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Notes: I already heard about this movie 6 or 8 years ago and, of course, I was really intrigued but I didn’t expect it to be so amazing. I mean, sure, it is a very nice gimmick (shooting a movie over a period of 12 years starting with a boy at 6 years old until he reaches 18 years old) but a gimmick remains a gimmick unless you manage to do something great with it and Richard Linklater certainly did something quite amazing here. Indeed, a traditional movie would give you a nice story, a great story if you’re lucky, but here they gave us a genuine slice of life. Of course, you could argue that they could have shot a documentary and you would have ended up with the same results but I highly doubt it. Indeed, for almost 3 hours, you spend more than a decade with these characters and even though nothing hugely dramatic happens, the whole thing was just spellbinding to behold.
Through the years, the Academy has made some poor choices but, lately, I have to admit that they finally got it right and this movie was definitely a worthy winner. Eventually, I still think that 'Boyhood' was in fact a better choice but this flick was really not far behind and I liked it a lot. To be honest, I thought that the actual play was in fact about Birdman so I was expecting something slightly different but that wasn't a big deal, in the contrary. What we got here was a very smart, very well directed movie with some really impressive performances. Indeed, it was filled with some very long takes and you can imagine that it must have been rather daunting for the actors involved. For Inarritu, it is the crowning of an already impressive and pretty much flawless career and I will definitely check his next movie starring this time Leonardo DiCaprio.
Notes: It seems that Nolan's ambition is pretty much limitless as he decided to tackle this time an epic science-fiction feature reaching out for a seminal masterpiece like '2001: A Space Odyssey' and the guy almost pulled it off. I say almost because even though the whole thing was really entertaining, emotional and gorgeous to look at, the story was actually rather shaky and half of it didn't make much sense whatsoever. Above all, with this movie, you finally got a glimpse of Nolan's actual limitations. By now, we all pretty much agree that he is one of the most talented directors at work today but if you want to go all the way and make a really awesome masterpiece like his example Stanley Kubrick, he has to stop to please the average movie watcher by throwing some random action scenes here and there. It didn’t bother me with 'Inception' but, here, it was really obvious and rather annoying. Still, you get here some rather deep thoughts about life, death, love, the relativity of time and space and it was just exhilariting to see a blockbuster at least trying to tackle such ideas.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Notes: Personally, I always had a hard time with Wes Anderson. I mean, I always admired his work and his movies have always been visually impressive but I was missing something in his stories and I usually didn’t connect with them very well. Anyway, at last, with this movie, he finally nailed it. Indeed, he finally managed to mix his whimsical visual style and his hilarious characters with a very entertaining plot. To be honest, I still think I prefer ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ but this movie is definitely not far behind.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Notes: Wow! That’s what you can call a fun movie. I have to be honest, when I heard that Marvel was planning to release 2 or 3 super-hero flicks every year for the coming decade, I was pretty sure that they would saturate the market and end up with some major flops but if they keep reinventing themselves like that, it might take longer then I thought before they mess up, in fact, it might never happen at all after all. Indeed, this movie actually had basically the same usual ingredients but they managed to give it just the right flavour to make it really tasty. First of all, it is a gorgeous SF feature, one of the most interesting futuristic world I have seen for a while, full of interesting details. Then, you had those awesome hilarious characters far more entertaining than your usual powerful and righteous super beings. So, I really enjoyed it, it is one of the best super-hero flicks out there and the best movie produced by Marvel so far.
Gone Girl (2014)
Notes: Well, once again, Fincher came with a really original work and I'm actually surprised that it is actually so popular since it is far from being a maintream feature. Indeed, it is probably his weirdest movie since 'Fight Club' with so many layers that I will probably keep thinking about it for many days. The first layer is obviously a thriller about a man who might have killed his wife. Than, the second layer is a really pitch black comedy about an average guy who gets involved in this very weird media circus. This combination was already pure genius and like 'The Wolf of Wall Street', it was rather unexpected but very much welcome. Obviously, it goes even further and it becomes this really weird study about how married life can make you think and or do the weirdest thing, even if in this case, it becomes pretty extreme but it was obviously all on purpose. To be honest, I'm not sure that everything really did work but it was still a really good flick.
Notes: At last, Darron Aronofsky was allowed to make a big blockbuster and, of course, I was really eager to check the end-result. Eventually, he didn’t go for the easy path and decided to go all the way and direct a massive biblical epic. To be honest, even though I was quite impressed, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the whole thing and I will probably re-watch it at some point in the future to make up my mind for good. First of all, it was visuallly impressive but it wasn't the biggest appeal of this feature. I have to admit it, I’m not a religious person, in the contrary, and I'm not sure I actually really cared about this ancient tale but I have always been fascinated by the concept of religion and this movie definitely gave some food for thought. Indeed, even though the scale was huge, the whole thing is basically about Noah himself and the struggles he has to face and it was quite intriguing to behold.
Life Itself (2014)
Notes: For more than 20 years, I have been a huge movie fan and, at some point, I guess a little bit less than 10 years ago, I stumbled accross those amazing reviews written by Roger Ebert. Eventually, I think I must have read 2000, maybe 3000 of his reviews and I always check them after I had watched a movie released before 2013. Basically, it was the first time in my life that I read such deep and knowledgeable analysis about films and not only was it interesting but it was also damned entertaining. Eventually, Ebert became the only film critic that I would be able to relate to and the only one I would actually really care for. Of course, being a fan and all, I pretty much already knew everything told in this documentary but it was still fascinating to go through the major steps in his life. I mean, to see this guy at a the end of the road, crippled and unable to speak, and yet still full of life, still creatively productive, it was just incredibly inspiring and increased even more the respect I already had for this man.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Notes: Even though it might be a rather straightforward biopic, I really liked this movie a lot above all because it was a dealing with such a fascinating character. I mean, of course, we will never know for sure, maybe the guy was actually a major douchebag but there is no doubt that he was just brilliant, probably one of the greatest human minds that ever lived. I mean, not only the guy had pretty much single-handedly stopped WWII, the biggest war of all time, but he also invented the concept of computers, probably the biggest invention of the 20th century. Thanks to this movie, you get a glimpse of what this man could have been and I thought he was just fascinating, thanks to a really good performance by Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately, not only was Alan Turing a great genius, but also really autistic but worse, even homosexual so, obviously, it was a little too much to handle for the British society and they pretty much killed one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived.
The Dark Horse (2014)
Notes: I don't know about you but I have seen this already 100 times before. Indeed, you get a fallen genius who has to coach a band of misfits and, against all odds, towards the end, they still manage to win a big tournament of baseball/basketball/football/ballroom/whatever. So, they definitely used a very old formula and, yet, I was really touched by this picture. Indeed, they started with this old gimmick but then they added a layer, then another layer and then another and, as a result, you don't see the formula anymore but only a really emotional tale with some really compelling characters. It also reminded me of 'Silver Linings Playbook' except that they would have removed all the glamor and made it really dark and gloomy. Anyway, I really liked the fact for example that the older brother was not just some one-dimensional villain and they gave us the opportunity to understand the motivations behind his actions. And, of course, Cliff Curtis, for once playing the lead, was really impressive and it was really nice to have a main character who didn't like a top model but like a regular guy.
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