The Cabin in the Woods
When I told Mr. Nomadreader I wanted to watch The Cabin in the Woods, he was surprised and excited, as horror is not my favorite genre, and it is one of his. But the very reason I wanted to see (and ended up loving) The Cabin in the Woods is that it's so smart. There's certainly something in it that will terrify everyone, but it's not terror for terror's sake. It works because it's brilliant and inventive. It pays homage to the genre's history, but it offers a delightfully fresh take on it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
At the end of a particularly bad day, I was in the mood for an escapist movie and several glasses of wine. Spring Breakers was the perfect antidote. The story of four friends, three who rob a restaurant to pay for their Spring Break trip. As in Kids, Harmony Korine's first film, there's an attempt to shock the audience. The film worked for me for two reasons, and they're both casting. The four young girls seem particularly young because they're actually playing characters around their age. To see them acting recklessly and without inhibition is both invigorating and refreshing, even as their behavior is appalling. It's James Franco, however, who really makes this film. His performance is fabulous, and a role that could be ridiculous and campy feels authentic.
Rating: 4 out of 5
End of Watch
Shot in a documentary style, from the perspectives of the cops and criminals both, End of Watch follows partners and best friends Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena on and off duty in Los Angeles. I'm a huge fan of cop dramas, and End of Watch is a good one. What keeps it from being a truly great one is its similarities in style to Southland, one of my all-time favorite tv shows. There's the same tension here, but without the prolonged storylines of characters, there's not the same level of buy-in. Pena and Gyllenhaal are both outstanding and believable as both cops and best friends.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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