Legendary actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play Georges and Anne, a long-married Parisian couple who are also professional music teachers. Shortly after attending a concert by one of their former pupils, the elderly but still active couple suffer a tremendous blow when Anne suddenly has a stroke. The rest of Amour details her slow decline, and Georges' quiet patience,… read more!
Movies Released in 2012 (in alphabetical order)
Smart, crowd-pleasing thriller that's based on the unbelievably true story of a CIA effort to smuggle six Americans out of Iran during the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, based on one operative's (director Affleck) so-crazy-it-just-might-work scheme: going to Tehran under the pretenses of location scouting for a Canadian movie that doesn't really exist, and sneaking the six out as members of the… read more!
I've been unusually busy with work lately, so I'm already one of the last people on Earth to see The Avengers – and it's only been out for three weeks. Owing to the movie's incredible popularity, there's not much useful I can add to the conversation, though I will share my opinions. During its opening minutes, watching the film feels… read more!
Beasts of the Southern Wild
On the surface, an indie movie about an adorable little moppet named Hushpuppy living in a tight-knit Southern community known as The Bathtub sounds twee beyond repair. But Beasts of the Southern Wild, a drama about what happens to this girl, her father, and their community after a Katrina-like storm floods them out of their ramshackle homes, has a lot… read more!
Something happened to Pixar Studios in 2011. After 11 consecutive artistic and commercial successes, peaking with Toy Story 3, their all-time box office champ (on paper, anyway; Finding Nemo sold more tickets), they released Cars 2. And suddenly, for the first time, Pixar wasn't cool. It wasn't just because they were following up mature, emotionally gripping set pieces in Up… read more!
Chicken With Plums
Chicken With Plums is the live action followup to Paronnaud and Satrapi's first feature, the black and white animated beauty Persepolis. Like its predecessor, the film is based on one of Satrapi's graphic novels. Admittedly, her ideas translate more shakily to live action than they do to animation, though Chicken With Plums still offers a lot of visual flair. We… read more!
Inventive teen movie about three Seattle high schoolers – nerdy, troubled Andrew (Dane DeHaan), popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan), and somewhat undefined Matt (Alex Russell) – who sneak off during a party to investigate a mysterious cave in the woods, discover some giant, alien-looking crystal, and voila! all wind up with spectacular telekinetic powers. Shot in the "found footage style"… read more!
It's a sad state of affairs: audiences complain that Hollywood is out of ideas – that with all the sequels, reboots, and movies based on TV shows that we're inundated with, the whole damn industry must be creatively bankrupt. But when you get something ambitious, unusual, daring, and challenging like Cloud Atlas, these same audiences stay away in droves because it's… read more!
Purposefully icky drama based almost note for note on a real event that happened in 2004, where a prank caller posing as a police officer phoned a Kentucky McDonald's (here re-imagined as a fictitious "ChickWich" restaurant in Ohio) and manipulated its female manager into accusing a pretty young underling of theft, imprisoning her in a back office, and strip-searching her.… read more!
Damsels in Distress
There are few American filmmakers as idiosyncratic as Whit Stillman. Known for a trio of drily witty independent movies he made during the 1990s – Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco – Stillman disappeared from filmmaking for more than a decade. He has finally returned with his fourth feature, Damsels in Distress, a comedy that is both quintessentially Stillman-esque and… read more!
The Dark Knight Rises
I admired Batman Begins because it rejuvenated a tired superhero franchise with a first-rate cast and an entirely new look and feel for the characters. Its sequel The Dark Knight was so strong because, well, it had the Joker – one of the most iconic villains in pop culture brought to life by Heath Ledger's sensational performance. (Even if the actor had… read more!
The Deep Blue Sea
When I was 18 years old, I felt compelled to go watch Terence Davies' first feature, Distant Voices, Still Lives, on the basis of one incredible slow-motion shot that I saw on TV. I was disappointed that the rest of the film was not nearly so visually unique, and found the whole thing artful but rather miserable. I have avoided… read more!
Tarantino's latest revenge fantasy seems, at first blush, to one-up the audacity of its predecessor Inglourious Basterds. Instead of Jews taking on the Nazis and winning, here we have an escaped slave (Jamie Foxx) taking on Southern slave owners and winning. But let's talk about audacity for a second. The plot of Basterds literally rewrote history. In comparison, Django Unchained… read more!
Oddball chamber piece from the man behind the remarkable time travel flick Timecrimes, which is very much worth seeing. Vigalondo seems to have a fondness for making science fiction-flavored movies with tiny casts, few locations, and obviously low budgets. But whereas Timecrimes had an expertly designed script, Extraterrestrial's plot never quite blows up into anything interesting. The film's premise: a… read more!
Flight is a mixed bag of a movie that mostly succeeds, but not without some major problems. Denzel Washington gives a solid, unsentimental performance as an alcoholic airline pilot who makes a miraculous landing after his jet starts falling apart, but does so while secretly drunk. After a particularly harrowing crash sequence - Robert Zemeckis sure knows how to direct… read more!
Back in 1984, Tim Burton was a wunderkind animator at Disney whose success with his black and white stop-motion short Vincent got him the chance to make something a bit bigger: a 30-minute live action horror/comedy called Frankenweenie. Burton allegedly had hoped to make it stop-motion as well, but Disney's budget didn't allow for it. (The film still cost a… read more!
Aksel Hennie, a ginger-haired Steve Buscemi lookalike, plays a smooth-talking corporate headhunter who sizes up his executive clients in order to find out a) if they collect valuable art, and b) when they're not home, so he can steal that art and fence it, in order to keep his Nordic queen of a wife in diamonds and furs. It's a… read more!
This first-ever big screen Alfred Hitchcock biopic is fine as very light entertainment, but maddeningly unfulfilling as anything else. Focusing on the roughly one-year period that Hitchcock spent developing and completing 1960's Psycho, the drama tries to balance the intriguing machinations behind the making of his horror masterpiece with the banal domestic tensions between Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his long-suffering… read more!
A relentlessly loony film that defies a clear logical interpretation, Holy Motors is the latest brainchild of beloved – and not very prolific – French madman Leos Carax. (It's only his second full-length feature since his landmark 1991 romance Lovers on the Bridge.) The setup is this: a mysterious "actor" (Carax regular Denis Lavant) cruises around Paris over the course… read more!
The Hunger Games
Already one of the biggest money-making films in history, the allure of The Hunger Games has been the subject of much scrutiny. I think it's enough to say that, given how many of the other box office champions of recent years include The Dark Knight, Titanic, the Twilight franchise, and the last Harry Potter movies, it's a testament to American… read more!