Thursday, February 28, 2013



Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Here I am once again, landing just past the sell-by date for final considerations of the year in movies past, when all the Oscar hype and grist for the mill of 10-best lists everywhere gets recycled into enthusiasm, or lack thereof, for next year’s offerings and some burning incense to ward off the faint whiff of defeat in the air already in the wake of the year’s early offerings. (Who’s got Identity Thief and A Good Day to Die Hard already penciled in on that best-of list for 2013?) One more day, and no one will officially care about, much less even remember who won all those awards everybody’s been in a twist about since October (or earlier), to say nothing of all the sorry also-rans coming soon to a Netflix queue near you.

And whether or not you are surprised to hear it, many of the winners, but even more of those also-rans, were worth talking about in 2012. If my own list of movie pleasures means anything, it’s a signifier of the gratitude I feel that any one of the creations found below came along during the calendar year. I find it ridiculously difficult to seriously complain in general about the relative quality of any movie year which brought me the ecstatic highs of Holy Motors, the blissful cinematic catharsis of Life of Pi, the humanizing outrage of How to Survive a Plague, the blasts of transgressive shock and choking laughter of Killer Joe, the disorienting joys and fears of Cloud Atlas, the almost hallucinatory clarity of Looper, the overwhelming quiet of The Secret World of Arriety and, speaking of quiet, the welcome return of an atmosphere of artfully conjured dread in The Pact. Much ink has been spilled and many pixels have been electronically designated this past year in service to hand-wringing about the End of Cinema As We Know It.  But the presence of these movies, as readily available (and I’ll get to that notion of that availability in a second) alternatives to the usual menu of aggressively marketed sound and fury that gluts the American Cineplex on a weekly basis, the fact that they’ve somehow managed to bubble up through the cracks in the armor of corporate controlled pop culture, is in itself a healthy dose of encouragement. 

The difference is that even in major metropolitan areas many of these movies only play theatrically for a couple of weeks, if that— Holy Motors was around for about a month, in dribs and drabs, here in Los Angeles, and another movie on my list, Perfect Sense, didn’t run in the movie capital of the world theatrically at all, only managing to secure one week on one tiny screen in New York City. But if you’re not in a major urban center and you hanker to see even a relatively high-profile foreign language movie like Amour, odds are you probably won’t get the chance to see it or anything other than the most heavily marketed fare on a big screen. So while the mere against-all-odds existence of demographically uncharted movies like the ones Leos Carax or Terrence Davies or the Dardenne brothers make would seem to be evidence that cinema is doing perhaps better than expected in a world where it ain’t really a movie unless it’s got a Happy Meal or a YA book tie-in, it’s the cinemas themselves where these films could be shown that might in fact be dying.

The picture is even bleaker for small-town theaters which live and breathe on only the most broadly appealing Hollywood fare, home-owned and operated businesses which can’t sustain more than one screen and/or can’t afford to pay for the costly conversion to digital that the studios are basically forcing upon them. For places like the town where I grew up, which has had its own keen, if perpetually rundown little art deco movie palace since about 1940, the coming year brings with it the distinct possibility of those doors being shuttered once and for all, signifying the end of seeing movies the way they were always meant to be seen for whoever is left there that might actually want to go out to see a movie.

For myself, 2012 marked the year when I, as an active moviegoer, may have finally been priced out of a pleasure I’ve enjoyed for as far back as my conscious memory can extend. If I haven’t, then I will have certainly been forced to seriously cut back on trips to the theater, even after having long ago discovered the low-tech joys of the second-run houses. It might have been that night out with the family in November, when I dropped $60 just to walk my family in through the front doors of the AMC in Burbank on a Saturday night to see Life of Pi, that sealed the deal, symbolically as well as fiscally. This realization especially hurts when I think about how I’ve always tried to instill in my kids a love for the moviegoing experience, especially when it comes to seeing movies from different eras, the sorts of movies their immediate circle of friends don’t typically get exposed to or have patience for, soaked up in places that still have some sense of what it means to see movies with a like-minded audience, and perhaps even a measure of reverence for movie history. Losing that would be the unkindest budgetary cut of all.

