Having dealt with a lot of personal shit that kept me from viewing roughly half of what I’d intended to see throughout April, I’m at least relieved to have viewed at least a few worthwhile efforts, one of which just so happened to be one of the best of yesteryear. Feel free to peruse my thoughts pertaining to my top five first-time viewings, and as always, comment on whatever you’d like!
To be honest, Swimming with Sharks is, if nothing else, worth your time on a rainy day. It doesn’t offer up anything remarkably substantial outside of its clever take on the perils of the industry it satirizes, but Spacey’s performance alone carries Huang’s slightly lackluster first entry into the realm of cinema via a caricature-esque portrayal of such a highly detestable yet oddly business-oriented sociopath. It’s periodically effective as it at least tries to finish what it starts, however the implementation of such a dramatically flawed latter act causes the film to falter when it should’ve been able to deliver the most. Full review here.
For what it is, Gareth Evan’s eye-popping, balls-to-the-wall martial arts extravaganza takes the subgenre it snugly fits into and raises it to noticeably new heights. Relying on innovation rather than narrative substance to engage viewers, The Raid constantly outdoes itself as central character Rama employs his fighting skills to dispatch foes in the most appealingly unique (and sometimes bizarre) ways possible. From dribbling a lackey’s head off a wall basketball-style to the the most creative use of a propane tank and refrigerator I’ve ever seen, The Raid falters in the areas you’d expect it to, but purposefully so, thus allowing it to stand tall as an example of what every contemporary, above average actioner should strive to be. Full review here.
Serving as a more-than-worthy precursor for wildly imaginative genre-bending entertainment, The Cabin in the Woods will still unfortunately go down in history as “that film,” more specifically the one that “was confusing” to casual moviegoers on account of Goddard and co-writer Whedon’s uncanny ability to mix and match grisly genre conventions and a requisite amount of off-the-wall meta humor to satisfy those looking for something different. Different it certainly is, as The Cabin in the Woods fires on all cylinders from start to finish, noticeably poking fun at your run-of-the-mill teen slasher flick while incorporating an agreeably ludicrous (in a good way) central premise that’ll have you talking long after you’ve left the theater. It’s a shame that the narrow-minded won’t be able to grasp the level of intelligence this particular film has reached, but once they do, they’ll assuredly appreciate it in a whole new light. Hopefully. Full review here.
Julie Delpy’s first directorial effort is one of unparalleled charismatic tendencies, able to both generate laughs and the occasional bout of sorrow as Jack and Marion try to ressurect their floundering relationship. Focusing on the couple as they make a brief stop-over in Paris to meet Marion’s family, Jack’s quickly taken aback by his girlfriend’s supposed prolific past love life, prompting his neuroticism to go into overdrive as paranoia and lingering suspicions quickly lead to something much more severe. Alternating instances of wit and insight pertaining to specific complexities of modern relationships make 2 Days in Paris something truly special, making us wonder about just how well we know our respective real-life significant others.
A character study wise beyond its years, Oslo, August 31st follows twentysomething Anders as a brief reprieve from his stint in rehab forces him to come to terms with his shortcomings as a struggling addict. Losing quite literally years of his life to said addiction, Anders frequently engages in moments of self-deprecation as he makes his rounds among close friends and casual acquaintances. Failing to grasp the concept of simply starting over, the young man not-so-reluctantly admits defeat at the hands of his debillitating illness as he pushes away those intent on seeing him fully recover and embraces those who put him in his current predicament in the first place. Anders view on life is remarkably authentic, the situations presented not once feeling overblown as he inches nearer to his foreseeable breaking point. A modern marvel, to say the least, if a bit morose, but masterful Oslo certainly is in painting a portrait of such a damaged individual, comparable to last year’s Shame only by way of scope. Full review here.
Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 10
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order): The Human Centipede 2 (Six, ’11), Lockout (Mather & St. Leger, ’12), The Lucky One (Hicks, ’12)