20 Quick Takes: Wrapping Up 2012 in Style

I spent the last few weeks of 2012 doing an insane amount of movie-watching. That means I’ve been ignoring more important tasks like surfing the Internet, blogging and shaving. Sometimes, life just throws you a few curveballs. You just gotta go with the flow, man.

That being said, these are the last 20 films I’ve seen in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Wreck It Ralph (2012)
A spirited, joyful experience. By far the best animated experience I’ve had in 2012. It’s almost Pixar-at-its-peak quality, but nevertheless, Disney strikes again. A-

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
A group of British seniors retire to India to live out their golden years. Loved this cast. Judi Dench, specifically, is just remarkable. It’s a simple, straight-forward dramedy that won’t win any awards but it sure charmed the hell out of me. B+

Battleship (2012)
I wanted to dig this one. Peter Berg makes fun films. He even recruited some of his Friday Night Lights vets (Taylor Kitsch, Jesse Plemons). But what a dumb, dumb plot. Nothing in this film made a lick of sense. D

Brave (2012)
Brave is a sweet family film about a Scottish princess who must undo a curse that turned her mother and brothers into bears. Not Pixar’s finest, but a really solid entry in the massive, ever-growing Disney canon. B

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Wholly unnecessary but delicately crafted action blockbuster pits a game Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man against Rhys Ifans’s Curt Connors/Dr. Lizard. Marc Webb spins a slick and fairly entertaining piece of pop. B-

Perfect Sense (2012)
My fascination with Ewan McGregor continues with this odd and intriguing drama about how our five senses are so integral to our everyday lives. Sure, it’s a bit obvious but director David Mackenzie crafted a unique and absorbing picture. B

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I just can’t get into the mind of Wes Anderson. I find his films very difficult to penetrate. Moonrise Kingdom is actually his most accessible work to date but I still cannot get past the preciousness of his tone. There’s genuine charm in some of these frames but not enough to win me over. C

Life of Pi (2012)
Life of Pi will be yet another one of Ang Lee’s pictures on my year-end list of favorites. I just adored this fantastical journey about a young man who is stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger. The 3D is astonishing and the frames continue to linger on my mind even weeks later. A-

Flipped (2010)
A sweet low budget Rob Reiner family dramedy about a young boy and a young girl who grow up together as friends, despite their true feelings being hidden from one another. The great cast, including John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn, and Penelope Ann Miller, elevate this plain-spoken film to something kind of sweet. B

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
I had an unusual reaction to this film. The tone was all over the place — it was a dead serious broad comedy with a typical romantic arc that kinda dragged down the whole affair. There’s a lot here that I liked but there’s also lot I didn’t. C+

The Queen of Versailles (2012)
Man, the things some people do just boggle the mind. This doc is disturbing in a lot of ways but it’s also a fascinating “riches to rags” story that made me glad I’m not a billionaire. Money. Who needs it? A-

The Expendables 2 (2012)
Just as ridiculously fun as the original. These generic shoot-em-ups are direct-to-VHS quality right out of the 80s and that’s its appeal. They don’t try to be anything more. Schwarzenegger is terrible but he does have a few good zingers (“This car is as big as my shoe!”). B

Magic Mike (2012)
After this and Haywire, Soderbergh is having a banner year. Both films are stylish and fun, and Magic Mike features really strong work from McConaughey, Tatum, and especially newcomer (to me, anyway) Cody Horn. Loved it. A-

Hope Springs (2012)
Despite its pedestrian direction and clunky screenwriting, Hope Springs has some painful truths about marriage without the sparks. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, old pros who still “got it,” elevate the film from drowning in hokiness. B-

Rock of Ages (2012)
Atrocious, putrid and insanely dull, Rock of Ages is a complete failure in every way. I love this cast, but everyone is so over the top in smarm and hamminess that I wondered if they knew what the hell this movie was all about. The young leads had zero charm and personality. I rarely give out F’s, but I can’t think of a more likely contender. F

Your Sister’s Sister (2012)
I loved this movie. I was weary of how they were gonna handle the big secret presented almost midway in the film, but I was so surprised at how delicate the writing and performances were. You can pretty much predict how it all wraps up but everything was just beautifully handled. All three actors – Mark Duplass, Rosemarie Dewitt and Emily Blunt – are exquisite and absolutely perfect. A-

