December 2014

2014 Top Ten

What made this particular list difficult to shape was that I had five films I was enthusiastic about and another twenty hovering on the plateau just below them. [Read more...]

Steve Carell as John du Pont, in "Foxcatcher"

Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 2014)

Deservedly nominated for multiple Oscars, “Foxcatcher” achieves maximal creepiness with this tragic tale of a du Pont scion’s relationship with two Olympic wrestlers. [Read more...]


Whiplash (Chazelle, 2014)

There are a lot of lies in play in Whiplash (★★★★), Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-nominated water-cooler fable about a music conservatory drummer (Miles Teller) and the sadistic instructor (J. K. Simmons) he is drawn to like a junkie jonesing for his next fix.

One mark of the film’s greatness: even after a second viewing, I am still not sure how many of those lies the film itself–or any of its characters–believe. [Read more...]


Still Life (Pasolini, 2013)

May, played by British actor Eddie Marsan, is a curious character and Still Life is a curious film. [Read more...]


Be the Message (Shook & Shook, 2014)

Kerry and Chris Shook’s conversational, observational new book is worth pausing to recommend for one big reason. [Read more...]

Bradley Cooper (in foreground) as Chris Kyle, in "American Sniper"

American Sniper (Eastwood, 2014)

With “American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood has created a movie of integrity, exploring the nature of American manhood and the costs of war. [Read more...]


Which 2015 Amazon Pilot Should You Watch?

From start to finish, this was the best, well-crafted episode of the pilots and has so much potential; it wouldn’t be a surprise for this to be something really special for Amazon. [Read more...]


Like Sunday, Like Rain (Whaley, 2014)

The unusual chemistry between them is passable, if again, not very remarkable. [Read more...]


Christian Mingle (Bernsen, 2014)

The film that writer/director Corbin Bernsen name checks in his video introduction is Sleepless in Seattle. My philosophy is that you respect a film most, Christian or otherwise, by approaching it on its own terms. Based on that philosophy, Christian Mingle is first and foremost a Romantic Comedy and only secondarily a Christian film. [Read more...]

HC 3 - Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi  Fabrizio Gifuni

Human Capital (Virzi, 2013)

Human Capital (“Il capitale umano”) is a cross between Crash and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. [Read more...]

Andre Bauma with a gorilla friend, in "Virunga"

Virunga (von Einsiedel, 2014)

Virtue, venality, and vocation are all abundantly on display in “Virunga,” a suspense-filled Netflix documentary on warring oil and conservation interests in Congo. [Read more...]