Yes I'm not quite there yet. I feel like I'm back in school and begging for an extension on my assignment. So instead of following the internet with my top films of 2012 I'm going to take a break from that, you can expect to see that sometime next week guys, to give you a list of films that had absolutely nothing to do with 2012 but I happened to watch for the first time in 2012.
In not particular order
The Thin Red Line (1998) (dir. Terrence Malick)
I've always been in love with spralling interconnecting cinema. One of my favourite movies of all time happens to be one that is an unapologetic version of it (i.e. Magnolia
). Here we have Terrence Malick
taking on war with a three hour runtime and enough actors that I truly believe he has a fifteen hour version sitting on the shelf at home that he enjoys watching in his off years wondering what other abstract story he wants to tell next. I'm not going to call it the greatest war film of all time, but it might be the most gorgeous one. It's weird seeing the opening scene of Jim Caviezel
co-existing with this tribe of people and having to figure out where the war comes into all of this. The film is a harsh viewing for anyone not acclimated to Malick
's odd structure for telling stories but that's always been his biggest strength for me as a viewer.
My Man Godfrey (1936) (dir. Gregory La Cava)
Many love to title stories being 'rags to riches' but I don't think I can imagine one movie more dismissive of that summation than this film. Societal discussions as well as some of the best scene chewing acting from the likes of William Powell
as Godfrey makes this movie a magical piece of old Hollywood entertainment that I feel all should see.
My Left Foot (1989) (dir. Jim Sheridan)
to today's just budding cinephiles is Daniel Plainview in There will be Blood
, Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting in Gangs of New York
and Abraham Licoln in this year's Licoln
. Here may not be where he started out proving that his acting is enough to propel films from heavy handed dross into cinematic gems, but it sure as hell is one of the best examples. While he's usually the shining spectacle in his starring films I'm willing to hear arguments for other elements in all of his more modern releases (listed above) being why someone would love those movies, here however the entire selling point is him and him alone and it wins.
Ben-Hur (1959) (dir. William Wyler)
I make fun. I watched this movie over the Easter weekend, because it's billed as an Easter film. However, I consider it to be a brilliant story of revenge that someone decided to shoe horn in cameo appearances of Jesus throughout to play to the religious crowd. So as long as you edit out the Jesus scenes, which I feel ruins the film entirely, it's one of the grandest most amazing revenge stories ever; and the chariot scene is so good.
Heathers (1988) (Michael Lehmann)
If you need a better anti-culture film of the 80s ever made this might be it. The anti-establishment messages of Winona Ryder
and Christian Slater
going on a killing spree to make the world a better place, but not really, are so good it's criminal. Related Post
City Lights (1931) (dir. Charlie Chaplin)
I had this grand plan at the beginning of last summer to marathon through a few of the Chaplin
classics, sadly this was the only film I actually watched (maybe I'll reboot that idea early this year...). However, this became an instant hit with me. I always watch old comedies with the feeling that the comedy won't work. Comedy in itself is such a subjective genre that I feel that when you reach for comedies so far back that the context will be lost or the style has become so overused by then it'll fall flat. On the contrary Chaplin falling flat, and in all other manners, was exactly what I needed as I couldn't stop laughing. The tramp forever. Read my full review
A Man Escaped (1957) (dir. Robert Bresson)
People love to dig deep into the realm of nitpicking movies. Call out generalizations and assumptions that movies make in order to keep a tight runtime and entertainment value high. Here in lies a film that does the opposite and still manages to engage in a way that so many movies forget to do nowadays, all while remaining to a sub 2 hour runtime. We're given a meticulously detailed explanation of how Fontaine manages to live and eventually escape from his prison after being detained by the Nazis. There is no detail that's left unexplained and nothing feels frivolous which gives the film the stakes needed to keep us on the edge of our seat for the entire runtime. Read my full review
Read the rest of the list on the next page>>
Better Off Dead... (1985) (dir. Savage Steve Holland)
What's better about the 80s than John Cusack
? Here he plays a teenager who's having a hard time because his girlfriend dumped him. Throw in a hot French foreign exchange student next door, a homicidal newspaper boy being owed $2, a pair of Asain students (one of which only talks in a voice immitating Howard Cosell) and a skiing race to end off the film and you have a comedy gold mine. I can't remember a more 80s movie that was this fun that I saw this year and that's saying something.
Dial M For Murder (1954) (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
I still regret missing the 3D showing of this while I was at TIFF, but regardless this movie is fantastic. When I talk about meticulously thought out crimes I can't think of a better example than this. What I love even more is that after the crime we get the flip side to see the investigation and that becomes even more intriguing because as meticulous as the film is in detailing the how before hand there are still some tricks up Hitchcock
's sleeve as we try and figure out how to catch our criminal.
La Haine/Hate (1995) (dir. Mathieu Kassovitz)
Films are pieces of art created within a context, when pulled out of that context they become very subjective matters. Here's a film which takes youthful rebellion and places itself within a context that whether you were aware of at the time or not it's hard not to see. It's a gorgeous story of these three teenagers running around France one day expressing themselves and trying to just be in a time when it seems all youth is being oppressed by authority. Listen to the podcast
The Purple Rose of Ciaro (1985) (dir. Woody Allen)
I love movies, you love movies, we all love movies. One of the reasons people love movies is because they're an escape from reality. So when Cecilia goes to the movies to escape her depressing life in the economic depression of the 30s only to be addressed by the characters on screen directly a fantasy bigger than anything I've ever thought of comes about. The character of this film that Cecilia has so affectionately fallen in love with decides to walk off the screen and enter her real life in a romantic comedy that's so gorgeous it's difficult to imagine that it came from the mind that would eventually give is Whatever Works
. This film is the movie you show your friends who keep asking how you can love movies so much and then hopefully they agree, or at the very least stop asking why your Blu Ray collection keeps growing.
Tokyo Story (1953) (dir. Yasujiro Ozu)
Stories are what comes after experience. So while I understand where this movie is coming from I have the luxury, and naivety of youth, to hope for a much more optimistic outcome as I begin on the other side of this film's hypothesis. Regardless, it's a beautifully sad movie as we see how age and hard work bringing all of these luxuries still brings sadness when family is disrupted by this commercial life that we've all bought into somehow in society. Read my full review
Bloodsport (1988) (dir. Newt Arnold)
So this movie probably doesn't belong in the middle of this discussion. When you mention Tokyo Story
and City Lights
the least expected thing is to mention a vapid 80s action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
, but Bloodsport is a gem of a movie. It's so bad and so great at the same time. Discovering Forest Whitaker
in this movie is so surprising; and then Donald Gibb
as the big biker American guy and Bolo Yeung
as Chong Li is so fun. Worth every format it exists on being on the shelf.
Frankenstein (1931) (dir. James Whale)
I can't think of a more beautiful monster movie. It's romantic notions of creation and life and the responsibility of that power of giving life is more powerful than any after school special you can show the teenagers of today. Boris Karloff
plays the monster so well as he toes the line from sympathy and empathy in such a real manner it's scary. We spend the movie being more frightened for him than of him which is what makes the movie sad in the end as we wonder why he had to end in such a manner. Read my full review
What films (not released on 2012) did you love that you saw in 2012?