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Monday, December 31, 2012

Some of My Favorite Films of 2012

In no particular order:

21 Jump Street: (directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller) I had gone into this film thinking it was going to be the TV show told again, with the same characters. Instead, it was so much better. It was new characters, who were put in a " revived cancelled undercover program from the 80's," because "nobody can do anything new." The film was ridiculously hilarious, and I was surprised at how good Channing Tatum was at comedy. The jokes about the cops looking too old for high school, trying new personalities, the expectation that cars should explode on impact and other cop movie cliches, it was all so much fun to watch.

The Central Park Five: (directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon) A documentary about the unlawful imprisonment of five teen boys accused of beating and raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989. It is incredibly sad to watch these boys being manipulated into telling false truths, and the racist witchhunts that the media perpetuated in order to bring the suspects to "justice." It was a devastatingly sad film, but important to watch.

The Avengers: (directed by Joss Whedon) So much fun. I didn't know much about the superheroes going in, because I'm not a comic book fan, but I liked the chemistry between the actors, Joss Whedon's snappy dialogue that was reminiscent of Buffy (Tony Stark: Then tell him to suit up... I'm bringing the party to you. [he and the Leviathan break out of a building and speed away toward the rest of the Avengers] Natasha Romanoff: I, I don't see how that's a party...), the post-credits scene that continues on a minor line said during the final battle, and how awesome Mark Ruffalo was as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, bringing more depth to the character than I've seen before. Afterwards, I did watch Thor, and was surprised to see how unintentionally funny Thor could be in his stoicism and seriousness. I got bored with Iron Man, and I wasn't interested in Captain America. So I probably won't see the individual superhero movies, but would see Avengers 2.

Looper: (directed by Rian Johnson) It was creative and fascinating, with great performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt. It reminded me of Back to the Future, Twelve Monkeys, and The Terminator at times, but I didn't mind. I enjoy science fiction and time travel stories, as well as plotlines that make you think and piece the film together regarding events and alternate futures. I would definitely watch it again.

A Girl and a Gun: (directed by Cathryne Czubek) This was a documentary that I saw at DOC NYC this year, about womens' relationships with guns. It showed a broad pool of women from all over the country who had guns and their personal reasons for owning them. It was very educational and interesting, and I not only learned more about guns from watching it, but enjoyed the storytelling and diverse range of subjects profiled. I know there is a massive push for gun control after Sandy Hook, which I do support. I believe that people should be licensed to carry guns, but also to take psych profiles as so the guns aren't used in a malicious manner, either for hunting or self-defense.

Argo: (directed by Ben Affleck) Fantastic film. I loved the attention to detail, making it look like a period film from 1980. The spy story was thrilling and full of suspense, and even though I knew how the story would end, I was still worried along with the hostages when they were planning their escape and going through customs. Ben Affleck has greatly improved as a director since Gone Baby Gone, and this was an excellent film in the espionage/CIA genre.

Cabin in the Woods: (directed by Drew Goddard) Another film written by Joss Whedon. I liked how it not only played with horror movie cliches, but added a new twist and more depth to why they are being targeted by evil beings. Particular credit goes to Fran Kanz as the dopey stoner who was yet the smartest member of the group, and Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the "puppet masters" of sorts. While the ending was a bit disappointing, I still loved the turn of events when one would think the movie would be over. Really creative and fun to watch.

Dredd: (directed by Pete Travis) This film didn't do very well because of bad marketing, bad association with the Stallone movie, and that Dredd is a British comic book character. But this film, in just an hour and a half, was one of the best films I saw this film, and one of the best I've seen in the sci-fi genre. It is very dark and brutal, Karl Urban does a fantastic job in communicating so much with only a third of his face shown for the entire film, Olivia Thirlby's character expanded from being an apprehensive rookie cop to a badass fighter when her life was at stake, and Lena Headey played a great villain, though I wish her character could have been developed more. The building reminded me of the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong, a walled city of cheap apartments, stores, restaurants, and black market businesses, as well as many people of different ethnicities being crammed together in one overpopulated city. Judge Dredd is much like Robocop in tone and style, and I highly recommend it.

Hysteria: (directed by Tanya Wexler) This was a wry and funny little film, clearly not taking itself too seriously, and a little anachronistic, as Maggie Gyllenhaal's character acts more like a modern-day feminist than a woman raised in the 19th century. I liked Hugh Dancy's performance as being a bit of his league, and the way the story unfolded to how the vibrator was invented, whether it really happened that way or not. The film came and went, but it was pleasant to see for an afternoon at the movies.

I am sure there are others that I've seen that I enjoyed, but I don't remember. I don't really have any worst films that I feel like listing, because I don't want to dwell on something that wasn't good.

There are other films that came out this year that I'd like to see, like Robot and Frank, The Raid: Redemption, Middle of Nowhere, Zero Dark Thirty, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Rust and Bone.

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