2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: September – December
My apologies for the slightly longer delay in getting this part out. I kinda got stricken with the flu for a few days, and didn’t exactly feel like writing. But, here it is, the final third of the films I didn’t see in the year 2012. This is the period of time where the summer movies begin to trickle out before coming to a complete stop and where film studios begin their flood of Oscar-baiting dramas and such.
That’s not to say that there are never any good action films released during this time. That also isn’t to say that none of these Oscar-baiting films are any good, too. Far from it. 2012 saw the release of Oscar-worthy greats as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in the same time period as cash-grabbing features like the final Twilight film, The Hobbit, and Wreck-it Ralph, all with varying degrees of success. It’s actually a fairly ripe time to watch all sorts of movies, come to think of it. Possibly better than even summer!
Still, it’s not like I’m going to see every film released during this time. If anything, I ran out of time and risked going out of budget for all the films that I did want to see, but didn’t always have time to. Then there were also films that, quite frankly, I could just do without seeing. But, for the purposes of this article, I’ve gone through and examined all these, both enticing and repugnant, some being granted my attention possibly for the last time ever, and have collected my thoughts and impressions below. As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, this isn’t my final say on these films, and some of the commentary below is based pretty much on plot synopses, other reviews, skimmings, and a heavy use of Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes. I watched the trailers where I could and didn’t for those films that I just basically didn’t care. Which ones are those? Read, and you may just find out!
The Cold Light of Day (Sept 7)
Oh wow. I remember this… barely. What a cast, though, right? John McClane, Ellen Ripley, and the future Superman? Oh, and Miles O’Brien is in there, somewhere, too! You kinda have to love the fact that the trailer tries to fool you into thinking this is a touching family drama before switching gears into high-stakes thriller with a mysterious briefcase, cute foreign girl, and gun standoffs with shouting. Not even the solid cast could save this from being quickly forgotten after receiving a final painful score of just 6% (yes, six) on Rotten Tomatoes.
I distinctly remember seeing the poster for this, not knowing what the plot was about, and then just remarking upon the staging of Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana to my roommate, somewhat facetiously, “Those two are about to make a very attractive baby.” I’m not saying that ignorance is bliss, but that’s honestly all I really know about this movie, and it’s probably where I would’ve preferred it remained, but, yeah, I watched the trailer and… it’s about plagiarism. A legitimate subject, I admit. One that’s surely worthy of dramatic adaptation. Somehow, though, that makes this poorly received film’s title even duller. The Words. … THAT HE STOLE. Meh.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience (Sept 7)
I live in a city that has been deemed worthy enough to have an actual full IMAX screen, so I don’t know why I have yet to utilize this to my advantage yet, considering the number of films that have been released and re-released using the format. This was honestly me dropping the ball. At least I got the films on Blu-Ray in 2012, though.
Anna Karenina (Sept 7)
Yet another adaptation of the story whose title makes you feel like you’re stuttering at the end of your words (seriously, it sticks in my head and drives me batty) is also the third collaboration between Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright on a literary period piece (after Pride & Prejudice and Atonement). It certainly looks nice (earning its current Bets Cinematography, Production Design, and Costume Design Oscar nominations), but it’s not exactly the kind of movie I just have to see immediately once it has been released. Simple as that, really, though, given the number of adaptations Leo Tolstoy’s novel has seen over the years, it’s probably about time that I see one of them to see what all the fuss is about. I could read it, I suppose but… nah. (Does that make me bad?)
Aiming to stand as a portrait of a city that once stood for prosperity and the American Dream and potential, Detropia now depicts Detroit rotting alive through three of its residents, a video blogger, a nightclub owner, and an auto industry worker, interspersed with various other footage around the city, including townhall meetings with the mayor as they try to work to save their city. The footage looks haunting and provocative, and it’s likely going to be remembered as one of the more important films to be made about the current recession, too. One to watch.
Raaz 3D (Sept 7)
This looked like your standard slasher film, with a director getting caught between two jealous movie stars he’s obviously involved with (I’m just going with what I’m culling from the trailers on this one). Then come the clowns, a bit of dancing (honest question: Is that seriously a standard thing for any film genre in India?), cockroaches galore, and then a demon hand reaching out from a TV in the end of the trailer. Piqued my interest, but maybe not for the right reasons. By the way, this is the third in a series of films, if you were not aware, and so the 3D is not just a signifier of whether these things will literally jump out at you from the screen. It’s also a clever pun!
