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Films of 2012

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:45 pm
by Stephan
Any films released yet that are worth watching?

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:57 am
by Spaz
"The Grey" was kinda decent if you ask me, but so far I've seen like 3 or 4 films this year, all made for a mainstream market. Unfortunately I don't seem to find the time to catch up with recent releases (like anyone cared, but whatever)-among the films I missed in 2011 were "The Artist", "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", "A Separation" and "Warrior".

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:37 pm
by Barry
Dead topic here-kinda sad, since we are in the middle of the year. I'd say I fall in a similar category with Spaz here, but I've managed to catch up some important releases until this time. So:

The Grey-A fine "survival adventure" indeed, quite darker than the usual cliches of the genre, with some very good supporting performances and great use of the scenery. The plane crash scene in the beggining is fantastically depicted, thanks to Carnahan's talent. However, it never reaches the heights it wants to achieve because of the predictability of many situations especially during the first half of the movie and a couple of melodramatic moments. Still, better than what I expected.

John Carter-The efforts of the American press to exorcise its bad buzz with reviews in the style of "not the flop everybody's talking about-actually an OK film" a few months ago was laughable for this weak breed of "Avatar" and the "Star Wars" prequels. Flat characters, very mediocre acting and a rather thin plot betray some great work done by the special F/X and overall it's a pity for Stanton's talent. The tongue-in-cheek mood of some scenes SOMEWHAT redeems a small number of its many faults.

Wrath Of The Titans-I swear they dragged me into this! I haven't even seen the first film, and I strongly think I won't after this experience. While its pace was relatively fast and therefore it didn't make this lousy effort a dreadful bore too, the badly written dialogue (unfortunately it's been a while to remember a certain example to demonstrate), the hammy acting (especially Bill Nighy in a pathetic cameo) and, yes, once again the cardboard characters make it the mess of a movie that is.

The Avengers-Not a fan of the films Marvel was involved up to this point in order to prepare us for the first of "The Avengers" films (actually the only one I liked was "Thor") but Whedon's smart direction, the multiple motivations including both heroes and villains and the complex (for a blockbuster comic-book film always) screenplay make the movie overall enjoyable and fun. However, all-time #44 film in IMDB, above mind-blowing masterpieces like "Taxi Driver", "A Clockwork Orange", "Chinatown", "Amadeus", "American Beaty" and so on goes WAY too far.

Dark Shadows-Seems that after my favorite movie of his, at least among those I have seen ("Sweeney Todd") he's kinda lost it. "Alice In Wonderland" was OK, and this is too, however both films gave me the impression of "sticking" to what a Burton film looks like, not to what it feels like. This starts promisingly but it includes too many characters, a big number of them unecessary, tries to be a lot of things (romance, comedy, horror, family-drama, period-piece, fantasy) and in the "final battle" scene it becomes overblown.

Moonrise Kingdom-I'm not a big fan of either Burton or Anderson but I really enjoy a big number of their films and their efforts to create a universe of their own through their film-making. This is to me the latter's finest effort to date. His eye for detail in the shots and movement of the camera is as sharp as ever (and some more), the emotional core of his heroes superbly described through their actions and the acting (especially the excellent Hayward and Willis) and it's also his funniest movie so far! Not flawless, but definitely a great film.

Prometheus-While it received some negative backlash from some viewers, I really liked it. Forgetting the eye-candy given in the film (superb direction-special F/X-set decorations, The-hmahmahmahmahma-ron), it's most importantly a science-fiction film with an adult scope of subjects and although sometimes they feel forced, they finally match well to the whole plot. Additionally, the "scary" parts are surprisingly effective too-although somebody might agree that they are a little too disgusting as well. Pretty good overall.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:21 pm
by Gillingham
Good post Barry.

Of 2012, I've only seen the last two films you've mentioned - Moonrise Kingsdom and Prometheus. Anderson's fimlography is getting more impressive after every film he makes. His films are unmistakenbly Andersons, but they are still quite unique in their own way. I also think Moonrise Kingdon is one of his best so far.
I don't want to compare Prometheus with Alien too much. The film is definitely not flawless, but it was very interesting to watch. The special effects were beautiful and even the 3D was alright.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:11 pm
by Barry
Thanks Gillingham!

