It’s been one heck of a good year for movies. From mainstream blockbusters to low-budget indies, there was a little bit for everyone in 2012. Even with a less than stellar summer season, I would argue that this been the strongest film year since 2007. When I sat down to write my end of the year list, I kept scratching out certain entries and starting over, because there were so many films that I wanted to mention. Even with the list you’re about to go through, I’m already questioning whether I should do it again just one more time. That’s the silliness of making these things in the first place. There were so many good movies this year that attempting to rank them one over the other is an exercise in absurdity. But that’s the kind of absurdity we movie fans love to put ourselves through.
As a middle-aged lady, sometimes I want to watch a movie deal with issues besides saving the world and having sex for the first time. Yes, those are interesting subjects, but I can only watch a superhero come of age so many times before I want to see something with a little more meat to it. A Late Quartet, directed by Yaron Zilberman, has a lot of things I want in a film: decent performances, a moderately interesting story, and good music. It also has a problematic script, hackneyed emotions, and a certain cluelessness about the privilege it portrays. It’s not a bad film—I got a little teary-eyed at the end—but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I left the theater thinking more about its faults than its virtues.
In 2008, writer/director Martin McDonagh made In Bruges. This was a smart and unique film that was both dramatic and comedic in equal measure. It was so well done that it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. With his latest, Seven Psychopaths (2012), McDonagh once again shows off his talents, seamlessly blending various tones with little effort. And just like before, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were critically recognized for it. This is a dark, screwball comedy-drama that constantly surprises, filled with twists and turns that never feel out of place and finely drawn characters spouting out wickedly funny dialogue. What takes it up a notch is how it folds within itself. McDonagh’s writing and direction molds a story that feels as though it is discovering itself, and asks us to ride along each step of the way.
In honor of the release of Looper, Spencer and Greg discuss Bruce Willis.
Another Top 5 segment from The MacGuffin. This time Allen and Brandi share their top 5 death scenes.
This segment is also available on Stitcher and iTunes. The audio version can be downloaded directly from here. After you’ve watched the video please vote in our poll and share which one you think is the best.
Much of my adolescent movie-watching years were spent during Bruce Willis’s tough guy box office reign. Films like Die Hard, The Last Boy Scout, and even the rather disappointing Striking Distance were top priority for my film watching time. When the film Last Man Standing opened in 1996, I had just graduated high school earlier that year, and it was my birthday: exactly what I wanted, a new Bruce Willis action film.
Woody Allen begins his film Annie Hall (1977) with a monologue in which he addresses the audience directly. Within this speech, he describes a joke that he first attributes to Groucho Marx, saying that he would never want to be a part of a club that would have him as a member. This joke, with its classic Woody Allen self-deprecating humor and wit, is the theme that will run throughout the course of his romantic comedy classic. It will be the theme that he uses to deconstruct and analyze the course of his relationship with the woman he would come to find is the love of his life. But if she was “the one” to him, why did things turn out the way they did? If he had happiness in his grasp at one point, how could he have let that slip away? Would he have been satisfied allowing himself to be a part of a club that would have him as a member, or is he only happy when he is unhappy?
The makers of Kill the Irishman, which opens in Seattle today, must think you will watch any piece of crap if it is about the mob. They have to believe that the very fact that the film is about a bunch of people trying to make money in an organized, illegal fashion is enough. No need for things like character development that might help you care about those people, dialogue that reaches beyond the cliché and lazy, or any scene or plot point that you haven’t seen before. Unless you are thinking to yourself right now “Damn, if I don’t see a movie this weekend where a snitch gets whacked after an oh-so-brief moment of moral hesitation from a gruff anti-hero, I will literally die,” then please, skip this film. And even if you are thinking that, I suggest you rent any of the hundred or so mob movies that are infinitely better than this one. Go to your local video store and just pick one off the shelf.