Saturday, January 12, 2013

THE BEST OF 2012: #11-15

#15 Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino):

It's really difficult to pick a favorite Tarantino flick , but, as far as I'm concerned, Django Unchained is absolutely a contender to the throne.  With it and, to a slightly lesser extent, 2009's Inglorious Basterds, Q.T.'s moved from merely referencing the films he loves to a place where he's fully operating within the genres he worships.  With this shift, he's traversed the distance between throwing knowing winks up on the screen and perpetrating full-blown homages to some of the greatest and lurid works of the past.  The latter path ends up being so much more satisfying, cohesive, and mature.  

There's still plenty of dark humor and energetic, bizarro fun to be had here; Tarantino's still Tarantino, after all, but it's also much easier to be lost in Django Unchained as a proper film than it was with the (still massively impressive) Kill Bill films.  For my money, this is the best thing he's made since Jackie Brown.  And I'm still having a hard time believing how good Jamie Foxx and Leo D-Cap are in this film.   

Django Unchained is currently still in theaters.  Hit up Mr. Movie Times to find out when and where.

#14 The Fairy (dir. Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, & Bruno Romy):

A wonderful surprise of a film, completely magical and moving, if you allow yourself to be swept away by it.  It's silly, surreal, and visually reminiscent of the best work of Robby Müller.  I've seen it twice now and it still holds up on a second viewing.  The Fairy is one of those films that I feel like I could recommend to anyone, regardless of taste.

Read my review of The Fairy here

The Fairy is available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

#13 Looper (dir. Rian Johnson):

There's never enough intelligent sci-fi released in any given year.  For every Primer, there's a dozen duds like Johnny Mnemonic.   Looper wasn't just the 2012's best foray into the genre, it's the best science fiction release since 2009's Moon.  Director Rian Johnson built a film out of various spare parts borrowed from other classic entries (Blade Runner, La Jetée, Akira), and he's smart enough to layer and sequence those influences into a clever and mostly unpredictable script that reminds the viewer why, despite the tons of poorly orchestrated sci-fi that fans have had to put up with in their lifetimes, we still go and see these kinds of film, holding out hope that every once in a while we'll stumble upon one of them that is actually kind of great.  Looper is one that justifies such patient optimism.

Looper is available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Amazon Instant Video and VUDU.

#12 Café de Flore (dir. Jean-Marc Vallée):

Here's a film I nearly skipped out on seeing all together because every single synopsis out there (including the one in the PIFF 35 catalog or even the tagline of the poster) made it sound middling at best.  It starts out as a story about a narcissistic dj (Kevin Parent) who's abandoned his family for a hot chick.  Trust me, that's the awful part, but it's not what the film's about at all.  There's another story thread featuring Vanessa Paradis, which soon gains equal footing with all that rotten dj nonsense.  It's when the stories begin to influence and creep into each others space that things get really interesting. 

Unfortunately, Jean-Marc Vallée's (The Young Victoria, C.R.A.Z.Y.) film never really got the word of mouth or audience it deserved here in the U.S.  It's currently in distribution limbo and, thus, difficult to see.  If you are able to track down a screening or import dvd, I'd recommend going into it without much knowledge of plot, since it's the twists that count in this film.

Read my review of Café de Flore here.

Café de Flore is currently unavailable in Region 1 on DVD & Blu-ray.  There are import dvd options out there, but you'll want to make sure you can play discs from outside your region before importing.

#11 The Turin Horse (dir. Béla Tarr):

If Béla Tarr is truly stepping away from making films, The Turin Horse is one hell of a way to do it.  The film feels like both like a farewell to the medium and Tarr's interest in communicating with humanity.  From the first long tracking shot on, it's apparent that we're in the hands of a world master, and that the Hungarian auteur intends to make us aware of what we're losing with each moment of this final, funereal masterpiece.

Read my review of The Turin Horse here. 

The Turin Horse is currently available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Netflix.

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