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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?

Spellbound by Moonrise Kingdom

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“This must be the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen!”

We had just left the prescreening of Moonrise Kingdom when I heard the exclamation from a girl in the audience.

I frowned. Weird? This? Hardly.

If this was the weirdest movie she’d seen, her ordinary selection of films must be very limited.

I thought back to when I watched Fassbinder’s Querelle in the early 80s. Good grief! I was 16 years old and had a self image that required me to fearlessly dive into what I thought was “deep” and “insightful” books and movies. I had absolutely no idea of what the movie by Fassbinder wanted to convey. But of course I pretended I had. It was a weird, weird movie.

I don’t need to go that far back in time though. As recent as in the beginning of this year I saw a film that I didn’t have a clue of what it was about: Alps, which was made by the same director as did Dogtooth the other year. Utterly incomprehensible. They had the good taste to play the Popcorn in the end, which left me in an upbeat mode, but you don’t need to go to the movies to hear that song. It’s on YouTube in a gazillion versions.

There have been so many movies over the years which have been way stranger than Moonrise Kingdom, movies such as Delicatessen, La grande bouffe, The Cars that ate Paris. Or basically anything by Lars von Trier. They’re all great, but absolutely weird.

Straight forward
Wes Anderson’s latest movie doesn’t belong to this category at all.

Actually I’d say Moonrise Kingdom is a pretty simple, straight forward story. Here’s this boy and girl who live in US in the 60s. They’re about 12-13 years old, come from so-and-so home conditions. They meet, fall in love and run away together.  People go searching for them and there’s rain and thunder and scouts and worried parents, but nothing of this is really weird.

It’s quirky though, definitely. But isn’t that to be expected from this director? And quirky is not the same as weird. Everything seems to be quirky these days. It’s the new black.

I frowned at the suggestion that the film was weird and I wondered if she was one of those people who seem to hate Wes Anderson, regardless of what he does. It seems as if most people are either with him or against him and nothing in between. (I’m an exception, since I loved Darjeeling Limited but didn’t care for Rushmore. So far I’ve met no one who thinks the same. )

But then I turned around to look in her direction and then I saw the look in her face. She was smiling. As a matter of fact she was absolutely radiant with pleasure of what she just had seen. I swear, if she had walked into an ongoing screening, people would have complained about the lights being turned on.

Pretty, funny, melancholic
I saw where she was coming from. I too felt as if I’d just received a gentle hug, which was exactly what I needed after the rough treatment I got watching Bullhead the other night.

The first word that comes into my mind describing Moonrise Kingdom is “pretty”. A lot of care has been put into the color palette, which reminds me of slides and super 8 movies from the 60s. It’s a world that mostly goes in yellow, but occasionally in red, green or blue, depending on the mood. And needless to say the costume design and the entire art direction is perfect. This is stylish and care has been taken to the smallest detail.

The second word I think of is “funny”. It’s not laughing-out-loud funny, but there are quite a few moments that made me smile a bit.

The third word that comes up is “melancholic”. There’s something about it that makes me think of sunsets or the last week of a vacation or Sunday nights. The kids in the film are just about to cross the border to adulthood, enjoying their last precious days of innocence and freedom. Think Submarine. Think Stand by Me. Think the first half of Super 8, before the monster turned up.

If you love to see children having adventures on their own with a bit of “this is going to end soon” feeling looming in the backhead, I think you’re going to like this.

Remain seated
One more word before I finish: I just want to give you a heads-up, referring to the post I wrote about extra scenes recently.

Whatever you do, if you plan to see this: don’t do like 90 percent of the audience did when I watched it! Don’t run out of the theatre as soon as the texts start running!

Stay calm. Relax. Remain seated. There isn’t any extra scene, but you could say that there’s a bit of extra content in the audio that you might want to hear since it sort of knits the beginning in the end together elegantly.

And here comes finally the TLDR version:
I was quite enchanted by Moonrise Kingdom. Go and see it if you’re into Wes Anderson’s world and style. Otherwise: don’t.

Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, US, 2012) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

June 1, 2012 at 1:11 am

Posted in Moonrise Kingdom