In mere hours, it’ll be the end of 2012 as we know it. This is a year that started off slowly in terms of film, not offering some of the best, in my opinion, until the last half of the year. But it was still a year that will be remembered for much renewed discussion on slavery and what it means to be human in our eyes and in the eyes of others, our historical past and not too distant memories of high school, the quest for power and the consequences of it, and the bonds between groups of people that are created. Here is what I considered to be the best in film for 2012, and therefore great film suggestions, depending what movie genre(s) you most gravitate to:
Best Film of the Year: Argo
Ben Affleck has done it again, giving us another one of the best directed films in contemporary cinema (see: Gone Baby Gone and The Town). Affleck has never been an exciting actor to me, but he has impressed me greatly with his talents as a filmmaker of movies with an effective mix of drama, suspense, and action. This one, a fictional tale of a true life yet unbelievable CIA mission during the Iranian hostage crisis, gives us a glimpse into the social and political attitudes of the 70s and reminds us just how much we don’t know about government operations being conducted in secret.
Best Drama (which presented the moral ambiguity of politics and made you want to open a history book): Lincoln
The last movie I watched in 2012 was one of my favorites (you still got it Spielberg!). The movie represents a portrait of a historical figure who we all know of but few really know, intertwining his political and moral motivations for his involvement in the abolition of slavery with his personal relationships with wife, sons and colleagues. Where historical dramas are usually dry and boring, this one warms the heart. Through moving monologues and a physical transformation that was so very much like the man himself, Daniel Day Lewis transfixes us and inspires in a way that makes you want to clap aloud in the theater. Outside the “radical” nature of the Republican party, we also see just how little American politics have change in all these years - back room deals, political maneuvering and politicians saying what others want to hear all in the name of moving the country forward. The movie boasts great cameos from some of the best established actors (Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Harly, Jared Harris, S. Epatha Merkerson) and cameos from great up-and-coming ones (Dane DaHaan, David Oyelowo, Adam Driver) in the industry.
Best Comedy (which reminded you to say ‘no’ to drugs and ‘yes’ to buddy comedies): 21 Jump Street
I’m not really one for most of the comedies that are released, which I usually find mindless, banal, and unoriginal. However, there is usually one I latch onto that pushes the boundaries of what is funny. Last year, it was with the ladies of Bridesmaids, this year it was the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum duo that I did not realize would be oh so hilarious. Sure, it’s based on the late 80’s TV show, but the movie showed just how much times have changed in its portrayal of what is now high school cool.
Best Dramedy (which redefined the complexity of love triangles): Your Sister’s Sister
Hooray for indie film and its uncanny way to bring to life seemingly conventional rom-com storylines with character-driven observations and dialogue. This one, about the relationship dynamics of sisters, best friends, and lovers, is sweet and endearing at times, awkward at other times but represents a great mix of carefully crafted moments that oscillate between comedy and drama. Standout performances for the trio of Rosemarie DeWitt, Emily Blunt, and the 2012 prince of indies Mark Duplass.
Happy Thanksgiving (weekend)! I’m sure everyone is stuffed from having holiday dinner with their family or friends (as in my case). I’m presently stuff from eating some great food especially dessert which is my favorite. I made an caramel apple cheesecake that I think turned out quite great (I had two slices; you can make it too). And now that the main part of the eating is done (though there will be lots of leftovers for the weekend!), there is enough shopping sales to engorge ourselves on for Black Friday. Yeah, so Black Friday is my OTHER favorite holiday because… you know… i like to shop. See you out and about in the stores. Oh, and when you’re not busy with family, friends, and store deals, here are a few film-related links around the web and other fun stuff for you to enjoy….
Zero Dark Thirty.
Tupac wrote a script before he die that just might get made.
Firefly reunion + Science Channel = ratings gold.
Become a Sundance member.
(Andrew Garfield’s) hips don’t lie.
I’m so tired! I’m glad it’s the weekend ‘cuz I’m going to get my sleep on… and visit IKEA. I recently moved into a loft apartment in an awesome walk/bike part of town. It’s smaller than my old place with very tall walls so that calls for some good old-fashion space solutions. When I think of IKEA, I think of Zooey Deschanel. Why? Well, anyone who has seen (500) Days of Summer (one of my favorite movies), knows that one of the cutest moments out of some many great scenes is them “playing house” in IKEA. And also anyone who has seen the show New Girl (one of my favorite shows) and wants Jess and Nick to get together as much as I do thought it was so sweet that he would go out of his way to build IKEA furniture for her. That’s love, people. Someone should really write an article about how IKEA is romantic for Zooey D’s characters…. Hope you have a great weekend, everyone! Below is a short list of some film-related posts I came across the web this week…
Joss Whedon & the election.
Anything that gets Delpy and Hawke together is A’okay with me.
10 indies to watch.
30 seconds to Mars.
Speaking of Jared Leto, he’s finding his way back to the big screen.
Middle of Nowhere: Black cinema appeals to mainstream.
The most expensive zombie movie ever with Brad Pitt.
