Shattered Glass (Billy Ray, 2003) = 4/5
As a journalism graduate, I expected to enjoy this film. I just didn't expect to like it as much as I did. This is an underrated, captivating film that wades through the ethical minefield of journalistic practice. I often tell people that they don't need to know a thing about wine to enjoy Sideways, and in the same way, you don't need to be well-versed in journalistic jargon to get something out of Shattered Glass. The ending, however, left me a little dissatisfied.
Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968) = 4.5/5
Still one of the scariest films ever made. There's an eerie sense of foreboding throughout the entire thing, and there's something tantalising about seeing Rosemary's walls of trust slowly crumble to debris. Although we kind of suspect the conclusion, it still announces its arrival with tremendous force.
The Kings of Summer (Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2013) = 3.5/5
An offbeat coming-of-age film anchored by charming characters. There are some sublime sequences here, and the beautiful locations are not wasted by cinematographer Ross Riege. Unfortunately, the film does lapse into cliche at times, but considering this is Chris Galletta's screenwriting debut, I can forgive that. The film may not impart any grand epiphanies, but its fiercely refreshing visual style almost acts as a statement in itself.
Away We Go (Sam Mendes, 2009) = 3/5
If a sweet film is what you're after, this will not disappoint. However, it mostly consists of a few great scenes buried beneath layers of mediocrity. Krasinski saves the film from being a total bore.
Better Off Dead... (Savage Steve Holland, 1985) = 3/5
I was expecting a bit more from this. I think I'm finally accepting that 1980s romcom tropes no longer have the same magic. There was nothing at stake here because I'm all too familiar with the formula. It feels like I've seen this before, despite the fact it was my first ever viewing.
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982) = 3.5/5
This black comedy could've done with more laughs, but it's worth a watch for its bizzarely unique vision, refusal to play by the rules, and strong performances by De Niro and Lewis. In a long, illustrious career, it stands as one of Scorsese's most ambitious films.
My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991) = 3.5/5
Heartbreaking, surreal, and emotionally complex. Phoenix is superb, but the film's tonal shifts are irritating.
World's Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2009) = 4/5
A sharp, funny, and morbid satire on the vacuity of celebrity. This is a risky premise that may have crumbled to pieces in other hands, but Goldthwait's direction and Robin Williams' central performance makes this a film of tact and maturity. A word of warning: it may hit too close to home for some viewers, given the circumstances of Williams' death.
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999) = 5/5
Since my last viewing, Eyes Wide Shut moved from #5 to #4 in my all-time top 100 favourite films. Each viewing feels like the first. I compare these repeat viewings to riding an epic roller coaster over and over again. You know where the sharp bends and steep inclines are, but that doesn't eradicate the thrill you experience each time. It haunts you and unashamedly keeps its secrets. I don't think any other film in history has used Christmas lights to greater effect.
Red Eye (Wes Craven, 2005) = 2.5/5
What could've been a riveting suspense flick devolves into a mindless, cliched action film. A rushed mess from a master of horror who should've known better.
Heartbeats (Xavier Dolan, 2010) = 3.5/5
The film lacks an emotional centre and features unlikeable characters, but it's buoyed by strong dialogue and a vibrant colour palette.
Clerks II (Kevin Smith, 2006) = 3.5/5
While it just falls short of its predecessor's brilliance, it is often uproariously funny, and the characters grow on you. Boosted by a wonderful soundtrack.
Garage (Lenny Abrahamson, 2007) = 3.5/5
Tediously slow at times, but it ultimately captures the solemn quietude of the Irish countryside with stunning beauty.
Mud (Jeff Nichols, 2012) = 4/5
An absorbing, well-acted tale of sacrifice that steadfastly refuses to be pigeonholed into a single genre. Matthew McConaughey's return to form is one of the best things to happen to the movies (and television) over the past five years.
Ted (Seth MacFarlane, 2012) = 3/5
Sporadically funny, but I found it tough to suspend my disbelief during the film's more preposterous moments (read: entire third act). It feels like an in-joke that only MacFarlane is in on. It also tries too hard to be vulgar at times.
In Summary - The Must-See Films (4.5 or 5 Stars)
* Rosemary's Baby
* Eyes Wide Shut