Clouds of Sils Maria – 7.5/10

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7.0/10

Finding street parking in Hollywood is like finding the Majola Snake featured in Olivier Assayas’s new film “Clouds of Sils Maria.” Luckily, I knew where to look (I used to live nearby where cash  and drugs were tossed up and down in a tennis shoe from a stucco balcony across the street.) and snuck past security to view the recently overbooked AFI screening. Playing the aging actress Maria, Juliette Binoche is as marvelous and at home in her role as Kristen Stewart seems flat and out of place playing her assistant. All the scenes of Alps vistas and moody interiors play out gracefully (except for a goofy X-Men parody), but ultimately this film misses the potential of its subject matter and its lead talent by delivering a wink rather than a snakebite.

by Scott Gist

8.0/10

Juliette Binoche gives an amazing performance but perhaps the biggest revelation is Kristen Stewart. She proves to be the female-Keanu Reeves, that when cast in the right role she gives warmth to an easily forgettable character. The heart of the film lies on those intimate scenes between Binoche and Stewart even though nothing appears to be happening at first glance. Here lies what can be considered the film’s greatness and failures: the editing. Long scenes slowly escalating to something we never see and therefore is implied, repeat another 15 times and you’ve got this film. Again, this formula sometimes works tremendously but in the end it turns out to be repetitive a bit frustrating.

by Enrique López Oropeza

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Birdman – 8.5/10

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8.5/10

The first half of “Birdman” miraculously transported me three feet above my seat – hovering just like Michael Keaton’s character in that glorious first shot of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brave new film. Perfect pacing with staccato jazz rhythms. Perfect flowing imagery. Perfect performances. There may never have been a role as nuanced, frenetic, heartbreaking and hilarious as this one by Keaton. In fact, all the actors shine. The second half, unfortunately, with a few too many feel-good-but-you-know-its-ironic moments, left me a bit lower – just one inch in the air. And why do so many movies nowadays turn the camera away from the main character at the climax of the film? Isn’t involvement more entertaining than surprise? Anyway, “Birdman” is a cool movie. Check it out.

by Scott Gist

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