Like a light, summer wine, Sideways might trick you into tasting something that isn't really there at all. Yes, the film features a few passing notes of complexity—a soft examination of depression, a passing glance at regret—but these dissolve neatly by the movie's (not so) surprising final turn. Happily, however, Sideways indulges on character charm and sharp dialogue, each just clever enough to win over viticultural skeptics. You'll feel tricked, though never conned. Wine is more about experience than taste, after all.
Following Skyfall's release, Ben heard or read perspectives matching all 12 of the following reviews. His favorite part? Regardless of argument, everyone cited the same evidence. In that spirit, 12 reviews of the latest Bond... (plus stay tuned for Ben's actual opinion, mentioned at the end).
1. Skyfall Succeeds on Daniel Craig's Back
A close reader of TheCroakingFrog might conclude I value character over plot. In my 2012 overall rankings, Argo—the tautest plot of the year—lost out to Django Unchained, an undisciplined story with impossibly compelling characters. I might have concluded the same until last night. The Master changed my mind, and it might change yours as well.
Like Up and Minority Report before it, Looper begins with tantalizing promise, only to squander its clever premise with cautious plotting and routine resolutions. Unlike its prodigal predecessors, however, Looper remains wayward to its very end. A shame Looper's time machines haven't been invented yet; I'd love to return to the film's first act and pretend the rest never happens. Of course, if I haven't gone back to stop myself from watching it yet, it stands to reason I never will. (Or never did?)
Some books don’t work as movies. The Great Gatsby, a fine American novel, has floundered (multiple times) on the silver screen. The Chronicles of Narnia never recovered from William Moseley’s sanctimonious portrayal of Peter Pevensie. The Da Vinci Code (an electrifying, if formulaic, book) remains Tom Hanks’ worst outing since T̶u̶r̶n̶e̶r̶ ̶&̶ ̶H̶o̶o̶c̶h̶ ̶(̶1̶9̶8̶9̶)̶ The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Life of Pi spends the tiger’s share of its two-hour runtime flirting with a similar fate, but through masterful cinematography, dodges its doom.