Archive for December, 2013

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All the Light in the Sky

December 21, 2013

directed by Joe Swanberg, 2013

allthelightinthesky

Though many skeptics to his brand of independent cinema remain, 2013 has nevertheless been quite the year for Joe Swanberg. After dipping his toe into mainstream success earlier in the year with the relationship dramedy Drinking Buddies (not to mention his amusing appearance in You’re Next, the self-aware 2011 horror film that finally got released theatrically this year), Swanberg has topped himself once again with his serene new slice-of-life drama All the Light in the Sky—another “small” film from Swanberg, but one that, thanks to a career-best performance from lead actress Jane Adams, resonates in its depiction of impulse, intuition, and a universal desire for something more.

Read full review at In Review Online

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White Reindeer

December 6, 2013

directed by Zach Clark, 2013

white reindeer

“Christmas is whatever you want it to be,” says a character in director Zach Clark’s subversive yet overwhelmingly earnest White Reindeer. Clark’s fourth feature similarly wants to be a lot of things: tragedy, character study, pitch-black comedy. Such a tonally erratic setup suggests a disaster in the making—yet Clark, as not only director but also writer and editor, grounds the film in such a way that, by the end, it broadens into a resonant vision of life and living.

Things are looking up for Suzanne (Anna Margaret Hollyman), a 31-year-old real estate agent living in suburban Virginia with her husband Jeff (Nathan Williams), a TV weather reporter who, in talking about the weather, hints that “anything goes this Christmas”—a line which, it turns out, could aptly serve as the film’s tagline. Suzanne has just closed a home deal with George and Patti, a married swinging couple played Joe Swanberg and Lydia Hyslop; meanwhile, Jeff has received a promotion that will move the couple to Hawaii. All seems well in Suzanne’s life…until one day—within the film’s opening 10 minutes—she comes home to find Jeff brutally murdered after a home invasion. The rest of White Reindeer follows this character as she trudges through the remnants of tragedy while also existing as a beacon of hope.

Read full review at In Review Online

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My Month in Films: November ’13

December 6, 2013

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Best first time viewings
1. Bigger than Life (Ray, ’56)
2. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen, ’13)
3. At Berkeley (Wiseman, ’13)
4. U.S. Go Home (Denis, ’94)
5. Neighboring Sounds (Filho, ’12)
6. The Black Dahlia (De Palma, ’06)
7. In the Mouth of Madness (Carpenter, ’94)
8. This Is Martin Bonner (Hartigan, ’13)
9. The Truth About Charlie (Demme, ’02)
10. A Hijacking (Lindholm, ’12)

Worth mentioning
They Live by Night (Ray, ’49)
The Lone Ranger (Verbinski, ’13)
All the Light in the Sky (Swanberg, ’13)
The Punk Singer (Anderson, ’13)

Best rewatches
Frances Ha (Baumbach, ’12)
To the Wonder (Malick, ’12)

Worst
At Any Price (Bahrani, ’12)
Last Vegas (Turtletaub, ’13)
Thor: The Dark World (Taylor, ’13)
Frozen (Buck/Lee, ’13)
Delivery Man (Scott, ’13)
Homefront (Fleder, ’13)

Titles without a home
The Best Man Holiday (Lee, ’13)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lawrence, ’13)