ElDuderino

Michał Leliński

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Najlepsze filmy 2012 roku
| 14 komentarzy
Honorable mentions:

HOLY MOTORS
Holy shit! Was this a unique film. A couple of months after my screening of it I still don’t know whether I like it. It was weird, wacky and at times wonderful. I loved the subtle nods to other movies, the mixture of genres and the amazing performance by the lead actor Denis Levant. I’m not sure how I felt with the overall pacing of it and whether I even got what it was about but I can definitely recommend it to anyone interested in something out of the ordinary.

THE IMPOSTER / SIDE BY SIDE / SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Since I’m not keen on mixing documentaries with feature films, I’m going to put these three in honorable mentions. But if I were to mix things up, they should easily make my top 20, especially The Imposter. It was an incredibly intense film, which held my interest right until the end, as I hoped for the best but was prepared for something truly shocking. Some might say it ended in an anti-climax, but isn’t life usually the same? What we did get is an incredible story, full of mystery and drama. Great filmmaking… something that Side By Side actually discusses, while focusing on camerawork. Keanu Reeves is a great host but it is the opinion of all these legendary filmmakers who have opposing point of view that make this movie so eye-opening and fascinating. If it wasn’t for this movie I would have never known how influential certain filmmakers are, or how a niche movement like Dogma 95, which movies never really impressed me before, if it wasn’t for this documentary. What’s more, the movie tries not to take any sides, even if Nolan’s and Pfister’s case for film shooting is absolutely overwhelmed by the opinions of a number of filmmakers who prefer digital cameras. Then again, isn’t this a true representation of the contemporary state of film? Sadly, I guess it’s true. Finally, Searching for Sugar Man introduces me to another great real-life story that I would have never heard about if it wasn't for this uplifting film about a failed singer who allegedly comitted suicide not knowing that he was an unbelievable star half-way across the world. Sounds like a downer but the way it is presented and the not so unexpected twist make it a real fun watch.


And a couple of movies that just didn’t make the cut:
CLOUD ATLAS
Much like Holy Motors it is a very unique film that mixes different genres. It’s not as bold as it’s French counterpart but it is definitely more focused, easier to follow. The story is fairly simple – love – one that lasts more than one lifetime, one that lives on through generations. While the overall moral of the story isn’t very clever or even one that I would romanticize about, it does allow for some breathtakingly beautiful, yet largely distinct, settings. Whether it’s the futuristic Seoul, early 20th Century, the 19th Century or an (anti?)utopian future, they all attract our attention and make for one hell of an experience at the cinema. Like I said, not everything works, as it’s almost an anthology movie, though not quite, some segments are better than the others. However I still see it as a glass half-full… or maybe even more

ARGO
Another solid project by Ben Affleck. While I do think it wasn’t as good as his previous two films, simply because it didn’t have as engaging of a story, it was still pretty entertaining, smartly written and very nicely made, actually in terms of craftsmanship Affleck really outdid himself once more and he’s becoming a more focused and mature director.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK / CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER
I really enjoyed watching both movies. Both were equally heartwarming, intelligent and they had very strong performances – Rashida Jones is an exceptionally charming actress, while in SLP it was great to see Robert De Niro finally trying in a role. Though, what I liked the most about them is that they weren’t judgmental, they treated all the characters with respect and allowed us simply to care for them and not cheer for anyone in particular. The reason why they’re not on the list is that even if for the most part they have a clever script, they still rely on some romantic clichés that rubbed me the wrong way.

FLIGHT
As much as I don’t care for movies discussing substance abuse, I found myself very much entertained by Zemeckis’s return to live action. I never got the popularity of this sub-genre – it’s so pessimistic, such a downer and with characters that I was never able to connect with. However the casting of Denzel Washington was a stroke of pure genius by whoever had this idea, since it allowed for an exceptionally needed change of pace every once in a while. As I said, I don’t connect well with characters/people that have these issues, for better or probably for worse, I have little tolerance for them, but still, I do realize how difficult it can be for them, how impossible the feat of quitting can become and to which dark places it can lead. I get that, but it will not make me stick around for 2 hours to watch it helplessly. Here though, Denzel being Denzel definitely introduced other possibilities for Zemeckis. He was able to show some more lighthearted moments, the character reaching rock bottom, only to regain false self-confidence and cool factor by the very substance he is addicted to. A bold move, but a very pleasant one and in my opinion pretty real.

EXCISION
Now this was a surprise flick. A movie starring an ex-pornstar, a 90210 starlet and John Waters of all people kicking my ass so much. It wasn’t really the entire experience that made that impression on me, it was actually a shocking and powerful ending. The whole film tells the story of a young girl, that has quite lost it and is so disconnected with social norms and standards. She drifts of into this sick and bloody dreamland where she finds comfort and meaning to her life, as opposed to the real world, which has turned its back on her. Yes, it does sound like the very teenage-angst movie we try to avoid, but it is the disturbing nature of her visions, the build-up to a possibly terrifying climax and the pay-off that make this movie. That and the terrific performances by both AnnaLynne McCord and Traci Lords, both of which, in my opinion, have been robbed of various awards this year.


