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my year in movies, 2012.

Here is my year in film. I’m hoping this isn’t the only list this year, but there is a good chance it will be. Boo.

Just like last year, I broke it down by month to make it easier to read, and to see illustrate just how much this year was a feast or famine affair, perhaps more than ever.

The key is mostly the same as always:
(#) Movie I saw in the theater.
[#] Movie I saw for the first time.
E# Movies I watched with Emily.
Favorites (These underlined films cannot be movies I saw this year for the first time, or movies I have only seen once, they have to be movies that have been able to stand up viewing after viewing, and still keep me coming back for more.)
*Best movies I’d never seen before. (It doesn’t matter when these movies came out, I saw them for the first time this year, and they were awesome. I was probably too liberal with my asterisks, I just couldn’t help myself.)
Noir Movie Fest.
Halloween Movie Fest.


1. Kung Fu Panda 2 [1] E1
2. Battle Royale [2]
*3. The Secret of Kells [3] E2

apr-12-2012-12-54-25am 4. Bellflower [4]
*5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes [5]
*6. The Guard [6] E3
7. Moneyball [7] E4
8. Labyrinth – E5
*9. Midnight in Paris [8] E6
10. The Hangover: Part II [9] E7
*11. 50/50 [10] E8
*12. Take Shelter [11]

2011_take_shelter_002 13. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark [12]
14. Drive – E9
15. Tangled – E10
16. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
*17. Win Win [13] E11

win-win3 18. Trollhunter [14]
19. Being Elmo [15] E12
*20. The Secret World of Arrietty [16] (1) E13
*21. Of Gods and Men [17] E14

gods_and_men_010 *22. 21 Jump Street [18] (2) E15
23. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame [19]
24. The Promotion [20] E16
*25. The Hunger Games [21] (3) E17
26. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop [22] E18
*27. The Trip [23] E19
28. London Boulevard [24] E20
*29. Certified Copy [25]
*30. Martha Marcy May Marlene [26]

MMMM 31. Bringing Out the Dead [27]
32. Submarine [28]
33. Animal Kingdom [29]
34. OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus [30]
35. A Dangerous Method [31]
*36. Cabin in the Woods [32] (4)

cabin-in-the-woods_02 37. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil [33]
38. Hesher [34]
39. Ocean’s Eleven
40. Shaolin Soccer [35]
*41. Sukiyaki Western Django [36]
*42. The Descendants [37] E21
43. The Five-Year Engagement [38] (5) E22
44.Down By Law [39]
45. Cold Weather [40]
46. Blow-Up [41]
47. Haywire [42] E23
*48. The Avengers [43] (6) E24

the-avengers *49. The Avengers (7) E25
50. Iron Man – E26
*51. Rebecca [44]
52. Rosemary’s Baby [45]
53. Captain America – E27
54. Chronicle [46]
*55. Shame [47]

Michael-Fassbender-in-Shame 56. Videodrome [48]
57. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut [49]
58. The Great Dictator [50]
*59. The Tree of Life [51]

the-tree-of-life-35 60. Cul-de-Sac [52]
61. The Woman in Black [53]
62. Ultimate Avengers: The Movie [54]
63. The Thin Red Line [55]
64. Harold and Maude [56]
65. Sherlock Jr. [57]
66. Heathers [58]
67. Prometheus [59] (8)
68. Laura [60]
69. The Pianist [61] E28
70. Carnage [62] E29
*71. Moonrise Kingdom [63] (9)

moonrise-kingdom-22 *72. In the Mood for Love [64]

in-the-mood-for-love 73. Adam’s Rib [65] E30
74. Le Samourai [66]
75. My Week with Marilyn [67] E31
76. Witness for the Prosecution [68]
77. The Battleship Potemkin [69]
*78. Paths of Glory [70]
79. Brave [71] (10) E32
80. High Sierra [72]
*81. Notorious [73]
82. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [74]
83. Night and the City [75]
84. Sunset Boulevard
85. The Big Sleep
*86. The Amazing Spider-Man [76] (11) E33
87. Pickup on South Street [77]
*88. Ace in the Hole [78]

