frankly, my dear...
1 year ago
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2012 movies My Tops 1001 MYMSBYD favorites

My Complete List of New-to-Me Movies for 2012:

As 2012 wraps up, I’ve seen a grand total of 133 new-to-me movies this year, 22 of which are in the 1001 MYMSBYD book. Whew. And that’s even after being abroad for six months and only watching 24 movies in that time. (Embarrassing the amount of time I spend watching movies, isn’t it?) End of story: I’ve surpassed last year’s total by one and have listed them all after the jump, but here are my top favorites (roughly in order. And sadly, even after all those movies, there were only eight I really really loved):

  1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  2. Blow-Up
  3. Skyfall
  4. Ordinary People
  5. In the Loop
  6. Beginners
  7. A Hard Day’s Night
  8. Love and Other Disasters

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The Art of Getting By (#133)

I really liked this! Even though the racking focus kind of got on my nerves, it’s prettily shot and generally well written, though I’d have liked a little more explanation of some character motivations and thought that some instances were borderline overly convenient. In short, this is a rare movie that overly lean and might have actually benefited from an extra five minutes or so. Freddie Highmore is terrific though (isn’t he always? And such a good American accent) and Emma Roberts holds her own as the female lead. Plus, a very nice turn from Michael Angarano. All in all, a very sweet high school coming-of-age film. I recommend it.

A Dangerous Method (#132)

This was quite good! I’m really amazed that it didn’t receive any Oscar nominations, particularly for Keira Knightley though really all three leads are terrific. The score is lovely and David Cronenberg’s direction surprisingly subdued (I loved the heavy use of deep focus). Well written, brilliantly performed (though I do agree with others in noting that both Keira and Michael Fassbender have very jaw heavy characters - no sexual innuendo intended) and quite interesting.

Holiday Inn (#131)

And again I’m reminded why I avoid Christmas movies. This movie is… fine… when Fred Astaire is on screen. He’s terrific as always (I thought the drunk dancing scene was particularly awesome) but the rest of the movie was lacking. Bing Crosby doesn’t do anything for me and while Marjorie Reynolds is good enough, Virginia Dale couldn’t keep up with Fred’s dancing and it showed. Also, what was with that self-reflexive bullshit at the end? And the racism? I know it was the 40s, but… not my cup of tea at all.

Gigi (#130) (#175)

I loved this! Right up there with Singin in the Rain as my top musicals. Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan are marvelous (though I’d have loved to see Audrey Hepburn in the role she originated) and the writing has moments of terrific wit. It reminded me of a more subdued Funny Girl at moments (probably because Jourdan reminded me of a cross between Omar Sharif and Tony Curtis) in the best of ways. It’s glittering and funny and not remotely sappy. I really really enjoyed it and would happily watch it again. Certianly one of my favorite movies I’ve watched this year and completely deserving of all its Oscar wins.

Pitch Perfect (#129)

Maybe it’s because I’m an ex-choir kid, but I found this to be absolutely hilarious, and easily the most amusing movie of the fall. The music is great and even all the “a ca-____” puns managed to keep off my nerves. Anna Kendrick is a fine lead, but Skylar Astin and Rebel Wilson really steal every scene. In fact, every scene has some moment of serious hilarity that made me laugh the whole time (especially the wonderful Elizabeth Banks). It’s one I’m definitely considering buying and absolutely recommend (especially to all my musical friends).

1 year ago
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The Fantasticks 2012 fml terrible High Quality

The Fantasticks (#128)

I tried to watch this. Really, I did. But I couldn’t get through it. The Fantasticks may be the longest running stage musical (if the 1995 DVD box is to be trusted) but the movie plays like a community theater production, full of awkward transitions, amateur acting, and dragging action. A severe disappointment, especially considering that I make it a rule to never not finish movies.

About Last Night (#127)

I liked this. It’s honest and real and funny and romantic. Both Rob Lowe and Demi Moore are lovely (though Lowe is certainly the better of the two) and I love Jim Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins as the friends. If it neglects external character complexity and background to instead focus exclusively on the plot of Debbie and Dan’s relationship than I guess that’s the price you pay for adapting a Mamet play. All in all though, I found it really true and quite good.

White Christmas (#126)

Well, I’ve seen this holiday classic now. And if I’m being honest, it was a let down. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney both have gorgeous voices, but the story is boring and not romantic enough to keep me interested. The bits with frightfully skinny Vera-Ellen dancing and Danny Kaye goofing are the best but the film is, on the whole, less a holiday movie and more of a “Too bad we’re not back in WWII and the good ole Army days movie.” (As is more or less stated at the end.) It’s fine, but not one I’d seek out to watch again.

