At times it can be nearly impossible to squeeze your reactions to a film into the narrow rubric of A through F, or on-a-scale-of-one-to-ten grades. What if I love the first 110 minutes of a film but despise the next 15? Do I try to score it round by round like the unified rules used by the UFC and Bellator, or just try to get a sense of it as a whole, like the Japanese model from the Pride days? Who knows, maybe I shouldn't even try to apply MMA rules. Maybe diving or figure skating judging would be more applicable. But if so, how do I calculate degree of difficulty? Do I use the old Ukranian model, or apply the Bellman-Krzewszewski toe-loop differential? So many questions, friends, so many questions.
But in the end, we all know that questioning the end-of-the-year ranking system is what sissies do. We live in a hard world that demands hard quantification and I'm just the hard man to hammer you with my hard on. I'm going to make some bold choices here, because that's what men do. I just tore a Chipotle burrito in half and screamed at it like it was a dead wildebeast. LET ME HEAR YOUR WAR CRY! KEEEIAAAIIIAAA! Which is to say, I'm not here to justify the existence of rankings, I'm manning up and offering rankings because the universe demands rankings. Besides, what's the point of writing about movies if it's not to start heated, unresolvable arguments over subjective, unquantifiable perceptions of make-believe? KNIVES OUT, SH*THEADS! IT'S TIME TO END SOME FRIENDSHIPS! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!
I present the Love-Hate Award to two movies I couldn't fully recommend, but that I've thought about many times since and had countless arguments over (has to count for something, right?). Prometheus asked some pretty deep questions for a 3D popcorn movie, namely, what would you ask God if you could meet him, and what would you do if he just snarled and tried to tear your head off like some kind of angry hulk bear. Of course, it was also full of gimmicky, skin-deep reality show caricatures ("I like to minimize risk") whose gimmicks changed from scene to scene, and probably the dumbest geologist in the history of science. Characters did things no writer/director should ever ask an audience to believe they would do. ("Hey, guys, just touched down on a microbe-infested alien planet. Gonna take my helmet off now. My head gets hella sweaty! Do these helmets make your head this sweaty? Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's cool, the alien that just ate that other dudes face off is probably dead now, I just have a feeling.") But it also had probably the best 3D cinematography of any movie that came out this year, and a surgery scene that was as icky and claustrophobic and lurid as anything in the original.
Moonrise Kingdom had a fairly marvelous plot with a foreshadowed weather event paralleling Benjamin Britton's The Flood, which you see the kids performing in the beginning of the movie and which also forms the climax. Exactly the kind of intricately-constructed, curiosity-box kind of plot Wes Anderson is known for, a structure that also sort of plays out on a micro level from scene to scene like some sort of fractal madras pattern. Meanwhile, Moonrise also had a bunch of annoying, pre-pubescent milk babies playing dress up and not acting very well (not Kara Hayward, she was great), and a distinct lack of the kind of hellraising shitass character that made Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums so much fun. I mean really? Two 12-year-olds at the beach dancing to French music on vinyl? What is this, a Stella Artois commercial? In fact, I'd like to see a moratorium on all future depictions of elaborate, pre-pubescent romance. Especially if they're just going to act all precious and mimic adult relationship rituals like they're posing for a f*cking Hallmark card. Moonrise sucked, it was one of my favorites of the year.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Poonrise Kingdom, Moonrise Rimjob, Promethenis, Pornmetheus, Blowmetheus, Jacked Albinos Go a-Cornholin'
I won't say 2012 was a great year for comedy, but it was a great year for movies being way funnier than they had any right to be. A movie version of 21 Jump Street sounded like an even worse idea than 21 Jump Street the TV show (I mean from a viewer's perspective, from a producer's perspective - if you'd heard "super-handsome undercover Narcs in high school" your eyes would've started spinning like slot machines too). Meanwhile, this was back when we only knew Channing Tatum as the mumbly charisma-vacuum from The Fighter. And, shock of all shocks, the movie turned out to be pretty damn funny. I could've done without the too actiony action sequences in the last third that's become a staple of the Hollywood action-comedies, but I defy you not to laugh at Korean Jesus or "you punched a little gay black kid in the face?!" I'm not going to explain those either, by the way. I'm just going to leave them there, bereft of context, to help convince you that I'm super racist. Anyway, it wasn't art by any stretch, but it was a fun time.
