BEST MOVIES: 2012
BEST DOCUMENTARIES: 2012
BEST TV: 2012
M O V I E S :
2 0 1 2
One of the best movies of the year.
Rings true and deep in every moment.
The origin of the Vibrator: a love story.
Spread the good vibes!
-SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
A special gem.
-Q (a.k.a., 'Desire'; France)
Lust is all you knead.
Love is all you need.
-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD ⇧
One of the best movies of the year.
Startling, fearless, intimate, epic.
Good, with some clumsy moments but many more great ones.
There can never be enough movies about the Tuskegee Airmen.
-THE KID WITH A BIKE (Belgium)
A quiet mystery that takes hold of your heart.
-ON THE ROAD
Pretty darn good translation of the book.
A bop prosody for film.
A true C.I.A. rescue mission using a fake Sci-Fi movie storyboarded by Jack Kirby.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Do The Rich always get away with murder?
A fine companion to A Color Purple and Amistad.
Now if only someone would make "Douglass" and "Tubman".
-DJANGO UNCHAINED >
a) Truly, every Western is just a fantasy, folks.
b) Slaver-racists get wiped off the Earth very painfully,
and I'm just fine with that.
-ZERO DARK THIRTY
Mixed feelings, honestly, but the climax is undeniably riveting.
The true star is Kathryn Bigelow's direction.
-WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
The women in a Lebanese village use every scheme to stop the dumb-ass men from killing each other over religion.
A bittersweet parable from writer/director/star Nadine Labaki.
See Hitchcock and The Girl, in that order, for a letter-perfect double feature.
First see this deviously wry take on the making of Psycho (1960) and its trying toll on Hitch's wife, Alma (Helen Mirren)...
-THE GIRL ⇧
...and then this more tensely dark take on the making of The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1965), and Hitch's unfair toll on Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller).
-SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED ⇧
Low-key greatness for the ages.
Sharp, tender, tricky.
Excellent, cocky, touching.
I laughed more at this film than most of the comedies below combined.
-EXTRATERRESTRIAL (a.k.a., 'Extraterrestre'; Spain)
Maybe aliens have invaded, but there's always time for an affair.
-TO ROME WITH LOVE
A good cast, but Woody steals the screen every time.
-2 DAYS IN NEW YORK
A fine sequel to the great 2 DAYS IN PARIS (2007): hilarious!
Julie Delpy writes, directs, stars in, scores for, and edits it all.
-YOUR SISTER'S SISTER
That ubiquitous Mark Duplass flails in an unlikely triangle with Emily Blunt and her sister.
-THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Uneven, but fun and charming. Judi Dench.
-THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN
The dialogue's a little flat, but it's generally good.
-SEARCHING FOR A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
Low-key, left-field, softly poignant.
-SKYFALL ⇧ >>
The darkest, deepest, and most daring Bond ever.
A lo-fi homage to early '70s action films, by Soderbergh.
When Gina Carano punches you, you stay punched.
Once past the syrupy narration intro, there's sweet love and eye candy.
Truth: This is a fine homage to the novels that spawned all modern Sci-Fi and superheroes; smart folks like Neal Adams, Walt Simonson, and Howard Chaykin loved it; and it made its money back globally.
False: Any comment from snarks ignorant of the seminal novels which created every modern thing they love.> Go get a tardy pass, kid.
This is a fun B-movie, clever and a little moving.
Reviews trumpeting it over "John Carter" and "Prometheus" are ill-considered.
Irregular parts but I enjoy the sum.
-LIFE OF PI
What's the narrative of your spirit?
-THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey
It's all there and done lovingly fine.
There have been enough remakes of Alien.
Instead, Ridley Scott bravely gave us something more visionary with a new direction.
-CABIN IN THE WOODS
A metatext, not just on horror movies,
but -more deeply- audiences.
-THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH (French/Polish)
Understated, deft, mysterious. Between Hitchcock and Roeg.
Nothing will ever approach The Exorcist.
But this is pretty solid, with a good cast and a fresh Hebraic angle.
-SOUND OF MY VOICE
Co-writer/producer/star Brit Marling (Another Earth) wins again.
In the early '90s, David Lynch was riding high on the initial success of TWIN PEAKS, while his daughter Jennifer also wrote the excellent tie-in bestseller, "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer".
When PEAKS was cancelled, David was unofficially blackballed for these last two decades. This kneejerk backlash also derailed Jennifer after her directorial debut, BOXING HELENA (1993).
Jennifer finally came back via Canada with SURVEILLANCE (2008), an intense and underrated thriller with Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman that no one saw.
With no support, she was finally forced to make an exploitation horror film in Bollywood. It was a nightmare that may ultimately turn out for the best.
-HISSS (a.k.a., Nagin The Snake Woman, 2010)
The final edit was taken from her.> (Even the name says 'His'.) And yet it's still pretty good.
A goddess star, inspired eroticism, elegant cinematography, and a sense of humor shine through. Herrrs, baby.
