With all the movies I saw that were released this past year I probably saw just as many for the first time that were released in previous years. Another blogger, PGCooper, did a post listing his top 20 non-2012 films he saw in 2012 and I absolutely loved the idea of that. Click here to see his original post and here is a rundown of the top movies I saw in 2012 for the first time that were not released in 2012.
It takes a really good actor to play a character that is beyond out of their mind and make you want to learn more about them. I always think of Brad Pitt in Snatch, Kalifornia, and 12 Monkeys. Now I can add to the list Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson the world’s most famous and brutal prisoner. Bronson was straight mad. He just loved to fight and talked to himself about crazy philosophies. They showed him give monologues in a theater full of people or sometimes it would be empty but it was all in his head. Plus he would strip naked and grease himself up before he would fight the prison guards or police. The story itself is a little muddle because I never quite understood why he was the vicious brute he was and does not see to really have a point. But man does Tom Hardy give a great performance you just have to see to believe.
Plain and simple, Oldboy is a mind fuck. I try to avoid profanity on my blog but there is just no other way to describe this movie. A man, Oh Dae-Su, was held captive in a room for 15 years seeks answers for his imprisonment and what he finds may make him wish he never looked. Dae-Su goes through the ultimate attitude adjustment. In the beginning of the movie he is a care free jerk that chose to get drunk instead of go to his daughter’s birthday party. While imprisoned and in search of his captor’s identity you see he is a hardened and numb to pain both physical and emotional. It was just masterful story telling. All the gathering of clues and character development was unique. Even if you walk out of this movie a little disturbed you will not regret seeing it because it is a movie you will talk about forever.
Much like Oldboy, I Saw The Devil is pretty troubling and a mind bender. A well respected cop, Kim Soo-hyeon, ignores the limits of the law as he tracks down and torments than man who murdered his pregnant wife. Going into this movie I expected most of the film to be about his search for the killer so I was shocked at how soon he found him and confronted him. But Soo-hyeon lets him go just to find him again committing another unspeakable act and beat the snot out of him. This goes on until the killer figures it out and makes the cop regret not killing him when he had the chance. I Saw The Devil is unlike any revenge movie I have seen.
(17) Take Shelter (2011)
Good apocalyptic movies are a dime a dozen. Take Shelter is a different apocalyptic movie because it about a blue collar worker that has visions of a coming storm and cannot decide if he should build a shelter for his family or if he is starting to suffer from the same mental illness as his mother. Michael Shannon is fantastic in this movie as a man who tries to keep his inner turmoil from affecting his everyday life but it shows when he least expects it and has great chemistry with Jessica Chastain who plays his wife. Director/writer Jeff Nichols’ story builds the tension all the while you are left wondering is he really seeing signs or is he simply losing his grip on reality.
This is one of those before they were stars movies that you have to check out simply to see a now famous celebrity in their early stages. Foolproof is a small Canadian action/comedy starring Ryan Reynolds just after he appeared in Van Wilder. This movie is just plain fun. It’s about three friends that spend their free time planning the ultimate heist on of the friends’ place of employment but a wrench is thrown in the mix when a selfish mobster catches wind of the heist and wants a piece of the action. I am sure the heist plan is not plausible but it was cool to see the preparation and how they planned to execute the heist because after all these guys are amateurs that have never done it before that makes it an exciting watch. Being amateurs things do not always go to plan providing a lot of humorous moments during the planning and execution of the heist. Foolproof is a fun turn your brain off for a laugh and some action kind of movie much like one of the Rush Hour movies.
I cannot believe I just got around to seeing this movie. 48 Hrs is the feature film debut of Eddie Murphy and probably my favorite movie I have seen him in, with Shrek in a close second. If you look on the IMDb page for this movie, it is listed as an action movie first but 48 Hrs is damn funny. The dialogue between Nolte and Murphy was classic banter. Then when the two final decide to put their fighting gloves on to hash out some differences it is great. Each one hits their hay-maker and delivers a good punch-line to match (pun intended). Also after watching it I slightly less appreciate the show White Collar which has the same premise of a criminal let out of jail to aid a veteran cop catch criminals. 48 Hrs is a lot more exciting and legitimate laughs to make it compete with any full fledge comedy.