As for Klown, the most impressive thing about it is how many different things it feels like a blatant rip-off of - The Hangover, Bad Santa, Curb Your Enthusiasm... And yet, I have a hard time naming a funnier, more watchable movie that came out this year (it wasn't The Dictator, I can tell you that). The particular Danish way of underplaying all the jokes - a scene where protagonist Frank Hvam is involved in a mix-up that leads to him ejaculating in his mother-in-law's eye, for example - makes funny what would otherwise be in Hollywood hands the most obnoxious, over-the-top set piece in American Pie history. Klown does comedy with a Norm MacDonald-esque refusal to acknowledge that it's telling a joke. It's outrageous humor that works because it isn't screaming about how outrageous it is. And being Danish, it's hard to know how much to knock it for unoriginality. According to the writer/stars, the still photo sequence in the end that seems like a direct ripoff of The Hangover was conceived and filmed long before anyone involved had seen The Hangover. But who knows, the Danish are notorious liars. Also, they look like a whole country of Children of the Corn, buncha straw-haired freaks. Anyway, call it an effective pastiche.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: 21 Hump Skeet, Cream on My Mom 12
2012, like most years, was lousy with great documentaries. You could fit ten movies in this slot without blinking an eye (but don't, it would take a long time and the dryness might damage your pupils). Thing about documentaries, if you've heard of it, it's probably worth watching. I chose these two in particular because they stayed with me the most. Yes, The Ambassador probably would've been better if Mads Brügger had laid out a clearer goal of what he hoped to accomplish by buying a fake diplomatic title to the Central African Republic, and explained exactly why being able to smuggle diamonds out of that country was important. But the world of shady diplomats and corrupt African officials he takes us into is unlike anything I've seen. It was, as Brügger explained it, "a place with no causality." You could nitpick Brügger's approach, but that sickening feeling of confusion and vague but oppressive moral unease wasn't the product of poor direction, it was a perfect representation of what it's like to live in a third-world country with no effective authority. I read probably six books about Africa because of this film. Also, the exchange...
"Who is that?"
"That's your pygmy assistant."
(*camera pans to another pygmy*)
"And who is that?"
"Pygmies always travel in pairs."
...was as funny as any scene in any movie this year.
What to say about Queen of Versailles? The free-credit/sub-prime era of the early to mid 2000s was unprecedented in human history and we all lived through it like it was nothing out of the ordinary. The Queen of Versailles was in the perfect place at the perfect time to capture just how insane that first taste of sanity felt as the era of prodigal hubris was ending. David Siegel seemed and still seems genuinely sorry for getting George Dubz elected to the White House (using methods that "weren't entirely legal," as he said in the film), and yet he pushed hard to elect Romney and seems to buy in hard for all the usual hokum about "class war" and job creators not getting the respect they deserve. He's a fascinating case study in a certain kind of economic magical thinking. BLAH BLAH BLAH POLITICS, it was funny when the kid's lizard died.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Queen of Her Thighs, Peen of Versailles, The Assblastador, The Blackassador, The Ham Backdoor, Underage Horned-Up Pygmy Gangbang
The Hurt Locker Memorial Simplicity of Purpose Award: Killing Them Softly
Sometimes, a movie can say exactly what it is in a single line and every frame of the film is a stripped-down tool to drive home that point with no unnecessary nuance or wasted movement. The Hurt Locker billed itself as "War is a Drug," and that was the whole movie, war as a drug (I completely understand why military guys hate it, by the way, but this is why us tenderfeet enjoyed it). Killing Them Softly was like that, one big angry thumb in the eye . Plus Ben Mendelsohn telling the kind of funny/disturbingly vulgar stories the way that only Australians can. Killing Them Softly only really works as punk rock - something angry and reactionary and not particularly nuanced, but beautiful in its purity. In a year that saw Lincoln and Argo help us believe in our institutions and tell us what makes America great, a movie that told us America sucks and people are shitty and we're all going to be dead soon anyway added a nice flavor contrast, like the brine in a dirty martini. It totally earned its F Cinemascore. Still, part of me still wishes "Killing Them Softly" was about a hitman whose tool was oversized boxing gloves.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Dilling Them Softly, Brad's Pit, The James Gandolfini Surly Hooker Hour
SIDENOTE: Have you noticed these non-number-ranked awards are total copouts? Do these even count as part of my top 10 or are they separate? Just what in the heck is going on here? In fact, I award the Huge Pussy Memorial Award for Cowardice in Movie Rankings to me, Vince Mancini. Don't worry, I'll get to the numbered picks soon.
