The word “casual” comes to mind as I recall my November viewing experiences, what with theater ventures once again dominating my habits as other creative endeavors halted a more prolific goal. Still, a majority of what I saw fits snugly into good-bordering-on-great territory, the pleasant taste of which was almost entirely tarnished by the dross that is Spike Lee’s Oldboy. As always, I thank you for reading and implore you to strike up a conversation in the comments section below!
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix Van Groeningen, 2013)
As it inevitably devolves into increasingly overwrought absurdity, The Broken Circle Breakdown still holds its own against a growing stock of anti-romantic “love” stories, more specifically ones that focus on the disintegration of relationships in the face of fate-fueled adversity. Spinning the atheist-versus-devoutly religious gimmick works to the film’s utmost advantage, the characters’ disparate belief sets providing for added conflict coupled with the affecting distress of their daughter’s terminal illness. Tonally, it’s a cloying goddamn mess, yet all the unevenness in the world couldn’t prevent me from admiring the film’s emotional brutality.
Although familiarly documenting the horrors of American slavery via memoir-inspired adaptation, 12 Years a Slave is a solid example of laudable poise over substance as McQueen’s unflinching penchant for illustrated human suffering weaves another compelling web. Further benchmarked by stellar central and supporting performances, the film’s only downfall is existing among the cynical, inevitably too-well-informed viewers like myself that criticize it for its obviously unavoidable trappings. Full review here.
As I slowly but surely recognize Johnnie To as a prolific master of unwavering expertise, Drug War comes along to solidify the epiphany in the timeliest of manners. Focusing on the dynamic between a drug lord’s halfhearted attempts to aid the police unit that arrested him – if only to avoid the death penalty – Drug War is a labyrinthine procedural drama rife with ambiguity and requisite suspense. Culminating in an explosion of tensions unrivaled by a majority of the identifiably similar, the film serves as a solid testament to To’s abilities as an assured veteran filmmaker.
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order):
Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 9