Monday, January 14, 2013

THE BEST OF 2012: #6-10

#10 In the Family (dir. Patrick Wang):

This tiny, little indie that could slowly toured the country, gathering up word of mouth and positive critical notices wherever it played in 2012.  Still, In the Family is a film I've not a single soul reference all year, betraying I think more about what happens when films don't have the luxury of a proper marketing push, festival wins, or distribution than anything to do with the quality of the film.  Actor/director Patrick Wang's work here deserves a large audience.  In the Family is the smallest, most honest film I saw in 2012.

Read my review of In the Family here.

In the Family is currently still touring the country in limited engagements.  Check the website for more details.

#9 Amour (dir. Michael Haneke):

Michael Haneke's work tends to focus on the brutal truths of society; in this regard, he is one of modern cinema's most reliable truth tellers.  His latest work, Amour, dodges applying that characteristic to larger social phenomena.  Instead, this uneasy honesty is aimed entirely at a naked examination of mortality, fidelity, and the limitations of love.  The brutality is still there, but it's present in the way the film is edited.  In one quick cut after another, Haneke abruptly moves his characters further to the brink of their shared personal disaster, and it's crushing to apprehend the state of unraveling portrayed onscreen.  Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva turn in the two best performances of 2012.

Amour is currently still in theaters.  Hit up Mr. Movie Times for details of when and where.

#8 Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin):

Benh Zeitlin could walk away from filmmaking altogether and have made his mark with his debut feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild.  A joyous, tragic coming of age narrative that hits up more than a few indie tropes and techniques, but never resembles anything other than its own magical self.   
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a disaster lived through the eyes of a child, untouched by the strains of dominant culture and codified knowledge.  In Beasts, we finally have something along the lines of what I'd hoped for from Terry Gilliam's adaptation of Mitch Cullin's Tideland (absolutely worth a read, but skip the film).

Read my review of Beasts of the Southern Wild here.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is currently available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Amazon Instant Video and VUDU.

#7 Oslo, August 31st (dir. Joachim Trier):

Oslo, August 31st is a difficult film to talk about with those who require a ray of sunshine present in the films they watch.  It's all about a guy who wants to die from a self-administered overdose.  We know this because early in the film he lets a friend in on his plans.  From that point on, we're made to watch as he makes his way through the day, unsure as to whether or not he'll actually go through with it.  Crazily enough, the film is incredibly life-affirming, both in the way that the reasons for living pile up (despite our protagonist's inability to acknowledge them) and because Oslo, August 31st is one hell of a film, and (c'mon, movie nerds) what's more life-affirming than that?

Read my review of Oslo, August 31st here.

Oslo, August 31st is currently available on DVD and can be streamed via Netflix.

#6 Dark Horse (dir. Todd Solondz):

Maybe you're one of the many out there who thinks Todd Solondz is past his prime, a relic of the oh-so-cynical 90s.  And you'd be forgiven for thinking this way; after all, Storytelling was a huge misstep after the triumphs that were Happiness and Welcome to the DollhousePalindromes only further alienated audiences, enough so that many might not have noticed that Life During Wartime was actually pretty good.

So it's kind of unfortunate that with Dark Horse, his strongest work since the late 90s, most of his audience has already walked away.  Trust me, I kinda like what Solondz does on a regular basis, but even I didn't expect him to produce the funniest film of 2012.  Sure, it's probably unbearable if you can't deal with humor borne from misery, but that's kind of what Solondz is all about, right?  Oh, and it features the best/worst music of any film this year, outside of the re-released 80s cult treat Miami Connection.

Read my review of Dark Horse here. 

Dark Horse is currently available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

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