by Jaime Grijalba.
2012 was a very interesting year. For some people it was worse than the plague, and for others it was filled with satisfactions and personal goals reached, for me it was something in the middle, with good and bad moments, days of sadness and joy were mixing every month that passed, and while it’s far from being my favorite year of my still short existence, I can say that I learned a lot about life and its many ways and paths that it can go through. I also finished my career at university, and even if the paper that says that I’m an Audiovisual Director (Film Director to put it simple) won’t be in my hands until November 2013, I don’t have any assignatures left, I directed a short film that was decently received among the people I know (and the teachers, more importantly), as well as I wrote a feature length script, the first I’ve ever written, that was also presented and was my theses, it was also received quite well among the teachers and filmmakers who had the chance to read it completely. Right now I’m in my internship (the second I’ve done) in a magazine for men that requires videos and a making-of for their big launch in March; the experience has been good so far and I hope that it continues to go that way, I’m also waiting for the decission on a government fee to work on my feature-length screenplay in the year 2013, it will be a lot of money for me so I hope I win it so I can work at my house so I can finally make my debut sooner than later.
Now, forget the personal stuff, how was the year for the movies of 2012? Well, I must say that, for me, it was better than 2011 in many ways, mainly because I was able to attend three different film festivals and I hope to make them more in this 2013 (I hope), and I’m proud to say that the film industry in Chile is looking up, movies are getting more interesting and what’s more important: better. There is now not a fear of experimentation and making big changes to what the cinematographic language can give us, and that is something that I need to applaud here. Above all it was an interesting year for documentary films, great conclusions and even greater new beginnings, as the film industry keeps its trail of making interesting products of massive entertainment and at the same time fierce discussion. I loved the criticism that happened among many people in the internet regarding many of the films that were released theatrically or played in festivals, there was always a discussion to be had and possitions to be defended, and that was the best thing about it all, you were supposed to have an stance about the film in question, and even if you felt a bit dirty for defending (or attacking) what the majority was hating (or defending), you still had to hold your ground and go the extra mileage to be proud of what your views on things were.
So, without further ado, here comes my top 20 movies of 2012. The criteria for eligibility is that it had to have a release of some kind in 2012 and no earlier, so you won’t see The Cabin in the Woods (2011), for example, as it had one brief screening in 2011… but consider it one of the best anyway, it’s really good. It can be shorts, miniseries, series, films, direct to video, whatever that was available and that had its first release in 2012 is here, festival screenings included. I usually do these list a bit later, but my limit date is always the Oscar nominations, and those were today, so I just finished early and decided that this list wouldn’t change much… except for Django Unchained that I’m sure would top this list when I finally see it. I will link to a previous review of the movie if it exists in my site or another. Oh, by the way, I changed my site last year as well, you can visit it clicking my name at the top, and talking about the top, I’d like to thank Bob Clark for making the stupendous image header for this post, I love it.
20. El otro día (The other day, Ignacio Agüero)
We start out with one of the interesting chilean films that I talked about, a documentary (something that, I must say, chilean filmmakers should really do all the time and never bother with fiction at all) that was handed out to me in a screener by Raúl Camargo, one of the programmers of the Valdivia Film Festival that I attended last year, he was impressed with my humble twitter daily coverage of the festival, so he contacted me and gave me the screener for this documentary that played on many festivals and that is directed by one of the most important working filmmakers of Chile right now, he has dedicated his life to documentaries and ever since he stood out with his Cien niños esperando un tren (1988), one of the most famous and important chilean films of all time, he has made them better and better as time goes by. This is one of his biggest accomplishments, a complicated film that talks about many things that start to happen in a man’s life, specially when you start to look back on the history of your parents, your life, coincidences and your own family. The way these themes are explored are through a gimmick: every person that knocked on his door would be recieved and then asked if Ignacio, the director, could visit them at their own house. So there we see a bunch of different individuals as the director travels to many places of Santiago, visiting his postman, a homeless guy, a woman who sweeps the streets and an art director that would like to work for the production company of Ignacio Agüero. This last segment, the one with the female art director, is easily the best one, as it has a cinematic and truth quality about the access to education and the filmmaking business in Chile. I would be really sad if this movie never gets out of the festival circuit.
