24 August 2014

Favourite Films of 2013

Awfully belated, I know, but this list has been on my mind for a while. It includes films released in 2013, though some I eventually saw on DVD/Blu-Ray in the first few months of this year.

My top 10 films of 2013:

1. Gravity  ****
2. 12 Years a Slave  ****
3. Her ****
4. The Spectacular Now ****
5. Upstream Color *** 1/2
6. Blue is the Warmest Color *** 1/2
7. Le Passé/The Past *** 1/2
8. Jagten/The Hunt  *** 1/2
9. Frances Ha  *** 1/2
10. Fruitvale Station *** 1/2

Honourable Mentions: American Hustle, The Bling Ring, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Invisible Woman, Nebraska, Spring Breakers, To the Wonder

Pleasant Surprises: Don Jon, The Way Way Back

Disappointments: Inside Llewyn Davis, Only God Forgives, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Thor: The Dark World

Favourite Performance by an Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Favourite Performance by an Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Film: Boyhood

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

On one hand, amazing to watch the actors actually aging over the span of twelve years, particularly Ellar Coltrane, the lead. The transitions as he grows up are seamless and surprising at the same time. On the other hand, a film that steadily, carefully captivates and wins you over. It's a portrait of life, really. Perhaps leaves some storylines oddly undeveloped, but in the end that's of little concern.

12 August 2014

Film: Only Lovers Left Alive

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

The vampire film as expression of early 21st-century ennui. A desolate, Gothic, brooding Detroit contrasted by a mazy, softly lit, sensual Tangier. Swinton and Hiddleston captivating as an ultracool, mysterious, devoted, centuries-old couple in love with each other and with human history, art, poetry, music, and retro-technology. Every frame and every shot is stylish, observant, meditative. The blood and fangs are rare, and more effective for being so. It's about the lovers, after all.

08 August 2014

Running: Being Injured Sucks

I love running.

It's something I do that's truly for me –– my health, my mind. It's my meditation time, when I'm doing a run on my own. It's a constant source of tangible achievement and improvement, going farther and/or faster than the last time. It's being part of an incredibly motivating and inclusive community.

I started running regularly, as a habit, around four years ago. Then I found myself doing my first 10k race. Then it was my first half-marathon. Then, in October 2013, I did my first full marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (or, the "Scotia full," as some of us say here in Toronto).

What a rush that day was. Definitely one of the most amazing days of my life.

In the finish area after the race.

Since that day, however, I've not been able to run very much, and not at all from January to March. I'd developed a stress fracture (and bursitis) in my right knee, likely during training for the marathon, and which was, of course, exacerbated by the race.

02 August 2014

Film: Lucy

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Fast, intense, visually striking, entertaining. A good performance by Johansson, with a few captivating moments (especially her call to her mother). Reaches for big questions about human nature, but ultimately feels thin. Ending a little abrupt, with too many narrative threads left dangling.