2014’s Film Reviews

Movie Reviews. 2014.

Four ratings: SEE, HMMM, MEH, and SKIP.

World War Z (2013): SKIP

Movies that so should have been good but aren’t — worst type of movies? What could have been a great realistic look at zombies-as-natural-disaster-flick capitalizes on realistic geo-politics and forgets entirely about realistic human reactions (to wit, only one character in the whole thing has a dark sense of humor. Zombies take over the world and no one reacts inappropriately?) So much of it is actually a good movie, that’s what stings. But it is, on the whole, lame where it was almost great and boring where it hasn’t a right to be. Skip it.

Birdman (2014): SEE

Birdman is meta awesome black comedy. In case you were wondering lately about what’s real and what’s not when you are making art about making a related but slightly different kind of art. Or if you were wondering how cool, no weird, no cool, no weird, no, cool, it might be if you didn’t cut for eons at a time and had the camera follow the actors all over a building and vice-versa and made a whole movie without, I think, a single over-the-shoulder/over-the-shoulder scene. Or if you were wondering how much fun Michael Keaton letting loose and turning on a dime and setting ’em up and knocking ’em down and setting ’em aside (’em = expectations as a viewer, and possibly also competition in the Oscar race).

Boyhood (2014): SEE

I’m going to go ahead and call this a must-see, though it might not wind up being my favorite movie of the year, because it’s a phenomenal experiment, shooting it over 12 years with the same actors, and I kinda can’t stop thinking about it. Perhaps not my favorite movie of the year, but absolutely in the running for best. And I don’t think it’s sitting currently at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes because only critics who love indies went to see it, I think it hits something human and real across the spectrum of moviegoers.

I like indies less than most people think I would, being so “in to movies”, because that real-life reality stuff makes me squirm and that’s just not my favorite thing; I admit to preferring some artifice in my art. Even the stuff I praise for being real and hitting hard. But this film, while totally making me squirm in parts, didn’t make me squirm in the way that took me out of the world of the film. It’s a very immersive experience, and testament to how real it feels is how many times since seeing it I find myself wondering what happened to two of the people in the film. Not characters in the film, people in the film. I have to remind myself they’re fictional, so it’s silly to be worried about them.

And it’s quite a different experience seeing the same actors age from kids to adult than having to take the suspension of disbelief leap, deciding to believe that a clearly different actor (or lots of makeup) is playing the young and older versions of the same character.

What’s Boyhood about? Life. What’s life about? Exactly. It’s not that nothing happens, though really nothing does happen, it’s that nothing happens but in the extraordinary way ordinary life can. But not in a pretentious way.

What I mean is, go see it. If the concept or the trailer or the idea of growing up makes you the slightest bit curious, go see it.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): SEE

Summer movies don’t get better than this: fun, full of heart, visually entertaining, great soundtrack, a cast of misfit characters you like and care about right off the bat, and did I mention fun? What shouldn’t work (talking raccoon, anthropomorphic laconic tree, comic book characters the average audience (including myself) have never heard of) does, what doesn’t work (plot) doesn’t matter, and what does work looks awesome (the Avengers etc universe’s CGI/set designs look way cooler than anything in the, say, X-Men universe, which I have always found disappointing despite the casts). It’s not perfect, I have minor quibbles, but I also haven’t laughed out loud that often at any other big-budget CGI-spectacular. Go see it. Have some fun.

Lucy (2014): SKIP

Skip. For goddsakes, skip. It’s frikkin’ terrible.  It’s not just bad, it’s so stupid. Scarlett Johansen is charismatic enough but since there a zillion other good movies you can watch for that, go nowhere near this.

Life Itself (2014): SEE

One way to describe Life Itself is that it will both make you laugh and make you cry, in all the best real-life ways. The project started out intending to be an adaptation of sorts of Ebert’s autobiography, but just after filming started, his medical woes worsened and the resulting film is unflinching about both the past and the present, and is quite moving on all fronts — about 60% about Roger Ebert’s life and career as America’s most famous film critic, and about 40% about how he lived while he was dying. It’s a fascinating and honest portrait of a compelling intellect and public figure. (And the the  argumentative outtakes clips of his famously rough relationship with fellow critic Gene Siskel are worth the price of admission alone.)