I wait for these movies to be released on DVD and then wait a while for when I decide I’m bored enough to give them a shot. The first film was reasonably entertaining in a stupid kind of way, then the second was just an abysmal caricature of the first. After a small but unsatisfying rebound with the third (which still took me 4 years to finally see), the fourth managed to be the most boring out of them all, too. You think I’m going to spend my hard earned money on the fifth? Better to just waste my time than my money, too.
Arbitrage (Sept 14)
This looks like your typical thriller about a man who has an affair now struggling to keep it concealed after a car accident leaves his mistress dead, but given the backlash regarding star Richard Gere’s Oscar snub for his role in the film and the strong response it got from critics, it may have been a mistake to write this one off. Probably going to exchange my current Blockbuster mail-in for this one at the store – that is if my local store isn’t one of those ones that’s being closed now. (Post-writing: Yep. It was closed. I’m seriously bummed. Guess I won’t be exchanging it, after all.)
Barfi! (Sept 14)
The trailer, complete with romantic accordion and zero dialogue, certainly does look like it’s trying to recall some sort of European romantic sentiment (French, probably), but in spite of criticisms of the film ripping off several films, this Bollywood film about a boy, a deaf mute, and his relationships with two girls, one of whom has autism, looks like quite a charmer and has won over most other critics, anyway. I’m certainly looking to see if it’s on Netflix at the mome – oh, there it is! Queued!
The Master (Sept 14)
Car troubles kept me from seeing this Paul Thomas Anderson film loosely based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (whose name I thought always suitably sounded Kryptonian), if I remember correctly, as there was no other reason for me to not get around to seeing this in the limited release it had nearby. I’m still quite peeved I didn’t, and now I have yet another big film I wanted to see that I’ll have to wait a little while longer to see while it takes its time getting out on DVD. Bah.
Once a defender of Nicolas Cage, I’ve come to see his name as a sort of joke. The man has featured in about six films that were well received since the turn of the century, seven if you want to be generous and include, say, The Ant Bully, though I’m not sure you do. Of those films, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed 3 of them (Matchstick Men, Adaptation, Kick-Ass), and given the man’s prolific work, it’s almost as if he just doesn’t care anymore. A glance at his Rotten Tomatoes profile shows that the 20th century saw the man being far more kind to his audience than these days. Oh, and this wasn’t one of those films that was well received. I think the most amusing part of this film existing is the confusion I overheard when this one young couple in Blockbuster trying to figure out if it was Stolen or Taken that they wanted to rent, ‘cause they couldn’t remember. THAT’S THIS FILM’S DEMOGRAPHIC!
Armour (Sept 20)
This film is the first foreign language film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar since 2000, when the Mandarin Chinese film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was also nominated in the same category. It’s also a record breaker for the oldest nominee for Best Actress, with Emmanuelle Riva currently 85 years old (and going up against the youngest nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis, too!). The trailer looks like a pretty heavy but lovely film that’s sure to make me and many other watchers cry, too. How do I know? The trailer, below, is also the first time I was ever deeply moved by such a simple, ordinary gesture shown in just a film’s trailer:
A film that I admittedly dismissed as another shaky cam thriller, I was shocked when the film didn’t just not bomb, critically, but generally receive all out praise for its cast and composition. Looks like it just came out on DVD this week, as I write. Looks like I have a film to rent this weekend, then! … That and Arbitrage.
House at the End of the Street (Sept 21)
Filmed in 2010, while Jennifer Lawrence’s star was still on the rise (this was the same year Winter’s Bone was released), House at the End of the Street invokes the same sort of naming convention as the horror cult classic The Last House on the Left, bringing to mind neighborhood rumors about something terrible that happened that house and to that family. Which, pretty much, exactly sums up this film’s plot set up entirely. Looks rather ho-hum.
