“Squint against the grandeur!”

I had a busy weekend, but not too busy to sneak in a couple of movies from last year’s best-of list.

Deepwater Horizon (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was an example of what I’m now calling the Peter Berg Special: something that sits right on the line between action movie and serious film, with a bunch of dude banter thrown in. It was better than I expected, especially with Mark Wahlberg in the lead.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Tower (imdb | rotten tomatoes) in the first couple of minutes. The rotoscope-y animation took a little getting used to, but I guess there was really no other way to comprehensively tell the story of a mass shooting — maybe America’s first and most famous campus mass shooting, the University of Texas tower sniper — without it. That animation, archival footage, and current-day interviews ended up being a pretty effective combination. The fact that, fifty years later, America is still asking the same questions about gun massacres that it did that day says a lot about the state of their society.

Finally, a light note: Hail, Caesar! (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was the Coen brothers’ homage to post-war Hollywood. It’s silly and cute and self-referential and pretty funny in parts. Ralph Fiennes during the “Would that it were so simple.” scene killed me.

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