Jan 12th, 2013

2012: Year in Review – Movies

By Nick Robison

Another 2012 post? How could we be so lucky? Why thanks for the question Internet readers! Yes, even though we’re several days into 2013 (so far, so good) there’s one last wrap up post from the previous year, and the exciting part is, it’s not mine. While I could regal you with stories of the amazing movies I saw last year, the list would be incredibly short and embarassing for us all, as my cinematic critiques may actually be an affront to culture. With that being said I’d like to introduce this blog’s first guest post. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, Daniel Robison.

For those of you who don’t know, Daniel is a Senior in Sociology and Theatre at Azusa Pacific University and has this odd belief that film as an art form should be more then just 90 minutes of Vin Diesel taking off his sunglasses, a la The Chronicles of Riddick. So I asked him to compile a list of his favorite movies of the past season and explain to use Philistines (ok mostly just this one philistine) why they were so great. And as per usual, he delivered with aplomb.

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Though I really did NOT get the chance to see much of what I was looking forward to this year, I am going to attempt to talk about some of my favorite films of the year. I was busy with a full time job over summer, papers both semesters (including my senior thesis), a shit ton of books, and preparing for my undergrad role in the Seagull which really did hold some major weight in both the play and my schedule. Thus, television and movies took the biggest toll as they always do, and I no doubt missed out on some sure fire Oscar nominees (and probably winners) so my top five list is anything but educated or complete. However, despite my swamped schedule, I did manage to see a number of films and these five made my favorite’s list of 2012.

  1. Hope Springs (Mandate Pictures)
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What an incredibly underrated film. I barely even heard anything about it, until one day on facebook someone mentioned how much they enjoyed it. I was like “what is Hope Springs?” I saw it over Christmas break and was really blown away. It was one of those “slice-of-life” movies, examining in raw, close detail what it means to have and to hold intimacy with a partner. Excellently acted, with legends Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones leading the way. If you haven’t seen it, I obviously recommend it and will probably see it again sometime soon.

  1. Brave (Disney/Pixar)
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This movie was much much more than the trailers cracked it up to be. I heard mixed reviews and kind of just went in with a mostly judgement-free mind. Contrary to what other reviews may have said, this story really was unique. Aside from the obvious, a redheaded AND female heroine, Brave was the first Pixar movie that challenged the minds of both parents AND children. Merida’s only way out of the trouble she got in was to somehow “mend the bond torn by pride” aka her mother’s. The universal theme of love, forgiveness, and redemption were painted colorfully on a complex canvas so marvelously, that it’s really a wonder how Pixar will find a way to raise their own bar any higher. Hopefully they’ll shoot for more stories like Brave, extremely cute but also extremely meaningful.

  1. Pitch Perfect (Universal Pictures)
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Just for fun. Okay? Who would I be if I hadn’t seen Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick (and John Micheal Higgins!!!) make a tenderhearted mockery out of that shit-show Glee? It’s a scream, really. One of those “I laughed so hard that my face got red and I couldn’t breathe, and then some” type movies. Go see it. It’s more than great. It’s damn near perfect. I’m sure everyone has seen it though, so moving on…

  1. Perks of Being a Wallflower (Summit Entertainment)
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This was my favorite book when I was fifteen. Naturally, I was terrified of it being ruined by Emma Watson, but thank goodness it wasn’t (although she did a damn good job of trying!). The acting was C A R R I E D by Logan Lerman. Seriously. I can’t stress that enough. Ezra Miller did great too. He was the perfect Patrick. Author Stephan Chbosky directed it, which is really everybody’s dream, really. That Tolkein would’ve directed Lord of the Rings. That Rowling would’ve directed Harry Potter. Obviously, the Perks fans got lucky. The story was so beautiful and still holds all the teenage love, angst, and heartbreak that I remembered back when I first read it. Go see it if you haven’t. (although everyone on tumblr probably already has.)

  1. Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company)
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First off, duh because of Tarantino. Second, this movie is paralleling with James H. Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Which is the crossover of spirituality and racism, as told by the Black experience. The book is amazing in itself, but the movie (though a work of fiction) does such an incredible job of envisioning a glimpse into the reality of blacks during slavery and far far beyond. In Django Unchained we witness (as best as we possibly can) the slaughter of blacks, and watch for close to three hours the horrific events that occurred by the hands of white people. Aside from the Mandingo scene, all was mentioned in Cone’s book and that put a whole new perspective and spin on the movie, for me. However, Tarantino reminds us that this movie is a work of art. A story of fiction meant to make us think, enrage us, and give some sort of justice for our past transgressions as a “white” nation. I think the quote he gave to Huffington Post sums the movie up best when he said:

“We all intellectually ‘know’ the brutality and inhumanity of slavery, but after you do the research it’s no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record – you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something … I’m here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened … When slave narratives are done on film, they tend to be historical with a capital H, with an arms-length quality to them. I wanted to break that history-under-glass aspect, I wanted to throw a rock through that glass and shatter it for all times, and take you into it.”

That pretty much sums up Django Unchained for me.

I recommend each of these movies strongly and cannot wait to catch up on the classics I have missed this year, and all the classics to come in the next!

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