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The Big Screen 2012

Most of the movies I see are new releases at the cinema (based on French schedule) with occasional older movies watched either as part of movie festival or via good ol’ DVD at home. They’re listed in the order as I watch them.

01 | Take Shelter – just when I thought I finally made sense of the movie, I found that I actually didn’t. The acting of the leads were outstanding. [6.5/10]

02 | From up on Poppy Hill (La Colline aux coquelicots; Kokuriko zaka kara) – I expected some fantasy twist to this latest Studio Ghibli’s offering but found lollipop sweet romance instead. Love animation though. [7/10]

03 | The Artist – the silent movie of the year that’s fresh, entertaining, and bringing smile all round to the audience. [8.5/10]

04 | Carnage – who would have thought parents discussing their children’s misbehaviour would have taken such toll on the parents themselves. Witty too. To think I nearly didn’t want to watch this… [9/10]

05 | J Edgar – it’s true when people says that history is (re)written by the victor in the manner that he/she wishes. [7/10]

06 | The Unbearable Lightness of Being (L’Insoutenable Légèreté de l’Être) – Kundera’s novel was complex and so is its movie adaptation. A little too slow in parts, stretching the movie far too long. [6/10]

07 | Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Sherlock Holmes : Jeu d’ombres) – Holmes and Watson are back and entertaining as usual while they got up to their usual shenanigans. Getting tired to the cliffhanger style ending though. I know, it’s an opening for the next movie in the franchise, but still… [7.5/10]

08 | The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millénium, les hommes qui n’aimaient pas les femmes) – this US production is a toned-down version from the original Swedish movie, but no less impressive and haunting. [8/10]

09 | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (La Taupe) – Gary Oldman’s Smiley was calm and meticulous in his quest to search for a double agent amongst their highest circle of British intelligence agency. Perhaps too many flashbacks to keep track of. [8/10]

10 | The Iron Lady (La Dame de fer)- I think politician-based biopic is not my kind of movie. Too much focus on an addled-minded Lady Thatcher, as if only through dementia could we unmasked the woman behind her steely mask. [6.5/10]

11 | Gran Torino – I laughed through the portrayal of Asian families and their daily ties in life to food, but this is a movie of strong underlying message about races, the differences and the connections between people we encounter in our lives with ourselves. Even the best protection can come from the most unexpected places. [8/10]

12 | Edward Scissorhands (Edward aux mains d’argent) – I had not laugh this much while watching a movie for a long long time, while wondering why have I not watched this before already?! Terrible but hillarious stereotyping of suburban living, with a “too healthy” dose of curiosity. [9/10]

13 | Albert Nobbs – it’s good to see Dublin again (some scenes are still very much the Dublin you see today) and the cinematography is beautiful for a story with such sad ending. [7.5/10]

14 | Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) (Gainsbourg – a heroic life) – I’m not entirely sure what’s the heroic part, because what I saw was a precocious child growing into a man of little regards for others but himself. [6.5/10]

15 | Detachment – A deeply thoughtful movie on emotions and detachment right in the schoolyard, and in life, try as we could, we would not escape the pain and the loss of hope that inevitably tug us all together. [8.5/10]

16 | One Day – Terrible English accent aside, this adaptation of Nicholls’ novel was well executed, and despite already knowing how it ends, it still caught me out to see it happening. [7.5/10]

17 | Ides of March – So this is how American politics work (as we all know from reading political articles anyway) : a series of tactics and blackmails and whats not, and the man in search of power trapped because he couldn’t keep his pants on. [8/10]

18 | Crazy, Stupid, Love – Comical romance gone wrong (and rightly corrected later on) with exploration of the old age themes of “Is there one true love?”, “How do you know it?” and “When do you work on love or not?”. [8/10]

19 | Drive – I’m seemingly on Gosling marathon here! This movie is dark compared to the above two, with cold calculated moves coming from someone who’s kind and caring to those he’s loyal to. Quite bloody too. [8.5/10]

20 | I Don’t Know How She Does It – A chick flick on the career woman juggling work and family and still living (rather) fabulously, to the point of her high-flyer boss falling in love with her while she stays loyal and unmoved. Too idealistic. As if that happens in real life. Hah! [4.5/10]

21 | A Simple Life – The story is rather straight-forward, recounting the reversal of roles between a doting servant and her master turning into her caretaker. The running time may be too long, but its cinematography simple yet effective, and it invites us to think of the treatment of the olds but today’s younger generation. [7.5/10]

22 | Hunger Games – Adapted from the first of trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the storyline has stayed close to the book, with a well-assembled cast. If only the shaky camera method thing was employed a little less… [7/10]

23 | La terre outragée (Land of Oblivion) – This movie tells the story of the aftermath of Chernobyl, and how life before and after the disaster plays out. I do wonder, what do people buy at the gift shop after a tour of Prypiat and Chernobyl today? In fact, I also wonder who came up with the tour idea in the first place! [6.5/10]

