The Top Ten Films in Twenty-Twelve’s Fallow Field (The Rest)
I think at this stage you probably all get the gist, that I am here to rank the best pictures released this year in an order of preference. It’s a simple premise really but one that I have always struggled with. In the past my issue has been a philosophical one, issuing pretentious ‘awards’ instead but this year I fully intended to line-up an actual list, so structure isn’t what’s stopping me. No, the problem is this: there simply weren’t enough films released this year that deserve the deification of Top Ten status; this isn’t a bell curve, simply coming out during a coarse year for cinema shouldn’t be enough to earn you earnest respect.
My solution is this: I will wrangle together a top five and leave the ‘others’ here to fend for themselves as ‘honorable mentions’ (though if you really want, if your OCD tendencies require it, then you can think of them as 6-11. Though given the nature of that number I doubt that this will help). I’ll link to my original review (in the cases where this is applicable) and quickly mention why the movie stuck with me enough to earn even this tenuously positive title. Enjoy?
Now: Seven Psychopaths is a mess: the script is scattershot, the story nonsensical and the style all over the shop but there is something rather special about it, perhaps because it Martin McDonaughs mind is never placated and a statu-quo never established. The moves that the movie makes are not always worthwhile but they are always interesting and often quite unexpected; its freshness something that I very rarely find in film these days.
Now: Honestly, the reason that Anderson’s film is here and not with on the adult table is because I think much less of it now than I did then. The movie almost entirely slipped out of my skull and only just managed to be remembered enough to make it here.
Robot & Frank
Now: There were a number of nice, light indie pictures this year that proved competent at meeting my expectations of a good movie experience. Slight praise perhaps, but given how many movies disappointed there is still some merit to be found in this. From out of all of these it is Robot & Frank that reigns supreme because as well as providing strong character, smart comedy and a stellar concept (as they all did) it also managed to make some more challenging statements and ask some more original questions, subtle as many of them were. Inessential but intelligent you could do far worse than Frank and this year a lot of films did.
Now: On the other hand I’m not sure that you could make a movie much better than James Marsh did Shadow Dancer: the film is flawlessly shot, scripted and spoken and yet, like it does in a perfectly symmetrical person, this perfection manages to alienate as much as it does evoke awe. It would be almost impossible to leave this film feeling that it wasn’t well made but harder still to leave it truly in love.
Your Sister’s Sister
Now: In yet another reversal Your Sister’s Sister is not only a film that you will fall for but one that really requires it. Though Lynn Shelton’s work here is much stronger than it has even been in the past – the picture quality and what she does with it are the most obvious signs of this improvement – her picture is still held together by little more than the love and passion that her and the crew have for it. In the moment that emotion is enough to move you through the tale – slow spots and all – but in retrospect those feelings are hard to access and without them the film almost falls apart.
Now: While I was one of the few whose praises for this picture outweighed their criticisms I was not without them: the story, such as it was, suffered greatly from favoring faith over science and worse still for focusing on parasites as the antagonists and STD’s as their philosophical motif (in the same way that Motherhood, a much more primitive emotion, was in Alien) and the script, thanks to Mr.Lindelof was looser than it should have been. These things though slip away quite quickly and so now all I am left with are snippets of the movie’s many sublime images and the big questions that it pondered; each more than enough to earn it a place here and with the passage of a little more time maybe even further.