20. SKYFALL


Not only the most gorgeous looking movie of the year but also one of the greatest Bond movies of all-time. Roger Deakins did a truly spectacular job on this entry and managed to bring some artistic gravitas to this franchise. Both the DP and Mendes created what felt like a fresh Bond film by… going back to the character’s roots. This blend of new and old achieved mixed results from scene to scene but there is no way that I wouldn’t put Skyfall on my top of the year with the cinematography that it had, because it truly was pure art.
You can check my more in-depth review over here: http://www.moviefancentral.com/lelekpl/reviews/16898

19. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER


I was really surprised by how much I liked Perks. I honestly thought that I’m way pass High School dramas but like this movie, and even more surprisingly one more that will be featured later on on my list, has proven there are still interesting stories to be told, ones that can captivate all sorts of generations. What made this movie so special as opposed to the number of other teenage oriented films is that it was not only a drama about growing up but about real, edgy issues. It helped that the characters are clearly damaged and not just spoiled. The performances in this movie are also very strong, especially by Ezra Miller, who is unrecognizable after you watched We Need To Talk About Kevin. The kid is a real talent and one that I will be taking notice of. If you’re in for a throwback to the mature teenage movies of the 80’s, this would be a great movie to pick up.
On a side note though, how could they not know that was a David Bowie song? ;)

18. LINCOLN


I begin to think that Lincoln is the least cool movie to like from the nominated for Oscars features. I don’t know why in all honesty, because in the pool of rather weak nominees with the exception of one other film this was my favorite out of the bunch. Is it because of Spielberg? If so, than why? When did Spielberg become uncool? But I digress. I like Lincoln. Correction, I really like Lincoln. Not so much on an enjoyment scale but rather on how expertly crafted it was, how nicely acted it was (though it could have used less recognizable actors coming up on screen every 2 minutes) and most importantly how significant it is. If I were to compare it to any other Spielberg film it would have to be his all-time best - Schindler’s List. Naturally, they’re both different in tone, this one’s nowhere nearly as dark, as personal to the director and consequently as good. But in terms of human history, both of them are essential screenings. They describe who we, as people, are. They describe what’s best in us and what’s worst in us and they do it with the use of epic imagery and a backdrop of immensely vital moments in human history. That’s what makes Lincoln a must watch!

17. KILLING THEM SOFTLY


One might assume that a movie in which the ongoing subtext is devoted to American economy would not resonate well with a foreign filmgoer. However, thanks to Andrew Dominik’s direction, the film really managed to wow me in many different ways. First of all, Dominik managed to get his actors bring their A game and all of them really do their jobs well. Brad Pitt, the film biggest star, is only a distraction in the beginning, later on you completely buy him as the character he’s playing and it is a great, no-nonsense protagonist. Furthermore, Ray Liotta is back to crime dramas and it suits him. It’s probably his best performance since Goodfellas, maybe even better. He’s just very different here, more vulnerable, a tragic hero, who just cannot get a brake and whose faith is sealed. It’s one of the saddest parts of a surprisingly funny movie. I really didn’t expect it from the director of Jesse James, a movie that bored me to sleep not once but twice. There’s a lot of dark comedy elements to it, which combined with Liotta’s involvement make this a nice companion peace to Scorsese’s classic. Another aspect that is present in both productions is the great camera work and filmmaking in general. The cinematography is beautiful and the techniques used in many a scene make this film a unique and pleasurable experience. Whether the subtext and the main plot match is actually not really essential to me, the movie got it’s message across and both the storyline and America’s decline kept my full interest throughout the movie.

16. MOONRISE KINGDOM


An adventure movie with a lot of heart. That’s the best way to describe it. It had a lot of typical for Anderson quirkiness, typical of Anderson shots and typical for Anderson’s actors solid to great performances. Come to think of it, there is a better way to describe this movie – the most Wes Andersony film by Wes Anderson… and in my books that is a recommendation.

15. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS


The power of Martin McDonagh’s script was enough to land this movie on my list. Very interesting, unusual and clever but also really funny. Naturally, it needed strong performances from the cast and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint. Farrell and McDonagh work great together and the addition of Rockwell felt like picture perfect. Sam steals the movie and his monologue on what the ending should be is the undeniable highlight, utilizing the actor’s delivery and witty and sometimes crude lines. Fortunately, the rest of the movie sticks to this formula and manages to even add some emotional elements to the story of these insane psychopaths.

14. KILLER JOE


Ahhh dark comedies, how much I missed you… oh and you too Matthew McConaughey. To be honest, when I first saw it, I didn’t even get this was a comedy until about halfway through. When I decided to see it, I was certain I’m going to watch a thriller in the style of The Killer Inside Me. That’s what I figured from the synopsis and even from the opening minutes of the movie. But the more you get to know Emile Hirsch and his family you get to know they’re not your usual white-trash idiots, they’re one of the most hilarious white-trash idiots. It’s definitely not a movie that everyone will like but if you’re okay with something original, off-beat and at the same time dark, this movie would be a great choice. Furthermore, Matthew McConaughey elevates this comedy by giving us one of the best performances of the year. He can be funny, charming, intelligent, stupid and scary, all within the same movie or sometimes even in the same scene. It’s definitely the best acting of his career and in a year when he had other great performances in Bernie and Magic Mike it makes it that much more impressive. Good job Matthew and good job William Friedkin on crafting an atypical, awkward and amazing motion picture.