More often this year I’ve found myself relying upon the digital delivery systems available to me to keep abreast of the highs and lows of the movie year, which means that I’m usually behind on what’s new, scrambling at this time of the year to catch up and take part in the discussion if not in an exactly timely way, then as part of the bottleneck of commentary that occurs when the industry turns to talk of little gold men.  Not the best formula for someone who would like to keep fresh from a writing perspective-- I’ve never been particularly relevant, so I usually don’t worry about that. So I choose to enter the fray of the new year (already now two months old— how’s that for a timely and relevant reference?) in the hope that maybe this year things will change, I’ll be able to see more and talk about more, and the digital revolution will somehow extend to the smallest markets and manage find a place for places that aren’t in the heat of the spotlight to survive and thrive, providing a link to the theatrical experience for at least another generation.

All that said, I guess I’d better get the wagons circled around my own little plot of cultural insignificance here and get to the duty and joy of revealing what tickled my fancy in 2012, cinematically speaking. This year, as always, there are huge holes in my viewing that, despite all my attempts since the first of January, remain unfilled. I’ve never pretended that my own list is a “Best Of” in way shape or form, that declaration presuming some sort of complete or near-complete overview that I have never had and probably never will. I only just saw Zero Dark Thirty last night, for crying out loud, and there’s probably at least a hundred other movies I wish I could have seen, for purposes of this exercise, sure, but also because I just want to see ‘em.

An incomplete list of my shortcomings, movies in 2012 which I did not manage to see in time for consideration, would include the following:  Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Amour,  Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Central Park Five, Detention, End of Watch, 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, Hitchcock, The House I Live In, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Klown, The Loneliest Planet, Neil Young: Journeys, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Pruit-Igoe Myth, The Queen of Versailles, Red Hook Summer, Robot and Frank, Rust and Bone, Safety Not Guaranteed, Side by Side, Silver Linings Playbook, The Sound of My Voice, Tabu, This Is Not a Film, The Turin Horse, Turn Me On, Dammit!, Under African Skies and  Your Sister’s Sister.

So be it. Now to the year that, for me, most definitely was.

10) SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (Martin McDonagh)

A giddy, hallucinatory wrinkle on the creative process, and dognapping, and loyalty, and even love (the true wipe-someone-else’s-ass variety, to paraphrase The Deep Blue Sea) populated by actors more than up to the task of fleshing out the clever conceits of its meta-script. McDonagh operates in the long shadow of Pulp Fiction, as so many others have over the past 19 years, but his vision is distinctly, morbidly playful, all his own. If his movie can’t singlehandedly justify all the bad movies that have come in that movie’s wake (or match the sublimity of his own In Bruges), then it at least acts as a happy salve for all the third-degree burns that resulted from the relentless, ever-diminishing echoes of Tarantino.

9) PERFECT SENSE (David Mackenzie)

Humanity is gradually, mysteriously stripped of one sense after another, in preparation for the ultimate cloak of night, while two lovers (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green) stumble toward each other in what might be either the worst or the best-timed bloom of ardor in the history of doomed love. Mackenzie conjures horror without pyrotechnics and a glorious, agnostic acceptance of the ultimate cold comfort, when you know someone is near after all the lights have gone out, even when your body can no longer tell you for sure. It’s an apocalyptic romance, moving to the unchartable interior poetry of the heartbeat, which simultaneously holds court, and clasps hands, with impending darkness.

8) KILLER JOE (William Friedkin)

Friedkin’s adaptation of Tracy Letts’ barbarously funny play, a familial Texas noir deep-fried with psychological acuity and mischievous evil coursing through its veins, has artistic boldness and lacerating conviction to spare. It’s remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is the way it avoids easy laughs at the expense of its characters—for all their avarice, misguided affections, easily manipulated intentions, possibly incestuous leanings, lack of common sense and general reserves of spite, malice and opportunism, even the worst of them never inspire facile judgment. Killer Joe also boasts, top to bottom, the year’s most fearless cast, anchored by Matthew McConaughey, riffing on and fully fleshing out the vaguely sinister, queasily welcoming shell he’s flirted with since those Wooderson days.

7) OSLO, AUGUST 31st ( Joachim Trier)

A young recovering drug addict named Anders finds himself on the streets of the city where he grew up, and where his life slowly derailed, after being released from a recovery center. The faint, encouraging glow of warmth from each encounter with old acquaintances, which he hopes will help introduce a new beginning, is soon replaced with a chilling sting when those embers fail, one by one, to fully ignite. From the beginning Trier deftly defines the protagonist against his environment-- nature provides no solace, and nor, finally, does the buzz of life in Oslo, filled as it is with people whose lives seem just starting, unencumbered by weight, by ghosts. Every frame Anders shares with friends and passers-by begins to feel more like a haunting, a constant reminder of connections long ago short-circuited and, of course, the ever-present option of the one spark that might take him to where he really wants to go. A bracing, sustained feat of empathy, Oslo, August 31st is a movie that is profoundly sad but never suffocating or sensational-- it's a portrayal of an addict whose primary physical need is expressed almost exclusively in humanistic, spiritual terms and imagery, a need eloquently written on Anders' long, angular face, in his tired eyes, on the streets which course with the promise, and the denial, of sweet release.

