Warning: Contains mild spoilers, though nothing more than you get in the trailers and commercials.
Gary Ross's The Hunger Games—the first in a tetralogy of films adapting Suzanne Collins' trilogy of young-adult novels—was one of my favorite movies of 2012. Anchored by a strong, fully-realized performance from Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games treated the frequent absurdities and illogics of its world seriously, investing what might have been a silly sci-fi franchise with a sense of realism and genuine emotional stakes. Continue reading
"The Day of the Doctor"
Warning: Contains spoilers for this and previous episodes of Doctor Who.
It seemed almost inconceivable that "The Day of the Doctor," the long-awaited 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, could possibly live up to the hype and expectations it had generated: it simply had to do too much. There were too many elements to interweave, too many themes to address, too many audiences and interests to satisfy in order to pay proper homage to the five-decade history of this insane, beloved institution. How could it be anything other than a disappointment? Continue reading
The Unenthusiastic Critic # 22
Continuing with our 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1974
Merchant and Ivory Tobe Hooper film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven't already seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first.
Yes, yes, I'm well aware of the fact that All Saint's Day has come and gone, and that somehow I only managed to post a couple of entries in our 2013 Halloween Movie Marathon. Real life interfered, and I apologize for that. Continue reading
12 Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen's extraordinary, essential new film, begins in the middle. The choice is something of an aberration, for McQueen proves throughout the rest of the movie that he knows better than to add any narrative or directorial flourishes to a powerful true story that requires neither. This prologue lasts only a few minutes, after which we flash back to where the story properly begins, with Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) living happily with his wife and children in New York, and enjoying a successful career as a respected violinist. From there, McQueen will follow Solomon, in linear fashion and with harrowing realism, through his kidnapping, his being sold into slavery, and all 12 years of his decent into Hell.
So why begin with this strange flash-forward, which shows us Solomon already enslaved? The clue, I think, lies in this prologue's final scenes, in which we see Solomon huddling in secrecy, attempting to fashion the necessary implements to write a plea for help. We see him carve a crude pen from a piece of wood. We see him trying to fashion ink from the juice of blackberries. We see him, finally, attempt to put words on the one piece of paper he has, only to watch the letters bleed and pool and disperse into nothingness. The makeshift ink won't hold; the words won't stay; the story he needs to tell cannot be told. Continue reading
The Unenthusiastic Critic # 21
Continuing with our 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1973 horror classic The Wicker Man. As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven't already seen The Wicker Man, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first. Continue reading
The Unenthusiastic Critic # 20
Yes, it's that time of year again, the season of tricks and treats, of candied apples and toilet-papered trees, of costumes both scary and skanky. Here at The Unaffiliated Critic we celebrate All Saint's Day in accordance with tradition, with the same time-honored rites and sacred rituals our people have been practicing since the year of our founding, way back in 2011.
We make my girlfriend, N., watch scary movies. Welcome to The Unenthusiastic Critic's 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon. Continue reading