December 3rd, 2013 / 8:00 pm

My favorite films of 2013 so far & still in progress

Prince Avalanche

This year, I tried to get caught back up on films. And even though 2013 is far from over, here are my favorites so far:

  1. A Field in England (Ben Wheatley & Amy Jump)
  2. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
  3. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón & Jonas Cuarón)
  4. Iron Man Three (Shane Black & Drew Pearce)
  5. Le joli mai (Chris Marker; revival)
  6. Museum Hours (Jem Cohen)
  7. Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn)
  8. Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green, + here’s hoping Paul Rudd is Ant-Man)
  9. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh—technically 2012, but I didn’t catch it until this year)
  10. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson; ditto)
  11. The World’s End (Edgar Wright)
  12. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)

I have plans to write more about 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 12. As well as 9, perhaps. (But not 10.)

+: Godard’s Le mépris is getting a 50th anniversary release, and of course it’s incredible, even though I’m going to miss it this week at the Siskel because I’m stuck grading final papers.

Other new films I’ve seen and enjoyed to varying degrees:

  • Berberian Sound Studio (ultimately unsuccessful, but definitely worth seeing, for the soundtrack if nothing else—R.I.P. redux Trish Keenan)
  • Computer Chess (I’ll definitely be writing about this one)
  • Crimes Against Humanity (made by some friends of mine! I plan to write about it)
  • Django Unchained (QT’s worst film? it’s this or Reservoir Dogs)
  • Man of Steel (interesting, at the very least least)
  • Mansome (absolute garbage)
  • Shoplifting from American Apparel (already wrote about it)
  • Spring Breakers (I’ve plans to write about this one, too)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (I despised it, because I despise Abrams’s take on Star Trek, but I preferred this to his 2009 reboot)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (absolute shit)
  • The Wolverine (I rather enjoyed this, and was surprised when many others didn’t)
  • This Is the End (fun enough)
  • Twohundredfiftysixcolors (interesting & enjoyable; I’d like to write more about it)

I’ve seen some people call 2013 a lackluster year for cinema, but I have no idea what they’re talking about—in my experience, it’s been the opposite. In fact, I think US filmmaking, and US film culture, have been pretty stellar since 2007 or 2008. We’re living, I’d argue, in a new movie golden age of some sort or another.

But what do you think?


  1. Mike Meginnis

      I want you to convince me to love Iron Man 3. I enjoyed it! Definitely had some cool moments. I think it made some very weird decisions and suffered from a pretty lame villain, though.

      I watched Computer Chess randomly via Netflix recently and I was surprised by how good it was, though I don’t think the very last scene lands.

  2. mimi

      Spring Breakers def a highlight

      Have u seen Fruitvale Station?

      i, pathetically, saw wayy too few films this yr

      : /

  3. Matt Rowan

      Agree with you, Mike, on the villain front. Even though I’ve changed my mind some regarding the choices they made with the Mandarin, I still feel like the villain situation in Iron Man 3 left a lot to be desired. I am no fan of white guy corporate industry titans, but do they need to be the primary villain in every Iron Man movie?

  4. Matt Rowan

      I liked Seven Psychopaths a lot. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!

  5. Jeremy Hopkins

      Once you acknowledge and allow 7Psychs’ metashit, it’s pretty enjoyable.
      I actually liked ‘The Counselor.’ Did you see it? If so, how bad was it to you?

  6. Michael T.

      Aw….really wanted to hear your thoughts on The Master. Oh well.

  7. A D Jameson

      I missed Fruitvale, alas.

  8. A D Jameson

      I preferred IM3 to CC and I will explain my reasoning at great length.

  9. A D Jameson

      I missed it, but my roommate saw it and thought it bad, so it’s almost as though I did, too.

  10. A D Jameson

      It’s a masterpiece!

  11. A D Jameson

      I’ll write more later but for now: while watching it, I kept thinking, “This is good, but it’s not great, because of X.” Following which, McDonagh would immediately address X. Guy’s pretty clever, if not telepathic.

      I still preferred In Bruges but I’ll watch anything he makes. And I guess I just missed a version of The Pillowman here in town? Matt, you were supposed to ask me to go see that!

  12. A D Jameson

      I liked all those weird decisions! I thought it fairly ingenious to take Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and adapt it into a Marvel movie. (KKBB is better, but I admire the maneuver.)

