Best of 2012

  • Title: Silver Linings Playbook
  • IMDB: link

silver-linings-playbook-posterWith his latest movie, Silver Linings Playbook, writer/director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) delivers his most mainstream film to date in this adaptation of Matthew Quick‘s novel of the same name about a teacher (Bradley Cooper) who moves back in with his parents (Robert De NiroJacki Weaver) after spending eight months in a mental institution. At times I think Russell can get too cute for his own good (see I Heart Huckabees), but Silver Linings provides the director the kind of manic characters he enjoys while still forcing him draw within the lines. The result is one of the year’s best films.

Our story begins with the release of Pat (Cooper) from his stint in the loony bin after brutally assaulting a fellow teacher who he discovers sleeping with his wife (Brea Bee). Armed with medication he refuses to take and an optimistic attitude of winning back his wife (despite being still haunted by her infidelity), putting his life back together, and looking for the silver lining in every bad situation, Pat begins his slow (and rocky) road to recovery.

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Lincoln

by Alan Rapp on November 16, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Lincoln
  • IMDB: link

lincoln-posterDirector Steven Spielberg‘s follow-up to last year’s disappointing War Horse is a far more personal character study of a single man during one of the most tumultuous times in America’s history. Adapted from Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, rather than give us a Hollywood version of “This is Your Life,” Lincoln chooses to focus on the final four months of Abraham Lincoln‘s presidency and the end of both the Civil War and slavery.

Daniel Day-Lewis carries the movie with yet another strong performance as our title character, and Sally Field is surprisingly terrific in the role of Mary Todd Lincoln. Although there is more going on, much like Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, Spielberg’s movie can really be boiled down to two performances that elevate the story around them.

Tony Kushner‘s script focuses on the law, backdoor politics, and Lincoln’s struggle to reunite the Union and abolish slavery rather than the Civil War, which is only used as a backdrop to the events occurring in Washington D.C.

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Searching for Sugar Man

by Alan Rapp on October 12, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Searching for Sugar Man
  • IMDB: link

searching-for-sugar-man-posterOdds are you’ve never heard of Rodriguez, a Detroit folk singer who failed to register a single blip on the American music scene. After releasing two low-selling albums in the early 1970’s the musician disappeared into obscurity by the end of the decade. But that’s only the beginning of the story.

As Rodriguez returned home to work construction and raise a family in Detroit, on the other side of the world his music was making an impact a decade later. In South Africa, Rodriguez’s songs struck a chord with a nation revolting against decades of Apartheid. As he worked minimum wage jobs at home, Rodriguez was becoming a superstar half a world away.

Searching for Sugar Man documents the search begun by two South African fans that led to the kind of heartwarming tale you usually can only find in the movies. Searching for more information about a singer more beloved in their country than Elvis Presley, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Strydom began to track down the truth of the musician’s fate among several different rumors of his death.

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Argo

by Alan Rapp on October 12, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Argo
  • IMDB: link

argo-movie-posterSome stories are so unbelievable they must be true. This was the case with Charlie Wilson’s War, one of my favorite films of 2007, which examined the absurd series of events that led a relatively unknown Congressman from Texas to lead the charge to bring down the Soviet Union.

Argo, the latest from director Ben Affleck who also stars in the adaptation of CIA Agent Tony Mendez‘s account of what became known as the “Canadian Caper” involving the extraction of six American diplomats from Iran during the Iran Hostage Crisis, is a similarly astonishing, and certainly well told, tale that’s so crazy it must be true.

Affleck stars as Mendez, a CIA extraction expert who comes up with a plan to safely smuggle out six Americans who escaped the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran on November 4, 1979. His idea is to pose as a film producer scouting locations for a new sci-fi movie in Iran and to pass off the six diplomats (Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishé, Joe Stafford) as other members of the movie project.

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  • Title: The Master
  • IMDB: link

the-master-posterIt’s only September, but it’s quite possible the latest film from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson may be the best collection of acting seen in theaters this year. The Master, inspired (in part) by L. Ron Hubbard and the rise of Scientology, is a terrifically produced look into the life of a disturbed young man and his relationship with the leader of a cult.

The film is less concerned about the specific inner workings of a cult than what kind of life it’s leader might live and how he might react to those around him and those in need of his help.

When we meet Naval Officer Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) in the final days of WWII it’s obvious there’s something very wrong with the man whose violent and blunt interactions with everyone he meets fail to earn him friends. After the war, Freddie travels around the country in various jobs, including a department store photographer and field hand – both of which he’s forcibly removed from due to his poor judgement.

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