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Top 11 Films of 2014

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Did I see everything? Sure, for the sake of argument, let’s say I saw everything. I saw 300 or so new movies this year. There were a lot of good ones. I don’t know how many great ones. Last year my top 4 (Her, Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years A Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis) were all truly great. This year, maybe only the top 2 are great.

But let’s stop pussyfooting around and get to it. First, some special awards.

Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance in an Otherwise So-So Movie

Brendan Gleeson as the “Good Irish Priest” in Calvary

Special Jury Prize for Sticking the Landing (aka ‘The Reverse Damon Lindelof’)

Frank, a terrific movie that is tied for 12th place on my list. Part of what makes this film so great is that its ending really knocks it out of the park. I strongly endorse seeing the whole movie, but if nothing else watch the ending, which has been illegally uploaded to YouTube.

The Marion Cotillard Award for ‘Nostalgie de la Boue’

And this year there’s a tie!!!

The Cotllard Award, which is given to the actress who best makes economic despair look glamorous is shared between Marion Cotillard, for her work in The Immigrant, and Marion Cotillard, for her work in Two Days, One Night. Both Ms. Cotillard and Ms. Cotillard will wear the Marion Cotillard crown well!

The Wood-Wiseau-Breen Award for “So Bad It’s Good”

The Identical,”a Jews-for-Jesus Elvis Ghost Musical that truly must be seen to be believe.
Read my review on The Guardian for more, but fair warning – you will see a picture of Seth Green when you click.

Special Jury Prize For “I Can’t Believe The Is An Actual Movie”

A Most Violent Year, which, while not bad, per se, is a tense two-hour look at a rich guy trying to get a loan.

Runner-Up

Only slightly less strange absurd is River of Fundament a five-hour-and-fifty-minute film that features, among other things, Maggie Gyllenhaal getting sprayed with urine, Paul Giamatti shouting (in basso profondo) “My Stool!” and Dick Cavett making small talk at a party where there is an enormous decaying pig. You can read more about it in my review on The Playlist.

The Top 11

11) Whiplash, Damien Chazelle
To quote Ed Norton (the REAL Ed Norton) “Why oh why was I blessed with this musical talent!”

This is a great, dark look at the curse of being driven. Something I wish I knew more about firsthand. While I don’t like breaking ranks with my two fellow jazz-loving critics Glenn Kenny and Richard Brody, both of whom disliked the film (and both of whom I hold in higher regard than they may realize) I just gotta be me. I was with this movie for every beat. It’s simple and straightforward but just snaps together right. And while I know full well the Jo Jones story is bullshit, it’s still cool to see a movie where they talk about Jo Jones.

10) The Great Flood, Bill Morrison
A collaboration between Bill Morrison, the avant-garde archaeologist of lost and often fortuitously decayed film, and Bill Frisell, one of the galaxy’s most exciting instrumentalists and composers. Together they do what mankind has always done – they tell a story they heard from their elders about something terrible that happened, in this case the 1927 Louisiana flood. I don’t know if this is documentary or non-narrative experiment or a prolonged music video for people of peculiar taste. All I know is that it is gorgeous and haunting and altogether human and important. The biggest question is why there aren’t more movies like it? I’ve seen the film three times – twice on DVD and once “live” with Frisell and his band performing the score as the picture was projected behind them at the Museum of Modern Art. In my Film.com review from January 9th I was so bowled over by the music that I hardly wrote about the film. The images Morrison selected are so harrowing (and, occasionally, funny) that it seems almost inappropriate that they play against such a gorgeous score. The Great Flood is a benediction back through history and you owe it to past generations – and yourself – to pay attention.

9) Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer
There’s far-out and then there’s far-out. Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I didn’t know that she was an alien until the director’s Q&A. And I certainly didn’t know about the unorthodox shooting method until after-the-fact, either. That it didn’t matter is proof that there’s something happening here, even if I am Mr. Jones. When I first saw this movie in September of 2013 and reviewed it I gave it a mere 7 out of 10. This says two things. One, that “grading” films is retarded, and I only do it because my editors make me. Two, that sometimes we can be wrong. My then-roommate at Toronto Film Festival, David Ehrlich, was able to convince me that I liked the movie far more than I realized. Believe me, it’s bad enough to admit to yourself that you may have botched something, but to admit it to David is a hundred times worse. Luckily, I am a great and mature individual.

8) We Are The Best!, Lukas Moodysson
This works as a nice diptych with Moodysson’s Together, an unpretentious and true celebration of non-conformity. It’s so sharp, so funny and so wise. Hate the sport. Hate the sport, forever.