I would also like to express my huge disappointment for the "Dictator". "Borat" did not fascinate me but it showed a group of people with potential, smart mockumentary technincs and a tremendous talent regarding mixing criticism for many behaviorisms in modern society (some people would say about America only, but I think they would be missing the point) with a gross but also hilarious sense of humor. Now this... Not only does it follow every cliche in the storyline of a typical Hollywood comedy (maybe ironically? If so, I really didn't get the joke) but its criticism is far more limited (not touching Israel or UN, of course) and some gags, like the one with the severed head, were kinda pathetic. There were some truly funny moments every now and then, and Cohen proves once again his charisma, but these things are not enough for a payoff.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:47 pm
by Jirin
The only films I've really loved so far in 2012 are ones that got released internationally earlier. Turin Horse, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, and Elena.

Ones I've loved:

Cabin In The Woods: It's a horror film, it's a parody of horror films, it's a tribute to horror films. Beautiful and hilarious with a heavy heaping of fan service.

Ones I've liked:

A Cat In Paris: A solid kids' animation with an intriguing visual style

The Dark Knight Rises: Not as good as its fans say, not as deep and profound as it clearly wants you to think it is, but solidly entertaining if you view it as pulp entertainment.

The Hunger Games: I thought there were more interesting cultural themes and commentary on the media than people give it credit for an account of it being generally oriented at teenage girls. (On the other hand adults gush over things oriented at teenage boys all the time, so what does that tell you about critical gender bias?) The main narrative of the games themselves could have been constructed a little better in a way that forced Katniss to kill people she didn't want to kill and make her a little more of a morally grey character, but I think the movie touched on some interesting themes about the way the media manipulates narratives to make people discard the humanity of those labeled 'Enemy' and cheer for their blood.

One's I've thought were decent:

The Dictator: I liked it better than his semi-improvised films. He gets the same laughs without going quite so far over the top with disgustingness (Barring one or two scenes) or manipulating people into appearing racist on film.

Shame: Overrated but a good film.

Rampart: An accurately rated decent film.

Moonrise Kingdom: Rushmore with a younger kid. Could have been better if the plot weren't all over the place.

Ones I've strongly disliked:

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Not only do they beat you over the head with the climate change angle, they drive it all through an unreliable narrator designed to be nauseatingly cute in her naiveté. The film is filed with Danny Boyle style cuts that give the film gloss the story doesn't support. It's exoticism at its worst.

Most of the films that are appearing in my local Landmark this year seem to be films like Friends With Kids and Jeff Who Lives At Home which are sarcastic comedies that pretend to be socially progressive but always end up dragging everything straight back to the cultural status quo, with the implication that trying to live your life differently than the norm may be well intentioned but is always doomed to self-sabotage, and all characters who live in defiance of 'The way things ought to be' end up dragged into standard family units which are heteronormative even if they are homosexual relationships. And they all seem to cast actors from NBC comedies, who are good enough actors to act in NBC comedies but not good enough actors to carry a film. This is what 'Independent film' is now in the US.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:34 am
by Barry
Besides the directorial vision which defines it (both magnificent images and splendid movements of the camera) and the complex but not incomprehensible structure of each screenplay, what makes Nolan's mainstream (not pulp-Carpenter, Romero, Corman etc. are pulp cinematic entertainment, if such a term exists) cinema so different and superior than other blockbusters available at multiplexes is the care provided through the characters. The Dark Knight Rises has all these elements. The siege and destruction of a city is not an uncommon sight in a typical action/adventure flick even in recent memory, but seen in the light of the particular director/screenwriter, such a situation captures the interest of the viewer and causes suspense, because in the fictionary universe this trilogy (or even TDKR alone) has created there are characters who have built a certain course through multiple decisions and actions, therefore standing as realistic personalities and that caused me at least to wonder with interest how all of this will end up for them. Of course there are inevitable flaws (a somewhat timid finale which doesn't close the circle for good," the slightly thin role of "Miranda Tate" and some other details), but IMO, it would be difficult to shoot a better, more realised and conscious trilogy for a comic book hero. In short, an excellent finale to a superb trilogy and a movie which, in spite of some malicious reviews around the web, can easily stand next to The Dark Knight and a step above Batman Begins (which is great nonetheless). Best film of 2012 so far. I'm not a "Nolanoid" by the way.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:07 am
by Stephan
I was rather disappointed by TDKR; it seemed like an overly ambitious but simultaneously lazy ending to the trilogy. I loved TDK, but TDKR just took on too much material and did so in what seemed like a lazy manner at times. A great example of this was the whole pit idea. It was lazy to begin with, but the "conquer your fears" (or no, have fears!) thing made it even worse. The final straw was the jump out of the pit, which besides looking incredibly fake was done from stand the time he succeeded. They couldn't have made Bale make a little run for it at least? Lazy. Storming a bunch of guys with machine guns, while making for an entertaining scene, also looked a little dumb and contrived to me. And why did we go back to the way Batman Returns handled Batman's fistfights, with bad guys waiting, sometimes not even with their guns aimed, until it's their turn to get their asses kicked.