Trouble with the Curve (Sept 21)
Sports movies are somewhat of a hard sell for me, though the presence of Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and John Goodman helps, with Justin Timberlake not necessarily hurting things, either. Hopefully strong performances lift up a somewhat average story about a father and daughter (Eastwood and Adams) mending their bond through the sport of baseball and baseball business stuff. So, basically, the title’s a bit of an on-the-nose pun.
All these niche documentaries coming out are apparently pretty good. This one follows visionary fashion editor Diana Vreeland through older interviews with Vreeland herself and newer interviews with contemporaries and admirers alike. The fact that I’m not necessarily into fashion but pretty much knew who the woman was says something, and I’m certain that people like me, who don’t exactly understand the sometimes outlandish nature of “fashion” would do well to watch this at some point and hopefully find some kind of understanding and possibly even appreciation for it.
Head Games (Sept 21)
Remember what I said about niche documentaries? The hot topic of sports-related repetitive head injuries comes to light in this documentary, which interviews medical experts, scientists, popular and amateur athletes about their experiences with the serious but too often ignored punishment that at one’s head goes through during various sporting events. I can honestly say that I have very little interest in the subject, having very little desire to go out and play sports, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing it yourself.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Sept 21)
Child actors Logan Lerman and Emma Watson continue playing slightly older children in this adaptation of the popular 1999 book about three friends who come together in high school and… well, basically grow up. You could call it a coming of age story, I guess. I don’t mean to get too down on the movie, though, as I just didn’t really wish to spoil anything by reading too much into a synopsis, having never read the book myself and being intrigued by the fact that the film not only received fairly widespread critical praise, but was also written and directed by the book’s author, Stephen Chbosky. I’ve honestly never heard of a film adaptation that was directed by the original author of the story. That alone is interesting.
Magical Mystery Tour (re-release) (Sept 27)
Featuring a barebones, unscripted plot that follows The Beatles as they travel across England in their psychedelic bus with a bit of music chiming in every now and then. Without the intriguing animation of the later Yellow Submarine nor the more conventional plotting and humor of the previous two musicals, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, Magical Mystery Tour always sounded like one of the more boring Beatles endeavors one could undertake, even as a fan. Given a limited re-release in 2012, I honestly didn’t even really think to look this one up in my area. I’d kill to see Yellow Submarine on the big screen, though.
I honestly thought this looked quite amusing upon first seeing the trailer. The knight totally got kicked in the crotch and didn’t know why it hurt! HA! Oh, and the werewolf pups made a mess in the back! HOHO! Oh, and it’s directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the dude who brought about Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and the Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts! “This looks good!” I thought. And then I saw it again. And again. And again. And I soon grew to dislike this movie before I had even seen it. Flaws in the trailer alone began to stand out to me. Those things that seemed like plusses to me? Cliché crotch gag, tired pee joke, and last minute replacement director for a troubled production. Also, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg in yet another 2012 pairing, bringing along Selena Gomez for the ride. What was I thinking?
Won’t Back Down (Sept 28)
“Inspired by true events,” as we all know, usually translates to, “We fudged the details enough to make this a cliché inspirational story that will play better to a mass audience because now it has all the story beats, romances, one-liners, and ‘Hell yeah!’ moments at just the right time that you crave.” This story featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis as two mothers who are moved to turn over the failing school their kids go to pretty much looks like one of those films.
Regardless of your stance and perspective on health care reform, the premise of this documentary/social experiment should prove enlightening. Director Peter Nicks placed confessional-style booths in the waiting rooms of Highland Hospital of Oakland, California, where patients living without health insurance would leave their stories, which would then be uploaded online to an archive, which is also presented here in the film. If it’s anything like Life in a Day, then this would likely be an extraordinary project to witness.
Pitch Perfect (Oct 5)
Basically, I went this whole time thinking that this movie was getting bad reviews and was a big screen version of Glee (you know, other than that Glee concert film). Rewatching the trailer kind of shows me that I was right about one thing – it’s kinda like Glee, but the film actually got decent reviews. I’m kinda baffled, honestly. I probably owe this one for creating such an unnecessarily bad reputation for it in my head…
Taken 2 (Oct 5)
… This movie, however, can totally stay out of my life forever. The first movie was a ridiculous daddy revenge thriller that felt like Pierre Morel was teaching his daughter that father knows best, and that a sequel was made to cash-in on the popularity of the first only pisses me off even more. I hate when movies like this get popular.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Oct 5)
I sincerely don’t know if this one ever played anywhere nearby where I live, but whenever I get a chance to watch this Don Hertzfeldt film, assembled from three self-animated shorts into a larger whole that has often been cited as one of the best movies of the year, I’m going to.