The Lunchbox (2013): SEE

A really lovely film — I recommend it quite highly. Two lonely people, a young wife and an about-to-retire older man, connect in Mumbai through notes sent inside a lunchbox delivered to the wrong floor. One of those films that will leave you feeling good, even though the film is not all happy. One of those films that sets its own pace, a pace into which you are settled right away. One of those films involving scenes of spicy cooking you can almost smell. (Pro tip: plan ahead to have Indian food right after you see it — you will wind up very hungry for it.)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): MEH

Save this for a rental — when you can fast forward through the sorta boring bits with the humans. I don’t quite get the high ratings for this film, unless we’re talking exclusively the Andy Serkis (and others) + CGI performance as the apes, which is phenomenal. (If they don’t give Andy Serkis an Oscar soon for his contributions to totally changing the landscape and possibilities of film…) But the plot is nothing but cliches (son doesn’t understand father; father protects son; misunderstanding starts a war) the fine actors all seem mis-cast (Gary Oldman really only has one scene in which a Gary Oldman is needed), and, I’m sorry, it’s 2014, so you can’t get away with a movie featuring only 2 females and you especially can’t get away with having the perfectly capable woman doctor beg her boyfriend to let her tag along and then do nothing much else. (Speaking of mis-casting, that woman is played by Keri Rusell, who knows a thing or two about how to play an interesting strong woman.) If you want a fun summer action movie, see Edge of Tomorrow instead.

 

Snowpiercer (2013): SEE

A phenomenal movie experience, by which I mean you are so fully in the world of the film you have to stay through the credits just to avoid the shock of walking back out into regular sidewalk reality. The violence in the violent parts is vividly brutal, right up at the limit of what I myself am willing to watch, but beautifully shot and since the story is about survival, it serves the story (and the violence isn’t non-stop). Snowpiercer is unusual and compelling, makes excellent use of the varied cast, and the editing is masterful. The way they designed the sets, and how the limitation of all action taking place within the confines of a train is utilized is really kind of glorious, as is the acting (Tilda Swinton has never been more fascinating, and Chris Evans proves with this one that he’s way more than just a Captain America type). I saw it not knowing much more than who was in the sort of unusually varied cast, that it had something to do with Earth being frozen, and the only humans left are on a train, and I loved not knowing what was coming.

Locke (2013): SEE

The most short-story-like film I can think of. The entire movie is Tom Hardy driving in a car at night for 85 minutes making calls on a speakerphone to deal with related crises — his life is falling apart as he drives — and I found it mesmerizing. A thoughtful character piece that’s one hell of a piece of acting from Hardy. I think I’d only recommend it, though, to people who are “into film”, film as art form. I thought the trailer and concept was really intriguing, and it was the short 85 minute length that sold me on trying it — at that length, I figured, the concept could just work and be done well, and it was.

(Reviews below in a question and answer format totally ripped off from TV critic Ryan McGee, and of which I in about July I got bored sticking to).

Finding Vivian Maier (2014): SEE

Should I go see this film because Vivian Maier was a wonderful photographer, a fascinating and complicated person, and because they make a hell of a wonderful documentary about her?

Yes. There’s something mesmerizing about her story, and also, and more importantly for how it is as a documentary, so are all the people who knew her. The little interviews with her former charges and employers are just as fascinating. And her work is really something. This is one of those I think everyone at all interested in art should see.

 

Mysteries of Chess Boxing (1979): SEE

Is there anything better than watching kung-fu films at the Hollywood Theater when it’s packed?

Only B-Movie Bingo at the Hollywood Theater when it’s packed.

Should I see “The Mysteries of Chess Boxing” if only to be able to accurately discuss the origins of Wu-Tang Clan members names?

Not if only, but yes.

Are the fight scenes fun?

Utterly.

Are the wigs awesome?

Absolutely.

Why does the Ghostface Killer have so much luck, that he can stand in the same field all movie and his enemies just keep walking by?

No idea. Wish I was that lucky.

Is this film as good as Five Element Ninjas?

I’ve only really seen 2.5 kung fu films as of today, so what do I know, but I’d bet nothing’ll ever beat the ninjas all dressed in gold lame. But it was still a lot of fun.

 

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): SEE

Good thriller?

Good thriller, which was also funnier and more poignant than I expected it to be. Excellent summer fare, which is to say fun, surprising, didn’t make you feel stupid. Actually, the writing was really good. Played with genre tropes but in new ways, and it was very, very efficient storytelling. Didn’t bog things down with whys and once upon a times about which the characters don’t have to care. And so neither did we, but it wasn’t confusing either.

