|Posted on July 10, 2012 at 12:45 AM|
2012 in Film (So Far)
2012 is now a little over half-way through. Each year I look back at the previous six months or so, often consider the weaker of the half-years due to a summer blockbuster season still to come (though it certainly came earlier than usual this year) and the fall/winter heavies that vy for all those awards at the end of the year.
It's usually the trend and has been for a while. So film fans like myself will often look to the smaller theaters and indie films being shown to make up for what is usually a boring four or five months in terms of "big" films and even genre films. Well, 2012 has so far been one of those years where there's been so many good films in the first six months, I haven't had a chance to catch up on most of them. There's even been a few Best Picture contenders already.
What really puts in perspective for me is the variety and the quality of that variety. We've already seen the best horror film of 2012, two damn fine comedies that are going to be hard to beat, a couple of top-tier action films (one of which is going to go down as one of the all-time greats), some of the finest dramas you could ask for, a damn good romantic comedy that even guys will go to see and, despite the polarizing attribute of it, a sensational "classic" piece of science fiction (in a year that, so far, has been pretty lackluster in that sole genre..and mean where are all those "smaller" sci-fi films we usually get by now?).
Brief Notes on the Have Seen
As usual with the years, there's also been a great number of movies that kind of came and went. One that comes to mind right away is Casa de mi Padre, probably Will Ferrel's best film in years and one I can't wait to see again. Pirates! Band of Misfits is another one that probably deserved more recognition and This is Not a Film is a movie that's at the top of a lot of lists (not really mine, only because I often don't put in documentaries on my personal list) yet nobody has seen it. Good to great films happening all around but not nearly enough of people have seen.
Oh, and speaking of documentaries, Indie Game: The Movie is one I just saw as well. Really awesome flick.
Ted, just released, has all the irreverence you want and for a pop-culture geek like me, the homages and nods were just heaven. I mean, it made me want to watch Flash Gordon again. How great is that?
I do all my own stunts!
Chronicle is going to go down as one of those movies that just flat-out surprised everyone.. That is one damn fine piece of genre, action filmmaking and despite the contrivances of it being "found footage," a serious limiation to that type of film as a whole it had some spectacular action sequences. Speaking of that, another was Mission Impossible 4. It could go down as my favorite Mission Impossible, at least since the first one which was a straight-up thriller. This one is action-comedy and I love that reinvention of it. It just hits that sweet-spot to find that balance.
In more action news (there's been a lot of action in 2012) Act of Valor, Safe House and Wrath of the Titans were also movies that came out this year. And that's about all I can say about them. Not horrible, but not incredibly memorable either. Very mediocre in all regards.
There's a lot of smaller films I could go into, but one I just saw recently was Beyond the Black Rainbow...and I still haven't figured out if I like it or not. Just thought I'd mention it, it's this year's "The Void" which made my Top 25 last year, so you never know.
Brief Notes on Yet to See
Usually, I don't get to see everything until the end of the year. That's when all those fancy screeners and screenings happen, but I will say I've gone to the theater a hell of a lot more in 2012 than I have in a long time. At least since 2008. That being said, I haven't had a chance to see everything. I have no excuse to have not seen Safety Not Guaranteed or the Sound of My Voice yet. Talk about two movies right up my alley. Bernie is another that I really would like to see.
No matter, I'll see all these by year's end anyways.
Why haven't I seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi yet either. That came out forever ago? Well, when you have a year with, so far, a good deal of good to great films, some things just have to wait.
I haven't seen Hunger Games either, I just wanted to put up a picture of Jennifer Lawrence. Rawr!
Bigger movies I didn't pull the trigger on yet are Men in Black 3, Snow White and the Huntsman and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter in case you were wondering. Just never had the big drive to run out to see those, wanted to see Willem Defoe hunt Tasmanian Tigers instead, I suppose.
Oh, and I still haven't seen Brave, mainly due to a promise I made myself after a miserable experience seeing Up at the theater (I won't see kids movies in theaters anymore...sorry). It can't be worse than The Lorax, can it?
Favorites (So Far) of 2012
All that is just the tip of the ice berg. There's been a lot of movies out this year and I'm only touching on a few of them. But here's the Ten I've Enjoyed Thus Far. It's hard to say if any of these will end in my Top 25 at the end of the year. This was already difficult to just choose ten and you know there's even more coming up.
