Another year gone, lads & lassies, and with its passing must come the inevitable totting up of the best and worst examples of mankind’s artistic endeavours. So, without further ado, here are my cinematic picks – the theatrical releases that I enjoyed most in 2012:
Marvellous post-apocalyptic horror fare. Tension turned up to eleven, moments of stomach-churning gruesomeness, toe-curling discomfort and spine-chilling terror. Magnificent performances abound, particularly from Michael Biehn (jaysus, welcome back fella, where’ve you been hiding all these years?!) and Milo Ventimiglia (wait…the bloke from Heroes? Who knew that he could act!). Utterly unnerving, utterly disquieting, utterly enthralling.
Full disclosure; had never even heard of the play that this is adapted from, so I cannot comment on how true it is to the content of the Great Bard’s story. Nonetheless, as a work of art it is absolutely faultless, looking and sounding thoroughly believable in spite of the Shakespearian language. Ralph Fiennes does a phenomenal job in modernising the material, and the casting is simply superb; Cox, Chastain, Butler, Nesbitt and the great Vanessa Redgrave are all just brilliant at making a good story into an excellent film. Modern-day Shakespeare at its best.
The Raid: Redemption
Take note, Hollywood: THIS is how action films should be done. Simple premise, simple plot, complicated martial arts and gripping action sequences. Gareth Evans has got to be one of the most exciting writer/directors around, and he completely hits it out of the park on this one, if you’ll excuse the baseball phraseology. Beautifully shot, with invigorating originality and breath-taking execution. All for an outlay of just one million dollars. Extraordinary.
I had been excited about this movie ever since the brief, work-in-progress teaser trailer was released back in 2009. Or was it 2008? It is so long ago I can barely remember. Unusually, this is a film that lived up to my expectations, and a perfect example of crowd-funding to boot. Fantastic shlock premise, quite impressive special effects given the budget, glorious ham acting (especially from veteran Udo Kier) and a hilarious send-up of Sarah Palin… What more could you want?
And now for my outright fave film of 2012….
Ha, just kidding.
No, the real outstanding piece of film-making this year was, for me, Bobcat Goldthwait’s masterpiece:
God Bless America
An overpowering mix of He Was A Quiet Man, Natural Born Killers, Bonnie & Clyde, Monster and even Office Space, this is a movie that manages to be better than all of them – and I don’t say that lightly. Darkly humorous, bitingly satirical, bitterly frustrated – all descriptions which are not only apt for the movie itself, but also for its spree killing protagonists, who are wholly unapologetic and totally sympathetic characters. That Goldthwait convinces you to ally with these individuals in spite of their deeds is testament to his writing skill, and this is complemented by memorable visuals and a faintly surreal, ‘plinky plonky’ indie score. Not a conventional film by any means, but one that is surely bound to become a cult classic. Check out my longer review in Film International.
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
- Hunger Games
- Moonrise Kingdom
- Ruby Sparks
P.S. Cannot believe that I forgot Polisse, easily in my top 5 (retrospectively).
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…★