So isn’t Tom Cruise too old for action films?

Not yet!

Emily Blunt, is her character a good action lead or one of those “it’s the 21st century but we’re still having this conversation about women in action roles because why” lead?

Nope, great role.

Does Bill Paxton make absolutely everything he’s in even if it’s a small role with his sheer having-a-great-time-with-it-ness? (cf Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD)

Yep!

 

Private Lives (1931): SKIP

This looks like another great old black and white witty-and-speedy-banter romantic comedy, I love those! 

Yeah well, it starts out that way, with two divorced people honeymooning with their new, and boring, spouses in the same hotel, deciding they’re still in love and running away together, replete with fabulously fast bickering and verbal hijinks, but then it sadly devolves into the sort of b.s. male/female mores of old that one can’t ignore or accept for the sake of the wonderful other things in the film, as one can do with most old, say, Hepburn/Tracy or Grant/Hepburn or or Bergman/Grant or Powell/Loy films.

Too bad.

Totally too bad, because the parts that don’t get into what amounts to misogyny and domestic violence are great, and Norma Shearer’s Amanda seemed like we could be such good friends at the beginning.

Should somebody remake it?

I sort of think someone should update it. Actually, I totally think someone should update it. But who can handle that sort of rapid-fire dialogue while being fabulous these days? I could see Amy Acker with Tom Mison or Michael Ealy in it, to steal from some of my favorite TV shows or…ooh, what about something like Ralph Fiennes and a less-crude-than-usual Melissa McCarthy? Benedict Cumberbatch and Karl Urban? Amy Adams and Tina Fey? Anyway, if you got rid of the terribly outdated social parts and just left the hilarious erudite bickering and awkward moments with exes, it could be simply delightful.

In Bruges (2008): SEE

So the DVD box says this is ‘hilarious,’ ‘a twisted pleasure,’ ‘edgy, action-packed comedy,’ ‘outrageous and unpredictable fun.” Thoughts on that?

This is one of the most mis-marketed, as in misleading, movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a pretty good movie. But it’s a  TRAGEDY with funny/endearing characters, it is NOT a dark comedy about hitmen. What the hell, people.

Okay, so it’s not a comedy. But it’s funny?

It’s really pretty good; I wound up caring very much about all the characters. The plot is somewhat basic if you come right down to it, I mean it’s not inventive, what happens, it’s a pretty classic tragedy, but the pacing is great and Colin Farrell’s character is one for the ages. And Brendan Gleeson of course ain’t no slouch. I really liked it, I’m just saying, don’t expect it to be The Heat. Except Hamlet crossed with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and then you’re good to go.

 

Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014): SEE

Is this movie just waiting for university film class thesis statements about the nature of our nation’s unease and sense of villiany in the surveillance age as compares to, say, the Russians of Rambo or even the Russians of Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit?

Yes. College-level film thesis statement possibilities abound.

So it’s blunt and boring?

No! Well a little blunt but it’s a comic book movie after all. A well-paced one with some lively dialogue moments, some decent-enough if un-stellar climactic action sequences, and some really, really cool mano-a-mano fight sequence choreography edited steadily enough that you actually can watch the beauty of their kickass movements. Plus, Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johannson as The Black Widow are a really delightful duo. I found it a very entertaining couple hours and, as usual, wish that these Avengers films, which are really more serials than stand-alones even when they work as stand-alones, didn’t have so many years between releases.

Perfection?

No, but I liked it better than Iron Man, which is still generally ranked as the best of the single-super hero Marvel films (RDJ is awesomeness to the max, of course, but as soon as it’s just the suit flying around I get so bored — superheroes are better when you can see their mouths and eyes), and much better than the other Thors I’ve seen (haven’t seen them all) and the first Captain America. Less bloaty, more efficient storytelling.

Should I stay to the end of the credits?

If you don’t stay through the credits of most action/pop culture-y movies you’re a little dumb. If you don’t stay all, all, all the way through the very, very end of the credits of a Marvel movie you are a moron.

 

 

Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): SEE

First things first: where on the Wes Anderson fan spectrum do you fall? ‘Cause we need to know how to filter your review here.

Liked Royal Tenenbaums a lot, love-love-loved Moonrise Kingdom, haven’t seen the rest.

