because you never ask, my list

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Bernie

Sometimes, I do not find Jack Black funny.  That’s not to say he isn’t funny, his humor is just geared towards someone other than me oft times.  This is not the case with Bernie.  Jack Black is stellar as the effeminate assistant funeral director with a mean moustache who becomes running buddies with a wealthy widow played perfectly mean by Shirley Macclaine.  Richard Linklater has said this is his “east Texas Fargo”.  There is hardly a description that could fit better for Bernie.  Dark and funny, if you have every wanted to take a trip out east without going yourself (and want a murder tale included), you will find all the characters present and accounted for in this movie.

Memorable moment:  Finding the widow in the deep freeze does not come as a grand spectacle but just another piece of the puzzle that is Bernie.

Killing Them Softly

“America is not a country, it’s a business” says Jackie Cogan, a no nonsense hitman played by Brad Pitt, as he is collecting his payment for services rendered.  The tone of Killing Them Softly can be described as cynical but to be more accurate, you would need a new word that goes a little farther than just that.  We are all out for number one here in the great old US of A and if you are not, there is most certainly someone waiting just around the corner who is and will take you out if you get in their way.

Memorable moment:  Brad Pitt as Jackie makes his first appearance after the event has gone down.  He is smoking.  It is raining.  Johnny Cash sings about the man coming around.  You know that Jackie has arrived and problems will be solved.

Argo

What’s not to enjoy about Ben Affleck’s high intensity history lesson?  Argo tells the somewhat secret story of six American fugitives who are trapped in Iran after their embassy is taken over by a very large and angry group of Iranian students.    Every moment sits at the height of tension as CIA agent Tony Mendez concocts a ludicrous plan to rescue the six (a fake movie being the best of the bad options).  Affleck crafts a suspense thriller from one of the lower points of recent American history.

Memorable moment: Sitting in the big room with the big wigs of the American government, the best idea to get the fugitives out of Iran is to give them bicycles and maps.  Easy to see why a fake movie became the best option.

  End of Watch

End of Watch is what I expected Rampart to be.  High octane, lots of action, and even the Sinaloa cartel makes an appearance.  Not a bad threesome to work with.  The film starts with a car chase that ends in a shootout.  Four people enter.  Two people leave unscathed.   Police work is dangerous but riding with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena seems to attract the worst case scenario on every single call.  Some actors can slide into any role and be indistinguishable from that person in real life and both Pena and Gyllenhaal are real police officers for an hour and a half.

Memorable moment: Michael Pena removes his police uniform and throws down with a local drug dealer.  The least violent of the police and criminal interactions but a nod to the old days where men could deal with things with fists not bullets.

Cosmopolis

A friend accompanied me to watch David Croenenberg’s latest flick, Cosmopolis.  I had to refund the friend’s price of admission for setting through what he referred as a “cluster mess”.  His big concern being that Cosmopolis is not connected to the real world.  (Uh huh was all I could respond with.  I mean, Croenenberg made Crash and The Fly).  For myself, I loved riding through a decaying city with Eric Packer, played superbly by Robert Pattinson, in his fancy limo on the way to get a haircut.  The visuals were bizarre.  The world created was a decadent disaster.  Paul Giamatti’s is completely whackadoodle.  Wonderful.

Memorable moment: The prostate exam.  Business as usual for billionaire Eric Packer.  Terrifying for everyone else.

The Grey

Quite simple a masterpiece visual of survival; survival of life by a gang of roughneck assholes in the most inhospitable place on earth, survival from a plane crash, and survival for everything else in the wild that now smells their blood in the air.

Memorable moment:  The crash.  I wept in the theater at the horror of the moment and the perfection of the show.  There was no more perfect five minutes in a film this year.

Ted

If you like Family Guy, Ted is hilarious.  Mark Walberg plays the goofy guy.  Mila Kunis screams about hooker poo on her floor.  And Ted, voiced by Peter Griffin, has all the best lines.  Watch Ted and laugh.  You take yourself way too serious.

Memorable moment: hooker poop is beyond hilarious but the homage to Airplane and the great dance scene stole my heart.

Three I didn’t get to see but certain they are worthy:

We need to Talk about Kevin

Elephant reflected the preparation and execution of a school shooting.  We Need to Talk about Kevin covers everything after.

Compliance

I anticipated this as soon as it played to divided audiences at Sundance.  This is one that you wish based on a true story wasn’t the case.  Horrifying.

On the Road

Walter Salles is probably the only working director that could even take a stab at this defining beatnik story.  I don’t know how you put this book into pictures on the screen but even at fifty percent, it still has to be a better story than 99 percent of the rest of them out there (side note: Atlas Shrugged, also based on a classic novel, played this way.  No matter how bad the actors (bad enough actors that every single one of them have been replaced for part 2) the story kept me invested all the way to the end).

Technically it wasn’t released in 2012 but I saw it in the theater so it counts:

Easy Money

It’s always the perfect crime until it all falls apart.

 John Dies at the End

Weird but the director of Bubba Hotep,  Don Coscarelli, was in charge so what else would you expect.

I’m not here to judge but this movie was the worst:

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

I dislike you immensely mister director and mister screenwriter.  I blame you both because one of you two should have realized the balancing act that needed to be done when inserting a vampire story into the most important time in American history.  You play this tongue in cheek then you got a good little funny something.  You play it serious and pretend like Lincoln really did hunt vampires while he tried to free the slaves and you get the biggest swing and miss of the year.

 

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