Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

Doctor Strange (2016)

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It’s important to understand that what Marvel Studios is doing right now is unprecedented. They just released Doctor Strange, their fourteenth film in a connected series with concrete plans for eight more, a bunker full of characters at their disposal, and money coming in. Movie franchises aren’t new — the first James Bond came out in 1963 — but this is something else: A strictly interconnected universe, with complex character arcs over multiple films, and unparalleled visual set pieces. And because this is unprecedented, Marvel Studios has yet to realize that the frequency and quality of their films have spoiled the audience. It’s how a film like Doctor Strange, one that introduces a character efficiently, hits all the necessary beats with plenty of humorous interjections, and pairs the story to astonishing, unprecedented visual sequences, can only be pretty good.

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12 Years a Slave (2013)

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Steve McQueen probably hated Django Unchained. Where Tarantino’s Django Unchained toyed with history’s facts to make the horrors of slavery a plot point, 12 Years a Slave is a film about a torture perpetrated on millions of black men, women and children. McQueen’s third feature isn’t interested in the audience’s comfort or catharsis, and tells a story full of vicious, hard violence and fractured souls. McQueen brings you as close as he possibly can to the horrors of antebellum slavery, not shying from bloody truths, and ultimately reminds us that far, far too often, history’s mad men and their ugly horrors go unpunished and unredressed.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

More and more the template for a spy film is “action first, story later–if at all.” This has mostly to do with the new opportunities provided by technology, but it also says something about contemporary audiences. Old school spy stories are intended to be convoluted, meandering whodunits, and vagueness doesn’t sit well with modern viewers, myself included. That said, anybody who puts Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy next to, for instance, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol will quickly come to appreciate the nuanced origins of the spy thriller. Tinker Tailor–Tomas Alfredson‘s follow-up to the critically successful and successfully recycled for American audiences Let the Right One In--is moody and stylish, recalling the lost art of skillful ambiguity.

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