Matisse has written 24 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2014.

  • Bernie

    Bernie

    ★★★½

    Bernie is a film that's been flying low on my radar for a while that I decided to watch yesterday on a whim combined with a recommendation from a friend. The result was pleasantly surprising. I'd say I'm relatively unfamiliar with Richard Linklater's films, having seen School of Rock so many years ago I can barely remember it, and being too young to appreciate Waking Life or A Scanner Darkly the last time I saw them. But considering that he…

  • Godzilla

    Godzilla

    ★★★½

    Gareth Edwards's Godzilla was actually a pretty pleasant surprise. I've been a big fan of Godzilla as long as I can remember, having watched King Kong vs. Godzilla on VHS as a kid more times than I can count, so there was definitely a touch of nostalgia that was stimulated by the most recent summer blockbuster. Nostalgia aside, I really enjoyed Edwards's debut feature, Monsters, when I saw it a few years ago. I was impressed by its focus on…

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    ★★★½

    One of the few remaining Miyazaki films I hadn't seen, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a beautiful, if somewhat unpolished early effort from Studio Ghibli. I couldn't help but notice a lot of thematic similarities between this film and some of Miyazaki's later works, most notably Castle in the Sky, released two years later, and Princess Mononoke almost a decade later. Nausicaa seems to be a sort of jumping off point for Miyazaki, where he explored some…

  • Troll Hunter

    Troll Hunter

    ★★★½

    The found footage genre is quickly becoming tired, with more and more lazy entries popping up in the last decade or so, wearing out its welcome. However, after having seen Troll Hunter a couple of times now, I can comfortably say that it's probably one of the best found footage films of the past 5 years.

    Surprisingly, Troll Hunter takes a premise that most would choose to address with camp and ridiculousness and plays it off completely seriously. Yet it…

  • Cropsey

    Cropsey

    ★★★½

    I went into Cropsey with virtually no expectations whatsoever, basically selecting it at random as I scrolled through Netflix. I had never heard the Staten Island legend of Cropsey, so there weren't really any expectations that I could have anyway.

    I was a little put off initially by the amateurish quality of this documentary. It looked and sounded like a cheap student film, and I started to regret picking it. However, the story it tells was so intriguing that I…

  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II

    Hellbound: Hellraiser II

    ★★★½

    Hellbound: Hellraiser II picks up right where the first one left off. Kirsty is in a mental hospital after her encounter with the Cenobites and she receives a message from her dead father, asking her to free him from hell. While the first Hellraiser was contained and relatively small scale, the sequel is bigger, flashier, and much, much gorier. We're transported to the world of the Cenobites, a labyrinthine Escher nightmare, ruled over by a big twirling pyramid thing named…

  • My Winnipeg

    My Winnipeg

    ★★★½

    Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg is a contemplative documentary about the director's home town that seamlessly blends fact and fiction. It tells of his desire to "disentangle" himself from the destructive, mundane city of ghosts, sleepwalkers, and hockey bitterness by reliving and recreating events from his childhood on film. Informative about Winnipeg and Maddin himself, equally, when watching this film, it's important to take what you're given with a grain of salt, as there are as many fabrications as there are…

  • The Deadly Spawn

    The Deadly Spawn

    ★★★½

    The Deadly Spawn seems to be a largely overlooked little gem. The 80's were a great decade for horror films, giving us some of the greatest ones ever (Hellraiser, The Thing, and The Blob being among my favorites). While I wouldn't quite put The Deadly Spawn at such heights, it's a lot of fun. Much like Hellraiser and The Thing, it's horror on a small scale, with most of the action taking place in a single location around a central…

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    ★★★½

    James Cameron knows his way around an action movie. I haven't seen his original Terminator, so when it comes to the debate of which is better, I can't really take a side.

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day suffers from some action movie camp that I typically find tiresome, but the action itself is spot on. I can only imagine what it was like to see this in theaters when it came out, but I'm sure it would have been mind blowing.…

  • X-Men: First Class

    X-Men: First Class

    ★★★½

    Once again, I'm super late on hopping on this train, finally seeing X-Men: First Class after like 3 years. And after 3 years of ridiculous amounts of hype, I was pretty disappointed. However, this doesn't mean I didn't have fun with it.

    It may, in fact, be one of the cheesiest super hero movies I've ever seen, but I suppose this is somewhat of a return to true comic book form and in this way you could definitely say that…

  • Mud

    Mud

    ★★★½

    I'll start off by saying that for me, Mud didn't quite live up to all the hype I've been hearing for the longest time. This being said, there's no doubt that there's a lot of good to be found here, and I would say that Jeff Nichols is a very promising up and coming director, and this is something I say with confidence, even having not seen Take Shelter or Shotgun Stories.

    Mud is a coming of age story done…

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    ★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1945

    I was frankly surprised at the faithfulness of this adaptation of one of my favorite works of English literature. That novel is dense to say the least, with numerous philosophies wrapped in Oscar Wilde's highly descriptive brand of storytelling. While this film doesn't come close to piercing the depths reached by Wilde, it is a beautifully atmospheric and stylistic retelling.

    Hurd Hatfield perfectly captures the whiny impotence of Dorian Gray that through the course…