2012 was a big year in film, with Christopher Nolan’s hugely anticipated Batman wrap-up The Dark Knight Rises, the equally long-awaited 007 installment Skyall, which was the first in the franchise to be directed by an Oscar Winner (Sam Mendes), and the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s technologically ambitious LOTR prequel The Hobbit among the highest grossing. But the year also proved to be a wildly diverse one; so much so, that while I found all three of these big budget offerings to be well-conceived and deserving of a far more intellectual tag than ‘blockbuster’, not one of them was even close to making my top ten. A lot of great original material was presented this year, covering an amazing breadth of genres, and as always it was difficult for me to compile this list without inevitably excluding more than just a few films that I loved. The bottom line is, I found each of the following picks to be somewhat of a cinematic anomaly. So here they are, the movies that moved me the most, with links to my full reviews where applicable. Continue reading “Top 10 Films of 2012”
Leave your opinions of torture at the door, this is a film where they’re going to be used. Let’s face it. Waterboarding was used. To great extent during many years. And too much extent. And this is a film that does not flinch when it comes to showing it used in some gritty scenes. The key goal, the search for Osama Bin Laden. The cost of getting there…there is no cost.
From the moment it opens to its climatic end; Zero Dark Thirty and it’s director Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker & The Hurt Locker) puts you through the ringer emotionally. Unfortunately for Bigelow, this film has been subjected to extra scrutiny. It’s unflinchingly realistic depictions of waterboarding, less than humane conditions at unnamed CIA “Black Sites” and suicide bombings is where Bigelow excels. However, it draws its greatest criticisms from these scenes. So much criticism that, the Intelligence Committee will investigate Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers’ CIA access.
Zero Dark Thirty is nothing if it isn’t meticulously put together, and that seems like enough to qualify this smart, painstaking film for my top three of 2012, if not the last five years, particularly because of how scrupulously it treats such a delicate topic without catering to any obvious agendas. Though Oscar buzz has been surrounding this thing almost since its inception (which was initially slated to be a different story, since writing commenced before Osama bin Laden was killed), it breaks what might be considered the traditional mold for awards season, a stoic beast amongst a barrage of emotion-rich fare. That said, the film is a cinematic masterpiece that will probably get shortchanged in some category by the Academy (seeing as Kathryn Bigelow claimed hers for The Hurt Locker four years ago, typical politics have inevitably kicked in. She wasn’t even nominated this year for what is superior to her previous work). Thankfully, politics is something this film lacks almost entirely; it is primarily objective, purposefully unsensational – with perhaps the exception of its final 30 minutes – and unapologetic in almost every facet of the story. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty”