Category Archives: Film Listings/Ratings

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Mathew Vaughn – 2014) A-

I love the Bond movies, one in particular holds a special place in my heart. Moonraker is not particularly good but it is the very first 007 movie I’ve ever seen and I saw it repeatedly on VHS. Kingsman reminded me of Moonraker and countless other classic over-the-top crazy Bond movies. Kingsman even has a similar plot to Moonraker including a space scene! It also has an eccentric villain, a cool secret society whose members are remarkably well dressed and well trained, a brunette with crazy sharp swords instead of legs and slick well-choreographed fight scenes…one in particular is both insanely good and uncomfortable with how violent it is. The film is an origin story of sorts and a heck of a fun romp.

Her (Spike Jones – 2013) A

It’s a rare chance to see something really new in movies and I think Her is one of those instances. It is original in look and concept. The premise is silly I suppose, guy falling in love with his very intelligent operating system but it’s more than that. It is charming, sweet, very funny and incredibly uncomfortable to watch at times.

A Most Wanted Man (Anton Corbijn – 2014) A

I like movies and TV shows (Rubicon anyone?) that portray the drudgery and balancing act of spy work. I loved the other recent film based on a Le Carre  novel and this one did not disappoint. Pillip Seymour Hoffman delivers a very good performance in one of his last roles. He plays the gruff German intelligence officer Günther Bachmann. He is masterminding a high wire act with a small crew to slowly flush out a terrorism network revolving around a Chechen man who was imprisoned and tortured in Russia before making it to Hamburg. The problem is that quick results and high profile arrests are more attractive in this world. Günther meticulously builds alliances, informants and collaborators while at the same time trying to buy time from his superiors as well as the CIA. A Most Wanted Man is a slow film but it is smart, intense and very well crafted and acted (loved Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams as well here) from the the first minute to the heart-breaking conclusion.

Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve – 2013) B-

The film really looks great even though it is set in suburbia. It has a strong cast, some are used better than others but most are very good. It has some excellent intense moments as well. The problem is that all these pieces do not come together to make this the excellent film it could’ve been. What we get instead is a procedural that is trying very hard to be meaningful and important. It neglects to be…smart or to make sense at times. Characters behave in nonsensical ways for no reason. It also goes on for far too long. Prisoners is not bad, it is just a painfully long missed opportunity.

The Trip to Italy (Michael Winterbottom – 2014) A-

Funny impersonations, witty conversation, lovely food and a wonderful locale. Very much like The Trip of course and I like that a lot. Coogan and Brydon play versions of themselves and this time it’s Brydon who seems to be getting more of the acclaim and success while Coogan is connecting with his son. All that really is just another frame or excuse for the basic premise of this film…funny impersonations, witty conversation, lovely food and a wonderful locale.