Jennifer then returned to Canada to make a low-key thriller.
Dark, claustrophobic, anguished.
As good or better than any other thriller director out there not being routinely blacklisted.
But now a beam may have come through the clouds...
-DESPITE THE GODS (2012)
A documentary about Lynch's horrible trials trying to make "Hisss" in India.
Critically lauded, the film earned uniform sympathy for Lynch and her travails.
Jennifer has a new thriller film with Tim Roth called "A Fall From Grace" in development.
In the meantime, her universally-loved "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer" has returned to print in a new edition, with intros by PEAKS creators Mark Frost and David Lynch.
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I M A G E S
-THE DARK KNIGHT RISES ⇧
> Four Color Films review
The Harvard of hero films, the highest standard, comes to a majestic close.
> Four Color Films review
Writer/director Joss Whedon perfectly balances about 74 hot potatoes in this film without breaking a sweat. Miraculous.
-THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
> Four Color Films review
The reboot we all dreaded came out great.
Think of it as the 'Ultimate Spider-Man' equivalent for films.
From smarts and pure verve, this stunning indie gets everything right.
No-budget indie comedy with some savvy moves.
This should have been a great film about a warrior princess' journey.
It's still a pretty good one about family.
Some inspired invention, a crucial moral.
Strongest when satire, softest when saccharine.
I like that it made all video games into a mythos, and turned them inside out with respect.
Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch.
Irreverent, edgier, adolescent. Not perfect, but different.
Pinballs between Pixar inspiration and Dreamworks clatter, but still worth the ride.
By Genddy Tartakovsky ("Samurai Jack").
The only hand-animated film here, where an African boy travels far in his promise to protect a baby giraffe.
Progressive, satiric, heartfelt, a slyly transgressive marvel.
D O C U M E N T A R I E S :
2 0 1 2
-WE ARE LEGION ⇧
The rise of Anonymous and hacker activism.
"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."
-THIS IS NOT A FILM
A Iranian man in a room with a camera, incarnating the entire war of the creative soul versus the tyrannic state.
This is for real.
Does the concept of debt and payback really work toward justice around the world?, asks author Margaret Atwood.
-THE INVISIBLE WAR
The ongoing cover-up of rape in the U.S. military.
-THE DUST BOWL
-SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Sometimes quality finally gets its due.
-COMIC-CON Episode IV: A Fan's Hope
"Turn and face the strange." A doc on the Mothership of genre conventions, by Morgan Spurlock ("Supersize Me").
Creatives are the real culture rebels.
> How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!
T V :
2 0 1 2
-GAME OF THRONES 2 ⇧
The finest, deepest drama on television.
-THE KILLING 2
a) The original Danish first season was 20 episodes, a bit wobbly toward the end before a grand save.
b) The American version wisely split the story across two seasons,
expanded the character depth, ironed out the wobble, and closed with a different fine ending.
-MAD MEN 5
Jessica Paré and 1967 refreshed it.
-FRINGE 5 ⇧
The show that fought the good fight bows out.
Gone too soon, but good while it lasted.
-SHERLOCK 2 ⇧
The best got better.
The opener, "A Scandal in Belgravia", is greatness that increases with each viewing.
-THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE 1
A quartet of female WWII codebreakers reunites to stop a serial killer. Excellent!
-DOCTOR WHO 7
More focused, less frantic than 6. And a promising new Companion.
There's a new cast. Can it stay fresh and go forward?
I'm feeling Yes and No the whole way.
-THE HOUR 2
-RIPPER STREET 1
COPPER is always good, RIPPER is always great.
I was the loudest grouch about 'America ripping off SHERLOCK'.
And it turned out just fine on its own merits.
These excited and frustrated equally.
Coppola has earned the right to experiment.
But this one isn't as solid as Youth Without Youth and Tetro.
This experimental Noir is gorgeously shot and edited.
Too many moments ring pretentious, but the craft is stunning.
-THE MONITOR (Norway)
Was doing well as one film before misstepping into another.
-HOLY MOTORS (France)
Inspired puzzle or skits for shock?
Repetitive without momentum.
-TERRA NOVA 1
-THE RIVER 1
Bruce Greenwood's arrival course-corrected it at the end, but too late.
-LAST RESORT 1
Great ingredients unevenly cooked.
The Civil War shtick wears me out.
They should get free of it to follow the 'restore-electricity' angle.
Winning elements, but mediocre beyond belief.
See The Woman In the Fifth instead.
How can a movie with Sigourney and DeNiro go so wrong? Don't find out.
-THE RAID: REDEMPTION
Shooter game with stabby-stabs.
See Attack the Block instead.
Burton's movies are all black...except for any of his pale characters.
His spoiled suburban angst is myopic.
-ROBOT & FRANK
-A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
-5 BROKEN CAMERAS
-MANKIND: The Story of Us All
-A BAND CALLED DEATH
-BOARDWALK EMPIRE 3
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How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!