7) Boyhood, Richard Linklater
I don’t know that Boyhood is any “better” than We Are The Best!, which similarly beats the pants off of 99% of all other movies about “the kids.” But credit where it is due – the sheer chutzpah of Boyhood is remarkable. It is simply a rich experience. My oddly favorite (or is it heartbreaking?) aspects of the movie is something I haven’t shut up about since I saw it at Sundance in January – so I apologize if you are hearing this again. In the very early scenes, young Lorelei Linklater, the older sister, is just a comedy whip. As she gets older, she kinda loses it. Not to diss the kid, but her silly streak is gone. Now, had this been a “traditional” movie, a casting agent would have been at that first screening, grabbed her cell phone and shouted “this kid’s a star! Get her in the next Miracle on 34th St. remake stat!” But that can’t happen now. BEACUSE TIME BULLDOZES US ALL AND THAT GIRL NO LONGER EXISTS.

My other not-too-impressive insight: some have suggested that Boyhood kinda-sorta leads right into Mason becoming Jesse from the Before films. I don’t see it that way. Mason is the ultimate observer, a great stand-in for the audience. The last few scenes are basically “heavy, man” walk-and-talks. Not outrageous ones, but not too dissimilar from what populates Slacker. Linklater’s career has basically gone full circle. He can stop now, if he wants, but please don’t.

6) Omar, Hany Abu-Assad / Bethlehem,Yuval Adler / The Green Prince, Nadav Schirman
What good is a top ten list without one pain-in-the-ass cheating entry? I lump these three movies together because they are, strikingly, the same basic story. One is told a smidge more from the Palestinian side, another from the Israeli side and the third is a documentary with recreation. (I won’t be so bold or naive as to call it the truth, though.) I guess that’s how intractable the current conflict – we need three different version of the same story, which, in this case, is about the relationship between an Israeli security agent and his Palestinian informer. The truth of the matter is, I remember loving all three of these movies, but they have gotten completely crossed in my mind. Scenes from one intermix with the other, and if that isn’t symbolic of something I don’t know what is.

You can read my further review of Omar on The Dissolve, of The Green Prince on the Times of Israel and a very short review of Bethlehem in the New York Daily News.

5) Particle Fever, Mark Levinson
What could be more fundamental than an inquiry into what we are. I don’t mean as a society, I mean, like, as stuff. WHAT ARE WE? What is the fucking floor? What is the air we breathe, what is between galaxies or in interdimensional phase-space, if you believe in such a thing. In a very real sense Cosmology is, kinda, the most important vocation in the world(s). Or, maybe we should just say fuck it and jam out to Zeppelin, I dunno. No! No, I do know! We must take long walks along finely tailored rock gardens in Princeton and try to figure this stuff out. This movie shows how that’s done, mostly by those lunatics at CERN with that big underground tube no one understands. I had the great fortune to speak to one of the big theoretical physicists of our day and you should probably read that.

4) Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch

For more, read my review at Film.com, may she rest in peace.

3) Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh
Beauty can come from anywhere. This is the summation of Mike Leigh’s career. He’s made a lot of great movies, but this is far and away his best. “Not since Deadwood have we seen so many unwashed people use such dainty language.” More in my review on VanityFair.com.

2) Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
I watched this on a standard def screener and said “interesting.” Two weeks later I watched this projected with a hip crowd at the Alamo Drafthouse and now it was, like, discovering which end of the zig-zag had the glue.

1) Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski
Not too much of a surprise if you know me IRL. I’ve been screaming and yelling about this movie since I saw and reviewed it at TIFF 2013 and once again when it played in New York this spring. I spoke at length with the director but what I didn’t include in that interview was me just prostrating myself and thanking him. The cinematography, the riffs on Jewish identity, the sad failure of Communism, the costumes, the John Coltrane’s Naima and Equinox.

“This Jesus of yours loves people like me,” is, perhaps, the greatest line of dialogue we’ll get in this or next year.

Films Seen 11/6 – 12/4

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Another busy month of seeing (mostly) new movies. I’m trying to make use of that Netflix account, trying to watch and re-watch more older films. It is strangely difficult when you’re in my line of work. When you have downtime, the last thing you want to do is pop in DVD. Going to rep houses is another thing. God bless Museum of Moving Image. God bless Film Forum. God bless Anthology Film Archives and MoMA Film. And Lincoln Center and even BAM even though I never go to BAM because it is far away from me.

Anyway, of the new movies listed below, 95% of them were reviewed either on Guardian Film or New York Daily News.

