Recently Beheld: August 18-24th, 2014

Super (2010)

In the same year as Kick-Ass, James Gunn's original script also portrayed what it would be like for a regular guy unendowed with any super powers to don a homemade costume and "take a bite out of crime." The indie sensibilities add to the charm of this brutal and ball-busting dark comedy.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

This belated sequel (and prequel) shows us that Robert Rodriguez and his remarkable crew still have the necessary mastery to bring Frank Miller's pages to the big screen, this time in flawless 3D. I just wish the stories themselves packed as much of a punch this time around. Full Review

Special (2006)

Michael Rapaport is our hapless test subject in this one-of-a-kind pharmaceutical thriller. Add this to the list of films like Primer andThe Blair Witch Project that prove all you need to make a good film are a concept (script) and any camera. Unfortunately, Special(another exploration of a real-life superhero not unlike Super) has nowhere near the recognition it rightfully deserves. I heard about it for the first time myself earlier this month.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

From the first scene I knew we had one of the most exquisitely shot films I've ever seen from Woody Allen on our hands. He continues to script European-set tales of love during this post-NYC point in his career. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are among the most charming specimens of their generation and gender; they make Allen's dialog-driven characters each their own with a remarkable ease.


Unbreakable (2000)

M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up to the phenomenon that is/was The Sixth Sense proved to be a significantly smaller point on the timeline, but by my estimation it is his best achievement to this day. Re-teaming with Bruce Willis, the two tackles another supernatural thriller with a twist at the end. Unbreakable is a slow-burn that manages to put its grip around me shot by shot.

In Summation:

The through-line with this week's pictures is obvious and admittedly orchestrated to be so. Specifically, I found myself on a kick for "superhero movies" with characters who are not (or may very well not be) superheroes. And yet each of these films deal with characters who possess unique abilities and use them for good or evil against others. Eva Green's aura of seduction brings down man after man in A Dame to Kill For while Emma Stone has put an entire family under her "telepathic" spell in Magic in the Moonlight. SuperSpecial and Unbreakable deal with average, American Joes (they'd probably all fall prey to Ava's powers) who come to the conclusion that they need to become vigilantes in their respective dark worlds. Woody Allen's latest is one of his most optimistic films and turns its gaze to all things bright and rosy. Sin City is anything but.

For more Recently Beheld, check out last week's serving.

Also, check out my Letterboxd Diary for all the films I've seen this year.

Share your thoughts on any of these films or what you watched last week in the comments below!