1. Me at brunch at the O+B Canteen; 2. Kristen Wiig signing autographs at the special presentation of Imogene; 3. Nina Dobrev getting into her car after the screening of The Perks of Being a Wallflower; 4. Yes, I am at TIFF; 5. The TIFF Bell Lightbox, the headquarters and awesome hangout of TIFF; 6. some guy named Joss Whedon and I before the screening of Much Ado About Nothing
I have always been one of those weird people who have been really into Shakespeare (yes, really). I even took a semester-long english class in high school that was solely dedicated to reading his works (I think I’ve read about 11 of his plays). If you can read between the lines, the man was hilariously funny, really perverse, and has a pretty great grasp on melodrama. Because of it, filmmakers have been fascinated with and have revisited Shakespeare’s text into updated versions using Shakespearean dialogue (see: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet). I don’t know how, but I missed ever reading “Much Ado About Nothing”, which made it even more special that my first introduction to this story was through a modern re-envisioning of the play through the eyes of one, Mr. Joss Whedon. Yes, Whedon decided to tackle Shakespeare and as man that knows have to craft unique cult classics, it should be no surprise that this is a damn good one. Not everyone can weave in modern material into Shakespeare but Whedon has found a way to blend in contemporary physical comedy with Shakespeare’s written follies in such a great way. Aided by charming leading performances by Alexis Denisof (Benedick), Amy Acker (Beatrice), the story revolves around two couples with vastly different perspectives on love, one betrothed and in love and the other using bitter distain to mask their feelings, and the plots to tear them apart and bring them together, respectively. Not to be out done, Nathan Fillon (Dogberry) and Tom Lenk (Verges) together embody the spirit of a old time comedic duo as they take own the roles of incompetent citizen-police. Alcohol consumption is brilliantly used prominently throughout the movie to give plausibility to all the misunderstandings and mayhem that ensue. Added bonus; the movie is in black & white, a choice by Whedon to play up “the noir feel”. My Grade: A (Bonus: I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Whedon in Toronto)
Post-TIFF To Do List
6. Get a well worn copy of “Much Ado About Nothing”
Earlier this week, more films were announced. Here are more films I hope to see in Toronto to add to my initial list:
Directed and written by Martin McDonagh
Synopsis: An alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Farrell) struggling to write a serial-killer script gets more real-life inspiration than he can handle when a dognapping scheme gone awry brings a galaxy of crazies to his doorstep. A top-notch cult-movie cast — including Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton-anchors this wacky, blood-spattered commentary on the psycho-killer thriller from the writer-director of In Bruges. Why I want to see it: It’s all about the interesting and unique casting choices. When did you ever think these guys would be a movie together? I have been awaiting the release of this film for alittle while now so I’m happy that it will make its debut at TIFF. Fingers crossed that I will make it to a screening.
Much Ado About Nothing
Directed and written by Joss Whedon
Synopsis: Shakespeare’s classic comedy gets contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s stylized adaptation. Shot in just twelve days using the original text, the story of sparring lovers Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love. Why I want to see this: Wait, so, you’re wondering why I want to see a Shakespearean adaptation by Joss Whedon?!? I think that says it all. Okay, I’ll throw in the fact that I love Shakespeare; I’ve read 11 of his plays (thanks to my Shakespearean lit class in high school; yes, I took that willingly). I’ll also combine it with the fact that Joss Whedon has given us some of the best entries into contemporary pop culture (Buffy, Firefly, The Avengers). Oh, one other thing. Nathan Fillion is in this.
Directed by Bartholomew Cubbins
Synopsis: Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, Artifact gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they battle their label in a brutal lawsuit and record their album This Is War. The film is a true artifact of our times, as its subjects struggle with big questions over art, money and integrity. Why I want to see this: I don’t watch documentaries. Ever. But Jared Leto has always been such fascinating person in my mind. He is a great actor (My So Called Life put him on my radar; I still can’t believe that show was only one season). He looks like he’s only 30 instead of 40 (seriously, is he a vampire??). He voice is amazing (any acoustic Thirty Seconds to Mars song is beyond belief beautiful). He avoids the celebrity spotlight (he won’t play for any venue/promoter that uses his name to front the band). He changes his look like I change my shoes. Okay, and yeah, he’s super attractive. All of this makes me what to know more about him and his life.
If you’re interested in more, head over to the festival’s film programming for a complete listing.
…or “How Marvel got alot my time and money”
Let’s just say I was determined to watch the movies in the Marvel-verse that I hadn’t already seen before enjoying The Avengers. I had already seen both of the Hulk movies (the Edward Norton version definitely coming out on top), Captain American (which was pretty damn good), and the first Iron Man (blah). I just had to finish the movies out…
Thor (Friday, 5:30 pm). One of the best movies I never wanted to see. I attribute it all to Chris Hemsworth’s charming appeal.
Iron Man 2 (Friday, 7:30pm). A franchise that continues to cater to the role Robert Downey Jr was born to play. He has mastered the art of snarky and makes it oh so funny, yet just I still can’t really get into the movies for whatever reason.
The Avengers (Friday, 10:00pm). A little slow out of the gate and not enough Jeremy Renner, but a super-fun movie with a cast of characters that are great to watch whether they are playing nice or at each other’s throats. Ruffalo is definitely my favorite onscreen Hulk to date, Pine cracked me up with the red boots he sported in every screen, loved the on-screen bromance between Hulk and Iron Man, and (dare I say it) Black Widow had me intrigued.
Pop Culture Randomness (Marvel edition):