Archives For A Most Wanted Man

(I’m resisting the urge to call these “the Revvie awards”.)

Everything that follows is based purely on my subjective opinion. I can’t argue with you about the list because I’m not trying to persuade you to agree with me. These may not be THE best movies, moviemakers or movie-moments of 2014 — but they are some of my bests & favorites from the previous 12 months. I hope you enjoy the list. I’d love to see your alternate selections or a few categories of your own in the comments section. Thanks, and Happy New Year!


Best Popcorn Movie You Probably Didn’t See in a Theater:  EDGE OF TOMORROW


Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise in EDGE OF TOMORROW (d. Liman, Warner Bros.)

Terrible title; uninspiring trailer; looks just like his last movie; and whatever else you want to throw at it aside, EDGE OF TOMORROW is smart, imaginative, fun, exciting and satisfying. Director Doug Liman deserves a lot of credit for all of that. Emily Blunt is fantastic and another reason the movie works so well. Cruise deserves kudos for his convincing — and not very movie-star-like — turn as a man with less-than-admirable qualities for the first 20 minutes of this movie. The working title for the movie (Live. Die. Repeat.) would have been a much better title for its theatrical release. But whoever thought creating confusion by going back to the original title for its VOD and home video release, deserves to be put on a transport and sent to the battlefront.


Best Thing I’ve Seen Tyler Perry Do: Supporting Actor, GONE GIRL

Granted the sample of what I’ve seen Tyler Perry do is not very big, but I thoroughly enjoyed his turn as Tanner Bolt in GONE GIRL. A TV series with Perry playing this role isn’t the worst idea I’ve heard.


Favorite Spoiler of the Year – Amazing Amy Makes a Mess (GONE GIRL)



Favorite Example of a Writer/Director’s Self Esteem: Jon Favreau casting Sofia Vergara as his devoted ex-wife


Emjay Anthony, Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara in CHEF (d. Favreau, Open Road Films)


Favorite Movie Featuring Food: CHEF

It’s not a good movie to see if you’re hungry. It’s a very good movie to see if you like beautiful food and seeing it prepared. Wonderful cast, great locations, straight-ahead story — all pulled together with confident images and sound.  You will be hungry after you’ve seen it.


Favorite 2014 Trailer that Made Me Not Care Whether the Movie Was Good or Not: INHERENT VICE



Best Review Of INHERENT VICE Whether Or Not You Saw It, Liked It or Hated It – Wesley Morris

Grantland’s Wesley Morris is one of my favorite people to talk with about movies — I had the pleasure of doing so last year in a couple of Film Forum panels and a sit down interview. I try to listen to and read as much of Morris’s work as I can find. His review of INHERENT VICE is one of the best pieces of film criticism I’ve ever read. It’s worth a read whether you’ve seen the movie or not —  or whether you intend to see it or not.


10 Best Experiences I Had in a Movie Theater This Year (in alphabetical order)

So far this year I’ve bought tickets 37 times to see a movie in a theater. It’s still my favorite way to see a movie and Tracy Jackson is still my favorite person to see a movie with. These movies provided my ten best experiences in a movie theater — but truth be told, I didn’t have a bad experience in 2014.


Best 4000 Words You’ll Read About Critics and Criticism by a Critic: Philip Martin


Michael Keaton as Riggan with his alter-ego, in BIRDMAN (d. Inarritu, Fox Searchlight)

Philip Martin’s personal, long-form meditation on the “powder and spark” of creativity, the role of criticism in the process, and Birdman (among other works of art), is as thoughtful, thought-provoking, and fair as he is. There are portions of this essay that would serve creatives well to read, remember and return to periodically.





Favorite 2014 Movie AnniversariesGhostbusters (30 years), Beverly Hills Cop (30 years), A Hard Days Night (50 years)

The Little Rock Film Festival and Arkansas Times sponsored a 30th Anniversary Screening of BEVERLY HILLS COP with Judge Reinhold. (The event was held at the Ron Robison Theater in downtown Little Rock —  a great venue for watching a movie and the headquarters of the LRFF.) My intention was to drop in to say hello and catch up with Judge and Amy Reinhold. I was going to slip out after Judge introduced the film. Then I thought I’d just stay through the opening scene — 105 minutes later, I was still there. I was struck by the practical effects (when they wreck 50 or 60 cars in the opening scene they’re real cars) and the strength of the writing. Ok, maybe it’s not deep writing, but it’s strong. Because 30 years ago, when American studios were making movies primarily for American audiences — even the popcorn movies had to hold up to some scrutiny of plot and continuity. I don’t feel good about sounding crotchety and xenophobic in the same sentence. Thanks, Obama.


