Matisse has written 17 reviews for films rated ★★★ during 2014.

  • The Ten Commandments

    The Ten Commandments

    ★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1956

    Perhaps one of the grandest films I've ever seen, but also one of the most full of itself. There's no denying the incredible achievement of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments and it's undoubtedly one of the biggest landmarks in cinema history, but it takes itself so seriously that I just couldn't get into it. Not being able to get into a film is bad enough when it's 90 minutes or even two hours,…

  • Insidious

    Insidious

    ★★★

    James Wan is, if nothing else, a competent director. His scope is rather narrow, but he's pretty good at what he does. After a second, and much less distracted viewing, I still don't think that Insidious is the terrifying landmark horror film that many proclaimed it to be on its release, but it's relatively well done and creepy for the most part. Wan offers a return to the tried and true haunted house setting, and while Insidious suffers from many…

  • Hellraiser: Inferno

    Hellraiser: Inferno

    ★★★

    This one get a lot of hate, but I don't think it's as bad as it's made out to be. Sure, the Pinhead and the Cenobites are nowhere to be seen for most of the film, and this is definitely a problem, especially since Doug Bradley is usually the saving grace of these films. It's heavily influenced by the dark crime dramas of its time, and while it's not nearly as successful as the likes of a film like Se7en,…

  • V/H/S/2

    V/H/S/2

    ★★★

    V/H/S/2, unfortunately, doesn't hold up as well on a rewatch as it does after the first viewing. After seeing it the first time (not long before I joined Letterboxd), I probably would have given it 4 out of 5 stars. But this time, I started to notice more little things that bothered me. It's definitely more gimmicky than the first, trying to be creative with camera perspectives, but at times it just felt like each short was trying to show…

  • Holy Motors

    Holy Motors

    ★★★

    Eh, this one didn't quite hit the mark for me. After reading some reviews from my trusted LB friends, I think I like it more than I originally did when the credits rolled, but I still didn't see the brilliance of Holy Motors that so many others did. This could be because I was sleepy and may have dozed off briefly a couple of times or it could be because I don't really think Leos Carax did a good job…

  • The Crime of Monsieur Lange

    The Crime of Monsieur Lange

    ★★★

    A decent, if flawed film from Renoir. The Crime of Monsieur Lange is a slow burn, detailing the events prior to the titular crime, and in doing so, justify it. Renoir builds the story around a singular location, taking special care to show the relations between his characters, in both action and location. The camera glides in and around the courtyard and its adjoining buildings, always in motion. At the time this was widely criticized, but I think it works…

  • Killer of Sheep

    Killer of Sheep

    ★★★

    We watched this today in my experimental film class, and we had a 16mm print (we had to change reels twice), so it's always a treat to watch a film in its original format. This being said, there are problems that can arise when watching an original print. The particular problem this time was that our print of Killer of Sheep hadn't aged particularly well, and the sound was way overblown. And as a result, I had an almost impossible…

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still

    The Day the Earth Stood Still

    ★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1951

    Dated, but fun as heck!

    Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still is a surprisingly sophisticated story for its time, remarking on society and politics in the paranoia steeped 1950's America, caught up in the Cold War. It hasn't aged particularly well, especially in the effects department, notwithstanding some really beautiful lighting, but the script is still relatively down to earth (no pun intended).

    Regardless of how it hold up today, this is…

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel

    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    ★★★

    The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson at his most lighthearted and least pretentious, and that was really what drew me to it in the first place, winning over my usual trepidation with a director that I (and apparently only I) find frustratingly overrated. There's no doubt that it's a visually stunning film. Not only are the set pieces marvelous and lovingly detailed, but I also really enjoyed his use of thematic colors as well as his neat little changes…

  • The Magnificent Ambersons

    The Magnificent Ambersons

    ★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1942

    I honestly don't have too much to say about this one, and wouldn't feel comfortable writing a full review of it, considering the only version we have available to us today is missing over an hour of footage and story from the original cut, which Orson Welles declared his greatest work, surpassing even Citizen Kane.

    The butchery done by the studio is apparent when watching The Magnificent Ambersons. The story feels spare and exceedingly…

  • Kill Bill: Vol. 2

    Kill Bill: Vol. 2

    ★★★

    I must say, I'm pretty disappointed. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 just feels kind of incomplete, and by that I don't mean that the story feels unfinished, rather the film itself doesn't feel fully developed. Gone is the momentum and explosive style of Vol. 1, instead Tarantino gives us long segments of back story that feel more like filler than anything else and create a tone that directly contrasts with that of the previous film. We're finally given the reason for…

  • Elephant Boy

    Elephant Boy

    ★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1937

    Elephant Boy is an enjoyable little film about a young boy in British colonial India who wants nothing more than to be a hunter and sets out to prove himself with his best friend, the elephant Kala Nag. It's a fairly straightforward tale, very simple and family friendly, but quite sweet and it's hard to not charmed by Sabu, who plays the young Toomai of the Elephants. His endearing enthusiasm and energy is contagious…