5yK5ybx9nU9YprJEgaYHV3NlWhc *89. The Big Heat [79]
90. Kiss Me Deadly [80]
*91. Gilda [81]
92. Leave Her To Heaven [82]
93. Gun Crazy [83]
94. Shadow of a Doubt [84] E34
*95. The Killers (1946) [85]
96. The Maltese Falcon
97. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) [86]
*98. In a Lonely Place [87]
*99. The Lost Weekend [88]
100. Double Indemnity
101. The Dark Knight Rises [89] (12)
102. White Heat [90]
*103. The Sweet Smell of Success [91]

SweetSmell_070Pyxurz 104. Scarlet Street [92]
*105. Touch of Evil [93]
*106. Mildred Pierce [94]
107. The Asphalt Jungle [95]
*108. Out of the Past [96]
*109. The Lady from Shanghai [97]
110. The Naked City [98]
111. The Night of the Hunter [99]
112. Strangers on a Train [100]
113. The Killing [101]
*114. Batman: Year One [102]
115. The Shop Around the Corner [103] E35
*116. The Long Goodbye [104]
117. Lilo & Stitch [105] E36
118. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [106]
*119. Beasts of the Southern Wild [107] (13) E37

2012_beasts_of_the_southern_wild 120. Justice League: Doom [108]
121. Friends with Kids [109] E38
*122. Spartacus [110]
123. Swingers

615203-swingers 124. Batman: Under the Red Hood
*125. Anatomy of a Murder [111]

Z7ZxE *126. Rififi [112]
127. Sleeper [113]
128. The Campaign [114] (14) E39
129. John Carter [115]
130. Blackthorn [116]
131. All-Star Superman [117]
132. Spy Game – E40
133. The Raid: Redemption [118]
134. Jiro Dreams of Sushi [119] E41
135. The Man from Earth [120]
136. Badlands [121]
137. Sucker Punch [122]
138. Our Hospitality [123]
139. A Hard Day’s Night [124]
140. Goon [125]
141. Witness [126]
*142. Looper (15) [127] E42
*143. 2046 [128]

2046-2004-19-g 144. Shaun of the Dead – E43
145. Frankenstein [129]
146. From Russia with Love
147. Bride of Frankenstein [130]
*148. Cabin in the Woods
149. Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face) [131]
150. Bubba Ho-Tep [132]
151. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
152. Halloween [133]
153. A Nightmare on Elm St. [134]
154. The Innkeepers [135]
155. Friday the 13th [136]
156. Eraserhead
157. The Invisible Man [137]
158. Ringu [138]
*159. The Exorcist [139]
160. Arthur [140]
*161. Indie Game [141]

Indie-Game-The-Movie 162. The Fog [142]
163. Zombieland
164. Pontypool
165. An Affair To Remember [143] E44
166. Goldfinger [144]
*167. In America [145] E45
168. Sound of Noise [146]
*169. Skyfall [147] (16) E46

skyfall whysoblu 7170. Roxanne [148]
171. Wreck-It Ralph [149] (17) E47
*172. In the Heat of the Night [150]
173. Being There [151]
174. Amores Perros [152]
175. The Promise: The Making of The Darkness on the Edge of Town [153]
176. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) [154]
177. Mansome [155]
*178. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part One [156]
179. The Dirty Dozen [157]
180. Marathon Man [158]
*181. Seven Psychopaths [159] (18)

seven-psychopaths4 182. The Meaning of Life [160]
183. Midnight Run [161]
184. The Watch [162]
185. L.A. Story [163]
186. Bernie [164]
187. Sleepwalk with Me [165]
*188. Sound of My Voice [166]


189. Young Adult [167]
190. Sexy Beast [168]
191. Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap [169]
*192. Magic Mike [170] E48
193. The Nightmare Before Christmas
194. Christmas Vacation
195. Love Actually – E49
196. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral [171]
197. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [172] (19) E50
198. Medicine for Melancholy [173]
*199. ParaNorman [174] E51

paranorman200. Lockout [175]


halloween movie fest, 2012: nights 11-15.

