Video: A year’s review of releases

by Richard Gould

A great year for movies and a tough one to narrow down to top ten. Herewith a list that neglects some terrific and widely-acclaimed DVD releases (Nebraska and Philomena) for idiosyncratic personal faves (like Only Lovers Left Alive). In no particular order they are:

  • GRAVITY: Alfonso Cuaron sticks to his science and turns all filmmaking on its head. My eyes will never be the same.
  • THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: Reviewers labeled it a case of Scorsese self-indulgence and overkill. But the film has an iron backbone, capturing the not-so-cheap thrills and venality of the late ’80s.
  • FROZEN: Landmark animation and a classic score are nothing new at castle Disney, but the feminist story here represents nothing less than a palace coup. Our daughters are the better for it.
  • THE PAST: Asghar Farhadi’s searing divorce drama set in a Paris suburb unravels a riddle at the heart of an Iranian expat family’s life. Don’t miss this film.
  • TRUE DETECTIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson chew up Louisiana scenery in this haunting HBO mystery series, not for the squeamish.
  • BEARS: John C. Reilly narrates an Alaska wildlife docu whose ample heart is backed by groundbreaking camera technology. Kids will savor every den moment, grizzly battle and flying salmon.
  • ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE: Vampires Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston set up their bohemian world behind doors in Tangiers and suburban Detroit. Jim Jarmusch shows that with the right music, it’s a kind of heaven.
  • LOCKE: Tom Hardy never leaves his car. You. Will. Not. Breathe.
  • INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS: The Coens turn their pitiless eye to the Folk Movement just before the Folk Movement, a Greenwich Village underworld teeming with lyrical beauty and hypocrisy, callowness and unsavory characters like John Goodman.
  • ALL IS LOST: Bad luck casts Robert Redford adrift on a damaged yacht in the Indian Ocean, with nothing but his old man wits to save him. A nail-biter told with Bressonian economy.

[And the last goes to the magisterial 550-page Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed, a book-length interview with Paul Cronin summing up Herzog’s career and murderous philosophy—an incitement to dangerous living.]

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