13. COMPLIANCE


It was probably the most uncomfortable movie of the year and it wasn’t one of the most pleasurable experiences, but goddamn was it an interesting movie. You could probably compare it to a car crash, where you see terrible images that make you cringe and yet you can’t look away. Now I would like to make it clear that this truly is a good movie! The performances are excellent, especially Ann Dowd’s who in my humble opinion deserved all the praise she could get. She had an incredibly difficult character to portray, a real scumbag. And by real I mean inspired by true events. A character that, although manipulated through a phone, is too dumb to understand that she is torturing an innocent person, a character that may or may not be doing it for her own gain. And she is the lead of the movie. As for our tortured protagonist? She is as clueless and passive as her oppressor to the demands of a madman. All this makes you scream at the screen, you want to stop it, you might even want to punch some sense into those people and yet you can’t and it leads to a terrifying conclusion. I was left dumbfounded, stunned and shocked, partially because that this has happened in real life… more than once, and partially because this was a great movie.

12. THE AVENGERS


This movie had to be here. Even if it was just an adequate film I would still consider this a massive achievement since nothing like this has ever been done before. It was more of a cinematic event than an artistic creation and that is in no way a complaint. It did almost everything what it set out to do and it did it really well. The action is spectacular, larger than life, awe inspiring. The writing is really strong and the witty banter between the heroes in my opinion is the highlight of the movie. There were parts of it I didn’t love but there was also a lot more I liked. What that exactly is, you can check here: http://www.moviefancentral.com/lelekpl/reviews/14371

12B. Wreck-It Ralph


I'm cheating a little here but I saw this movie after I decided on which movies are going into my top 20 and I didn't want to leave out Bond. I'm putting it with the Avengers because it's also a fullfilment of childlike dreams of mine, this time the ones connected with video games. It was able to put so many winks and nods to classic arcade games that it left me smilling like a little boy happy after getting his presents. I really hope they can expand on it in the inevitable sequel. PS. It gets extra points for its "fake game" Fix-It Felix which I must say is quite addictive.

11. END OF WATCH


A fresh approach to a buddy cop movie is what elevates this project. I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of this institution, I feel they are corruptible as the politicians that control them. However, I’ll be the first one to call them when I feel my life is threatened. There are good guys on the force and there are bad guys and I liked this movie for being honest with it. You see people just doing their job, like me and you. You can definitely relate to it and that’s what I did, mostly thanks to the great use of hand-held filmmaking. I agree that found footage flicks are overdone, that’s true, but when done competently they can add an extra dimension to both the film and the actors performances and that’s what happened here. Both Pena and Gyllenhaal are very believable as partners on the force. The first half of the movie is about just them – how men build their comradery, friendship and even love, how honest they can be and even how similar considering they’re coming from different backgrounds. Like I mentioned before, at first they’re just people doing their job, getting paid for it, discussing their personal problems. What helps the movie is that they’re pretty stand-up guys as well. If it was just another “fuck da police” kind of movies, where they’re all corrupt, this would be a hard and repetitive watch. But they managed to get me invested thanks to their characters. Unfortunately, their characters and their good nature is actually what gets them in trouble which is resolved in a very dramatic, ballsy and emotional conclusion. The lesson here, that once you stick your head out and try to do some good, you get hurt, is not the most popular ones in film but it rings true to this story and it might as well be true in real life.

10. PARANORMAN


As far as animation goes, this movie was the clear stand out in 2012 thanks to a mixed technique it used but also because of the its storytelling and adult approach. Out of all the “kiddy” flicks this one was able to relate to an adult audience the most thanks to an abundance of nods to classic horror pictures such as Friday the 13th or Halloween. I found myself really enjoying all the subtle winks at fans of this genre but also at some of the bold choices the creators had made. It actually discusses very serious moral dilemmas and it does so without feeling the need to pander to an age group. However, if you are a parent, I don’t think that there is a better movie to take your children to, since thanks to its rich story, it can teach kids a thing or two about life and especially tolerance. I think that is an important lesson to give to the next generation.

9. 21 JUMP STREET


Hilarious! That’s really all that needs to be said about this movie. Does it have a very complex story underneath the laughs? No. Does it discuss an important political agenda? Hell no. It’s just funny, very funny to be exact. In my humble opinion this was the funniest movie of the last couple of years and I think that deserves a lot of praise since comedy is one of the toughest genres to masterfully pull off but if you ask me Lord and Miller did just that. Of course they had help from a talented cast that includes Jonah Hill, a surprisingly great Channing Tatum and the underrated Dave Franco. The writing, the visual gags, the cameos, it all worked perfectly and allowed a very simple story to suck in its audience, even with a ridiculous premise. What’s more, it even pokes fun at itself and the entire remake/reboot/reimagining craze that has taken over Hollywood the last decade or so, which is very much appreciated, especially the way they do it and thus I believe there is actually some meat to this story, which elevates this childish premise beyond its source material and competition.

