2014 films

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: TANKS FOR THE MEMORY (FURY)

 

"The first casualty of war is innocence."

- Tagline, Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986)

By Brian Lafferty

November 18, 2014 (San Diego) – In the 28 years since Platoon's release, its tagline quoted above has become more and more relevant in light of the world events that followed it. This includes, but is not limited to, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. With the way things are going, it looks at this point like those are just for starters.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: COLD AS ICE (WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD)

 

By Brian Lafferty

October 31, 2014 (San Diego) – For a film directed by Gregg Araki – well-known for anarchic, usually erotically charged films like The Living End (1992), The Doom Generation (1995), and Mysterious Skin (2004) – White Bird in a Blizzard is unusually peaceful. While small traces of his trademarks – teenage angst, sex, and homosexuality – appear, his latest film is his most accessible by far. Whether that's refreshing or disappointing will depend on how much you're willing to readjust your expectations.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: ASHES TO ASHES (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR)

 

By Brian Lafferty

October 27, 2014 (San Diego) -- Only death could stop prolific French director Alain Resnais from making movies. Resnais passed away on March 1 this year, having directed 50 features, shorts, and TV series. Even at 87 years young, when he helmed Wild Grass (released in the United States to deserved critical acclaim in 2010), he was as much a master of cinema as he was at 37, when he directed the film that quickly established him as one of France's preeminent filmmakers: Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959). 

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: HELL-O DOLLY! (ANNABELLE)

 

By Brian Lafferty

October 10, 2014 (San Diego) – When I wasn't covering my eyes, holding my breath, and jumping in my seat, I laughed inside and thought sarcastically, "I know Uncle John would just love Annabelle." My Uncle John lives with my 99 year-old grandmother, who has collected many things over the years, including a doll that gives him and most of my family the creeps. It's an old-school baby doll that looks, feels, and weighs the same as a real baby. When you walk past it, you get the feeling it's watching you. And my grandmother insists on having it in her living room.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: BLOOD MONEY IN, BLOOD MONEY OUT (THE DROP)

 

By Brian Lafferty

September 24, 2014 (San Diego) -- I don't know if Michaël Roskam is a man of few words, but his films certainly are. He burst onto the international film scene with the Oscar-nominated Bullhead (2012), which took its sweet time (about halfway in) to fully reveal the tortured past of its protagonist (Matthias Schoenaerts). The Drop, only his second feature film and his first in the English language, further cements his reputation as a cagey storyteller.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: SPACE ODDITIES (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY)

 

By Brian Lafferty

August 3, 2014 (San Diego) – Guardians of the Galaxy leaves no time to rest and little time to breathe.  I didn’t know what was happening half the time, but I didn’t care.  Guardians of the Galaxy sacrifices much of its plot development for relentless cacophonic action.  However, unlike most films directed by Michael Bay, it respects its audience.   

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: SIMIAN KIND OF WONDERFUL (DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES)

 

 

By Brian Lafferty

July 12, 2014 – I highly doubt the makers of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes read my less-than-enthusiastic review of the first film three years ago.  Although the screenplay was chillingly effective as a cautionary tale, Rise of the Planet if the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011) could have used a lot more polished effects work considering the high human-to-ape ratio. 

Nevertheless, I looked forward to this sequel.  The director is Matt Reeves, who is best known for making Cloverfield (2008) and Let Me In (2010).  Of his small directorial output, I’ve only seen the latter, but this must be said: any director who can remake a seemingly "untouchable" film like Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008), retain the key ingredients that made the original successful - namely the haunting performances of the child actors, the icy dark photography, and unnerving violence – and at the same time make it his own, is one I will watch with little hesitation.