6) THE IMPOSTER (Bart Layton)

This unnerving true-crime story, a mix of documentary realism and unsettling dramatizations, spins around a narrative so outlandish that it might give even the most brazen pulp writer pause. A 13-year-old boy disappears from his Texas home, only to apparently resurface—in Spain— three years later, to the relief of his family, who accept this now much more grown-up person without question, even though he bears little resemblance to the boy they remember. Director Layton dispels what we assume will be the hook of the story instantly— the man impersonating the boy tells us himself of his deception. The rest of the movie unfolds like the most sinister page-turner, revealing layer after astonishing layer of deceit and betrayal, relentlessly calling into question the certainties of the audience almost as soon as they’ve been established. I didn’t see a more riveting movie, fact or fiction all year.


Here is a riveting and humbling act of historical journalism which depicts the coming together of a community to morph into grassroots activists and self-taught scientists. These activists,  who could hold their own with medical professionals in debating the efficacy of treatment and prescribing ways to marshal resistance to the proliferation the opportunistic and resilient AIDS virus in the earliest days of the plague, also learned how to cope with fractious forces from within. The movie illuminates the struggles and the splintering of alliances which took place within ACT UP itself and how the movement was able to survive even the well-intended differences of the individuals within it. How to Survive a Plague is a frightening film in many ways, but it’s also an exhilarating one which offers a glimpse into a particular strategy of resistance motivated both by desperation and intellectually proactive, communally-based decision making.

4) LIFE OF PI (Ang Lee)

Yann Martel’s seemingly inadaptable book gets the treatment of a lifetime from Ang Lee, who has marshaled it into a satisfying, transcendent, breathtaking movie, one that uses all the digital tools of the trade to conjure life from a story that, technologically speaking, probably couldn’t have been told five or six years ago. It’s full of genuine awe and terror and supreme flights of cinematic imagination, with no capitulation to the pull of standard-issue Disney-style anthropomorphizing-- the tiger that hitches a ride with the title character after a horrifying shipwreck remains a mysterious and potentially deadly companion whose persistent threat compels Pi to find ways to survive. Life of Pi feels like a great summation of the possibilities yet to be tapped within the realm of realistic and hyper-realistic effects on screen, as well as the great justification for the full-body plunge into CGI that has characterized American and, increasingly, world cinema over the past 15 years or so. But it’s also a wondrous summation of Lee's strengths as a filmmaker and a storyteller-- it has the feeling of a story uniquely interpreted by someone whose destiny it was to tell it through the magic of the movies.

3) LINCOLN (Steven Spielberg)

The brilliance of what Steven Spielberg, scenarist Tony Kushner, the masterful film editor Michael Kahn and the movie’s top-to-bottom marvelous cast have done here is exemplified in the way that Lincoln, which is easily the tightest and most crisply focused of the director’s career, manages to avoid the crippling claustrophobia that could have been brought on not only by the near-exclusivity of its interior settings but by the daunting minutiae of the language and its distant political context. As Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis is simply (and I mean that in the sense of being unadorned) brilliant at exuding the confluence of this revered president’s stubborn facility for manipulation and his penchant for folksy wisdom; for articulating with forcefulness and subtle humane appeal his convictions and his uncertainties; and the weariness in his personage that is only the smallest of costs he will have to pay for shepherding a nation through a moral crisis of unprecedented magnitude. This looks to be Spielberg’s first real zeitgeist film, deftly connecting crucial national history with modern circumstances as much in the way the movie has been accepted as through its artistry. Current events-style resonance isn’t what makes Lincoln a great American movie, but it does help it to transcend the sort of self-congratulatory vibe which might ring out beyond the sadness of its inevitably tragic finale. The note of hope one feels at the conclusion of this experience feels genuine, and genuinely earned.