The I'm-Not-Sure-If-I-Like-This-But-I'll-Definitely-Remember-It Award: Killer Joe
A movie like Killer Joe only serves to illustrate the futility of trying to rank movies. I'm not sure if I would call Killer Joe a good movie. It's downright atrocious at points, and some of the acting is so bad, the characters don't even wait for each other to finish talking. They just growl words at each other, fighting over scenes like hyenas pulling apart a carcass. But how could I deny a spot to a film that opens - OPENS! - with Emile Hirsch recoiling in horror, in reaction to a giant, center-framed shot of Gina Gershon's big hairy beaver? You see him outside a trailer, then he's banging on a door, yelling for someone inside to let him in, when suddenly the door flies open and BOOM! Huge beaver shot. You don't even know whose beaver, it's just this big wiry disembodied chonch. And that's the opening scene!
"Put some clothes on, for Christ's sake!" Hirsch yells. To which Gershon replies "Hell, I didn't know who you were."
How can you forget a scene like that! And the whole movie is like that. Bad acting, weird scenes, gratuitous and expected nudity, kind of cheesy lines, an ingenue played by Juno Temple who seems borderline retarded, and you could probably make a fairly convincing case that William Friedkin hates women. The sex-act-with-fried-chicken scene everyone's talking about is probably one of the less-weird things about it. Also, can someone get Thomas Haden Church a spit shield? Guy must've gone to the Daffy Duck school of acting. Friedkin can shoot a rainy night like nobody's business, but his fight choreography is as bad as Sonny beating that guy up with a trash can in Godfather 2. And hey, can someone take every Hollywood make up guy aside and show them what a guy who's just gotten his ass kicked actually looks like? There's this thing called swelling.
But despite, or maybe because of its flaws, this is a movie I could see myself watching over and over and finding something new to love in it every time. So much of it reminds me of that Philip Seymour Hoffman line as the creepy phone sex guy in Happiness "Are you wet... IS YOUR PUSSY ALL WET?!" I still hear that in my head, every time I close my eyes, even after all these years. Killer Joe feels like a comedy directed by a guy who doesn't realize it's supposed to be a comedy so he shoots it like a creepy noir horror film, a singular experience for the viewer. It creates such an all-encompassing world of gothic southern crime and dysfunction that the only comparison I can think of is a Harry Crews novel, all blood and guts and punching and incest. I kind of respect a movie that throws a bunch of deeply screwed-up characters at you without explaining or psychologizing them at all. To be honest, part of me has always suspected that Texas is exactly this kind of wretched hive of scum and villainy. Oh, and no one wears a bra. Ever.
