Tag Archives: 2012 films

Disconnect (2012)

5 Jan

In a society growing more and more reliant on digital technology,  does such technology fundamentally the way in which we are communicating and connecting with one another? This is the questions Disconnect asks the audience, and through s series of interconnecting stories we see the multiple effects the digital age has created for its users.

Structurally similar to the 2006 Best Picture Award Winner Crash,  Disconnect strings together a series of characters and incidents surrounding the use and abuse of digital media. A lonely housewife flirts with an online stranger.. a highschool boy starts a fake Facebook profile as a joke… someone’s digital identity is stolen, someone’s daughter receives a sexually explicit text… you get the idea.  The film’s message is obvious right from the title screen.

What makes the film work is its use of editing back and forth between the stories to keep the film moving forward at a brisk pace.  Despite an overbearing amount of melodrama, the narrative is engaging, and the film paints an effective portrait of 21st-century life. Things get bugged down during the third act where a predictable finish is delivered to us in a painful slow-motion.  By this time, the audience is so numb from the film shouting in our faces about the evils of the digital world, this final sequence is simply an anti-climatic way of wrapping things up.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Henry-Alex Rubin, the film stars Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgaard, who all give good-enough performances to make up for some of the less-than-enthusiastic child acting.

Rating: 7/10

Similar to: Crash, Babel, 21 Grams

Sightseers (2012)

6 Aug

 

Take a couple who are deeply in love but in need of some serious social skills and send the pair on a holiday into the British countryside. The end result is something like what Sightseers portrays but with a dash of good-humored, old-fashioned murder. That’s right, there is a lot of killing in this film.

We are first introduced to our protagonist Tina (played by Alice Lowe), as she mentions to her concerned mother that she is planning on hitting the road with her boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram). The pair seem likeable enough at first; we even see a brilliant scene where Chris confronts a man caught littering on a public heritage site. However, after Chris accidentally runs over a man he seemingly develops a darker side and good amounts of blood and carnage soon follow.  What starts out as a cute little story about new romance and adventure quickly detours into one miserable accident after the next. Sightseers is a perverse, disgusting, off-base, and uncomfortable film featuring a leading pair of actors who define what it means to be morally wrong.

Something about this film just didn’t sit right to me, mostly due to the film’s refusal on deciding what kind of a film it wants to be. We get pieces of a crime thriller, and elements of romantic and dark comedy, but we never get enough of either resulting in what I like to call a “cluster-yuck” of scenarios. One bizarre situation is strung along to the next interspersed with random montages that have no purpose and add no depth to the story.

The end result is something designed to test the audience’s limit for what could be considered “art”. Though it ends on an interesting note, Sightseers left me with a really bad taste in my mouth along with a dedication to avoid psychopathic British tourists. Or at least films about them.

Rating: 4/10

Similar to: Bronson, Natural Born Killers, Gummo,

 

 

2012 film categories

27 Dec

here are my votes for this year in film (films that had their widespread theatrical run from jan-dec 2012) 

 

Best Achievement in Directing:

Lynne Ramsey, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom

 

Best Lead Performance by an Actor:

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Runner Up: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Lead Performance by an Actress:

Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Noomi Rapace, Prometheus

 

Best Supporting Performance by an Actor:

Emile Hirsch, Killer Joe

Runner Up: Leonardo Dicaprio, Django Unchained

 

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress:

Ann Dowd, Compliance

Runner Up: Amy Adams, The Master

 

Best Original Screenplay:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner up: Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Killer Joe

 

Best Cinematography:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner up: The Master

 

Best Film Editing:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: We Need To Talk About Kevin

 

Best Make-up and Hairstyling:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: Hitchcock

 

Best Sound Mixing & Editing:

Prometheus

Runner Up: Looper

 

Best Score:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Runner Up: Moonrise Kingdom

 

Best Production Design:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner Up: Prometheus

 

 

Best Non-English Film:

Holy Motors

Runner Up: Headhunters

 

Best Documentary:

The Imposter

Runner Up: Chasing Ice

 

Best Visual Effects:

Prometheus

Runner Up: The Dark Knight Rises

This Christmas, I want a pet DAVID

8 Dec

 

Argo (2012)

15 Oct

We have had some great movies-about-movies recently.

Adding to that list is Argo, the film about 6 American diplomats who are taken as part of the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis.  In arranging for their escape, CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with the idea of creating covers for the individuals by claiming that they are part of a film crew sent to Iran to look at shooting locations.

As a political thriller, Argo is just about as good as they come. There is some great screenwriting going on that mixes the drama and action in such a way that we never get bored.  I thought the cast was great; John Goodman and Alan Arkin give just the right amount of comic relief. Ben Affleck is no rookie when it comes to great acting, and he really knows when to amp up the suspense with his performance and direction.

