2015 at the movies

For the last three years, I have started every one of these year-end posts with, “[Year] was an excellent year at the movies.” Or something to that effect. This idea remains true in 2015, but the casualness makes me pause. Were all these years truly excellent years at the movies? Am I being too easy on them? Am I too taken with their wonder? Yes. Maybe. Always. For the past 52 weeks I have sat and watched in theaters and at home scores of moving images, all of which managed to illuminate something for me. Be it the transcendent beauty of this world, the delicate but … Continue reading 2015 at the movies

CONCUSSION

Just in time for College Football Bowl games and the NFL playoffs, Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), the Nigerian-born forensic pathologist who discovered and named chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of several recently deceased NFL players. Omalu’s discovery began with Pittsburg Steeler, Mike Webster (David Morse), who died in 2002 at the age of 50. Physically healthy, Webster suffered from brain damage due to repetitive concussions from playing football, a risk that most players, owners and viewer suspect is a by-product of the game, but a truth not many are willing to acknowledge … Continue reading CONCUSSION

JOY

David O. Russell’s latest, Joy, tells the story of Joy Mangano, an American inventor best known for her self-wringing Miracle Mop. Well, sort of. Joy is partly about how Joy Mangano became Joy Mangano, but it’s also about how family just likes to watch you fail, even if that means they have to lend failure a hand. Russell likes a squabbling family — Flirting With Disaster, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook — and the more squabbling the better, but with Joy, Russell takes his usual squabbling to an unbearably shrill level, sucking all the humor out of the room in … Continue reading JOY

THE BIG SHORT

We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. Well, maybe not. The Big Short is director and co-writer Adam McKay’s run at a All the President’s Men or Network, and though it comes up short *cough cough* in both cases, it is a compelling movie about a complicated subject. With a 150 minute running time, McKay manages to explore four outlying financial investor groups who managed to predict the housing collapse of 2008, and in one case, by a foresight of two years. How America found itself in the middle of such a colossal crisis is … Continue reading THE BIG SHORT

THE DANISH GIRL

The Danish Girl is easily director Tom Hooper’s most interesting movie, though that doesn’t say very much. Dramatizing the world’s first known gender reassignment surgery, Hooper explores the story from an intimate setting, concerning himself largely with the marital plight of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) rather than the social or political aspects of Einar/Lili’s decision in 19th Century Amsterdam. The result is a tender treatment of a delicate subject, but with a shallow focus. Hooper’s main problem is that he isn’t sure whose story is the compelling one — the title refers to Einar/Lili in … Continue reading THE DANISH GIRL