At first I was thinking Gina Gershon and Juno Temple must be so brave to put their hairy snizzes on film like that, but then I realized that they were both almost certainly rocking merkin-stocks. And where's the bravery in that? Hell, you let me glue a merkin to my junk crevice and I'll air my snizz out all day. I'll rock out with my snizz out till the cows come home, I'll do in the food court at the Fashion Valley, just watch. I'm just sayin, if you're merkin, you're cheatin.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Diller Joe, Killer Blow, Swiller Ho, The Texas Hair Pie Massacre, Choking the Chicken 17, Braless Flapjacks
Ah, The Sessions, my only overlap with Ebert's list, for whatever that's worth. For every movie that tells us that people are awful A-holes, there's one that helps you believe that maybe there's hope for humanity after all. This year, The Sessions played Anne Frank to Killing Them Softly's Nazis, a cuddly little sweetheart of a movie that just showed up at your doorstep holding freshly-picked wildflowers for your grandma like Ryan Gosling on a first date, then proceeded to come inside and make hot cocoa (with a pinch of nutmeg! so thoughtful!). The oldest trick in the hack movie arsenal is to have a bunch of characters who are total dicks to your sweet little lamb of a protagonist for no real reason, so everyone feels super sorry for him or her. The Sessions, a film about a disabled writer played by John Hawkes and his quest to get some stank on his hang down (though I guess it wouldn't really be a "hang down" since it wouldn't really be hanging since he couldn't stand - more like a lie-down), proved that antagonists are overrated. The film didn't really have an antagonist, per se, and it wasn't any worse for it. Writer/director Ben Lewin was able create a compelling story from a handful of generally decent people just trying to figure their sh*t out and get by. Or maybe the antagonist was John Hawkes' over-anxious boner? Come to think of it, maybe that's why I related to it so much. Great performances by Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy, and the line "I had an incredible boner..." made me wonder if maybe poetry isn't so bad after all.
Also, Helen Hunt went full frontal without benefit of a merkin, even though it was set in the seventies. Now THAT'S bravery.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: The Sessions: Of F*cking, Quadriplegic Cuckolds 22, Deep Inside Helen Hunt Banging Disabled People
OWAH BOY BEN AFFLECK DOES IT AGAIN, HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES, MISTAH HAHVAHD BAH?! Argo was just a feel-good crowd pleaser of a movie. Let the record show that I've been onboard the Ben Affleck-directing bandwagon since the beginning. Argo showed us Americans as we like to see ourselves, plus John Goodman and Alan Arkin doing what they do best. Who doesn't love two crotchety old shit-givers knocking one-liners out of the park like a salty old bullshitter home-run derby? Like pretty much every Affleck movie, it was full of verbose grandstanding, of characters being as clever and smart as we only wish we all were. It was like Aaron Sorkin, but without the constant need to editorialize.
Still, I wish Affleck & Co - I like to imagine that his creative team includes Mahbles, Squeezebawx, Caspah, Dawnny, Gloansy McGloan, Snawtrawket, Smelly Pete, Richie's Cousin, Guinea Mike, and Tina the Dyke - would've resisted the urge to gild the lily at the end. I mean he gilded the shit out of that lily. He was liable to get stopped by flower control and cited with cruelty to lilies on account of all that gilding. Excessive is what it was. Without spoiling the ending, when there comes a point in your based-on-a-true-story movie where everyone in the audience is thinking, "Okay, well this obviously didn't happen in real life," maybe you leave that part out.
In conclusion, SUCK ON AFFLECK'S FACKIN' BEE-YUHD, YA FACKIN' LOOZAHS, GO SAWX.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Argonads, Hide Your Diplomats in My Embassy, Big Hairy Beards
I'm not going to lie to you, my opinion on The FP has been forever tainted by having seen it under optimal conditions: drunk, with a huge crowd of excited drunks. But if you've ever made a silly movie with your high school friends and then gathered 'round to watch it over drinks with the cast and crew and friends, The FP is like that, only on an unimaginably epic and fully-realized scale. It's that silly movie you and your friends would've made, if only you were better, funnier, harder working, had more time on your hands, and had friends who were professional cinematographers and costume designers. It's quite possibly one of the silliest movies ever made, and the silliest part is that it commits to it a thousand percent, no winking. And having grown up out in the country, I can say that nothing quite sums up the absurd, stir-crazy insularity of rural recreation quite like The FP. If you've never experimented with home made explosives or gotten drunk in a barn or next to a canal, you might not understand.
