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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Viewing Diary (5/26/14)

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This week’s Viewing Diary is a fairly simple one, thanks to the holiday weekend. The only new release discussed is X-Men: Days of Future Past, and as for the old stuff you can find brief reactions to the original Godzilla (or Gojira) from 1954, and the Italian road comedy Il Sorpasso. Stay tuned to the blog this week for a full review of Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, as well as the first installment of the Summer of Cruise, which will focus on early films such as Risky Business and Top Gun.

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Viewing Diary (5/19/14)

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Nothing but new releases in the ol’ Viewing Diary this week, as I discuss a busy week featuring Godzilla, The Disney sports film Million Dollar Arm, Jon Favreau’s Chef and an early look at Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. If you’re aching for older movies, fear not! Next week’s diary will feature not one, but two black and white films! Try to contain your excit– wait, come back! Continue reading

Look upon “Godzilla,” ye mighty, and despair

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One of the great challenges in making a film like Godzilla is what to do with the human characters, and it’s an issue that’s inspired much debate in the last couple weeks. Ultimately, a $160 million film about a giant lizard monster is almost always going to spend far more time killing thousands of CGI humans than it will making us care about the motivations and emotions of our protagonists. As useless and troublesome as they may be, the humans are there to provide audiences with a way in to the action, and the best blockbusters use this concept to their advantage. I would argue this new Godzilla is one such film, and in many ways it approaches its subject matter in a similar fashion to what you see in Spielberg films like Jurassic ParkClose Encounters of the Third Kind and War of the Worlds. Spielberg is a master at making audiences feel as though they are experiencing these extraordinary events right alongside the human characters, thus creating the illusion of shared experience and a genuine sense of wonder. The characters in many of his blockbusters are no more fascinating than those in Godzilla, but he exploits their ability to be the “portal” audiences use to enter the world. Continue reading