Butter on the Latch (2014), Josephine Decker, B+
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014), Ana Lily Amirpour, B+
Wrong is Right (1982), Richard Brooks, C
Overlord (1978), Stuart Cooper, A-
Applause (1929), Rouben Mamoulian, B+
Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931), Rouben Mamoulian, A-
Actress (2014), Robert Greene, B-
They Came Together (2014), David Wain, D
Dumb and Dumber To (2014), Peter and Bobby Farrelly, B-
Beyond the Lights (2014), Gina Prince-Bythewood, B+
Extraterrestrial (2014), Colin Minihan, D
Spawn (1997), Mark A.Z. Dippé, C-
Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), Apichatpong Weerasethakul, B
The Sleepwalker (2014), Mona Lerche, B
V/H/S Viral (2014), Multiple Directors, C-
The Gambler (2014), Rupert Wyatt, B+
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014), Francis Lawrence, C
The Gambler (1974), Karel Reisz, B+
Life Partners (2014), Susanna Fogel, C-
Cloud Atlas (2012), Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, B
Big Eyes (2014), Tim Burton, B+
Into the Woods (2014), Rob Marshall, C+
Penguins of Madagascar (2014), Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell, B
Comet (2014), Sam Esmail, C-
Citizenfour (2014), Laura Poitras, B-
Zero Motivation (2014), Talya Lavie, B+
Unbroken (2014), Angelina Jolie, C+
Pioneer (2014), Erik Skjoldbœrg, C-
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), Ridley Scott, C-

Films Seen 9/29 – 11/5

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, November 6th, 2014

I have neither the time nor patience to link to individual reviews spread throughout the Internet on The Guardian or NY Daily News or other websites where my coverage may live. What do you think I am, a man of leisure? May I remind you that 90% of the new movies I see are linked on “my page” on Rotten Tomatoes. Click this link to go there.

The Liberator (2014), Alberto Arvelo, C-
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014), Miguel Artera, B
Jellyfish (2007), Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, B+
Kes (1969), Ken Loach, A
Gone Girl (2014), David Fincher, B
Stretch (2014), Joe Carnahan, B+
I Am Ali (2014), Clare Lewins, B-
Dracula Untold (2014), Gary Shore, C
Dear White People (2014), Justin Simien, A-
The Book of Life (2014), Jorge Gutierrez, A-
Exists (2014), Eduardo Sanchez, F
The Return (2014), Adam Zucker, B-
Spark of Being (2010), Bill Morrison, A-
Stations of the Elevated (1981), Manfred Kirchheimer, B
Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014), Andy Lau and Andy Loo, D
Ouija (2014), Stiles White, C
Intersteller, Christopher Nolan, B-
Whiplash (2014), Damien Chazelle, A-
We Are The Best! (2013), Lukas Moodysson, A
Our Man In Havana (1959), Carol Reed, B+
The Great Invisible (2014), Margaret Brown, A-
ABCs of Death 2 (2014), Various Directors, C+
National Gallery (2014), Fredrick Wiseman, B+
Sex Ed (2014), Isaac Feder, B-
Jessabelle (2014), Kevin Greutert, F
Big Hero 6 (2014), Don Hall and Chris Williams, B
Goodbye to Language 3D (2014), Jean-Luc Godard, Q+
On The Left – the History of the Left in Israel (2013), Ron Cahlili, B
Wolves (2014), David Hayter, B-

In The Running for Top 10 of 2014

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Here are the 20 movies that are in the running for my top 10 this year.

Still plenty of movies that may show up and surprise me. Who knows, maybe I’ll really like Angelina Jolie’s film? Or I’ll see Inherent Vice and end up not digging it? TIME WILL TELL!

Bethlehem (maybe)
Boyhood (yeah, yeah)
Edge of Tomorrow (not likely)
Foxcatcher (it’s probably gonna be in there)
Frank (probably)
The Great Flood (unlikely, but maybe as a crazy #10)
Guardians of the Galaxy (I dunno, maybe)
Ida (definitely in)
The Immigrant (maybe)
Inherent Vice (have not actually seen it yet, but I have a hunch)
Interstellar (have not actually seen it yet, but I have a hunch)
The LEGO Movie (gotta have something everyone’s seen)
Love Is Strange (this one really stuck with me)
The Missing Picture (unlikely)
Mr. Turner (definitely in)
Only Lovers Left Alive (probably)
Particle Fever (definitely in)
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (eh, “The Great Flood” is a better choice for the crazy #10.)
We Are The Best! (have not actually seen, I gotta get on this before the end of the year)
Whiplash (another one I have not actually seen it yet, but this is a slam dunk for me)

The Second Part of Summer, 2014

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal,Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, September 28th, 2014

I reviewed a whole boatload of movies this summer. Most of those links are highlighted (in lime green!) under the “Films Seen” links below.

But here are some links of non-review work I did that I’m proud of that went live since the last time I’ve done a wrap-up like this. This is all from after my trip to the Jerusalem Film Festival (and here’s another opportunity to read about that at Indiewire winkyface.)

For MTV.com I wrote an Oral History of Galaxy Quest.

For The Guardian I did my best to explain What The Hell Fantastic Fest Is All About. Also, I wrote about Lincoln Center’s Far Out Foreign Language Sci-Fi Series. Lastly, I wrote a fairly lengthy profile of Jessica Chastain. She was very nice.