I'm always a sucker for invented vernacular, so The FP's full immersion in future-C-Tatesese was music to my ears (yes, I also loved the future island bumpkins in Cloud Atlas, and that's the true-true). The look and the costumes were brilliant in their own right, and Art Hsu held it all together as some manic hybrid of Mr. Miyagi and Flava Flav. His speech about "how's a nigga supposed to sort his sh*t out without no ducks?!"... well, let's just say it had smiles humped all up my face.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: The DP, The FP (Which Stands For "F*ck Pig"), Dance Dance Reacharound
An original sci-fi film that was both smart and entertaining, and mostly held up to additional scrutiny? Oh hell yes, you know Looper is going on the list. AND you could enjoy it without 3D glasses or obnoxious shaky cam. I don't get the people who say the second half of the film doesn't hold up. Oh, I'm sorry, do you not like cute little kids who can explode you with their minds? We're anti-little kid mind explosion now? Is that what you're saying? Weird, I must've missed that memo. Take every precocious kid character "falling in love" with some other six-year-old or having some magical folksy delusion explained away "because she's a kid!" and I will trade all of those to you for mind exploders every time. EVERY TIME.
Best Scene: Bruce Willis in the coffee shop with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, angrily refusing to have that big expository dialogue scene. "What, you want me to sit here, explaining the properties of time travel to you? Forget it! We'd be here all day, making diagrams with straws!"
Looper had the kind of NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, JUST GET IN! plot that made Christopher Nolan famous, with the added benefit that it actually had a sense of humor. It's rare to find those things in tandem, like a Christmas present filled with prime rib and that hair gel you like.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: (In Her) Pooper, Schtupper, Snatch to the Future
If The Master didn't work for you, I wouldn't try to lecture you on why you're wrong, but I loved every frame of this movie at a level too primitive to require detailed explanation, like a gorilla petting a Barbie doll. If you were expecting some Oliver Stone exposé about Scientology, I can understand being disappointed. The way the plot of the film just wanders and meanders, following its boner to new and strange situations, put me as the viewer into the mindset of its gas-huffing pussy lover of a protagonist, a half-buzzed state of pleasant delirium where you can't quite remember how you got there or why, but there are so many pretty people inside you think you'll stay for a while. Also, I think every religion should be viewed through the eyes of a poontang-obsessed simpleton who can't stop farting.
Caveat: The final scene, with Philip Seymour Hoffman singing Joaquin Phoenix a gentle lullaby, could've been a scene from a parody called "When Method Acting Goes Wrong." But hey, theater majors gonna theater.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: The Asster, The Master: Of Buttf*cking, Gas-Huffing Pussy Lovers 24, Harelipped Window F*ckers 12.
Oh, Magic Mike. What can one say about Magic Mike? I have a feeling 2012 will forever go down in history as the year C-Tates broke, as that was easily the most significant thing that happened. I kid, but both Burnsy and I have felt compelled to write about the way that what started as a fun way to ridicule a guy whose mumbly voice and utter lack of charisma left us confused as to why he'd ever get cast in a movie, grew into legitmate affection for a guy who seemingly became a passable actor overnight. It really is unprecedented, imagine if Paul Walker turned into Brad Cooper, or Jessica Alba evolved into Rachel McAdams.
We are not kidding about this movie being great. A lot of people were expecting Magic Mike to be Showgirls with penises, and it did have its share of swinging dongs (that scene where Joe Mangienello is pumping up his dick in the foreground as the scene happens behind him was absolutely magical). But people were sort of dumbfounded when what they got instead was a rather sensitive and thoughtful meditation on whether what you do for money defines you as a person.
