I might not have actually done a review since 2010, but every time I spend my $10 and settle myself in one of those shoddy Palladium seats to take in a couple of films, my eyes still try to take in every single piece of the director’s vision and actor’s emotion that spills out of the screen. Film is about experience – about imparting an emotion, sharing a moment, asking a question that people haven’t asked themselves, and having the audience experience people they’ve never met, or even parts of themselves they haven’t met before.
With that in mind, there are some films that did that and then some for audiences in 2012, myself included.
Despite the inevitable confusion, this interesting take on time-travel and the world that it can create gives us a peer into our own souls. Would we sell our souls for the chance to live the next decade as rich b*tches? Would we look into our own eyes and pull the trigger to stop someone from killing us right now? Would we protect someone that could make other’s lives a living hell, and would we protect that person from ourselves? It has its own surprises; some characters we did not expect, with some stories that add a lot more layers than people might have first expected. What we also might not have expected is for Looper to be as slow as it was, but it proves to be a much more cerebral film as well, which it wins as.
For the James Bond fans, this is a very clever homage to the aspects of Bond that has made him a legendary film trope for the past 50 years, as well as an interesting conversation about the transition from old to new, for films, their characters, and us as people. As a fan myself, I think that there’s going to be a lot more new pieces of the 007 story, much like Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. But as a fan of characters, the idea that we get to see Bond at his least flattering – killing an assassin after he kills his own target, pulling at a lady’s blouse a week before asking her name. But we also see him show some real emotional vulnerability, and for those who know Bond, this is big. It proves that director Sam Mendes took this film seriously enough to figure out who Bond is, was, and maybe even should be.
3) Life of Pi
For those who didn’t yet know, director Ang Lee doesn’t make joke. He’s one of the few directors with a truly colossal success with different genres of film that speak about different peoples and cultures. With his most recent experiment, he gives audiences a truly spiritual experience with vivid images and a powerful, well-written story. Stories with one central character tend to be either hit or miss, but the character we meet here – Pi Patel – has a faith, determination and compassion that make him just too adorable. Whether its the beautiful world he meets, the tragic story he survives, or the awesome person he continues to be, Pi’s Life is bound to bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face.
2) The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan, in my opinion, might be the best director that Hollywood has ever seen. He might also be the scariest, but that’s another matter altogether. Nonetheless, his entire Dark Knight trilogy has managed to keep us on the edge of our seats, and looking at one of our favorite heroes in a completely new light. The vision, by the way, is all his from writing to directing, and not only is the story intricate and surprising in the writing, but it’s intense and emotive in its directing. A character in this film hardly feels like a breathing prop in this film, but rather a gear turning in the machine that gives us what we need at the end. Even folks who are not fans of Batman the character can fall in love with this action-packed thriller, but those who are familiar with Bruce Wayne will get a lot extra.
1) Wreck-It Ralph
This might be a weird choice for some. After all, animated films, while very entertaining, are not the most serious of film genres. But I’m secure enough in my masculinity to say that this film made my eyes tear up almost all the way to the end. And that’s what experiences like this are engineered to do – to make us feel. And every emotion that Wreck-It Ralph aimed for hit the mark precisely, from the witty jokes and game references to the chapters of Ralph’s journey to become a hero. As far as a giant game reference goes, there was a little more to be desired, but as a film for all ages it is more than capable of leaving everyone walking away feeling things they didn’t know they could for pixels. Take it from someone who actually hates animated movies…
Special Mention: Abraham Lincolm: Vampire Hunter
Okay, so it’s no Lincoln, but what it does happen to be is a cleverly-written farce that manages to still take itself seriously enough to present characters of some worth. Sometime while watching this film, you’ll find yourself still suspending your disbelief, no matter how silly you find the idea of Abraham Lincoln vanquishing undead creatures. It’s because the story’s not written as a very bad joke, but rather a very far-fetched what-if that rides the train of thought to the end. And the ride is so exciting that we stick around to see what the destination looks like.
Documentary of the Year : Marley
It’s no One Day in September, but Kevin McDonald does show that he’s learned a lot from the truckload of documentaries he’s directed since 1995. Marley is a very holistic look into the life of the reggae legend that is bound to make you love him and hate him just a splash more than you did before you saw it. It reveals the story behind not only the music he made, but the man that made that music and the people that helped along the way. Add to that an interesting side-view of the Jamaica he grew up in and grew to make that lovely music for, and some social and even political factors that influenced how people saw him at that time, and you have a truly enlightening experience. And it would not be complete without some of Bob Marley’s beautiful tunes playing in the background.