All Films Screened in 2014

Ratings Guide

Nathan For You Season 1, Episodes 1-3 (Fielder/Koman, 2013, D)
There is never a sense that the humor isn't forced and predictable. The conceit wears off before the first episode is over. It frankly never convinced me that if I proceed any further, I will find something fresh.

Bob's Burgers Season 2 (Bouchard, 2012, A)
This season keeps the momentum from the debut one and while it is impossibly even funnier than its predecessors, it also builds on the characters enough to convince the viewers they won't become caricatures of themselves. A true achievement.

Bob's Burgers Season 1 (Bouchard, 2011, A)
Outrageously funny and remarkably consistent, with well written and continuously surprising characters across the board.

Mommy (Dolan, 2014, B+)
Five films into his young career, Dolan has finally successfully kept his ostentatious stylistic predilections in check, channeling them in the service of his narrative. Like most of his previous films, Mommy could be tightened a bit, some of its unnecessary subplots cut, but it is otherwise as gritty as it is pretty. And Suzanne Clement gives one of the performances of the year, always suggesting something deeply painful and unsettled about herself beyond the external intensity.

Camp X-Ray (Sattler, 2014, B-) (review)
Much like in Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s festival hit, Tales, Moaadi is easily the best thing about this film. One only wishes the film could match the nuance and energy of his performance.

Watchers of the Sky (Belzberg, 2014, B) (review)
"Belzberg offers both a sharp reminder of how primitive our coexistence as a global community remains and a compassionate look at the efforts of those paving the arduous road to justice."

Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014, B)
Tonally confused first half oscillates between exaggerated comedy and cartoonish procedural thriller, but everything settles after the midway reveal, gaining considerable momentum toward the thrilling finale. Pike (and everyone else in the cast) ace in a film that exhibits the bravura stylistic touch that we've come to expect of Fincher and his team.

The King of Comedy (Scorsese, 1983, A-)
Scorsese brilliantly reflects on the curiosities of American culture, bureaucracy and its reactionary news machine. Could the whole film be a dream sequence, or is it a real account of diseased fascination with celebrity (with elevating celebrity to the skies and shattering them back down to the ground), of the chaotic solitude that comes with fame, of success as a mirage, of American dreamers as failures?

In a Lonely Place (Ray, 1950, A)
A thrillingly stylized film noir, a heartbreaking romance and a perceptive observation on Hollywood's culture of celebrity that still resonates seven decades later, still elevated by the unparalleled complexity and subtlety in Bogart and Grahame's performances.



  1. So glad you watched and liked The Selfish Giant! That blurb sounds like more than a "B," though. If you had more space, what would you single out as less impressive about the film?

    1. Nick - B's are really good in my books and I was tinkering with a fine B/B+ margin and in fact I think I'll update it to that on second thought. The momentum I mention in my blurb builds a little too slowly in my opinion, to the point where Arbor's characterization was beginning to feel a little bit one-note. Everything after Swifty's first horse race is pitch perfect though. The last 20 minutes really shook me. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.