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Dawn of the Planet fo the Apes poster Boyhood poster A Million Ways to Die in the West poster


Written by Matthew Pejkovic

With the first half of 2014 now behind us, Matt’s Movie Reviews takes a look at the best and worst of a cinematic year that has provided ground breaking, masterful work on one end of the spectrum, and lazy, gutter trash drivel on the other.

Here is Matt’s Movie Reviews 5 best and worst films of 2014 (so far).





The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby image

Ned Benson’s stunning directorial debut(s) The Disappearance of Eleanor Ribgy: Him & Her is an engrossing and moving two part exploration into the breakup of a modern marriage, that’s equally brilliant in story, performance and visuals.

Starring the formidable duo of Jessica Chastain as the wife trying to start her life afresh, and James McAvoy as the husband left to pick up the pieces of a tragic circumstance, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a beautifully portrayed double feature that (if marketed correctly) should see both actors become permanent fixtures during awards season.

Whether seen as companion pieces or individual movies, the strength of Benson’s filmmaking and the performances of his cast, makes The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby a unique, must see cinematic experience.






Calvary image

John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to The Guard saw the Irish filmmaker dive in the deep end of murky waters with Calvary, a darkly comic murder mystery set in the midst of the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Catholic Church.

Yet Calvary brilliantly goes against the tide by having its main character, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) portrayed as a good Catholic priest (as most are) who is placed in a dangerous predicament when a threat us placed on his life during confession.

Darkly funny and wonderfully portrayed by Gleeson in what just might be his best performance yet, Calvary is also a deeply moving film that looks at the nature of sacrifice as atonement for the sins of others. You are unlikely to find another movie of its kind.






The Grand Budapest Hotel image

After his best work yet in 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom, it was interesting to see what filmmaker Wes Anderson would have next up his sleeve. There was no way anyone cold guess it was evoking a brilliant comedic performance from Ralph Fiennes.

Yet that is what The Grand Budapest Hotel offers, alongside much, much more. A vibrant murder mystery with a zip to its step and a mighty heart that packs an emotional wallop, Anderson’s latest is filled with the many zany eccentricities that make his movies…well, his.

But there is also poignancy at play here that speaks about loyalty to friendship, country and conviction in character. Not to mention a high entertainment factor, especially when Fiennes hits that cocksure stride and brings the house down with one of his best performances.  






Dawn of the Planet of the Apes image

There are times when a blockbuster movie is released and it elevates above the genre, budget and novelty that it is a part of. 5 years ago it was Avatar that accomplished that feat. In 2014 that accomplishment belongs to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

That the film betters Rise of the Planet of the Apes (itself a brilliant movie) in every way says something about the quality found in this Matt Reeves directed sequel, in which genetically enhanced chimp Ceaser (Andy Serkis) finds himself in a dangerous predicament that could result in a war between apes and humans.

Brilliant performances, ground breaking visual effects and a heavy emotional undercurrent results not only an entertaining movie, but a transcendent one as well.






Boyhood image

Richard Linklater is a filmmaker of immense talent whose filmography is as diverse as they come. Yet it’s his latest movie Boyhood that features the Texan at the height of his cinematic powers, and (if there was any justice) will be in serious come awards season.

Filmed over 12 years, Boyhood is an ambitious project that chronicles the life of young Mason (Ella Coltrane) from a 6 year old chasing racoons to an 18 year old about to begin college. Throughout Linklater delivers a series of moments that shapes this young man’s life, in what is an epic yet intimate coming of age tale in post 9/11 America.

Along with great supporting turns by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, Boyhood is not only beautifully made, portrayed and felt drama, but it’s also a culturally rich movie that is sure to make an impact.  






Transcendence image

There was much buzz when long time Christopher Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister announced he would make his directorial debut. That buzz grew even louder when Johnny Depp was confirmed as the lead of an ensemble that included Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany (amongst many others).

It only made the sting of disappointment that much worse after the credits rolled on the narratively lazy, structurally plodding, and poorly performed dud which is Transcendence, a film with an interesting premise that is squandered by Pfister’s inept direction, and that features Johnny Depp at his most boring, in the process proving his box office clout has dwindled along with his lack of screen charisma.




Non-Stop image

If films like Non-Stop are any indication, it won’t take long for the hero worship given to Liam Neeson to turn into the pop-culture ribbing given to Chuck Norris.

Gotta give the man credit: ever since the surprise box-office smash that was Taken, the once Oscar nominated Neeson has stuck to his game plan of appearing in one crappy French produced novelty action movie after another.

Yet it’s Non-Stop that (outside of Taken 2) is the worst yet, thanks to a ridiculous  script and even worse performances that saw career lows from the likes of Julianne Moore,  Scoot McNairy and especially Neeson himself, with his desperate-gun-toting-superman shtick beyond a joke and firmly in the land of parody.  




The Zero Theorem image

Terry Gilliam has always been a maverick, and that “don’t give an F” attitude has seen him deliver some truly exceptional films. It has also seen him deliver utter tripe like The Zero Theorem.

Set in an obscure future that looks like every other Gilliam film before it, The Zero Theorem stars (as in ‘wastes’) Christoph Waltz in a role that makes him look like Uncle Fester and spout screenwriter Pat Rushin’s inane ramblings about surveillance (there’s too much of it), faith (there’s not enough of it), and the meaning of existence (which many will question after watching this film).

In the end its all interesting tidbits that lead to nought, wrapped in Gilliam’s warped vision of the world which has become a dull, nonsensical thing. Repeats of Brazil would suit better.





A Million Ways to Die in the West image

Seth McFarlane’s Ted was a surprise in that it managed to even win fans of those who don’t care much for his animated works (Family Guy, American Dad). MacFarlane’s latest A Million Ways to Die in the West grabbed those gains and promptly took a big fat dump on it.

Perhaps it was a case of MacFarlane wearing too many hats (actor, screenwriter, producer, director). Or perhaps MacFarlane’s ego blinded him from seeing just how bad his material was. Regardless, A Million Ways to Die in the West is an overlong, overwrought and just plain moronic comedy that not only wastes a stellar cast (Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris and others), but also places the final nail in a comedy western sub-genre that once gave us Blazing Saddles and The Frisco Kid. Guess they can’t make them like they used to…





The Other Woman image

With every new film Cameron Diaz is proving herself to be the Adam Sandler of the chick-flick comedy, with The Other Woman the lowest ebb the once Golden Globe nominated actress has reached so far.

Even though starring Diaz and the usually funny Leslie Mann, The Other Woman manages to not even raise a chuckle in this ineptly directed revenge story of three wronged women who conspire to take down the one cheating man (Nikolai Coster-Waldau).

Delivered instead is a strange concoction of sickly sweet “sismance”, absurd feminist fantasy revenge story and over the top vulgarity, with neither working save to warn future viewers that such a combination will lead to a rubbish time at the flicks.  



Oceans Twelve poster
All Star Stinkers
Mad Max poster
Best & Worst Threequels
Rush image



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