Men in Black III (2012)
Jones again, strangely looking a decade older than he did in Hope Springs. This time, he takes a backseat to let his younger doppelgänger (Josh Brolin) entertain the hell out of us with his dead-on Jones impersonation. I don’t have much of an opinion of the first two Men in Black films – I liked them enough, I suppose, but don’t remember squat about ‘em – but this one was surprisingly a lot of fun. Smith, especially, as is spry and funny as ever. B+

10 Years (2012)
Channing Tatum concludes his impressive 2012 bid for stardom with this low-key drama about a 10 year high school reunion that brings back a flood of memories for a group of once-close friends. The cast is huge and full of talent, but the standouts are Kate Mara, Oscar Isaac and Rosario Dawson. Not great but engaging and kind of sweet. B-

Sleepwalk with Me (2012)
I had never seen anything from Mike Birbiglia until a few days ago when he showed up briefly in Your Sister’s Sister, but I had heard about his breakthrough comedy earlier this year. I wasn’t all that impressed with Sleepwalk with Me but I do find Birbiglia appealing and even a little insightful. And any film that has a juicy part for perennially underused Lauren Ambrose is automatically worthy a look. C+

Take This Waltz (2012)
A challenging indie that takes bold steps in presenting a love story we’ve seen before countless times. Director Sarah Polley lovingly directs Michelle Williams (who I just adore) as a woman who is torn between a stubbornly comfortable marriage and an exciting affair with a neighbor. There are too many missteps along the way for me to like this film overall (for example, Sarah Silverman’s entire arc, especially in the lay-it-on-thick climax, rang completely false), but I dug the three lead performances and the film’s attempt to show us the intimacy of a marriage. C+

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14 Comments

Filed under Quick Takes

14 responses to “20 Quick Takes: Wrapping Up 2012 in Style

  1. I love your quick takes, you master the art of brevity. Will be adding a few of your favored films to my must watch list.

  2. Yeah I’m far from loving Moonrise Kingdom too – I felt it was insanely hallow movie. I really need to give Your Sister’s Sister a shot!

    • I’m curious what you’ll think of Your Sister’s Sister. I doubt you’ll love it as much as I did (our tastes in these types of films don’t always quite line up), but who knows? Maybe you’ll dig it.

  3. I’m glad you liked The Queen of Versailles. That’s the best documentary I’ve seen so far from last year. Truly fascinating. I also agree with you on Life of Pi, which is great, and Moonrise Kingdom, which is pretty but awkward.

    Rock of Ages is where we disagree. I’m certainly not going to call it a masterpiece or anything, but I had fun watching it, and Tom Cruise is spectacular.

    Perfect Sense sounds interesting. That one’s going on the watch list. Thanks for the heads-up, and keep up the good work!

    • Thank you, kind sir! Yeah, we’re way off with our opinions of Rock of Ages. Cruise going against type is always a good thing, and is probably the best part about the flick, but the rest of it was so humdrum that not even the greatest performance in the history of cinema could make it watchable for me.

      Do check out Perfect Sense. It’s certainly unique!

  4. Happy New Year and welcome to Pilcrow!

  5. Great post, Dave. We agree on Best Exotic, Spider-Man, Moonrise Kingdom and Sekking a Friend. Rock of Ages sucked so bad.

  6. So many films. That is a great way to end 2012! Lots I have yet to see. In fact, think I’ve only seen two of those in your list. Got Moonrise Kingdom and Wreck It Ralph on my list. The latter isn’t even out here yet! And looks like there’s a few things I should stay away from :)

  7. Depending on the Oscar noms tomorrow, I may just have to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I really didn’t want to have to do. Glad you say it’s good though!

    Moonrise Kingdom, we agree there. Although I do love Anderson, that one didn’t work for me.

    The Queen of Versailles – Yep, great doc.

    Magic Mike – Loved it!

    Take This Waltz – Completely agree as well!

    • Alex, you could do a helluva lot worse than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s a sweet flick; not as saccharine or dopey as it looks. Seriously, look at that cast!!

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