Drama Films, H-M
**+ Hannah and Her Sisters - dir. Woody Allen
Three sisters' love lives overlap a bit as they both love and compete with each other. A deep cast in one of Allen's better-received movies.
** Happiness - dir. Todd Solondz
**+ H8ful Eight dir. Quentin Tarantino
Eight folks (one's a woman) in the Old West as only Tarantino would have it, all trapped in a blizzard in a lonely building in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Who has what agenda? How much blood will be shed? How graphic will it be? Does it matter. It's gory, paced with tension, and with a great soundtrack. So revel in the goopy guts splattered as they must be, all over the screen.
**+ Henry Fool
*** The Hobbit (part 1)
Granted, there should only be one Hobbit movie to go with the one Hobbit book, but nearly three hours seem to fly away nevertheless quite nicely in yet another worth entry to Tolkien's world of MiddleEarth.
** Hollywood Ending
** Honeydripper - dir. John Sayles
**+ Hope and Glory - dir. John Boorman
*** Hotel Rwanda
**+ House Of Sand And Fog
**+ The House of Yes
I probably shouldn't even rate this. A fine kids movie with little for the adult outside of some cinematography and wonder at the greatest amount of nostril flaring possibly ever filmed.
**+ The Hurricane
**+ The Hurt Locker
** Igby Goes Down
Something of a more modern day Catcher In The Rye - or Brideshead Revisited - or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It works well enough, I suppose, even if it’s difficult to find a poignant moment.
**+ The Imitation Game
Mr. Turing was a genius of extraordinary use to the public, when he decoded the Nazi machine's enigma coding machine. But he was also gay, which tragically ran him into trouble with British law when such a thing was more than just officially inconvenient. Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly play the man and perhaps his closest friend (technically his wife).
** In A World...
The world of voiceover artists in Hollywood gets its moment of fame. As expected, there's some talent on display amidst to the parade of puffed egos. Light fun.
** In The Heart Of The Sea
Uh, yeah, for the 1000th time, the book's better. But it's nevertheless true that the ill-fated voyage of the Essex - which was rammed by a whale to leave its surviving crew in lifeboats surviving on cannibalism - inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. But this is more than a bit overacted and this type of CGI still isn't quite there yet.
*** Inglourious Basterds - dir. Quentin Tarantino.
A retelling of the end of WWII where the Nazis get theirs and the Jews manage to take some names. Gore as only Tarantino can deliver, similarly with style.
** Inherent Vice
I don't know what the hell this is, this movie based on a Thomas Pynchon novel, but apparently that's completely to be expected. Style points are way on high, however, as Joaquin Phoenix plays a doctor riding the edge of legal and unexpectedly finds himself in a complicated and dangerous mess. Maybe this is a cult classic in the making, I dunno, but I'd probably have to smoke a lot of weed to be sure.
*+ Inland Empire - dir. David Lynch
** Inside Llewyn Davis - dir. Coen Brothers
In Village days of folk music's rise in NYC, a singer-songwriter tries to make it literally by the seat of his pants... which on any given night might be occupying someone else's couch. A doffed cap to Bob Dylan et al.
*** Inside Man - dir. Spike Lee
**+ The Insider
*** Interstellar - dir. Christopher Nolan
In some slightly future dystopia, crops are failing worldwide and civilization is taking a dive back toward a more primitive and mistrustful past. Fortunately - maybe - there is the possibility of colonizing other worlds... but which, and how?
** Inventing the Abbotts
After Nelson Mandela was released from prison and ultimately becomes president, he seized on an opportunity to let the World Cup of Rugby - held in South Africe in 1995 - act as a unifying force for his country's racially-divided populace. For a short time, it worked on some level. With Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.
*** Ice Storm
*** Jacob's Ladder
A somewhat fictionalized telling of the real life story of a young girl who always was an inventor - and finally makes her mark with a new mop. Jennifer Lawrence brings her to life as she always so winningly does.
**+ Jungle Fever - dir. Spike Lee
** Kicking and Screaming - dir. Noah Baumbach
**+ The Kids Are All Right
Unbeknownst to a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), their children have decided to meet their sperm donor father (Mark Ruffalo). Let the awkwardness begin.
* Kill the Man
***+ Kill Bill, Vol. 1&2 - dir. Quentin Tarantino
A gang of female assassins has been broken up because one has gotten pregnant and wants out. That's the short version. The long is much longer on homages to Japanese filmmaking of this ilk, which is done to perfection.
**+ King of Comedy - dir. Martin Scorcese
**+ Kiss of the Spider Woman
**+ Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter - dir. David Zellner
An odd take on a debunked legend, about a Japanese woman who saw the movie Fargo and decided to seek the treasure buried by a fence in the middle of nowhere.
***+ Lady Bird - dir. Greta Gerwig
A high school senior tries to figure out where she's headed right now and in the near future, roughly based on the director's own history. It's funny, but not strictly played for the yucks by any means.
*** Lars And The Real Girl
** The Last Days of Disco
*** Last of the Mohicans
*** The Last Picture Show
*** The Last Station (set in U.S.)
*** The Last Station (set in Russia)
Tolstoy's last days of life, when the great writer was torn between his loyalties to the group of thinkers he founded and his wife's pleas to leave his fortune with his family. Everyone has their stake in what he is and represents, not least of all himself.
