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Halfway through 2012 – here is my top list

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I woke up a morning and realized that we’re halfway through 2012. I know – it’s crazy! How did that happen? To me the year has all but started.

So what do you make of 2012 so far? I thought 2011 was a very good year for movies; the question is – will 2012 match it? Possibly. I made my personal top list of the year so far, covering my top 20 movies. I think there are quite a few gems here and there are a couple of movies in the pipeline that I have high hopes for.

But before we start I want to get one thing out of the way:

Yes, this list includes some movies that you might think belong on a 2011 list, depending on which country you live in. I’ve decided to make my top lists from my personal perspective, following when the movies became accessible in a theatre for me. Many films don’t open inSwedenuntil several months after their theatrical release in US orUK. This was the case with several of the Oscar nominees, which didn’t arrive here until late spring.

Also keep in mind that my appreciation for a movie usually changes over time. Some films that I didn’t immediately embrace have grown; other movies that I liked at first have turned pale as time has passed. When it’s time to make the full-year-list of 2012, some of those movies may very well have changed positions, depending on my mood of the day. I’m notoriously inconsistent.

And that’s the end of the disclaimer section. Let’s move on to the list!

1. We Need to Talk about Kevin
The events in this film have been dealt with before in movies, but not from this point of view, I’d dare say. Tilda Swinton was excellent as the mother of the troubled kid Kevin. The cinematography and particularly the usage of colours are etched into my memory.

 

2. Take Shelter
The storm is coming. Or is it? Do the things that take place on screen really happen or are they hallucinations of a mentally ill person? Some people had doubts about the interpretation. I didn’t. But what we can agree about is that it’s a fantastic little movie, with a brilliant performance by Michael Shannon.

3. Tyrannosaur
A man beats his own dog until it dies. Then he cries over losing his best friend – the dog. This is the start of Tyrannosaur and it’s almost unbearable to watch. From there it goes worse. But provided you can stand watching it, this is a remarkably well played and gripping piece of drama, providing at least some glimpses of hope in all the misery there is.
 

4.Moonrise Kingdom
After three rather depressing movies I wanted to break up this list with something more lighthearted, bringing a bit of hope and happiness into the world. I can’t think of a worthier candidate than Moonrise Kingdom.

5. Prometheus
Prometheus got a bit of a beating due to some ridiculously high set expectations after the successful marketing. It’s no Alien, but despite its flaws I enjoyed it immensely. I got to explore strange new worlds, I saw truly alien aliens, I watched big things blow up in a big way and I gave my imagination a good tickle. That’s all I the sci-fi geek inside me asks for.

6. The Artist
I watched The Artist several months after everyone else, so at the point where I got to it they hype and the backlash were both over with since long. It was a love letter to the world of movies, surprisingly fun and entertaining, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

7. Bullhead
This is another dark film that is tough to watch due to some very intense and violent heavy scenes, on par with Tyrannosaur. Take caution before you watch this if you’re the sensitive kind.

8. A Royal Affair
This Danish costume drama took me by surprise. It’s well acted, well designed, well plotted, high class craftsmanship in every aspect. Highly recommended unless you really can’t stand costume dramas.

9. Chronicle
Chronicle? A found footage movie about youngsters with superpowers? Are you kidding me; how can you put this over serious movies including several Oscar candidates? I can because this debut film out of nowhere charmed me completely with its fresh take on genre that I’m usually not overly excited about.

10. The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods breaking into the top 10 might have to do with that it’s one of the most recent films I watched, so I still have it fresh in memory. Regardless, I had fun watching this, and “fun” is nothing to sneer at. So I’ll bring it into my top 10 to inject yet a bit more of entertainment, giving a break to all the gloomy films I usually watch.

11-20 (Unranked, alphabetic order):


The Avengers
I could never have imagined I’d enjoy a superhero movie this much. I blame Joss Whedon.


Carnage

People throwing up on the screen is rarely fun to watch, but seeing Kate Winslet doing it over a bunch of exclusive art catalogues was priceless. 

The Descendants
From my review: “There’s always something soothing about watching millionaires struggling with their lives, ending up eating comfort ice cream out of the box in front of the TV. Deep down we’re all the same – fragile, messed up and uncertain about where our journey will take us. It’s like hitchhiking. Life will take you into places you didn’t plan. You just need to learn to cope.”


Coriolanus
Ralph Fiennes breathes new life into a less popular Shakespeare play. The original lines and the modern setting mix unexpectedly well.