8. LOOPER


Good sci-fi films don’t happen that often and it’s only a testament to the last year that we got so many interesting ventures into the genre. Looper actually managed to reach the status of not good but even a great sci-fi film that I’ll surely be coming back to in the future. Ah yes, the future, a concept so cleverly portrayed in the film as it had a couple of meanings in this project – how might that look, where does fate come into play and how we can influence our lives and the lives of people next us by our actions. I love it when a movie uses its tricks to discuss ideas and theories with the viewers, especially ones that were so perfectly thought out by Rian Johnson (and with the help of Shane Carruth). Of course there are some plot-holes but it’s almost inevitable while tackling the conundrums of the space-time continuum. Just ask Cameron or Zemeckis. However, much like in those films, it’s never about how mathematically precise you can be while crafting the plot – it’s art, not science – but what do you do with the concepts you came up with. And Johnson used it for so many freaky and scary plot devices it’s amazing how original he was able to make it. The scene were the older version of Paul Dano is on the run is a fantastic example of such creativity and it’s naturally not the only one. If you want a more in-depth look at the movie you can check out my review here: http://www.moviefancentral.com/lelekpl/reviews/16929
As for what the future will bring, I don’t need a time-machine to know that this fun mix of genres might become one of my favorite choices for a repeat viewing.

7. THE GREY


This movie was one of the biggest pleasant surprises I’ve had in many years. A survival movie which main theme is survival and not action and destruction? It cannot be! The moment I saw the trailer I thought it was another one of Liam Neeson’s action vehicles but I couldn’t be more wrong. What I appreciated the most is the fact that it so boldly discussed the issue of life and death, having characters that are near suicidal fight for their life and others quitting their struggle. The way it ended only further emphasized this point when the one of the protagonists, broken and tired, still manages to get up and fight his adversaries. Other than that theme, I also enjoyed the way the psychology of the group has been portrayed – how in the wild we don’t differ that much from other wild animals. We fight and we adapt as the wolves do and the wolves hunting in a pack only stresses this fact even further. It’s just unique and refreshing to have such a deep and impactful character study in a thrilling and exciting movie. And that is something that many a moviegoer can appreciate. Combine that with moments of high tension and you get a great film that at first made me care for the characters and then it almost put me in the wild with them, I felt as one of the pack being lead by the great and charismatic Liam Neeson, who by the way, gave one of the most underrated performances of the year (the same could be said by Frank Grillo as well).

6. PROMETHEUS


Many months after the movie premiered I am still extremely impressed. Not only with the visual effects, which are state of the art, but also with the story and how it skillfully allows the viewers to postulate their own conclusions. The criticism that Prometheus leaves us with more questions than answers is completely ridiculous if you ask me. That was the point of the film – I don’t think it wanted to be a documentary style retelling of the creation of life on our planet, or even a direct horrifying prequel to Alien – in my opinion the creators wanted to stir up a conversation, a very difficult one, while also maintaining the entertainment factor that would keep our focus instead of dismissing their claims. I’d say that is a great approach. As far as its roots go (the connection to the Alien franchise), I must say it was pretty scary at times, especially in the incubator scene, which had huge amounts of tension. In terms of character development, I’ll be the first to agree that there are some token characters that are added only for the body count but the protagonists that we are supposed to follow were made with proper care. You can disagree with their choices and decisions in the movie but you can definitely understand their motivations and it’s true for much more characters then I would previously figure – Janek, Vickers, Holloway, David, Weyland and of course Shaw, who in my humble opinion, is a more captivating and rounded character than Ripley was in the first installment. If I were to give you my criticism of the movie it would have to be the fact that they actually give us too many answers by showing the engineers on Earth or the after-credits scene, but I still enjoyed this experience immensely. But let us not fool ourselves, what sells this film is its visuals which are breathtakingly gorgeous and use the perfect blend of CGI, set designs and practical effects. The moment I started seeing the familiar designs of the Engineers and the nods to the original Alien, I got goose bumps, an effect which is normally lost on me in recent effects heavy films. Then comes an old-school director like Ridley and I’m back to feeling like a kid, believing in what I am seeing on screen and watching it with pure and unabashed amazement. This is what movie magic really should be. Thus, I truly believe that Ridley Scott has another sci-fi masterpiece under his belt. Remember that Alien wasn’t really universally acclaimed when it first came out and Blade Runner was actually heavily criticized. Prometheus has the characteristics of his previous films and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a cult classic many years into the future.

5. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS


It is a great, gory and glorious film. The way the creators actually “discuss” the genre with the audience, their unique approach to stereotype and of course the ending, which kept me completely on the edge of my seat even though it was played interchangeably for laughs and scares which are tough to pull off individually, let alone when they’re mixed. They managed to add an element of humor to a clichéd storyline and then they combined it with great fidelity to the rules of classic slashers – in fact, you could say they basically ticked off all requirements of the genre and it still felt fresh and new. It feels like a capsule of what has been done in horror so far. You either buy it or you don’t and I was completely sucked in and entertained. By the end I was even told why by the filmmakers – they used a great metaphor for the entire genre and entertainment industry. From what I gathered, I was one of the gods at the end, for whom the protagonists had to be executed in a well-known and popular fashion – a ritual if you will – because otherwise I might get angered and the movie business is over or at least in great peril. If you ask me that is an incredibly clever and opinionated ending to a “fun slasher”… and I didn’t even have to mention the insane number of nods and references to other horror classics that have only put a wider grin on my godlike face.

