Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 top ten and more

The old curse of living in interesting times befell me this year with a leg injury making me miss out MIFF MUFF and a few other smaller scale festivals. I managed to catch up with most of my MIFF choices through subsequent cinema and blu-ray releases and really grimace at having to miss it at the time as it would have been outstanding. Otherwise it was the year of not cult cinema but the cinema of cults with no less than three movies focussing on the effect of cult membership. In the era of CGI-heavy action, constantly enhanced 3D screening and ever soaring budgets a black and white, mostly silent comedy in 4X3 won the Oscar and the best superhero film was a found footage piece. The auteur stakes were spare with Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master competing (from what I was able to see) only with Sion Sonno's Himizu. Left this late as I need to see a few late release titles before making this list.

My top cinematic moment of the year, though, included one of the worst projected images I've seen for many a year (and at ACMI!) but I was happy going along with it as it was Goblin playing their score to Suspiria live. Sublime! Now they need to come back and do the same for Deep Red. And John Carpenter needs to come and play to Halloween and Prince of Darkness (I know I'm meant to say The Thing but I don't like that music as much  as those two. Sorry, I know it's Morricone...)

My top ten for this year is, I think, stronger than it has been for a fair whack of years. Here it is:

The Artist: Because it's clever, knows it but also knows it's meant to be fun. Not a history of silent cinema as much as a reminder of why it worked. Best seen with a full cinema.

Martha Marcy May Marlene: For starting as a severe indy piece and developing into a new kind of horror film. Like a current Eurohorror without the extreme violence.

Safety Not Guaranteed: Because it mashed a quirky indy with a buddy and a sci-fi and made them all work together. More non-schtick Aubrey Plaza, please.

Planet of Snail: A love story, an against-odds epic, a poetic film that works as poetry and it's also a documentary. Brilliant work. Still haunts me.

Chronicle: I forgave the tired found footage approach because this is the best superhero film outside of the best that embrace the comic aesthetic. Well played and well told.

The Master: New P.T. Anderson almost guaranteed to make the cut but this one shows why he's still going and going against the grain. He's an original who doesn't mind showing where he's come from. I like this one the more I think about it.

The Hunger Games: Suprised me completely. Thought it would be a soft centred copy of Battle Royale but it transcended its derivations to claim itself. Very good work.

Sound of My Voice: A cold and creepy indie that looks a million bucks but plays down where Cronenberg started. As with Martha Marcy May Marlene, this is a team to watch. There are three movies about cults and dark charisma in this list. Strange year for that....

Sightseers: Delicate balance between funny and humourlessly bleak. The teetering is a plus. Almost thinking of this as a savage parody of the Mike Leighs of the world.

Beberian Sound Studio: For being original about the power of cinema, choosing a fascinating era of it to do so and having the courage to plummet into territory usually only walked by David Lynch without once giving in to obvious Lynchian influence. Haunting.

Honourable mentions:

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Robot and Frank, Himizu, Shadow Dancer, Shame, Cosmopolis, A Separation, The Island President, Beer is Cheaper than Therapy, No, Searching for Sugar Man.

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