We may unfortunately have had to pay it due mind in the media, but don't let the controversy surrounding "Blue Is the Warmest Color" skew your views of the film itself any. I can't lend voice to whatever occurred between actresses AdÃÃ,Â¨le Exarchopoulos and LÃ (C)a Seydoux and director Abdellatif Kechiche in making "Blue", but I can certainly breathe a sigh of relief there was a damn great movie to be fought over in the epic ordeal after all. Hardcore lesbian action. An NC-17 rating. A sprawling three hours of flirty, ephemeral airs. "Blue Is the Warmest Color" isn't a slab of smooth granite; it's a rock, meaning jagged emotional daggers and all. Only instead of being stagnant it still moves, without a hint of redundancy or boredom. And with the sublime Exarchopoulos at the center -- walking a tough, fine-lined sexual tightrope as AdÃÃ,Â¨le, a high-schooler who becomes fiercely attracted to older, blue-haired art student Emma (a downright marvelous Seydoux) -- "Blue Is the Warmest Color" dances splendidly to the beat of love and life, but speaks ultimately to the profound intellectual consequences of the narrative event.
Kechiche never drops the ball. Once. The remaining runtime acceding the buzzy moments of lovemaking (the most electrifying I've seen in recent memory) has AdÃÃ,Â¨le and Emma's relationship tested by time and age. Flashes of where Xavier Dolan's otherwise rapturous "Laurence Anyways" lost me from earlier in 2013 came to mind. But unlike that film, which looked to impress above all but the entirety of whose parts failed to really connect, "Blue" is hot to the touch. Exarchopulos and Seydoux give two of the most incredible performances of the year, in a movie that defines the notion of filmmaking as a form of artistic expression. Don't berate Kechiche for holding you close to the fire. First romance may not always be true, but his movie is, which burns brightest by taking it slow. (96/100)
REWATCH: A second viewing really quelled any possible doubts I was having as to "The Past" being positively note-perfect. To call it gossipy is missing the point entirely. Just because Asghar Farhadi spins a wholeheartedly organic web of domestic turmoil this time around, as opposed to "A Separation's" inherently political obstacle course, doesn't mean "The Past" is any more or less artificial. Where "A Separation" aimed for the head, "The Past" shoots for the heart. The mark is dead-on, and stunningly realized. Were I to pull a hair from atop my head is the only way I'd be able to get anything to bridge the metaphorical gap in quality between these two stunning achievements. "The Past" is Drama with a capital-D, but the substance is no less grade-A. (94/100)
Once there was a Hushpuppy and more than once will she enter the forefront of your brain, dazzle and dizzy your thoughts. Sure, it's precious, and maybe not perfect, but "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is a movie that wears more than its ticker on its sleeve -- it shows off its home, friends, family, where it grew up. I'll mind no cries of pretension. "Beasts" bears so much voice and aesthetic it amounts to a batch of new talents just cutting their teeth. Each of them break your heart.
What a weird-ass movie "Crystal Fairy" (or "Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus and 2012", if you're nasty) is. Say what you will, but it stays true to the funky-ass chick at its heart, the titular (in more ways than one) character played to hippie perfection by Gaby Hoffman. You never know what she's gonna do next, be it fight a bunch of middle-aged women in a town square, grope a desert plant or worship the carcass of a rabbit. She's not "Crystal Fairy's" only weapon -- Michael Cera is as much the film's protagonist as anyone. And what a character Jaime is, one that Cera plays like some kind of miserly asshole wild card.
And yet the real success of writer-director Sebastian Silva's Chilean road trip to acid trip "comedy" is, well, first of all, you can't stick it to a single label. It's all over the place. That could be a complaint. One late third-act reveal especially is more of a shrug than anything else. Okay. "Crystal Fairy" nonetheless really surprised me. Because for a drug movie it never takes the form of fairy logic and drops the ball by externalizing a high as akin to something anyone across the board can understand. "Crystal Fairy" isn't bug-fuck nuts, and not a whole lot happens, but if I absolutely had to strip it down to its basics I'd sell it as an art house frolic through a land of beaches and narcotics that has more in common with Henry Miller and Jim Jarmusch than Jodorowsky or a Road Runner cartoon. It's got its sentiment and pretensions in all the right places.