4. THE MASTER


Artistically this is possibly the most polished movie of the decade, comparable to Anderson’s previous achievements. Technically it’s up there as well, achieving levels of Prometheus and the first two movies on my list. Whenever you see this kind of professionalism and artistic consciousness it is easy to draw comparisons to the great masters of the past – especially Stanley Kubrick. Such is the case here, Anderson seems to always know what is on screen, what should be important in a shot and he executes his film with amazing precision. Nevertheless, this is still reminiscent of his earlier accomplishments, possessing the same comedic elements in a largely dark, gloomy and mysterious atmosphere. I believe he has more than proved his right to be considered a true auteur of modern cinema. He also manages to pull this off without feeling pretentious by adding the entertainment value without which this movie would never have a chance to end up on my list. However, not all of the praise should be directed at him and his amazing technical crew – the music department, the cinematographer – but also at the actors, since this was probably the most intensely and interestingly acted movie of 2012. Joaquin Phoenix amazes me in this performances as he seems to vanish into this role and yet keep his own quirky and often bizarre personality to make the character more interesting and intriguing. I hate to say stuff like this, because most of the time I don’t believe it, but in the case Freddie Quell, I don’t think anyone else could have pulled this character off quite as well. It was the performance of the year and of the actor’s lifetime. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are not be sneezed at as well. Especially the former who shines in scenes with his co-stars or when his normally calm and composed master looses his composure thus showing how clueless he actually is. There’s also one more thing I feel I need to complement the movie on and it is very unique for me to do so, because I don’t feel like this is usually a part of filmmaking process and that is why this is the first time I’m mentioning it as a pro on this list – the advertisements. More specifically the posters for the movie. Upon first glance they don’t seem that special but after seeing the film they gain new meaning and even add to the themes of this production. For instance, the kaleidoscope of characters is a perfect image that sums up their roles in the film, as through various stages of the story all three main protagonists change roles between each other becoming the master and the student. This ambiguity of their true position is expressed in other posters as well but it is also very prominent in the story and life itself. Our parents become less impressive with age and experience, previously almost unmistaken geniuses, now seen as mere mortals, as lost in the grand schema of things as we are. As are all the masters of this world.

3. DREDD 3D


Is it a blatant copy of The Raid: Redemption? No, they were produced simultaneously, Dredd probably even began pre-production sooner. Is it just Die Hard but with a little dash of Blade Runner? Not really, but even if you wish to think of it that way I don’t see how that’s a bad thing in any universe. Is it a great looking and sounding movie? Hell yes! The only bad thing about this film is its financial fiasco and how sad it makes me that we might never see Karl Urban step into the universe of Mega-City One, which he so clearly loves and for which he has a passion that oozes from the screen. His commitment to never take of the helmet, his choice of maintaining the iconic frown, his voice, his acting – at no point in time in this film did I stop believing that this is the Dredd I grew to love. It’s easily one of the best acted comic book (anti)heroes in the history of cinema. I’m also disappointed that I won’t be able to explore more of the world of Mega-City One. Due to budget constraints we were forced to enjoy the insanity of Peach Trees but there are so many territories to expand on, so many storylines to tackle that it’s a shame we will never be able to witness it. It also pains me to know that we won’t be getting another great soundtrack like the one in Dredd that would so perfectly mix modern trends with nods to all-time classics like Vangelis. It made the action feel even more energetic and powerful and the slo-mo scenes even more gory and disturbingly beautiful to watch. Finally, it saddens me to know how the modern movie-going public has lost its balls and allows the world to suffer through notoriously bad films and let’s inspiring projects like this die. What ended up as one of the biggest bombs at the box-office is probably the best ode to classic action and sci-fi movies of the 80’s that we are going to get in the foreseeable future. Some people who missed it are catching up with the fans of Pete Travis’ work on home video but by now it might not be enough to merit a sequel. And yes, I will blame the audience, all of them, all of the 7 billion people living in the ruin of the old action cinema glory and the mega toned down structures of the new ones. Mega CGI overload. Mega insulting action set pieces. Convulsing. Choking. Breaking under their own weight. Audiences in fear of gore. The language. The violence. There’s only one thing fighting for order in this chaos: the men and women of the Hall of Justice. Juries. Executioners. Judges. So give them a chance! And here’s my old review: http://www.moviefancentral.com/lelekpl/reviews/16468