You could argue that these are minor gripes, but I expected something on par with TDK, and they make the difference between great entertainment and great filmmaking. Of course TDKR was great entertainment, but I think TDK was such a great film because it aspired to be more. TDKR did not, and as such it wasn't a great film in my opinion.

Edit: Oh yeah, my favorite film of 2012 so far is Moonrise Kingdom.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:10 am
by Barry
Stephan wrote:I was rather disappointed by TDKR; it seemed like an overly ambitious but simultaneously lazy ending to the trilogy. I loved TDK, but TDKR just took on too much material and did so in what seemed like a lazy manner at times. A great example of this was the whole pit idea. It was lazy to begin with, but the "conquer your fears" (or no, have fears!) thing made it even worse. The final straw was the jump out of the pit, which besides looking incredibly fake was done from stand the time he succeeded. They couldn't have made Bale make a little run for it at least? Lazy. Storming a bunch of guys with machine guns, while making for an entertaining scene, also looked a little dumb and contrived to me. And why did we go back to the way Batman Returns handled Batman's fistfights, with bad guys waiting, sometimes not even with their guns aimed, until it's their turn to get their asses kicked.

You could argue that these are minor gripes, but I expected something on par with TDK, and they make the difference between great entertainment and great filmmaking. Of course TDKR was great entertainment, but I think TDK was such a great film because it aspired to be more. TDKR did not, and as such it wasn't a great film in my opinion.

Edit: Oh yeah, my favorite film of 2012 so far is Moonrise Kingdom.
The film definitely had much going on (even more so than TDK probably) but it seemed very well balanced to me nevertheless. I thought the whole pit idea was great because it served more than just Wayne "conquering his fears": after 8 years in isolation he returned to something that he had reasonably forgotten. The way of escape the prison provided was a remembrance of how he actually started to build his personality since and becoming Batman, therefore realising the importance of saving Gotham and gaining the courage to do so once again. An ordinary prison-escape scene or an anti-climactic fight scene with Bane deciding to kill Wayne in the first place wouldn't have worked as good. Now the "bunch of guys with machine guns" stereotype was definitely justified if we consider the plot Bayne and Talia had been planning all along-this kind of cliche exists even in the great classics such as The Godfather but it's the way that it is used that makes it stupid ("look what our budget could buy!") or not. The a la Batman Returns (by the way my favorite Batman film not shot by Nolan) fight scene is actually a valid point, although I don't clearly remember a certain example from the movie, but if it did exist, yes, it's an annoying and rarely unavoidable cliche. Personally I believe that both TDK and TDKR aspired to be more than just good entertainment (the way Bane was trying to make himself a "popular" dictator by setting the pseudo-trials for the rich people of Gotham, the lower classes represented by the belief of the character of Selina Kyle etc.) and succeeded as such-anyway, it's just my opinion.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:29 pm
by Gillingham
In my opinion, the pit was the lamest part of the whole movie. A young boy (oh no, ah girl) can do it, but the adults never can. But I thought a lot of things were meagre concerning the pit. The worst thing was that the rope was definitely longer than the tricky stone part, so Batman (and other challengers) could have used it to get (maybe even to the top, but alright) to the next stone. And why, in god's name, put your arch enemy and only contender in a pit?! Oh well, that sounds like a lot like a comic book... Still I thought the writers were really idle in that part, Nolan aspired to make more than just another superhero movie. That dind't work out in the pit scenes at all.
Over all, the film was entertaining indeed, but the first two films were both better (acting, plot, characters, details etc.).

