The Sting (1973)

sting_xlg

Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con. (IMDb)
Nothing flashy here, but not a thing off or out of place either: the sets (within sets), soundtrack, cinematography, and scene transitions expertly craft the 30s-era stage, the script is stacked with slick dialogue and cool cons and some comedy too (see Henry at the poker game), and the talent hits at all home. A deeper dive into the lives of the leads would’ve been a great cherry on top (gimme more lines like this one: “I’m the same as you. It’s two in the morning and I don’t know nobody”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

TOMATG_1Sheet_27x40_MECH_8R1.indd

Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. (IMDb)
Over a wonderful aesthetic (warm cinematography, clever editing, and cozy jazz), light and leisurely character set-ups (Forrest and Jewel have great banter) set the stage for a fun little plot (Affleck’s weary cop is a perfect match for Redford’s relaxed con). The final act fails to wrap things up as gracefully, however, thanks to a couple plot snags (why let him leave the bathroom, and why a horse instead of the car?) and Forrest’s now irritatingly breezy attitude in the face of adversity.
7/10 (Good)

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-uk-poster

As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier. (IMDb)
Certainly more ambitious than the original, though not perfect: The titular character is given hints of nuance (“What makes you happy?” “I don’t know”), as is the mysterious Fury (finally) but both remain underdeveloped; The Winter Soldier is a formidable opponent and the SHIELD internal drama adds some complexity to the antagonism, but both the villain reveal and the Hydra twist feel far-fetched and a little dumb. Above criticism though, is the fantastic action choreography found throughout.
7/10 (Good)

 

The Company You Keep (2012)

A former Weather Underground activist goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity. (IMDb)
A stacked cast does not disappoint here; LaBeouf is particularly electric as the savvy journalist uncovering for us a fascinating web of former radicals still on the lamb. The past-present element is compelling and produces a refreshingly old and textured cast of characters, while the cat-and-mouse game is exciting without resorting to cheap action. The underlying themes of truth and justice aren’t given quite enough oomph but the movie remains an engaging thriller that looks great to boot.
8/10 (Great)

All Is Lost (2013)

Groundbreaking and refreshing in its stark simplicity, with its lone character, isolated setting, complete absence of dialogue (or monologue), and numerous long continuous action shots. Given its lack of complexity or flashiness, its ability to engage is all the more marvelous, as the aforementioned elements, combined with Redford’s solid performance, make it feel like you’re right there with him at sea. It’s an exciting, torturous, exhausting, and heart-wrenching tale of survival.
8/10 (Great)