One name makes this movie classic, Snake Plissken. Kurt Russell makes him one of the most badass characters of movies set “in the future.” The eye patch, snake tattoo on his chest, and a smart ass attitude make Snake Plissken certainly memorable. John Carpenter, who was one of the best directors of the 70s and 80s in my opinion, creates one of the creepiest future states of New York City with the flamboyant get ups of the criminals residing in it and their ruthless aggression. It was just a fun premise that has been done over and over since with Alien 3 and last year with Lookout.
John Cusack movies always seem to have the same wit/humor. For some it works and others is does not (War Inc.). Grosse Pointe Blank definitely works. Cusack plays a professional assassin/hitman that always gets his man who under the advice of his assistant decides to take a job that lines up with his ten year high school reunion where he reunites with and old high school. This comedic take on the assassin business makes it look like any other legitimate business practice. You got the professional/business owner, his assistant/secretary that handles all the debit and credits to keep the business in check, contracts on jobs, competition with other assassins, an assassin’s union, and avoiding trouble with government officials. Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, and Dan Aykroyd bring their own style of humor to Grosse Pointe Blank for a well round comedy experience.
This Quentin Tarantino film does not seem to get as much love as his other movies when it is probably one of my favorites of his. Tarantino is known best for his characters and to me Jackie Brown has the best casting for these characters. I do not mean the best collection of actors I mean that the actor were the best possible choices to play the characters. No one but Pam Grier could have played Jackie Brown a woman caught between an arms dealer and the police. Grier also had great onscreen chemistry with Robert Forster who is her co-conspirator in getting out of this jam alive. Samuel L. Jackson and Robert DeNiro share some amazing scenes together because they are perfect as their characters. Jackson as the greedy arms dealer that will do anything to protect himself is great especially in the “get in the trunk” scene with Chris Tucker; such a funny scene. He brings in the fresh out of prison Louis Gara (Robert DeNiro) that is beyond impulsive and number to his actions make the Jackie Brown funny and intense. Last but not least I like Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette, one of the police officers. A fairly simple role to play but if you watch his solo good cop/bad cop interrogation scene there are very subtle things he does with his body language and mannerisms that other actors would have missed or over exaggerated.
Not going to lie this is one of the sexiest movies I have ever seen on top of being a great thriller. I mean yeah there is the infamous interrogation scene with the no underwear shot but Sharon Stone is alluring the whole damn movie. Michael Douglas as the detective is his usual cunning character but even he has the wool pulled over his eyes as his primary suspect seduces him. The investigation itself is interesting with the evidence they gather from the gruesome crime scenes your attention never strays from the movie. Finally now I can talk with people about a movie seemingly everyone has seen.
The title may suggest this movie is horror but it is damn far from it. Back in 1932 when it came out it may have been considered it but it focuses around life in the circus with unique individuals some call “deformed.” But there is nothing horrific about this movie other than the crime which it focuses around a beautiful woman that is suspect of marrying the ring leader simply to murder him to get his inheritance. The scene where they are all at the dinner table and the beautiful woman obviously has a little too much to drink is gut wrenching scene that even today I am taken back by what is said.
Many thought it was a travesty that it took me this long to finally watch Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. Now that I have it is the funniest movie I have ever seen Steve Martin do. Not the funniest John Candy movie however, that belongs to Uncle Buck. Anyway, I used to travel a lot and this movie sums up every form of travel and shows how they all can go wrong. Steven Martin goes throw the travel experience from hell and utters some words I would never have believed he ever said if I did not see/hear it for myself. Click here for the clip of Steve Martin saying what every traveler has wanted to say at least once to people in customer service.