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:45 am
by Jirin
Some more awesome films have dropped this year.

Looper: One of the best mainstream films in years

Holy Motors: The first film to surprise me this year

Looper, if you look beyond the numerous questionable elements of time travel physics, is an excellently told story.

Holy Motors is presented as a series of bizarre vignettes about a man whose job it is to act in real life as if cameras are watching him. It keeps teasing a glimpse into his real personality only to dunk you back into the scripted drama. You wonder what the hell you're watching for two hours then leave the theater laughing at the very idea of movies. Carax's greatest, in my humble opinion.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:40 pm
by rubysparks
I didn't' like "Looper" as much as you, but i'm waiting for Holy Motors, i read few good reviews.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:45 pm
by Mattceinicram
Django Unchained is pretty incredible! Great acting, good storyline with plot timing, and good comedic timing. I'd aldo recommend Lincoln

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:23 pm
by Gillingham
Mattceinicram wrote:Django Unchained is pretty incredible! Great acting, good storyline with plot timing, and good comedic timing. I'd aldo recommend Lincoln
I want to see both films, they will premiere in Holland this month. Another film that will premiere this month that I'm looking forward to, and even more so, is PTA's The Master.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:46 pm
by HRS
Today I decided to finally watch two of the most notorious movies of the season -- coincidentally, the Golden Globes are taking place tonight. One was Silver Linings Playbook, the other was Zero Dark Thirty.

Silver Linings Playbook sticks close to the group of recent independent black comedies of its time in the vein of Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. I found the camera work rather weak and the script mediocre; the eccentric family moments reminded me of Little Miss Sunshine, though there were always the theme of bipolarity and mental illness surrounding them. This subject has been carefully exposed by other dramas before, albeit often differing in approaches; There's Roman Polanski's Repulsion, psychologically revealing to its audience the progressive heading into madness of a virgin, played by (the very beautiful Catherine Deneuve); its black and white cinematography, its use of close-ups during her daydreams, all of these elements contributed to the claustrophobic atmosphere present in the both the apartment and Deneuve's lonely walks; there was also A Woman Under the Influence, a movie that exposed the lives and demons of a marriage on the rocks, centered by two of the greatest acting performances I have ever witnessed and a fruit of a laborious work of direction by John Cassavetes -- how can one forget those beuatiful hand-camera close-ups when Mabel meet her kids for the first time? Silver Linings Playbook doesn't come off as a great movie because of its direction or writing; the actors are the one who breathe life into the characters. DeNiro gives his best turn in years and Jackie Weaver is great and subtle as the mother of Pat; Bradley Cooper's performance is solid and something of a revelation because of the movies he once starred. Even the likes of Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles deliver good appearances. That being said, Jennifer Lawrence is the main reason to watch and stay. She showed range through most of the movie; we witness Tiffany explode in a diner; we watched her being sweet and tender trying to build a friendship with Pat; we observed her being cold and sarcastic with family members and others. Lawrence incorporates a great sense of expression and youthfulness into a character that otherwise would be destined to the status of a caricature. Her performance lingered long enough for me to think of it as even better than it even might actually had been; she captivates you, she's the piece of unpredictability in a movie that most of the scene we know where it's heading to. Silver Linings Playbook might be the indie quirk flick of the year like (500) Days of Summer or 50/50 before it, for example. If there's a sense that the much of the movie might look dated few years from now, Jennifer Lawrence's performance has solid chances of withstanding time and still seem strong, for she showed a range that previous buzz actress like Ellen Paige lacked in similar movies. And, unlike Page in that movie, she still showed room to growth even further and scoring a third great role in the vein of this one or Winter's Bone. This movie might also indicate a change of pace for Cooper. It might lack the full-punch strength of the approaches to mental illness of Polanski and Cassevetes, but Silver Linings Playbook rewards as excellent entertainment and a vehicle to great performances.

