technically makes this film a success in its own way. The first film, which is nothing more than a dumb lump of time during bong rips, is all show and no story. This is more or less the same. And like the first, can be fun while drifting between consciousness and wondering what the other recent Bond girls have been up to. And the primary crowd, guys wearing wrinkled Affliction shirts and backward hats stumbling out of frat houses, don’t expect any more out of a film anyways.

But where the first film was memorable, Rise really isn’t. It looks like 300. It is dumb and cheesy like 300. But it just doesn’t fully feel like 300. Imitation is flattering, so it is said, and I guess it’s not really difficult for director Noam Murro to imitate Snyder’s previous work. But as odd as it is to say, something just seems to be missing from this mass bloodletting. Maybe the slow-motion debauchery was not orchestrated well enough. Or maybe limbs just didn’t float across the screen with enough garish gusto.

I think the problem really lies with originality- in that there is none here. This is just a rehashing of a film that came out in 2006, and it feels exactly as if it has been sitting on a shelf for eight years. There is nothing memorable, except for the sex battle between Green and Stapleton. And you read that correctly- it is a “fight” between both parties while said parties are engaging in sex.

Casting is a plus, if you like films with unknown faces who are just as easily forgettable. The only stand out is Eva Green, but even that praise is just a reminder that she is better than this. I believe Sullivan Stapleton could be an effective actor (even lead) in the future, much in the same vein Sam Worthington or Gerard Butler. Maybe with time we could see.

When I go into a film that I intend to review, I try to remind myself that I have to go into it in the eyes of the target audience. And through the eyes of the people who would be willing to pay $12.50+ to see this film, I would recommend just waiting until this comes out on Redbox. While it has enough here to satisfy the blood lust of the American youth, it lacks the penache that made the original memorable and fun.

Verdict: Rent it!

*Rated R/UK: 15 for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity, and some language. 102 minutes. Directed by Noam Murro (Smart People).

**Thanks to Cody for seeing this with me.

TMTB Predicts the 86th Academy Awards

Posted in list, Oscars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 24/02/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

tmtb86BEST PICTURE

  1. American Hustle
  2. Captain Phillips
  3. Dallas Buyers Club
  4. Gravity
  5. Her
  6. Nebraska
  7. Philomena
  8. 12 Years A Slave
  9. The Wolf of Wall Street

Who Will Win: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity

Who Should Win: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity

Who Could Win: The Wolf of Wall Street

Who Got Snubbed: Prisoners, Blue is the Warmest Color, Only God Forgives

Really, this race is down to either 12 Years A Slave or Gravity, with respect to the other nominees. And either film would be worthy of the statue. Gravity is the most technologically advanced film to date. Not only that, it’s probably the years most entertaining as well. By the same token, 12 Years A Slave is a brilliant work displaying humanity vs. humanity. In the end, it can go either way and I wouldn’t really mind. Others, who have more opinionated thoughts and anger issues will think otherwise. Both are great works, in their own rights.

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

  1. American Hustle, David O. Russell
  2. Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón
  3. Nebraska, Alexander Payne
  4. 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese

Who Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Who Should Win: Steve McQueen

Who Could Win: Martin Scorsese

Who Got Snubbed: Harmony Korine, Nicolas Winding-Refn

This is another toss up. It could be Cuarón . It could be McQueen. Distantly it could possibly be Scorsese. Everyone in this category has earned their nomination, and quite a few deserve a nod as well.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  1. Christian Bale, American Hustle
  2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  4. Chiwetel Ejofor, 12 Years A Slave
  5. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Who Should Win: Matthew McConaughey

Who Could Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Who Got Snubbed: Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix

I’m a full supporter of the McConaissance. For an actor who for years was a rom-com punchline to become a dark force in dramas is an incredibly bold career shift that has paid off. His haunting performance as Ron Woodroof is one of the most emotional you could see in 2013. But what about Leo? His performance as scummy NY stock broker Jordan Belfort is the best of his career. And considering he has been snubbed many times by the academy over the years, is this statue his finally?

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  1. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  2. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  3. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
  4. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Who Will Win: Jared Leto

Who Should Win: Jared Leto

Who Could Win: Michael Fassbender

Who Got Snubbed: Hugh Jackman

This is an easy choice for the most part. Jared Leto was simply devastating as Rayon, a transgender woman who acts as the buffer for Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. If there is one person in this category who can really give Mr. Leto a run for the statue is Michael Fassbender’s hellish slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  1. Amy Adams, American Hustle
  2. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  3. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  4. Judi Dench, Philomena
  5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Who Will Win: Cate Blanchett

Who Should Win: ?