OK. So, how does Grand Budapest compare to Moonrise Kingdom?

Moonrise Kingdom was this wholly-created world that was so delightful and wonderful and alterna-real you just wanted to live there. I just wanted to stay in that world and never leave the movie theater. Grand Budapest is more melancholy, and a bit slighter really, but it’s also much, much funnier. Full-belly laugh funny when it’s funny, which is often. It’s madcap and absurd and wonderful. Ralph Fiennes’ comic timing, especially when he’s delving into vulgarity, is spectacular.

Is there a plot?

Sure. In the same sense that Marx Brothers films have plots. It has something to do with a painting.

What about all the cameos, don’t they pull you out of this candy-colored world?

Even though you’re like, “Hey there’s Bill Murray! Hey, that’s Bob Balaban!” they aren’t distracting. Maybe because they become the character from the get-go or maybe because this big roster of Wes Anderson actors popping up is just such a part of a Wes Anderson film, but I loved ’em. Another typical Wes Anderson thing, some reviewers find it a fault but I actually love how much of the humor relates to the interaction of the actors with the super-stylized sets and the centered, symmetrical framing of the shots. The visual humor is as delightful and rampant with wit as the dialogue.

The Sapphires (2012): MEH

What’s this movie, about an Aboriginal girl group from Australia who hook up with an Irish piano player and play gigs for troops during the Vietnam War, good for?

Subject-wise, making you aware of some details of racism’s mid-20th century history in Australia. Filmmaking-wise, giving you something undemanding with a really excellent soundtrack to have on in the background while you do something else and only half attend to it. After the first 15 minutes you can predict the whole plot, it’s just about the soul music bits and the actors’ general likability.

So it’s not a good movie?

No, but it would make a very nice stage musical. Based on what I’ve read about the real women who inspired the story, I bet the un-fictionalized story of these women would have been a much more interesting movie…

 Philomena (2013): SEE

How great are Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, who tried to track down the son she’d been forced to give up for adoption as a teenager, and Steve Coogan, as the cynical journalist who helps her?

Very great.

Is the movie overall terrific?

Yes. (Performances, writing, mix of pathos and humor, and cynicism and faith, and anger and acceptance).

Will this movie make me totally mad and very sad?

Yes. (The fucking institutionalized fucking over of women …). It’s engaging storytelling that’s tough to watch unfold. But, unlike, say, 12 Year a Slave, there’s a nice lacing through of humor too. The real Philomena Lee said in the New York Times that the movie had made her a bit of a “silly billy” but however much of a fictionalization of the real woman that was, it makes a good movie character.

It’s been a year for tough but important films hasn’t it?

Yes. I’m not sure if it’s a 2013 trend or if I’ve just been making myself go to these sorts of films more this year. I’m glad I have, though.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (2013): SKIP 

Skip? But you LOVE the Lord of the Rings trilogy! You own all three, extended edition, except that someone borrowed your Fellowship DVD and you can’t remember who and whoever it is they haven’t given it back yet (ahem).

Believe me, I wanted to love it! But it’s terrible.

I bet that’s disappointing.

Incredibly! You know why?

Why!

Because Martin Freeman as Bilbo is DELIGHTFUL It’s SO SAD that it’s a terrible movie (three times over) because it’s such a waste. And because, if they’d made it one movie instead of the totally preposterous three, and had more super entertaining, super fun sequences like the barrel one (the only good sequence in this film really), and just had Bilbo be the center, it would have been a wonderful little adventure film that you could watch over and over. But they didn’t. They made not one but three very disappointing films. (The third one isn’t out yet; I have no doubt it will be terrible.)

Is there anything good to say about it?

Well, in the aggregate no. I could talk about liking Evangeline Lily as an elf and how great the lead dwarf is but the rest of it is Just. So. Bad. It’s like Peter Jackson forgot everything he ever learned about filmmaking. Or had his lowliest intern direct the thing or something. Evil studio overlord? Sophomore slump to the extreme? Dunno. But anyway, BAD.

12 Years a Slave (2013): SEE

Is this movie likely to make me sob?

Yes. See it anyway. I had to gear up for Schindler’s List too, but, similarly, it’s very worth seeing well-done art about something awful that happened not so long ago.

Is it really a good film, or is it just such a powerful subject…?