There are so many wrong things going on with Zero Dark Thirty that only point the recent controversy over torture is troublesome. The movie received rave reviews during limited release and went on to keep momentum, scoring 5 nominations for the Oscars (albeit, a notable snob for best director), a #1 rank at the Box Office and some of the best reviews I have ever seen for a movie since the decade began. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal hyped this movie as a new approach to cinema, closer to journalism than drama; this statement went on to be undermined over time. Zero Dark Thirty starts with calls from 9/11 victims during the attack, a smart and calculated way to keep its american audiences on the edge of their seats for a movie whose opening credits read as based on first hand accounts of the events that lead to Bin Laden's capture; this move left me cold. Right after we jump two years in time and witness a scene of torture in a black site; this is the catalyzer for all the controversy surrounding the movie. According to Bigelow, the movie is not an advocate of the use of torture, its graphical scenes being used as a thought-provoking way to start a debate over the use of such enhanced interrogation techniques. As a vehicle of a debate, Zero Dark Thirty fails. First of all, the lousy edition of the movie suggests that powerful information could not have been obtained without the use of torture; Second, the strength of beliefs is much underestimated; a line from Chris Pratt phrased during the first minutes suggest that biology will, sooner or later, cease to the torture rings false when taken in consideration that key participants of terrorism are basically well into the ideology they pursue to avoid betraying it; aside this, there's the, many time pointed through print press, that they are trained expecting things like family rapes and burnt homes by american officials or islamic extremists in case of betrayal. It's not only possible, but understandable if the body goes to triumph over the mind and the information come out, but the way that Zero Dark Thirty reveals it is in poor taste. Third, the only anti-torture approach are the expressions of lead character "Maya", whose face is completely in disgust by what it witnesses during its first half-hour; the problem for anti-torture activists arrives when this very same woman is already revealing to a prisioner that the way he will be treated in the blacksite depends of his cooperation; Alas, she is already advocating torture right under our noses and handing the audience more information about herself than a al-Qaeda suspect would ever give about Bin Laden.
Which leads me to another problem the movie faces: its inaccurate of the topic it uses. This would not mean a big deal for most people, but since Boal and Bigelow claimed to be pioneering a new approach to journalism and movies, the fact that the piece is full of them makes an uncomfortable and ultimately caricature of the actual events. Zero Dark Thirty, feeding of first hands accounts gave by people, must have found its way of placing together pieces of many officials views over a happening, agglutinating them and creating a dramatic piece that misses the point often when watched by people who accompanied print news and the work of some very journalists who went deep into the subject in real-time. U.S. Senators and official were as quick to condemn the implausibility of the happenings as reported in the movie as the creators were in claiming their rights to artistic freedom; leaving me wondering where does the journalism begins and the artistic freedom ceases? The only great question that Zero Dark Thirty, indirectly, place to the spectator is why confidentiality is such a present element in American political life; why a matter as important to every living citizen of a country that still suffers, not only subjectively over a tragedy that took the life of 3000 people, but also a subsequent war that still exists and the feeling of insecurity that still lingers; The suburban American of Silver Linings Playbook suddenly walks out of the room to give place to the tense and inconstant feeling of wars, counter-attacks, terrorism and disinformation in an age of higher than ever flux of them. The fact that the report of such a hunt might take years to be fully declassified to the population generate not only doubts over the security approaches of the different governments of the XXI Century -- heightened by Obama's approach of forgiving and forgetting what the previous government established during investigations happened before Bin Laden was captured; this leaves the population inside the hands of sensationalist TV, media vehicles that alienates the country and, moreover, movies like Zero Dark Thirty that have the power to shape public opinion, a dangerous enemy for contemporary America in most of its controversial issues. Zero Dark Thirty