In between projects.
You know what that means.
I decided to see all the movies I missed from 2012. (I know what I said but I changed my mind)
These are my 9 quick reviews. Well… 8 quick and one that you may want to skip if you’re easily offended.
(psst. It’s Django)
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Written by Derek Connolly
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, & Karan Soni
Safety Not Guaranteed is cute, funny and a little quirky. It’s a film about a classified ad. It is brilliant.
Aubrey Plaza is adorable and funny… as always.
This is a sweet little movie with a good cast.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Directed by David O. Russell
Screenplay by David O. Russell
Based on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Silver Linings Playbook has fantastic performances from its entire cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence.
It is a well written drama, romantic & funny. I loved the shit out of this movie.
Silver Linings Playbook is tragically funny at times and funnily funny at others and it hits a little too close to home for me. (Guy w/ anger management issues spends 8 months in a mental hospital and then meets a girl who is just as unbalanced… which one of you has been reading my e-mail?) I loved this movie.
If it wins best picture, I would not be disappointed. I still think Les Miserables is a bit better, but I could live with Silver Linings Playbook winning it all. In fact I could live with Silver Linings Playbook sweeping all the top honors.
J-Law had better win for best actress (I hope her abrasive personality didn’t ruin her chances) but Bradley Cooper is at his best and you know how when pretty people give the best performances of their lives the Academy loves that shit. (Daniel Day-Lewis can do it in his sleep but this might be Brad’s only chance)
Robert De Niro also deserves a statuette as well as Jacki Weaver (Though she’ll have a hard time getting past both Sally Field and Anne Hathaway) Did I say yet how much I loved this movie? Silver Linings Playbook.
Rent it (I will be buying it)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Narrated by Bob Balaban
Moonrise Kingdom is syrupy sweet. Just a big ol’ cereal bowl of sweet. Here’s a movie with several of my favorite actors Bill, Bruce, Ed, Frances, Jason etc. but they are all out-shined by two young actors. The two main characters are excellent.
Wes Anderson films are not performance driven as a rule. They’re all about the writing and the writing is sensational. Everyone is so smart and well-written that the performances are for the most part just deliveries of extremely quirky & funny dialogue.
But what always strikes me with Wes Anderson films is the absence of people of color. Even though I would be upset if he tried awkwardly to shoehorn a black character into his mono-chromatic vision. But even in monotone, I love Wes Anderson’s world. I would love to live in there. Although I would stick out.
I went to sleep away camp when I was younger (it was for actors but it was still campy… very campy) and I was also a scout for a short time. I was the only black face in both of these things. So if Wes Anderson’s camera were me, from my POV, this is how my 60’s & 70’s would look. (I’m the camera so that’s why you can’t see my black face)
Wes Anderson makes good movies. He makes that era seem so cool. I love his work.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski
Screenplay by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski
Based on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Susan Sarandon & Hugh Grant
I tried to watch this movie twice before my third, (I’m hoping) successful viewing later tonight. I fell asleep. I fell asleep twice. The third time I’ll prepare. I made coffee.
*Update… I fell asleep again.
Rent it (If you’ve been having trouble sleeping)
Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen
Starring Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan
Sure this film was released in 2011 but the DVD came out in 2012 so I’m going to review it here. Is that alright?
I really enjoyed this movie. Like each of the other movies I’ve reviewed this time, I identify greatly with the characters. Michael Fassbender is in fine form & Carrie Mulligan is so good it hurts. She is always good but in this she shines. Love her smile.
Carrie does a bluesy, sultry torch version of the song New York, New York that is worth the price of admission (I paid nothing). She is one of my favorite young actresses. And Michael Fassbinder is so tasty. (If you haven’t, you must see him in Prometheus)
Shame is a story about a sex addicted sociopath, his equally fucked up sister and their screwed up relationship. And I loved every minute of it.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Written by Mark Boal
Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton & Chris Pratt
Zero Dark Thirty (30 minutes after midnight) is insanely good. Kathryn Bigelow shows us once again how talented a director she has become. She builds tension like nobody’s business.
This is a revenge pic but a little more satisfying than Django (I review Django later even though I saw it before Zero) but unlike Django & Lincoln, I lived through this era.
It plays like a documentary because at times it feels so real, so accurate, like what she did with Hurt Locker (For my money one of the best war movies ever made).
Jessica Chastain is brilliant but I kept wanting to see Claire Danes in the part instead of her (I miss Homeland). All women in the CIA are Claire Danes from now on.
It moves pretty fast in spite of the fact that it’s almost 3 hours long and is mostly about frustration & waiting and a 10 year-long search for UBL (I will only refer to him as UBL from now on)
We all know how the movie ends but Kathryn still builds the tension well and when UBL finally gets his, the payback is immensely satisfying.
Directed by Ben Affleck
Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Based on The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and
The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman
Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin & John Goodman
Argo is an extremely well-made movie. I’ve always said that Ben Affleck is a better director (than Tarantino) than he is an actor but I have never meant that to say that he wasn’t a good actor. I’ve always meant that he’s an excellent director.
Argo is a tension filled historical thriller. History drives the movie but even when knowing the outcome (If you’re old enough to remember the Carter administration) it still keeps you on the edge of your seat, gripping your armrest, gasping for air. Ben Affleck’s direction and fantastic casting make this one of the best movies of last year.
During the credits they show you the iconic photos from that period that Ben uses to frame the film and it’s impressive how well he recreates that era and those images.
Not the best movie of the year, (I’m talking to you Hollywood Foreign Press Association), but Argo is important work nonetheless.