* Last Tango in Paris
*** Last Temptation of Christ - dir. Martin Scorcese
** Liberal Arts
Bookworm goes back to college and is fawned over by hot coed until reality sets in. Which isn't to say it's not a fun enough ride of a light flick.
*** Limbo - dir. John Sayles
**+ Lincoln - dir. Stephen Spielberg
Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham himself, a wry wit in trying times that is trying to add to his legacy by making slavery constitutionally and thus officially illegal.
**+ Little Boy Blue
** Lolita (Jeremy Irons version)
***+ Lone Star - dir. John Sayles
*** Lord of the Rings I,II,III
**+ Lost In Translation
***+ L.A. Confidential
*+ The Lost Highway - dir. David Lynch
** Lovely and Amazing
** Love Walked In
*** Manchester By The Sea - dir. Kenneth Lonergan
Not exactly entirely gloomy, but one can't escape the morose aspects of a brother coming to terms with his brother's death and his own tragic past. Utterly real and phenomenally acted.
**+ Manhattan - dir. Woody Allen
** Manhattan Murder Mystery - dir. Woody Allen
*** Man on the Moon
**+ The Man Who Wasn't There - dir. Coen Bros.
** Map of the Human Heart
**+ Margin Call
A fictionalized version - how much, who knows? - of the bastard hedge-funders who did their hefty part in crashing the U.S. economy in 2008. Slimy.
**+ Margot At The Wedding
**+ Martha Marcy May Marlene
A spooky, low burn of a movie which sees a girl leave a cult and come back to the world in the immediate company of her sister. Flashbacks reveal the details of cult life as Martha (or whoever she is...) tries to shake her way forward into an uncertain future - with or without the cult still around...
**+ The Martian
This one's by the numbers, with the plucky astronaut left behind on Mars to ostensibly die doing just the opposite. Kind of like Castaway meets Apollo 13 with a more pleasing and nostalgic soundtrack. This couldn't be more Hollywood - in both the good and the bad sense.
** Marvin's Room
** The Master
Philip Seymour Hoffman is the cult leader; Joaquin Phoenix is his starry-eyed acolyte looking for a clue. This one loses its gas over the haul of a couple hours.
**+ Master and Commander
** The Matador
** Match Point - dir. Woody Allen
** Matchstick Men
**+ Matewan - dir. John Sayles
** Me and You and Everyone We Know
**+ Mean Streets - dir. Martin Scorcese
** Medicine Man
A good topic - about finding amazing traditional medicines in the Amazon that can help the Western world if we don't let our greed chop it down first - is by and large wasted in this melodrama headed by Sean Connery.
**+ Melinda and Melinda
***+ Memento - dir. Christopher Nolan
In his second take on someone having no short term memory, Nolan switches to color film - and the U.S. A man tries to figure out how to avenge the death of his wife by using any trick he can to actually remember what the hell happened - and who did what.
***+ Men With Guns - dir. John Sayles
A doctor in Mexico City travels back to the nightmare that Chiapas province has become, looking for his former students in the battleground that this region has become between the government and revolutionaries - which are equally brutal in their methods of warfare.
** Message In A Bottle
**+ Michael Clayton
**+ Midnight Cowboy
**+ Midnight In Paris - dir. Woody Allen
This is an entirely appropriate movie for Woody Allen in that it is set in the early years of jazz, with that the obvious soundtrack for the movie throughout. Literary giants are brought to life in 20s Paris in this 90min montage devoted to the beauty of the city. A pleasant indulgence to those with shared tastes, of which I'm one.
**+ The Milagro Beanfield War
**+ Million Dollar Baby
** Mistress America - dir. Noah Baumbach
Disjointed, but full of life. A freshman in college meets her sister-to-be from her Mom's upcoming remarriage and is smitten with her lifestyle. At times ebullient about being alive, at others critical of the hipsters among us.
** Mona Lisa Smile
A more mathematical style of thinking of baseball leads to successes on the field at the fraction of the cost - and meets buttloads of resistant along the way for its reduction to numbers. Actually, this one is better than it sounds.
** Money Never Sleeps
No, but the viewer might in this follow up to Wall Street that has none of the punch or immediacy of the original, try as it might.
** Monsignor Quixote
**+ Monster's Ball - dir. Marc Forster
A woman's husband is on death row and two of his scheduled execution squad are a wholly disfunctional father-son pair - who really are only following in the footsteps of their father/grandfather, a bigot of high order in ol' Missip. The son goes his way as the father falls for this wrongest of women, and hilarity does not ensue.
***+ Mosquito Coast
**+ A Most Violent Year
Trying to make a buck on the edge of the Mob in 70's New York City. High on style and earnestness and very watchable - if not moving at all.
** Mother Night
Not exactly Huck Finn, but a couple of boys find out about a mysterious fugitive living on an island somewhere in what I assume to be the broadest reaches of the Mississippi River. The question is whether they should help him and, if so, how much danger will they put themselves in in the process. And what do they really know about this man who calls himself Mud?
**+ Mulholland Drive - dir. David Lynch
**+ Munich - dir. Steven Spielberg
A dramatization of the events around the 1972 Summer Olympics and what happened to the Israeli team that was targeted in a terrorist attack.
*** My Own Private Idaho
** Mystery Train
**+ Mystic River
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