2) THE KID WITH A BIKE (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

A film that reverberates with a mixture of empathy, longing and intangible dread, the latest offering from the Belgian brothers embraces their traditional naturalism while imbuing it with an almost marginalized sensual appreciation of the aimless freedom of childhood. Our gaze takes in the movements of a young boy who, having been spurned by his disinterested father, latches onto his bike, a gift from that father which keeps him connected to the world as well as a world he resists letting go of, one he really never existed in, and those of a young hairdresser who, without apparent calculation or consideration of the ramifications for her own life, takes the boy into her care. Simultaneously lithe and somber, the movie make us understand the neediness of this boy without ever resorting to cheap sentiment, and in doing so informs a genuine concern for his fate, for the struggles lying ahead (and beyond the purview of the directors’ portraiture) in how he might make his way, were the tenuous connections he maintains with the adult world to crumble. The heartbreaking place these filmmakers bring us to, under a tree, holding our breath for a boy who has never courted the sympathy of the audience or his benefactor, engenders the best kind of suspense, a sensation that hardly dissipates at the point where the Dardennes force us to look away, to begin only to imagine where he might ride to next.

1) HOLY MOTORS  (Leos Carax) 

It begins with Carax himself getting out of bed, walking through a wall and into a movie theater, where he will project for us (and onto us) sights we couldn’t possibly anticipate or probably even imagine for ourselves. We meet a man (Denis Levant) who leaves his family for another work day, hopping into a white limousine where he reveals that the skin we’ve just seen him inhabiting is a false one. He’s an actor who sheds his artificial face and immediately begins applying a different prosthetic make-up in anticipation of his next role. The car, driven by a handsome, much older maternal figure (Edith Scob) will take him to several destinations over the course of the day, all of which will require him to take on a different appearance and emotional state-- a homeless woman, an assassin, a performer acting out an erotic scenario in motion-capture, a feral, sexually propelled monster, an old man on the precipice of death, and several others—each scenario demanding reserves of life the actor cannot keep for himself, in service to roles and emotions and ideas that seem interchangeable at will, unmoored from simple rational explanation or genuine catharsis.

The experience of Holy Motors is unlike any I had at the movies this year; it tickled me with a sensation of giddiness I’d imagine is akin to being a balloon loosed from the grasp of a child, buffeted by currents and rising ever higher, anticipating the moment when the pressure of the air puts a sudden end to its escape, and not caring about when that moment comes. Holy Motors embodies an aim that is oft paid lip service to by filmmakers, yet rarely actually achieved-- the taking of the audience on a journey where each new step, each new image and, of course, the final destination is impossible to anticipate, where seemingly incongruous and random juxtapositions of experience end up feeling unquestionably alive and connected to a uniquely cinematic nervous system. Levant’s performance is anchored in an intangible melancholy that is probably reflective of the director’s—as each new identity is processed, you can feel his exultation at the freedom of being untethered from the routines of life, but also the toll those roles might be taking on his own shrouded inner sanctum. There’s a strange exuberance at the heart of what he does here that, of course, precisely dovetails with Carax’s own preoccupation with how the movies can transport us beyond our preconceived notions of what they can mean to us, what we ask of them and they of us.

Jim Emerson, writing about the movie for this year’s Muriel Awards, observed about Holy Motors that “No movie surprised and delighted me more in 2012; none made me laugh harder or gave me such melancholy chills. It's a movie that captures what it feels like to be fully alive and dying at the same time — which is the state we're all in, more or less.” It’s so rare for a movie to take a viewer on a journey like this, affording this sort of exultation at the unexpected, the whimsical, the morbid, the fanciful, the mortal, the leap into the unknown. For this reason, and for all the hidden moments that made me gasp in astonishment and delight, Holy Motors is the movie of the year. (And it premieres on Blu-ray today, February 26!)

THE BEST OF THE REST (“Close, Ward. Close”)

CLOUD ATLAS (Andy and Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer)
LOOPER (Rian Johnson)
BERNIE (Richard Linklater)
THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Terence Davies)
HAYWIRE (Steven Soderbergh)
THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETY (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
PREMIUM RUSH (David Koepp)
PARANORMAN (Chris Butler, Sam Fell)

HIT AND RUN (David Palmer, Dax Shepard)
THE GREY (Joe Carnahan)
THE DICTATOR (Larry Charles)
SAVAGES (Oliver Stone)
THE THREE STOOGES (Peter and Bobby Farrelly)
THE AVENGERS (Joss Whedon)

THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL (from least bad to unredeemable worst)

PROMETHEUS (Ridley Scott)
OCTOBER BABY (Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin)
AMERICAN REUNION (Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg)
THIS IS 40 (Judd Apatow)


Movies seen for the first time are in red. 
* indicates seen projected 
** indicates seen at home