      And I’m the one guy who loved all the Mandarin stuff, thought it (among other things) clever commentary on the tendency for British actors to play Asians—and they got Gandhi himself to do it, wonderful. The fact that Sir Ben Kingsley was playing a Maori warrior in another big budget action film this year made that part even more delicious. Who says superhero movies can’t be subversive?

      Guy Pearce is probably the weakest part of the film, the element most like the previous two Iron Man movies, which I never liked as much as other folks did.

  13. Matt Rowan

      I just finally saw In Bruges and really loved it. Not a movie you’d expect it to be in dozens of ways, and what a great ending.

      I didn’t know about The Pillowman. Nobody tells me anything!

  14. deadgod

      Kingsley’s birth-name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji.

  15. deadgod

      I thought The Counselor was untenably plotted, miscast in a couple of major roles, and mostly directed-by-numbers. Also, the ‘philosophy dialogue’, which to me is the least good thing in McCarthy’s prose, isn’t made to work cinematically. It had some good scenes, the idea could’ve worked, Fassbender is pretty sharp in a thankless role (don’t people in movies go to movies??)… it’s not terrible. Just disappointing – inferior to, say, True Romance.

  16. deadgod

      In Bruges is borderline-great: tight, tricky but a little goofy, and doesn’t let narrative and cinematic trickeration get in the way of great actors doing their thing.

      To me, and maybe along Jeremy’s line (below), 7 Psychopaths isn’t tight enough for how hard it’s trying. If you’re going to Godard-turbo Tarantino, your engine better not loosen its bolts.

      I agree, though, about seeing anything McDonagh makes. He’s on that list.

  17. deadgod

      But wait: isn’t Tentacular Corp.-villainy the Iron Man franchise? –along with being a vehicle for Downey’s affable quickness, of course.

      I guess they could go after an African shack-industry billionaire, or a Latin-American media mogul, or a Shenzhen ‘developer’… and follow the Bond paradigm: come up with a bigger atom bomb every sequel.

      Don’t you think corporate whitey has it coming?

  18. Jeremy Hopkins

      RE: First sentence—disagree, maybe, and who knows.
      The ‘philosophy dialogue’ (like the phone call near the end) is sort of akin to a gun-fight for me: familiar and soothing, and not actually revelatory. I’m sort of a sucker for existentially-angsty crime flicks. The Clooney movie ‘The American’ was also one I liked that people would claim “took itself too seriously” or whatever. I always wonder why it’s okay to be cheesy with the ‘action’ but not the ‘ideas.’

  19. Matt Rowan

      Oh totally. And whitey definitely has it coming. It’s just, and don’t get me wrong I know the character is super racist, the Mandarin is Iron Man’s greatest enemy. And he’s totally neutered in Black’s interpretation (with my only small hope being they have some inventive way of de-neutering the character forthcoming). So while corporate titans are certainly a large part of Iron Man’s base, they’re hardly exclusively so and the Mandarin flatly isn’t. Plus with the introduction of Thor and the inter-galactic stuff in this universe, a guy with power rings is suddenly anything but far fetched. It’s a fanboy’s gripe, I realize.

  20. deadgod

      Well, what I mean by ‘untenable’ is, for example, a lawyer not realizing how ruthless the cocaine people are. Oh! –that’s ’cause he’s sweet-in-love with his similarly clueless jetset honey… for me, a humorless C’MON MAN vibe. Not sure how it could’ve been done well, but, for example, the scene where Bardem warns Fassbender about how dirty the cartel $ will be (unhappily excerpted in the trailer) – ‘are you sure you wanna do this?’ – : that McCarthy rolling-staccato is fine, and Bardem is always good (isn’t he?), but I was laughing in his face, and I’m no hard customer. And Diaz–whom I usually like–with the flouncy menace: dire. I thought The American pulled off the inevitable-catastrophe thing better.

  21. Islington Comic Forum

      A Field In England? Seriously? It was like a student film! (and not in a good way).

  22. Jeremy Hopkins

      I saw it less as him not realizing drug runners were mean, and more him thinking he could remain distant and untied. Their meanness didn’t matter to him until they were coming after him and his. He’s in bed with the trade but thinks he won’t get knocked-up.

  23. James Embry

      I am glad to know that others enjoyed IM3 (and the Mandarin twist, in particular) as much as I did. I actually re-watched recently, and liked it even more on the second viewing.