For VanityFair.com I hung out with André Gregory and Wallace Shawn. I also used what little power I could to help a documentary about Moondog make its Kickstarter goal. I also had a nice schmooze with Carol Liefer.

I also did a tiny but of party reporting for the New York Daily News at the Toronto Film Festival. (You can read that here and here . And as “additional reporting by” here, here and here.

A li’l something on ScreenCrush listing the 18 Most Awesome Thomas Pynchon Character Names.

And finally, a re-cap from my time at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas over at my beloved StarTrek.com.

Films Seen 8/28 – 9/28

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 28th, 2014

The Identical (2014), Dustin Marcellino, F
Bird People (2014), Pascale Ferran, C+
Last Days in Vietnam (2014), Rory Kennedy, B+
The Equalizer (2014), Antoine Fuqua, C-
Force Majuere (2014), Ruben Östlund, A-
This is Where I leave You (2014), Shawn Levy, D
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958), Karel Zeman, B+
As Above/So Below (2014), John Erick Dowdle, B
Starred Up (2014), David Mackenzie, B-
Eden, (2014), Mia Hansen-Løve, A-
’71 (2014), Yann Demange, A-
Not My Type (2014), Lucas Belvaux, B+
The Judge (2014), David Dobkin, D
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014), Roy Andersson, B+
Hungry Hearts (2014), Saverio Costanzo, B+
The Drop (2014), Michael R. Roskam, C+
Nightcrawler (2014), Dan Gilroy, A
The Duke of Burgundy (2014), Peter Strickland, A- 
While We’re Young (2014), Noah Baumbach, B+
Top Five (2014), Chris Rock, B+
Pawn Sacrifice (2014), Edward Zwick, B+
The Theory of Everything (2014), James Marsh, C+
Secrets of War (2014), Dennis Bots, C
Cub (2014), Jonas Govaerts, C+
Rosewater (2014), Jon Stewart, C+
99 Homes (2014), Ramin Bahrani, B+
Phoenix (2014), Christian Petzold, B+
The Imitation Game (2014), Morton Tyldum, C 
Good Kill (2014), Andrew Niccol, B
Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet (2014), Various Directors, B
Kill the Messenger (2014), Michael Cuesta, B
The Maze Runner (2014), Wes Ball, C
Tusk (2014), Kevin Smith, F
As Seen By The Rest (2014), Rakshit Shetty, B-
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014), Mark Hartley, B+
Horsehead (2014), Romaine Basset, C
John Wick (2014), David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, B+
Bugsy Malone (1976), Alan Parker, B+
Spring (2014), Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, B+
The Editor (2014), Adam Brooks and Matt Kennedy, B+
The Incident (2014), Isaac Ezban, A
Horns (2014), Alexandre Aja, C
Tokyo Tribe (2014), Sian Sono, B
The Creeping Garden (2014), Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp, B+
The Babdook (2014), Jennifer Kent, B+
No Man’s Land (2014), Ning Hao, B-

Films Seen 7/21 – 8/27

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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A Master Builder (2014), Jonathan Demme, C-
Lucy (2014), Luc Besson, B+
Portnoy’s Complaint (1972), Ernest Lehman, C
Finding Fela (2014), Alex Gibney, B
And So It Goes (2014), Rob Reiner, D+
Wilde Salomé (2014), Al Pacino, C-
Girl Walk // All Day (2011), Jacob Krupnick, B+
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), James Gunn, B+
Child of God (2014), James Franco, C
Eolomea (1972), Herrmann Zschoche, B+
In The Dust of the Stars (1976), Gottfired Kolditz, A-
Freak Orlando (1981), Ulrike Ottinger, C
Kin-Dza-Dza! (1986), Georgiy Daneliya, B+
Life After Beth (2014), Jeff Baena, C
The 10th Victim (1965), Elio Petri, B+
Edmond (2005), Stuart Gordon, B-
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Jonathan Liebesman, C
Expedition to the End of the World (2014), Daniel Dencik, B
K2: The Siren of the Himalayas (2014), Dave Ohlson, B-
Let’s Be Cops (2014), Luke Greenfield, C-
Deepsea Challenge 3D (2014), John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wight, C+
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), James Gunn, B+
Jersey Shore Massacre (2014), Paul Tarnopol, D-
The Giver (2014), Philip Noyce, B-
The Expendables 3 (2014), Patrick Hughes, D
Vagabond (1985), Agnes Varda, A-
When the Game Stands Tall (2014), Thomas Carter, D+
The Prince (2014), Brian A. Miller, D-
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, C+
The November Man (2014), Roger Donaldson, D

This Week In Hoffman

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Monday, July 21st, 2014

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(This is my new thing, where each week I link out to stuff that has published that’s worth some of your time.)