Night Eleven: The Invisible Man

“Power, I said! Power to walk into the gold vaults of the nations, into the secrets of kings, into the Holy of Holies; power to make multitudes run squealing in terror at the touch of my little invisible finger. Even the moon’s frightened of me, frightened to death!”

This was a good one. Dated, but more than worth 71 minutes. Claude Rains was awesome, even though you never see his face while he is delivering lines. The special effects were crazy impressive for a movie from 1933. All-in-all it was just a solid way to spend a little over an hour, catching up on some movie history from the early days of “talkies.”


Night Twelve: Ringu

“It’s not of this world. It’s Sadako’s fury. And she’s put a curse on us.”

Having only seen the American remake, I was looking forward to checking out this cult classic. It’s a hugely celebrated film internationally. Sadly, I only thought it was ok. Part of that was because there were no surprises, and the low budget scares in Ringu just weren’t as jarring as the big budget ones in The Ring (at least in college when I last saw The Ring). That may be blasphemous, but I can’t control what scares me and what doesn’t.

I didn’t dislike the movie, I just didn’t fall in love with it the way so many have. It was a decent story, told fairly well, with strong acting throughout.

And of course, it can’t be all bad. Hiroyuki Sanada is in it, and if I was a woman I would totally be willing to have his babies. Which makes me want to watch the rest of his movies I’ve seen again.


Night Thirteen: The Exorcist

Father Damien Karras: Where is Regan?

Demon: In here. With us.

I’ve finally seen The Exorcist. I’d put it off for so long, even though it is by far one of the most celebrated horror movies of all time. For so long, I was scared to watch it, or at least part of me was. Alas, I finally saw it, and it wasn’t even that scary, what with the aging process and all.

However, while it isn’t that scary anymore in 2012, it is still a really great movie. I think people miss so much beauty and great filmmaking because they are caught up on whether or not it should be called the scariest movie of all time. Sure, they could have fleshed some stuff out a little better, engaged a few topics with more skill, but it was still really good. The story of Father Karras, a brilliant psychiatrist who has lost his faith, was genuinely compelling to me. I wasn’t engaged by the movie because of the scary demon moments, I was engaged because of the relationships, because of the quiet way William Friedkin told the story in between the shocking demon outbursts.

**Spoiler, in case you plan to watch it eventually

I know it was a bit melodramatic, but I really loved the scene when Father Karras is downstairs because the demon had been pretending to be his dead mother, and he was too shaken to continue. Then Regan’s mother, Chris, walks in and asks if it’s over, he says no. Then she asks if Regan is going to die, and in that moment we see his resolve stiffen, and he remembers the innocent life at stake, and he looks back at Chris and firmly says, “No.” Then he decisively walks back upstairs to face all the forces of hell, eventually sacrificing his own life to save the young girl’s.


Night Fourteen: The Fog

“Nick, his wounds are covered with algae, his lungs are full, and there’s silt in his fingernails. I tell ya, I saw Dick Baxter three days ago in Salinas. Now he’s lying there on the table looking like he’s been underwater for a month.”

I was supposed to watch The Descent, but a barely discernibly crack on the disc made the Blu-ray start part way through the movie on one player, and made it so the PS3 wouldn’t even acknowledge there was a disc in it. Thus, the night’s film became John Carpenter’s The Fog instead.

Holy shit balls was this movie stupid. Every single moment of it. From the ridiculous and farfetched story at its core, to the complete failure to build tension or deliver a single moment of entertainment. There is always the chance it was just my mood last night, since we always ignore that far too much when engaging any sort of art. Still, I think I would have hated this one no matter what.

The fact that this movie is on two lists on iCheckMovies and Pontypool is on zero is proof life isn’t fair.


Night Fifteen: Zombieland

“You are like a giant cock-blocking robot, like, developed in a secret fucking government lab.”

Finishing with two of my favorites, in a zombie movie mini-marathon, on Halloween night.

