Archives For December 2012

2012 is over, and it’s time to sum up the movie year, but making a ranked list of this year’s movies is proving difficult. At the best of times I struggle to rate movies, and having to compare movies of completely different genres and qualities is next to impossible. Some movies are watched for their quality, some for their contemplative effects, and some for their special effects or simple entertainment value.

I find myself stuck with one dilemma in particular: two of my favourite movies from this year are strictly speaking 2011 releases (*), but they were released at the cinema here in January and May respectively. How to treat the movies that aren’t released in Norway until the year after original release? Some movies take ages to be released in other countries; some are screened at one or two festivals and then not seen or heard of for ages; some just take forever to be released. Should they go unmentioned, or should they take up slots on the list that would otherwise have been occupied by titles which rightfully belong?

With all this in mind, I’ve decided to disregard a traditional top 10 list, instead picking a selection of this year’s most mentionable watches and categorising them in other ways. Out of the 40 new movies I’ve seen at the cinema, and another 25 or so watched online or at home, I really feel there are so many movies that deserve a mention, but with great self-restraint, here are some of the best and worst of 2012:

Most memorable – aka the favourites:

These three movies all kicked me right in the guts. How Steve McQueen’s Shame’* did not win more awards for its direction and acting performances is an outrage and will remain forever a mystery, because this haunting movie about a man’s dysfunctional life is a masterpiece. Weekend* is in many ways Shame‘s opposite: an intimate story of connection and growing attraction. What the two movies have in common is their stripped-down display of honesty and vulnerability. As for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s been mentioned so many times on this blog already that I hardly need to add a justification here. All three will be stuck with me for a very long time.
Follow-ups: ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, ‘Killer Joe.

Most enjoyable cinema experiences: 

There have been a lot of great blockbusters this year. These may not be the best movies all things considered, but they were an absolute blast to watch at the cinema. I can’t remember the last time I had as much fun at the cinema as I did watching ‘The Avengers’. ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ was a refreshing and surprising horror flick, and ‘Looper‘ was a thrilling, action-packed sci-fi adventure. All three movies had me alternately grinning from ear to ear and gripping my seat in suspense.
Follow-ups: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘Kon-tiki‘.

Most disappointing:

Some movies had great potential, but sadly didn’t manage to live up to the expectations facing them. Sadly this was true for two of the most anticipated movies of the year. Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was by no means a terrible movie, but after the two preceding movies in the Batman trilogy, which are both masterpieces and among my favourite movies, I had really hoped and come to expect that this would be a lot better than it turned out. Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ was another movie facing massive expectations, but as impressive as the cast list and the visual effects were, a poor manuscript dragged this movie down into mediocrity. Cosmopolis was an interesting attempt at a satirical commentary on capitalism, but sadly the movie failed in every way that its thematic predecessor (and another favourite of mine) ‘American Psycho’ succeeded.
Follow-ups: ‘John Carter’, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’.

The lucky discoveries:

Actually, a fair few of the movies I’ve seen this year belong in this category, including a few of the previously mentioned, but these are a few of the movies I went to see without knowing anything about in advance, and which I greatly enjoyed.Take Shelter is a low-key, apocalyptic thriller (if you can imagine such a contradiction); Tomboy is a small and simplistic story about a big and complicated topic; The Deep Blue Sea is a tragic chamber play with outstanding acting performances.
Follow-ups: Laurence Anyways‘, ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin‘, ‘Tyrannosaur.

All in all I’m pretty satisfied with the movie year 2012. It’s been a year of many big, long-awaited titles, and some mindblowing demonstrations of visual effects, though sadly too many of these movies have been disappointing in terms of substance. It’s the smaller, darker, contemplative movies that have really shone this year, and thankfully I’m a sucker for those too.

Happy new year!

PS: I would love to hear which movies in 2012 were your favourites, and which you found most disappointing or surprising.

Mr Tumnus from 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'

After an emotional week, I’ve left behind my blankets, my hot water bottle and the power bill from hell at my frosty cold flat, and am now cozily settled in my pjs by the fire at dad’s pleasantly warm house, where I’m looking forward to a lazy, quiet Christmas celebration with my cat, my sister, dad, his wife and my remaining grandparents, enjoying Christmas movies and dangerous amounts of food in pleasant company.

