2005’s ‘Stay’ is too aggressively off, fostering sensitivity to its head game rather than engagement in the story. Gosling holds it together
Aussie crime thriller ‘The Square’ is poised to explore guilt in a handful of characters but instead becomes a ridiculous, contrived tragedy
Against its Swede forebear, ‘Let Me In’ accumulates minor changes that make it too insistent. Fidelity is a pleasant surprise but not enough
Dizzyingly fragmented, Welles’ ‘F for Fake’ builds layers of credible story exploring authenticity. ‘This is true, you know.’ No, you don’t.
‘Dragon Tattoo’ has a damaged, sharp heroine; compelling depravity; a fair mystery; and no fat. But it’s oddly amorphous and fixated on rape
‘It Might Get Loud’ never does, and the guitar-star summit lacks chemistry. Still, it’s always engaging, and The Edge deserves his own movie
I found Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ merely highly competent (and far too fetishistic), but given that the comic was ‘unfilmable,’ he did damned good
Unlike most monster movies, ‘[Rec]’ builds horror along with chaos. Near the end, it tells when it should hint, but it’s invisibly skillful.
‘Treme’ S1 starts slowly, has some tedious characters, and is too proudly authentic, but Simon’s team remains expert at resonant microcosms.
‘Adoration’ is a dispiriting Egoyan misfire, a too-blunt but intriguingly indirect meditation on terrorism that then excavates dull motives.
Aside from canonizing its subject -- especially in the excruciating bookends -- ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is crackling, sharp, and outraged fun
‘Justified’ S1: Sly performances, character ambiguity, sharply natural dialogue, and propulsive violence elevate this backwoods pulp fiction
‘The Messenger’ is unerring on its own dramatic terms but misses an opportunity by offering character over punishing war-death notifications
The awaited Jacob/MIB episode of ‘Lost’ was penned by series bigwigs but merely underlined already-obvious moral relativism. Gallingly dull.
‘(500) Days of Summer’ has a good hook and nails relationship details, but it’s too cute and frustratingly undisciplined and self-satisfied.
Based on a memoir, the facile, impatient ‘An Education’ is incredible, and glosses over its most compelling element: the facilitating family
‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ balances Dahl’s aggressive oddity with Anderson’s preciousness; given Wes’ recent missteps, animation is a promising path
Movie-loving ‘Dead Snow’ deals engagingly with undying evil and pointless greed, but the Nazi-zombie trifle is mostly large with intestines.
‘Sugar’ too broadly sketches Iowa and cuts corners with baseball, but its subversion of sports-movie expectations is refreshingly authentic.
Saddled with too much emotional baggage, the great-looking ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is nearly joyless but in its goodbyes finds resonance
Blocked in the U.S., Miike’s ‘Masters of Horror’ episode is primal and fascinatingly transgressive, but the acting might be most horrifying.
Retro horror ‘House of the Devil’ is so patient and sublimely creepy that it’s easy to forgive its ultimate silliness. An assured throwback.
The nimble, expert ‘Up in the Air’ only seems to endorse its protagonist’s self-satisfied nihilism, but it fails to deeply pierce his armor.
‘The Informant!’ imposes a screwball score and exclamation point on a story that’s absurd but rarely funny. Only Damon’s investment engages.
‘Invention of Lying’ has a simple, resonant premise but is made without rigor. Only intermittent ingenuity saves it from offensive laziness.
Like Selick’s other animations, ‘Coraline’ is merely weird. While imaginative, meticulous, and thematically rich, it’s dull and oddly inert.
Finished Battlestar Galactica. Can I sue Ronald D. Moore to get 3,234 minutes back? Loved the conception and arc; often hated the execution.
‘Hurt Locker’ overplays its coda but is an intense serial with authenticity and narrative momentum, and the script lets the actors carry it.
‘Harvard Beats Yale’ ably manages character, context, and Gore/Bush digressions, but it fumbles the game: erratic pacing and odd inclusions.
The sci-fi of ‘Moon’ is philosophical, humane, rigorous, and austere, and I adore the robot’s hopeful emoticon expressions; that feels right
‘Anvil!’ merely repeats Spinal Tap’s satire and has too much Lips and too little Robb, but the duo’s determination is touching and truly sad
After watching ‘Paranormal Activity,’ our smoke alarms sounded at irregular intervals throughout the night. Why are my keys on the floor?
Creepy but generic, an otherwise austere ‘Paranormal Activity’ would have unsettled more sans the extra-diegetic rumble conditioning viewers
I love the elegant subversion of history in ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ how the Basterds themselves are MacGuffins, and QT’s endless patience.
There might be no greater joy than listening to one’s mother read ‘Walter the Farting Dog’ to one’s not-quite-two-year-old child
With the broad rubbing hornily against the observant, the clear-eyed ‘Adventureland’ views an awkward age with fondness and well-aged shame.