An unusual week, as I was in Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Film Festival. I was also there just as Hamas really started amping up its rocket attacks and Israel responded with its military. I don’t write about politics and I don’t have the energy to get into it right now, but if we’re friends and you want my opinion on all this, let’s get a beer. A lot of people don’t know the historical context. I do and I’m not afraid to enlighten you, but not right now – it’s Sunday night and I’m tired.

Anyway, for Indiewire, I wrote a piece about being a journalist at the fest during this curious time. You can read that here.

For Times of Israel I wrote about some of the films appearing there. (I saw more than I wrote about, but I didn’t want to mention the shitty ones, thinking they’d never ever be seen again. Jokes on me, though, as one of the dreadful pictures, Princess, actually won an award. There’s no accounting for taste.) Anyway, some of these movies should really be on your radar and you can read the piece here.

I also interviewed the filmmaker Shira Geffen. She’s the co-director of the Cannes hit Jellyfish from a few years ago, and has a new one called Self-Made. I reviewed Self-Made in Vanity Fair (and you can read that here) but my review, which is topical and, at times, funny, is on Times of Israel and you can read that here.

Unrelated to the Jerusalem Film Festival, but also for Times of Israel, I interviewed Steven Pressman, the author and filmmaker behind 50 Children, a fascinating look at two Americans who smuggled children out of Vienna during WWII. Our conversation goes to some unexpected places, including the rather remarkable upswing in European anti-Semitism. You can read that here.

I also reviewed two crappy sequels for the New York Daily News. They were Planes: Fire and Rescue and The Purge: Anarchy. As bad as they were, they aren’t nearly as bad as Deliver Us From Evil. You can read my review of that infuriating piece of garbage at the Guardian.

Films Seen 6/3 – 7/20

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, July 20th, 2014

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The Signal (2014), William Eubank, B-
The World’s End (2013), Edgar Wright, A-
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Rupert Wyatt, A-
Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Doug Liman, A-
22 Jump Street (2014), Phil Lord and Chris Miller, B+
Snowpiercer (2014), Bong Joon-ho, B
Think Like A Man Too (2104), Tim Storey, B-
Jersey Boys (2104), Clint Eastwood, D
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Bryan Singer, B
Deliver Us From Evil (2014), Scott Derrickson, D
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Michael Bay, C+
Thor: The Dark World (2013), Alan Taylor, A-
What If (2014), Michael Dowse, B+
Planes: Fire and Rescue (2014), Roberts Gannaway, D
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), Spike Lee, B
Tammy (2014), Ben Falcone, C
Mood Indigo (2104), Michel Gondry, B
Down with Love (2003), Peyton Reed, C+
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Matt Reeves, A-
Land Ho! (2014), Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, B
The Purge: Anarchy (2014), James DeMonaco, C-
Gett, the Trial of Viviane Ansalem (2014), Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz, A-
Red Leaves (2014), Bazi Gete, B
Dancing Arabs (2014), Eran Riklis, A-
Absent God: Emmanuel Levinas and the Humanism of the Other (2014), Yoram Ron, B
Princess (2014), Tali Shalom Ezer, C-
Finding Fela (2014), Alex Gibney, B-
Rememberance Of Things To Come (2001), Chris Marker and Yannick Bellon, B+
Colette (1950), Yannick Bellon, B
Journey to Italy (1954), Roberto Rossellini, B

Films Seen: Cannes 2014

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 1.18.24 AM

GREAT
Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh (review at Vanity Fair)
Two Days, One Night, Dardennes Brothers (review at Vanity Fair)
Foxcatcher, Bennet Miller (review at Film.com)
Breathe (Respire), Melanie Laurent
Self-Made, Shira Geffen (review at Vanity Fair)
Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello (review at Film.com)
Les Combattants, Thomas Cailley
Mommy, Xavier Dolan (review at Badass Digest)

GOOD
Lost River, Ryan Gosling (review at Film.com)
It Follows, David Robert Mitchell (review at Badass Digest)
Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg (review at Film.com)
Wild Tales, Damian Szifron (review at Badass Digest)
Party Girl, Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis
Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (review at Vanity Fair)
Red Army, Gabe Polsky
Queen and Country, John Boorman
The Tribe, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy (review at Badass Digest)
Leviathan, Andrei Zvagintsev
Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas (review at Vanity Fair.)
Pride (review at Vanity Fair.)

NOT GOOD
Grace of Monaco, Oliver Dahan (review at Vanity Fair)
The Rover, David Michod (review at Film.com)
The Homesman, Tommy Lee Jones (review at Film.com)
How To Train Your Dragon 2, Dean DuBois (review at Film.com)
Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako
That Lovely Girl, Keren Yedaya
Goodbye To Language, Jean-Luc Godard

AWFUL
The Captive, Atom Egoyan (review at Vanity Fair)

WALKOUTS
(A walkout isn’t necessarily “awful,” but “Oh, God, my ass is killing me, I don’t need to be here & I want to leave,” ya dig?)
Coming Home, Zhang Yimou
Snow In Paradise, Andrew Hulme
The Kindergarten Teacher, Nadav Lapid (**note: not a “this is bad” walkout, but a “this is interesting, but I am exhausted, haven’t eaten all day and have to leave, I’ll catch the last 45 minutes some other day” walkout.)