(1950; Fritz Lang) **
ANNIE OAKLEY (1935; George Stevens) **
BACKLASH (1956; John Sturges) **
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952; Vincente Minnelli) **
BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET (1958; Mario Monicelli) **
THE BLACK CAT (1934; Edgar G. Ulmer) *
BLACK SABBATH (1963; Mario Bava) **
BLACK NARCISSUS (1947; Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger) *
BLACK SUNDAY (1977; John Frankenheimer) *

BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (1969; Paul Mazursky) **
BONJOUR TRISTESSE (1958; Otto Preminger) **
BREAKFAST FOR TWO (1937; Alfred Santell) **
CALL HER SAVAGE (1932; John Francis Dillon) *
THE CAMP ON BLOOD ISLAND (1958; Val Guest) **
CASH ON DEMAND (1961; Quentin Lawrence) **
CELL 2455, DEATH ROW (1955; Fred F. Sears) **
CHARIOTS OF THE GODS? (1970; Harald Reinl) **

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945; Peter Godfrey) **
COOGAN’S BLUFF (1968; Don Siegel) *
COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1970; Ossie Davis) **
COVER GIRL (1944; Charles Vidor)
CURSE OF THE DEMON (1959; Jacques Tourneur) **
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964; Michael Carreras) **
D-DAY: THE SIXTH OF JUNE (1956; Henry Koster) **
DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER (1969; Don Siegel, Robert Totten) **
THE DESERT RATS (1953; Robert Wise) **
DJANGO KILL… IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT! (1967; Guilio Questi) **
DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936; Lambert Hillyer) **
DR. NO (1962; Terence Young) *
EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (9173; Robert Aldrich) **
EVER SINCE EVE (1937; Lloyd Bacon) **
THE FACE OF FU MANCHU (1965; Don Sharp) **
THE FORTUNE (1975; Mike Nichols) **
FUSSIN’, FEUDIN’ AND A-FIGHTIN’ (1948; George Sherman) **
THE GEISHA BOY (1958; Frank Tashlin) **
GHOST CATCHERS (1944; Edward F. Cline) **
THE GHOUL (1933; T. Hayes Hunter) **

THE GRAND DUEL (1972; Giancarlo Santi) **
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1974; John Hayes) *
THE GREAT MISSOURI RAID (1951; Gordon Douglas) **
GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS (1959; Edward L. Cahn) **
THE HANGMAN (1959; Michael Curtiz) **
HEAVEN (1987; Diane Keaton) **
HEAVEN’S GATE (1981; Michael Cimino) **
HORROR EXPRESS (1972; Eugenio Martin) **
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (1970; Dan Curtis) *
HUDSON HAWK (1991; Michael Lehmann) *

I’M NO ANGEL (1933; Wesley Ruggles) *
IT CAME FRFOM OUTER SPACE (1953; Jack Arnold) **
JANIS (1974; Howard Alk) **
JEANNE DIELMAN 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES (1974; Chantal Akerman) *
KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962; Ishiro Honda) **
LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933; Howard Bretherton, William Keighley) **
THE LANDLORD (1970; Hal Ashby) **
LAWMAN (1970; Michael Winner) **
THE LIVING SKELETON (1968; Hiroshi Matsuno) **
THE LOCKET (1946; John Brahm) **
LONESOME (1928; Pal Fejos) *
OBSESSION (THE HIDDEN ROOM) (1949; Edward Dmytryk) **
ON THE BOWERY (1956; Lionel Rogosin) **
PHASE IV (1974; Saul Bass) *
POSSE FROM HELL (1961; Herbert Coleman) **
THE PSYCHOPATH (1966; Freddie Francis) **
THE RACKET (1929; Lewis Milestone) **
RAMPAGE (1987; William Friedkin) **
RANCHO DELUXE (1975; Frank Perry) **
RED LIGHT (1949; Roy Del Ruth) **
REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940; Mitchell Leisen) **
RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (1991; Ngai Choi Lam) **
RIO BRAVO (1959; Howard Hawks) *

SECONDS (1966; John Frankenheimer) *
THE SECRET BRIDE (1934; William Dieterle) **
711 OCEAN DRIVE (1950; Joseph M. Newman) **
THE SHINING (1980; Stanley Kubrick) **
SMOKE SIGNAL (1955; Jerry Hopper) **
THE SNORKEL (1958; Guy Green) **
SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939; Rowland V. Lee)
STEEL MAGNOLIAS (1989; Herbert Ross) **
TARANTULA (1955; Jack Arnold) **