Let's just say, hypothetically speaking, that you once had a job editing pornography, and it wasn't a bad job, but you didn't really feel like explaining it or justifying it to people, but it was hard to avoid because your dad would blurt out "Hey, did you guys hear Vince edits porno now?" over Thanksgiving dinner, and sometimes you'd forget to lie about your job at parties and girls would get mad and accuse you of lying, and then you'd be in the strange position of trying to convince them the truth of what you didn't want to admit or talk about in the first place, and anyway why would I lie to try to make myself sound worse? Well, hypothetically speaking, in that case, a movie like Magic Mike might really hit home for you. Luckily there's a happy ending here, because I finally achieved my goal of becoming a designer of ugly furniture. (I'm a sucker for a film where the protagonist has a dream, and that dream is kind of sad).
And even if you had no skin in this game, Matthew McConaughey's performance was a goddamn force of nature. He was a sexual tyrannosaurus, and I just wanted to watch him roam his paddock, tearing apart lesser creatures and bellowing to the heavens in some raw-meat induced fugue state. Matthew McConaughey shouldn't just win an Oscar, he should receive a newly created award for Most McConaughey.
POSSIBLE PORN PARODIES: Unnecessary. In this case, we should really be talking about non-porn parodies. I think the non-porn parody of Magic Mike is Radio.
No surprise here, since it was the headline of my review, Django Unchained is my favorite of 2012. It was messy, the last 40 minutes were borderline unnecessary, and God only knows why Tarantino wanted to act in it with an Australian accent, but it was exactly the ridiculous, over-the-top romp I wanted to see, plus a bowing horse named Fritz.
It's almost impossible to talk about it without getting bogged down in the does-Tarantino-delight-in-scenes-of-racial-violence discussion, but I would say that if you watch closely, most of the racial violence† isn't shown directly, or it's just hinted at (a lá the dog-mauling scene), which actually makes it scarier. Whereas the real delight and detail is in the scenes of Django's revenge. Duh, Q-Ball doesn't get off on racial violence, he gets off on brutal retribution. He just needs excessive cruelty to justify brutal retribution. Isn't it obvious by now? What's this, Tarantino's fifth-straight revenge movie? Death Proof, two Kill Bills, Inglourious, and now Django? I enjoyed Patton's tweet on the subject:
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009) --World War II
DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012) -- slavery
UNCORSETTED BITCHES (2015) --Woman's suffrage
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 28, 2012
Jeez, I'm really talking myself out of my top choice here. Point is, I don't know if Tarantino's revenge flicks normalize violence, probably they do in some small way, but having grown up on Commando and Lethal Weapon and Steven Seagal and Die Hard, I'm at least three steps of desensitization removed from being able to believe Tarantino could have any effect whatsoever, and I can't imagine anyone younger than me being any different. Come child, can you teach me to feel feels? I has forgotten. Tarantino isn't even delighting in violence, really, he's making an homage to films that delight in violence. That's how old this discussion is.
AAAAAAAAnyhoo, while you could certainly make a case for the man's shtick getting stale, taken in a vacuum, I don't know how you could come away from Django Unchained thinking it was anything but a raucous crowd-pleaser full of endlessly entertaining performances. Tarantino diddles you back and forth between laughing at him and laughing with him like he's playing a Jew's harp. And not only does he do it better than anyone, most people don't even attempt it. Who else can trick you into actual concern for the characters through pornographic violence? It's the Trojan Smut Horse of Actual Caring, and while you could make the case that Django and Inglourious are almost the same damn movie, Django, in addition to being entertaining as shit (science term, look it up), forced me to actually engage with the historical content in a way that Inglourious never did.
TL;DR version: I liked it, sorry for partying.