Best Place in Little Rock to See A MovieUA Breckenridge Stadium 12

It’s been our favorite neighborhood movie theater for 30 years. After this fall’s renovation it might be our favorite place in the world to see a movie. Top notch projection and sound, and every seat is the best seat in the house — leather recliners, lots of personal space, reserved seating. What’s not to like? The 2 hours and 20 minutes it took to watch THE JUDGE only felt like 2 hours in those seats.

A Most Wanted Man

MARTHA SULLIVAN (Robin Wright) and GUNTER BACHMANN (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are spies squaring off in A MOST WANTED MAN – available on DVD/Bluray.

If you’re looking for something film-related to do this weekend, try one or two of these. These are all a touch on the dark side.


RIGGAN (Michael Keaton) is having issues in BIRDMAN. In theaters now.

Go see: BIRDMAN or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R, 119 mins, Fox Searchlight, in theaters now) – Alejandro Inarritu’s film has been one of the most highly touted and anticipated of the year in cinephile circles. Now everyone can see what the fuss is about — and there’s so much to see and take in. This one will likely have a few nominations in the major categories come award season — starting with Michael Keaton and Edward Norton. Dan Lybarger’s review of BIRDMAN in today’s (11.07.14) Arkansas Democrat Gazette, is especially illuminating on why the movie works on several levels simultaneously.

Watch: A MOST WANTED MAN (R, 122 mins, Roadside Attractions, on DVD/Bluray now) Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just re-post myself. Here’s what I said about A MOST WANTED MAN during it’s theatrical release — and why I still recommend it.

Read: INDECENT PROPOSAL by David McClinktick (Collins Business Essentials) – Hands down, my favorite inside-Hollywood book. It’s so well written, the story itself is so much of an avoidable train wreck — and it transports the reader to the time that big business was done without personal computers, smart phones and electronic tablets. This is not dusty, ancient history — it’s a cautionary tale worthy of it’s own HBO series. Columbia Pictures’s larger-than-life leader, David Begelman, is caught a crime that will forever alter the careers and personal relationships of people in in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the boardroom and in the police department. It’s one of the more darkly comedic and tragic stories in Hollywood history. I’ve read this book two or three times all the way through and find myself picking it up every once in a while to read 10 to 20 pages.


Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gunther Bachmann in A MOST WANTED MAN (Roadside Attractions)

Let me just say up front — this is not a review. It is a recommendation.

Just a few years ago if you’d said about a movie you’d just seen that it was as good as the best thing currently on television, people would have assumed you were damning the film with faint praise. How things have changed. You can hardly read or hear anything about the entertainment industry these days without someone commenting on the new Golden Age of television. A-list movie stars headline shows on cable and streaming services while feature film writers and directors declare that getting a series picked up is the new (preferred) version of a 3 picture deal. Critics, pundits and your co-workers all seem to agree that the new breed of television series is doing what quality film used to do. Well, run to your local cinema while you still can – because A MOST WANTED MAN is as good as any Netflix original series you’re going to binge on tonight.

Based on the John le Carre spy novel of the same name and set in current day Hamburg, A MOST WANTED MAN provides counter-programming to the summer studio tentpoles in the forms of street-level settings, unvarnished characters, and complex perspectives. It’s a spy movie with a POV we’re not used to seeing. The film is intimate and unsettling. It is serious filmmaking that is seriously entertaining. MAN has the kind of slow-boil-plot with a gobsmack payoff that we’ve come to expect from a ten-episode arc on a hot, new HBO series. And it’s all done in a just a hair over two hours.

Much has already been speculated about the hard-not-to-notice parallels between the beleaguered and brilliant lead character in this movie and the actor who plays him. This is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead role. (He will appear in a supporting role in the upcoming HUNGER GAMES sequel.) Hoffman’s performance here doesn’t lead me to wonder about his personal life as much as it reminds me how masterfully he inhabited his characters. Whether you call Hoffman’s GUNTHER BACHMANN an antihero, a conflicted hero or a complex hero — he is a man of vision and action who is increasingly out-of-step with the people who hold the real keys to power. He’s running out of time and options. If you appreciated the work Hoffman did before this, then A MOST WANTED MAN is a must-see film.


A MOST WANTED MAN (R) (122 mins); Anton Corbijn (dir); Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright