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The power of flight means a lot to me.

Man of Steel is the movie that will do for Superman what Batman Begins did for Batman. This does not mean it’s perfect. Like with Batman Begins and due to their having the same writer, there are stretch-marks here and there that feel like the pangs of a mighty child whom suffered a difficult birth. Man of Steel is probably a much better film than Begins, however, if only because as a directorial effort it far surpasses the often clumsy Begins. The only reason I compare these movies is because it is the Dark Knight trilogy of Christopher Nolan’s that most directly informs the project. This ends up coming up more as a writing comparison, because of David Goyer, than anything else.

Zack Snyder is making movies at his peak right now and Man of Steel is the finest distillation of his tremendous, possibly unique strengths and sensibilities. He knows what kinds of things people want to see in a Superman movie and he was absolutely the right guy for this job. He understands instinctively how to shoot and score and direct in a way that keeps this movie both epic and grounded which seems to me like a very difficult balancing act. The purest joys of Man of Steel are derived from its cinema, not it’s story. For one thing, Man of Steel is a sensory slam dunk with constantly beautiful imagery accompanied by rousing, grandiose music. I said the same sort of things about Sucker Punch and probably about Watchmen but here is a creativity backed by serious resources and unhampered by the demands of adaptation or of authorial vision. Free from the responsibilities of writing the movie or slavish translating a beloved, singular story, Snyder is allowed to play in the sandbox like the visionary architect that he is.

All credit where it’s due, Goyer is consistently a writer whose work I struggle with liking. His pretentious, on the nose themes and speeches and indulgence in cheesy, pandering one-liners that induce cringes instead of the limp grins they’re going for. That said, Goyer frequently takes ideas and concepts from comics and makes them work on a very different kind of paper. He’s the guy who made Blade work (though he deep-sixed that franchise when he tried to direct it) and he’s likely who we have to thank for fucking ninjas in Begins and the best-written (let alone performed) Joker we’re ever likely to get. Man of Steel is not free from his irritating indulgences: they have been pared down making cringey shit few and far between but also resulting in that shit being even more noticeable and jarring than usual. I’ll get to specific examples later.



Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do no wrong. No wrong.

Premium Rush is a bit of a trifle, really. It’s a completely fun, enjoyable little movie that introduces some novel elements, some well-used narrative cheats, and a concise and twisty story that more or less takes place over 2 hours of the movie’s time and 90 minutes of ours. The anchor to all this is the superlative-hoarding Joseph Gordon-Levitt who now fills me with a superstitious awe and terror whenever I write about him. If he and Ryan Gosling ever team up, I’m just going to die. Read the rest of this entry »

The storm effects are scary in that awe-inspiring, we-are-tiny-that-is-big way that is so rarely pulled off. This movie could do for storms what Psycho did for showers if it wasn’t already playing on a pre-existing dread of them that many people have.

Take Shelter is an intimate movie with a tiny cast anchored by powerhouse performances from two phenomenal actors, as well as some nice supporting work here and there. It seems to be a movie about a guy who is losing his mind and has to wrestle with himself, his past, and the contradictions that ensue when his (apparent) delusions and his relationship to his family come to a cross-purpose. Even though much of the film is subdued as opposed to dramatic, there is an intensity and drama to the visions that Curtis experiences which punctuate the more mundane elements of the plot. With a relaxed pace that some would describe as slow, it falls to the visions and the intensifying stakes in Curtis’s personal life to supply the momentum toward the film’s incredible ending. Read the rest of this entry »


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