 

Hugo
Martin Scorsese lets his inner film geek out in full freedom. I can’t imagine anyone else who would have been allowed to make a film celebrating film restoration and Georges Méliès. But he could afford it and as the film lover I am I loved it.

The Kid with a Bike
This was my first encounter with the Dardenne brothers and I hope it won’t be the last.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Sometimes when I go to a theatre all I want is a quick ride with a big budget action movie offering spectacular action and decent actors. This was exactly this and it served me well.


The Muppets
There wasn’t a single kid in the theatre when I watched The Muppets, and I’m not even sure of how funny it is for a child who didn’t grow up with those puppets. I did though and I had a blast. As I said in the review: “On the outside I was a frustrated office worker with a Monday Blues. But hidden inside there was a singing and smiling muppet.”

Tomboy
I wish this film didn’t need to be done. I wish everyone could be allowed to be themselves, using any kind of gender identity they wanted to without being questioned. Sadly enough we’re not there yet. And this film should be shown and talked about at school.

50/50
Cancer and humour doesn’t sound as if it mixes well. But in this film it did.

A couple of mentionings

There are several movies that didn’t make the cut this time, but which very well can end up somehwere on the top list by the end of the year. As I said initially: my ratings change from day to day. The current runner-ups are Warhorse, Elena, Wuthering Heights and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I won’t talk much about bad movies, mostly because I’ve seen so few of them. So far this year there have only been two movies I’ve given a 1/5 star rating. Interesting enough they represent two extremes on a scale of artfulness. On one end we have Rock of Ages, which had an abundance of cheese but no soul. On the other end there’s Alps, which no doubt had higher artistic ambitions, but felt equally heartless, empty and boring.

So, which are your ups and downs so far this year? Which films are you pretty certain will remain on the list when it’s time to narrow down the top 10 of 2012?

It’s a long fall down from Dogtooth

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The higher they climb, the harder they fall. I came to think of the saying as I watched Alps, the new movie by the Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos.

He’s the director who did Dogtooth, which was one of my favourite movies from 2011 (we got it late in Sweden). It was bizarre, disturbing, not like anything I previously had watched and I was grabbed by the story of the young adults who had been imprisoned by their parents their entire life, fed with lies about how dangerous the world was outside of their protecting wall. While opening for many interpretations, it also worked as a drama bordering to horror movie. I was equally fascinated and appalled and gave it one of my rare 5/5 ratings.

With Dogtooth in fresh memory I had pretty high expectations on Alps (and not just referring to the title.) I had heard that it was about a group of people whose job was to impersonate people who have died for a period to help the people who stood close to them handle their grieving. It sounded like an in interesting concept for something along the lines of Dogtooth. I imagined something that pulled towards science fiction, perhaps a parallel world like the one in Never Let Me Go, a place where the ethics and way of living had developed in a different direction than in our universe.

Sadly enough I was wrong. Whatever I had expected – Alps wasn’t it. God knows what it was. Frankly I can’t remember last time I watched a coconut movie with such a hard, unbreakable shell. Don’t ask me what it was about because I haven’t got a clue.

Disengaged reading
To say something nice you could say that Lanthimos has a style of his own. For instance he’s instructing the actors to read all the lines as disengaged as possible. This is not something I’m assuming; I heard it in an interview. And if this is his aim, he has certainly succeeded. They all sound like school children reading aloud from the text book with monotonous voices that don’t care about intonation and punctuation. But for what reason? I have no idea. Can someone please explain?

The cinematography is also quite special. Every once in a while the camera focus shifts and halts at something in the foreground, a person or an object. Everything is completely blurred out and there is no depth in the image whatsoever. Maybe it’s supposed to mean something, but all I see is someone posing for the sake of posing.

This is so bad that I really don’t know what to say more than to warn you. This is not a new Dogtooth. It’s crap. I don’t use the word pretentious so I won’t do it now either but I don’t think I’ve ever been as close to using it as in this review.

Popcorn
Is there anything good about it, anything at all? Well, that would be the final song. All of a sudden they played Popcorn. Yep, that Popcorn, the good old dance song that lasts forever and ever, my earliest childhood memory of pop music. It played in my head on my way home and it cheered me up a little. Then it kept playing for yet another day and I got annoyed. Once you got it in your mind it’s hard to turn it off.

Alps on the other hand will be easy to turn off because it gave nothing. Ask me in a week about it and I promise you I won’t remember a thing.

Alps (Alpeis, Giorgos Lanthimos, GR, 2011) My rating: 1,5/5

Written by Jessica

February 17, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Alps, Uncategorized