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Thread: Best movies of 2012 so far

  1. #31
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    Hispanics are more high profile and significant in the city cultural life in Miami than in NYC. Earlier like in the Sixties and Seventies they were more high profile in NYC pehaps, Puerto Ricans particularly, in the days of WEST SIDE STORY.

    Yes definitely nowadays a doc can get out there with less to offer technically. And they are a different category of film. Content rules.

  2. #32
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    That makes sense.

    I just watched Unforgivable. Rich, complex characterizations all around. Characters may not be as sympathetic as audiences prefer...maybe that applies to critics too...None of the characters is a villain but none of them are easy to like, they feel so ...Human...I didn't like any French film from last year as much as this. Best French movie since Les herbes folles (2009) as far as I'm concerned.

  3. #33
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    In NYC now for the NYFF, main slate screeings schedule listed in Festival Coverage, begin Monday. Meanwhile the city is a film festival of its own and I watched these ten movies in six days (Sept. 11-16, 2012) waiting for the 50th New York Film Festival press screenings to begin. I wrote reviews of half of them.

    DETROPIA, a beautiful elegiac documentary about Detroit. Urban destruction eye candy, and some smart comments by locals.

    EYE OF THE STORM,THE (Fred Schepisi). Brittle, uninvolving, handsome, sometimes icky old-school adaptation of the super-famous Patrick White novel with big Aussie names Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, plus Charlotte Rampling, slowly, elegantly dying. Despite the production values and cast, this is far from being one of Schhepisi's best films.

    FOR ELLEN (So Yong Kim). As the droopy wannabe rock star unwillingly giving up rights to his daughter Paul Dano is perfect and does some cool things he's never done before; when he gets drunk and does some heavy metal air guitar in a dive bar it's amazing. But I'm not saying you have to sit through it. I have not seen the Korean-American director's TREELESS MOUNTAIN or IN BETWEEN DAYS, which Howard Schumann had really good things to say about on Cinescene, but this one was way too slow and downbeat for me or most people.

    ARBITRAGE (Nicolas Jarecki) A "white-collar white-knuckler" where the bad guy gets away with it, like they do, a lot, on Wall Street. A slick, entertaining first feature.

    INBETWEENERS/aka/THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (Ben Palmer). From the Brit young guy TV series, crude, good natured humor. Helps if you're a Brit and watched the series.

    THE MATCHMAKER, a nostalgic new Israeli film about a boy and an odd mentor in Sixties Haifa. Cute, but not as cute as MONSIEUR IBRAHIM, of which its theme and central relationship is somewhat reminiscent. Some of the intergenerational subtleties of the period would resonate most with Israelis of a certain age, but I think the main problem is the two principals haven't the charisma of Omar Sharif and Pierre Boulanger, which admittedly not to many people do, but this kid is a bit remote and the matchmaker guy is too crudely drawn.

    KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, a searching, intense, yet in some ways strangely one-dimensional new gay love relationship movie by Ira Sachs. (My review is on Cinescene.)

    ORNETTE COLEMAN: MADE IN AMERICA, a restored print of Shirley Clarke's 1985 non-documentary about the great jazz revolutinary, which I found quite disappointing -- but for a jazz fan and an Ornette fan still a must-see.

    SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN. I had heard for a while about this documentary about a mysterious failed and disappeared singer of great talent from the early Seventies -- producers liked him better than Bob Dylan -- which is as thrilling as promised. A dream subject, elegantly handled by a Swedish director with an Arab name, Malik Bendjelloul.. Howard Schumann has a review of it just published on Cinescene. This mysterious Rodriguez guy remains a mystery, which is fine, but it is clear that he is some kind of holy person. I'm not sure this film is all it could be but it's an amazing story and beautifully made and satisfying. When Rodrigueez gets to perform in South Africa where he's a huge star it's unbelievably moving.

    An exciting film event tomorrow (Friday, September 14, 2012):

    THE MASTER, Paul Thomas Anderson's new feature starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. It opens only here and in LA 9/14/12/ At the Angelika Film Center. I will be there.

    P.s. THE MASTER is clearly one of the year's best. Wish I could have seen it projected in 70mm.

    No, Tabuno, I didn't get to see THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, so I can't comment.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-23-2012 at 07:18 AM.

  4. #34
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    I remember watching Ornette Coleman: Made in America when originally released and just being so grateful to Clarke for it, as any Ornette fan must be. I love him so much that I did not think of the film as something that I can evaluate in the manner of a critic. I watched as one watches home movies of relatives and friends. The negative comments from critics (in the context of a Metacritic score of 82) are valid but, as far as I am concerned, inconsequential. It is almost as if the rough spots or boring moments in the film are a welcome respite from the excitement of seeing Ornette, talk, blow, and just plain hang out.