      Most of the debates I have had w/r/t the movie boil down to me saying “How could you not think that the Mandarin thing was cool, in a fucks-with-expectations-in-a-way-generally-unprecedented-in-a-mainstream-comics-movie-and-was-also-more-or-less-completely-consistent-with-the-overall-tone-of-the-film-excluding-the-ending-which-was-kinda-same-ish sorta way?” and then the other person saying “Because it was the Mandarin, who’s basically Iron Man’s Joker, and you don’t fuck over the main villain of a franchise for the sake one sort-of silly scene and then turn the movie over to a completely generic antagonist.” and me responding “Iron Man’s Joker, wtf? Iron Man doesn’t have a Joker; we’re talking about the frickin’ Mandarin here, who, in his most famous iteration, was basically just a racist caricature who, P.C.-or-not-to-P.C. debate notwithstanding, would also have taken 2013 audiences out of the film in a major way if presented as-is, so, one way or another, we had to expect a re-invention of the character, but isn’t it cooler that we got one which was actually (even kinda) clever, rather than some “edgy” Osama-like figure or straight-up Joker knockoff (which didn’t seem outside the bounds of possibility when I heard the voiceover in the first trailer)?”

      Anyway, sorry to anyone whose argument I might have just reduced to a straw-man, but I really did think that the script was clever (even though the hidden-white-villain-masking-his-villainy-behind-the exoticized-other-thing had sorta been done already in Batman Begins). Basically, I thought that the failure that most people perceived in IM3 was, at least in part, due to some pretty misleading marketing. The movie was being pitched as a “darker” intense trilogy-ender, in which Tony Stark rebounds from his lowest point (IM2) and mobilizes an army of Iron Man-drones to defeat his greatest enemy. Nope. As I see it, Avengers already capped the Iron Man trilogy, and who would want to go bigger than a movie where Iron Man takes on a fleet of aliens and a Norse God? Also, despite having to share screen time with all the other characters, there was some legitimate character development for Tony in Avengers. Iron Man 3, wisely, picked up on the thread of having the egoist protagonist humbled and shaken by the realization of powers greater than his own mind (and cool robot-suit).

      So, numbering aside, IM3 felt, emotionally, more like an epilogue, or even a “soft reset” trying the character out in a context deliberately opposed to the “bigger is better” attitude of most superhero sequels. Even though (in some part due to studio-pressure, you almost have to imagine) the ending does sort of succumb to effects bloat, the final detonation of the suits seemed almost like a sly apology, and a promise that, if there are any future Iron Man solo adventures, they’ll be more about Tony and his wits, less about increasingly “cool, shiny” but personality-less robot toys.

      Also, the movie gave us the “Iron Man Mach:HomeDepot” armor, which may be my favorite iteration in the series to date.

  24. A D Jameson

      Yes, seriously. I’ve seen it three times now, and think it’s great for many reasons.

      I myself didn’t find it to be anything like a student film, but I also don’t dislike student films.

  25. A D Jameson

      I think In Bruges is better than 7P. Though I’m also still thinking through 7P, and have seen it only once.

  26. A D Jameson

      Urgh, I spoke hastily. Yes, Kingsley is half-Indian. But he’s not half-Mandarin (or whatever the movie’s Mandarin is supposed to be—pan-Asian?).

      Personally & theoretically speaking, I don’t have a problem with actors playing different ethnicities (or genders or sexual orientations), but it has become a huge issue in Hollywood/global cinema—see Cloud Atlas, or Tom Hardy’s Bane / Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul for recent examples. And see George Lucas’s WWII era pseudo-Japanese villains in Phantom Menace etc. for a related controversy.

      Regarding all of which, I thought Iron Man Three‘s take on the Mandarin very clever.

  27. Michael T.

      God, I love KKBB. And anything else Shane Black has ever written. I’m curious, though, because I didn’t see much of KKBB in IM3 besides Black’s little touches (e.g., the story always takes place during Christmas).

  28. A D Jameson

      Maybe I see too much of it? Besides the whole Xmas setting, the opening and closing narration reminded me of KKBB. As did the down and out vibe—how the film’s focused on Tony Stark and his being separated from his fortune and technology. And the stuff in the villain’s estate in Florida reminded me of the villain’s house in KKBB—the scene where Downey wakes up there, and encounters the dog. The way all the bad guys behaved, including the one who ran away. And Pepper Potts’s expanded role reminded me some of Harmony Faith Lane (though not enough).