The Oranges (Oct 5)
Seeing the 32% it currently holds on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m not so certain that I want to see this one. That would possibly mean that two things from 2012 that involving Hugh Laurie would disappoint me – this and the House finale. I’m also not sure how endearing a movie about an old man who falls in love and has an affair with his best friend’s daughter would actually be. This looks… mediocre, at best.
Nicole Kidman peed on Zac Efron in this movie. Like… literally pees on him. Literally in that she actually did it in real life, on command, and not just her character appearing to do so through some visual trickery. Nicole Kidman… peed… on Zac Efron…. I’m not sure I need that in my life.
Here Comes the Boom (Oct 12)
Thank you for warning me, movie title. I shall be sure to take the proper precautions.
Seven Psychopaths (Oct 12)
Now here’s one that I really wanted to see and just wound up not seeing before losing my chance. The film has a very solid cast with Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson, and the film is just crazy enough to work, as they say: Something about a professional dog thief stealing the wrong dog, which turns out to belong to a very dangerous mobster. It’s very likely that I just didn’t have the ability to go see it what with all the other movies swirling around at the time, but it’s certainly one that I’m going to rent just as soon as it releases.
Sinister (Oct 12)
I always got this film’s title mixed up with that other horror movie, Insidious, thinking, ‘Didn’t that release last year?” But no, this is something different, and that movie was the one that came out last year. Or rather two years ago, almost, now. Like that film, this one got fairly decent reviews for a horror movie. So… guess I know what I’m reviewing for Scary Movie Month 2013!
3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom (Oct 12)
Definitely one of the more interestingly named films on this list, the film follows Frankie and his brother as they attempt to erase a sex tape featuring Frankie and the daughter of a very angry movie star from the internet. Also features Ron Perlman in drag as a transgendered hacker. Movie didn’t fare so well with critics nor audiences. Eh.
I wonder if John Krasinski will start featuring in good films once The Office is over… I mean, sure he featured in Big Miracle in 2012, which did get good reviews, but those are the exceptions to the rule. It’s not that he’s a bad actor. He’s good on The Office, but the highest rated movie on his Rotten Tomatoes profile is a PBS documentary… This melodrama about a couple whose relationship is strained as a result of the arrival of a beautiful young filmmaker collaborating with the husband (Krasinski) looks a little to self-important to be enjoyable.
Smashed (Oct 12)
Anybody who watches Parks and Recreation will be amused to hear that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally both make appearances in this film. Aside from that, this film looks like a decent examination of a woman whose relationships are heavily defined by how many drinks she’s had in her. But when jobs security becomes an issue, Kate decides to go sober, a development that challenges her to finally come face to face with problems she was previously able to ignore – including whether or not her marriage was founded upon genuine love and not just a mutual appreciation for substance abuse. Heavy material like that can become unbearably bleak, but this looks to be at least somewhat enjoyable as a dramedy, and the cast is good. I’ll be looking out for this one come DVD release.
Holy Motors (Oct 17)
I’m not really certain how to summarize this crazy-looking film except that it looks like it’s attempting to be an insane examination of life and all its feelings or something. Whatever it’s attempting to do, it apparently did well enough to thrill critics, though.
Picking up the titular role from Morgan Freeman, who played the literary hero in the films Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, Tyler Perry drops the drag act to take on gritty detective work and I guess fight a dementedly lean-looking Matthew Fox. In other words, Tyler Perry’s going to show an evil, woman-beating man what’s what, yet again.
Paranormal Activity 4 (Oct 19)
Otherwise known as the film where the Paranormal Activity films sold out and became an Xbox Kinect commercial.
