It's unimaginable to think of the agony of living with chronic pain- every day being a chore just to lift your body out of bed. And when that pain serves as a constant reminder of unconscionable loss- a tangible consequence of a split second event that leaves you at a physical and emotional dead end with no choice but to exist within a haze of bitterness and pain killers- the mere act of living becomes less of an obligation and more of a decision that needs to be pondered over. In Cake, directed by Daniel Barnz from a screenplay by Patrick Tobin, the stage is set to explore the human psyche in the face of extreme tragedy- to witness one woman's journey to reclaim herself- but the film spends too much time setting up meaningless plot points to ever give the viewer any real connection with the characters in a meaningful way. Cake seems to think it has a lot to say, but I walked away wondering if it had really said anything at all.
As the Internet continues to get its collective panties in a bunch over whether Clint Eastwood's American Sniper should be classified as art or propaganda, the tenth anniversary of the domestic release of Eastwood's Academy Award winning drama, Million Dollar Baby has quietly snuck up on us. Sit back and read my thoughts about the film in Morgan Freeman voice, because his Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris was an integral part of the film, but mostly because…Morgan Freeman voice.
"I like Dykes!"
Perhaps that isn't the best opening line to use when meeting someone who could potentially become your next life partner, but for Shirin (Desiree Akhavan), it works. Her new acquaintance, Maxine (Rebecca Henderson) quickly points out the offensiveness of the term, to which Shirin replies "Oh, it's okay. I'm bi-sexual." Ah, young love.
If you've ever wondered what would become of mixing some random episodes of HBO's Girls and the film Frances Ha in a blender, look no further than Appropriate Behavior- a smart and funny character study of a twenty-something Persian woman attempting to navigate a difficult relationship around her traditional Iranian family.
Many will think I'm off my rocker, but I truly believe television is at its all time best right now. Sure, we have so much reality bullshit that it's easy to cast stones at the tube. And can we even call it the "tube" anymore since 98% of television viewing is now via flat screen HD? But I digress. Ignore the awful offerings and you'll find more gems than I would ever have thought possible. We now live in an era where we do not distinguish between big and small screen actors. Quite often actors will appear in either if the offer is right. Networks are now taking chances, raising the bar, and giving intelligent people real viewing options.
So, without further adieu, I give you my 10 favorite episodes of 2014.
2014 was a fantastic year for cinema. There were plenty of wonderful indies and Hollywood actually started making some strides in producing some intelligent, big budget films (we'll pretend Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Amazing Spider Man 2 didn't really happen). As we turn the calendar to the new year and the promise of new films to come, let's take one last look back at what ticked my fancy this past year.
I managed to consume 151 films in 2014. Since I tend to avoid what I expect to be complete failures, narrowing down a top 25 can be an arduous task. Nonetheless, here we go…