3:10 TO YUMA (1957; Delmer Daves) **
TROOPER HOOK (1957; Charles Marquis Warren) **
TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932; Ernst Lubitsch) *
TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA (1970; Don Siegel) *
UMBERTO D (1952; Vittorio De Sica) **
VIGILANTE FORCE (1976; George Armitage) **
THE VIOLENT MEN (1955; Rudolph Maté) **
WACKO (1982; Greydon Clark) **
WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN (1976; Nicholas Ray) **
WHALE MUSIC (1994; Richard J. Lewis) **
WHO DONE IT? (1942; Erle C. Kenton) *
THE WINDOW (1949; Ted Tetzlaff) **
THE WOMAN IN RED (1935; Robert Florey) **
WOMEN’S PRISON (1955; Lewis Seiler) **
X: THE UNKNOWN (1956; Leslie Norman) **


Favorite Cameo Appearances (Human):

Harry Dean Stanton, The Avengers; Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, David Selby, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Alice Cooper, Dark Shadows; Megan Fox, The Dictator; Christiane GĂ©nessier, Holy Motors; “Heroes,” The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Forrest J. Ackerman (name only), Premium Rush; the Laguna Beach South Coast Twin Cinemas, Savages; Kate Upton, The Three Stooges

Favorite Cameo Appearance (Musical): 

Akira Ikufube’s Godzilla score; Holy Motors

Academy of the Overrated:

Argo*, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Cabin in the Woods, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained*, Kill List, Looper*, Les Miserables, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, The Raid: Redemption*, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty

(* movies that I liked or, in the case of Looper, loved)

Academy of the Underrated:

Cloud Atlas, Dark Shadows, The Dictator, John Carter, Hit and Run, Savages, The Secret World of Arriety, The Three Stooges

Best Movies As Yet Without Distribution:

Far (Brian Crewe)  

Best Movie (Nonie): 

Life of Pi

Best Movie (Emma)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Celebrity I’ll Miss The Most Who Passed Away in 2012:

Phyllis Diller

Best animated movie: 


Scariest movie:

The Pact

Best Overall Theatrical Presentation/Experience:

Django Unchained at the New Beverly Cinema, preceded by a slew of blaxploitation and spaghetti western trailers hand-picked by Quentin Tarantino, including Take a Hard Ride, The Arena, and of course, Mandingo, plus Chuck Jones’ classic Looney Tunes short Dog Gone South (“Oh, Belvadeah! Come heah, boy!”) And you could even get your very own Django Unchained  New Beverly Cinema T-shirt!

Deadliest Experience:

Les Miserables, overwrought in every way, and the ceaseless gush over The Master and Moonrise Kingdom—these are definite contenders. But neither approaches the interminable heights of boredom scaled (in headache-inducing, reality-shredding HFR!) by The Hobbit: The Never-ending Story.

Biggest Surprises: 

Richard Parker

The events that cause the deceitful protagonist of The Imposter to exclaim, “I guess I didn’t have to worry about Nicholas Barclay walking in the door anymore…”

Biggest Disappointment:

The gap between my soaring expectations and my thudding reaction to Skyfall.

Most Annoying Double Standard: 

In The Sessions, Helen Hunt’s good faith in appearing fully nude for her scenes as a sex surrogate ministering to John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien, a poet condemned to an iron lung by polio, is rewarded by the movie ducking for cover when the thematically significant opportunity arises for its male star to do the same. During a crucial scene, Hunt holds up a mirror to Hawkes so that he might see his own body for the first time in 30 years, but the reflection is framed and angled so that the audience is denied the same sight that is so important to Hawkes, and it feels like a breach of faith, a crucial misstep, especially when considering what O’Brien wrote about the actual experience: 

“Cheryl asked what I thought of the man in the mirror. I said that I was surprised I looked so normal, that I wasn’t the horribly twisted and cadaverous figure I had always imagined myself to be. I hadn’t seen my genitals since I was six years old. That was when polio struck me, shriveling me below my diaphragm in such a way that my view of my lower body had been blocked by my chest. Since then, that part of me had seemed unreal.”

Most Unwelcome Extensions of a Franchise:

American Reunion, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Story, Men in Black III and, what the hell, Prometheus.