      That all said, Downey should’ve lost a finger.

  29. A D Jameson

      I recently rewatched IM3 and, like you, thought it even better the second time round. I’ve generally enjoyed the recent Marvel movies—and I’m as amazed by this as anyone—and I thought IM3 the cleverest and most imaginative. And the Home Depot suit of armor is my favorite, too.

      I can’t say I really get how the Mandarin change upset people. I mean, I get it on some level—comics geeks generally prefer that the classic texts be adhered to—but as far as I see it, the issue’s far from resolved. They can always make another movie with some guy with rings and reveal that he was behind the events of this film. Wouldn’t that be very Mandarin-y? “You will nevurr see me coming” etc. etc.

      Personally, what most upsets me about these films is how they’ve changed Tony Stark’s facial hair in the comics to match Downey’s in the films*. Although even that was commented on here, perhaps, in the scene with Gary. (*Also, this doesn’t really upset me.)

  30. A D Jameson

      Matt, someone has to write Iron Man fan fiction in which it’s revealed the true Mandarin was behind the events of IM3.

      And you, Matt, are that someone.

  31. Matt Rowan

      Maybe I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. A D Jameson

      Also, please tell me there are photos of you somewhere in a Superman outfit.

  33. James Embry

      Yeah, I have heard the “real Mandarin” idea brought up before and, if RDJ re-ups and they need to continue the solo film series, it does seem like something that might happen, although I think that is more due to the lack of a strong roster of Iron Man villains to draw from, than any indication of that particular character’s venerability. Plus, there was (kinda, sorta) a “real” Mandarin: Guy Pearce’s character (Killian?). I understand the gripes about him as being a flat character, at least in terms of the actual on-screen portrayal by Pearce but, if you take into consideration his necessary off-screen machinations, he’s probably the most interesting and multifaceted bad guy in the IM films to date.

      Not to go too deeply into the political rhetoric of these films (though perhaps, one day…) but, if Tony Stark had been portrayed as American titan of industry beating up on third-world insurgents, it’s easy to see the whole enterprise getting real “Atlas Shrugged” real fast. The fact that the “real” bad guys in these films usually turn out to be from Tony’s strata works well to head-off such criticism, by showing that, in the cases where a rich, white genius does save the day, it’s usually just because another rich, white “genius” screwed up. It’s not exactly Chomsky but, if one does choose to interpolate a “lesson for our times” from the on-screen adventures of shiny-robot-man, that’s at least one I can feel somewhat comfortable with.

      Also, great list overall. All the films on it I either saw and enjoyed or am excited to catch in the near future. If popular consensus figures into it, the ones I would be most excited to read about and discuss on this site (or elsewhere) would be Upstream Color (gorgeous, almost indescribably strange film, and one I’ve found myself bringing up often to refute the point that modern film-making has become stagnant, or even the argument that there are no “new” ways to tell a story), The Master, or Django.

      I know a lot has been written about the last one, including on this site, but…QT’s worst? I would probably put it above Kill Bill 1 and Death Proof, and at least in contention with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (great film, and deserves credit for being as innovative as it was upon release, but seems to lose something re-watching within the context of his later work). Also, even though Django didn’t quite match Inglorious Basterds, I am loving the Tarantino revisionist history period, and probably wouldn’t complain if he made several more films along the same lines, or at least finished out a trilogy. It wouldn’t even have to touch on a subject as close and incendiary as slavery, but imagine setting “genre” film heroes and tropes loose on, say, the French Revolution, or the colonization of the New World.

  34. Matthew Simmons

      Hoping to hear your thoughts on the films on my list, AD.

  35. A D Jameson

      The Iron Man series should be retitled “on-screen adventures of shiny-robot-man.” :)

      Having the man behind the Mandarin be a white businessman probably wasn’t intended as criticism of Marvel, but I’ll gladly misread it as such.

      I wasn’t crazy about Django, but I enjoyed it. I just forgot about it afterward, unlike with QT’s other films. I guess I have high expectations for him, but he has only himself to blame for that.

      I was the oddball who enjoyed Death Proof, but I saw it as part of Grindhouse, which is some of the most fun I’ve had in a theater in recent years. And I will stand behind KB1, though I think it needs to always be paired with KB2; they’re really a single film.

