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 Post subject: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:31 pm 
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This is a catch-all thread for films released this year where a devoted thread may not be warranted or necessary. This thread is not intended to prevent members from starting new threads about worthy films, but is intended to cut down on people making threads that get two or three responses at best before dying on the vine. This thread will also hopefully inspire people to wax on films they might not otherwise bother discussing on the forum for fear of lack of response-- who knows, maybe that little film you think no one's seen leads to a grand debate among members? Fear not, any discussions that spin out significant commentary within this thread can and will be split into a devoted thread by the Mods


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:08 pm 
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I'll still defend my decision to create a Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas thread.

aox wrote:
I am almost ashamed to say it, but I have heard that this film is indeed pretty great.

Good times.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:01 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
Dunham had a voice role in House of the Devil too (911 operator). Her parents probably know West's parents or something.

West is BFFs with Swanberg and Co. and has roles in AutoErotic and Silver Bullets and probably 18 of Swanberg's other 2011 movies


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:30 pm 
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Has anyone seen Karl Markovics' Breathing? It premiered at Cannes last year. It is modest in scope but really well-written and gorgeously shot, a coming-of-age story that allies that concept with the processes of birth and death as well. At the core is a truly magnificent performance by the 17 year-old Thomas Schubert, who is just a natural. That isn't to say that he's just a skilled nonpro - although he is - but that he is a really smart actor, lucid, incredibly expressive and just perfectly on-key throughout. I can't recall ever being this impressed by a debut performer.

The director is an actor too, he was in The Counterfeiters. I'm very interested in seeing where he and Schubert go from here, the latter has confirmed that he plans to continue acting. The story of his getting the role is one of those destined for future biographies - he accompanied a friend to an audition not expecting to try out, was needled into it and won the role.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:59 pm 
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I don't imagine Goon will get (or deserve) its own thread, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't thoroughly enjoy it. Although half the budget could have been raised via an on-set swear box and the other half was clearly spent on blood capsules and additional mixing time to ensure that the all-important sound effects 'THWACK!', 'CRUNCH!' and 'RAAARGH!' were amped to the max, it turned out to be an unexpectedly marshmallow-hearted fluffball of a film.

Much of this is thanks to Seann William Scott's immensely winning title-role performance as Doug Glatt, a slow-witted lummox whose utterly sweet nature would suggest that he couldn't hurt a fly, were it not for the fact that his only discernible talent is an ability to pummel people into the ground with a few well-aimed blows. Initially finding gainful employment as a bouncer (where he apologises to miscreants after beating the crap out of them), he is 'talent-spotted' by an ice-hockey coach who is looking for a 'goon' to protect his star player. Despite barely being able to keep upright on the ice at first, Doug proves more than up to the challenge - but what will happen when Canada's most notorious goon comes off suspension and ends up on the opposing team? And will Doug successfully woo Eva (Alison Pill) despite having the worst chat-up technique since Gregory in Gregory's Girl?

A preparatory viewing of Slap Shot (its obvious model) some 36 hours beforehand did Goon no favours, as the earlier film made the most of its extra 30 minutes to offer far more detailed studies of character and milieu - but for a rousingly entertaining night out, you could do a lot worse. Provided you don't have a phobia about repeated shots of bloody teeth hitting the ice in slow motion.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:27 pm 
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This one probably deserves it's own thread, but I doubt anyone has seen it. Anyway if anyone deserves biggest improvement of the year award it's Celine Sciamma whose Tomboy is just great. while still probably good there were a lot of flaws with her previous effort, Water Lillies, that made me neverous going into this one, but all of those problems are gone with all of the elements that made me interested the first time around improved upon. The best thing is the realism and naturalism of the performances. There are several instances where it feels like she just dropped the kids in a situation and shot what came of it. It's not documentary, but has that same sort of rawness.

Another great thing is that Sciamma doesn't bother to wipe the audiences' noses into it. The trans thing is very much present and thoroughly and respectfully explored, but it's more of a conceit to give the film form rather than turning this into an other lame social picture. It's just an other part to that feeling of being out of place that comes with moving. This naturally gives a more universal and powerful feeling to the narrative which is told in that Pialat style that so much of modern French cinema is. It's really easy to just stand right there with him and let the film quietly create an honest world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:42 pm 
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I saw it and agree with you wholeheartedly, knives. Incredibly naturalistic performances by the kids.