Who Could Win: Sandra Bullock

Who Got Snubbed: Scarlett Johansson, Adèle Exarchopoulos

Every year, when the nominations come out, I always end up looking at the leading/supporting actress category and I think… why the hell have I not seen any of these performances? Seriously, the only performance I’ve seen is Sandy B’s gut-wrencher in Gravity. I can only expect brilliance from the other wonderful women… although I consider Meryl Streep one of the most over-rated actresses. Anyways- it looks like Cate Blanchett is this years front-runner.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  1. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  3. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
  4. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  5. June Squibb, Nebraska

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Who Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o

Who Could Win: Lupita Nyong’o

Who Got Snubbed: Léa Seydoux

I still have hope that Lupita Nyong’o can take home this trophy. But the Jennifer Lawrence love train is pretty strong. Not saying she doesn’t deserve it, because as I stated earlier I haven’t seen American Hustle, but I question whether I could be any better than Ms. Nyong’o.

Who do you think will or should win? Who got snubbed?

I Saw A Film Today… Robocop

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20/02/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

roboI’m not opposed to remakes. Done properly, they can be impressive. I’ve said it before, and I’m positive I’ll have to reference it again in the future, but Dredd is a perfect example of this. The ’95 version was both a critical and commercial failure. But following a truer version of the 2000 A.D. character and lo and behold, a brilliant film is born. Why a sequel isn’t being produced yet is a mystery. But back to the present, with each remake I’m always apprehensive as well, as time and time again Hollywood studios have shown they are willing to milk a franchise dry if there might be some profit made.

Set in a fictitious future world, where instead of crime depleting [as stats are showing now in the actual present (early plot hole)], the conglomerate OmniCorp and it’s CEO Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton) has cornered the market in mass producing drones and man-less droids to police the world over.

Except in the good ole U.S. of A. A pasty-faced frump Senator Dreyfus (Zach Grenier) has blocked such types of totalitarian policing stateside. But not one to take no for an answer, Sellers instead offers not a machine but, a man in a machine, Or vice versa, as a way to show robots can police.

Insert Detroit detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), who recently was burned over 80% of his body after his car exploded. After his wife is badgered into signing him into the Robocop experiment, in no time at all Alex is off and fighting crime in the streets of Detroit. Well, I mean if you consider spending half the film not doing much of anything a “no time” time frame.

I don’t plan to harp on the differences of this film compared to that of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven classic. I believe every film should be judged by its own merits, but it is important to recognize the source material. What makes the ’87 film so brilliant was it’s brilliant social satire of the American 80′s , as well as being a well crafted violent science fiction work. Some social themes, such as corruption, gentrification, and over-saturation of media still resonate today, and for all time I imagine sadly.

When it comes to this remake, you get a soggy and dull version of those ideas. You briefly get a glimmer of hope of a social commentary at the onset of the movie, much like the original. It starts off in a US-oppressed Tehran, Iran that looks like the wet dreams of Tea Baggers and Republicans alike. Robots are shown doing “random” stop-and-frisks of citizens on the street. And this is what is best for the future of America, according to a Fox News-esque rouser voiced by non-other than Mr. Sam Jackson. Somewhat effective use of satire. But after this scene, any type of modern social relevance is only a limp crutch to keep the film on its unbalanced feet.

But the biggest crutch of Robocop is the fact that it is really dull and lumbering. I’m not really a big fan of mindless non-stop action usually, mainly because they are rarely done well. But when you sell a film as a mindless non-stop caliber action movie, its kind of called for to have both mindless action and for it to be non-stop. Instead, you get uninspired moments of bland violence and gunfights in between scenes of uninspired dialogue you can find nearly anywhere on a DVD shelf with a PG-13 label.

Okay, I lied. I’m going to take a moment here to harp on differences between the original and this. Because it is within the nearly two hours of mindless scenes that you have time to think on the pitfalls and plot holes of this rehash. Such as, why make this film PG-13? The original was strengthened by bloody gore. It illustrated the bleakness of the satirical. Plus, most of the crowd coming to see this want to see crimson explosions bursting from human bodies. Here, it holds back the full potential of that with safe cutaways. Another aspect is the remake tries to focus more on the family. Which you would think would make this more interesting, but it puts a damp towel on the entire story. Now I understand why Verhoevan left most of that out in the original.

Maybe this would have been better as well if it didn’t feel like everyone involved phoned in performances. Except for Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson, who always brings an inspired performance. Well, maybe Jackson is just really good at yelling stuff. But the rest of the cast really has no excuse for their blandness. Which is sad, especially for greats like the above mentioned and the subtles greats like Michael K. Williams and Jackie Earle Haley. Maybe it was a form of typecasting. Maybe they just saw this as a nice payday. Whatever the case, they contributed very little.

I hoped that this film could at least be an entertaining blockbuster. I didn’t really expect more from it. But in the end, where was the entertainment?

Verdict: Skip it!

*Rated PG-13/UK: 12A for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality, and some drug material. 117 minutes. Directed by José Padilha (Bus 174, The Elite Squad).

** Thanks to Cody for seeing this with me.

I Saw A Film Today… The Lego Movie

Posted in Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20/02/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

legomondoLike many young and supposedly ADD afflicted boys in the 90′s, I had, and continue to have, an affinity for Legos. And, if I can take the rare moment to commend myself, had quite a talent at building. Too bad I didn’t realize at the time that I could turn this hobby into a career, because that would be a “dream job”. Thankfully, Legos lives on, and now has a firm stand in cinemas with a strong freshman film.

