Category Archives: 2012 cinema releases

What I have watched on the big screen in 2012.

Shadow Dancer by James Marsh (2012)

This is yet another feature touching the sensitive theme of the Irish Troubles.

James Marsh – responsible for such documentaries as Man on Wire and Project Nim – managed to deliver a powerful drama, where nothing is certain and everything can be questioned on the level of the narrative.

It is set in 1993 London and Belfast with a short flashback to some 20 years back.

The fish eye camera leaves the edges of the picture blurred and the focus stays on the characters’ eyes. Close-ups let the audience into the world of a family involved in both political as well as internal conflicts.

It is an authentic look into the personal/internal war where loyalty has three sides and dramatic decisions lead to bad or worse consequences.

There are no good answers to any action that the main protagonist played by fantastic Andrea Riseborough needs to undertake. The fact that numerous men in her life demand obedience ‘for her own good’ does not mean she will be safe in any way. In the end Colette has to choose her friends among the enemies to find the best solution for her and her little son.

Amazing lighting, fantastic cinematography and well – I loved the metaphoric game of power depicted by colour representation.

This is undoubtedly one of the best films made recently. Let’s not forget the amazingly played calm role by Aidan Gillen, as well as persistent Domhnall Gleeson and let’s not forget about the tragically entrapped Clive Owen.

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Your Sister’s Sister by Lynn Shelton (2011)

Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt play half sisters (Iris and Hannah) and Mark Duplass is the guy who stands between them (Jack).

The story is so twisted that it surely is taken from life, as had it been written for a film it would not sound credible (I’m not wrong, am I?). Jack’s brother Tom used to be involved with Iris, but he died. Therefore (skewed logic somehow?) Jack fell in love with Iris (Emily Blunt). Given he never told her, they are just friends and she sends him off to her father’s house on a deserted island for him to seek solitude. Obviously she is also in love with him. And unbeknowingly to her, the sis is there as well. The guy and the sis spend the night together, the next morning Iris appears and it turns out the big sister is a lesbian, but she wanted to get pregnant.

Should I go on?

OK, jokes aside – the above scenario is so absurd that I am not sure what to focus on. Maybe let’s try the genre?

Is it a social drama? Buddy movie? Comedy? Woody Allenesque comedy of errors? Hardly any of the mentioned I’m afraid. Maybe a rom com? It seems not kitchy enough.

It seems to be a film created in a parallel system to the mainstream or non-mainstream American cinema. It is a third dimension somehow.

Great lighting, cinematography, awkward costume design, realistic interior design.

Convincing acting – apparently a lot of it was improvised and unscripted.

The situations depicted are annoying to the extent I would like to interact with the characters and try to persuade them to behave a bit more reasonably. I hated this film to the extent of laughing at the dialogues – but perhaps that was a reflexive reaction proving how dangerously close to life Shelton brought the situations? In real life we don’t talk to other people, to those closest to us, least about our emotions, about how we feel, what we feel, right?

I feel I could live without having watched this film. But perhaps it would help some couples who hide their feelings from themselves to go watch it and undergo some sort of communicative catharsis? Not sure.

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Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson (2012)

Wes Anderson is a magician of the cinema. He is able to create worlds which are very far from reality and yet enchant us and drown in the nostalgia for what could have been or at least how we would like to remember our past experiences.

Moonrise Kingdom was screened at this year’s Cannes festival which usually indicates a work’s particular value to the world of cinema.

This film is a nostalgic fairy tale squeezing tears of all adults who ever had a childhood.

It seems Wes Anderson here majored in enhancing one’s memories. Everything is extreme to its limits – when it rains, it’s a grand rain of the century, when we see a meadow – its greenery almost makes us shading our eyes from its juicy intensity. The music matches the tone of the story and crafty idea of a child’s voiceover introducing us into the skill of being able to distinguish musical instruments just by hearing them.

Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful tale which triggered my most beautiful memories coming back to me and I thought of being a child again, of going for a scouts’ camp, of not sleeping with friends, of enjoying every minute of the day and treating it as a never ending adventure and challenge.

Veteran star actors play along young kids and all create an unforgettable ensemble which is credible (that does not often happen with this number of names!). Wes Anderson created a beautiful fairy tale.

