The Best Films of 2014 (#30-21)

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Well, this should be fun. Instead of simply publishing my usual annual top 10 list, I’ve decided to take it up a notch and instead post a top 30 list, slowly revealing my picks over the course of the week. We’ll begin with the bottom of the list, and this will also be the longest of the five installments, taking us from number 30 all the way up to number 21. Then, starting tomorrow, each installment will have just five films, culminating in my top five on Friday. So now, without further ado, let’s get started.

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“Edge of Tomorrow” hits the usual marks, but does so in thoroughly entertaining fashion

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As Edge of Tomorrow begins, we are greeted with the kind of montage that has kicked off many a science fiction film before, as director Doug Liman assembles a collection of fake news footage that sets the audience up for the world they are about to enter. Tom Cruise appears in a couple of these clips as well, and the film lets you know that he is not a typical soldier, but a sort of media spokesman. It’s not a particularly auspicious first couple minutes, but then an interesting thing happens: the film quiets down. The first proper scene in the movie is a long, engaging conversation between Cruise’s Major William Cage and Brendan Gleeson’s General Brigham. The editing is patient, and there’s no manipulative music trying to drive anything home. It’s entirely about the two actors, and it allows them to play the scene in a way that establishes who they are and their place in the world. That, in a nutshell, is what makes Edge of Tomorrow so successful. There’s nothing terribly surprising about the story it’s telling, but it presents this story with refreshing wit and personality. Continue reading

Introducing: The Summer of Cruise

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Those of you who followed my previous blog may recall that I spent two summers writing about the work of two of my favorite directors: Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. (Not to go out on a limb or anything.) The former project didn’t pan out as much as I had hoped, but with the so-called “Summer of Spielberg” I was able to successfully navigate the entirety of his considerable oeuvre. This summer, I have decided to bring it back, only I won’t be talking about a director. I will be discussing one of the biggest movie stars in history: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. This won’t be a comprehensive project that covers every film he’s done, but instead I will focus on many of the most important movies of his career: both the highs and lows. Continue reading