Everything is awesome for Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt). He lives in a metropolis, works construction, and purchases over-priced coffee everyday. He is happy being a pawn under the awesome Orwellian utopia he calls life, all under the control of President Business (Will Ferrell).

But when Emmet decides to stray from his precious rules in pursuit of a strange girl named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), he stumbles upon more than a foxy block-y lady. He comes across an odd artifact called “the Piece of Resistance”, a device that will stop President Business from using the Kragle to end the world.

Now Emmet teams up with Wyldstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing “Alloverher” Tatum), Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Unikitty (Alison Brie), 1980′s-something astronaut Benny (Charlie Day), and Metal Beard (Nick Offerman) to fight President Business and Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) for the many Lego Worlds.

A movie for everyone is the best way to describe The Lego Movie I believe. It has, well, all the stuff that kids love about animated movies. The film is a full-fledged energy shot thrill ride injected right into the blood stream that clocks in around just at a hundred minutes with credits. It’s plenty of fun and comedy for all ages and all types. Unless you don’t like legos and humor.

The vibrant colors pop off the screen with brilliance, with no help from the stereoscopic 3-D. Sadly, save your cash and just see this in 2-D. Aside from a moment or two during an action sequence, wearing the plastic wayfairers only serves to not make your movie blurry. You know, because there is so much 3-Dness.

The themes in this film are something unexpected, being this film is on the outside a seemingly cash cow blockbuster. There is a heart here and not an empty soul. For children, there are life themes like being original and not just a cog in society. For adults, there is the reminder that imagination and fun doesn’t die with age. All beautifully culminate in the third act of the film, where the differences between legos and  homo-sapiens are very little.

I usually reserve the latter part of my reviews for performances… which is usually quite difficult when it comes to American animated films. In fact, it’s pretty much useless nowadays with modern recording technology. I can tell you how great a match Chris Pratt was for the Emmet character. Or how Liam Neeson does a Good Cop/Bad Cop. Or Will Arnett for Batman. Really, I guess you should really congratulate the casting office instead of the actors really. So kudos to those people, because everyone was a brilliant match.

The term “the years first must-see film of the year” gets thrown around a lot around this time. I usually hate it, but because it’s true, The Lego Movie is indeed the years first must-see film of the year.

Verdict: See it!

*Rated PG/UK:U for mild action and rude humor. 100 minutes. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

** Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this with me.

Five Best Films of 2013

Posted in list, Oscars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/02/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

*As of January 25, 2014. In no order. To be expanded upon.

  • gravgif Gravity- Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Rated PG-13/UK: 12A. 91 minutes.

While the scientific community was twitching over the trivial, the cinema-going public was in awe of Alfonso Cuarón’s latest work. A simple enough story, humanity verses itself and nature, where Sandy Bullock represents humanity and satellite debris in space represents nature. But this minimalist film hold you firmly in its grasp for 90 minutes and only after allows you to take a moment to catch your breath. Director Cuarón, already established as a greatly visionary director with films like Children of Men, has produced a film that is years ahead of its time.

There is no doubt that over the years of recent cinema that the dark corner of American slavery and segregation has been explored frequently. But what sets Shame director Steve McQueen’s apart from those other films is the blunt and nakedness of the subject. 12 Years is a brutal, authentic, and unflinching account of Solomon Northup, A free man turned slave who fought back to regain his humanity. Many have focused on the brutal aspects of this film, but the real power of McQueen is his ability to showcase ugliness without the need of “shock value”.

  • wows2 Wolf of Wall Street- Directed by Martin Scorsese. Rated R/UK:18. 180 minutes.

A lot of people have complained that this film glorifies excess and immorality. Personally, I don’t. I think Scorsese was trying to point out the absurdity of Jordan Belfort’s debauchery. But regardless of what you think, there is no denying that the latest from the legendary director is three coke-fueled hours of hilarious/satirical fun. The story of a fast and loose Wall Street swindler is Scorsese’s best film since his gangster opus Goodfellas, which shares one or two similarities with Wolf. Could this be the year that DiCaprio takes home a Best Actor Oscar? I think so.

Not a film for the faint of heart, Winding-Refn’s gritty and blood-stained Only God Forgives split the cinephiles this year. Many liked it. Many found it too abstract. Either way you lean, the scope and beauty of Winding-Refn’s scope is dirty and beautiful. More Valhalla Rising than Drive in structure, this tale of deplorable characters on both sides of a murder doesn’t shy with making you comfortable.

  • prisgif1 Prisoners- Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Rated R/UK: 15. 153 minutes.

While not the best, Prisoners is in fact my favorite film this year. Not the best, but the most fun. Well, as much fun as child abduction can be. But over the last few years there has been something missing from the thriller genre- thrills. This film does, and so much more. The story is always churning and changing the perspective of who did what. It is also a showcase for the talents of Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, both sadly snubbed of Academy Award recognition. As was this film.

Up next, are The Five Worst Films of 2013…

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