Films of 2012 – Part 2

10) Goon (Michael Dowse)



The presence of American Pie alumni Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy suggested another gross-out comedy but Goon is so much more. Based on the book ‘Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey’ by former player Doug Smith and Adam Frattasio it is as much about a young man’s search for a place in the world as it is about him punching people during hockey matches. There are great supporting performances from Alison Pill as a local drunk who attracts Doug’s attention and Liev Schrieber as an ageing enforcer with a realistic outlook on why guy’s like him are needed. It is William Scott’s movie though and he is a revelation as the tough guy with a tender side. 

9) Electrick Children (Rebecca Thomas)


An updating of the Virgin Mary story with a Fundamentalist Mormon teenager apparently becoming pregnant after listening to a cassette tape of a recording of Blondie’s ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ and heading for the city. Thomas comes from a Mormon background and pleasingly Electrick Children never patronises the lifestyle her protagonist is escaping from. Thomas also conveys a beauty, a wonder at everyday items; music, cars, hanging out, and the gaudy neon lights of Vegas. Loved its strange near apocalyptic ending too, “Let’s go back to the beginning…” 

8) Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)


Continuing Cronenberg’s fine form after the underrated A Dangerous Method, this adaptation of Don Dellilo’s novel is mostly faithful though it moves the action away from the shadow of 9/11 to the recent economic crisis as Robert Pattison’s dead-eyed businessman moves through New York on an odyssey to feel something, or anything at all.
7) Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)


Some commentators described Magic Mike as being lightweight Soderbergh but I disagree. There is a lightness of touch certainly, but the serious stuff is there in the background. It deals with the same themes as the low-budget and rather dull The Girlfriend Experience (2009), the economic crisis, the experiences of those working in the sex industry, their personal relationships, and hopes for the future, but with a charm and humour missing from the earlier film. Also Matthew McConaughey is far more terrifying as the master of ceremonies here than in his other cowboy hat wearing performance from last year in William Freidkin’s Killer Joe. 


6) Tabu (Miguel Gomes)


Inspired by Murnau’s Tabu: A Story of the South Seas this also presents an exotic love affair. In a contemporary wintry Lisbona human rights lawyer checks in on her elderly neighbour and promises to find a man she once loved. The lady dies before he can see her so he narrates the story of their love affair which Gomes presents in the style of a silent movie, with no dialogue only voiceover and 1950’s pop songs. Blissfully melancholic, with Tabu Gomes emerges this year as key figure in world cinema.

5) Detachment (Tony Kaye) 


Detachment is easily one of the most pretentious films of 2012 (its protagonist is called Barthes for Christ sake) yet it works thanks in part to a soulful performance from Adrien Brody. Director Tony Kaye takes the familiar story of a substitute teacher connecting with their students and kicks the Albert Camus out of it. It is rare films are this impassioned and genuinely attack the subject they are dealing with. 


4) The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim)


Marketed as a thriller with Dafoe’s archetypal mercenary travelling to Tasmaniato hunt down the last remaining Thylacine yet it abandons this setup for much of the film as he becomes a surrogate father to two children and surprises himself by wanting to fulfil this role. Like The Grey its about connecting to those around you, our own impermanence and the inevitability of death, about the  by Browse to Save”>landscape enduring while people or in this case whole species come and go. There is more than a touch of Peter Weir style mysticism about The Hunter, of something intangible being expressed with a  by Browse to Save”>great deal of subtlety.    Full review here. 

3) Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)


I’ve never subscribed to the theory Wes Anderson’s films are cold. They always seem have plenty of heart under their beautifully designed surfaces. Moonrise Kingdom is his most affecting film yet. As a rebellious khaki scout and his sweetheart set forth on a great adventure into the wild pursued by the bewildered and melancholy adults there is a strong feeling of nostalgia for a place only Wes Anderson knows the way to. 

2) The Grey (Joe Carnahan)



Nobody expected a film as relective or as haunting from the star and director of The A-Team. The premise is pure B-movie, a plane crashes and a dwindling group of survivors must fend off the attentions of ravenous wolves but Joe Caranahan makes us care about these people. Its protagonist collects their wallets and lays them out at the end just before the final conrontation between man and wolf which tellingly Carnahan never shows. Who do you love? What is keeping you here? The Grey is the action/horror film as memento mori. Full Review here.




1) Holy Motors (Leo Carax)


Leo Carax’s dreamlike odyssey through the possibilities of cinema, performance, and human experience. Holy Motors is playful, surprisingly funny, and filled with loss. No other contemporary actor could deliver the kid of athletic protean performance Denis Lavant brings here. Lavant mixes the chameloenic abilities of Lon Chaney with the joyful physicality of Douglas Fairbanks. Holy Motors is one of a kind. And Kylie Minogue sings a ballad written by Neil Hannon which channels Michel Legrand and like the film is perfect, just perfect.
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