It’s messy and too telegraphed, but ‘Thirst’ employs vampirism probingly, is anchored by two great performances, and is disgustingly funny.
Primally repulsive and sad, ‘Grace’ is an honest, thorough metaphor for early motherhood, and clever and light with its icky cryptic horrors
‘Drag Me to Hell’ has expert touches (the handkerchief/car bit) but Raimi mostly revels in fun, repulsive, throwaway visual/aural aggression
Stripping the vampire flick of baroque affectations, del Toro’s ‘Cronos’ is simple but rich, concerned with addiction, corruption, and aging
‘Duplicity’ revels in triviality. Corporate intrigue in movies is serious business, but here everything is light, and romance fits right in.
Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ purveys trite backstory, poorly mimics iconic moments, and jacks up the T&A, but it finds in its final moments a voice.
Teasing with odd, existential potential, the tight French thriller ‘Tell No One’ sadly picks a worn, logical path. A lovely ending, though.
‘Flight of the Conchords S2’ shows what happens when your great ideas got used up the first time. Often amusing but random and kinda stupid.
‘BSG S3’ starts bracingly and ends depressingly shittily. New Caprica gave me hope; ‘Watchtower’ felt like 6 hours of agony. Vexingly uneven
Polanski’s obtuse ‘Repulsion’ mines fear of rape, men, abandonment. 1 great shock & effective spatial horror, but male POV leers and muddles
‘A Tale of 2 Sisters’ undermines reality to the extent that it’s hard to care. Creepy and full of potent symbolism, I’m baffled not scared.
For 2 hours, ‘TAOJJBTCRF’ seems to wander enigmatically with a sharp eye. But its final 30 minutes pierce as themes coalesce novelistically.
The consensus apex of the Star Trek films, ‘Khan’ opens as slowly as its forebear and only eclipses it when the Genesis and Spock plots meet
Once you get past the torpid first hour, 1979’s ‘Star Trek’ is shockingly compelling - a leisurely puzzle that presages ‘BSG’ and its themes
‘Up’ made me cry at least twice, but its well-supported message undercut its admittedly spectacular spectacle. That’s its point and problem.
‘Star Trek’ - Brisk, elegant, and thin, Abrams’ reboot draws its gravity from Leonard Nimoy, funny and illogically emotional. Pegg is a hoot
‘JCVD’ - Not as smart as it thinks it is, but still potent. Van Damme effectively exploits his irrelevance for laughs & pathos. Too stylized
‘The Wrester’: Rourke lives the role beautifully, but the first-half character-study authenticity devolves into inevitable, overplayed story
‘Lost’ S5 finale: Josh Holloway proves himself the worst among many bad actors; the suspense is less “What happens next?!” than “Where now?”
Slumdog Millionaire - The climax? Salim interrupts. The dance? Credits intrude. Boyle trashes my minor goodwill with shit I don’t care about
‘Milk’ - It neither over-simplifies nor beatifies, but in a largely glowing portrait, Harvey Milk remains a mystery. Still, a great pleasure
‘Quantum of Solace’: Uniformly incoherent action but a surprising emotional pull. Craig’s Bond remains a magnetic force but is too cloaked.
‘Let the Right One in’ - Tonally coy, it expands on Romero’s ‘Martin,’ crosses it with Poe’s ‘William Wilson,’ and haunts retrospectively.
‘Rachel Getting Married’ - Contrivances of setup and situation are, by the end, obliterated by unerring emotional authenticity. Truth-filled
‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ - Pretty, obvious, tiresome, and cynical, Allen’s latest starts literally golden and fades to a trite ‘reality.’
‘Diving Bell & the Butterfly’ - Aggressive direction overcompensates for decidedly uncinematic material, but it doesn’t matter. Still lovely
‘Frozen River’ - Gripping, authentic, tight, and heartbreaking, this working-class thriller strangely derails with two tries at high drama.
‘Battlestar Galactica S1’ - After the brisk miniseries, this was a long haul with an admittedly superior cliffhanger. Tigh must die -- now.
‘Encounters at the End of the World’ - By turns tedious and fascinating, Herzog’s doc resembles the doomed penguin walking to the mountains.
‘Zodiac’ - Subtly but thoroughly subversive and odd, Fincher’s procedural is radical in construction but goes down easily. A quiet triumph.
‘The Strangers’ - Expert, brutal, pointless, and a good student of its elders. 77 minutes, and 70 pass before the creeps commit bodily harm.
‘Planet Terror’ - Not nearly bad enough to be a true homage; despite the charming scratches etc., it’s far too polished and winking to work.
Culture Snob joins Twitter: Who says I’m not an early adopter? Next, I plan to check out this CD thing. It’s an up-and-coming technology.