Never Judge a Movie By Its Trailer: 

Dark Shadows, John Carter, The Master, The Three Stooges

Unless It’s This One:


And now a special guest. My daughter Emma has become quite the young anime aficionado, and so I asked her to write about the shows she liked the most in 2012. Here’s what she had to say:

TOP 10 ANIME FOR 2012 by Emma Cozzalio

CREATOR: Kyou Shirodaira

This series focuses on Ayumu Narumi and his efforts to solve the mystery of the blade children, cursed with cat like eyes and a seventh rib bone. Two years ago, Ayumu got a call from his older brother before he disappeared. He said “I’m going to pursue the mystery of the Blade Children. Until I can touch with my bare hands the unseen truth, I will not return.”Two years have passed and Ayumu hasn't seen him since. Later, mysterious things have been happening to him. He then befriends the newspaper club`s President, Hiyono Yuizaki. Together they try to find out what or who the Blade Children are, while looking for Ayumu’s brother.

I love this anime very much because you have to use your brain. One time Ayumu had a bomb on him and he had 2 minutes left to get it off before it exploded, and actually thought he was going to die. J I recommend it to anyone who wants to try anime.

CREATOR: Ryohgo Narita  ILLUSTRATIONS: Suzuhito Yasuda

Durarara tells a story of a Dullahan working as an underworld courier in Ikebukuro, an internet –based gang called The Dollars, and the chaos that unfolds around the  most dangerous people in Ikebukuro.

This show was very exciting to watch because the story was very exciting. I also loved how Izaya and Shizuo fight all the time. Not to mention I am a member if the Dollars! I LOVE how all the characters have their own problems and how they all have to do with the main problem in the story. My favorite character is Izaya. He is the guy in the brown jacket with fur on the hood. He is pretty funny and scary.

CREATOR: Tsugumi Ohba, Takashi Obata

Death Note is about a teen age boy named Light Yagami, who finds a note book on the floor with the title DEATH NOTE on it. At first he thinks it’s a prank, but his curiosity takes control and he tries it out. It turns out that its real! He then meets the shinigami named RYUK. He says that he was the one that dropped the note book in the human world and he did it because he was bored. Light then says that he will kill all the criminals in the world and become the GOD of the new world he creates. But he has a problem. L, the greatest detective, wants to catch Light/KIRA and make him pay for his crime. His name to the public is KIRA or in English Killer.

I enjoyed this ANIME because of the fight between Light and L. I am an L fan and I think Light is crazy, but some people *cough* fan girls *cough*think what he`s doing is right. I REALLY don`t like Light and I think he`s a complete psycho, but that’s just my opinion. GO L!!!!J

7)   07 GHOST 
 CREATOR: Amemiya Yuki

07 Ghost is about a former slave who now goes the Barsburg Empire`s military academy due to his ability to use ZAIPHON, a type of supernatural power. Teito is an amnesiac who has very frightening dreams. The night before the graduation exams Teito and his one and only friend, Mikage, vow to never to abandon each other. But the next day Teito overhears people talking about him. That’s when he realizes the speaker, Chief of staff Ayanami, is the one who killed a man in his dreams, who is his father. Because he tried to attack Ayanami, Teito was captured but escaped with the help of Mikage. After Teito escaped he took refuge in a church with help of the three Bishops. He is now on a quest for revenge against the Barsburg Empire.

What I mostly like about this anime is……well, everything J. Also the little pink thing in the picture, his name is Mikage. If you want to know why his name is the same name as Teito`s friend you will have to read the story to know.

(Higurashi when they cry)
CREATOR: Ryukishi07

The main character, Keiichi Maebara, moves to Hinamizawa and befriends his new classmates Rena Ryuga, Mion Sonozaki, Rika Furude, and Satoko Houjou. Himamizawa may look normal and peaceful to keiichi. However, the happiness abruptly ends after the annual Watanagashi Festival, a celebration to give thanks to the local god, Oyashiro. Keiichi learns that every year for the past 4 years, one person has been murdered and another has gone missing on the day of the festival. Keiichi soon becomes involved in the strange events. In each arc, he or one of his friends becomes paranoid, and a crime is committed .Most of the time the crime involves the murder of one of his friends. Near the end of each arc the truth is slowly revealed.

The thing I like about this show is that you never know who will go insane next. I showed my dad the first episode of this show and he said he enjoyed it. This show is comedy and horror mixed together. Plus the gore is SCARY!!!!!

