10 years of entropy

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

It is Jan. 15, 2020. Ten years ago today, I caught a matinee showing of The Book of Eli, a deeply forgettable Denzel Washington vehicle boasting Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman as the villain, at AMC Irving Mall. It was my first published movie review for the Tarrant County College Collegian, which I’d begged my way onto as a high schooler. I have been doing this now for 10 years.

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The most important movies of 2019

Annual top 10 lists are dumb and arbitrary and I hate them, even as I’ve started doing them. We can do better here. Instead of a static list of 10 favorites, 10 peanuts with which to pack the year away forever, let’s put together a list of the movies that we’ll carry with us into the future.

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‘1917’ is an idea so grand it couldn’t be ruined

M A J E S T I C ! Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

10/10 1917 is a one-take World War I movie. Great idea. All movies should be built from of ideas this great. Spectacular work. Bravo. No notes.

April 6, 1917, the day the U.S. officially enters the Great War, Eastern France- After months of brutal, tooth-and-claw trench warfare, the Germans have retreated nine miles to the Hindenburg Line. Col. Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) is set for a full-scale attack at dawn, thinking he’ll be charging at a retreating army, but aerial intelligence indicates the new line is even more heavily fortified and Mackenzie’s men will be running headlong into their own slaughter. With the phone lines cut and no other way of getting this intelligence to the front, Gen. Erinmore (Colin Firth) sends two lance corporals, William Schofield (George MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) across No Man’s Land to hand-deliver orders calling off the attack with the lives of 1,600 men hanging in the balance.

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‘Hidden Life’ refines Malick’s technique into something accessible

“…For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs” –George Eliot. Images courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.

8/10 For years, writer/director Terrence Malick has defined the inaccessible, nose-raising arthouse film, exactly the kind of self-important, self-satirical movie mainstream audiences think of when they think about movies they don’t want to watch. A Hidden Life does nothing to change that, but it’s a wonderful application of his process. 

St. Radegund, Nazi Austria- Austrian peasant Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) tends the farm he’s lived on all his life. After the Anschluß, he is conscripted into the Wehrmacht, but cannot serve because he refuses to swear personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler. As a farmer, he is exempted from service for a period of years, but is eventually called into active duty. In 1943, he was convicted by military tribunal and executed for sedition against a country and an army that he did not willingly join. He was declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church in 2007.

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Sandler’s sweaty, slimy fever dream ‘Uncut Gems’

Sandler’s transformative performance is actually the biggest point of detraction for Uncut Gems — apparently, a mass block of viewers have come into this movie hoping for something similar to his notoriously bad Netflix movies and they’re complaining on Rotten Tomatoes. Check it out, it’s wild. Images courtesy A24.

9/10 The opening shot of Uncut Gems is a long push. First, we go deep into a raw black opal, a cousin of which will become central to the plot, seeing, as they say you can, the entire universe in its crevices. But then those crevices turn fleshy and this same shot begins to pull out, and you realize all at once that it’s become the screen of the lead character’s colonoscopy.

That’s where Uncut Gems starts, literally up Adam Sandler’s ass. That’s the level we’re at here. 

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