2. DJANGO UNCHAINED


As a long time Tarantino fan I must admit, this was the first time I was a bit skeptical about his upcoming movie. As I heard the news about the constantly changing cast and his filmmaking process and even after the first and only teaser that I saw, I had some bad feelings about this project. I thought it might end up either too derivative of old spaghetti westerns or too comedic, almost like a parody. But leave it to Tarantino to find the perfect balance between the two. He was able to amuse me with his humor and writing while also amaze me with fantastic shots. I could name dozens of scenes when my eyes were completely glued to the screen but I think you all have your favorites as well so I see no point in doing so. The point is that this guys talent to both write and direct so well is practically unprecedented and quite remarkable. I always thought of Tarantino as a writer first and a director second (I don’t think of him as an actor, though unlike some people I do enjoy some of his cameos, excluding this one), especially after his first couple of movies. Pulp Fiction was phenomenal on all fronts but Reservoir and Jackie Brown, although stylish and incorporating interesting camera choices, weren’t the best looking films. However, with his last two films I think he has found his stride again and now it’s pretty hard to find any flaws in his films. The direction is great, the writing is spectacular and the casting is almost always perfect. In Django, there are so many actors that had a chance to shine, I wouldn’t mind if multiple cast members were nominated for various awards. As they deservingly were. Jamie Foxx is hit and miss, let’s be honest. He has a great talent and the potential to be one of the best actors ever, yet his personality always seemed to bug me and sometimes it did project itself on screen. Thankfully not in this movie. Maybe because this was an important subject for the actor, as he constantly mentioned it in promotional interviews, or maybe he finally had someone with more ego than him in control, but ultimately he played it almost perfectly – he was both humble and badass. From scene to scene he was able to portray humiliation and intimidation. This fit great in a movie with so many working tonal shifts, as he was able to not only make me root for him but also he made me laugh and almost cry, with the dramatic and romantic flashback scenes he had with Hildy and it is not easy, especially if you have to portray an action hero. And yet, he wasn’t even the standout of the movie. For example, Christoph Waltz seemed to revel in the script. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it is overwritten as well as acted too comically but you can’t deny the actor’s charm. However the real standouts to me were Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. The first one plays a truly despicable character, one raised in so much cruelty and horror that he couldn’t help but find a way to fit in. He’s basically the embodiment of what his master, Calvin Candy was talking about, and also the embodiment of one of people’s most common characteristics – that we are capable of incredible cruelty in circumstances that force it on us. DiCaprio, on the other hand, gave one of his best performances ever and that’s saying a lot given the actors incredible track record. In this movie he manages to play with our expectations by being unpredictable but also he is another actor that fits the movie so well. His Calvin Candie mixes both stupidity and comedy with control and terror. He does this by portraying a character that might not be the brightest person in the room but who trough his position and his understanding of it can feel very intimidating. He’s basically the evil version of Lt Aldo Raine. One last thing that should never be forgotten while discussing a Tarantino films is the music. Fortunately, he didn’t forget about it either and how could he? He’s the most musically conscious director of his time. Interestingly this might be the first time when his choices actually divided the audiences, which is understandable, since they are not typical for the genre and one might say quite original. I guess most people expected an overuse of Moriconne’s scores, some might have thought of funky blacksploitation music but I don’t think many people expected 2Pac or John Legend. I liked the choices, they caught me by surprise when they happened by adding and extra layer of excitement and depth respectively. I mean, the moment when Django starts blasting people in Candyland and Unchained comes up it was one of the best “hell, yeah” scenes of the year. Even though as excessive and implausible as the ending to Inglourious Basterds it was almost as satisfying and great. And that’s how I can best sum up this movie – if you love Tarantino, you won’t be disappointed!

1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Ok, hear me out on this one. I really contemplated if this is actually the best movie of the year for me. I thought about it really thoroughly but the more I analyzed it the more I came to the conclusion that it couldn’t have been any other movie, even though Django really made some compelling arguments to the contrary. But after all was said and done, The Dark Knight Rises was the movie that took me on the best emotional journey in the theater, it was the movie that I most frequently decided to come back to and it was the movie that sparked the most conversation between me, my friends and even some MFC users. I have never hidden the fact that I’m a huge fan of both the Batman mythos and Christopher Nolan’s earlier installments of this trilogy. Did this come into play in picking the number one film? Of course it did, like any list it is as subjective as it can be but even with the film’s flaws I still think that what they were able to do right in it exceeds any minor problem I could have. First of all, the acting is fantastic. It might not be the best cast of the year, but it comes close and when you combine that with all the other pros it really becomes something exceptional. Christian Bale absolutely shines in this role once more. After his toned down performance in TDK he is once again the tormented and emotionally shattered character we got to love in the original. As opposed to the comics he is also able to show some vulnerability due to which we really root for him and we want him to leave this life and finally settle down. That is why his performance makes the rollercoaster of an ending even more impactful and emotional. Anne Hathaway was also a standout. Many have doubted here casting and here ability to play such a sultry and twisted character and she was able to play Selina on all fronts, even adding her own acting flair to the character. Some other familiar faces did their job as usual and by now I don’t think you will ever be able to do a better Commissioner Gordon on film. Gary Oldman was absolutely spot on and I was extremely pleased that he got the meatiest part in this installment. And of course I will not forget to mention Tom Hardy who is the perfect villain – he’s cunning, strong, charismatic and his ideology, even if a little skewed at the end, makes for some compelling arguments on his side. As for the final twist, I really didn’t think it took anything away from the character, it actually rounded him, made him even more sympathetic, in the tradition of classic Dickens’ characters, whose influence on the film and its structure is immediately visible. The tackling of themes of capitalism and social justice, which upon the first viewing might struck you us underdeveloped, after you repeat it once or twice you see the perfect mix of actually having a say in the matter and not pointing any fingers, or even more so, showing the wrongs of all sides, which in the past was also a critique on The Tale of Two Cities and now is understood as a calm evaluation of a social revolution. Sure some people have economically crippled our society over the ages but Kangaroo courts and terror are not a recipe for change as you risk giving the power from the hands of the first tyrant to another. The film also interestingly uses the themes of death and resurrection for the first time in the franchise and it does it with style – you see a shell of a man who earns for meaning in his life and when he finally gets it back he realizes that the best way to maintain it is to give it away to save the life of others, including his own. If there was ever a theme from Dickens’ novel to use this had to be it. The last things borrowed from Dickens that worked itself so perfectly into the film were the framing and time jumps because it made this final part of the trilogy a truly epic adventure. We have a real ensemble piece here, where all of the major storylines have a beginning, middle and an end, every character is taken on a journey and their resolves are tested – the film is just this clash of ideologies and strong characters and it fills the screen with excitement and an extra layer of meaningfulness. The time jumps make this final installment a long and exhilarating adventure, one last final goodbye for the main protagonist and simultaneously for the cast and crew. When combined with the bleak and pessimistic tone in the majority of the movie it also manages to accomplish that what no other comic book could – make us feel afraid for the hero. With the onslaught of recent action films, where the main protagonist is able to succeed while everything the society has built around him crumbles, Nolan’s film manages to make us care for the character, as he so dramatically wants to save his city, even willing to sacrifice his own life and start a full on battle in order to save it. This battle even brings to mind some of the best examples of such on-screen combat, especially the way it is shot – in a wide and enormous scale, which is made even more epic when paired with the IMAX experience. Ah yes, and the beautiful cinematography – never more prominent than in those amazing and breathtakingly beautiful night scenes with The Bat, which added this time a very futuristic tone, bordering on sci-fi and that genres greats like Blade Runner. Then, I will have to mention the special effects and how realistic they looked, and then one of the best soundtracks of the year and clearly the best one in the franchise, and then the writing and the dialogue. And then… I just wish I could go on like this even longer. This movie was simply a wish fulfillment, a kept promise that was made 8 years ago with Batman Begins. Much as I want to discuss it more, I would also love the movie to last even longer – I’m still thinking about how the 400 page draft for this movie looked like and how I would love to see this gargantuan epic, the Lawrence of Arabia of comic book movies. Maybe one day I will, but for now I’m more than content with what I got. And if anyone else really wants me to ramble any longer you can still visit my old review of the movie: http://www.moviefancentral.com/lelekpl/reviews/15667

