2012: Movies in retrospect

2012-12-23 10:01

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After 12 months, at least 500 hours spent watching about 250 movies, these are the 2012 big screen movies that delighted and scarred Gayle Edmunds.

This is part two of its companion piece published in Sunday’s paper.

» The out-of-this-world sequel: Men In Black 3 lived up to the anticipation as Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reunited to take on the scum of the universe. The introduction of Josh Brolin as a young Agent K was inspired and I loved Andy Warhol as a secret agent keeping an eye on alien forces.

» The film that gave life to romantic drama: Ruby Sparks is about a writer with writer’s block whose therapist recommends he writes about a fictional woman who likes him just the way he is.

When he goes downstairs one morning and finds his creation making eggs he thinks he’s lost it – but it seems that as impossible as she seems to him, everyone else treats her just like a real person. Paul Dano is great as the hapless writer and Zoe Kazan is Ruby. The writer of this delightful film proves that if Hollywood won’t write the parts you want to play – do it yourself.

» Style is no substitute for substance: Wuthering Heights was massacred by filmmaker Andrea Arnold.

The incessant moaning to be heard on the Yorkshire moors throughout was the sound of Emily Bronte rising from her grave to beg for it to stop – or maybe that was me after the end of the second hour of watching Heathcliff and Cathy gaze wildly at each other. Another two hours of my life that are lost forever.

» Sex and the middle-aged couple: Hope Springs is an irresistible combination of Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell and David Frankel who last directed Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

In the hands of anyone else this film could have been excruciatingly embarrassing as it is all about sex – not the hot and heavy kind, but the getting-it-back-after-30-years kind.

» The director who “got” 3D: Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s family film, was the first to use 3D properly. The idea is not to crudely chuck stuff at the audience or have monsters fly at the screen – that’s so Jaws 3D.

Scorsese used the technology to invite the audience into his imagined pre-war Paris where a boy struggles to connect with his dead father through an automaton that is linked to cinema’s founding father Georges Méliès. Just like Méliès, Scorsese brings out the magical in the new technology.

» The geriatric gunslingers: The Expendables 2 had a cast with a combined age in the hundreds and a combined box-office in the billions – Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude van Damme and Dolph Ludgren.

The most scarring moment for me – a fan of Bloodsport – was seeing Van Damme with bingo wings.

» And now for something different: Chronicle came and went with barely a blip on the cinema-goer radar.

Newly minted director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis used the “found footage” storytelling technique to chronicle the lives of three schoolboys who are inexplicably endowed with superpowers after attending a party and finding something weird in an underground cave. Clever and unforgettable.

» The most blasphemous remake: The Clash of the Titans took a perfectly good cheesy story about Greek gods, flying horses, maidens in distress and a hopeless quest, and turned it into a 3D monster of a thing that morphed the polytheism of the original – which starred Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith – into a simplistic good versus evil killfest. Special effects are no substitute for a good story.

» A cautionary tale: Sparkle is the last film – and only one of five – that Whitney Houston was in.

It’s a sweet, rather forgettable musical about a trio of sisters who thwart their mother to become stars. Houston is the mother and she sings one number in a voice that is nothing like the one that soared through I Will Always Love You. The make-up department have done their bit, but still the ravages of a life of addiction are there to be seen. What a terrible waste of talent.

» See a copy of City Press for more of Gayle’s picks of 2012

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