Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movies: The Year 2012 - A View Into The Rear-View Mirror

2012 was a solid movie year. I didn´t spot any spectacular cinema event like 2011´s "Melancholia", but there were a lot of interesting films.

My movie of the year is a Scandinavian production called "Headhunters",  a kind of Nordic dynamite which was shown in America in Norwegian & Danish with English subtitles. It was much fun watching this explosive roller coaster - a violent and very bloody chain reaction filled with a lot of surprises and twists.

I equally indulged Roman Polanski`s "Carnage". The comedy, set in Brooklyn, shows just 2 married couples who are talking about a conflict their sons had on a schoolyard, costing one of the boys 2 teeth. I enjoyed how the characters tried to settle the conflict in the beginning, but got more and more agitated and how the situation escalated in the run of the movie.
Watching "Miss Bala", a low budget Mexican production, also generated a strong impression. The Flick narrates the story of a girl, who gets between 2 fronts - ruthless Mexican drug gangs and similarly aggressive law enforcement - while she is trying to win a beauty contest.  It´s a tale about brutally, violence and totally disregard of human life and looks almost like a documentary.
The "Iron lady", a biopic about Maggie Thatcher, also belongs on my list of favorites. The film isn`t a political manifest, nor does it care much about the economic aspects of the Thatcher revolution. Instead the makers painted a very emotional picture about winning power and loosing it.

Anther favorite is "Lawless", which tells the story of some liquor bootleggers who fought around 1930 against corrupt law enforcers. This war escalated into menace, torture and murdering. The film is brutal and bloody, but also honest, intense and convincing. It shows how stubbornness and overconfidence could lead into a bloody mess. But the roughness of the plot is counterbalanced by the beauty of the pictures which let you participate in a time travel to the epoch around 1930.

The visual magic of "The Master" also belongs to the cinematic highlights of the year. The movie tells the story of a disturbed American World War II returnee who gets involved with a charismatic cult leader - projected in 70mm.  It was a grace to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic cult leader. He showed the eloquence, brilliance and charm of this enigmatic figure but also his stubbornness and anger, when he was questioned or doubted.

But there were more movies which impressed me, including "Savages" (a story of 2 Californian beach boys and highly successful pot growers and their shared girlfriend who slide into a very messy clash with a Mexican drug cartel), "Moonrise Kingdom" (a tale about 2 kids - 12 years old - who fell in love to each other and ran away into the wilderness, which triggered a funny chain of events), "Elles" (some days in the life of an acclaimed middle-aged female journalist who has been interviewing some up-market student prostitutes in Paris) and "Farewell My Queen" about the last days of Marie Antoinette. The movie works partly as a historic thriller and transmits the growing fear, panic and cluelessness of the royals in the light of the revolution which spreads like Cholera.

The year also had some fine comedies fine comedies including "Woody Allen´s "To Rome With Love", "Hyde Park On Hudson" about Franklin D. Roosevelt`s affair with his cousin Daisy during the visit of King & Queen of England and "My Week With Marilyn", a charming film about Marilyn Monroe `s little love adventure while she was shooting an unimportant flick 1957 in England.

The action genre had passable productions like "Skyfall", the newest James Bond incarnation, "The Bourne Legacy", "The Dark Knight Rises" (another Batman episode) and "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol".

But I more enjoyed the dirty and funny flicks like "The Paperboy", "Killer Joe" and "Rampart" which all entertained in a dark way.

The surprise of the year is "Hitchcock". It was a astonishing lot of fun to watch Anthony Hopkins incarnating Alfred Hitchcock. He perfectly displayed the master`s character: The obstinacy, greed for food and blond actresses as well as the insecurities and jealousy regarding his spouse.

The year also showed some fascinating director`s debuts. Rupert Sanders delivered a superb "Snow White And the Huntsman" based on one of the dark stories the Brother`s Grimm had collected. The tale about jealousy, greed, power trips and other vices benefited a lot from the fireworks of special effects which were cutting edge. I reckon that Sanders could define cinema in the coming years as Stanley Kubrick did in the 60s and Ridley Scott around 10 years later.
Another promising newcomer was Elgin James with "Little Birds". The flick narrates some days in the life of two 15 years old girls who run away from their pathetic homes and join a gang of juvenile skaters. This old story was told in a new refreshing way and shot in beautiful pictures.

The disappointment of the year is "Lincoln". The drama doesn`t come up to all the hype and the huge reputation of Steven Spielberg.  I also was disappointed by "Cosmopolis" ( a hedge fund manager driving in his limo through Manhattan) and the Alien prequel "Prometheus".

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