12 Years A Slave
Based on Solomon Northrup’s autobiography of the same name, 12 Years a Slave follows Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofer) as he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. While Northrup is eventually freed, the plight of fellow slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) shows the terrifying, incessant horror inflicted by slavery.
Nine years after Before Sunset, Richard Linklater is back with the third (and possibly the most dramatic) sequel of the series. The movie takes place in Greece, where Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) are on a vacation with their twin daughters. The seemingly relaxing vacation soon becomes a pivotal and turbulent period for the couple as unresolved conflicts and disregarded emotions bring their relationship into a state of lability. The movie’s witty dialogues and heartfelt performances will provide an outstanding cinematic experience for those viewers who appreciate ingenious screenplay without much theatricality.
One of the best documentaries of 2013, Blackfish is the story of an orca, Tilikum, who has a record of attacks against handlers, trainers, and trespassers, and of a corporation, SeaWorld, trying to explain this record away in terms of trainer error or human mistakes. Underneath Tilikum’s drama runs an even more shocking story: one of how we are being lied to, on a daily basis, for the sake of profits. Blackfish poses deep questions, with bleak answers, about us as a species, the role of whistleblowers in modern life and our future as a civilized society.
Blue is the Warmest Color
An intimate, heart wrenching story, Blue is the Warmest Color depicts the life-changing coming together and falling apart of a charming young woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and a more experienced one (Léa Seydoux). A beautifully performed movie on the pains and pleasures of love, loving and having loved.
When Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) daughter is kidnapped, he’s left with only a single clue, a dilapidated RV parked on the street. The owner, Alex Jones, is acquitted and released, forcing Dover to take matters into his own hands. Simultaneously, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) investigates the kidnapping and discovers terrible secrets in a seemingly sleepy town. This terrifying thriller turns the tables, asking us what we would do to protect the ones we love.
When an orbiting debris field destroys their shuttle and leaves them stranded in low earth orbit, astronauts Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) must use their technical know-how to find a way back home with only fragile human technology to help them in the harsh environment of space. Director Alfonso Cuarón’s everyman story shows the triumph of human ingenuity over incredible odds with gorgeous views of our planet and brilliant special effects.
Broke and homeless former New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) flies to San Francisco to live with her adopted sister and try and rebuild her life, but she struggles to face her new reality. Blanchett gives a fantastic performance as the Blanche DuBois of Woody Allen’s newest film, which draws strong parallels to A Streetcar Named Desire.
With a satisfying combination of suspense, drama and action, Rush depicts the intense rivalry that developed throughout the 1970s between two very different Formula One racers, playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and calculating Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Based on a true story, the film culminates in the climactic events of the 1976 Formula One season, as Hunt and Lauda vied for the title of Champion.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street depicts the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young stockbroker who earns a fortune in a very short period of time, and enters the world of excessive drug use, orgiastic adultery and stock market manipulation. Based on the memoirs of Jordan R. Belfort, the movie delivers very explicit scenes and dialogues that will surely appall conservative viewers. However, the three leading actors — DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie — give such spectacular performances that it’s impossible not to enjoy this three-hour long lavish black comedy.
In the sequel to 2012’s The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) must deal with the fallout of her victory during the last Hunger Games, where 24 teenagers are forced to fight to the death in a yearly game dreamt up by the ruling Capitol. Her actions are viewed as a symbol of hope to the repressed people of Panem and an act of defiance by the Capitol. The Capitol forces Katniss to participate in a second, more brutal Hunger Games, where she must once again fight for her life and decide whether to accept her role as a leader in the brewing revolution.