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quick takes on three holiday viewings

Posted by martinteller on December 1, 2013

My girlfriend and I found an apartment to rent in Chicago for a few days and on Friday night, we flipped through the owner’s DVD binders (most of them illegal copies… tsk tsk!).  She picked Frequency.  Not nearly as bad as I’d feared (and that fear was based on nothing in particular), it strikes an odd balance of sci-fi, family drama, and serial killer thriller.  I can’t say the blend really works because it does feel like a few different movies smooshed together, but surprisingly it’s not that off-putting or distracting.  So I guess it does work.  Until the end, which gets way too action-y and then caps it off with a horribly schmaltzy Garth Brooks song.  Ick.  As a sidenote, it struck me as very odd that someone was watching “Hill Street Blues” in the year 2000, until I discovered that director Gregory Hoblit helmed 14 episodes of that series.  Rating: Good (71)

Saturday, we had loose plans to meet up with a friend of mine but that fell through, so we walked down to the local multiplex and caught 12 Years a Slave.  Well deserving of all the accolades, and in my opinion far better than McQueen’s first two features.  Or at least it connected with me on a much deeper level.  The movie is emotionally shattering, and McQueen’s talent for expressing physicality is put to brutally effective use.  A film hasn’t made me feel so battered and depressed for a long time… which is as it should be when dealing with this subject.  There is no uplift to this film, no false rays of hope.  It’s a massive bummer, but powerful as hell.  Ejiofor (consistently great in everything I’ve seen) does some master-class work here, in every moment you can see him struggling with the decision to rebel or to survive.  I might rate this higher on a second viewing, but I’m not sure I could stomach one.  Rating: Very Good (89)

And Saturday night, it was my turn to choose from the binder, and I had to go with The Last Seduction… not only because I love the movie and she hadn’t ever seen it, but I thought it would make a nice capper to Noir-vember.  I don’t have much to add to my previous review.  The “Trish” reveal does seem a little more necessary than I thought, as a way of producing a certain reaction.  But it doesn’t play so well nowadays.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed revisiting it and my girlfriend liked it, too.  Rating: Very Good (84)

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