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The Dark Knight Rises by Christopher Nolan (2012)

The last episode in Nolan’s trilogy where Christian Bale is the perfectly bodied Batman with very little emotions.

Michael Caine is the loving and loyal butler who wants the last of the Waynes to lead a normal life. The last of the Waynes does not seem to agree with Alfred but will finally surrender to a more traditional lifestyle. Before that happens however, he needs to destroy Bane – one masked barbarian who plots to destroy Gotham.

What sets off as an impressive show off shot on the IMAX camera, smoothly transforms into the high life world of parties, charity balls and cocktails. Things get spiced up for Bruce Wayne, when Catwoman robs his safe. She is the only thing that gets him ticking – because they are both alike?

Nolan went wild with the last of his Batman series therefore it is hard to miss on anything. There is a love story, revenge, treason, nuclear bomb, loyalty, friendship, orphaned boys and along comes Robin.

My favourite action scene? The one with two planes in the air.

My least favourite element? The fact that Bane is barely understandable in terms of what he has to say through the metal mask – that looks a little bit like a sieve. How does he eat?

There are quite a few impressive scenes shot from the air – breathtaking.

Thank you Mr Nolan for this experience. As of today – Christian Bale is my favourite Batman.

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Redlegs by Brandon Harris (2012)

It takes a lot of guts to be true to one’s self and stand up to one’s principles seems to be the key message of this short and sweet – only 67 minutes long – story. The film was co-written by the actors and the writer-director Brandon Harris.

It usually is neck-breaking to focus the plot around three characters. And yet it seems to be working fine. It is not your typical buddy movie for one reason – the story follows each guy separately. Their secrets get unveiled gradually – thickening the plot and building the back story.

The three friends rejoin at their fourth friend’s funeral. One of them – Marco – no longer lives in town – he decided to take up farming and work on self sustaining sources. That is the one I fell head over heels in love with straight from the first scene. Nathan Ramos definitely has got that something making me want to watch out for him in his future projects. His persona is a mixture of mystery, looks and certain sensuality not often encountered in the cinema these days.

The other two – Aaron and Willie – make an archetypical couple of two extremely different blokes – one is a big confident pal, the other is shy, slightly closeted and it is not obvious for a while why. With one friend out of town and the other gone, they form an almost grotesque sort of friendship of two polar opposites.

Without revealing too much, it has to be said that the four friends must have created quite a gang. I like how we learn about the fourth absent member through the interactions between the three left. I like how each of the friends has a story to tell, how different each of them is. They fight and it can be only imagined this is the natural way of expressing their feelings, emotions, and it must have been the same when the four of them were together.

It’s fresh, it’s beautifully shot, I like the grading, the coulours. It feels real.

Looking forward to the next project!

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Prometheus by Ridley Scott (2012)

Michael Fassbender is an android – very convincing and emotionless just like in Steve McQueen’s Shame.

Noomi Rapace  – very convincing in the role of survivor and fighter – just like in the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Charlize Theron – slim and shy, as if forced to command the quest to the far moon seeking answers to world old questions.

Remarkable and brilliant Guy Pearce – totally unrecognisable.

The opening scene – especially when watched on the IMAX is breathtaking. There is an ancient monk or perhaps a super-human or human engineer committing ritual suicide at the verge of huge waterfall. The 3D version of the scene allows for total immersion into the world.

The story is flat and shallow and although there is an attempt at the existential angle – introducing the up-to-date discussion between darwinism and creationism, the film is weak in terms of built characters and the plot is simplistic.

There is potential for sequel, but why not making the story in this film rather than promising a next one?

You can skip it.

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Iron Sky by Timo Vuorensola (2012)

I think this film will become a cult classic. For a few reasons.

One: the idea of Nazis setting up a base on the Moon sounds quite entertaining for a start.

Two: the number of filmic references seems to be countless and delivers an extraordinary taste to the pat on the viewer’s shoulder.

The biggest pleasure of this film seems to lie within point two above.

It delivers pure enjoyment and it truly is an amazing project with farcical political twists.

A must watch this summer.