Yesterday was a good first attempt at just that, with a nice, long breakfast, decorating gingerbread and watching ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ (2008; we watched ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ (2005) last night), before the arrival of my grandparents and a lengthy rakfisk dinner, while outside it was snowing lightly, providing a proper, white Christmas and the final seal on the Christmas spirit.

Today is the big day, which should consist largely of the same, as per long and strong tradition: lenghty breakfast with pickled herring; watching Three Wishes for Cinderella (‘Tri Iskory Pro Popelku’, Cze 1973) and ‘Journey to the Christmas Star‘ (‘Reisen til Julestjernen’, Nor 1976) in our pjs; rice porridge for lunch; Disney’s Christmas special; Sølvguttene’s (boy’s choir) Christmas concert, Christmas dinner consisting of pork ribs, meat patties, lefse, brussel sprouts, sauerkraut; then presents.

Traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner - photo by ANSA

I wish you all a pleasant, peaceful Christmas celebration. God jul! <3

This week has been a very emotional one, too busy or distracting for much movie watching (though that’s hopefully about to change).

On Friday, my dear, dear grandmother (bestemor) passed away. She had been in pain for quite some time, so I was relieved for her to finally have peace. As with grandpa three years ago, we all saw it coming and got to say our goodbyes and keep her company to the end, surrounded by the most idyllic wintery snow landscape imaginable, so I suppose it can be considered a quiet, relatively peaceful affair. Still, it is strange to come to terms with both of my maternal grandparents being gone, and with them the source of most of my best and strongest childhood memories. In the spirit of this, I made this childlike exhibit in her memory today:

Bestemor - 1928-2012

On Thursday I honored my longest-standing and strongest Christmas tradition. Every year Oslo Philarmonic Choir, of which my dad is a member, holds a Christmas concert with Oslo Philarmonic Orchestra at Oslo Concert Hall. Of my 25 years, I believe I have attended the last 22 (with the exception of the Christmas I spent living in Australia). Without it, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same. It’s always a very gripping experience, but perhaps moreso this Thursday because of my grandma being on her deathbed at the time. Also because after 35 odd years in the choir, this looks to be dad’s last Christmas concert as a Philarmonic choir member. He can definitely retire with his head held high: the concert was magnificent as always, in fact, it was one of the very best in many years <3

Foto:Tore Berntsen, Fotoreporter.noOslo Filharmonien Julekonsert 2009.

(On their website, you can hear a recording from the concert of my favourite Christmas song in my favourite arrangement: ‘Deilig er jorden‘.)

Didn’t plan to post two in one day, but the trailer for Night M. Shyamalan’s next movie, After Earth, has just been released!

Forgive more movie comparisons, but this is what I would imagine you get if you merge I Am Legend (2007) with Avatar (2009). Not that that’s a bad thing; this thing looks pretty hot. Both Smiths are very talented, and I think they can work really well together. I expect we’ll be in for some pretty heavy clichés, but I also think this is one of those movies worth seeing once for the cinematography alone even if the story doesn’t hold up, so this is definitely on my watchlist.

I expect Norwegian cinema release will be late June to mid-July.

Wooh! This! :D Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fischer and Woody Harrelson joined together to make Ocean’s 11 (2001) and The Prestige‘s (2006) love child!

I choose to completely overlook that the director behind this, Louis Letterier, is behind the disastrous farce Clash of the Titans (2010), and to focus on his more successful movies, Transporter (2002) and the second and considerably better Hulk adaptation attempt, The Incredible Hulk (2008) in building my expectations of this. There are magnificent actors, there are stunning effect, there’s magic: I ask you, how can this possibly go wrong??

Now You See Me has no Norwegian cinematic release date yet, but is due in Denmark on 18th July, six weeks after the US premiere, so it’s reasonable to assume it will be here by mid-July. Good times!

What do you reckon, is this something to look forward to?