A Most Violent YearEmbarcadero

The titular year in question is 1981, and for the city of New York, it was the most violent year in history. Ah, yes. The good old days of NYC, when Times Square was teeming with the sick and venal! When the plot of a movie like Escape From New York didn’t seem that far-fetched!

You wouldn’t know it from A Most Violent Year, however, even though the movie is set in 1981 New York. Oscar Isaac stars as Abel Morales, an entrepreneur in the exciting and cut-throat world of home heating oil. OK. I lied a little. It’s not an exciting business, but it is cutthroat, and he’s dealing with a series of truck-jackings that are costing him money and drivers, while also trying to close a deal that would help him to expand his business. Oh, and the DA is investigating him and the entire industry for fraud.

Morales is an honest man in a corrupt industry–or at least a slightly more honest man. And he wants to stay that way. His wife (Jessica Chastain), the daughter of a mobster, sees things a little differently, and he soon learns hiring your mob-connected wife to be your bookkeeper is probably not the best path to incorruptibility.

A Most Violent Year is a most unusual movie because it isn’t particularly violent, or exciting. Not a lot happens. It’s also weirdly devoid of people; it feels like it was filmed in a ghost town, no doubt a result of its low budget. The director, J.C. Chandor,  gave us last year’s All Is Lost, which featured one guy on a boat, so he’s obviously into minimalism and making the most out of a low budget. But in this case, it just doesn’t add up to much.

American SniperEverywhere

Clint Eastwood turns a military hero and legend into an even bigger legend in this Golden Globes-snubbed but Oscar-nominated drama. Read my full review here.

Still AliceClay

Julianne Moore just got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role as a linguistics professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s. Alec Baldwin costars as her husband. No way I’m seeing this in a theater. I prefer to do my sobbing in the privacy of my own home.


Master Crowley voices the famous British bear in this live action/CGI hybrid. When I was a kid, all I wanted in life was this tiny little Paddington Bear that a friend had. It was about three inches tall, and had the hat, and the tiny suitcase, and it was everything. I never did get one; I think it was only available for sale in the UK. And to this day I’m amazed that I didn’t just steal it from her.

The Wedding RingerEverywhere

Bro comedy about a guy with no friends (Josh Gad) who lies to his fiance that he’s actually got ten of them, and they’re all going to be in the wedding. Luckily, because this is a movie, there’s a service that deals with just such a problem! Enter Kevin Hart, as the “best man for hire.”

Noir City 13Castro Theater

This year’s film noir movie festival kicks off tonight with two movies filmed in San Francisco: Woman on the Run, and Born to Be Bad, both made in 1950. The theme of this year’s fest is “unholy matrimony,” so expect a lot of lying, cheating, and murder. Ten whole days of it, in fact! Ah, l’amour!

the author

Rain Jokinen watches a lot of television and movies and then writes things about them on the Internet. She's a San Francisco native, and yeah, she'll rub that fact in your face any chance she gets.

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