Rane has written 15 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2015.

  • Chi-Raq

    Chi-Raq

    ★★★★

    A wonderfully imperfect film of passionate irreverence. Whereas Tarantino's HATEFUL EIGHT combats demands of political conformity with nihilistic ugliness, Lee's comitragedy instead employs creative ridiculousness to make a plea for morality, empathy and the power behind just plain giving a damn.

  • Creed

    Creed

    ★★★★

    Those who disparage genre films forget the reason genres exist: it isn't the familiar themes and tropes, but the manner in which they're executed that have given them their staying power for decades on end. Also, Sylvester Stallone made a joke about the Cloud funny, which immediately justifies Oscar contention in my book.

  • The Big Short

    The Big Short

    ★★★★

    Adam McKay's new dramedy THE BIG SHORT has clearly learned from the schismatic reception of spiritual predecessor THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: there's plenty of documented idiocy, but an equal if not greater amount of condemnation as well. Sure, we can all laugh at the utter incompetence of these bankers and real estate brokers made clear in hindsight, but the 2008 financial collapse was still a Big-T Tragedy brought upon by hubris and ignorance. For the most part, McKay's film…

  • Star Wars

    Star Wars

    ★★★★

    Not merely a classic but also "classical" in every: a Hero's Journey narrative with a young, brash, restless protagonist, his wise old mentor, their greedy gun-for-hire with a heart of gold, and a visciously intimidating villain at the head of a vast, evil empire to confront. (There's even a princess to save! Who actually proves more than capable of saving herself after the initial rescue.) But the true spectacle lies in the details, and every frame is jam-packed with imagination…

  • Man on Wire

    Man on Wire

    ★★★★

    A stylish, stand-out "documentary" that, for better or worse, serves more as a love letter to an amazing feat of whimsy and wonder than any sincere exploration of the psychology behind the event (or the acrobat behind it).

  • Best of Enemies

    Best of Enemies

    ★★★★

    Captures the gladiatorial spirit of American political debate while maintaining a careful balance between spectacle and substance. (If only the same could be said of current political dialogue) The film hits its modern-day parallels a little too forcefully at times, but plays at an appreciated brisk pace in its dual-character study and the ramifications -both personal and cultural- of their televised conflicts.

  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl

    The Diary of a Teenage Girl

    An hour and forty minutes of cringing later, I'm unsure if this (admittedly refreshing) take on the coming-of-age genre is a feminist triumph of modern cinema or an unpleasant examination of the '70s free-love sexual landscape. The film has enough self-awareness to recognize Minnie's victimization at the hands of Monroe's statutory rape, but allows her to feel confidence, love, loneliness and the plethora of other emotions one experiences when becoming sexually active as a result. In a time where the…

  • The End of the Tour

    The End of the Tour

    ★★★★

    Just as effective and humorous on a second viewing. A hybrid of ALMOST FAMOUS and Linklater's BEFORE films, with wit and pathos to spare.

    A note of contention: I can't believe critics and cinephiles are willing to give the fun but ultimately lackluster RICKI AND THE FLASH a pass based on Streep and Demme's good will, but can't embrace Jason Segel's utter disappearance into David Foster Wallace. Already one of the best performances of 2015.

  • Pickpocket

    Pickpocket

    ★★★★

    A meditative "thriller", interested more in the gestures and spiritual desire to commit crime rather than the thrills. However, the film's disinterest in motivation or even clear reasoning makes it withholding to a fault at times. Bresson's camera orchestrates a ballet of Hitchcockian close-ups and emphasized movement, but at the expense of understanding the film's characters or their motivation. Maybe Bresson doesn't see any importance in such narratives, but I do.

  • Slow West

    Slow West

    ★★★★

    A distinctive entry in the Western canon, instilling the American wilderness with a sense of the foreign and melancholy. Fassbender shines as always, and director John Maclean brings a much-needed empathy towards the violence and cruelty implicit in the genre.

  • Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey

    Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey

    ★★★★

    Seen at LRFF 2015.

  • The Breakfast Club

    The Breakfast Club

    ★★★★

    The dialogue and social stratifications are dated, but the teenage sentiments are timeless.