There is nothing more than gratifying when the end of a movie has a good twist that you did not see coming. With Wild Things you have no chance of guessing the final twist simply because there are twists from start to finish. It stars Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, and Denise Richards but for the purpose of this post it is pointless to explain what exactly their role is in this movie just know the back stabbing and changing secret agenda changes are not over until the credits roll. Also I generally like anything Kevin Bacon is in. Oh and I almost forgot Bill Murray makes a few appearances of comic relief as a lawyer which segues to my next movie…
I give a lot of credit to improve and the people that do it… well. In The Man Who Knew Too Little Bill Murray plays Wallace a small town blockbuster owner who goes to England to visit his brother who is busy entertaining guests so he set Wallace up on a improve stage act but never gets there and is mistaken for a spy to spoil a villainous plot. I may not have quite done the premise justice but trust me when I say this movie is hysterical. Murray treats every obstacle that comes his way as if it is all rigged in his favor despite the fact it is a real and dangerous position he is in. I really like Bill Murray’s movies and for as little known this movie is, it may be one of my favorites of his.
You know when a band breaks up it is always interesting to see which ones end up making it either solo or in another band? Well I am sure people thought the same thing when the men from Monty Python began doing their own things. Well A Fish Called Wanda features two of the men from Monty Python, John Cleese and Michael Palin, and it definitely has their charm and wit. Kevin Kline is also hysterical in this movie which kind of boarders the twists of Wild Things where you do not know where the story is going and who is on whose side. Side-note, I knew after True Lies that Jamie Lee Curtis was attractive but after A Fish Called Wanda she was damn sexy. She plays such an innocent character in most of her movies and her she is flat out deviously seductive.
There should really be an asterisk next to this I have caught bits and pieces of this one before but finally got to see it from start to finish. All you can say is that this one is a classic. Despite the primitive design of the creature it still hold up today as cool and creepy. It also may catch some flak for being politically incorrect with how constantly helpless Julie Adams’ character was and needed constant aid from the men on the exploration. I get that but that is what was typical of movies back in the 40s and 50s. Creature From The Black Lagoon is a truly icon cinematic creature that has spawned and inspired many imitations. I have heard rumors about some writers wanting to remake it but I really hope they do not.
As I said earlier with Escape From New York John Carpenter owned the 70s and 80s as a director. Starman may be one of his best as he crafts a story about an alien that takes the form of a woman’s deceased husband so she can take him from Wisconsin to Arizona with government agents hot on their trail. As the alien that is learning to be human, Jeff Bridges earned his first Oscar nomination for a leading role and he is great. Since he did not know much of the English language he did most of his communicating through facial expressions and man can he do a lot of it. Also in case you were not in love with Karen Allen after Raiders of the Lost Ark you surely will after Starman.
Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier play the ultimate game of wits that you would not want to be on the losing end of. Olivier plays a very rich games and theater enthusiast that invites the man, Caine, having an affair with his wife to his mansion and challenges him to a game that puts his life at stake. There is superb acting on both sides since they are predominately the only actors on screen. There are so many great things to mention about the story but for those of you reading this that have not seen it I do not want to spoil anything. Just trust me that Sleuth is very engaging with the power struggle between these two intelligent movie titans.
Paul Giamatti always picks good scripts it seems. He rarely gets the credit he deserves and Win Win is a great example. He plays a lawyer whose practice is suffering until he takes on being the legal guardian of a client with an ailing mind that cannot support himself. Soon after become the guardian his client’s troubled grandson shows up and eventually joins the wrestling team the lawyer voluntarily coaches until question arise regarding the lawyer intentions for becoming his client’s guardian. A majority of the comedy comes from the supporting character played by Bobby Cannavale and Jeffery Tambor. They stole a lot of scenes especially when the two would battle each other to sit next to Giamatti during matches. Most of all though, this movie is about facing adversity and it gives the best advice for it “Whatever the fuck it takes.”
Lisabeth Salander easily ranks as one of the greatest heroines to grace the screen of pages of a book. There is a lot of depth to her character that has built up from the hellish childhood she had that you desperately want to reach out and give her a hug but she would never allow it because she cannot trust anyone. Noomi Rapace just embodied Salander in this Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev. But she really is not the entire focus of the book/movie but how she aids journalist Mikael Blomkvist in a 40 year old missing persons case that reveals a link to sinister murders that had been dismissed years ago. Hands down this is one of the best mysteries I have seen brought to screen with the most unlikely combo of characters working together to solve it. I cannot praise this movie enough. David Finch’s film is great too and so is Rooney Mara’s take on Salander but something about Oplev and Rapace’s version just feels more natural to me.