A solid month preceding my year-defining stint at TIFF in what’s presently just a few days’ time, August yielded a heavy theatrical load, a majority of which ranged from plain worthwhile to thoroughly enjoyable as unavoidable duds still wormed their way in.
A recognizable if somewhat slight return to form for David Gordon Green, Prince Avalanche is a genre-melding success thanks largely to several key sequences and strong central performances. Though thematically sparse, things still remain poignant enough to hold one’s interest as a foreseeable joint bout of maturation washes over the coworkers at the film’s core. Full review here.
A viscerally grand if detrimentally sweeping period epic, Kar-wai’s long-gestating The Grandmaster is a lyrical account of the legendary Ip Man (Tony Leung) and his peers’ influential martial arts prowess. Although masterfully choreographed bits of sparring take center stage whenever present, the production as a whole still remains very distinct and resonant as we watch key events unfold at regular intervals. Full review here.
Concisely and incisively addressing the complex line between friends and lovers, Drinking Buddies captures the subsequent messiness that arises when flirty, otherwise engaged coworkers ambiguously maintain a questionably strong relationship. Forgoing grating genre tropes in favor of embracing a slice of seriocomic gold, Swanberg laughs effortlessly in the face of mediocrity while presenting us with a highly engaging and unpredictable slice of relatable cinematic substance. Full review here.
A more than fitting conclusion to Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy,” The World’s End sports its predecessors’ trademark blend of wit and intended genre twists, this time honing in on an invading otherworldly species. Ceaselessly engaging, technically flawless and even a bit touching, Frost, Pegg and Wright have all contributed valuably to a deservedly lauded series of films that will certainly stand the test of time. Full review here.
As a brilliantly acted and conceived slice of Woody Allen-infused humanism, Blue Jasmine‘s titular narcissist’s unrelenting mental collapse following her ex-husband’s imprisonment is involving beyond words. Acutely addressing the toxicity of Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) personality in relation to the distant sister she forces her presence upon, uncomfortable occurrences are plentiful as intermittently unveiled bits of the former’s past steadily increase in significance. A characteristically elegant effort from one of my favorite, moreover legendarily prolific filmmakers, Blue Jasmine is a laudably welcome departure from a majority of 2013’s pre-Fall offerings. Full review here.
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order):
The Canyons (Schrader, ’13)
Closed Circuit (Crowley, ’13)
The Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski, ’91)
Elysium (Blomkamp, ’13)
Europa Report (Cordero, ’13)
Magic Magic (Silva, ’13)
Scenic Route (Goetz & Goetz, ’13)
You’re Next (WIngard, ’13)
Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 13