The Sessions (Oct 19)
Earning Helen Hunt an Oscar nomination, The Sessions tells a story based in real life, about journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, who was stricken with polio, paralyzed, and required an iron lung for the rest of his life. By the age of 38, he had still yet to lose his virginity, and so he sought out the guidance of counselors and even a priest before getting in contact with professional sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene, who met with him during several sessions in order to… work out his needs. Not exactly a conventional story, but one that’s apparently extremely well done.
Chasing Mavericks (Oct 26)
Mavericks is a location in Northern California known for its big waves, but you might as well replace the word in the title with the word “Dreams,” as that’s basically the message I get from the plot of this film based on the life of Jay Moriarity, a young surfer who became well known for his passion for this particular sport, and his relationship with mentor Frosty Hesson. The film looks pretty boring, however, and based on critical reception, skipping this was probably the smarter idea.
Cloud Atlas (Oct 26)
I let this one slip by based on the fact that I simply didn’t see the big screen experience as being that 100% necessary for what turned out to be yet another disappointing Wachowskis film. There were just other things to see, and I can wait for the Blu-Ray release to see Tom Hanks romancing Halle Berry in various time periods.
Hey, look, it’s that damn kid from Project X playing yet another social outcast. It’s not really a movie about him, but that didn’t bode well. I can’t base a movie based on a side character’s previous work, obviously, and the concept behind this Nickelodeon-produced movie does sound a lot more fun and promising than that of its R-rated counterpart, following a teenage girl who is forced to take her brother trick-or-treating instead of going to the party of the guy she has a crush on. Too caught up in talking with her accompanying friend, she loses sight of the little boy and goes on a crazy search with aforementioned kid from Project X and said accompanying friend. It didn’t score well with critics, however, so that’s a shame.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Oct 26)
Video game movies are rarely good, so they say, and while the six-year-old first film has its fans, it looks like only 6% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked this sequel. I guess all it reveals is that filmmakers had better start making good adaptations of video games or just stop them altogether.
Pusher (Oct 26)
Based on the Nicolas Winding Refn series, which began back in 1996, this English-language adaptation of the first film, which sees its drug dealer protagonist growing ever more desperate to pay back his debt and/or escape death at the hands of an evil crime lord, isn’t nearly as well received as the original Danish series, splitting critics 50/50 according to Rotten Tomatoes, despite sharing those films’ director, who serves as executive producer here. It looks like a capable and stylish thriller for when the itch for such a film will not be sated, so maybe it’s still worth a watch.
The Man with the Iron Fists (Nov 2)
I suppose a 50/50 split on the critics isn’t too bad for a martial arts movie directed by one of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan and starring Russell Crowe. It looks loud, stupid, and over-the-top, but that might be to the film’s benefit. Yet another movie to consider when and only if it shows up on streaming and I’m feeling in the mood.
This looks a bit pretentious, but it also looks like it could be quite good. When a cellist is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, meaning that this coming season will be his last, the drama and tragedy surrounding his departure and the debate over who will be elevated to take his place in the group brings about certain drama. Starring Christopher Walken, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir, who is apparently making his big splash here. The film also centers itself around Beethoven’s Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor, both metaphorically and literally, which, to those of you who are, like me, are lacking in musical knowledge, means that the film basically follows narratively the same movements as the music the characters will be performing in concert, undoubtedly bringing about the a firmer understanding of the meaning behind the music and the plot. Or something. I’m sure it’s good.
A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (Nov 2)
Given the mixed-to-negative reviews this has gotten, I’m wondering if those who didn’t like it possibly lost sight of what the film was supposed to be – an animated depiction of the late Graham Chapman reading his own autobiography, rather than something completely meant to tickle your funny bone at a constant pace. Given the film’s title and the all-around nature of the people involved, however, I’m sure there’s some fabrication going on that will undoubtedly actually result in some attempted hilarity, too. It’s an intriguing concept, but I hear the presentation’s kind of wonky.
In Their Skin (Nov 9)
I’m not going to lie. This one just looks flat out dull. Possibly stupid, even. Rich family loses daughter then retreats to their idyllic vacation home in the forest, only to be invaded by the jealous family who holds them hostage in their own home. Watching the trailer, it looks like it’s filled with plenty of scene-chewing overacting, which, in the right context, could be entertaining. In this case, it just looks like overcompensation.
