Saturday, February 23, 2013
MIKE FOLTZ'S TOP 10 OF 2012
Better Late then never and just in time for and before the oscars
1. Silver Linings Playbook: best romantic comedy/drama I've seen in a long time. The acting is top notch, all the way around. I thought that Mr. O'Russell could be the next Cassavettes. But, in truth, he's more of a humanist in the same vein as Jonathan Demme (w/o some of the liberal sign posts) or Hal Ashby (w/o the occasional hints of surreal whimsy). It's all about characters, their relationships, and the emotions that come with that = perfect.
2. The Hobbit: as a HUGE fan of LOTR, this film did not disappoint. It's like missing a loved one for so many years then getting an afternoon together to catch up. Martin Freeman as Bilbo is sublime. And somehow PJ managed to make almost all the dwarves unique and likable within the first damn film. Kudos to the creators for fleshing out Radaghast, Mirkwood, Azog, and the Necromancer for a more rich and expansive tale.
3. The Avengers: a comic book film that movie goers and geeks can be proud of. THIS is the superhero film we all dreamed about when we were kids, reading comics off the rotating stand at the local Quickie Mart. And all Whedon does is make you want more after the very last frame goes by.
4. Dark Knight Rises: A gutsy way for Nolan to go out of his career making franchise that brought back real action, intelligence, and respect to the Batman franchise. This is Bale's best performance as well, showing the Caped Crusader as world weary and creaky knees as one can get, but determined not to let evil triumph over his beloved Gotham. And his reward for going to the brink? Catwoman. Despite the thrills, actions, and heroics, it's a love story at the heart of this story. And a very good one at that.
5. Searching for Sugar Man: Is the surprise ruined for everyone that knows the story before seeing the film? Nope. This is one of those films that builds to a satisfying climax that leaves you misty and a bit perplexed by the end. Great docs are supposed to do this. And this filmmaker showed an amazing amount of resilence, just like the subject, to bringing us a wonderful piece of art. Both the film and the music from Rodriguez are kettles filled with gold at the end of a rainbow.
6. Dredd: FINALLY, a film worthy of this classic UK comic character that somewhat erases the stain of Stallone's mess. Karl Urban does a remarkable job mugging like Dredd, as if he were a Brian Bolland illustration come to life. And the production design makes the viewer see that not only is the future depressing, dirty, and hopeless, but that only a fascist martinet of a cop can make us feel better/safer. Also great performances from psychic sidekick Olivia Thrilby and femme fatal-fatale & uber villain Lena Heady (somehow still sexy with scars and sadistic attitude on full display).
7. Friends w/ Kids: Attention everyone! This film is for Realz! Who would've thunk that a childless woman would write and direct the most accurate telling of parents dealing with a child. For me and my girlfriend, this film was accurate from the first sentence of dialogue till the closing credits. Adam Scott really comes into his own as a leading man as well.
8. Looper: Rian Johnson, along with Duncan Jones, gives genre (scifi) filmmaking hope. The amount of new/fresh ideas he throws into this film is astonishing. Even the wardrobe is from an alternate reality. Bruce Willis, who can't help but parody himself, seems exhausted and determined in the right way. Joseph Gordon Levitt is the thinking man's leading man here. And the little boy is quite the scene stealer, whether he's precocious or demonic. And somehow Emily Blunt doesn't annoy me. Yet they're all just pieces of a giant puzzle of a film that only a sub-genius like Murphy had the foresight and patience to put together. Studios: get a clue and put out more films like this!
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild: A coping mechanism in the face of Post-Katrina devastation? A global warming fairy tale? Coming-of-Age in the midst of squalor and fantasy? Call it what you will. Simply put, it's an emotional gut punch with plenty of longing and desperation with hope on top. And at the center of it all is the little 'fairy princess', Hush Puppy. For someone so small, she is the giant heartbeat of the story.
10. Paul Williams: Still Alive - This is thee valentine to the zeitgeist of the 70's and its avatar, Paul Williams. And since I was a child in the 70's, the memories of all this came flooding back. And to see a guy leading a low key and satisfying life after decades of demon-battling and irrelevance was quite nice. Granted, the documentarian takes it upon himself to become a 'character' in his film. But, for whatever reason, I was not bothered in the least. I just pictured myself in the filmmaker's shoes and thought I couldn't have done anything better or different. I dare you to watch this and not hum "Rainbow Connection" or "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song" after you're done watching.
-Into the Abyss: Herzog analyzes the cycle of crime and violence in a small Texas town the only way he knows how: he puts himself out there to pose the hard, and sometimes absurd, questions to the people we see that happen to be in and out of a perpetual loop of cluelessness and a vacuum of morals.
-Chronicle: the future of super heroes on film could be VERY bright giving this writer/director team a shot
-Queen of Versailles: nothing beats a good riches-to-rags story and how adversity exposes pock marks in the human condition. Amazing how the levels of denial can be so fascinating to watch up close.
-Cabin in the Woods: Whedon takes horror to a new, 'fun' level with a balls-to-the-wall ending that has more courage than more films in the genre.
WORST OF 2012:
Total Recall: How the fuck can you have a remake of a scifi classic ... yet they don't go to Mars?!?!?! Len Wiseman, please stop making films and wasting our time.
*Please note: 7 Psychopaths, the Master, Zero Dark 30, Red Hook Summer, The Gate Keepers are films I wanted to see before the Oscars to see if they'd make my list. But alas, I was unable to. I'll post reviews when I see them eventually.