19. Las mujeres del pasajero (The women of the passerby, Patricia Correa, Valentina McPherson)
Another chilean documentary, this one barely going over the 40 minute mark. It’s an interesting, simple and fascinating film that chronicles the life and work of the women who clean up one of the most famous motels of Santiago de Chile. There they talk about their love lifes, the place in which they work, their own sex life, what do they think of the people who go there, the kind of things they do and all that jazz. It’s great to see the scope of the interviews that made it to the film, everyone is interesting and precise on what they have to say about their own lives and their sorroundings, as well as their ages, ranging from young to mature and even to women over 60 years old cleaning up rooms that were recently wild places for sex and depravations of many kinds. It’s interesting to note that the film it’s not only the interviews, it’s also the portrait of the motel itself, in many places we see people get in rooms, we see the strange rooms themselves, and we even see how one of the women enters the room right after a couple had left it, as she talks about what they ordered (a lot of drinks and food) she goes through the sheets and messy bed, as well as a suspicious white dust that covers one of the tables… the frenzy of sex is also suggested but never shown in this film as we move in the hallways and hear the moans of men and women, while the workers go from place to place cleaning up the floor or bringing food or drinks to the people who paid for them. It’s an anthropological movie in the sense that it doesn’t only show us the women that work there, their anecdotes and love life, but also society itself and how it reacts and tries to have sex in a place like this, one that is just like any of the thousands of motels all around the world.
18. Argo (Ben Affleck)
The movie that at one time was the favorite to win the Oscar and now is still a strong contender is also one of my favorite films of the year. Ben Affleck with this film has prooven that he has a wide range up his sleeve director-wise, but he still hasn’t surpased the movie that practically blindsided every moviegoer in existence, Gone Baby Gone (2007). Still, this is the movie that will make him appear a serious filmmaker after the (not for me) dissapointment that for some was The Town (2010), the tense moments of this film make it worth the attention and the prize of admission. The story, based on real events, is fascinating, and specially for people who love movies, I had no idea before this movie came out that there was a real story about how a bunch of americans that worked on the USA embassy in Iran were rescued using a fake movie advertisement material and making them look as if they were part of a canadian crew. If the movie doesn’t follows the actual facts or if its a bit forgiving about the USA stance towards the whole situation of the hostages in the embassy, or even the figure of the Sha it’s pretty much not important, mainly because this is supposed to be a thrilling ride with many tense moments and great scenes that build up in tension, higher and higher until the last 30 minutes that are a masterclass of editing, where everything is edited down for maximum emotion and nothing else. It’s good to think that maybe here we have a new John Cassavetes in our hands, even if their approach to filmmaking are in complete oposite sides of the equation, their approach to their professions and how they mix them up it’s fascinating.
17. Pieta (Ki-duk Kim)
I reviewed this movie for Wonders in the Dark about a month ago or so, and I liked it a lot because of its emotional strength and overall powerful scenes, characterizations and situations that it portraits. If you want to read the review, you can click the link on the name of the movie. I think that Ki-duk Kim has managed to do a great movie, despite all the criticism that I’ve been hearing towards the actual movie, I think that it’s still backlash because it defeated The Master (2012) to the main prize at a film festival (that is another movie that I wanted to see and I couldn’t because it never got released here), because the performances are strong from every actor present, and even if it features some animal cruelty (like any other Ki-duk Kim film, hey, what can you expect?) it is done in such a way that it helps the story move forward. The tale of a loan shark that seems to find his mother is extremely powerful and outrageous with scenes that would make anyone cringe or close their eyes just because of the moral consequences. There is violence, it’s harsh and as it’s been a staple of south korean filmmaking, filled with revenge and vengeance that delivers even better experiences than other films that have tried to take advantage of the vengeance craze after Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece trilogy of south korean films regarding the concept of vengeance.
