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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 rocked for ages

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Have you ever seen a rock concert scene in a movie that actually looked convincing?

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I think most efforts to convey live rock music magic on the screen fail. There’s something missing. The scene presence of an actor has a different flavor to the one of a rock artist. And the dynamic, the electric bond, between the musicians and the audience, doesn’t come through.

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I always cringe a little inside when it’s time to go to the club for a live concert. But I manage to forgive it, because it’s “only” TV and the music part isn’t the main point of the series.

However in a movie that is all about live performance of rock music, it’s harder to overlook it.

Worst movie of the year?
The upcoming musical film Rock of Ages, starring Tom Cruise as a rock star in the 80s, suffers from this and a lot of other problems. As a matter of fact it’s so bad that it will be a strong competitor for the title “worst movie of the year.”

There are so many things here to hate and I can’t decide which is worst.

Is it the “plot” or whatever you should call the thin glue that is supposed to hold the song- and dance-numbers together?

Is it the clichéd view on the 80s, which I suppose is easier to buy into if you’re too young to have your own memories of that time?

Or is it the complete lack of heart, soul and originality?

Deep down all movies are commercial enterprises, but there usually is something more to it as well: someone who wants to tell a story, convey something, inspire us, enlighten us, entertain us or touch us. But all this movie wants is our money.

I can imagine how someone noticed the success of Mamma Mia, deciding to have a go at it. The concept is resembling: pop and rock hits that work both for a young audience and for their parents who loved them back in the days and are up for a nostalgic kick. And a few well known actors as some extra spice.

This time we have hits from the 80s instead of Abba I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I’m so grumpy about this (while Mamma Mia is a guilty pleasure that always puts me in a good mood). Most of them – cheesy, sugar dripping ballades – just aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t like them and I never have, not even back in the days.

A few upbeat rock style songs hold up better. It’s the kind of music I love to listen to if I’m in a training class or that I love to sing along with if I’m doing a long-way drive and need to stay awake. But the question is: why should I listen to okish covers of “I love rock’n’roll” and I wanna rock in a theatre there are much better clips available with Joan Jett and Twisted Sister at Youtube?

Goes on for ages
I admit that I was a little bit amused and had a happy smile on my face for the first fifteen minutes. There’s something about musicals that has that effect on me. I love the absurdity of it, the enormous suspension of suppression of disbelief that takes place when someone for the first time opens her mouth and bursts into a song number.

But the sensation of the novelty wore off soon enough and after one hour I was bored out of my mind and couldn’t believe that I would have to sit through another hour of rubbish. The title would have made much more sense if they had changed the “of” into a “for”.

I threw a glance at my husband. He didn’t seem quite as happy as I was; if anything he appeared to enjoy himself pretty much. Asked about it afterwards he explained it: he wasn’t there at all. He was so appalled and bored that he had tuned out after 15 minutes and spent the remaining 1 hr 45 minutes thinking back to and replaying a western film, Duel in the Sun, which he had watched the other night. It was the only way to endure it.

Is there anything good at all about this movie? As a matter of fact there is. Tom Cruise. He does his roll very well. Not that I expected any less of him. But his performance alone is not enough to motivate you to see this film unless you’re a 80s music devotee, in which case I suppose you might enjoy it.

What to see instead
If you want to see a good rock musical on film, I would rather recommend Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It has a soul, it has a meaning, it has characters you really care about. It has much better music, which is written originally for the musical, not just tired cover versions. The difference is that Hedwig IS rock’n’roll while Rock of Ages just imitates it.

I can imagine that Rock of Ages works pretty well as a musical on stage with an audience consisting of groups of friends who are enjoying themselves after having a couple of drink. I can imagine that people would sing along and clap their hands and have a good time. But as a movie experience Rock of ages sucks and that’s what I told the theatre staff as I left the cinema and they asked us for our opinions since I had attended a free prescreening.

But who knows, perhaps I’m just not in the target audience for this film. Maybe it will be a box office hit anyway, thanks to the star power of Tom Cruise and an inexplicable wave of nostalgia for the 80s. I heard a teenage girl saying loud and clearly: “This was the BEST movie I’ve ever seen”.

Rock of Ages (Adam Shankman, US, 2012) My rating: 1,5/5

Written by Jessica

June 11, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Rock of Ages