CREATOR: Gosho Aoyama

Jimmy Kudo is a 17 year old prodigy who helps the police solve crimes. One day when he was attacked by two criminals. They forced him to take an untested drug . When he woke up he had shrunk. Kudo hides his identity to hide from the men that poisoned him. His new name is Conan Edogawa. He pretends to be a little boy and moves into his friend, Rachel`s house. Her father is a privet detective, so Kudo thought he could get some information on the men, but it turns out that Rachel`s dad, Richard Moore, is possible the worst detective ever. Kudo continues to solve criminal cases as Conan, but usually poses as Richard with the help of special gadgets invented by his neighbor and friend, Dr. Agasa

I never really was a fan of older anime for some reason (I don`t know why), but I really liked this one because I like how smart kudo is and how he solves crimes. Each episode is a new case he must solve, while still searching for the men who poisoned him. Also it’s funny to see how he tries to hide his identity from his friends. But of course there are a few that find out but they don`t tell. <3 o:p="">

Pandora Hearts is about Oz, heir to the Vessalius Duke House, has just turned 15. His life is rich and carefree, darkened only by the constant absence of his father. At his coming- of -age ceremony, everything changes when the clock that was silent for 100 years rang. Oz is then cast into the Abyss only to be saved by a “chain” known as Alice, or B-rabbit. After Oz and Alice escape the Abyss Oz finds out that 10 years have passed since he was casted into the Abyss. The mystery there begins as Oz unravels the mystery behind Alice, the Abyss and the strange organization called “Pandora”.

I think this Manga got first place because it taught me a lot of lessons. There are a lot of examples I could put, but this one I liked: 

“All your ‘self sacrifice’ only pleases yourself! Have you ever saved anyone that way? All you want is to protect yourself! People who think so lightly of their own lives, DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTECT ANYONE!” - Elliot Nightray to Oz Vessalius.

CREATOR: Jun Maeda

Angel Beats takes place in the afterlife and focuses on Otonashi, a boy who has lost his memories of his life after dying. He meets the leader of the AFTERLIFE BATTLEFRONT, Yuri. She invites him to join the group. The AFTERLIFE BATTLEFRONT was created to fight against God. The BATTLEFRONT fight against the student council president Angel, a girl with supernatural powers. All the students that go to this high school are already dead. The high school is like a place for those who had a terrible life and died.

I saw this on Netflix and I thought it look interesting and I was right! I have watched it more than twice. (why because it only has only 23 episodes) Every time I watch the show , I cry. Think I`m joking? Ask my dad and sister, they will tell you how much I cried.  L I think I liked this show so much because all the characters remind me of people I know.

CREATOR: Akira Amano

Katakyo Hitman Reborn, or KHR, revolves around a boy named Tsunayoshi “Tsuna” Sawada, who is chosen to become the VONGOLA Family`s boss due to him being the great-great-great-great grandson of the first VONGOLA boss. He is told by that he will become the 10th VONGOLA boss, because all the other candidates for the position have died. The 9th VONGOLA boss sends Reborn, an infant HITMAN from Italy to train Tsuna. But Tsuna doesn’t want to be the VONGOLA boss. Tsuna unwillingly goes under training from Reborn. Reborn’s main method of teaching is the “Deathperate Bullet”, which will make the person shot with it be “reborn” with a stronger self intent on fulfilling his dying will. Though he is very clumsy , Tsuna becomes stronger, more confident, and willing, which makes him better suited as the Vongola Family boss. Tsuna is called “No good Tsuna” at his school, but because he met Reborn he now has friends. Like Gokudera Hayato, Yamamoto Takashi, Lambo, Ryohei Sasagawa, Hibari Kyoya, and Mukuro Rokudo. (They are all in the picture.)

I love this anime so much. I am on episode 88 and I LOVE IT!!!!!!  I recommend it for anyone who wants to watch anime one day J

        1)   SKET DANCE
        CREATOR: Kenta Shinohara

This anime is about 3 kids that have a club called SKET DAN and how they help people. SKET DAN stands for Support, Kindness, Encouragement, troubleshoot.  Bossun along with his friends Himiko and Switch they help people that come to their club. SKET DAN`s rival is the student council.

I really liked this anime because it actually made me laugh. Plus their music is awesome. My favorite character is Switch because the way he talks is so funny. He talks through his computer, but the reason he talks through the computer is not funny. It`s not because he can`t talk, it`s because he doesn`t want to. And stuff…….GO SWITCH!!!!!!!!J (The guy in the picture on the left is SwitchJ)



To be fair I must give credit to Wikipedia for some of the articles I wrote. I took a bit from what was on Wikipedia for these animes: KHR, Pandora Hearts, One Piece, Higurashi No Naku Koroni, Angel Beats, and 07 Ghost.