Cinema Of The World: Best Of 2012 Part II
Rust and Bone
A typical Jacques Audiard film has its own sets of iconography. His is a masculine world (‘Read My Lips’) seen from the outside (‘Un Prophete’) with a certain sense of urgency and possessiveness (‘The Beat that My Heart Skipped’). You can identify an Audiard film by its look, extreme close-ups, unusual colours and aesthetics. His camera doesn’t look at the actors as much as it follows them, as if in a trance. And, when he decides to tell a love story, it has to be much more than just a love story. Here, we have a single father who gets involved in illegal bare-knuckle fighting, a brute in the real sense of the word, and a young confident woman who loses her legs to a giant Orca Whale she used to train. When these two people, played by French Marion Cotillard and Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts, there’s much more at stake than just love. Another greatest achievement of the film is how it makes Cotillard’s Stephanie strong and desirable even without her legs.
A genial comedy, actually more of a character study, by Richard Linklater of those Before and After Sunrise and Sunset films, with Jake Blake as the titular character, who was in Linklater’s superb ‘School of Rock’, who goes against his type to play a mortician’s assistant, a nice guy type, who woos an old and rich woman, Marjorie Nugent, played by Shirley MacLaine as unpleased as she can make her; they marry and she is murdered. Based on a true story; Bernie was found guilty as charged.
A film like a documentary, a portrait of the life in a middle-class neighbourhood in present-day Recife, Brazil, leading to a clash of cultures after the arrival of a private security firm; an impressive first film.
As if anyone wanted to see another screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s doomed romance; Greta Garbo did one eons ago. But, Joe Wright, who has a knack for adapting literary fiction, after ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Adaptation’, reunites with Keira Knightley as Anna, and does something wonderful with this lavish and glittering production, set entirely in a theatre and creates a sense of urgency which makes this adaptation of the Russian tome by Tom Stoppard a joyous ride, especially the way the film celebrates the romance between Kitty and Levin and contrasts it with Anna’s misplaced passion; with Jude Law as the cuckolded husband.
Roger Ebert said this one was one of the most ambitious films ever made while Time Magazine called it the worse film of the year. Both are sort of right, yet fall short of describing the breathe of this epic, operative film that travels back and forth in time to tell six different, yet interlocking stories, adapted from the bestselling novel by David Mitchell. Some of these stories work, some don’t, but you cannot dismiss this labour of love by the three directors —Lana and Andy Wachowski (‘The Matrix’) and Tom Tykwer (‘Run Lola Run’, ‘The International’).
A small Sundance thriller, which earned its star Ann Dowd rave reviews in a story based on the real life story of a prank call in which a prank caller calls up the manager of a restaurant and convinces her that one of the employees has committed a crime.
Killing Them Softly
Andrew Dominik’s follow-up after the meditative ‘The Assassination of Jesse James…’ also features the star of his previous film, Brad Pitt, in a story of mafia hitmen killing mafia hitmen, based on a 1974 crime novel ‘Cogan’s Trade’, but the setting updated to our time. A lot of people die, in between long stretches of conversations.
Actually a 2011 film, saw a wider release this year, a slice of life from contemporary Moscow and the widening gap between the rich and poor, a socialist nightmare, and what it means to be a family, tells the story of poor woman who finds a rich man, but must make some drastic choices.
Martin McDonagh’s follow-up after 2008's ‘In Bruges’, which was a great movie, and this one fails to cross that benchmark. Yet, a crackling script and a wide range of actors, from Woody Harrelson to Tom Waits to Colin Farrell to Christopher Walken in one of his best roles.
This earthy re-imagination of the beloved Victorian novel strips the story of its embellishments, and tells the story as it was, of racism, and of economic power, and in a daring casting choice, the director of ‘Fish Tank’ Andrea Arnold gets a black actor play Heathcliff, the story charismatic hero/antagonist, a role previously played by the likes of Lawrence Olivier, at el.
The Raid: Redemption
Perhaps the year’s most oddball hit, in the tradition of Tony Jaa’s ‘Ong Baak’, at once loved and reviled, for its blood-cuddling violence, this Indonesian martial arts action film written and directed by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais is something that Tarantino would certainly love.
TO BE CONTINUED...