REACTIONS
The crowd response to Olivier Dahan and Nicole Kidman (at Mashable)
The crowd response to Ryan Golsing and Christina Hendricks (at Mashable)
Cannes 2104 recap (at Mashable)
Was Cannes 2014 Good For The Jews? (Times of Israel)

PODCAST
Me on a podcast with Anne Thompson, Eric Kohn & Allison Willmore (at Daily Buzz.)

Films Seen 4/12 – 5/12

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.52.55 AM

Zero Motivation (2014), Talya Lavie, A-
Zombi 2 (1979), Lucio Fulci, C
Rio 2 (2014), Carlos Saldanha, B-
I, Robot (2004), Alex Proyas, C
Ida (2014), Pawel Pawlikowski, A
Transcendence (2014), Wally Pfister, C
Draft Day (2014), Ivan Reitman, B-
Proxy (2014), Zack Parker, D
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014), Will Finn and Daniel St. Pierre, F
Sol Lewitt (2014), Chris Teerink, A-
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Marc Webb, C
Friended to Death (2014), Sarah Smick, F
Walk of Shame (2014), Steven Brill, B
Neighbors (2014), Nicholas Stoller, B+
Godzilla (2014), Gareth Edwards, A-
The Discoverers (2014), Justin Schwarz, C-
The Grand Seduction (2014), Don McKellar, B-
Three Monkeys (2008), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, B+
Black Cat (2007), Stuart Gordon, C-
Wild Reeds (1994), Andre Techine, B+
I Killed My Mother (2009), Xavier Dolan, B
Heartbeats (2010), Xavier Dolan, A-
The Color of Pomegranates (1968), Sergei Parajanov, B+

The 10 Best Movies of 2014 So Far

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, April 18th, 2014

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These are the ten best movies that have played (or are moments away from playing) in a theatrical run this year in New York (and maybe some other cities, too, who knows.) How closely will this current list resemble my list in late December, after the onslaught of awards-hungry prestige movies? Not sure. But I feel really strongly about these top four. We’re going to need six masterpieces to get them all off the list. Five through ten? Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them all go.

Oh, and before you jump down my throat, both Under the Skin (review at Film.com) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (review at ScreenCrush) are both very good movies. They’re both tied for 11th place. But neither moved me as much as the ones that made this list. Yeah, that’s right, Dom Hemingway is better than your precious ScoJo hitchhiking movie by a small but real margin. Accept it.

10) Dom Hemingway, Richard Shepard (review at Film.com.)
9) The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh (review at Badass Digest.)
8) The Great Flood, Bill Morrison (review at Film.com.)
7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Anthony and Joe Russo (review at ScreenCrush.)
6) Bethlehem, Yuval Adler (review at New York Daily News.)
5) The Lego Movie, Chris Miller and Phil Lord (review at ScreenCrush.)
4) The Immigrant, James Gray (review at Film.com.)
3) Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch (review at Film.com.)
2) Particle Fever, Mark Levinson (review at New York Daily News. Interview at Times of Israel.)
1) Ida, Pawel Pawlikoski (review at Badass Digest.)

Films Seen 3/14 – 4/12

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, April 12th, 2014

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Walking With The Enemy (2014), Mark Schmidt, C+
The Playhouse (1921), Buster Keaton, B+
Seven Chances (1925), Buster Keaton, A-
Trouble in Paradise (1932), Ernst Lubitch, A
The General (1926), Buster Keaton, A
Fort Tilden (2014), Sarah Violet-Bliss & Charles Rogers, B-
The Black Dalhia (2006), Brian De Palma, D
Blood Ties (2014), Guillaume Camet, B
Muppets Most Wanted (2014), James Bobin, B
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Anthony and Joe Russo, B+
Noah (2014), Darren Aronofsky, B+
The Boys of Abu Ghraib (2014), Luke Moran, C+
Cesar Chavez (2014), Diego Luna, C
Sabotage (2014), David Ayer, D
Afflicted (2014), Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, B
Nymphomaniac Vol. II (2014), Lars Von Trier, C
Small Time (2014), Joel Surnow, C+
Captain EO (1986), Francis Ford Coppola, B
Bridesmaids (2011), Paul Feig, B+
Druid Peak (2014), Marni Zelnik, C
Crimes Against Humanity (2014), Jerzy Rose, B+
I Believe In Unicorns (2014), Leah Meyerhoff, C-
Winter in the Blood (2013), Alex and Andrew Smith, C-
Forev (2014), Molly Green and James Leffler, B-
Medeas (2014), Andrea Pallaoro, B
Finding Neighbors (2014), Ron Judkins, F
Doomsdays (2014), Eddie Mullins, A-
Copenhagen (2014), Mark Raso, B
Last I Heard (2014), David Rodriguez, D-

Films Seen 2/9/14 – 3/14/14

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, March 15th, 2014

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Hello.