Django Unchained (2012)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins & James Remar
Django Unchained has some seriously fucked up geographic problems. It tries to make the 19th century American South into the American West but they had and still have completely different sensibilities.
Take Blazing Saddles and throw in Death Wish and then put them both in Alex Haley’s Roots and you have Django Unchained. The western aspects of the film are way too campy. The Slavery aspects of the film are like something out of a 70’s balxploitation cartoon. And the revenge fantasy that this film becomes just made me feel dirty… for enjoying it soooooo much.
Shut the fuck up.
It’s a fun story but a poorly made movie. Tarantino is not a director and never has been one. He is a great writer. He needs to stop claiming that he’s making these films INTENTIONALLY BAD. He couldn’t make a good film if he wanted to.
His dialogue is fantastic. He is one of the best screenwriters in the history of cinema. His stories are fun and crowd pleasingly satisfying. But he couldn’t tell a visual story if his life depended on it. He’s not a director. He’s a writer. And Django is only enjoyable because it reminds you of the horrors of slavery (depictions of which are quite TAME in this movie) and then allows you to get off on seeing white people get killed by Jamie Foxx.
And now a word about white people.
Every European (not all American) in this movie is a bad guy save one. (The amazing Christoph Waltz) and every African (not yet American… see Lincoln below) in this movie is a good guy save one (The sensational Samuel L Jackson). Django is the story of the only white man who hates slavery and the only black man who loves it. This dynamic is over-simplified to the point where it sickened me.
What this movie could have been was a kick-ass buddy western comedy. There are many stories of African-American gunfighters in the old west. It would have been nice if this had been one of those.
What this movie could have been was a true hero’s tale. A man who risks EVERYTHING to save the love of his life. Risking his freedom. His life. His sanity. His nutsack. (Whites in that time always castrated a black man after beating him & before hanging and then burning him while he was still alive. Oh yeah and they would bring their families to see it, including young children. Smiling, emotionally scarred young children) Instead of the superhero story that it is.
What this movie could have been was the story of a slave revolt. The story of the slaughter of slave owners by their slaves. (Something that happened more times than is told in the history books… fear of it getting around to other plantations I suppose) And also shown how after such a slaughter or an escape from chains that many newly liberated slaves, in an unfamiliar landscape and without help, were easily tracked down and slaughtered as well. (Another reason Harriet Tubman is still such a famous name)
This movie is instead all and none of these things.
I grew up in a situation where we were aware of our history as Africans in America. Where the images of the smiling faces standing next to the swinging bodies of my ancestors were burned into my tiny little retina (by a hateful woman who I will not speak of here) not unlike the charred flesh of the thousands of men treated this way. But it instilled in me a respect and a disdain for this country’s past and a respect and a reverence for the African American struggle (I have fought all my life not to become the racist she was trying to make me into. …with some success).
So to me this movie is a disrespectful cartoonish misguided and racially insensitive film made by a twisted but extremely talented writer but a dreadfully awful director.
Having said all that, I will be watching it again. I may watch it a few times. Probably naked. Django Unchained is some really sexy revenge porn.
Rent it and then take a long scalding hot shower.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Tony Kushner
Based on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook & Tommy Lee Jones
Lincoln comes after Django in this post chronologically and logically because it’s about the ending of slavery.
Unlike Tarantino, Spielberg is an actual director. Steven Spielberg has forgotten more about visual storytelling than Quentin Tarantino has fantasized about black men. (sorry still a little angry). Just consider the scene in Lincoln where Jefferson Davis surrenders to Ulysses Grant… there is no dialogue. It is an amazing scene. – There are no words.
Daniel Day-Lewis disappears into the title role so thoroughly that at times I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a documentary. The man frightens me. Years from now we’re going to find out that all of those characters that he brings to life so expertly are still inside of him. And as he ages, he will develop the most dramatic, cinematic & historic multiple personality disorder ever recorded.
Lincoln is a fine historical drama. But I disagree with its title and I disagree with its ending. It isn’t the story of Abraham Lincoln but the story of one of his greatest accomplishments.
I would have preferred that this film be billed as a civil war story. And as for the ending (I’m not giving anything away here. Lincoln. Ford’s Theater. You know the story) I don’t think we need to see what they end up showing (no spoiler) because it is not truly a bio-pic. It is the story of a piece of legislation. It is a film about the workings of the 19th century House of Representatives. Sure Abe’s a big part of it but the true star of the movie is a piece of paper (A creased piece of paper).
In the end it is a very good movie. Steven Spielberg is amazing at his job. It is not a perfect movie. But it is a very good one.
So to recap…
There were two movies about Slavery
Lincoln – worth seeing for the history lesson and
Django Unchained – worth seeing for the revenge porn
Two movies about a secret CIA operation
Argo – worth seeing for the history lesson and
Zero Dark Thirty – worth seeing for the revenge porn
Two sweet and funny family friendly movies
Moonrise Kingdom – worth seeing for the great cast and more for the great writing and
Safety Not Guaranteed – worth seeing for the great writing but more for the great cast
Two adult themed movies about a man and a woman with social problems
Shame (2011) – worth seeing for Michael Fassbender & Carrie Mulligan’s performances and
Silver Linings Playbook – worth seeing for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s performances
And one other movie that I sat through three times and fell asleep each time
Cloud Atlas I promise to try again Cloud Atlas but first I’ll have to score some meth.
And there you have it.
Except for maybe The Master, I think I have seen every English language live action movie of note from 2012… I think.
Did I miss anything?
Let me know.
Nobody asked you, house nigger. Ain’t got nothing but bullets for YO ass.
I’ll see the rest of you guys at the movies,