I’m not going to pretend like I knew this movie existed previously. It’s here, like a lot of the foreign films on this list, because it was listed on Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge and all that is good and right. Director Yash Chopra was apparently a legend of Bollywood cinema, however, and worked until falling ill with dengue fever, passing away just weeks before this film was released to cinemas. A quick rundown of the story reveals that the film is about an Indian Army major, Samar, and his relationship with a Discovery Channel filmmaker, Akira, who accidentally came into possession of Samar’s journal when he saved her from a river and gave her his jacket. Akira reads the journal, of course, learning about his past love in London, and seeks him out. Something happens with amnesia, and, yeah, I’m kind of thinking this is kind of going to turn out like The Notebook, at least in tone. Indian critics thought it faired well enough, though.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Nov 13)
I swear I’m going to do an endurance run of all the films in this series, possibly even do a bulk review, but until this one releases to DVD and I can just borrow them from my stepsister in one fell swoop, I refuse to watch any of these. And when I do, rest assured that it will likely involve beer.
Chasing Ice (Nov 16)
Climate change – you gotta admit it’s happening. Whether or not you want to dispute whose fault it is – ours, nature’s, or some combination of the two – you just have to admit that it’s happening. To deny it is kind of ridiculous. Regardless of what side you’re on, it’s probably worth watching this documentary, which is filled with time lapse photography of glaciers just melting away, courtesy of National Geographic photographer and former skeptic, James Balog. Given its limited release, this National Geographic film is probably more likely to be seen on streaming services and on TV than it was in theatres, however.
Silver Linings Playbook (Nov 16)
I might still go and see this – apparently my local theatres finally got it and are still showing it. Nominated for eight major Oscars, this comedy about two troubled individuals meeting and finding the titular silver linings to their cloudy lives has received widespread acclaim, but it seems like a lot of people were like, “Silver Linings what?” when the nominations were announced. I was aware of the movie’s existence, but when you hear the synopsis and the cast – Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, with Chris Tucker in there somewhere, too – it’s not exactly the most attractive film to see. Not that those guys are bad, it’s just the combination of elements and such at play. Anyway, that was apparently a mistake.
Completed long, long ago in 2010, the film went through some restructuring via special effects to change the film’s villains from Chinese to the North Koreans before finally being released about two years later after MGM sorted out its bankruptcy. In that time, Chris Hemsworth became Thor, Josh Hutcherson played in the love triangle that coincidentally involved Hemsworth’s brother Liam in The Hunger Games, and Josh Peck of Drake & Josh regressed back into obscurity. That is, of course, until this unnecessary remake of the 1984 cult classic Red Dawn was released. I’m strangely curious. It’s not as if the original is an untouchable masterpiece, but it has a certain 80s charm and sincerity to it that still resonates. This? This doesn’t look it will do that so much. I’m more just curious how it stacks up.
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (Nov 21)
This kind of sounds like the real-life movie equivalent of that “Santa’s Super Sleigh” song from About a Boy… I never saw the first film, but despite the goofy title, I don’t think the film’s nearly as wonderfully zany as much as it is annoyingly so, given the critical reception. I think I’d rather watch that stupid Passion of the Christ 2 joke from Family Guy again.
Hitchcock (Nov 23)
Is it just me, or is the idea of condensing the life of one person down to a single time in their life kind of the biopic technique du jour? It’s a smart idea, don’t get me wrong, but is it always necessary? This biopic of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville intends to do just that by portraying them during the time period of Hitchcock’s production of the infamous Psycho, which, as you will remember, was one of the more controversial films of its time, thanks to its violence and depictions of cross dressing. With Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in the lead roles, you’re at least guaranteed at least some solid performances. I think that I’d possibly be more interested in Hitchcock’s entire life more than I would just this one snapshot period of his life, however, even if the film had to take liberties in order to depict the man behind the legend in order to fit into a single film. But I’m not a filmmaker, and my idea’s probably stupid, so what do I know?