could go as far as to shape more hostile opinions of the Western World in Middle East; for its use of torture might be so graphical and disturbing to such a viewer, albeit at the same time so superficial, failing to clarify its position towards the issue, that its interpretation could lead to any kind of reaction. Zero Dark Thirty shows, at one time, torture falling to lead to information, but it never assumed the compromise of exposing something like a torture that took place of someone that was unfairly connected to the bigger picture and supposed to conceal something for things it didn't do or know. The debate is neither equilibrated nor complex or accurate enough like the more academic approaches to the subject; more yet, the subsequent classified report controversy that takes place in the real world justifies the existence and need of an symbol for information era like Wikileaks, since the authorities are not exactly rushing to put this illuminated 6000-page report out to the public -- a report that, if manipulated by both government or the C.I.A., will surely lead to a spark of controversies and counter-arguments from everywhere.
Agglutination is also a problem in another realm of the movie: characters. "Maya" first was described as a real life agent that was responsible for the capture of Bin Laden; then, it was suggested that "Maya" actually stood for the many officials and investigators that contributed to the hunting of the most iconic man on terrorism of the late 20th Century to this day. In creating a "Maya", the screenwriters overlooked the development of such a character, they failed in giving her life. "Maya" exists in the old "girl against the world" environment that we went on to witness in other pieces of work; Chastain tries her best to inject life into her, but the pace of the movie, its failings to tell a ten year story in such a short run-time don't make her any favors; one can point out that Chastain actually went deeper into it than any other actress of her generation could have possible go these days and she is, after all, a current favorite for the Best Actress Oscar. What makes the agglutination an even more disturbing element of the movie is how much its resembles Claire Danes recent turn as Carrie Mathinson on Homeland -- to the point that two scenes broadcasted by the series repeat themselves during this movie.
If Homeland is a much successful effort in political escapism is because its writers never chose to claim it as a journalist account of real life, but a full-artistic mirror of the well-known fears of plenty in current America -- expanded into the main plot of a converted terrorist ; they make up plots, developments, terrorists, even presidents and members of congress; Zero Dark Thirty lost many of its novelties because of the impact that such a series had in me a year go; it unnecessarily repeated it with claims of journalism and longer takes of torture, aside of the bothering lack of an eye to fact. Chastain doesn't have the space to go to the places that Danes went, who had an extended freedom handed to her by writers who did not claim accuracy or built their work over first hand facts.
Zero Dark Thirty ultimately contributes to and takes to a whole different level what 24 did during its run to change american public opinion when it came to the use of torture and the war on terror. The more public opinion diminished its support to the Iraq War, the more Jack Bauer started to be seen as a caricature of war-on-terror international scenario, improbable television; but, according to researches in Princenton, 24 had an impact on public opinion when it came to torture as a way of heading forwards in investigations. Zero Dark Thirty might even had been a great piece of cinema, but its overlooking of such factual elements, its lack of novelty, its failing in creating smart debates and fully exposing with depth both sides of every question it tries to impose will have a collateral damage bigger than Academy Awards and after-parties. It didn't fail because of the controversy over arguable tamer-than-real-life, though still graphic, torture scenes, but for letting escape the opportunity of fulfilling its thought-provoking premises.

Edit: some typos and grammar hehe

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:01 am
by Jirin
I just came from seeing ZDT.

I don't think it's the kind of thing that's going to shape anyone's views on the middle east or torture, or at least I think anyone it would influence probably gets all their information from Fox News anyway.

The real problem with the film is...the writing is horrible.

Re: Films of 2012

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:41 pm
by Jackson
My top 10 for the year:

1. Django Unchained
2. The Cabin in the Woods
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Looper
5. Cloud Atlas
6. Prometheus
7. Zero Dark Thirty
8. 21 Jump Street
9. Life of Pi
10. Ted