Author Soheil Rezayazdi

Soheil Rezayazdi is a communications director at an education and human rights nonprofit headquartered in New York City. He spends much of his free time with cinema.


There’s a moment toward the end of Run & Jump when the melodrama reaches full boil. Our frazzled protagonist (Maxine Peake) has locked herself in her bedroom. Three men pound on her door: her husband, a cognitively-impaired stroke survivor; her son, a gay, self-harming teenager; and her lovesick admirer, a doctor who also happens to be studying her husband. Each man needs something from her. Each is his own unique source of stress. Each won’t stop pounding.

Special Edition

You’ll find few through lines in the below list of great films released in 2013. They touch on historical drama and science fiction, coming of age and getting old, American greed and Indonesian genocide. 2013 gave us an eclectic collection of films worth discussing. I saw about 40 of them. These are the 11 that occupied the most space in my brain.

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Last week’s rattling episode of Breaking Bad has already inspired a small anthology’s worth of online criticism. This post attempts to dismantle one or the most prevalent arguments made in relation to that episode, and the show as a whole. It contains no actual spoilers.

The episode, “Ozymandias,” once again forces us to reassess how we feel about Walter White, the show’s slippery anti-hero. Much of the discussion has focused on an explosive phone call between Walt and Skyler. In reference to this specific scene, many of our finest TV critics have written recaps and tweet mocking those who continue to hold warm feelings for Mr. White. These viewers are “bad fans” who are “watching wrong,” says Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker. They are the same simpletons who misinterpreted the ending of The Sopranos or thought that show had “not enough whackings,” says Matt Zoller Seitz and Mo Ryan. They are “freaking me out” says Linda Holmes of NPR. They are, quite simply, the “the worst of #BreakingBad fans,” says Alyssa Rosenberg.

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Flecks of rain float through the air. Feet slide along a wooden floor, circling their target. A cigarette smolders in the night.

These are the images you relish in The Grandmaster. The film isolates its moments of white-hot intensity and mounts them like individual works of art. Wong Kar-Wai shoots every cracked neck and body blow with tremendous precision. He allows us to savor every carefully choreographed bodily movement. A hyper-stylized kung fu ballet, the film unfolds as a torrent of gorgeous isolated moments.

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Woody Allen doesn’t much care for shades of gray these days. Would you, if you wrote and directed a film per year for four decades? Wouldn’t you start to rely on lazy shortcuts and cannibalize your own catalogue of punch lines, plotlines, and themes? Wouldn’t you, nearing 80, just want to get the damn thing done and go to bed at a reasonable hour?


As any book of inspirational quotes will tell you, we all lead two lives: the one we have today and the one we look back on. Most of the time, these lives scarcely resemble one another. Time can transform any mundane moment into the stuff of blissful daydreams. Looking back, we cherry-pick the little ecstasies and ignore the awkward silences and the trips to the bathroom to escape them. We create a highlight reel of those sublime moments when everything just clicked. We turn the raw footage of everyday life into a breezy montage.

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Upstream Color is a kaleidoscopic cocktail of sound and vision. It’s a film that demands to be seen, not read about. So why am I writing this, and why are you reading it? I write to mobilize you out of your seat and into the theater, of course. But I also write for the sheer challenge of capturing the hallucinatory qualities of such a slippery picture. This is a dizzying experience, aesthetically and emotionally, with few points of reference to ground your viewing. It leaves you lightheaded and with a heavy heart. For 96 unrelenting minutes, Upstream Color has you mystified yet feeling like nirvana lies somewhere just over the horizon.

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Great city films often need no real story to reel us in. From Taxi Driver to Premium Rush, Lost in Translation to Slacker, great city films immerse us in the chaotic quirks of metropolitan life, where people of mixed cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds interact with one another in tight quarters. These are the films that luxuriate in the minutiae of what makes Austin, Tokyo, or New York tick. They capture a city’s essence – what it feels like to move through its streets on a given day.


Life’s too short to be subtle all the time. Sometimes, you need a good kick to the skull, a nice pull on the heartstrings, to get a message across. It’s OK, I think you’ll agree, to occasionally sacrifice nuance in the name of reaching a larger audience.