Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is among the many lesser-known Marvel properties and now it too has its own film adaptation. Since the series exists somewhat outside the Avengers and Spider-man franchises, this new world offers a fresh canvas compared to the tired superhero action genre, but the tricks and wonder are all the same. Exhibiting an unabashed sense of humor beyond structurally imperative comedic-relief, Guardians features the same cosmic rough-and-tumble as the X-Men and Iron Man action that becomes difficult to follow.

Starvecrow

Starvecrow

Self-professed voyeur, Ben, captures his life on camera, as do all his friends. He admits he’s hacked into his friend’s videos and even CCTV systems and cobbles together a series of fragmented vignettes portraying the demons he and his friends harbor. Ben also visits a therapist who objects to Ben filming their session, however, but he does it anyway. It becomes clear that Ben, and perhaps even his friends, want to be the stars of their own films. The final result reveals how these characters’ lives have become interwoven into a thematic narrative. This collection of vignettes celebrate ordinary camaraderie, depicting their greatest fears, both realized and imagined.

Boyhood

Boyhood

Series of films portraying a single character’s life during different time periods is nothing new to cinema. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, however, crafts a singular narrative about a young boy from kindergarten to his first weekend in college, and was produced for just a handful of days each year for twelve years. This production method required faith in the crew and a disciplined approach to keep the project alive, a concept that is truly visible in the film’s storyline.

The Conspiracy

The Conspiracy

The shouting matches and the vociferous activism of conspiracy theorists tend to fall on deaf ears. It’s not that they are wrong; it’s that their ideas and links are so far-fetched or conflicting that they themselves appear legitimately crazy. The Conspiracy takes all those crack-pot theories and myths of American secret societies and New World Orders and melds them into a faux-documentary that is suspenseful, captivating, and even somewhat revelatory, whether you truly buy into these theories or just find them slightly entertaining.

A Most Wanted Man

Spy thrillers are bound to become more complex with the NSA leaks uncovering a massive global surveillance system, and A Most Wanted Man is perhaps the first film to take a crack at it. Adapted from John le Carré’s eponymous novel, A Most Wanted Man extends the spy genre enough so that it’s original, but not to the point where it’s unrecognizable.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes overcame the typical problems of reboots, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also does not fall into the traps so many sequels fall victim to, like being rushed to production and over-anticipated. Instead the film stands on its own, not having to rely reasserting the world or any of the timelines created in Planet of the Apes. The film presents an evolving complicated political system with the ascent of the apes and the descent of humans.

My Favorite Movie!

My Favorite Movie!

An impressive result for an extra-low-budget debut, My Favorite Movie! takes on complex narrative forms and unashamedly balances between camp and banality, even if the former is its ultimate savoir.

Life Itself

Life Itself

There is no doubt that Roger Ebert, one of the most prolific and well-known movie reviewers in American history, would have a film produced to pay tribute to his career at some time. By the end of his career, Ebert had covered the film industry for nearly half of cinema’s lifespan, popularized a specific hand-gesture beyond its normal capability, and invited the world to see his late-life health problems. Life Itself, based off Ebert’s own memoir, captures not only the critic’s frank explanations of his life, but also his devastating health condition.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer

Director Bong Joon-ho turns conventional themes of predestination and socio-economic disparity on their side. Where many political films express economic dichotomy vertically as a bottom to top comparison--think Metropolis or last year’s Elysium-- Snowpiercer portrays this horizontally as a group of rebels push forward from the tail to the engine.

They Came Together

They Came Together

They Came Together breaks down the clichés and tropes of conventional romantic comedies, specifically from Woody Allen and films featuring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Director and co-writer David Wain returns to his zany and semiotic ways with his Wain-world cast and partners, as well as many SNL alumni and contemporary talents for a refreshing pastiche on the predictable rom-com.

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