Thank you and see you later next year!

komentarze

Szkoda, że to wszystko po angielsku... Na szczęście z odczytaniem toplisty już nie miałem problemów. TDKR u mnie również byłby na pierwszym, w prawdzie film w porównaniu do swojego poprzednika nieco rozczarowuje ale i tak z 2012 nic lepszego nie dane było mi obejrzeć. Natomiast znacznie bardziej zawiodły filmy Django (najsłabszy Tarantino) oraz Skyfal który nie utrzymał poziomu wcześniejszych Bondów z Craigiem. Co do pozostałych filmów z twojej listy to najbardziej pozytywnie zaskoczyła mnie obecność Looper, Dom w głębi lasu, 21 Jump Street natomiast nie widziałbym miejsca dla Prometeusz, Moonrise kingdom i Charlie.
Dredd całkiem niezły olschoolowy akcyjniak ale żeby od razu na 3 miejsce?

Pierwsza piątka na szybko u mnie wyglądała by tak:
1. Mroczny rycerz powstaje
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Looper
4. Avengers
5. Poradnik pozytywnego myślenia

użytkownik usunięty

Bardzo fajne zestawienie, jeżeli chodzi o rok 2012 - na pierwszym miejscu u mnie "Django" ( drugi najlepszy film Quentina ), a zaraz za nim "Mistrz" ( bardzo długo czekałem na taki film ) oraz TDKR. Największym zaskoczeniem, oczywiście pozytywnym okazał się "Dredd", "Poradnik...." i "Killer Joe" ( końcówka wgniotła mnie w fotel, czegoś takiego się nie spodziewałem ). "Skyfall" okazał się być bardzo dobrym filmem, ale trochę brakuje mu do świetnego CR. "Argo" również solidne.
"Dom w głębi lasu" do mnie nie przemawia niestety. "21 JS" również znalazłoby się na mojej liście, świetne komedia. "Prometeusz" nie błysnął jakimś geniuszem, ale był niesamowicie klimatyczny, więc gdzieś tam na końcu TOPki pewnie by się znalazł.

Niestety jest po angielsku bo w oryginale pisałem go dla innej strony, a lista jest za długa, żeby ją teraz tłumaczyć.

@Apollo mogę się z Tobą prawie całkowicie zgodzić co do TDKR. Nie nazwałbym go zawodem, ale jednak nie jest na tym samym poziomie co poprzednik. Co do Dredda to ja go widzę trochę lepiej niż old-schoolowy akcyjniak, duży wpływ na pewno miały komiksy o Dreddzie, które kiedyś czytałem, ale film posiada wiele dodatkowych elementów, które go wyróżniają z grupy - fantastyczny soundtrack, bardzo dobre zdjęcia, założenie w stylu gry wideo z zwiększającymi się poziomami oraz odniesienie się do społecznej sytuacji w dzisiejszym świecie. Uważam, że film zrobił to znacznie lepiej niż np. tegoroczny Elysium, był pod tym względem subtelniejszy i przedstawił problem z wielu stron.Tego oczekuję po sci-fi - dużej dozy rozrywki, wizjonerskich pomysłów i pewnego przesłania. Dredd wszystko to posiadał.

@KamPlayer bardzo się cieszę, że sam masz tak wysoko Mistrza. Ten film, według mnie był mocno niedoceniony w zeszłym roku, a tak naprawdę wszystko w nim było na najwyższym z możliwych poziomie. Można się przyczepić do tempa filmu, ale przy takich postaciach niespecjalnie to przeszkadza.