16. [REC]³ Génesis ([REC]³ Genesis, Paco Plaza)
The most interesting thing about this horror series from Spain is that with every installment they are either expanding the universe and/or trying out new things, and while the first and second one are pretty much the best examples of the best use of first-person horror, or found-footage horror, those that have now plagued the genre with dull examples like the now yearly event of the Paranormal Activity films. This time, the game is different, it starts out at a wedding and we see different point of views of people who attend the ceremony, and when the zombies (or possessed creatures, whatever you want to call them) start attacking and one of the atendees (the man in charge of recording the wedding and party, a fat guy who likes to call his videos cinema verité and with a taste of russian cinema of the early 20’s) starts yelling to the groom that he has to record everything that is happening, in that moment the groom takes the camera and crashes it to the ground. Here we change the perspective to the one of a “normal” film, but this is far from being a normal flick you see a sunday afternoon, it’s wild, funny and scary, it draws from the classics like The Evil Dead series of films or others like Lucio Fulci or Mario Bava in their colour pallette or their stylistic choices for the shots or events that happen. With a great performance from the one of the most beautiful eyes and face of spanish cinema today, Leticia Dolera, in the role of the bride, this is a film that not only manages to entertain and scare, but at the same time romanticizes the concept of eternal love that goes beyond any circumstance and event, even beyond life and death. There has been much criticism towards this movie because of how different the tone is, and I disagree, the grisly tone of the other two movies is intact, here we just have more fun before we get to the really gruesome stuff. It’s one of the best horror films of the year if not the best.
15. Gyo (Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack, Takayuki Hirao)
This anime direct-to-video feature film was a complete surprise for me, and I shall direct you to the review I wrote for Wonders by clicking the link at the title of the film. This was an experience on its own, one of the first films I saw of the year 2012 and it was one of the grossest and most disgusting experiences that I had in a long time that didn’t involve blood, guts or gore, yet a sense of death was perpetually lingering over the whole enterprise… one day in Tokyo, all the fish and sea creatures start to climb out of the ocean with little legs, they are dead as their stench can clearly tell, yet they still move, open their mouths, look from one side to the other, it’s just madness and crazyness all over as the fish take over the cities of Japan as well as the smell of the fish makes it impossible to breathe in the streets. Based on a manga by the master of horror that is Junji Ito, this anime manages to translate all the disgusting events of the manga into an experience that has to be seen to be believed, even if you’ve already read the manga, it’s one of those that you have to see anyway not because of the changes, but because of how the animation has made possible what you thought at one time to be an experience streamed directly from the bottom depths of the most devilish hellish imagination, but there you have, photorealistic fish and sharks attacking people. This movie can actually make you sick because of watching it, the whole smell concept is so strong that even you start to hold your breath to not breathe what is coming out of the zombie fishes, even you start to smell badly and then, well, you’re hooked for the experience, and it’s a great one, even if the concept itself is a bit silly, you can’t deny that it’s one of the craziest, one that you have to live through.
14. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris)
You know which is one of my favorite movies of all time? Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and I’m not even afraid to say it, it’s a gem, one of the funniest and closest indie comedies that has ever been done, a true masterpiece in my opinion, with a great set of characters, each one of them highly likeable even because of their faults. As you might’ve guessed, I was expecting something great from the director duo that gave us that movie, and while we didn’t have something of the caliber of that masterwork, we still had a pretty great film nonetheless… besides, who can ever surpass what was done in that year of 2006? Few, not even themselves. But anyway, Ruby Sparks has been compared with the films of Woody Allen in the sense that the protagonist is a nervous young writer who is doubtful about his own talent after not being able to follow up his debut novel, one of the greatest and most famous debut young-adult books of recent history, that is until a woman appears in his dreams, her name is Ruby Sparks and she is adorable, she is the perfect woman for him, so as an assignment for his shrink (another WoodyAllenesque element) he decides to write about her, and that expands and expands until it’s becoming a novel about a man who meets this perfect woman that is Ruby Sparks (played to perfection by the also screenwriter of the film, Zoe Kazan, and yes, she is related to Elia), until one day she appears in the writer’s department claiming to be his girlfriend, as if everything from the book had translated to real life. The comedy and the awkwardness that one thinks that this situation could ensue is there, the doubt, the fright, the acceptance, and while most would think that the whole thing ends there… it doesn’t, this movie goes dark places about the imagination and the power of the typing machine, and I applaud it for that, it’s a great movie, one that should’ve had a better chance when it was released.