For thirty seconds at the beginning of 2014 it looked like I’d be updating this blog more. Doing more writing that wasn’t necessarily something I needed to sell. Short things I wanted to get off my chest, but longer than a tweet or a Facebook update.

Well, it didn’t happen. When you write for a living in a deadline/freelance capacity, writing for “fun” is just about the last thing you want to do. Unless it is building toward some sort of nebulous, off-in-the-distance amorphous BIG PROJECT that you know some day you will eventually conquer even if for now you have no idea what it is. And that sort of thing isn’t allowed on a blog, no way.

Point is, I’m trying. Really, I’m trying. For now, I’ll still use this blog to keep a record of the feature films I watch. 95% of these are “for work” and you can find reviews of them scattered about the Internet – either at the NY Daily News, ScreenCrush, the Times of Israel, Film.com or, a new development, the Dissolve. 95% of the 95% gets listed on Rotten Tomatoes and you can get to my page to drill down to longer reviews by clicking right here.

Bethlehem (2014), Yuval Adler, A-
Winter’s Tale (2014), Akiva Goldsman, D
RoboCop (2014), José Padilha, C+
Easy Money: Hard to Kill (2014), Babak Najafi, C
Girl on a Bicycle (2014), Jeremy Leven, D
Here is What Is (2007), Daniel Lanois, B-
New York Doll (2005), Greg Whiteley, B
Chaplin in the Mountains (2014), Jano Rosebiani, F
Newland (1994), Orna Ben-Dor Niv, C
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012), Jay Oliva, B
Je t’aime, Je t’aime (1968), Alain Resnais, B
Two Lives (2014), Georg Maas, B
Pompeii (2104), Paul W.S. Anderson, C-
300: Return of an Empire (2014), Noam Murro, B+
Particle Fever (2014), Mark Levinson, A
Non-Stop (2014), Jaume Collet-Serra, B-
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Wes Anderson, A-
Stalingrad (2014), Fedor Bondarchuk, B-
Son of God (2014), Christopher Spencer, D
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014), Rob Minkoff, B
In Fear (2014), Jeremy Lovering, C-
Perfect Sisters (2014), Stanley M. Brooks, C+
Enemy (2014), Denis Villenueve, B+
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013), Jay Oliva, B
Haunt (2014), Mac Carter, D
Youth (2104), Tom Shoval, B
Need for Speed (2014), Scott Waugh, F
Nymphomaniac Part 1 (2014), Lars Von Trier, C
Just a Sigh (2014), Jérôme Bonnell, C
The Cold Lands (2014), Tom Gilroy, C
The Single Moms Club (2014), Tyler Perry, D
McCanick (2014), Josh C. Waller, C-
Blind Chance (1987), Krzysztof Kieślowski, B

Films Seen 1/5/14 – 2/8/14

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, February 9th, 2014

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Hello. This batch update includes films seen at the Sundance Film Festival. You can read more in-depth reviews for these films on ScreenCrush, Film.com, NY Daily News or Times of Israel. I’m not spending time finding the links for you. If you are really interested, Google the title and my name. You want me to tie your shoes for you, too?

Amer (2009), Bruno Forzani, Hélène Cattet, B-
Mysteries of the Unseen World (2014), Louis Schwartzberg, A-
The Nut Job (2014), Peter Lepeniotis, B
The Great Flood (2014), Bill Morrison, A
The Legend of Hercules (2014), Renny Harlin, D-
Wetlands (2014), David Wnendt, C-
White Shadow (2014), Noaz Deshe, B+
To Be Takei (2014), Jennifer Kroot, C+
The Color Wheel (2011), Alex Ross Perry, A-
Keep the Lights On (2012), Ira Sachs, B
The Green Prince (2014), Nadav Schirman, A-
Dinosaur 13 (2014), Todd Douglas Miller, C-
God’s Pocket (2014), John Slattery, B
Obvious Child (2014), Gillian Robespierre, B
Frank (2014), Lenny Abrahamson, A
Wish I Was Here (2014), Zach Braff, C
I Origins (2014), Mike Cahill, D
Love is Strange (2014), Ira Sachs, A-
The Voices (2014), Marjane Satrapi, A-
A Most Wanted Man (2014), Anton Corbijn, B+
Calvary (2014), John Michael McDonough, B
Boyhood (2014), Richard Linklater, A
Listen Up Philip (2014), Alex Ross Perry, A-
White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), Gregg Araki, B-
Hits (2014), David Cross, C
The Raid 2: Berandal (2014), Gareth Evans, B-
Web Junkie (2014), Hilla Medalia, Shosh Shlam, C-
Happy Christmas (2014), Joe Swanberg, C
Little Accidents (2014), Sara Colangelo, D
Decasia (2002), Bill Morrison, B
The Train (1964), John Frankenheimer, A
Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1996), Srđan Dragojević, B
Monuments Men (2014), George Clooney, B-
The Lego Movie (2014), Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, A
Demi-Soeur (2014), Josiane Balasko, C+
A Field in England (2014), Ben Wheatley, C+
Love and Air Sex (2014), Bryan Poyser, D-
Omar (2014), Hany Abu-Assad, B
Paradise Now (2005), Hany Abu-Assadm B
Nurse 3D (2014), Douglas Aarniokoski, B
Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub (2008), Dean Budnick, C+
300 (2007), Zack Snyder, A
Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story (2007), Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, B
Bluegrass Country Soul (1972), Albert Ihde, B+
Vampire Academy (2014), Mark Waters, B
differently, Molussia (2012), Nicolas Rey, C-
River of Fundament (2007 – 2013), Matthew Barney, B+