Co do Skyfall to pozwolę się z Wami nie zgodzić, według mnie był to najlepszy Bond z Graigiem i nadal się zastanawiam czy nie był to czasami w ogóle najlepszy Bond (GoldenEye dotychczas szczycił się tym mianem). Jednak od razu uprzedzam, że mówię to z perspektywy nie fana Bonda. Nigdy nie podziwiałem tych filmów, ani ich nie wyczekiwałem, ani nigdy nie byłem pod wrażeniem żadnego z nich... Do tej pory, bo zdjęcia w tym filmie są wręcz powalające.

O ile ciężko mi wyrokować, skoro połowy filmów nie widziałem (ahh lista coraz dłuższa) to na pewno zgadzam się z umieszczeniem Dredd'a, Skyfall'a i Prometeusza w top20. Może osobiście umieściłbym je w innej kolejności, ale znaleźć się tam powinny.
Cabin in the Woods, The Grey i 21 Jump Street kompletnie nie w moim guście więc zgodzić się nie mogę. Szczególnie mnie zawiódł Cabin, po Twoich licznych poleceinach ;)
No i Killing Them Softly też musiałem oglądać chyba kontem oka bo kompletnie nie zrobił na mnie wrażenia. Nawet wąs Brada Pitta.

Widziałem wszystkie filmy z tej listy. Skyfall, a szczególnie Prometeusz to dla mnie cholernie rozczarowujące filmy. Ten pierwszy jest przynajmniej solidny mimo wszystko. Paranorman też mnie rozczarował. Szczególnie zakończenie mi się nie podobało i wywalenie przesłania dosyć "na wierzch". Wolę Frankenweenie :).

Moje top20:
1.Avengers - Po wyjściu z kina 8, a od tego czasu widziałem ten film tyle razy, że już się gubię.
2.Mroczny Rycerz powstaje - Miał 10, ale na powtórkach stracił. Widziałem 5 razy.
3.Poradnik Pozytywnego myślenia
4.Frankenweenie
5.Mistrz
6.Django
7.Pi-e-ta
8.Polowanie
9.Nędznicy
10.Śnieżka ( hiszpański film niemy, a nie żadna z tych dwóch hollywoodzkich produkcji)
11.Dom w głębii Lasu
12.Holly Motors
13.Niesamowity Spider-man - kolejny film który tracił na powtórkach.
14.Moonrise Kingdom
15.Mroczne Cienie - Słaby to może film, ale jestem fanatykiem Burtona :)
16.Operacja Argo
17.U niej w domu
18.Imagine
19.Charlie
20.Dredd

Ja fanem Bondów też wielkim nie jestem, na tą serie zacząłem zwracać uwagę dopiero po obejrzeniu Casino Royale a ze starszych filmów naprawdę lubiłem jedynie GolenEye. Przed premierą Skyfall oczekiwałem najlepszego filmu serii, gdyż wszystko tak na to wskazywało: Znakomita obsada, porządny reżyser, operator Coenów... i w zasadzie cała ekipa spisała się świetnie, bo film wyglądał obłędnie. Niestety jego scenariusz pozostawiał wiele do życzenia. Nie powiem - zaczął się świetnie, dobrze się oglądało przez pierwszą godzinę, jednak później było już tylko gorzej. Dziewczyna bonda, schodzi z ekranu po kilku scenach a jej role przejmuje M. Czarny charakter nieudolnie udaje Jokera. Sceny akcji pozbawione emocji, czego szczytem nieudolności okazał się tragicznie kiepski finał w skyfall. Natomiast takie Casino Royale miało rewelacyjny scenariusz. Świetne poprowadzenie 007 po różnych lokalizacjach (Madagaskar, Bahamy, Wnenecja). Kapitalnie rozpisany pojedynek pokerowy w kasynie - chyba najbardziej wciągający i trzymający w napięciu moment w całej serii. Interesujące relacje miedzy Bondem a Vesper, czuć było miedzy nimi niesamowitą chemie a ich wątek melodramatyczny niczym Zawrót głowy. Film Campbella z pewnością przeryw z Mendesa w aspektach wizualnych ale mimo to i tak pozostaje filmem lepszym, ze względu właśnie na scenariusz.

Neo, dlaczego nie widzę Loopera na twojej liście?

Bo się nie zmieścił? Miałem dylemat Looper czy Dreed i wybrałem Dredda. Looper ma bardzo nudne sceny na farmie po prostu. Zupełnie nieemocjonujące i usypiające. Środek filmu leży. Świetny pomysł, bardzo dobry początek i dobra końcówka trochę to rekompensują.

Bo sceny na farmie nie miały emocjonować. Tempo faktycznie wtedy trochę siada, ale mimo to i tak ciągle czeka się w zaciekawieniu na dlaczego rozwój wydążeń.

Właśnie nie za bardzo. Większość tych scen jest zupełnie niepotrzebna i w tym szkopuł.

Właśnie że są potrzebne, kluczowe są tu relacje miedzy matką a synem (Rainmakerem). To wszystko ma odniesienie w finałowych scenach

Quasi-miłosny wątek jest zupełnie zbędny, a relacje dało się lepiej poprowadzić.

napisałeś że większość scen jest zbędna a teraz wskazuje wątek miłosny które w tym filmie prawie nie było

Ja już tak dokładnie tego filmu nie pamiętam. Widziałem go raz tylko. Wszystko z udziałem głównego bohatera na tej farmie mnie wkurzało, a szczególnie fatalny wątek miłosny wrył mi się w pamięć.

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