      I’ve heard many people call contemporary US film stagnant or the equivalent. I have no idea what they’re talking about. I really do believe current US cinema very strong—the strongest it’s been since the early-to-mid 1990s. The Texas alternative film scene alone (QT, Rodriguez, Malick, Shane Carruth, David Gordon Green, Jeff Nichols, Andrew Bujalski*, and so on) should give anyone pause. There are more good movies being made these days than I have time to watch—what more can a person ask for? (I think the same is also true for music, literature, food, drink. It’s a new golden age, I tell you!) (Provided one has money, which most people in the US do not.)

      *I heard he shot Computer Chess in TX.

  36. A D Jameson

      I have seen them all and agree they are all works of art.

  37. Michael T.

      Doesn’t the kid break a finger off his armor at one point? I completely agree with you, but I think the comic geeks would’ve screamed even more if the invincible Iron Man lost a finger.

  38. A D Jameson

      Doesn’t the kid break a finger off his armor at one point?

      Holy shit, he does! I so totally missed that!

      What a great film. I’m going to watch it again right now!

  39. bartleby_taco

      would be interested in hearing your thoughts on django and reservoir dogs. i have a friend that always talks about reservoir dogs. i think it sucks. also, what did you like about blue jasmine? i thought it was ‘okay.’ i was happy to see andrew dice clay/louis ck.

  40. A D Jameson

      I was never as impressed with RDogs as others were. I don’t think it sucks—it has a real presence and power—but I prefer QT’s other films, which I find more imaginative and playful and affecting. I don’t know if I have anything more substantial to say about it, though. I haven’t seen it in a decade, maybe longer? I do think QT’s a great filmmaker. As for Django, it just didn’t grab me the way his other films do. I liked it fine, but I felt underwhelmed. That said, I saw an aging print at a brew & view, so maybe that was it. But I didn’t get why a lot of it was the way it was—like, why did it open with those long titles in the desert? I thought it should have opened with Cristoph Waltz approaching the party. And I grew bored during the final gun fight. But I liked DiCaprio, for once! And the dynamite scene was a “blast.”

      As for Blue Jasmine, I thought Cate Blanchett really risked a lot in her performance, which might have been my favorite of the year, if not for Bullock’s in Gravity. I found her genuinely unsettling—like in the scene where she takes the two boys to the restaurant, and proceeds to alternate between something monstrously terrifying and ridiculously comic. I also liked how the film was a better version of Allen’s Interiors, a film I’ve always been fond of, despite its problems. I know many people talked about how the film was a loose adaptation of Streetcar, and it’s obviously based in the Williams play, but I was more intrigued by how Allen was reworking some of the older, 1970s dramatic ideas he inherited from Bergman—though maybe that’s just me. I wrote about that some at PressPlay (see the link, above). That said though, I think Allen is the greatest living American filmmaker, and that he has always been underrated as an artist. And while his more recent films obviously aren’t his best, a lot of them are I think better than people admit. So I’d submit Blue is better than just OK—the cinematography and editing alone are both masterful, and worth the price of admission. But I also have a stubborn fondness for WA, especially when he hangs back and makes his more observational dramas, like this one and Interiors and Crimes & Misdemeanors. I also really liked the film’s title—it meant nothing to me going in (indeed, I remarked to a friend that it struck me as lazy/stupid, as so many Allen titles are), but by the end of the film I found it brilliant, in terms of how Allen integrated it with “Blue Moon,” and gradually worked that song into the film. I found the last scene/shot intensely powerful, and among Allen’s better endings. … But despite all that admiration, if I had to rank the films above, Blue Jasmine would be toward the bottom of the list—very good, but not the best film of the year, or anything.

      Hope that clarifies my thinking! To some extent I think this is all pretty subjective, though I’ll stand by my impressions and think them genius and undoubtedly correct :)

  41. postitbreakup

      agree with all of your examples except cloud atlas — wasn’t the whole point of that, that the actor be kept the same? granted, they could have had a more diverse cast, but even so, that diverse cast would have still ended up in makeup switching races to play each characters’ different avatar or whatever

      anyway, as long as ben whishaw stays in the movie

  42. A D Jameson

      I was referring to the controversy the film engendered. Regardless of whether you or I or anyone thought the makeup transformations were justified artistically, lots of people got pissed off, to the point where I remember it being the primary narrative surrounding the film one year ago.

