Argo

Film 2012

| January 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BEST

In Alphabetical Order:

  • Argo – What? You disagree? Argo-fuck-yourself!
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Warm, funny, sad, tender, real.
  • The Cabin In The Woods – Horror comedy that is pure pleasure to watch.
  • Deadfall – Sweet little crime drama w/quirky characters and lots of twists.
  • Headhunters (Hodejegerne) – From novelist Jo Nesbo, a funny and slick take full of well-plotted surprises. From one of his earlier novels.
  • Hitchcock – Tongue-in-Cheek take on one of cinema’s greats and the film which changed his career.
  • Looper – Third collaborative effort by Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just as much fun and intriguing as the first two. Excellent supporting cast and nice little sci-fi/suspense film twist.
  • Silver Linings Playbook – Bradley Cooper shows us he can act in a superb ensemble and a film which goes straight to the dysfunctional heart of contemporary relationships.
  • Skyfall – Third part of the Bond trilogy which resurrects the franchise in a more human light is an action-filled drama brimming with compassion.
  • Ted – Outstanding premise and funniest film of the year, if not a little overdone.

 

THE GOOD

  • A Company Man
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Amour
  • Beasts Of The Southern Wild
  • Bedevilled
  • Brave
  • Dredd 3D
  • The Expendables 2
  • The Grey
  • Helpless
  • Killer Joe
  • Killing Them Softly
  • Men In Black 3
  • Nightfall
  • The Odd Life Of Timothy Green
  • Quill: The Life Of A Guard Dog
  • The Revenant
  • Safe
  • Sinister
  • The Snowtown Murders
  • Total Recall

 

THE MUDDLE

In Alphabetical Order:

  • Alex Cross
  • Anna Karenina
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • Finding Nemo 3D
  • Haywire
  • The Hunger Games
  • Let The Bullets Fly
  • Lockout
  • Lincoln
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Safe House
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Taken 2

 

THE BAD

  • The Dark Knight Rises [aka "The Worst"]

In Order Of Most-to-Least Repulsive:

  • The Tall Man
  • Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2
  • The Three Stooges
  • Prometheus
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Paranormal Activity 4
  • Albert Nobbs
  • Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
  • The Words
  • The Courier
  • End Of Watch
  • Savages
  • Chernobyl Diaries
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Dark Shadows
  • Battleship
  • Mirror, Mirror
  • Wrath Of The Titans
  • Bullhead
  • This Means War
  • Act Of Valor
  • Contraband
  • The Watch
  • John Carter
  • Red Dawn
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Lovely Molly
  • The Cold Light Of Day

 

A PAIR OF ‘KILLERS’ MAKE THE UNCOMFORTABLE WORTH WATCHING

In 2012 there were two films which were borderline impossible to watch, but mesmerizing and impossible to turn away from. I’m talking about Killer Joe and Killing Them Softly. While both films have their own issues and annoyances, as anything which bucks the norm might, both are also unique among the year’s releases because the filmmakers intended to make you uncomfortable, and I find that incredibly appealing, somehow. Killer Joe is the product of writer Tracey Letts and director William Friedkin and features a cast of largely distasteful characters played by a number of quite talented and oft miscast actors, including Matthew McConaghey, Thomas Haden Church, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gerson, and Juno Temple. Each character has their own twisted or slightly mad character quirk, but none so much as McConaghey’s titular character. Together they paint a masterpiece of a poor, down-trodden aspect of contemporary America; one which stoops to any lows in order their magnificence to achieve. Killing Them Softly is the product of writer/director Andrew Dominik and stars Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shephard, and many more. Although Killing also features a number of distasteful members of society, it spreads its range afar and includes corporate mafia heads, politicians, and lowlifes. In fact, the parallel drawn between these three – and other – sections of the American social strata is probably more accurately depicted than many “serious” political dramas. The unique element at work here is that the story is told from the perspective of a hired killer who is often called in to clean up other people’s messes. As such he is something of an authority on things that are wrong and how to fix them. Some of the more compelling scenes are between this character, played by Pitt, and the corporate mafioso, played by Jenkins. Even though one is supposed to be the “man in charge,” it becomes readily clear who has the right answer when things go wrong, and they always seem to. Not for everyone, I still highly recommend these films for anyone who likes to be challenged.

GIVING UP BEFORE YOU EVEN STARTED

As a filmmaker I am always stunned when I see great filmmakers make bad choices. We all make bad choices; it isn’t just that. It’s more the fact that these can be such huge, public announcements which do not go away soon. The two films I am referring to are The Dark Knight Rises and Zero Dark Thirty. Directed by two very popular and well-respected filmmakers – Christopher Nolan and Katheryn Bigelow, respectively – these films are going to remain firmly entrenched in the mind of the American audience for a very long time and their problems and virtues likely will be discussed and debated for the next decade.

In TDKR we have a film with a laundry list of mistakes, all of which have been pointed out in great detail in many, many other publications. I believe the worst offense, however, took place off-screen, before the film even began production. Knowing that the villain, an Academy Award winning actor, would never be able to return to the screen, the director made the choice of finding a suitable replacement. Once that replacement was found and the character developed in the script, a choice was then made to simply have that character step out of frame at a fortuitous moment rather than fulfill the audience’s desire to see a final showdown between lead antagonist and hero.

This is the most grotesque form of error a filmmaker can do. If it were any other director and any other franchise, this would not have been allowed. My guess is the studio was already trying to cut down a film approaching 4 hours and quite possibly frightened of the budget hemorrhaging further and so they decided to cut their losses and release the best cut they could. Since the bulk of the audience was established thanks to the first two films creating a fan base willing to throw down top dollar, they were assured to make their money back.

Profit is no excuse for this kind and level of bad idea. Sure enough, Warners has already announced a reboot coming within three years.

In the case of ZDT we have a woman director, the first ever to win an Academy Award, making a film which is barely held together by a single character’s through line and a public’s desire to see its darkest fantasy realized on the big screen – the killing of a ruthless madman who masterminded a terrorist plot on American soil which took the lives of thousands. This is exploitation of the highest order. And what’s wrong with that, you might ask? In the case of films which you fully expect to be exploitive of their subject matter – the Django Unchained‘s and Texas Chainsaw 3D‘s of this world – you are given the understanding that these are purely for entertainment and do not try to represent any loftier achievements. ZDT is clearly presented as a stirring telling of how a factual event came about; and the reality is we do not know this. We cannot know this without seeing footage, the actual footage, taken during that mission. And so we are treated to a half hour of torture and another half hour of hunting and killing by “righteous” soldiers all in the name of a nation’s sentiment. This is such a bad decision on so many levels. I respect and believe in Ms. Bigelow so very much, and I hope this does not become a dark stain in her career.

Overall, 2012 had a number of very good films, and 2013 holds the promise of even more. Here’s to that thought.

About the Author:

Del Harvey is a co-founder of Film Monthly. He is an independent filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, and film teacher, currently living in Chicago.

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