15. Non-Stop. Reservations? Fuck your reservations. An action thriller wherein a U.S. Marshal has to solve a murder mystery, and clear his own name, all whilst flying on an airplane 40,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean? Wherein the one and only LIAM NEESONS not only does all of the above, but also quiets a fussy bunch of dissatisfied airline customers by promising them twelve months of free international travel? With the assistance, as those exuberant valets forgot to mention, of the sexy and mysterious flight attendant LUPITA NYONG'O? What about it indeed. (MK)
On occasion you go to the movies and you just have a great fucking time. This was one of those occasions. (KH)
I didn't like this movie. Sorry. But I did like Namwali Serpeli's n+1 essay about it! (MK)
Personally, I had 22 Jump Street ahead of this. But the "ornithologist, philatelist, philanthropist" helicopter chat is still probably the best pure Tatum moment of 2014. (MK)
For all its flaws, Noah makes you feel the weight of this destruction -- and, even more wonderfully, it makes you complicit in it. We are rooting for this righteous Lord, and his patriarchal servant Russell Crowe, to destroy both man and beast; to purge the planet of its corrupt creatures and begin again, purified. How marvelous! How ghastly! This is an achievement that can survive any conceivable complaints. (MK)
On the other hand, the pleasure of watching Hawke and Patricia Arquette age was an unexpected one, as was the undercurrent that underlies a great many American childhoods: domestic instabilities aside, they are, so often, very safe. (KH)
Totally agree. Linklater parented this film much more like Hawke than Arquette, and it shows. (For me, most of all in Arquette's character, who as Iron Mom Freddi Karp has pointed out, dwindles all too easily into a cliche of long-suffering dignity.) But damn: I'm still glad I got to take that ride in Dad's Mustang. (MK)
Hardy's gravelly performance is even more amazing when you consider that he talks like no human person has ever talked and still manages to convince you he's from New York. A totally singular voice. (KH)
But Force Majeure also so much more than that. Above all it's a gorgeous, unsparing depiction -- in the perfect setting of a modern ski resort -- of the alienation and hubris of twenty-first century bourgeois society. Don't believe me, or don't care? Well, it also features an amazingly domesticated turn from your second favorite Game of Thrones wildling, and by far the best Alberto Tomba "La Bomba" reference in 2014. Seriously: see it tomorrow. (MK)
This film is heavy handed, sure: but some things are just heavy. Like whales, for instance. Or Russian tragedy. In Leviathan, Zvyagintsev disdains the elegant parsimony that often characterizes many internationally successful non-Anglophone films, including Ida, Force Majeure, and his earlier masterpiece, The Return. Instead he mounts a far riskier but potentially grander attempt to represent human experience in all its clumsy joys and agonies: the bad jokes, the worse decisions, and the predictable but no less painful victory of the powerful over the powerless.
There's a hint of truth in the accusation made by Putin's Ministry of Culture, that Leviathan gives Western audiences exactly the portrait of Russian society that they wants to see: corrupt, soaked in vodka, and intolerably bleak. How accurate the film's portrayal of family life and small town politics near the Arctic Circle is, I can't say: I've never been to Murmansk Oblast. But that's beside the point. If the film is in some sense anti-Russia (or Putin's Russia, at least), it is certainly not anti-Russian. The people in this town, from the central figure of Kolya -- the Job-like handyman whose home is threatened by the town mayor -- to the dopey policeman Pasha, or his ebullient wife Angela, overflow with life and sympathy. The very richness of their world is what makes its destruction so crushing, and Leviathan so powerful. (MK)
And there you have it: another year in the books. Sometimes you have to write to know what you think (h/t Joan Didion), and we guess we think this year was not so bad after all. Side note: we are now halfway through the decade in film, with some strong contenders for the next leviathan Iron List. Will we still have the energy to blog in 2020? Will you have the energy to submit longwinded lists of your own? The next five years will tell. For now, we're off to Hot Tub Time Machine 2: a strong contender for #30 in 2015.