      Leaving aside the controversy, I didn’t think that the transformations entirely worked in that film, because they were often so thorough that you couldn’t tell who was playing who. If the whole point of the recycling was to watch the same ten or so characters get reincarnated across time and space, then it’s a fail if I can’t see that happen—I shouldn’t need the end credits to tell me that Halle Berry was playing Korean Back Alley Doctor #2, or that Hugh Grant was Skull-faced Barbarian #3. I think the Wachowskis and Tykwer &co. got so caught up in the technical challenge there that they lost sight of what they were trying to accomplish.

      On another note entirely, I bought some Post-Its the other day (official brand), and they were much thinner than I remember—looks like the company switched to a lower grade of paper. I was disappointed. I have many breakup notes I want to write, and the ink’s bleeding through the sheets!

  43. Pascoe Foxell
  44. A D Jameson

      Thanks! I write sometimes for PressPlay, but I missed that one.

  45. A D Jameson

      Thanks again for recommending this! I really enjoyed watching it. But while I find it a clever reading, it didn’t make me like RD any more. I find a lot of its claims problematic.

      As you may know, I’ve been a critic at this site of what one might call “metaphorical criticism,” which is when critics don’t analyze artworks, but instead invent new works in response to them. Chris Higgs is this site’s biggest proponent of that, and he and I have been engaged in an on-again-off-again debate on the subject. I feel I’ve most thoroughly addressed my problems with that critical tradition in my reading of Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation.” And I see a lot of that style of criticism in this video, for instance in claims such as:

      The fact that the most dominant color in the memory is blood ties back in with this ‘Like a Virgin’ thing. It’s a symbol of shock, and a symbol of humanity. […] Blood is our family, our most influential figures.

      My problem with such claims is that they can’t really be critically evaluated. How is blood the most dominant color in the memory of the viewer? What does “ties back in with” mean? What is the function of “thing” in that sentence? How is blood a symbol of either shock or humanity within the context of Reservoir Dogs? And to be sure, while “blood” can mean “family,” is QT really engaging with that type of synechdoche in this film? Or are the critics applying it to the film? None of these questions are actually addressed; the critics just paper over them as they create their (imaginative) reading.

      Without trying to sound like a snot, I don’t think it’s all that difficult to metaphorically riff on other artworks. I used to think that it was an important part of criticism—I used to think it’s what serious critics did—and I did my fair share of it. Eventually, though, I found that the charm wore off, and that following that path turned criticism into a contest of rhetoric: it became a game of who could write the more poetic response. No doubt there’s a time and a place for that. But it didn’t impress me as having much to do with better understanding the original artwork.

      I would claim this in response to the video: All films must confront the challenge that these critics identify. All films are made for viewers who have seen other films, and who are jaded, but who have to be fooled into thinking (at least temporarily) that they’ve never seen another film before. The best articulation of this problem that I know of belongs to Michael Fried; he wrote in “Art and Objecthood” (1967) that the challenge before painters is to produce paintings that convince us that their new works “can stand comparison with the painting of the past whose quality is not in doubt.” (“>Here’s a link to a PDF of that essay.)

      So despite the claims made in the video, Reservoir Dogs isn’t unique in that regard. That is to say, the fact that RD encounters that condition doesn’t make it special in any way. Instead, all all that matters is 1.) how RD confronts that problem, and 2.) whether or not it succeeds.

      So what’s interesting about Reservoir Dogs, I think—and this gets to the most substantive part of the video critique—is the way or manner in which QT chose to confront that particular problem: by embracing head-on what other artists have done, rather than pretending that his film exists in a world where previous films do not. He’s making his film, as the critics say, for viewers who have seen the other films he’s alluding to. I do think that is a potentially winning strategy; Nicolas Winding Refn did something similar when he made Drive. I’d have to watch RD again to decide whether it succeeds in this strategy or not. (My memory is that it doesn’t entirely get there, though it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. That is to say, I don’t think it’s a better film than, say, The Killing, or The Wild Bunch.)

      My problem with RD, if I even have one, is that I simply don’t think it’s QT’s best film. I don’t think it’s a bad film, by any means. I just think he went on to make better works (and good for him!). I similarly don’t think that Django is the man’s best work. Mind you, though, that’s my gut speaking, because I haven’t spent all that much time analyzing QT’s films. But usually I’m looking for the exquisiteness of formal unity, and RD and Django seem to me less than the sum of their often remarkable parts.

      All right, that’s probably more response than you wanted :)