The third act of the film is really what won me over.  Though some of the events depicted are obviously dramatized, I couldn’t help but thinking “Wow – this really happened” over and over during the film’s final 20 minutes.

Overall, Argo is a very good film and proves that you can have a blockbuster thats smart as well as entertaining.  I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this one for some Oscar recognition.

Rating 7/10

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The Master (2012)

27 Sep

P.T. Anderson‘s latest drama The Master, hit theaters nationwide this past weekend.  After receiving numerous awards at this years Toronto Film Festival, the film is now being discussed as an obvious contender for next years  Best Picture oscar.  When I found out it would be starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the Best Leading Actor winner, and Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, I was thrilled.  Being in the hands of a director with such great skills that P.T. Anderson has, there was no way this film could go wrong. Right?

Well, lets put is this way: The Master is Anderson’s least accessible film thus far, and is definitely not for everyone.  I’m not even sure who this film is for.

The Master starts out with us getting acquainted with Phoenix’s character, Freddie Quell. Freddie enjoys women and booze among many other things, but has never really adjusted to civilian life post WWII.  Ever since I saw the wonderful Walk The Line, I knew Phoenix could act, but WOW- he gives one jaw-dropping performance here.   Hoffman’s role is also very good as the cult leader of a group known as “The Cause”.  What exactly The Cause is, the movie never really says.  Instead it focuses on the relationship between these two men as they draw intimately close to one another.

Not only is the acting some of the best I have ever seen, but this film looks absolutely beautiful. Anderson got the production design spot on and the cinematography is pristine.  Every shot is stunning and framed in such a way it reminded me of some of Kubrick’s films.  Which means I would have been completely satisfied just watching this on mute with no subtitles.

But then we come to the most important aspect of any film: its story. I won’t say The Master has a bad story – because it doesn’t – but it is extremely illogical and perplexing.  There is not nearly enough explanation to what is happening on-screen, nonetheless why things are happening.  The entire thing feels more like a dreamy memory of a film rather than a cohesive one, with only bits and pieces standing out on the surface.  I felt like there was so much left out that I didn’t get, but whats even worse, there was so much that was unnecessarily added.

The Master could have been such a great film if only its story wasn’t swallowed up by its actors and visuals.

I think this is one of those films that is better appreciated the second time around, but at a dragging 137 minutes, I’m not sure I want to see this again – at least not any time soon.

 

rating 7/10  

 

 

Thin Ice (2012)

4 Sep

I first heard about his film as it was making the festival rounds last year.  Something about this film’s crime-gone-wrong aspect felt very reminiscent of classic Coen brothers, so I was very curious about what this film would actually be like.

Thirty minutes into the film, and I could not help but thinking about how much this was like Fargo – which isn’t a bad thing at all.

The first hour of Thin Ice was extremely captivating.  The film has a great cast with Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear and Bob Balaban giving wonderful and pure performances. Arkin and Crudup are always great, but in Thin Ice they play some particularly interesting characters.

The problem with Thin Ice is it tries to pull of a twist ending and fails.  Or it succeeds and by doing so, undermines the first 70 minutes of what would otherwise be an extraordinary film.

I have this theory that the director/writer behind the film, Jill Spreecher, would have known that people would be familiar with Fargo, and thus this film must have some sort of twist to it, in order to avoid being labeled as a copycat of a beloved classic.

There is nothing wrong with having one film remind you of another.  Especially with such a great film like Fargo.  In fact, it is what we, as audience members expect to see.

I am reminded of two other notable films. Dances With Wolves (1990) and Avatar (2009).   Are the stories basically similar?  You bet.  Does that makeAvatar any less of an entertaining film than Dances With Wolves?  No, not really.

Why is it considered a bad thing among film makers these days if a film resembles another? Is it because then the film maker would somehow have the reputation of having less creativity or intellect?  I would much rather see a film that resembles the story of Blade Runner in 2013 than I would see hollywood do an outright remake of it.

If Thin Ice would have gone the way it should have – without the twist ending – It would have been a very good film.  Better than Fargo? probably not, but still a very good film.  Instead the ending just felt rushed, senseless, illogical and out of place and it really does undermine the acting and character choices that I had loved for the previous 70 minutes of what I was watching.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Thin Ice is that other than the ending, this film is flawless. The acting is brilliant in particular and the story is extremely captivating.

Perhaps the director was afraid she would be intimating the Coens a bit too much, but in an effort to avoid traveling down that road, she ended up intimidating M. Night Shaylaman instead.  Which is a very bad thing here.

rating 6/10

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