Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Movie Name: Zero Dark Thirty
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, James Gandolfini, Edgar Ramirez, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Harold Perrineau, Mark Duplass, John Barrowman, Stephen Dillane
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9

Director Kathryn Bigelow's follow up to the Oscar winning "The Hurt Locker", is another stellar example of what a fantastic filmmaker she is. The film details the long process of capturing Bin Laden, seen primarily through the eyes of a young analyst named Maya. Maya's resilience and driven determination are the core of the film, which goes to great lengths to paint a vast canvas of how many people and logistics were involved in making that event occur.
Kathryn Bigelow has always been a terrific filmmaker with a capability to create a narrative thread anchored in strong characters that are always inserted in a reality that is almost at odds with them. That was a strong point in "Point Break", "Strange Days" and even "The Weight of Water". "Zero Dark Thirty" builds a strong narrative based on facts that are well known by the general audience, but it gives it a human dimension by making us, the viewers, share the plight of Maya, the main analyst, whose life and dedication has been the completion of that mission. The labyrinth the film presents is as intricate as is the unraveling that slowly occurs as the story unfolds. The film is fantastically well directed, with a great central performance from Jessica Chastain. A film not to be missed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best films of 2012

2012 was a fantastic film for films. The year saw work from accomplished filmmakers who continued to expand their palette, with particular highlight going for Paul Thomas Anderson, who created with "The Master" a film unlike any other this year. This was a true work of art - unique, challenging and simply stunning in every aspect of it's execution. For that alone this would be a phenomenal year for film, but every other feature on this list proves that there are unique artists still laboring in an increasingly commercialized art form.

The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Jesse Plemons

Zero Dark Thirty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, James Gandolfini, Edgar Ramirez, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Harold Perrineau, Mark Duplass, John Barrowman, Stephen Dillane

Cloud Atlas
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy

Killing Them Softly
Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta

Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Ayush Tandon, Gautam Belur, Adil Hussain, Tabu

Silver Linings Playbook
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Anupam Kher

Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell, Martin Landau

Django Unchained
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, David Steen

Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Pierce Gagnon

Special mentions should go for the following films. "The Impossible" from Juan Antonio Bayona, "Bernie" from Richard Linklater, "Paranorman" from Chris Butler and Sam Fell, "The Deep Blue Sea" from Terence Davies, and "Flight" from Robert Zemeckis.

The Impossible

Movie Name: The Impossible
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura, Sonke Mohring, Geraldine Chaplin
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible" follows the dramatic story of a family who gets caught up in the aftermath of the horrible destruction caused by the tsunami that hit the Asian shores in December of 2004. The film introduces us to a British family, consisting of Maria and Henry, and their three young children, Lucas, Thomas and Simon. The family is in Thailand enjoying their Christmas vacation, when a tidal wave of unprecedented violence comes through the beaches and destroys everything in it's path. Maria and Lucas get separated from Henry, Thomas and Simon. Maria is seriously hurt, and thanks to Lucas they manage to slowly make their way to safety. They eventually get found out by some local inhabitants and get sent to a hospital where thousands of other people also affected by the violent waters are fighting for their lives.
Juan Antonio Bayona's builds a film that is both riveting and exciting, pulsating with life and feeling. This is a film that accomplishes to be simultaneously technically flawless - the special effects that recreate the impact of the waves are nothing short of fantastic - and the way the characters are given time to really immerse the viewer into the dynamics of that family. The film also benefits from fantastic actors, namely Naomi Watts who again creates more than just a flat character - she embodies a woman who is grounded and is trying to protect her child and family above everything. Ewan McGregor and the young Tom Holland are equally fantastic, creating a very realistic sense of family unity. This a film to see and discover. One of the good surprises of 2012.