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Boker tov adon Fidelman (Restoration) by Yossi Madmoni (2011)

A sentimental tale of family tradition v. progress, where the father does not feel his son will be able to fill his shoes in the antiques workshop business. When his partner dies, Mr Fidelman needs a loan to keep the store going.

His son has an expecting wife. All seems to be on the right track to an inevitable finale, when Fidelman will have to give up his passion due to financial crisis.

An outsider appears to promise a change in their lives. Temporarily replaces the prodigal son to Fidelman, helping with restoration of an expensive grand piano, which if successful will enable Fidelman to remain on the surface for much longer. The new boy also falls for the son’s daughter and for a large portion of the movie fully replaces the true blood relations between father and son, also taking his place in metaphorical married bed.

Sounds too easy? Well, because it is. And it is not possible to replace someone’s place in the family or business, or marriage.

A beautifully told story with amazing play with light, music and closeups of everyday life in contemporary TelAviv.

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Beauty (Skoonheid) by Oliver Hermanus (2011)

South African festival traveller by second time director Oliver Hermanus with ambiguously metrosexual Charlie Keegan.

Some 60-year old man (intense Deon Lotz as François) marries off his first of two daughters. His wife is cheating on him, he is cheating on her – one might think: nothing out of the ordinary, nothing we haven’t seen in the cinema before. If only chez Sam Mendes in “American Beauty”. (Unsure as to how consciously the title relates to that drama).

Christian (Charlie Keegan) is an old pal’s son. Together with his family he lives in the far Cape Town – a mere 15 hour drive from Bloemfontein. And it is for Christian that François will fall. A closeted gay for countless years, probably the worst thing is, his younger daughter Anika also fancies Christian and tends to spend a lot of time with him. Jealousy combined with suppressed obsessions and desires – Freud would probably have something to say here.

The plot is quite scary mainly because François does not show his emotions or plans on his face. He is as calculated as a serious killer. He is also unpredictable and unstoppable. What sets of as almost innocent act of observing Christian during the wedding, finishes in one dark place where few would expect to find François. Not only is he a stalker, he is also the predator hunting the victim down.

This is a strong voice in one sided discussion on homophobia, with its old rule – those that are least tolerant, are the ones having lots to hide.

The main success of the film is the casting – Charlie Keegan is the dangerous combination attracting both sexes who never openly admits to being on either side. Hence the tragic jealously of the father towards his daughter. They both think Christian could be theirs. Christian is the embodiment of 21st century title beauty – the perfect Adonis anyone will fall for.

Beauty” is a shocking picture unveiling how those perceived to be perfectly ‘normal’ citizens, live double lives and are still able to keep the face on the surface, to remain ‘normal’ – in accordance with the main stream, when in fact they are the exact opposite to what they seem.

Powerful cinema with numerous experiments on the level of story telling, soundtrack and space left to the audience for interpretation. 

Also check out this amazing review:

http://bit.ly/L8Idha

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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2011)

Winner of the Grand Prix of the Jury at Cannes 2011.

The film begins at dusk and finishes in the early hours of the morning. It seems to be presented in a real time, adding the power of the length of the night when 3 cars filled with policemen, prosecutor, doctor, gendarmes and two suspects drive around the fields of nothingness in search of a buried corpse.

The two suspects ride in two separate vehicles.

An interesting technical trick is applied to the lighting effects – the cars seem to be equipped with extra powerful lighting which would blind the oncoming cars had there been any in real time. In cinematic terms – they serve as the only source of lighting for wide and long shots and are an excuse for broad lighting in close-ups.

Given the suspects’ memory is not perfect, one was drunk, the other asleep when they were burying the victim, the quest takes for ages (the whole night actually). That being an excuse for conversations of diverse level of topics more and less serious.

It is not easy to establish who the main character is. Oddly it does not seem to be a disturbance. After a while, the audience slowly realises that there is one character present in each scene throughout the film. And he is the one helping other characters to deal with their issues of various sorts, he is the one sane voice amongst the chaotic babble spanning from gossip on the prosecutor’s health to quoting poets on the lightness of human life. He is the one who does not judge and is able to manage his opinions not to show on his face. Something that neither the audience nor the central suspect are capable of doing. The suspect is the audience observing the circus of characters who have power over him.

Amazing cinematic game with powerful poetics and most importantly – a very universal message.

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