My best, sadly, isn’t going to be good enough, and I’m going to have to do something I loathe, which is to go three straight days without writing a review. I have, though, seen some movies, and formed some opinions on them, and until I get back to 100% on Sunday, allow me to tide you over with these capsules.
American Sniper: A drama about PTSD that has been preposterously, maybe even willfully misunderstood by both its defenders and its detractors as being a rousing tale of military achievement. No more bloodthirsty and “rah rah American military force” than Zero Dark Thirty – which is to say, it’s somewhat bloodthirsty and rah-rah, but it certainly doesn’t make service in Iraq look glamorous, appealing, or ennobling, and the word “hero” is one it and its protagonist both judge with an askance “…really? Hm, whatever” attitude. Hopefully in 10 or 15 years things will have settled down enough where we can enjoy the ace sound design, surprisingly crafty structure, and Bradley Cooper’s best performance by far. Hopefully in the same time, Clint Eastwood will also have released a director’s cut that does something with the tin-eared, obnoxiously winking 10 minutes at the end. 8/10
A Field in England: I am entirely in the bag for director Ben Wheatley, and that includes his fourth feature, but I’ll sadly confess that I think this effort is his least effective, even while it’s his most aesthetically ambitious. Making its virtue of its cheapness, the costume drama/psychological thriller uses emptiness and sickly cinematography well, and it builds a desperate sense of untethered confusion that lingers afterwards. But it doesn’t really do anything. 7/10
Moebius: I am also in the bag for Kim Ki-duk, which I’m not entirely proud of. This particular provocation is blunter than some of his other recent work, but it’s surprising how quickly its gory excesses and “look at me, I’m cool” gimmick of having no dialogue become normalised to the point that the story underneath them can be told on their own terms. But it’s still awfully slender, and impossible to recommend to anybody who doesn’t self-select. 7/10? 8/10?
Norte, the End of History: Pro-tip, don’t watch it when you’re tired. NR/10