TOP CINCO MOVIES OF 2013:
Before Midnight - As long as Linklater refuses to eschew the big budget he has accumulated over the years, he will never top his master stroke, "Slacker." "Slacker" was made on a slacker's budget and as such, is a perfect ragged reflection of the "loser" lifestyle (I use "loser" in quotations because they are only "losers" in the minds of mass society, who misguidedly merit comformist ambition over rebellious nonchalance). That said, Linklater has proved himself an auteur force to be reckoned with. And "Before Midnight" is his best effort since "Slacker" - rife with verisimilitude and dense with dialogue, it exposes the complications of coupledom in all its guts and glory.
Blue Jasmine - See this issue's review as to why this movie ranks as one of my faves this year.
Room 237 - "The Shining" is not my favorite Kubrick film, though it is well-executed. But I find the at-times histrionic acting almost a parody of horror films, and for that reason, I cannot watch it without giggling instead of shuddering. Nonetheless, the movie is intriguing enough to warrant an documentary about its sundry fan and critic interpretations. Some of the interpretations are sound, but others are so outlandish as to induce guffaws. For example, one critic/fan believes the movie's hidden symbolim is for the genocide of Native Americans. For another, the film is an allegory for the Holocaust. Hm, and here I thought it was a movie about Jack Nicholson's freaky eyebrows, Shelly Duvall's demented Olive Oil impression, a couple of creepy-ass twin girls, and bucket-loads of blood.
The Great Gatsby - I am kind of loathe to include this among my list, but I will do so anyway for three reasons: a) I like Baz Lurhman typically, b) I love and have taught The Great Gatsby, and c) I did not see too many movies last year and am at a loss as to what else to include (LAME excuse, I know). It's true this was not my favorite Baz Luhrman movie - he's kind of hit or miss anyway. I much preferred his incarnation of "Romeo and Juliet." But given that I appreciate his brazenly bizarre takes on classic literature, I think his "Great Gatsby" deserves at least a nod here. And actually, the movie was not brazenly bizarre ENOUGH, in my estimation. "Romeo and Juliet" did a far better job at showcasing Luhrman's eccentric talents and tweaking Shakespeare's vision into something more hyperbolically insane. So I am not sure if Luhrman just got lazy, or fearful, or what, but I think he could have hewed less loyally to the original "Gatsby" film and put a stronger Luhrman imprint on his own version. Plus, no one will trump Redford in the title role; DiCaprio's turn felt a bit fake and forced. That said, it's still worth watching for the silly and surrealistic flourishes that Luhrman does manage to sneak in.