  5. #35
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    Re Shirley Clarke's ORNETTE COLEMAN: the Metacritic score of 82 bears out our earlier discussion: docs are rated for content not their accomplishment as films. Current reviewers also tend to give a free pass to any revival item, rating it as a "classic" because it could not have been made today. Both are, however, a mistake. Granted films of jazz greats in performance are so rare we are grateful for whatever we can get. But jazz greats deserve great filmmaking, not a home movie. And Shirley Clarke would probably rather have been panned for making a real movie than praised for making a home movie.

    Re: THE MASTER. We can go back to the topic of this thread, because Paul Thomas Anderson has provided another to go on the so far very short list of BEST U.S. MOVIES OF 2012.

    Good news: at Angelika where I saw THE MASTER (too bad I couldn't see a 70mm screening), I learned that Ursula Meier's SISTER/L'ENFANT D'EN HAUT is getting a US theatrical release shortly.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2012 at 10:05 PM.

  6. #36
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    If you go back two posts in this thread to HERE I filled in the list of all ten movies I saw in the six days I've waited for the NYFF press screenings to begin.

  7. #37
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    It is hard to separate form from content in terms of evaluation. It seems to some extent that content is one aspect by which documentaries have to be evaluated. I appreciate your comments and your interest in trying to be as objective as possible in film criticism, allowing for the fact, of course, that there is ultimately an unavoidable, inescapable subjectivity to the whole critical enterprise.

  8. #38
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    Of course content is central to docs but you can forgive me for preferring those that excel in every aspect, or in more aspects anyway.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-17-2012 at 04:39 PM.

  9. #39
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    Ed Lachman, River Phoenix, movies and paintings


    RIVER PHOENIX IS DARK BLOOD

    Recent Mike D'Angelo tweet:
    My most anticipated film of 1993 has its world premiere in 6 days! (For college freshmen, River Phoenix has always been dead.)
    A cut of the unfinished 1993 George (THE VANISHING) Sluizer film DARK BLOOD will be shown shortly. Ed Lachman, who was the cinematographer, told me this at a NYFF press screening thiis week (Sept. 17-21, 2012).

    River Phoenix's final film 'Dark Blood' to debut at Netherlands Film Festival

    Click on that headline and watch the videos on the page and you'll learn George Sluizer decided to finish the film several years ago because he learned his days might be numbered. I wrote about a beautiful short film Ed Lachman made with Slater Bradley called SHADOW, celebrating the moment of the DARK BLOOD shooting in an oblique way. This was shown in installation at the Whitney Museum in October 2010; the piece was to be on view for three months but was received with such interest it ran for six. Earlier this year we had James Franco's variations on MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO "My Own Private River" (FCS), now this, a Sluizer-edited "Dark Blood - The Unfinished Film."

    Ed Lachman also told me about an interesting project he carried out at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid this summer, recreating Edward Hopper's 1952 painting "Morning Sun" as a tableau vivant. There's a YouTube video of the installation. Lachman describes how the project came about here. It was the result of Lachman's being asked to participate in a symposium on Hopper; he chose to recreate a Hoper painting instead of just talk about it. This resulted in discoveries of ways that the painting wasn't realistic. All kinds of alterations had to be made to duplicate the painting in real space and with actual light -- as film noir directors did, some shadows had to be panted on.

    The final room in the exhibition has been transformed into a film set in which the American filmmaker Ed Lachmann has produced a recreation of Hopper’s work Morning Sun (1952). The installation, which will be open for the entire period of the exhibition, comprises a three-dimensional reproduction of the scene in the painting, revealing Hopper’s use of cinematographic devices. --Thyssen Museum webpate.

    ED LACHMAN AND HIS MADRID TABLEAU VIVANT

    Ed Lachman might most be remembered for ERIN BROCKOVICH, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, FAR FROM HEAVEN AND I'M NOT THERE. Also (the notorious) Larry Clark film KEN PARK (banned from showing in the US) and Todd Solondz's LIFE DURING WARTIME. He recently worked on Ulrich Seidl's PARADISE trilogy.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-21-2012 at 10:41 PM.

  10. #40
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    Thanks for all that. Informative and interesting.
    One movie that is likely to get some votes in year-end polls is Compliance. If memory serves, that reviewer you like (D'Angelo?) liked it a lot. A lot of people I talked to found the film "uncomfortable to watch" which applies to me. Ebert and others have talked about people walking out, not because they think the film is bad or boring but because they just can't take it. Is that a symptom or an attribute? What does it say about the movie? The critical response is quite interesting to consider, particularly a few extremely negative reviews for a film that seems to me has obvious merits. The zero and one star reviews from Wall St. Journal, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, and Slant reflect to me a neurotic evasiveness or denial about what the movie compellingly demonstrates about human weakness and frailty. More specifically, I think Ebert is right when he say that Compliance proves we (humans? Americans?) are afraid of authority.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 09-23-2012 at 12:10 AM.