10: The Raid: Redemption
The more I sat and thought about it over the past few months, the more I found myself realizing I'm sitting and thinking about it. The Raid: Redemption just had all the right action beats you want in a completely mindless martial arts movie. What sets it apart, though, is the directing with some of the most brilliant action choreography and camera use of space that I've seen in years.
9: The Grey
A story of survival, but not necessarily survival in nature despite it taking place in Alaska's wilderness. It's about life and the realization of death, loss of hope, loss of faith. It's a look into what makes a person who they are. Their pasts, presents and futures and an understanding of our place in the world. It's known for the wolves and Liam Neeson being his usual badass self, but it's a very dramatic, emotional and poetic film well beyond that.
8: Take This Waltz
Though I noted it's faults, I can't help but love how Take This Waltz really seems to capture the sensations and emotions involved in a relationship. A believable relationship. It's wondefully acted, shot and really captures the often confusing aspect of the heart and it not knowing what it wants, much less doing the right thing.
Yes, it's a movie some love and some hate, but I still enjoyed a great deal. It's got a lot of problems, but when it's hitting its marks, boy does it hit them well. I applaud more the fact its trying to bring smart sci-fi to the theater in big, gorgeous glory than anything, though.
6: Oslo, August 31
I still have yet to do a review on this one, but good lord what a brilliant damn film. It is not for the weak-at-heart, mind you. In fact, it's not even a film I would recommend to see. Though uneven at times, it's really got some incredible performances, amazing scenes rich with dialogue and conversation that feels wonderfully organic. It's a bleak movie, but a pretty damn brilliant one.
I'm trying to think of a movie this reminds me of to relay it to you. I suppose saying it's kind of like a Leaving Las Vegas mixed with a deeper character study about addiction might be one way.
5: Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson's best movie in years. Well, live action at least. I really like Fantastic Mr. Fox from a few years back. It's also his best reviewed film...errr..ever. Yep, sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has one of his best ensembles, something that isn't taken lightly. It's very "Wes Anderson" if you know what I mean, but if you like his past movies there's no doubt you'll like this one.
4: 21 Jump Street
Still the best comedy of the year so far. It's a parody of action films without trying to be a parody at all, and just turns itself into this funny, self-aware comedy that knows where it came from, knows what it doesn't want to be and runs with the absuridty of the idea. Hill is funny, as expected, but Channing Tatum steals the show. Their relationship and chemistry is fantastic, and with a solid cast to support them with comedy vets, it just hit all the right marks.
3: The Secret World of Arrietty
One of Studio Ghibli's best. It also technically came out last year, but I'm putting it here (the Poppy Hill film came out this year, but I'll check it out later). The animation is just stunning, the characters so wonderfully realized and Arrietty herself an awesome lead character that you just fall in love with. Plus, I've always been a sucker for these fantasy tales of "little people in the big world." Hell, it doesn't even need to be people, I was a Rescue Rangers fan afterall.
2: The Cabin in the Woods
A self-deprecating horror movie has been done a lot, but never quite this well. This is the horror movie really made for horror fans: taking all those cliches and troupes and admitting they're all cliches and troupes....so let's just screw with you on it form one horror fan to another. Funny, insanely stupid at times, but it wouldn't be The Cabin in the Woods if it wasn't.
1: The Avengers
Whedon had a nice one-two punch, didn't he? The Avengers was brilliance on many, many levels and just one of the best examples of pure, entertaining action cinema you could ask for. The last time I had this much "fun" with a film was probably the first Iron Man movie in 2008 which I saw twice. Well, I didn't see The Avengers twice...but I want to. Badly.
It really got everything right, and despite a few structure and plot hiccups here and there (there is rumored to be an extended edition that would fix such issues) it got the comedy right, the emotion right and especially the action right. The long one-shot of all the Avengers kicking ass in the final act got everyone cheering in my theater.
And all The Rest...
Oh, and if you're wondering what some of my least favorites so far. I can say The Dictator, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Raven, while none horrible, kind of left me underwhelmed and dissapointed. As for the worst...Pirahna 3DD, Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance and Man on a Ledge kind of take the cake in that regard.
Wait a minute, didn't I say in my review that This Means War is a movie I'd completely forget about? Well guess what, I did. I had to come back and write this bit in. Yeah...right now that one might be the worst so far. That I've seen, of course. I'm not out there looking to watch Adam Sandler's next piece of shit.
Also, John Carter isn't as bad as people seem to think it is. Boilerplate and bland? Sure. But it's at least imaginative and tries. So if you're expecting it here, it's not going to be. I expec