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Gravity (2013)
Don't let go.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Science Fiction
Thriller
Drama

Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first Shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The Shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness of space. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

The Other Red Shoe One use of science fiction is to purify the threads of a story by displacing them from the distracting familiar. This gives more than clarity; it often frees the narrative to rest in our souls rather than our eyes, rather like the...


Published February 6, 2024
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Cloud Atlas (2012)
Everything is Connected
Director: Tom Tykwer, Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Drama
Science Fiction

A set of six nested stories spanning time between the 19th century and a distant post-apocalyptic future. Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Based on the award winning novel by David Mitchell. Directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.

Arson Were I to worry about our future, it would be less about all the horrors that await than our ability to reason about them. There is a rather short tether between this and wonder about what we are doing to long form narrative. My own...


Published February 6, 2024
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Parkland (2013)
November 22, 1963, 12:38 pm - A trauma patient is rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. His name is President John F. Kennedy.
Director: Peter Landesman
History
Drama

November 22nd, 1963 was a day that changed the world forever — when young American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. This film follows, almost in real time, a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions after an event that would change their lives and forever alter the world’s landscape.

Lossy Compression The great idea here is the assumption that we already have a rich movie in our lives about the assassination, then to simply give us a handful of episodes about three people, real people. These episodes will deliver what happened with certified fidelity. All...


Published February 6, 2024
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Remember who the enemy is.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Adventure
Action
Science Fiction

Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

Alderaan Dies I get asked for examples all the time, even after all these years. Okay, here‘s one. Noir, by my definition is the placing of a world such that the viewers collectively control it. The effect is that ordinary people in the story find themselves jerked...


Published February 6, 2024
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Beyond darkness... beyond desolation... lies the greatest danger of all.
Director: Peter Jackson
Fantasy
Adventure
Action

The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.

The Source of the Imagining I read many criticisms of this. Apparently, there is a fundamentalist Tolkien fan club that rivals the Austen group in assailing anyone that deviates from the written word; by this I mean the last rewrite of Tolkien‘s I never could finish any...


Published February 6, 2024
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Renoir (2012)
Drama
Romance

In the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir, son of the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste, returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his side is Andrée, a young woman who rejuvenates, enchants, and inspires both father and son.

Keyhole Painter In theory, this should be one of my dearest films. It concerns sensuous urge at the level of obsessive spirituality. A way of continually falling in love that is itself worth falling in love with. It concerns painting and is intended to be presented in...


Published February 6, 2024
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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Seize your glory!
Action
Drama
War

Greek general Themistocles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. Themistocles faces the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes and Artemesia, the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Slaves in the Hold I live near Pat Robertson‘s elaborate film school, and have often wondered what the world will be like when religious extremists master effective filmmaking. What happens when we move from Roger Ailes to Leni Riefenstahl? Well, here we have something that tells...


Published February 6, 2024
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Ender’s Game (2013)
This is not a game.
Science Fiction
Action
Adventure

Based on the classic novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game is the story of the Earth's most gifted children training to defend their homeplanet in the space wars of the future.

Internals Revealed I do dimly recall the first couple books of the series. They were engagingly written. But more importantly, they used a device that probably won‘t work today. The books were powerful because they focused on Ender‘s internal mind. The second book folded this into Ender‘s...


Published February 6, 2024
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The Wolverine (2013)
When he's most vulnerable, he's most dangerous.
Director: James Mangold
Action
Science Fiction
Adventure

Wolverine faces his ultimate nemesis - and tests of his physical, emotional, and mortal limits - in a life-changing voyage to modern-day Japan.

Sniffing the Dog that Went Before There isn’t much to say about the ordinary features of this. It is a Marvel production and that means the world is dull in all aspects. They seem incapable of leaving safe territory, so this is more or less Michael...


Published February 5, 2024
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The Gruffalo’s Child (2011)
Adventure
Animation
Family
Fantasy

A follow up to the 2009 animated feature and adapted from the childrens' book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler. The Gruffalo's child explores the deep dark wood in search of the big bad mouse and meets the Snake, Owl and Fox in the process. She eventually finds the mouse, who manages to outwit her like the Gruffalo before!

Flat Black Tongues Oh help. Oh no! This is not the Gruffalo. If you know the book of which this story is the sequel, then you have experienced something special. It has an untrusted narrator nested in another untrusted narrator. The inner con is by a mouse...


Published February 5, 2024
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