Oh yeah, this one! I like Brad Pitt, and this film about him playing a dude who’s tasked with tracking down three idiots who rob a card game that happens to be protected by the mob looks and sounds like a good time. Enthusiasm may be based on the fact that the film uses Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” in its trailer, which I just found out was also used in the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is possibly why I thought that looked promising, as it seems to make everything all that much better, regardless of actual quality (see also: Dawn of the Dead (2004) and the finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season one). Anyway, the fact that I missed this in theatres means that I have hindsight by proxy, thanks to fairly strong critical response.
The Collection (Nov 30)
Did you know that this was a sequel to the 2009 film The Collector? Did you know that there was a 2009 film called The Collector? Yeah, me neither.
Talaash (Nov 30)
Wikipedia seems to be suggesting that I really need to invest some time in watching some Bollywood cinema. I can’t say that I’m eager to watch Talaash, based on the trailer, but that’s only because it just looks like another gritty crime thriller where an investigator has to confront his troubled past. But it looks like there’s no dancing, so there’s that – it’s not a stereotype.
I’ve honestly never seen the first, but looking at the Universal Soldier franchise’s Wikipedia portal, it looks like the films kind of diverged into two different timelines, of which this one is the second in the retconned timeline, or something. So, basically it’s kinda like how the Terminator franchise now works (Terminator 1 & 2 diverge with Terminator 3 & Salvation on one side and the excellent Sarah Connor Chronicles making up for those two films’ failings on the other). The only difference? I’m not so certain that either way they fixed it. Of course, I’ve never been too interested in the first film, so what do I know? I hope you fans enjoyed it.
Playing For Keeps (Dec 7)
Gerard Butler playing a randy former soccer star having sex with Jessica Biel, Uma Therman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and, hell, I dunno, possibly even Dennis Quaid. The only “keep” that’s going to happen here is this movie away from me.
Deadfall (Dec 7)
This looks like random storylines put together. Two siblings pull a heist and separate when their car crashes, their getaway driver dies, and they end up killing a state trooper. He just does the action hero thing while he makes his way to the Canadian border, but she does the decidedly more feminine thing and falls in love with a guy who picks her up and takes her home to his family for Thanksgiving. It sounds like a comedy, but it’s totally not, and the trailer wants you to know that thanks to its grim tone, quick cuts with booming soundtrack, and decided lack of color that’s not neon lights in a bar.
This was only released a short while ago (…I think?), but I don’t ever recall seeing a trailer for this at all. It’s filled with all sorts of “zany fun” stuff, however, including time travel, anthropomorphic talking dinosaur creatures, rocket-powered skateboarding, burping dinosaurs, a panicked mom who will undoubtedly be relieved to find her children return to her safe and sound and eager to hear of their zany adventures in prehistoric times. There’s a T-rex mother played by Melanie Griffith who has a son played by Rob Schneider. It’s undoubtedly that … thing in the upper left corner of the poster. Look at it! KILL IT!
Heleno (Dec 7)
A biopic of Heleno de Freitas, international Brazillian soccer star from the 1940s, Heleno hasn’t gotten wide release, but the general consensus seems to be that the film’s a bit too self-important and self-indulgent, resulting in a film that attempts to tell the story about the soccer player outside of the player’s soccer passion. Which kind of sounds like a mistake. Why make a biopic about someone famous for doing something specific by avoiding that something specific that makes them special in the first place? I mean, there’s something to be said about going “behind the scenes,” but if New York Post reviewer Farran Smith Nehme is to be believed, “What you get instead of soccer is almost two hours of late-stage syphilis.” Ew.
Hyde Park on Hudson (Dec 7)
See? Another film that attempts to tell the story about a particular historical figure through the lens of a small period of time in their life. This one happens to focus on FDR and the first ever visit to the U.S. from reigning English royals just before the English engage in war with Germany. This diplomatic meeting is threatened by the antics of FDR’s mother, wife, and mistresses, however, a fact that lends the film a sort of sit-com-y feel that apparently wasn’t entirely engaging or enlightening, given the stakes. I can think of worse things than watching Bill Murray play a U.S. President, however, though it might be more intriguing if it were an original character, however.
