Damn, what a year! Personally it was a complete trainwreck for me with events that I hope I will never, ever have to repeat again in my lifetime and would not wish on anyone. On the plus side, the economy seems to be picking up and best of all, independent film seems to slowly be returning to its roots, spawning movies driven by creativity and passion, rather than cynical compendiums of cliches and empty promises. Don't get me wrong, they're still out there en masse, but with films like UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012), which by all rights, should have been released theatrically, and THALE (2012) raising the bar for DTV and SOV movies, I see great things on the horizon.
Total Movies Watched:
303 (that is 62 missed opportunities!), of course that doesn't factor in Scandinavian crime novels read. Although I can't even use books as an excuse with Mary McKee throwing around crazy-ass shit like THE DEATH OF THE FUHRER!
Total Theatrical Movies:
3 (two more than last year!)
PROMETHEUS (2012): Completely overblown, badly written, embarrassingly acted mess that pretends to toy with the audience over whether it is or is not a prequel to ALIEN (1979), when in fact, it has no clue. The apologists claim that it's visually stunning, and that is absolutely true, but this is Ridley Scott. That's what he does. Even when dealing in marginal product (say, 1987s SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME), the visuals are always arresting. Arresting visuals doth not an awesome movie make, quoth The Bard. It does make for a nice Imax 3D viewing experience, but then again, it sure would have been nice to have something closer to a complete package. The most interesting thing about it post-release is that it apparently was to be a much more ummmm, "down to earth" project with a reinvented chest-burster and human-to-alien transformations, which would have not only been cooler to see, but would have made a lot more sense in the context of the story. Too bad all concerned seemed to get high on their own fumes and decided to aim for more pretentious goals.
THE AVENGERS (2012): Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. I saw it in Imax 3D and had a good time, but... really? Was it that amazing? Peeps be goin' batshit on this flick, fo' realz! The bar was definitely raised in the CGI department, but greatest movie ever? I dunno about that. It was fun, but the aliens looked like they were stolen out of a Michael Bay film and the only thing that was ever cool about Hawkeye was his whiskers, and they decided to drop those since presumably Jeremy Renner can't grow them. On the other hand, I really wish Whedon had directed THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN or the new SUPERMAN flick which looks stunningly pretentious. I gotta hand it to Joss, he turned in a good time, and honestly I truly do appreciate him giving us a close-up of Scarlett Johansson's marvelous tush in 3D on a 30 foot high screen.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981): It's RAIDERS! It's in our modern, scaled-down version of IMAX! Restored print? Nope! But we do get a new font for the titles. Then again, does it really need to be remastered and all hi-def? Nope. It's still a great movie that would never be made the same way today. Matter of fact, we can see what it would be like if it was made today. It's called INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Yeah, I had to go there, didn't I?
The First Film of 2012:
FROM NOON TIL THREE (1976): Oh my lawrd, Charlie, what the hell are you doing? I guess there's a reason this Charles Bronson western has been hard to come by for so many years. Man, this is rough stuff. A group of bankrobbers find themselves short a horse, so odd man out Graham (yes, Bronson's character is a Graham) must stay at a remote mansion inhabited by a young widow (Jill Ireland, of course), named Amanda. The gang is going to return for him at 3pm, so from noon-til-three the two become romantically entangled in what is supposed to be a charming, amusing way (it's not). The whole thing takes a bizarre turn when the gang is caught, Graham is presumed dead and Amanda becomes world famous for her highly embellished dramatization of her love for a bank robber. I'd really like to give it props for going completely off the rails in a direction I never saw coming (she doesn't recognize him, but recognizes his penis - whaaa?), but the fact is that this is just a painfully bad movie that was only greenlit because of the star-power behind it. If you've worked your way through everything else or you've ever wanted to see Charlie in a tux doing some ballroom dancing... err, this is for you.
The Last Film of 2012:
The Biggest Surprise of 2012:
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012): This completely whacked, hallucinogen-fueled, bare-knuckle re-working of APOCALYPSE NOW blew my freakin' mind. Even the red-band trailer doesn't prepare you for the brutal, bloody left-field insanity that John Hyams blows in your face at 250 miles an hour.
The Biggest Disappointment of 2012: Tie!
THE HOLE (2009): Damn, Joe Dante, what happened? A family moves into a new house that has a deep, dark secret in the basement: A trap-door covered hole that is locked down and clearly not meant to be opened. Of course the kids just have to open it and as it turns out, the hole contains fear itself. Dante does a beautiful job setting up the story with some great touches, such as a nutty Bruce Dern as the former house owner who is now terrified of the dark. Sadly, as soon as the characters fears come to life they are neither scary or unique. I realize that this is supposed to be safe for ankle biters, but the drunken/abusive father segment is painfully cliched and delivers that lame '80s stereotype of guys with long hair being evil. Hey Joe? You used to have long hair, buddy. But digressions on coiffures not withstanding, the film starts on a very high note, and plummets quickly after the halfway mark. Even so, it's surprising that this never got released in the US.
SLEEPWALKER (2000): Easily the best videocamera thriller ever, well, at least for the first 80 minutes. This completely crushed me. I couldn't believe how brilliant this film was using a format that usually is the kiss of death. Then the twist end hit. You bastards.
Oldest Film Seen in 2012:
Most Movies Watched in One Month:
An almost Aaron Christensen-esque total of 46 in August. Runner up: 42 in October.
Least Movies Watched in One Month:
12 in November. Damn those night shifts!
Top 10 Favorite First Time Viewings in 2012:
This is simply a list of movies that I saw for the first time in 2012 that became instant favorites. There were so many that I had to pare down the list to just the top 10 most memorable.
The Johan Falk Trilogy - ZERO TOLERANCE (1999) / EXECUTIVE PROTECTION (2001) / THE THIRD WAVE (2003): Unquestionably the best police action thrillers of the past two decades. The story arc over three films won't even hit you until you are into the second film, when you will suddenly realize that you are knee-deep in a masterpiece.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008): An amazingly effective, disturbing and complex Swedish horror film that never hits a wrong note. Deserving of every accolade it's gotten and undeserving of the mindless, soulless Hollywood remake. If you were like me and procrastinated because of all the hype, don't put it off any longer.
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012): Again, this should be everyone's must see list. Unless they are the kind of person that runs off to the theater for the latest Tom Cruise movie.
RONAL THE BARBARIAN (2010).
ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION (1994): Quite possibly the finest example of '90s DTV trash action epicness from the master of the craft, Cirio H. Santiago. Ok, how do I even synopsize this? A trashy pop-star that is sort of like a SF strip club show meets Madonna on a budget is being stalked by psycho militia dude. A badass female cop (Charlie Spradling) attempts to guard her body, but only ends up getting killed, so her sister (Maria Ford in fine form) is now hell bent on some violent revenge. Hoooooly crap! Wall to wall sleaze and violent action plus some of the most hilarious bits of bad movie awesomeness this side of... well, another Cirio H. Santiago movie. Includes an instantly classic scene in which Ford kicks serious ass all over a house being over-run by killers wearing nothing but a thong. Ford that is, not the killers. A masterpiece of trash cinema.
THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (2011): Just in case anyone missed me gushing about the unparalleled awesomeness of this indy production from Andrew Leman and Sean Branney last year, I'm going to mention it again, since technically I didn't see it until early January. One of the best, if not the best, H.P. Lovecraft adaptation.
THALE (2012): Maybe not as stunning as WHISPERER, but a captivating little film that deserves a lot of praise for overcoming the limitations of the digital video format.