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  • Linc’s Top 25 Films of 2013 | #16-20

    By | December 27, 2013

    20) Dallas Buyers Club

    McConaughey continues his recent run of brilliant performances, losing 30-plus pounds in a jaw-dropping physical transformation, while perfectly capturing a nuanced blend of some of the same qualities of his most memorable earlier characters from Magic Mike and Dazed and Confused. Somewhere amongst that combination of Texas-macho-swagger and laid-back-stoner-charm, McConaughey manages to fully inhabit and reveal nothing less than the soul of a man who rises above his limitations and flaws to achieve remarkable things. It’s a testament to the film’s director, Jean-Marc Vallée, and writers, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, that it never tries to fully explain Woodruff’s motivations, whether he’s more inspired by the money or humanitarian reasons. After all, he’s a human, so his motivations are constantly shifting. Ultimately, he’s in it for the purest reason of all, self-survival, and self-survival can make for some strange bedfellows. And strange bedfellows, it seems, can change the world, both the one within and the one without. (Check out my full review of Dallas Buyers Club.)

    19) Blue Jasmine

    I didn’t get a chance to screen Blue Jasmine prior to its release and therefore didn’t get a chance to review it but it’s Woody Allen doing what he does best, putting together a crack ensemble cast (Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, etc.) to humorously spin a yarn of a neurotic woman struggling to survive in a post-economic-crash-world, caught between her past 1%’er life that was made possible through her husband’s corporate criminality and her current plight of being trapped in the working-class world of her adoptive sister for which she’s ill prepared.

    18) Stories We Tell

    Sarah Polley approaches Stories We Tell knowing full well that stories are just that: stories. She gathers her family in front of her camera to compare their recollections of their mother. Polley’s familiar past quickly becomes an open book, the ultimate family drama. Do we learn too much? What and who can we believe? Polley cleverly toys with the notion of utilizing archival footage to heighten our sense of reality, thus playing a few tricks of her own, as if to say: the wool was pulled over my own eyes for so long, so I want you to experience the same sense of confused shock. It is a brilliant facade of reality that Polley creates, one that will leave its audiences’ heads spinning. We are left questioning the entire content of the film, though at the heart of all, there is more god’s honest truth to this film than most non-fiction films. (Check out Don Simpson’s review of Stories We Tell.)

     17) Zero Charisma

    I can’t give Zero Charisma star Sam Eidson, whose realistic portrayal is spot-on brilliant, or directors Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews enough credit for the job they do in so fully humanizing such a pathetic character. While Scott’s a hard person to like and I’d probably find it nearly impossible to spend time with him, he never feels less than genuine and real and I found myself rooting for him in his battles with his mother, with his former comic book store co-workers and with his arch-enemy Miles. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a person who, due to circumstances beyond his control, never really had a chance to succeed in life. He’s just trying to get by the best he can, and in the process has managed to find what a lot of people would be happy to have, a  little niche in which to thrive. Watching him lose that, even if “that” is something that most people consider pathetic, is an incredibly moving experience. (Check out my full review of Zero Charisma.)

    16) The Rambler

    By successfully drawing the viewer into the insanely disturbed world of the Rambler’s road adventures, by the time we’re in Oregon the viewer winds up feeling, along with the Rambler, that the quietly idyllic family ranch of his brother’s family (blandly polite exchanges, prayer before dinner, the family sitting in silence watching TV) is the truly affected world. Not a film for the faint of heart nor for champions of the conventional, The Rambler is one of the zaniest films I’ve ever seen but it contains enough narrative plot that it can be viewed as a simple story (told from an insane world). But for those viewers who want to dig deeper, it’s clear that underneath all the gore and oddity, Reeder has injected multiple levels of meaning into this unconventional tale. (Check out my full review of The Rambler.)

    Calvin Lee Reeder’s The Rambler drifts somewhere in the same WTF level of the stratosphere as the mind-blowing brainwaves of David Lynch (Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet), Quentin Dupieux (Rubber) and Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Dead Alive). Most of this film exists in the blasted out realm of no reason, playing like a crazed recurring nightmare of a man who is just spinning his wheels. Maybe The Rambler is stuck in the quagmire of a fugue state of limbo and he just needs to figure out the right key or code to use to stop the warped record from skipping…or maybe he just needs to have his head examined? (Also check out Don Simpson’s full review of The Rambler.)

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