13. La chica del sur (The Girl from the South, José Luis García)
Lim Su-kyung was one of the most famous figures of both Koreas starting 1989 when she left South Korea to visit the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in North Korea. She was named ‘Flower of Unification’ by the north korean government and when she tried to come back to South Korea, she was jailed in that instant and sentenced to 5 years under the law of betrayal to the nation, even though she claimed that it was an act of manifestation towards unification and not defection to the communist side of the country. Now, my first question is even if I did study korean history I didn’t know about this until I saw this movie at the Valdivia Film Festival, and my second question was why this wasn’t a korean movie, this is a documentary from Argentina that chronicles the story of the director, José Luis García, with the figure of Su-kyung, since he was also attending the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students when she appeared, he was representing the Communist Youth of Argentina at that time, and he was just blown away by the courage and the life story of this brave young woman, he filmed while he was there and we see exclusive footage of North Korea in those years as well as the visit of the flower of unification. We jump to the present day and after many intentions to interview and all, he has enough money to go to South Korea and finally interview the woman who inspired him to make a movie about her, but when we finally see her and her reactions about her actions, interviews and scenes… well, it’s not dissapointing, as it’s more of intriguing, and we just want to see more of her. She is a complex woman and this is a fascinating way to look at her, and it goes beyond any other documentary, chronicling the personal experience of the director and his relation to its subject more than the subject itself, and that fascinates me.
12. Las Cosas Como Son (Things as they are, Fernando Lavanderos)
What a treat! A chilean fiction film that actually works as a fiction, has a solid script, great performances and even greater discussion about it! That’s a truly rare thing to find these days, a chilean film that doesn’t go the easy way in its shooting style, as well as not falling into the usual tropes of what can be considered art-ridden clichés, and that is something to applaud… but not only that, it is also a great movie, and one of the best of the year! It tells the story about a chilean man with the greatest beard in existence, but he also has an old house that he uses to house people that come from abroad to Santiago, Chile, and stay for a few months, he makes the rooms habitable, fixes the leaks, and does everything to maintain his life occupied, he is lonely and strange, barely talking with those who he receives, cutting the power when they are having a party and stuff like that. The month of February comes, it’s summer down here, and with that all the foreigners leave the house for their vacations, but one norwegian woman arrives at the last moment and she has to stay alone with the landlord for a few weeks. We get to see the personality of both of these characters, the strange man is the most obscure and difficult to understand, but that becomes even more inviting for you to see the film, and at times you end up agreeing with many of the things that he says or does, even if they are strange or awkward. The norwegian girl is sweet and adorable, a woman that is still young and has a lot to learn about life in Chile and in the world, but she is confident that what she does is right at every moment, and she also has an enormous confidence on her sexual power. It’s a heartbreaking film at times, and it makes a great case for fiction filmmaking that can be done in Chile for cheap and with great performances from people who aren’t really actors, like the main guy, who is just the most famous architecture photographer in the country, and he delivers what could be my favorite performance of the year.
11. The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
Boom! Crash! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Joy and pure amazing amazingness, awesome and more awesome… words can’t really describe the joy that was had at the theatre with this movie: amazing special effects, great action sequences, a sense of a world that exists beyond the boundaries of the screen (hell, a whole universe), funny performances, great moments of intelligent decissions by the filmmakers… I can’t say that the film is perfect, but I can say that it’s the most fun I’ve had the whole year at the theatre, and that’s pretty much anyone can say about this film before just rambling about the same subject again and again. Let’s just say that this is what many people were expecting, the reunion of these superheroes manages to have all the elements for them to shine individually and at the same time evolving their storylines for future projects and films, and the fact that the Marvel Films universe is now a thing that will continue (and that more than ever will experiment with the future movies by the way of the directors that they will choose for them), it gives you something to look forward from the machine of mass entertainment that is some areas of Hollywood.
Usually I used to stop you here right in your tracks and make you follow a link to my blog, but I won’t do that, so I’ll just continue here, this will be reposted at my site instantly for those who want to read and comment there. Anyway, let’s continue!
