WELO Venice’s TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012
1. DJANGO UNCHAINED – Django(Foxx), the title character’s name; is a newly freed slave, pre civil war; who teams up with De. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter to track down his lost love, Broomhilda(Kerry Washington). She is currently the possession of Calvin Caddie (Dicaprio), an extremely vitriolic and extravagant Plantation owner, who enjoys Mandingo fighting as a pastime. You either like Tarantino films or you don’t, we love em. What’s there not too like. There’s action, redemption, great characters, witty dialogue. It’s a total popcorn flick that’s entertaining. So what if it’s not PC. Good films move you, wether it be a writhing in your seat or, or crying because you’re happy. Who wants to see some “take it or leave it” type of film. It was “ok”, in some ways is worse than “I hated it!!!” At least the latter illicits some emotion. Sure it lagged a little in the middle, with the total running time being bout 2:45, but that’s not problem if you are into the characters and story; you could easily sit with them for much longer. Think about Breaking Bad or Homeland, just a season is 10+ hours. It’s just broken up. As far as I’m concerned, Spike Lee can go fuck himself. Yeah, I said it. He’s just jealous because he’ll never make a movie as good. Tarantino came back to form with Inglorious and this one is more fun revisionist history with his knack for dialogue and violence.
2. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Bradley Cooper’s character has just been released from the mental hospital to kick the movie off. He teams up with Jennifer Lawrence, who is also troubled. They find an interesting match in each other because of, not despite their shared dysfunctionality, errrrr something like that. Just see it. It’s rare that you have a film, which is both moving dramatically and comedically. David O. Russell pulls it off. Both 3 Kings and The Fighter were great, but didn’t go to a vulnerable place like this one did. Or at least, there wasn’t any real romantic element in those stories. He has a very distinct style of film making, that is very much his own. The nuances of the characters, who are very flawed really bring it to life. It either works or it doesn’t, in the case of I heart Huckabees. Here it works, that’s why it’s #2.
3. THE MASTER – PT Anderson’s film about a 50′s ex-Navy vagrant who has a strong affinity for the sauce, and falls prey to/ is taken in by Phil Hoffman’s L. Ron Hubbard-esque religious cult leader. These two actors could read the phone book back and forth and it would be riveting. It’s shot beautifully, and the dissonant score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood complements the story beautifully. What was a bit disappointing in The Master, as opposed to his last work, or rather, masterpiece ‘There Will Be Blood’, is that it never fully explodes, the way Blood does. I was waiting for something that never really came, so I was let down a bit. It’s still quite enjoyable, especially projected in 70mm, which it was shot in. If it wins the big awards, maybe they’ll rerelease it. Harvey Weinstein has never been one to shy away from a potential payday; and for all of his business dealing, he actually acquires great films.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – Batman, part 3 by Christopher Nolan. It’s not as good as 2 with Ledger, because that one blows your mind, but he set the bar so high. It’s still miles above even Burton’s Batmans, IMO. The dark world created by Nolan’s trilogy is right on point, that’s where Batman should be dwelling. It’s almost believable, and that’s why he is a top shelf director. Tom Hardy as Bane is excellent. Can’t wait to see what Nolan does next, as he really hasn’t had a miss.
5. ARGO – [Spoilers] was good, but ‘The Town’ was better. Perhaps my expectations were too high. It received a 95 on rotten tomatoes. On the whole, I thought it seemed too easy for the Americans to escape, if the odds of that happening were stacked higher in opposition, it would have been more satisfying. They were held up for 5 minutes with their boarding passes. Wtf? It was well done, but didn’t blow my mind. One of the most dramatic moments was the tension surrounding wether John Goodman could cross the street and answer a telephone before it stopped ringing. Granted there was a lot at stake, it just seemed a little ridiculous to hang so much on that moment. People are whining because Affleck didn’t get an Oscar nomination, poor guy; he has to go home and shag Jennifer Garner.
6. LOOPER – It started out pretty cool; it was really clever. And then when it ended; the only thing I could figure Rian Johnson was trying to say was, that ‘It’s ok to be an asshole if you’re 8 years old’. No, in all seriousness, he creates an interesting world of future selves running into the other, and currency being of a different kind, but then what? Also, in this future, people drive miatas and shitty trucks. If you stick a random hose on it, then the production designer can go home or chat up the wardrobe chicks on set. Emily Blunt and Joseph Godon-Leavitt have no chemistry, maybe less than none. They could have possibly been repulsed by one another, but did their ‘acting’ bit because they were under contract.
7. LIF OF PI – A boy, on a raft, with a tiger. Ang Lee does a great job here. It’s visually stunning, and beautifully crafted.
The story floats between parable and adventure, with doses of comedy and pathos. Also, I should’ve been stoned. I think it will take home best cinematography. My nephews liked it too.
8. ZERO DARK THRITY – We follow Jessica Chastain, who is a relentless CIA operative on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Now we were all a big fan of 9/11, so it’s hard to tell who to root for. After some torture and good guys blowing up, we narrow in. There’s lots of red tape, but that Chastain who is more of the worker bee type, gets the job done. I guess I really wasn’t all that moved, I didn’t care about any of the people. It was timely because it was Bin Laden, but beyond that, it’s not the type of movie I want to see again.
9. LINCOLN – Why Lincoln didn’t do it for me had to do with the fact that it was booooooooring. I might as well have rented 8 episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and watched them back to back. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis was amazing, of course he is, he’s Daniel Day-fucking-Lewis, the greatest actor of our time. His amazing performance might get old if he was sitting in my living room doing Honest Abe for 3 hours. There wasn’t any action, I’m not saying action solves the riddle of how to make a good movie. But besides the opening, we didn’t revisit what the stakes were, what was really on the line, which was the fate of our nation, and thousands of lives. Tony Kushner is a better screenwriter than I’ll ever be I’m sure, I’m still entitled to my opinion. And I think there should have been some motherfucking action to intercut the importance of the war, and the gravity of the bill he was trying to pass. The scenes were either Lincoln telling a story, or a bunch of dudes arguing in congress, with their respective buddies backing them with “here, here” and all that business. I attest all of the Oscar buzz and noms it is recieving to it being Spielberg. I don’t think that anyone would make a big deal of it, if everyone in it isn’t at least B+ list actors. Yes, Spielberg is great; he’s very likable, but he seems to be beyond reproach. If you don’t like it, then you don’t like him, and then there’s something wrong with you or something. Nobody wants to not like a Spielberg film. I think he’s great, but watching ‘Lincoln’ made me feel like I was in history class in 7th grade, and we got to have a movie day.
10. CLOUD ATLAS – I give the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer an A for ambition. They tried to adapt a book, which is basically unadaptable. It’s visually amazing, and they distill the expansive stories down as best as possible. They decided to tell the story in anon-linear fashion, which is different than the book, and it doesn’t fall flat, but it doesn’t translate. The stories all have a different tone in the book, and you just can’t do that with a film without it becoming completely disjointed. I also realized that none of the actors in it I particularly like all that much. Sure, Halle Berry is beautiful, but I don’t wait for her next tour-de-force performance. Tom Hanks is, well Tom Hanks. He’s your buddy’s dad, not a millennial spanning protagonist, and so on. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it’s still exceptionally capable filmmaking.
There were a ton of films which I did not see this year that have been nominated, and may have been included on this list. These are the 10 chosen, from the ones I saw.
Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’ gets an honorable mention*