Sonntag, 30. Dezember 2012

Best of 2012 - The movies.

Once again, a brief look at the movies of the past year, which in fact is going to be briefer than last time - not least because they just haven't been as good (this is especially true if you consider that three of my top five movies have already been released earlier outside Germany). Due to my prolonged stay this year in two developing countries where cinema culture is concerned - Germany and Thailand -, I haven't yet seen some of the films to look promising. We're not talking "The Hobbit" here, but rather "Lincoln", the new "Les Misérables", "Life Of Pi", "The Master", "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" and of course Tarantino's latest effort "Django Unchained", which I'm getting uncharacteristically excited about.

That's why this list isn't close to being any kind of complete and subject to change, as are the ratings. It is, however, in order of preference. The rules: eligible for this list are all movies that were released in Germany this year, which in some cases is earlier than in other countries, and in most cases, later. Fuck you, dubbing culture. Secondly, only full length feature films (meaning no short movies) are considered. Ratings for movies are always given on IMDb's 1-10 scale, where 1 is an utter and unbelievable abomination, 5 sub-average, 6 slightly above average, 7 good, 8 very good, 9 excellent and 10 a masterpiece.

1. Moonrise Kingdom. Our parents' parents were wrong and Wes Anderson knows it. (I don't like the reading of the movie as our parents being wrong as well, not necessarily because they aren't, but because if they are, where does it stop and where does it leave us?) Also, I still like quirky movies. 10/10

2. Shame. Provocative in theme and execution, "Shame" tells the story of an ambitious young businessman who is addicted to sex. When his unstable sister visits, his world carefully constructed around his secret fractures. They share a tormented relationship, and what exactly is causing the tension between them is alluded to, but we're not presented a resolution. The long shots are only the most apparent aspect of the visual style that Steve McQueen already successfully used in "Hunger" and reprises here. That doesn't come as a surprise, since he's relying on the same crew for his second feature. We also meet Michael Fassbender again, whose performance is so crucial for understanding his haunted character. New is Carey Mulligan in perhaps her most difficult role yet, because it's a break from the quiet and considerate young women she usually plays. Also features an excellent score. 9/10 

3. Drive. Everything has been said already about "Drive", but just let me stress how excited the camera work made me: When it literally takes a drive through the supermarket, following Carey Mulligan around shopping, we're taken shotgun and in a scene normally without tension, all the pressure and direction set up by the action scenes and the driving music (I admit to maybe overdoing the theme) before, is kept up. It doesn't matter that characters don't matter, we're preoccupied with the visuals and the style - although, and this is the problem, at one point the film gets sidetracked by itself. After the initial change in tone more violence becomes just that: more violence, with little artistic value. 8/10

4. Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective). See full review here. 8/10

5. Oh Boy. This funny little tale of an aging boy loser without perspective strikes a little too close to home to ignore. It goes for the easy laughs, then for the harder ones, hitting you when you wouldn't expect it, and then some. Beneath, it's somber in tone, increasingly so towards the ending, which in its final break seems perhaps even too dark. Tom Schilling is terrific in this, as is almost the whole supporting cast, each in their own way (and there are a lot). An unexpected gem. 8/10

Honourable mentions (no order in these ones): "Vaterlandsverräter" (8/10 - this would have made my top five, but technically, it was released in 2011), "The Flat" (8/10), "Barbara" (8/10), "Die Wand" (8/10), "Work Hard - Play Hard" (8/10), "The Descendants" (8/10), and "Lore" (8/10).

Biggest letdowns (movies I went into expecting much and went out severely disappointed): "The Dark Knight Rises" (5/10, see full review here), "Intouchables" (5/10, what is everyone about?) & "Argo" (7/10, it's fine, really, but far far far from what reviewers and audiences make it sound like).

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