It’s a good film, a compelling portrait. I’d have to see it a second time to really pull back from the emotional experience of seeing it to analyze extensively, but I didn’t feel I was being cheated by the pull of just the subject matter. It felt well-balanced. It’s a powerful film, and an important one, and despite the emotional devastation of watching it, I’m glad I did. Also, the acting by all concerned is pretty amazing.  

Dallas Buyers Club (2013): SEE

Is this movie likely to make me teary?

Yes.

Is this movie likely to win Matthew McConaughey an Oscar?

Yes. He’s really great, and it’s also a pretty showy role.

Is this movie a pretty typical biopic?

No. More artistic/slightly abstract portrait than by the numbers biopic. (That’s a good thing.)

Would this movie be getting the same sort of reviews without an actor of McConaughey’s charisma in the lead role?

No. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto and others are great, but structurally the film actually has some problems with vagueness — nameless characters you don’t quite know who they are or why they’re there — but since the point is Ron Woodruff, contradictions, flaws and strengths all together, it sinks or swims by him alone, so it all winds up working as a movie-going experience.

Will I have to remind myself at some point during the movie that I’m putting myself through such an emotional wringer on purpose?

Yes.

Will I be glad I did?

Yes.

 Three Days to Kill (2014): SEE AND SKIP

 SEE and SKIP? Make up your mind.

The movie didn’t make up it’s mind and it was still cool, so I don’t see why I should have to. No, it’s a See with caveats, so a Skip for some folks. I’d have to think more about the candidates for The Worst Cool Movie Ever to say for sure, but Three Days to Kill might well top the list.

So it’s like a B-movie?

No, it’s Luc Besson by way of McG, which is sort of the cinematic equivalent of a pushmepullyou or a hippogriff or something, but it’s not B-movie bad. It’s cool French thriller l’absurde with Kevin Costner smack in the middle, and that vibe totally works in great ways. Visually it’s got tons of style. But it is also approximately 6 different movies at the same time. In fact, I think each actor was in a different movie even when they were in the same scene together. But then again, does a 90 minute movie with a charismatic movie star and visual panache really need to make sense? This movie argues, sorta convincingly maybe kinda, no.

Good villains?

Bland villains, alas.

So SEE if what, and SKIP if what?

SEE if  you can sit back and just enjoy, not get hung up about sudden tonal changes and things happening for completely no reason, and want some not-bland-bad fun. SKIP if you were really hoping to be watching another No Way Out.

Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts (2014): SEE

Animated, so good for kids, right?

No! Well some of them. But you would have probably have to have some awkward conversations with a kid after some of these.

Which was your favorite?

Of the five up for Oscars, I liked the Japanese entry, Possessions, best. I thought the story part was engaging and the animation style was awesome. The US’s entry, Feral, was beautiful, but too hit-you-over-the-head symbolic, and Mr Hublot was a very endearing tale of a sort of steampunk creature getting a sort of steampunk dog-ish creature, but I thought Possessions was the best of all things an animated short should be, of that bunch. (But I bet Room on the Broom will win. It’s okay, but long and with so little dialogue such a waste of the celebrity British voices.)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014): SEE

Gawd, don’t you just hate remakes?

It’s not a remake, it’s a reboot! Entirely different creatures. Remaking, say, Sabrina was a terrible idea, rebooting the Jack Ryan character is a perfectly fine one (ditto Star Trek, and all the Batmans and James Bond for that matter).

So it’s like all-new.

Well, I mean…well no, you can’t say there’s much new or revolutionary in this movie except there is a new Jack Ryan and Chris Pine makes him a pretty interesting one. And he plays smart well.

If the plot is standard why go see it?

Because genre films are good fun!

You just like Chris Pine.

Duh but there’s also, for instance, a scene in Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit that I liked very much, well a moment in a scene where, and this isn’t a spoiler,  but he’s doing something violent, and it’s something you see all the time in movies and on TV—but there’s a moment while he’s doing the violent thing, and you see on his face, this expression for just a second that tells you how awful and disgusting it feels for that character to have to be doing it, in the moment. Almost all genre heroes have a moment of vulnerability, but they hardly ever show that sort of humanity in the actual moment of an act of violence.

So it’s a good movie?

