(Spoilers in all of this week's reviews. More than usual, even.)
The Voice - ★★★½☆
Now sure, this doesn't sound like a good movie, and yes, I went to it because it was free, but it turns out to be pretty fun. Unless you're the purist of optimists, you know pretty much from the get-go that this is going to be a story with an unreliable narrator, and it's a (grisly) treat to see what's really going on around the edges of his perception.
My screening was followed by a Q&A with the writer, who was refreshingly straightforward with his opinions about what was on the screen, and explained away the distracting and obvious day-for-night scene: probably it accomplished something to do with when and why the cops show up, but also, along with some well-placed ADR, it keeps the innocent animals from dying horrible deaths at the end.
The Secret in Their Eyes - ★★★★☆
Foreign films get a filter that takes decades to work its magic on domestic movies - way more films were getting pumped out by the studios in the 40s-70s than they make today, but we typically only see the cream of the crop because it's what survives. Similarly, most people only see the foreign films (if they see any at all) that someone has found to be worthy of preserving and sharing with new audiences.
Anyway, this is a solid drama / mystery / thriller kind of thing that is being remade in English with gender-swapped leads, even as we speak. I just saw a big call for extras to fill up the football stadium for the remake of one of this film's most exciting scenes.
The original is a little long, but I don't know what it has to spare. There's a whole thread in there with the broken typewriter (Re: the romantic relationship of the leads), and how it doesn't type the letter 'A' and how 'A' made the difference between 'Fear' and 'I love you' and I don't know how that's going to work in English at all.
Boyhood - ★★★★★
The more I think of it, the more I liked this. Like other Best Picture nominees this year, it's biographical in nature, and it has a weird gimmick. Luckily in this case, the gimmick serves the story.
I didn't necessarily find Mason's entire story relatable to my own life, and the parts that were the most unfamiliar sometimes made me uncomfortable, but I feel like I could watch this over and over again. Things I really liked: a) the realistic accrual of influences – even the negative experiences help us to build who we are, and b) the way the movie is similar to the basement of The Cabin in the Woods. I'll explain.
There must be at least a dozen things in this movie that, in any other movie, would cause immediate and severe punishment to rain upon the heads of our characters. Oh no! He looked at a picture of a cute animal on a phone while driving! The whole audience tenses up for the crash! No. That's not how things really work. He's been given a gun as a present! He's practicing with it near his beloved family members! Oh no! No. He got a gun, he got a bible, he tried them both out and didn't seem particularly taken with either one. And that's fine. Things are usually fine. I like that a subtle hand was given to that sort of thing.
I was also taken with how moving the audience (myself included) found it when the guy who replaces pipes turned up later with his degree and a bright future. That seemed like the mostly openly manipulative moment of the movie, because everyone finds it so touching, but of course that's not a real guy. But this far in, everyone in my theater was thoroughly invested in their reality.
This is my Best Picture pick, even if it's not going to (and didn't!) win.