†Also, here's a dirty little secret: You don't think Spielberg took delight in making sure the feathers fell just so in that scene where the Nazi shoots the guy through his puffy jacket in the Warsaw ghetto round up in Schindler's List? I guarantee he did. I'm not sure you can film a scene without delighting in the content to some extent. Brett Ratner can, maybe, he seems lazy enough.
Honorable Mentions and Qualifications
The Avengers may out-do even 21 Jump Street for "better than it had any right to be." Me being sick of the genre is probably the only reason it doesn't make the list. That and Scarlett Johansson trying to fight an invading army with a handgun (or Renner with a bow and arrow). For Christ's sake, get them a bazooka or something.
An otherwise great movie that would've made the list if not for the found-footage conceit. That needs to go away like yesterday.
Cabin in the Woods
I remember liking this a lot after I saw it, but now I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I'm not sure if that's a reflection on me or the movie.
Silver Linings Playbook
I came away liking this movie quite a bit, despite it ticking off a number of indie comedy tropes in a way that didn't quite feel like parody. It's too bad I was already in love with Jennifer Lawrence long before this. (As she and John Hawkes are rightly being celebrated for their immense talent these days, I'd just like to take this time to point out that I told you so two years ago at the international premiere of Winter's Bone).
This made a lot of best-of lists, and might have made mine if I'd gotten a chance to see it on a real screen. But I had to watch it on a tiny laptop where what I suspect was a largely visual-driven movie just seemed weird and semi nonsensical.
A solid, entertaining documentary.
Definitely the kind of straight-up sci-fi action movie I would've watched 20 times when I was 12.
I appreciate a based-on-a-true story movie that chooses a novel form (in this case, a quasi-mockumentary) instead of just doing the typical Hollywood treatment. I'd like to see more movies based on non-fiction incorporate their real source material into the narrative the way American Splendor did. The Fighter should've just used Mickey Ward's real fight footage, for example. Bernie doesn't quite do it, but it's a hint at a better way of doing things.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
I initially gave this an A-, but I was kind of high when I saw it (the way I imagine it was meant to be viewed) and now I don't know whether that's fair or not. If nothing else, the night club called "Inbreadables" where all the food is bread and the utensils are made of bread and there's a comedian on stage whose entire act is about bread was a scene I'll never forget. But mainly, I don't want to fight with the people who despise Tim and Eric again.
The Haven't Seen List
I saw two or three movies every week this year and I still couldn't see every movie that possibly could've made the list. No critic has, that's our dirty little secret. But I'll be honest with you about it, because I don't think you respect me that much anyway. Here are some that I missed:
This is 40
I feel bad about this one, because I don't know many critics who are as big of Knocked Up and Funny People apologists as me. But Judd Apatow will live. I'll get around to reviewing it in the next week or two.
End of Watch
The Raid: Redemption
Zero Dark Thirty
Not my fault, it doesn't screen for San Francisco critics until next week. Kiss my ass, Sony.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Didn't look great to me, but Justin Halpern said it was good.
Michael Haneke's latest made a number of notable best-of lists and I was all set to watch it until I found out it was a love story following an old couple as their minds and bodies deteriorate. Yeah, no thanks, that sounds worse than a root canal. It reminds me of when my dad bought me The Art of Racing in the Rain, and I got two pages in, discovered it was told from the perspective of a dying golden retriever and I threw it out the window. Yeah, don't feel like bawling my f*cking eyes out on the subway today, thanks.
How to Survive a Plague
Searching for Sugar Man
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
I've heard good things, and the director was on the Frotcast, so it's probably really good.
Take This Waltz
Actually, it's not fair to say I didn't see this one, it's more accurate to say that I rented it on OnDemand, heard Michelle Williams' character say "My phobia is that I'm afraid of being afraid," and quickly walked around my apartment finding better things to do. I was folding clothes and washing dishes, but I think there was something about a creepy stalker dude pulling a rickshaw? I could spend five dollars and give this movie another chance at some point, but let's be honest, that's never going to happen.