10. Where the Condors Fly (Carlos Klein)
Don’t be fooled by the english title, this is a chilean documentary and it’s my choice for the best chilean movie of 2012. Victor Kossakovsky is a russian filmmaker, director of many interesting documentaries that are contemplative and the critic darlings for many out there who prefer the wait over the movement, even if his films are always filled with a light touch of movement so that the frame is always interactive and mutant. His most recent work was Vivan las Antipodas! (2011), a documentary that travels around the world looking for the ground antipodes of the world, visiting Chile, Argentina, Russia, China, Hawaii and many other places of the world in search of the perfect image, the perfect connection between the monuments, the occurrences and the people who live in those places. So, when he visited Chile, he asked Carlos Klein, the director of this film, if he could help him to shoot some scenes in the chilean Patagonia, since it was one of the ground antipodes, and being Klein a filmmaker and a visitor of the Patagonia, he came to help, and at the same time he had the idea to make a documentary, a making-off of what the shoot around the world would be, and this is how one of the most entertaining figures of film that you didn’t know is discovered: he swears and fights a lot, he is just like a kid when he films, looking for the surprise, the most intimate perfect detail to make his films what he has seen in his minds, but also taking risks and playing the reality game towards what you can actually find when you start watching what your sorroundings can finally offer. It’s nice to see the kind competition between Klein and Kossakovsky, as both of them are fighting to have great cinematic shots, and at the same time, whenever the interviews come, the funny russian director isn’t pleased with the direction and the framing that Klein is having for the interviews, it’s a funny and profound picture that loves movies, directors and it’s highly entertaining at the same time.
9. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
I’ve never been a fan of Wes Anderson, and only recently he has been making movies that I can find some interest in, like his latest feature length project, Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) that was a joy ride and a complete surprise for me in the animation field of movies, it was just great to look at. Then, Wes surprises me once again with this movie, completely blindsiding me, a story about children and love, how amazing is that Wes is finally finding his foot in my taste by aiming at children stories, and I guess that his style of tableau vivant and exhibition of objects is more akin to that kind of stories, those little frames, edits and compositions that make up for the world that sorround these colorful characters. Here we have an impressive cast followed by the great inclusion of two young actors that do the job in a magnificent way. The story of profound love of two kids that leave their own “families” to meet after sending letters to each other for a whole year is just heartwarming, and how the occurrences that make them get together or split are just those of a fairy tale, make it more interesting taking into account the colours and the visual style approach that the film has from the first frame onwards. I love the moments at Moonrise Kingdom, and while I did think that Wes was veering into uncharted territory for him and for mainstream american movies, I thought that it was handled in such a perfect and innocent way that I couldn’t help but applaud and marvel at the subtile approach as well as the tremendous acting from the two kids. It’s one of those movies that once it ends, you just want to watch again and again, it’s a shame that I haven’t been able to do so, and I should do it soon enough.
8. Gyakuten saiban (Ace Attorney, Takashi Miike)
A movie based on a videogame makes my list for the best films of a year… now, that would be something to wonder about and even doubt for anyone, except for me, because I can admire and even love some of the craft that is put forward in these kind of films, and I was able to talk about this sub-genre a lot in the past year, about many other films, and this was just another one of them, my review of the film for Wonders can be read at the link at the title. Most of my love for the film comes from the amazing achievement that comes from imitation and craft: the movie looks and feels like the videogame that it’s based on, and it has all the necessary elements to even make a succesful series of movies out of these characters and world, just as much as the continuing videogames that come out for handheld consoles in Japan. The movie itself isn’t only visual style, flamboyant costumes and hair styles, or art direction, no, it’s also a compelling mystery with funny moments and suspenseful ones, it’s one of those that manage to juggle between the silly overacting and the overblown colors/style, and at the same time manage to create tension from the performances, the mystery, the killings, the clues and the tense court moments, that make up for the majority of the film, and the sense that there is a world where the judicial system works like that is just an amazing feeling that makes you crave for more, even if the movie itself is already quite long to begin with.
7. Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow)
Have you ever seen one movie, just to know how it is, just to get your curiosity satisfied, just because of how interesting the premise looks, but you know that it won’t be enough, but at the end you find yourself immersed in the story, the characters, the premise, everything and then it ends and you find yourself saying: wow, I’m glad that I saw this movie and that I didn’t miss it. Well, that’s what happened with me and this little lo-sci-fi gem that comes from the United States of America, it completely took me by surprise and made me love many actors that I didn’t think that I would ever love, as well as characters that seemed one-dimensional and unlikeable, evolved and are constructed as the movie moves forward, and that is the greatest surprise for me, it’s just impressive to find such a clever concept as the thought of someone being able to travel in time and at the same time looking for a partner to do it again, and deliver great performances at the same time, it’s just unthinkable for a first time director in this time and age (long gone are the times were the debut were the most impressive pictures). The concept of an intern going on a travel with a journalist trying to find and investigate this man who claims that had traveled in time turns into more than a search and fall in love story, it becomes tense as the elements pile up, as well as emotionally envolving as the rest of the characters find their own stories to live and cherish as this main event regarding the possible failed mental health of one individual. The ending, while completely surprising (and dissapointing to some) was just what this movie needed, the extra touch for me to completely fall in love with it and want to yell its name as one of the best movies of 2012 and one of the best debuts of recent memory in the USA.
6. Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski)
Many storylines from all over the world and from different times are combined in one film that edits them perfectly one after the other in an impressive work of editing that should win awards, and that can be said by anyone with a bit of brain, because this movie is a marvel, something that I can’t actually believe that it was made and released to the public in such a wide manner, I mean, it has american stars acting in it, but it’s a german production with the biggest budget in the history of its film industry, and why is that? Because no one in Hollywood wanted to take the chance with a film about multiple storylines and actors playing different roles in different times and spaces, and sometimes with thin connections between one story and the other. It’s also like having a lot of genre movies for the price of one: a sea adventure, a cop thriller, a escape tale, a love story, science fiction and post-apocaliptic film, all combined and connected in a deep way that you just can’t understand on your first viewing, you have to see it again, and I just can’t wait to do that again (one thing I haven’t been able to do was rewatch certain films I’ve wanted to, this mainly because I’ve prefered to watch something new instead, just to advance in my important backlog of films that I need to watch). I loved the art direction, the cinematography, the acting, the presentation, the editing, certain moments are just way too suspenseful, and every storyline is filled with its own quirks and inclinations… for example, I loved that Hugo Weaving was playing a woman in the present time story, it was hilarious and yet… it felt as if we’ve already seen it… if you remember Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994) you may agree with me, wouldn’t you? Anyway, haters go away, let me love this movie for what it is, an impressive achievement and fun.
5. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
Dear Leos Carax: it doesn’t matter what you say, oh, dear french director, your movie is a love letter to movies either you like it or not, it’s just an impressive work that since it starts it talks about film and the issues that it’s fighting right now: proliferation of them due to technology (should an actor start to multiply itself just to be able to work in all the movies that he’s being called into?) and projection issues (the sleeping audience at the start, is cinema dying as an experience at the theatre?), as well as genre films like the monster movies, or the special effects (the whole sequence with the green screen and the white dots), it’s that and more than that, so… please, Mr. Carax, next time someone asks you why you put the main actress of Yeux sans visage (1960) put a mask similar to the one she used in the film, just be honest with yourself and tell them that you love the movie and wanted to reference it. Is reference that bad to you? A love letter to cinema is something that I love to see, and this is one that accomplishes everything that I expected of it and much much more, with an impressive performance by Dennis Levant and the accompanying cast, with great musical sequences including the song “Who were we?” with Kylie Minogue and the Intermission, showcasing the great musical talent of Lavant. Mr. Carax, please, think about it, just see your movie once again if you need to do that, do it pour la beaute du geste and say it, you love movies and this is your homage, questioning and concerns about its modern state. We won’t judge you, we’ll just love you more and more. Regards, a fan.
