It was supposed to be about porn. (M.K.)
35. Austenland. It's so unfortunate when such a comely and accomplished lady fails to live up to her potential. (K.H.)
Chris Pine’s face is more luridly beautiful than a thousand alien planets. But I don’t remember anything he did here, either. (M.K.)
33. The Internship. Oh, Owen. Oh, Vince. At least you know you are not young. (K.H.)
32. Admission. This was my introduction to Princeton University. Too bad. It really wanted to be a critique of the so-called meritocracy of college admissions, but it lost its nerve somewhere in the middle. (K.H.)
RELEASE THE WORLD-ENGINE! Or don’t, and just read Connor Kilpatrick’s Jacobin review instead, which is far more badass. (M.K)
30. Side Effects. You do not kill Channing Tatum in the first ten minutes of a film. And you do not end it with an evil lesbian conspiracy. Jude Law makes an entertaining sleuth though. (K.H.)
Somehow it's important for me to add here that Joaquin Phoenix has officially denounced Her-style pants, which are an abomination. (M.K.)
28. The Kings of Summer. Odd and fun. But it’s not summer anymore. (M.K.)
27. The Butler. Everyone says that it’s basically a black Forrest Gump, and everyone is right. There are good things and bad things about this. (M.K.)
26. What Maisie Knew. A bit long and loose, but a nice update to the James novel, and wonderfully faithful to the child's point of view. Steve Coogan is as loathsome as ever, and Julianne Moore's courtroom fashions could've told us everything we needed to know about her character, but then she had to go and use her smoky voice, too. (K.H.)
25. Upstream Color. Worms, pigs, orchids, Thoreau, Emerson: “Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.” Another indifferent film that produced a fascinating essay (this one from Caleb Crain). (M.K.)
Each of these movies depicts its own kind of anti-capitalist resistance, but all of them, in different ways, have trouble imagining the fulfillment of that resistance. The limits of revolution by burglary and pectoral enhancement should be obvious. But for the post-'68 French lifestyle leftists of Apres Mai, the choice is clear: why bother with tedious Zhdanovist filmmaking and harangues about autonomism when you can just trip out to Tangerine Dream, make your own art, and get laid anyway?
Thanks mostly to Susan Sarandon and Julie Christie (who belongs at every revolution), The Company You Keep actually paints a more sympathetic portrait of left-wing guerillas than anyone has a right to expect from Hollywood. But ultimately the struggle is defeated not by the FBI, or even the craven careerism of Shia LaBeouf, but the geriatric radicals' own parenting instincts. And last, Elysium promised to topple the plutocracy, but in the end all we got was revolution by keystroke, plus slightly higher budget for foreign aid.
Still, I'll raise my glass to the uneasy, searching spirit behind all these films. Here's to more and better anti-capitalist imaginings in 2014, either with or without whey protein. (M.K.)
A coming-of-age fable in which no innocence is actually lost. (M.K.)
18. This is the End. Totally with Goldfarb on this one. Seriously, that's probably exactly what James Franco's like, right? (K.H.)
I dug the idea behind this film, and I don’t think its politics could possibly be more fiercely dead-on. (Yes, we live in a world ruled by shitheads, while Coach Taylor takes the subway to work. That’s capitalist justice.) It’s long and painful because it’s meant to be long and painful—not Goodfellas, but Funny Games, maybe with a slight dash of Funny People. But watching this in the theater, damn if I didn’t want to check my email every five minutes. The wrestling match between Michael Haneke and Judd Apatow sounds like a great idea, but for me, it produced a few incredible scenes and a lot of dead air. (M.K.)
Update! Skip this movie and just read Eileen Jones's glorious rant instead:
The details of these Wall Street ratfuckers’ lives are numbingly familiar, as are their lightly-fictionalized cinematic counterparts... Consider the multitudes of rascally young Charlie Sheenish anti-heroes who’ve infected movies since the ‘80s, first shown learning the ropes of ripping people off the Big Business way, and then repenting their sins in that crucial last reel where the phony moral of the story goes....
Remember that sleazy, lecherous stockbroker with the shit-eating grin in the first Die Hard who thought he could scam his way out of a hostage situation by sales-talking the head criminal mastermind and calling him “Boopy”? That guy was hilarious!
That was 1988, people. We’ve been laughing at these guys for going on thirty years now. It’s taking us a while to figure out maybe they aren’t so funny.
16. The Great Gatsby. An overly romantic Gatsby that's as marred as you'd expect by Tobey Maguire, but Baz gives it everything he's got in 3D, and those parties, that city: boy, do they ever come alive. (K.H.)