Even though it's still making the rounds, it's technically a 2011 film. It opened NYC in November and played several cities already. Its commercial run here in Denver was mid-December. Just missed my "runners-up" list last year.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:57 pm 
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We don't have a 2011 list though so I figured this was safe posting.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:42 am 
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Absolutely. Just clarifying for list-making purposes and whatnot.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:40 pm 
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Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) Aggressively unfunny strand of scenes in which our writer/director/stars act mentally retarded, occasionally with the help of famous friends, occasionally without. The pic has one good joke about all those movie production house credits that appear before a film starts, but that obviously gets burned off pretty quickly and we're left with the same shrill Everything Is Terrible imitations that plague their series. The resultant film, if you can call it that, will occasionally hit a light laugh, more out of viewer desperation to cling to anything resembling amusement than actual comedic stimuli. John C Reilly (who provides the brunt of the film's scant chuckles) and Will Ferrell at least elevate their cameos with game performances that ease greatly the tedious torture of having to sit through shock sequences like young boys projectile shitting on one of Our Heroes and things being inserted on-camera into the opening of a (prosthetic) penis.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
One hopes the presumably fake Spielberg cameo at the end of the film fools Armond White enough to coerce a positive review so at least something worthwhile results from this freak show


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:00 am 
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Unfortunately, The Woman in Black isn't quite the diamond in the February chaff that some reviews would have you think it is. Elegantly appointed but completely standard-issue haunted house fare that devotes an awful lot of time to Daniel Radcliffe walking up and down a creaky staircase to investigate the latest in a never-ending litany of bumps and thumps. I enjoyed seeing Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer, and the location effectively evokes a sense of isolation, but the film isn't anything noteworthy, or even especially spooky.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:03 pm 
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Agree 100%, plus too many cheap scares.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:32 am 
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I haven't seen it myself yet, but Tony Gatlif's Indignados (Demetrios Matheou's Berlin review is here) sounds all too topical - and this is very much Gatlif's natural territory:

Quote:
Described as a “dramatised account of a Europe in revolt”, the film looks specifically at two things: the appalling experiences of undocumented immigrants, and the continent-wide demonstrations against the economic crisis. Gatlif derives his title from Spain’s Indignados (Outrage) protest movement, and his inspiration from the pamphlet ‘Indignez-vous!’ (‘Time for Outrage’) by the former Resistance fighter, diplomat and writer Stéphane Hessel.

The film occupies that ever-murky, ever-engaging grey zone between documentary and fiction. In its foreground is the story of ‘Betty’, a young, undocumented immigrant from Africa, who mysteriously swims ashore in Greece and is buffeted from one country to another, unwanted, her only trace on the continent the fingerprints taken by police wherever she goes. Betty’s story is clearly orchestrated; around her Gatlif combines conventional documentary coverage of the mass demonstrations in Athens and Madrid with beautifully shot and imagined sequences that add resonance to his theme.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:14 pm 
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Black Venus (Abdellatif Kechiche)

Kechiche's followup to The Secret of the Grain explores the story of Sarah Baartman, the "Hottentot Venus" of 19th-century London and Paris sideshow infamy. As far as I can tell, it's still without proper US distribution and may never find it, since it's a lengthy (164 minutes) and bracingly confrontational film. Still, it's often fascinating, especially during the first half, and I think it's a big step up from Kechiche's previous film.

The film spares none of the horrific details of Baartman's circumstances, although it's more complex than a simple condemnation of her masters and audiences. I don't think it ever comes close to endorsing or justifying her exploitation, but I think it makes it fairly clear that a person of her race and social standing would have had few if any good options in either South Africa or Europe at the time. Her master in London tells her that she would have been destined to live her live as a servant in Cape Town, but at least has a chance to earn money for her own personal advancement by participating in the shows. Modern audiences are sure to see how implausible it is that she'll accrue the benefits he promises, but I think it's also possible to see how she would have believed it, or at least would have wanted to given her disheartening alternatives even if she was to return home.

Kechiche turns that empathy on its ear, though, during a trial brought by British abolitionist do-gooders in attempt to free her, in which a supposedly sympathetic court audience turns its hostility toward Sarah as soon as her testimony deviates from what she wants to hear. Again, I think what the movie does here is fairly unique, telling the story from a modern perspective but not forgetting that social norms and moral perspectives were much different then, and her would-be saviors are not given the heroic treatment by the film that we might expect. Another example of this is the film's different treatment of Sarah's audiences; I think it goes much easier on the working-class people of London, who can't help but being overwhelmed by the exoticism of the specacle, than it does on the wealthy, libertine Parisian audiences, who become immediately bored with Sarah when they notice that she's not enjoying herself like they are. There's also a wickedly satiricial interlude when Sarah is examined by a team of scientists.

