I saw a bunch of movies last week!
Ex Machina - a science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence. This was quite thought-provoking and stylish, but emotionally I found it cold, creepy, and disturbing.
Woman in Gold - I loved this film and highly recommend it. Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann, a woman living in LA who hires a young lawyer and friend of the family (Ryan Reynolds) to sue the Austrian government over paintings stolen by the Nazis during WWII. The foremost of these paintings is the titular Klimt. Maria's aunt was the model for the portrait, and her uncle commissioned it. Tatiana Maslany plays the younger Maria. This film has grace and humanity; it explores the Nazi's outright thefts, violence and indignities, and the later cultural appropriation of art by the Austrian people in a subtle and moving way.
Avengers Age of Ultron - my main complaint was that it was too long, clocking in at 2 hours 22 minutes, plus many previews. skygiants
wrote this hilarious summary
Older movies I watched on DVR:
Book of Eli - The premise of this movie was so ridiculous that it was hard to suspend my disbelief enough to care. Eli, played by Denzel Washington, is carrying the last copy in existence of a Bible, and he's trying to get it to a safe place. He's moving through a post-apocalyptic world, killing raiders and scrounging for food. Gary Oldman plays a villain who wants to get his hands on the book and use it for evil purposes. It's a stylish film, and kind of fun survival story, and Mila Kunis is enjoyable as his side kick. But the story would have made more sense if the MacGuffin were literally anything other than a Bible.
12 Years a Slave - I loved this film and thought about it a lot after seeing it. That said, I was happy to be able to fast-forward through a couple of violent scenes, and I found them to be gratuitous. One thing that works well in this film, for a modern audience, is that Solomon Northrup is an insider to his time and country but an outsider to Southern slave culture, so his experiences act as a bridge for the audience. His disorientation and bewilderment are incredibly effective ways of showing how ridiculous, brutal, and incomprehensible slavery is. Epps, played by Michael Fassbender, is so completely out of control that it's difficult to believe that he is functional, and yet his society not only tolerates his rages and dangerous behavior-- the society empowers him. All of society has to be complicit in slavery for this system to work. It makes no sense whatsoever, and yet it went on for hundreds of years; a society based upon terrorism. This film is incredibly effective at showing all of these things.