Zombieland is a cocktail of just the right parts funny, sweet, and gross. I’ve seen it four or five times now, and I am sure it will be a part of many Halloween Movie Fests to come.


Night Sixteen: Pontypool

“The whole world can hear you breathing. It’s fine, you’re breathing. That’s your top news story.”

Hot damn, this movie is so good. I love it. This was my third time seeing it, and it is still just as good. It is a wildly original riff on the zombie sub-genre, based on Tony Burgess’s book Pontypool Changes Everything. It doesn’t get the respect and attention it deserves, perhaps because it is from Canada and all, but that’s just not fair.

The Rotten Tomatoes synopsis states that Pontypool is: “Witty and restrained but still taut and funny, this Pontypool is a different breed of low-budget zombie film.” I think that is actually a pretty great synopsis based on my experience of the film.

Some folks might bitch about the liberties taken with the zombie genre, like folks did after 28 Days Later, but that’s how genres and sub-genres are supposed to work. That’s what happens when a genre is healthy and vibrant. People take the rules and tropes of a genre, and they move things around and imagine new ways of seeing things. A genre is supposed to be a conversation, allowing different themes and ideas to be explored within a certain framework, like jazz… it isn’t supposed to be sheet music that everyone has to play note for note over and over and over.

Also, some folks associated with Pontypool have said, “Oh, this isn’t a zombie movie. We call them ‘conversationalists.'” Still, it clearly is a riff on the zombie genre, whatever they want to say. You don’t have a cameo appearance by one of the most famous zombie actors in history, Boyd Banks, if you aren’t trying to draw comparisons.

The film is tense and troubling more than it is scary, and most of the violence happens off-screen.

You should watch this movie. I’ll watch it with you. I’ll even hold your hand if that makes you feel better.


halloween movie fest, 2012: nights 1-5.

Night One: Shaun of the Dead

“Who died and made you fucking king of the zombies?”

Shaun of the Dead was a way to kick things off by watching a movie that isn’t just one of my all-time favorite horror-related movies, it is one of my all-time favorite movies, period. It is largely responsible for my foray into all things zombie, as well as one of the primary reasons for HMF. I’ve seen it many, many times, and while I think that I will take a break from it for a few years after having seen it at least once a year since it came out, I know I will see it many, many times more.


Night Two: Frankenstein

Henry: “Look! It’s moving. It’s sha — it’s… it’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive! It’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive! It’s ALIVE!”

Victor: “Henry… in the name of God!”

Henry: “Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

Among the most censored movies in history, in its time it was hugely controversial. The State of Kansas originally wouldn’t let the film be screened within its borders unless nearly half the film was edited out. That’s smart thinking, because when people watched the full version they went around throwing little girls into lakes, choking professors, burning down windmills, digging up corpses… it was anarchy. Since watching the film, I’ve already tried to reanimate monsters on four separate occasions. That wouldn’t have happened if I could have watched the cut-down Kansas version, which I imagine is just a story about a guy who gets really stressed out with some unseen experiments, burns out, gets nursed back to health by his fiance, has a super fun Bavarian wedding party, after which the village celebrates, Lakers fan style, by burning down a windmill.

One of the primary edits was that when Frankenstein achieved success and shouts, “Now I know what it feels like to be God!”, Universal had to cover that up with a thunder peal, leaving the line unheard by the general public for a number of years. It was an important line. It helped hammer home a point about what happens when scientific progress is divorced from morality. Yet, The Man wanted it removed. It just goes to show you that censorship is a mature, intelligent response to things that make us uncomfortable.

Watching as the film version of Frankenstein’s monster is on screen for the first time, I wondered what it would have been like to be in a theater in 1931, seeing the monster for the first time. I grew up with the monster firmly embedded in popular culture, and in a very different time technologically and culturally. I’ve seen far scarier things than Frankenstein, and I’m far less sheltered from cultural artifacts that might be troubling or traumatic. That wasn’t so in 1931. I can only imagine the impact it would have had on me, if I’d been able to witness the unveiling of the monster with virgin eyes. It’s fun to go back and watch the birth of something that forever changed the course of future pop culture forever, even if in this case the plot is almost entirely nonsensical in a complete departure from the book. Once you see that the name of the main character is changed to “Henry Frankenstein,” (They mix up everyone’s names for seemingly no reason.), you know that things are going to be a little silly. Still, visually the film brings a lot to the table, and its impact on the rest of film history makes it more than worth the 70 minute runtime. By all accounts, Bride of Frankenstein is a superior movie, I am hoping all accounts are accurate.


