Mixtapes for Hookers

The Ten Best Movies (Of The Ten I Saw This Year), Part 2


The better half of the ten movies I actually saw in 2012…


5. Moonrise Kingdom

Filmed entirely in Rhode Island—albeit in parts of the state that I can’t identify by sight—the film really focuses on the two young protagonists, with Bill Murray and Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton all swooping around them like birds causing various degrees of annoyance.

Moonrise Kingdom is SUCH a Wes Anderson film, with its kooky soundtrack, its fairytale setting, and its story about youth trying to carve their own space in the world of kooky yet largely apathetic adults. I like all of Anderson’s movies, but this is definitely one of the best. (The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite, but this is close.)


4. Holy Motors

If I were making a joke movie about the French it would contain the following elements: a tuneless musical number set in an abandoned department store full of dismembered mannequin parts; an no-nonsense but nevertheless glamourous female limosuine driver; an audience watching an old black-and-white movie; a man who is at one moment a beggar, at another moment an assassin, and at a third moment a character in a video game; and an accordion break about halfway through.

Being previously unfamiliar with the work of director Leos Carax I’m not sure how seriously to take any of this film, which is a refreshing feeling, in an odd way. In fact, I went to see this movie based on the poster, and so I assumed it was some sort of poofy Parisian Kylie Minogue musical. Nope!


 3. Detropia

The really great part of Detropia, the odd, slow-moving documentary about the Motor City, is the part about the Detroit Opera. Because in a city as notoriously poor and empty as Detroit is, opera seems like such an absurd thing. (Imagine what Michael Moore must think about the Detroit Opera, for instance, and the sort of documentary he might make about the clueless patricians who frequent it.) But this is a movie that believes in the power of the arts, as evidenced at the end, when the filmmakers pause at a lunch counter, where the woman behind the counter says her only business that day came from the opera.

I don’t know whether it’s necessary, in a documentary largely financed by the Ford Foundation, to show a blogger breaking in to an abandoned train station when, really, I bet permits aren’t hard to come by. But quibbles like that one are minor, especially in a film this visually striking and emotionally moving.

Daniel Craig;Judi Dench

2. Skyfall

I’ve been a big fan of James Bond movies since I was a teenager, when TNT (or TBS?) used to show marathons of all of the movies in a row. (The Bond zeitgeist of the mid-nineties, which manifested itself in songs by Damon Albarn, Moby, and David Holmes, also fueled my fandom.)

So when people on the internet keep insisting that this is the greatest Bond film ever, my gut nerd reaction is to ask them when the last time was that they actually saw Goldfinger, or From Russia With Love, or (my personal favorite) Diamonds Are Forever.

That said, Skyfall’s awesome. Totally, utterly, completely awesome. And rather sad, which is always nice in an action movie. A treatise on the decline of the British Empire in the half-century since Sean Connery first appeared as Bond, it’s rather relentlessly focused on the melancholy associated with aging, but it’s also extremely compelling as the narrative travels from North Africa to a creepy island to London to Skyfall, the fog-shrouded castle where Bond grew up.


1. Magic Mike

A week or two before Magic Mike came out, Bubbles e-mailed me to tell me that I had to see it. And I figured that if my favorite stripper/critic on the internet only had positive things to say about a male stripper comedy, then Magic Mike was going to be something special indeed.

I really like most of Steven Soderbergh’s movies, both the really commercial ones and also the weird ones (like Full Frontal and The Girlfriend Experience.) Magic Mike, which falls into the latter category, works because it treats sex as casually (and as positively) as its characters do.

The story of a young protege taking the place of an aging star is hardly new, but Soderbergh lets the story unfold as it wants to, and there are some unexpected surprises along the way. Among them, Channing Tatum dancing alone to “Pony” and Matthew McConaughey’s “Ladies of Tampa,” a song which deserves an Oscar nomination at least as much as McConaughey himself does.

1 Comment so far
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Good little review, but Skyfall scenes take place in Istanbul and southern Turkey, not north Africa.

Comment by Action Buddy

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