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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3 Meanwhile, back in Asgard … In all honesty, if you have seen the first installment of the Thor subfranchise (Thor (2011)), you’ve pretty much seen Thor: The Dark World.  An evil-eyed baddie whose character development consists entirely of a four-minute of prologue (replace “Laufey” with “Malekith”) seeks vengeance against the Kingdom of Asgard, ... Read More »

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  4   The buzz on Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) – the most recent Palm d’Or winner by French director Abdellatif Kechiche – characterizes the film as a close-up-heavy, graphic examination of the life cycle of a lesbian relationship from point A to Z.  As it turns out, the film is actually the coming-of-age story of a young ... Read More »

Captain Phillips (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3   All filmmakers lie – by commission and omission, consciously and unconsciously.  If the narrative feature film sells the big lie as art, and the documentary sells the little lie as the truth, what is the role of the biopic?  It seems like a losing proposition to me.  Futile attempts ... Read More »

The Counselor (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3 The Counselor certainly has an intriguing pitch:  Old-guard master Ridley Scott directs one of the hottest new actors, Michael Fassbender, with the first original screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy, whose successful film adaptations include No Country for Old Men (2007) and The Road (2009).  As it turns out, The Counselor has proven to be the kind of film ... Read More »

The Grandmaster [International Cut] (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3   As of the date of this review, there are multiple cuts of the Chinese-language film, The Grandmaster (2013) – most notably, the original cut for Chinese audiences (130 minutes) and Harvey Weinstein’s cut for American audiences (108 minutes).  This review is based on the “International Cut” (124 minutes), which was originally screened at ... Read More »

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3   Think about a narrative film as a journey across a rapidly flowing river.  One filmmaker might erect wide, study, well-paved roads – designed for maximum functionality, accommodating both cars and pedestrians, to make sure nobody loses their way.  Another filmmaker might demand more of the ... Read More »

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3  Considering that the original theatrical release date of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival hit Fruitvale (redubbed Fruitvale Station) was moved up three months, we need to talk about that case.  For what seemed like two solid weeks earlier this month, we in the U.S. were inundated by the media ... Read More »

The Hunt (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  4 In the West, we generally define innocence as freedom from guilt of a particular crime, and we take a certain pride in a legal presumption of innocence – the idea that given the difficulty of proving the negative, an accused is considered innocent until proven guilty by sufficient evidence of probative value.  But here ... Read More »

Only God Forgives (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  4 As the title to his new film suggests, writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn is not concerned with the godly virtues – only blood and justice.  The blood is certainly thicker than water.  And the justice is old world. That blood runs through Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), her first son, Billy (Tom ... Read More »

A Hijacking (2013)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3  To the average American viewer, there is a distinct sense of certain cold hard reality to modern Scandinavian films – even when the filmmakers are having a bit of fun (Rare Exports (2011), Headhunters (2012)).  A Hijacking – the first film by Danish writer/director Tobias Lindholm to receive a worldwide release – is ... Read More »

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