Why Does Bill Hader Look Like He Wants To Murder Me In This Picture?

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Friday, January 10th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.39.03 PM

Because he’s standing there with a dummy who thinks it’s cool to make jokes about people dying in a natural disaster.

But, let’s back it up a bit.

I used to do a lot more celebrity interviews than I do now. Now it’s a once in a while thing, and usually they are over the phone or in a quiet office somewhere. Last July 2013 I went old school and made a return to the “press lines” and red carpet world during San Diego Comic-Con.

Among those I spoke to was Bill Hader. Nice chap, very funny, and promoting his then forthcoming picture “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2.”

What you get at these things are a few minutes to give a comedian like Hader a set-up for him to make a funny retort that’ll cut well. This interview was going fine, except for the fact that the room we were in (stashed in the back of an enormous Hilton hotel) was very loud.

So, we’re talking about the Foodimals in the “Cloudy” films, and how giant cheeseburger monsters are chasing children around. Hader and I are zipping back and forth about the threats posed by scientifically modified foods and I say “wow – looks like this movie is worse than Monsanto!”

That’s funny if you get it, admittedly baffling if you don’t. But it comes off as very poor taste if, due to the chaos of the very loud room, you hear the word “Monsanto” as “Monsoon.”

You see, just a few days earlier, there had been massive, deadly flooding in China.

The image you see above, which a certain friend of mine likes to put on Twitter (and who has a big Hawkeye Pierce-style retaliatory practical joke coming his way when he least expects it,) is Hader trying to understand why I would joke about something like this.

Hader did the right thing, by basically saying, “too soon,” and following it up with “that’s not funny, people died.”

I kinda panicked, worried that, I dunno, maybe some new crop of Monsanto-produced tomatoes killed a guy and I didn’t hear about it.

Anyway, the interview ended on a professional note (and this was all cut out of the finished video piece), Hader shook my hand and split, and then one of his handlers came over and asked “what the hell was that all about?”

He and I quickly figured out the misunderstanding (Hader was “down the line” with other interviewers) and the air was cleared in about five minutes.

But we still have this moment of pure (albeit misinterpreted) disgust aimed at me to preserve for all eternity. And now whenever you see me you can say “that’s not funny, people died.”

This Week In Hoffman, Issue #1

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, January 5th, 2014

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Something I should be doing, but I do not do, is use this blog to link to all my published work out there on the web.

As of eighteen seconds ago I’ve decided this will be my 2014 resolution.

If I update this on Sunday nights, looking back at the past week, it won’t become too difficult. I hope. Anyway, let’s try it.

This past week – the first week of 2014 – I didn’t publish all that much.

At ScreenCrush you can read my Most Anticipated Films of 2014.

At VanityFair.com you can read The Wolf of Hollywood: Martin Scorsese Is No Stranger to Controversy.

At StarTrek.com you can read One Trek Mind: Benjamin Sisko – Son of a God?

And at the Times of Israel you can read my weekly Chosen Films column, which includes the 5 Best Jewish Moments in Movies for 2013.

I might be forgetting something, but if I did it can’t be too important.

Films Seen 12/16/13 – 1/4/14

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 5th, 2014

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), Adam McKay, B-
The Damned (1969), Luchino Visconti, B
Pickpocket (1959), Robert Bresson, A-
Grudge Match (2013), Peter Segal, C-
Raze (2013), Josh Waller, D
Visitors (2014), Godfrey Reggio, C
Generation War (2014), Philipp Kadelbach, B+
Like Father Like Son (2014), Hirokazu Koreeda, B+
Museum Hours (2013), Jem Cohen, A-

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