  11. #41
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    COMPLIANCE

    I don't think it's one of the year's best or even one of the year's best "non-fiction" films but if I were teaching a class in current documentaries I'd certainly include it because it would stimulate debate. THE IMPOSTER, which I compared and preferred in my joint review is about the same subject of gullibility. Sure Ebert is right as usual and stating the obvious as usual. The Miami Herald guy is right too: the filmmaker doesn't completely "sell" his mockup. And that's a big reason for the walkouts.

    Sounds like you remember only the opening part of D'Angelo's COMPLIANCE review or forgot all the serious shortcomings he points out further down. Note the socre he gave it was 53/100. That's not a pan in his system but it's very, very far from a rave. He was stimulated and liked one actress "a lot." Compare my collation of D'Angelo's 2012 Cannes and Toronto Twitter reviews to see where a 53 fits on his scale.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-23-2012 at 07:22 AM.

  12. #42
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    More new theatrical releases I watched in NYC in between NYFF screenings:

    186 DOLLARS TO FREEDOM/AKA/ CITY OF GARDENS. Camilo Vila directed Monty Fisher's story starring John Robinson of ELEPHANT and LORDS OF DOGTOWN. I respect Fisher's long struggle to get his MIDNIGHT EXPRESS-like 1980 personal Peruvian prison escape story into a movie, but this low budget production by a mainly commercials director, though shot in Peru, is too lurid and Robinson is too bland, and the writing may be too influenced by MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, which Fisher says he watched when he had just escaped into Ecuador, and he's never gotten over it. MIDNIGHT EXPRESS remains unchallenged. This has won some small Latin American-oriented fest prizes but is under the radar and the NYTimes review is right that the hero (Robinson) comes off "less as principled than as stupendously naive" -- which makes him hard to sustain interest in as a protagonist.

    DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL. Doc with three directors, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, and Frédéric Tcheng, 2011, just released. Vreeland the Harper's Bazaar and Vogue fashion queen and Met Costume curator was a great character and a huge influence on glossy magazines and fashion, though this is just a eulogy. What I didn't know was that William Klein's black and white 1966 French film WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGOO? was apparently based on Vreeland at her most imperious and stylish, and footage from the film is used effectively here. I enjoyed this but had hoped for more.

    END OF WATCH (David Ayer 2012). Rogue cop story and bromance starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, who give their all, but the choppy, simplistic script doesn't make much out of it. What you do get is it's scary to walk into a drug cartel house in South Central LA, or most anyplace when these two macho, idealistic, but out of line partners do it. An exciting watch but stories and characters don't develop; the fake home movie effects are irrelevant, except to jazz things up artificially -- a horror movie device. Anna Kendrick is under used and the bad guys and bad girls are crude lurid stereotypes. Lucky Peña is there at the wheel or this would look anti-Hispanic. Ayer, who knows this milieu and has devoted his career to it, tries to be original, the lead actors try very hard and achieve young-cop authenticity, but for all the effort the result is mediocre. Manohla Dargis sums it up better than I could in her NYTimes lead: "a muscular, maddening exploitation movie embellished with art-house style and anchored by solid performances."

  13. #43
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    I don't know if you want to discuss Compliance more in detail because you barely say anything about it except that, for some reason I don't understand, you call it a "documentary". Then you call it "poor, bastardized kind of drama" without explaining what makes it so. I think you may have been better off not reviewing this film at all. It is waaaay below your usual high standards.

  14. #44
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    Well, I said it would be good to use in a class. It's true it's not one of the films I'm most interested in discussing but I have every right to review it, and combined it with THE IMPOSTER for a reason. I hope you're reread D'Angelo's review. It does send a mixed message, but the outcome is that it's best for its acting, in his view, not as a film otherwise. And since he keeps a running best list it's clear it's not to be found there. "Basterdized" because it's an element of docs without the other usual elements. Sort of like a training film and it reminded me of the improvisations by actors I experienced during my army training.

    http://letterboxd.com/gemko/list/best-of-2012/

    We have agreed on COSMOPOLIS. (MOONRISE KINGDOM? I forget.) What about THE MASTER. That's a good one to debate.

  15. #45
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    Here's a possible candidate given Martin McDonagh's track record and the cast. His plays are hilarious, shocking, and brilliant, and his IN BRUGE was a hoot. This ups the ante with some of the best actors out there to play nut cases.



    Leads/psychopaths:

    CHRIS WALKEN
    WOODY HARRELSON
    SAM ROCKWELL
    COLIN FARREL
    TOM WAITS
    ABBIE CORNISH
    OLGA KORYLENKO


    This might also be a suitable chaser, given the related plot, to Ben Affleck's well-hyped ARGO, or a weird movie production scheme. But then again, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS has been described as a bad example of sophomore slump, and ARGO's hype doesn't mean it's a great movie.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-02-2012 at 07:02 AM.

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