Monday, January 14, 2013

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2012










"And...Action!"


FAVORITE MOVIES:



EROS




-PARIAH
✭✭✭✭✭
One of the best movies of the year.
Rings true and deep in every moment.

-HYSTERIA
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.

-CLOUD ATLAS
Love is all you need.





THINK




-RED TAILS
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.

-ARGO
A true C.I.A. rescue mission using a fake Sci-Fi movie storyboarded by Jack Kirby.
Well, what are you waiting for?

-ARBITRAGE
Do The Rich always get away with murder?

-LINCOLN
A fine companion to "A Color Purple" and "Amistad".
Now if only someone would make "Douglass" and "Tubman".

-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
✭✭✭✭✭
One of the best movies of the year.
Startling, fearless, intimate, epic.

-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.



The Dark Side of Genius, Dept.
Alfred Hitchcock

(l) Anthony Hopkins; (r) Toby Jones and friend.


See "Hitchcock" and "The Girl", in that order, for a letter-perfect double feature.


-HITCHCOCK
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).






SMILE




-INTOUCHABLES (France)
✭✭✭✭✭
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.

-SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
Low-key greatness for the ages.
Sharp, tender, tricky.

-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.






DREAM




-HAYWIRE
A lo-fi homage to early 70's action films, by Soderbergh.
When Gina Carano punches you, you stay punched.

-UPSIDE DOWN
Once past the syrupy narration intro, there's sweet love and eye candy.

-JOHN CARTER
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.

-LOOPER
This is a fun B-movie, clever and a little moving.
Reviews trumpeting it over "John Carter" and "Prometheus" are ill-considered.

-CLOUD ATLAS
Irregular parts but I enjoy the sum.

-SKYFALL
The darkest, deepest, and most daring Bond ever.

-LIFE OF PI
What's the narrative of your spirit?

-THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey
It's all there and done lovingly fine.









NIGHTMARE




-PROMETHEUS
✭✭✭✭✭
There have been enough remakes of "Alien".
Instead, Ridley Scott bravely gave us something more visionary with a new direction.
I think of this film every day, and can't wait for the second one.

-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.

-THE POSSESSION
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.



THE COMEBACK KID?, Dept:
Jennifer Lynch


In the early 90's, 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.
(HISSS is available for streaming from Amazon and NetFlix, but not on DVD yet.)


Jennifer then returned to Canada to make a low-key thriller.

-CHAINED (2012)
Dark, claustrophobic, anguished.
As good or better than any other thriller director out there not being routinely blacklisted.>
(CHAINED is on DVD now.)


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.
(Showing at film festivals, but not on DVD yet.)>


Jennifer has a new thriller film with Tim Roth called "A Fall From Grace" slated for 2013.

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.


".elyts ni kcab emoc ot gniog si
ekil uoy mug tahT"






GRAPHIC IMAGES



-CHRONICLE
From smarts and pure verve, this stunning indie gets everything right.

-ALTER EGOS
No-budget indie comedy with some savvy moves.

-THE AVENGERS
Writer/director Joss Whedon perfectly balances about 74 hot potatoes in this film without breaking a sweat. Miraculous.

-THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
The reboot we all dreaded came out great.
Think of it as the 'Ultimate Spider-Man' equivalent for films.

-THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
The Harvard of hero films, the highest standard, comes to a majestic close.






ARTFLIX



-BRAVE
This should have been a great film about a warrior princess' journey.
It's still a pretty good one about family.

-THE LORAX
Some inspired invention, a crucial moral.
Strongest when satire, softest when saccharine.

-WRECK-IT RALPH
I like that it made all video games into a mythos, and turned them inside out with respect.
Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch.

-PARANORMAN
Irreverent, edgier, adolescent. Not perfect, but different.

-HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA
Pinballs between Pixar inspiration and Dreamworks clatter, but still worth the ride.
By Genddy Tartakovsky ("Samurai Jack").

-ZARAFA (France)
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.






FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES:




-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.

-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."

-PAYBACK
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
Ken Burns.

-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.>









FAVORITE TV:

(The season number follows each title.)



DRAMA




-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.






WONDER



-FRINGE 5
The show that fought the good fight bows out.

-AWAKE
Gone too soon, but good while it lasted.





UK



-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.

-MISFITS 4
There's a new cast. Can it stay fresh and go forward?
I'm feeling Yes and No the whole way.

-THE HOUR 2

-COPPER 1

-RIPPER STREET 1
COPPER is always good, RIPPER is even better.






COMEDY



-ELEMENTARY
I was the loudest grouch about 'America ripping off SHERLOCK'.
And it turned out just fine on its own merits.







YES/NO

Or, "Good Intent and Craft with Moments, But...," Dept.





These excited and frustrated equally.


-TWIXT
Coppola has earned the right to experiment.
But this one isn't as solid as "Youth Without Youth" and "Tetro".

-KEYHOLE
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?
Yes.




-ALCATRAZ 1
Repetitive without momentum.

-TERRA NOVA 1
Coloring book.

-THE RIVER 1
Bruce Greenwood's arrival course-corrected it at the end, but too late.

-LAST RESORT 1
Great ingredients unevenly cooked.

-REVOLUTION 1
The Civil War shtick wears me out.
Please get free of it to the electricity angle.






NO




-THE RAVEN
Winning elements, but mediocre beyond belief.

-SINISTER
Formula.
See "The Woman In the Fifth" instead.

-RED LIGHTS
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.

-FRANKENWEENIE
Burton's movies are all black...except for any of his characters.
His spoiled suburban angst is myopic.




THINGS TO CATCH UP ON, Dept.




(Drama)
-360


(Comedy)
-ROBOT & FRANK
-A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY


(Documentary)
-5 BROKEN CAMERAS
-MANKIND: The Story of Us All
-DESPITE THE GODS
-A BAND CALLED DEATH


(TV)
-BOARDWALK EMPIRE 3
-TREME 3








See also:

BEST MUSIC: 2012
BEST COMIX: 2012

BEST MUSIC: 2011
BEST COMIX: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMIX: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010




"Cut!




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