It’s an entertaining movie, a good matinee popcorn flick serviceably told with engaging characters. Kevin Costner as a senior CIA agent is super likable and a pretty great ol’ badass, and Keira Knightley as Jack Ryan’s fairly silly girlfriend is actually a little less annoying than I usually find her, and Branaugh’s scene-chewing Russian was fun. Looking forward to the sequel already.

Saving Mr. Banks (2014): SEE

Is watching Emma Thompson play a difficult, one could say somewhat unlikable, woman just the most delightful thing?

Yes. 

I thought Emma Thompson on stage at the Golden Globes drinking a martini without shoes on and out-fabulous-ing both Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren was the most delightful thing?

That was also the most delightful thing.

Is Tom Hanks good as Mr. Walt Disney himself?

He’s Tom Hanks. OF COURSE he’s good.   

Right. But the whole flashback structure thing?

Yeah, well, nothing’s perfect.

Now what about the supporting cast, your Bradley Whitford, your Paul Giamatti, your Colin Farrell, your Jason Schwartzman, your other songwriting duo guy who I guess is on The Office which I’ve never seen?

Superb.

But it’s not really a good accounting of what actually happened, right, I mean it’s not the real story, surely there’s lots to protest about the changes they made to Mrs. P. L. Travers’ characteristics and biographical details?

It’s a Disney movie about a Disney movie. OF COURSE it’s a Disney version of the story. You’re missing the point.

What’s the point?

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks being delightful for two whole hours. Also, there’s singing.

American Hustle (2013): SEE

What will I have while watching this movie that’s sort of loosely based on a 1970s real-life series of events?

Fun. Total hilarious fun. And a renewed consideration of the role of hair rollers should maybe play in your own life.

Is it worthy of all those awards it keeps getting nominated for?

Yes. The third third of the film has some weakness but it bounces back, and that’s pretty much its only weakness. The acting is superb throughout. The movie is also full of astonishing (to steal the New Yorker review’s word for it) moments — in the dialogue, the cinematography, and the characters.

Does that mean it’s disjointed and odd?

No no, just not pat. Fresh choices, is more what I mean, in a camera angle or a pause. It has a great style to it.

So is it a comedy or a farce or what?

It would be a farce but for the astonishing humanity afforded by the excellent acting — each character’s desperation is so real.  But the main point is, it’s a really fun movie. Not cheap laughs fun, real belly-laughs-because-you-care-about-these-ridiculous-people fun. The kind of movie you enjoy because it seems so clear that everyone must have had so much fun making it. 

Should each character’s hairdo get its own Oscar?

Yes.

The Captains (2011): HMMM

Will anyone but a Trekkie be interested in this documentary about the actors who have played the various Star Trek universe captains?

No.

Is William Shatner annoying in this documentary about him, I mean about the actors who have played the various Star Trek captains?

Yes. But he’s also entertaining. He vacillates between tiresome and entertaining (he’s William Shatner!) but when he shuts up for a minute and lets the other actors talk, the interviews are quite interesting.

So, how much of a Trekkie do you think you should be to see this?

If you’re enough of a Trekkie, you probably already have seen this. (I’ve only watched the Original Series, Next Generation and all the movies and drink tea out of a mug with the Enterprise on it, which isn’t quite enough of one.)

Cool Hand Luke (1967): HMMM

Why should I watch this old thing about a cool non-conformer in a rural Southern chain gang?

PAUL NEWMAN.

Will I find parts of it kinda slow?

Yeah, it’s that kind of late 60s/early 70s moody movie with drawn-out scenes our 21st-century fast-cutting ADD-ness isn’t used to. But all the main characters in it are ones you will like having gotten to know.

 The Thin Man (1937) SEE

Are you totally cheating by including this in 2014’s reviews because you actually watched it right before Christmas while wrapping presents but didn’t get around to reviewing it on 2013’s page?

Shh.

Is there anything to not love about this William Powell/Myrna Loy comedy/mystery?

Nope. It’s perfect from the martinis down to the little dog’s nose, a keeper for the ages and good for any occasion (though Christmas works well since there’s a Christmas party in it). I’ve watched it probably 25 times over my life thus far and expect to at least as many again. The physical comedy and the jokes are all pretty much timeless (as long as you have still heard at least of a long distance call), Nick and Nora (and Asta) are a truly delightful couple, and they make drinking all day and all night look simply marvelous.

(Archive: 2012’s ten-word reviews and 2013’s 3-sentence reviews)

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