Night Three: Bride of Frankenstein

“Made me from dead. I love dead… hate living.”

This is going to be spoiler heavy, so read at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

This movie is a classic, but it is a classic within the monster movie genre, so it will certainly have more shortcomings than some other classics from the same period.

Still, even with this in mind there were some massive misfires, the primary example being the little people Doctor Pretorius grew in jars. What the fuck? Maybe if they were bizarre, creepy little people, grotesques of some kind, they would have fit the film thematically, but they were just normal looking little people who squeak like cartoon mice. It was unreasonably stupid.

Also, if everyone knows that Henry Frankenstein created the monster out of corpses, why is he not held accountable when so many people are killed? This angry, irrational mob is pretty quick to ignore any link between Frankenstein and the body count. Maybe they are a more forgiving, gentler angry mob?

Still, while there is plenty of narrative absurdity at play, and there is tons more I didn’t even mention, it’s still pretty fun to see the growth of the monster movie. And Doctor Pretorius was a really great mad scientist when he wasn’t in a scene with tiny people in jars. He was delightfully creepy and amoral. There is a lot to look past, but if you can, there is a movie with some decent heart and some enjoyable visuals. Karloff was able to portray a homicidal monster you could really care about… you know, invite over for dinner and a smoke, leave your kids with while you went out for a dinner with the spouse. Bride also upped the ante on violence from the first one, which is perhaps just because there was no onscreen child violence. Seriously though, Frankie really fucked some dudes up in this one, especially the murderous assistant.

Side note: Apparently, it is culturally appropriate to refer to both the Dr. and the monster as Frankenstein, both are enough a part of the cultural vernacular to be considered proper uses. I always just thought it was misuse, but wikipedia points to three legitimate sources that claim otherwise.


Night Four: The Cabin in the Woods

“Cleanse them, cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe in the crimson of… Am I on speakerphone?!?”

As I’ve said before on this very blog, Cabin in the Woods is “a smart, original, scary, hilarious, crazy fun deconstruction of the genre.” It isn’t the first movie to make light of the ‘college kids go away to party at a cabin in the woods and get killed off one by one’ sub-genre, but it is my favorite. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a straightforward cabin in the woods movie, just movies playing with it in unconventional ways (like: Evil Dead 1 & 2 and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.) I’ll have to think about that more to confirm it.

Anyway, now for spoilers:

I won’t go into an long essay about the topic, but I think my reading of the film is that we are the angry gods that demand violence and punishment. I know, we are already clearly supposed to be the folks in the control room detachedly watching the brutal killings, but I think it is also to placate something dark and sinister, not deep inside the earth, but deep inside us as a species. I’ve never derived joy from watching people die on screen, even when I enjoy movies where that happens. I’ll never be the guy who gets into so called ‘torture porn’ movies like Hostel. Yet, I know it is pretty common throughout history for humans to demand violence and death, whether it be through straightforward human sacrifice, capital punishment, or gladiatorial combat. It isn’t God or gods that demand sacrifice for our transgressions, it is our own bloodlust and psychosis. Yet, maybe that is just my affection for gay, Catholic theologian James Alison talking. (Seriously though, read him, he’s amazing.)

It is we who fear that our own violent tendencies will overflow and destroy us all if we do not find an outlet for them.

“Good job, zombie hand.”


Night Five: Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face)

“They’ve removed all the mirrors, but I can see my reflection in the glass when the windows are open. There are lots of shiny surfaces… a knife blade, varnished wood… My face frightens me, my mask frightens me even more.”

