Top 10 Movies of 2015

The usual caveat about living in Japan applies especially to The Revenant, one of the few award contenders I haven’t seen, and to a number of well-received documentaries and foreign films. Brooklyn, The Martian, and Spotlight were the final cuts. 1. Two Days, One Night Off-screen and almost as a prologue, the straightforward premise of Two Days, One Night […]

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Mockingjay, Part 2

It’s easy to dismiss Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series as teenage fodder – a poor man’s Harry Potter, or Twilight-lite. Certainly the books fall squarely into the burgeoning young adult genre: they’re written quite basically; the prose effective but pedestrian. Substantively, there’s a love triangle, a big bad, a dystopian backdrop: the usual suspects. But […]

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Top 10 Movies of 2014

As with last year, I offer a caveat about living in Japan, and the accompanying logistical struggles with movie release dates and accessibility (especially vis-a-vis foreign films). I did get to most of the critically-acclaimed selections, including Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Love is Strange, Nightcrawler, Snowpiercer, and Whiplash – none of which […]

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

I feel defensive just writing this review. “It’s not like I don’t have an appreciation for film history,” I want to say. “I’ve gone through Chaplin and Hitchcock and Fellini and Kurosawa…” I turn to broader means of justification, drawing upon personal traits. “Look, I’m a reasonably intelligent human being. I’m just open-minded.” Still anxious, […]

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I was one of the few people who enjoyed Battle: Los Angeles, and one of the few who didn’t think much of Cloverfield. Setting aside their respective merits and faults, however, I appreciated the central conceit that drove both science-fiction thrillers. Battle: Los Angeles focused on a single squadron – introducing us to its members and […]

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