Looming over the film's examination of exploitation, of course, is Yahima Torres, the actress who plays Sarah. The film reconstructs Sarah's performances in agonizing detail, and Torres is subjected to much of the same humiliation that Sarah was, although I assume that Torres's environment was surely inherently more controlled and supportive than Sarah's. One might say that Torres is playing the role voluntarily, although the film doesn't really dispute that Sarah voluntarily consented to leave her home in South Africa, either. Of course Sarah most likely had no idea what lay in store for her in Europe, but Torres is a first-time film actress, and it's easy to imagine that Torres was unprepared for the impact of playing such a demanding role. She may say now that it was a rewarding experience, but if the film's commercial success is at stake, would she feel pressure to put a positive spin on it, like Sarah does in the film? To what degree are we, as the film's audience, culpable in the exploitation of Torres, regardless of how voluntary her participation is? I don't really know the answers to these questions, but while I think there's a danger of making false equivalences between the two women's circumstances, it's hard for me not to draw parallels between them. If nothing else, it frankly makes the semi-controversial issue here in the US of black actresses playing maids in The Help look a little petty and ridiculous.

Unfortunately, I think the film loses its distinct character during the last act, as Sarah's fortunes take a turn for the worse - no matter how bad things are they can always get worse, I guess - and the film becomes a document of her decline into prostitution and ill health. This feels like much more familiar territory. I momentarily thought the movie was flirting with the idea that outright prostitution was a relief for Sarah from the carnival circuit, which might have been a provocative critique of the situation, but I'm not really sure that's the case. It's a disappointingly conventional denouement for a movie that otherwise takes a challenging approach to a very difficult subject.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:54 pm
First certified to remain in the top ten is Sleep Tight.

The director of the first two REC films, Jaume Balagueró, returns with another claustrophobic and intense white knuckle thriller to make it three gems in a row.

Luis Tosar takes on the role of Cesar, the concierge of an apartment block who desperately seeks some form of happiness. The only way he can find it is through some good old fashioned schadenfreude.

What the director does so well is turn the tables on the audience as you follow Cesar through his daily routine of mental torture, that escalates the more frustrated he becomes. You want him to be caught yet you are curious as to how he will up the ante next; creeping around trying not to get caught keeps your nerves on edge.

Tosar is dominant as usual, with an understated performance but with the menace and power he retains in his eyes, the presence of his real power is never far away.


Last edited by StevenS on Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Well, you've certainly piqued my interest, but the fact that you consider [REC] 2 a gem concerns me.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:46 pm 

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I thought the sequel kept the same intensity and approach fresh in the follow up; even though I was very weary of what the follow up would bring.

Granted, the ending over egged the pudding a little but not enough to distract from another fantastic horror.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:53 pm 
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Brian C wrote:
Black Venus (Abdellatif Kechiche)

Great assessment of a very striking film, Brian. I think it made my top 10 of last year (or if not was lurking just outside). As you say, it's an extremely confrontational film, and I can't imagine who they thought might be the audience for it, but in the plus column it does indeed grab hold of some very meaty issues with its teeth and refuses to let go or try to make them artificially palatable. I still feel like Kechiche has a certain clunkiness as a film stylist, but he bulldozes through that in this film with the sheer nerve of his approach to the subject matter.

The denouement is indeed more conventionally despairing, but that seems to be in line with the historical record. I'm much more troubled by the film's modern-day coda, which is awkward enough as
[Reveal] Spoiler:
mildly upbeat onscreen text, but is frankly disastrously bathetic as repurposed news footage. In the face of the brutal facts of the case, this purely symbolic 'homecoming' seems like very small potatoes, and to me it seems almost offensive to try and twist it into a last-minute feel-good-ism.


The 'exploitation' issue is something that Kechiche seems to be working with very deliberately and conscientiously, and I think the moral question is answered by the fact that Torres delivers such a superb performance, and by the fact that our sympathy for her is never in doubt - which is indeed why watching the film is such an uncomfortable experience: it's very rare that we as an audience are so close to a character that goes through all of this, on screen. Torres isn't being objectified, she's being subjectified.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:57 pm 
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StevenS wrote:
First certified to remain in the top ten is Sleep Tight.