Barbara Streisand was the primary reason for why I didn’t see this movie. Call it a prejudice. … Against her. Personally. Not because…. Anyway, Seth Rogen on a road trip with Streisand playing his mother sounds about as torturous as Rogen’s character likely feels about his mother, though I doubt that if I just got to know the movie that my opinion would change in the end. Oh! Maybe the movie dies and… No, I don’t think I’ll ever gain any appreciation for it. Never mind.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (Dec 21)
Though I’m sure their shows are amazing, I’ve only ever wanted to see one Cirque du Soleil show, and that was The Beatles: Love, and, quite honestly, that’s more because I love The Beatles than for any hope of seeing the undoubtedly impressive acrobatics and set pieces. As such, I wasn’t exactly urging to see Worlds Away, and I’m even less so now that I know that the film is essentially a pastiche of scenes from already existing shows threaded together (including Love and their Elvis and Criss Angel shows) into a semblance of narrative.
Jack Reacher (Dec 21)
I actually do still want to see this one, but I’ve just somehow never gotten around to it. I like Tom Cruise, the actor, and typically his action roles lead to some fairly good entertainment. The trailers look fun, and it got decent reviews so… Yeah, I dunno. Hm…
This is 40 (Dec 21)
I think everyone’s just kind of learning that Judd Apatow has a thing for making his movies just a little too long. Funny People suffered from this, and now so does This is 40, the pseudo-sequel to Knocked Up. The main criticism seems to be the biggest criticism against it, along with the fact that the characters just don’t connect with audiences – a big issue to have in a comedy such as this one. I still want to see it, but this went from being a must-see in theatres based on trailers to a rental based on the reviews.
The general consensus seems to be that Not Fade Away is a bit cliché and insufficient at becoming more than anything but a pleasantly put together coming of age drama about a young man in the 60s dreaming of making it big as a musician, but it’s still an enjoyable enough film with strong performances and good music. At 70%, it’s not entirely bad for Sopranos-creator David Chase’s feature debut. Hey look, fans: James Gandolfini!
Parental Guidance (Dec 25)
My mom, who does indeed have good taste, liked this one because it was cute and “clean.” I guess that makes it a family-friendly, senior-age counterpart to This is 40? The film really seems like an exercise in watching Billy Crystal and Bette Midler playing grandparents who take care of their grandkids while trying to understand the supposed modern parenting mentalities and techniques of their adult children. Which, I guess, given the right treatment, could potentially work. The cast is a likable one, with Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott playing the adult children, but this is the kind of movie where you’re supposed to laugh out loud hysterically at a crotch shot and be happy with what you get. I don’t think I’d be happy.
Quartet (Dec 26)
Who would’ve expected two films about quartets to be released so close together? It’s another Armageddon / Deep Impact situation, I tell you. Except the quartet movies are apparently good movies, with this one being the better and more lighthearted of the two. Dustin Hoffman directs his first film here and apparently strikes gold. Three of the four members are living at a retirement home for musicians when the fourth member, who happens to be one of their ex-wives, joins them just before their annual tribute concert to Giuseppe Verdi. Unlike A Late Quartet, this film takes on a lighter tone, despite the more advanced age of its cast – Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, and Michael Gambon all feature. I want to see both, but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing this more.
Tabu (Dec 26)
Seeing the widest release of any Portuguese film, this black and white drama about a dying woman’s final wish – to send word of her condition to a man who she had previously never spoken of before – starts a flashback to her younger years, where we get to see their romance blossom. It’s a terrifically romantic idea for a story, one that is apparently expertly handled by director Miguel Gomes. Considering that it was given a limited release so late into 2012, it’s no wonder why I hadn’t really heard of this before, but I’ve already saved it to my DVD queue so that I don’t forget about it.
Oh boy. Another John Krasinski film. What is it with this guy!? He can’t even help but taint this Gus van Sant film, which, to be fair, stars Matt Damon more than it does Krasinski. Damon plays a salesman sent into a small town to convince them to let a big corporation drill on their land in exchange for money – an enticing prospect given their dire economic condition. Preachiness seems to be the film’s greatest fault, with characters merely serving as a means to convey the film’s message that drilling is bad, mmkay. Nuance and subtlty, essentially, aren’t this film’s fortes, in other words. It also kinda sounded boring to me, too….