Boys and Girls (#125)
I liked this. It’s one of those fun circa 2000 teen/college rom coms that just make you happy. I love Freddie Prinze Jr. and - to my own surprise considering how gorgeous he is - actually bought him playing the socially awkward nervous basket case. Claire Forlani is good - and gorgeous - as well. I’m not sure I loved the jumping forward between years - I’d have rather seen more of their relationship in the present - but it was nice watching the way things unfolded over time and for once I didn’t hate the cutesy bookending effect. All in all, better than I expected and certainly worthwhile.
Also, serious question, how is it that everyone in the 90s knew these choreographed dances when they went out? Now it’s all grinding and I’d like to know some real dance moves other than the Cha Cha Slide if you please.

Boys and Girls (#125)

I liked this. It’s one of those fun circa 2000 teen/college rom coms that just make you happy. I love Freddie Prinze Jr. and - to my own surprise considering how gorgeous he is - actually bought him playing the socially awkward nervous basket case. Claire Forlani is good - and gorgeous - as well. I’m not sure I loved the jumping forward between years - I’d have rather seen more of their relationship in the present - but it was nice watching the way things unfolded over time and for once I didn’t hate the cutesy bookending effect. All in all, better than I expected and certainly worthwhile.

Also, serious question, how is it that everyone in the 90s knew these choreographed dances when they went out? Now it’s all grinding and I’d like to know some real dance moves other than the Cha Cha Slide if you please.

Flashdance (#124)

I always forget how much I love 80s romance movies. They’re just so over the top in the way the hero/heroine loves someone but just can’t let go of their pride to let them know (here’s looking at you An Officer and a Gentlemen) - they’re almost more realistic than the goofy romcoms nowadays in that way. Honestly though, this is fun. Over the top? Certainly in retrospect. Lacking real depth or complexity? Rather. But I thought it was fun. All the shots of Jennifer Beals in her 80s workout clothes are hysterical (that montage of her and the other dancers at the gym working out to Joan Jett is pure gold) but she’s pretty decent, as is Michael Nouri. TERRIFIC soundtrack. Good dirty 80s dancing moving gold.

Sleuth (#123) (#174)

I’m a little torn on how to respond to this movie. I absolutely loved the class commentary on English society and the way it ended but it’s clearly a stage adaptation and that ends up being to its detriment. While the last hour is brilliant and tense, the first hour really drags, especially as a really couldn’t understand why Milo was going along with it all. I won’t ruin the second half, but it’s terrific. Laurence Olivier is, of course, magnificent but young Michael Caine really ends up stealing the show. (I’m definitely going to check out the 2007 remake where he plays Andrew and Jude Law is Milo.) It’s sadistic and terrible and very interesting. I’d love to see a stage production of it but the film, as an entirety, is a little over long.

Lassiter (#122)

AKA: Tom Selleck has a moustache and is taller than everyone else in the world so all the ladies get naked and nobody worry about it because he’s in England. Hmm. For being a heist film, the heist stuff is minimal, which is confusing because I’m not sure what the rest of the movie was spent doing. It was definitely trying to be The Sting for large chunks but lacked the thespian skills, decor, or plot necessary to pose even an homage. For being set in the 1930s, the fashion (particularly for the ladies) is very 80s and the only really redeemable performance (barring poor Bob Hoskins) is from Joe Regalbuto as FBI Agent Breeze. Otherwise, it’s one of those cheaply made “whatever films” starring 70s/80s television stars. Poor Jane Seymour.

Repo Men (#121)

(Be warned in advance: for some reason I evaluated the technical elements of the film as a script while watching it. Sorry if that bothers you.) I enjoyed this. (Let’s be honest, it’s Jude Law. How could I be anything but happy?) The style is very music video-esque (overly reliant on songs if you ask me) and the world well realized. The plot is okay. The first act is a little over long with the second act needing some readjustments to make it more fleshed out (yeah, yeah, the twist ending nullifies the point but whatever) but I really liked the third act as things occurred beyond the pink door (plot holes galore, but whatever). Law does a good job carrying the film (and I liked Alice Braga and Liev Schreiber too) but director Miguel Sapochnik’s inexperience really shows to the detriment of the film. I’d have handled the twist ending slightly differently but that’s just my style with stories. It’s not as bad as reviews made it out to be at the time but it’s hardly a new classic or flawless gem of dystopic sci fi cinema.

Hysteria (#120)

I thought this was great fun. It’s certainly different from any other films out there and I’m frankly shocked that it managed to get financing but I’m so glad it did because it’s quite entertaining. The cast is great - I love Rupert Everett in these Victorian roles (even if he was woefully underutilized) and even Maggie Gyllenhaal’s adopted British accent passes inspection - and the dialogue is quick. Tanya Wexler and the Dyers do a really good, marvelous job bringing the story of the world’s first vibrator to life but in the end they have two movies on their hands: the story of the vibrator, and the story of Maggie Gyllenhaal and the suffragettes. Both stories resolve far too easily and the film could have benefited either from a shortened first half or a ten-minute extension on the run time. All in all I enjoyed it and definitely recommend checking it out when it eventually pops up on Netflix.