[. . .]

Tosar is dominant as usual, with an understated performance but with the menace and power he retains in his eyes, the presence of his real power is never far away.

Luis Tosar is one of the most compulsively watchable actors around, even (especially?) when his characters are being extremely unpleasant, so it sounds like they got the casting dead right, at least.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:40 pm 
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zedz wrote:
I'm much more troubled by the film's modern-day coda, which is awkward enough as
[Reveal] Spoiler:
mildly upbeat onscreen text, but is frankly disastrously bathetic as repurposed news footage. In the face of the brutal facts of the case, this purely symbolic 'homecoming' seems like very small potatoes, and to me it seems almost offensive to try and twist it into a last-minute feel-good-ism.

Yikes, you're right, and to be honest I had already completely forgotten about that or I would have mentioned it! Guess I had blocked it out. I think some text may have been OK, with sort of a "FYI this happened" tone, but I have to agree that Kechiche handled it very poorly.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:36 am 
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Just got back from Crazy Horse and if Wiseman's other films are half as visually unique and Walter Hillesque in characterization than I'm in for a spending spree (are any of his other films on DVD by the way; only a few OOP titles seem available).


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:33 am 
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knives wrote:
Just got back from Crazy Horse and if Wiseman's other films are half as visually unique and Walter Hillesque in characterization than I'm in for a spending spree (are any of his other films on DVD by the way; only a few OOP titles seem available).

Most of Wiseman's films are only available directly from his company on expensive DVD-Rs. There is extensive discussion of them in the "Frederick Wiseman on DVD" thread.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:43 am 
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Well hopefully crit or somebody can do an Allen King on this than. I'm curious how much the abstraction of the dancers was just the situation and how much was Wiseman.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:46 pm 
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Just screened Hal Hartley's new film Meanwhile on a DVD that's available for purchase directly from his website at Possible Films. This started out as a spec TV pilot for cable and was finished as a short (60-odd minute) feature with funds from Kickstarter. But make no mistake, it's a major work, a definite return to form after the wayward earlier experiments with video and genre in The Girl From Monday and the overly plotted and ill-advised sequel to Henry Fool that was Fay Grim. It's also every bit as vital as Surviving Desire, the other earlier work he made of this length.

I'm a huge Hartley fan. He was one of my gateways into American Independent films the way that I imagine Jarmusch was for an earlier generation. I still love films like Trust, Simple Men and Henry Fool, so it's nice to see him finding his way back to a simpler way of telling stories, like he has in this film, which tells the story of a guy named Joe Fulton, an out of work drummer from Brooklyn who just got kicked out of his apartment and needs to find a place to stay. But he's a resourceful type that thrives in situations like this, a real urban survivor, always balancing dozens of plates, confident that at least one of them will pay off. He's got a kind of lowkey can-do attitude and an implicit faith that there's no problem he can't tackle and if he just keeps at it, things will turn out in his favor (that I imagine he may share with his creator). He's humble and helpful and honest to a fault.

The film follows him on a journey through Manhattan in one day, as he tries to figure where to stay and what his next job might be, encountering various friends and strangers. Hartley himself described it as "like a road movie," but mostly on foot, that gives us images of most of the famous neighborhoods on the island and revels in its digressions.

And the digressions are often about how he helps the people he runs into solve their own problems -- fixing a typewriting, helping an overburdened mover, doing housework with a friend's maid -- forever refusing reimbursement even though he hasn't got an accessible dollar to his name (his bank account was frozen). In this way he's very much the opposite of Henry Fool, who disrupted and drained the lives of everyone he ran into, except for accidentally exposing Simon to poetry, and who didn't really have any useful skills to speak of and was not at all modest.

In Meanwhile Hartley's NYC has that mix of authenticity and romanticism about the city that very film films can match, especially on what I imagine to have been his budget. He shot on one of those new Canon SLRs and it looks great. And it's nice to see a vision of the city that's not so cold and cruel and out of human scale, but more like a street-level community of strangers. Almost like a better version of what the two Paul Auster/Wayne Wang films were aiming at. Hartley has a knack for creating a sense of place in an overphotographed city without resorting to cliche, even when he shoots icons like Brooklyn Bridge.

All in all, my favorite Hartley film in more than a decade.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2012
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:44 am 
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I love Fay Grim, but it's certainly nice to hear such an enthusiastic reaction from a Hartley devotee. Will definitely be picking it up soon.


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