Eyes Without a Face is a French film released in early 1960 in France, and in 1962 in the US. It is a quiet, poetic, subdued film revolving around genuinely disturbing acts.

After being the one to blame for an auto accident which massively disfigured his daughter’s face, Dr. Génessier begins abducting pretty young women in the hopes of transplanting a new face onto his daughter. Two of the main characters in the film commit unspeakable evil in such a matter-of-fact way, detached from how genuinely horrible their actions are. Yet, the film’s near stillness is lyrical, adding a contrast that can be seen in all sorts of similar films since. If this movie were made today, it would most likely be torture porn, upping the ante throughout the film to try and disturb the audience more and more. Yet, while Franju definitely has some off-putting shots by 1960 standards, the focus always remained on the psychological and relational aspects of what was happening, not on the gore. Personally, it’s not a film I’ll return to year after year, but it is understandable why this film is so firmly rooted in the horror canon. It’s certainly another reason I’m glad I do this every year.



something wicked this way comes: halloween moviefest 2012.

Ever since I stopped posting on RtM, people have been clamoring for the blog’s return. I can’t tell you how many people have just been begging for more posts.

Okay, so, actually, no one even noticed I’d stopped. I’m actually coming back for one reason, and one reason only: Halloween Movie Fest 2012. It’s that time of year when I will watch a different Halloweenish movie every day for two weeks to expand my genre horizons. For those new to the fest, it started back in 2009, because I had very little experience with horror movies, but I knew good ones had to be out there waiting for me to watch them. I decided to watch a different horror movie every day (along with some non-horror, but similarly themed, so that my wife could watch one or two as well). HMF2009 was so great, I decided I always needed to do Halloween Movie Festivals, and that I needed to try the same thing with various other genres.

This year, I’m taking some chances on films I wouldn’t normally watch, both to increase the number of films I’ve never seen before, and because that seems to be in the spirit of the original HMF. Yet, looking back on past lists, it reminds me how many great movies I’ve seen this way that I haven’t rewatched in too long. Maybe I will make HMF2013 a greatest hits, spending the month of October watching all my favorite thematically appropriate fare. Although, don’t get me wrong, I still included a few of my favorites for this year’s list.

For 2012, this is going to be a pretty low-key blog series. I have too much to write for school to be writing a lot about each film. I’m still hoping I’ll actually have time to watch one of the films every day. Yet, at the very least, I’ll throw together a mass post at the end with a response to every film I watched for this year’s celebration of all things spooky, or creepy, or scary, or whatever.

As usual, Brian will be my trusty sidekick through much of the series, but I am also hoping other people will come along for the ride. There is a pretty wide variety of films, that cater to lots of different folks, whether they be interested in getting scared (which is always more fun in community), or in watching family fare with a macabre twist, or everywhere in between. I’m also adding more movies than there will be days, in the hopes that as Halloween gets closer I can get in the holiday spirit by watching two or three in a day, then maybe have a “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” dance party.

Here is the (slightly tentative) list for this year, not necessarily in the order they will be watched:

  • Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  • Halloween (1978) [I’ve never seen any of the old slasher films, so I figure I might as well check them out some time. Maybe drinking will be needed to make it more interesting?] 
  • Nightmare on Elm St. (1984)
  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Pontypool (2008)
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  • Eyes Without a Face (1960)
  • The Descent (2005)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
  • Zombieland (2009)
  • The Innkeepers (2011)
  • ParaNorman (2012) [This is assuming it is still playing at The Crest next week.] 
  • Frankenweenie (2012)
  • The Invisible Man (1933)
  • Ringu (1998)
  • The Exorcist (1973) [I’ve never seen this movie. Part of me is still scared to watch it.]
For the locals who’d like to watch any of these movies with me, let me know and hopefully that can be arranged.

cabin in the woods.

Cabin in the Woods is a really good time. I won’t spoil anything for anyone, but it’s a smart, original, scary, hilarious, crazy fun deconstruction of the genre.

Joss Whedon, I love you.

Also, Cabin in the Woods and this week’s Parks and Rec got me a much needed Bradley Whitford fix. It’s been too long, my friend.