4. Indie Game: The Movie (Lissane Pajot, James Swirsky)
The greatest documentaries are those who manage not only to inform, but to make a personal mark, an achievement of sorts, something that will follow you, inspire you, make you a better person at the end of the day. The first time I watched this documentary it was 2am in the morning, and I thought that I would see it for a couple of minutes before I shut it off and see it another day, but I just couldn’t, it caught me and I finished it at 4am in the morning and I was just won over by it, this is a masterpiece and the moment I saw it, I knew it, this was going to make my list of the best movies of 2012 without much contest, and well, here we are, and a fourth place isn’t too shaby for a movie that was founded via Kickstarter and that is a story about superation and success above any other, about art and the artist, about how much pressure and doubts must someone who wants to create and give something to society go through for it to come to fruition. Here we see two projects: Super Meat Boy and Fez, two videogames independently produced by small crews, in each case no more than 2 people to make an entire videogame, from its visual aspect to its music, everything is hand made, tested and shipped by them, and it’s a hard work, something that inspires anyone who is familiar (or not) with the world of gaming, you end up wanting to go out and make something out of yourself, make something, whatever it is, and that feeling to be traspassed to you via the real story of some hard-working videogame developers is just amazing for a couple of first time directors, who not only directed, but also edited and shot the movie, and this is a movie that looks gorgeous in every shot, the cinematography is brilliant for a documentary and I just can’t say any other thing than good work guys, you just managed something impressive… Mojang: The Story of Minecraft (2012), eat your heart out.
3. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
I love the direction that Christopher Nolan took with this series of films, and I rate these three as the masterpieces of the genre, something that can’t be fully comprehended by everyone, and I understand that, and even some would say that I have fanboyish tendencies but no, I’m actually not that much of a fan of Batman in the comics (I prefer other superheroes and other kind of comics), but it’s the kind of story of Batman that I’ve always wanted to read or to be told is the one that Christopher Nolan constructed along these 7 years, creating a complex human character inserted in a world different than ours where the crazy technology alongside with the crazy characters and villains exist and can be destroyed so a new day can rise in Gotham. I won’t be saying that this is the best of the three, not even The Dark Knight (2008) takes that price, but whatever I say doesn’t matter, what I have to say is the following: I was at the edge of my seat the whole time at the cinema, it was just bombastic, with an impressive score, great special effects and an outstanding scope and concept for a film regarding the ultimate goal of Bane. And while the politics of Batman (and most superheroes) have been discussed for a long time, I still think that its unimportant (and for me still Batman is much more a communist in this movie than a fascist) towards what actually is happening in the screen: spectacle, good acting, great score, great framing, great cinematography, splendid action coreographies, great moments of awe and surprise, and Batman, while not everpresent in this movie, it was always a movie about his figure, his signal, his presence immortal and everpresent in the mind of the citizens of Gotham and our hearts… let’s see what happens with Superman now.
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson)
I’m glad to be back at Middle Earth. If that isn’t enough, I can say that I’m glad to be back at Middle Earth and with this story, this director, these actors, this magic world, these places, the golden afternoons, the cold mountains… the songs are given a warm welcome to my heart and vision of what the Middle Earth can hold: singing dwarves. Golum makes a stellar apparition and it’s just great to find that scene lifted from the Tolkien book exactly the way it was told in an amazing way and impressive cinematographed and coreographed way. I was left speechless when I left the theatre, I was back, I felt like when I was 10 years younger and I was seeing the first Lord of the Rings movie in an old theatre of the center of Santiago, and now I was seeing it again, with my parents, feeling a warmth and a familiarity. It’s nice to think that I’ll have the chance to visit Middle Earth two more times in the next two years… it will be pleasing.
1. Amour (Love, Michael Haneke)
This is the best film that I’ve seen in this young decade. Put simply, Haneke has never been more effective to me than here, making a personal experience even more powerful by putting it in film and experiencing it with a lot of people is something else completely, it’s just an impressive experience, one that can make you tear up and break your vow to never cry watching a movie (still unbroken, come at me bro). Haneke has always been a masterful director, one that knows where to put the camera at the precise moment and in the right position/framing, you just have to see the famous shot and countershot that has been made in the press material of the film, the perfect sinchronization and mirror images of the two protagonists of the film. Riva is an impressive actress, and here it’s just above everything anyone can do or say about performing handicapped people, it’s just amazing what she can do here, and it can bring memories to anyone who has been in the same position with a sick person. Here Haneke doesn’t leave his master shots, but at the same time, for the first time in my experience with him, he wasn’t afraid to feel, and in that we feel closer with the characters, we feel their feelings, we see things with their eyes, and that isn’t something that Haneke is used to do, and I appreciate that he did it this time, it was the right thing to do. A cold view at something that is so close to many of us would feel ironic and burlesque. I’m glad we have this and I’m glad we have these great actors still with us.