There are two movies currently in theaters about American heroes. One of them is “American Sniper,” which centers on a white American hero. The other is “Selma,” which centers on a black American hero.
Almost 30 years ago, Adrian Lyne directed “Fatal Attraction.” His film took a fairly basic thriller premise and distinguished it with Oscar-caliber performances, a well-structured screenplay, and legitimate terror. Since then, we’ve gotten numerous retreads like “Swinfan,” “Obsessed” and now, quite possibly the dumbest of all, “The Boy Next Door.” Even if “Fatal Attraction” never existed, though, “The Boy Next Door” would still be a downright embarrassing standalone movie. How embarrassing is it? So embarrassing that the audiences for “General Hospital” and “Days of Our Lives” would boo it off-screen.
While 2014 brought us a ton of tremendous blockbusters about superheroes, LEGOS, and talking raccoons, it was also a banner year for smaller movies about life itself. No matter what the budget, this year had no shortage of great films. Today we’ll be taking a look at my 10 personal favorites.
J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” is a unique crime drama primarily due to its central character, Abel Morales. With a title like “A Most Violent Year,” you’d think Abel would be a hostile pig that’s constantly ordering hits and shouting obscenities. While he engages in unlawful activities, Abel is probably one of the most reputable and humble criminals cinema has ever seen. He doesn’t cheat on his wife, do drugs, or abuse the second amendment. Even when he has to put a dying animal out of its misery, he’s reluctant to do the deed.
From “Boogie Nights” to “Magnolia” to “Punch-Drunk Love” to “There Will Be Blood” to “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson has distinguished himself as one of the greatest and strangest filmmakers of the past two decades. “Inherent Vice” is another mystifying tale from Anderson, although it’s not the plot or meaning of the film that’s mystifying this time around. It’s the film’s quality that’s mystifying. “Inherent Vice” has too many talented actors to count and a strong atmosphere to boot. While there’s much to admire, it feels surprisingly hollow and dull on the whole.
An Illinois bishop who performed a “minor exorcism” on the governor of that state over same-sex marriage will be the guest speaker at the annual Red Mass here marking the beginning of the legislative session.
Another holiday season has passed, and with it the marathon cooking and baking sessions. The hours spent using every kitchen appliance and inch of counter space had a potential benefit more lasting than a good meal: When we really use our kitchens, we discover what does and doesn’t work in this very important room.