24 | The Reader – The burden and shame of illiteracy drove a young woman into becoming an SS guard and subsequently a prisoner through a series of events. Meanwhile the burden and shame of silence drove her former young lover into becoming a man who inspired her to learn to read despite his trying to maintain an emotional distance away from her. [8/10]

25 | 2 Days in Paris – It was years since I saw this comedy previously and given the recent release of 2 Days in New York, I decided to refresh my memory of the movie. I remember it being humorous and ironic, but this time, I find certain parts just a tad too annoying. Now I wonder if it is wise to watch the sequel? [4/10]

26 | Le Policier (The Policeman) – This is a rather odd Israeli arthouse movie. With storyline running largely in two (disconnected) parts, it is almost certain anyone who watches it would have felt lost and questioned what was exactly the link between the parallel plots. I looked out for the elusive link but found a feeble one, which still left me confused and feeling something was still missing. Beautiful cinematography though. [6.5/10]

27 | Le Hérisson (The Hedgehog) – A glimpse into the life of inhabitants of a posh Parisian building and the intricacies of social standings between the privileged and the employed. Truly enjoyable, although I think I prefer the book from which this film is adapted from better. [7/10]

28 | Twixt – Maybe it was the trailer. I was expecting something a little bit more haunted, but it turns out to be a little bit more comic (to me, anyway). The mood that was building up got rudely interrupted, and it was back to square one. [5/10]

29 | The Dangerous Liaisons (Les liaisons dangereuses) – An interesting movie filmed entirely in France (the origin of the story afterall) even if I find the character of Vicomte de Valmont a tad more as a creep than a charmer (other sees differently). [7/10]

30 | Dark Shadows – The genius (albeit slight mad) of Tim Burton is manifest once again through a strong cast of excellent thespians, running through a storyline of love that transcends the centuries and a witch’s wrath that aims to destroy it all. [8/10]

31 | Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries; Carnets de Voyage) – To get to know Che (Guevara) before he became Che, this film depicts the young idealistic man whose encounters with those of a different social class than his brought out the egalitarian in him, a turning point of his life to make him the person he is known for today. [7.5/10]

32 | Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os) – This is a rather unlikely love story, but it works, and the lesson at the end of the day is to accept what you are willing to accept or compromised on, but not to put up on rubbish that you’re unhappy with. [8/10]

33 | 11 Flowers (11 fleurs) – At 11 years old, the world is seen through a different eyes, and even the Cultural Revolution of China doesn’t seem like something out of the norm. A film of subtle ways to look into the life during Mao’s administration interlaced with innocence of a child whose sense of what’s important differs from those of the adults. [7.5/10]

34 | On the Road (Sur la route) – The aim of this film to capture the spirit of the Beat Generation somehow never quite translated to the big screen. After what seems like mindless and endless scenes of self-indulgence and lost directions, the film lost me too. [3/10]

35 | Moonrise Kingdom – If you are looking for fresh cinematic storytelling, look no further. A pair of young teenagers in love and running away together leads to a wild chase and unlikely adventures. Absolutely adore the retro style, entertained by the dysfunctionality of the characters, and there’s a magic somewhere that I couldn’t describe. [9/10]

36 | Mirror Mirror – Ah the comical interpretation of the tale of Snow White – not much in substance but good for a lazy and wet evening in under the duvet. [5/10]

37 | Sweet and Lowdown (Accords et désaccords) – Woody Allen’s faux documentary about a legendary guitarist, second best in the world after Django Reinhart, was for most part light-spirited but after one too many time of proclaiming the “I’m second best guitarist in the world” I shut down a little… [6.5/10]

38 | The Tiger and the Snow (La tigre e la neve; Le Tigre et la Neige) – Benigni is ever the busy bee, manic in his method, charming in his own way. He would do just about anything for his loved ones, evoking poignancy in comedy. [7.5/10]

39 | To Rome With Love – Woody Allen is back with another tourism-promoting genre crowd pleaser but I was happy to take it as it is. The movie was a comedic view into human nature while featuring the beautiful city of Rome which I have greatly miss. Coming out happy, I guess that was all that mattered. [7/10]

40 | The Dark Knight – a little revision before the third part of Nolan’s trilogy hit the big screen, it was rather surprising how much I’ve forgotten since I first saw this in 2008. And a small confession – I still haven’t seen the first part so I really ought to watch it some day. My feeling watching this second instalment for a second time – a lot more appreciation for the role of hero vs villain and their subtle differences in psychology. [7/10]

41 | The Dark Knight Rises – ok, seriously, hands up, who wants a Batpod? I could watch the action sequence over and over; it was just that cool. The finale to the trilogy was gritty, unexpected in parts (alright, unexpected only because I don’t read comic books and I haven’t even seen The Batman Rises, so I haven’t even a clue who Ras-al-Ghul was…) but overall very well produced in my opinion. I like how the story ended. Sweet without being cloyingly so. [8.5/10]

42 | Paris-Manhattan – A veritable chick-flick with quite a lot of fluff and Woody Allen-worship, it’s a typical story of girl meeting boy but not considering him a prospect until right up in the end, ding!, “he’s the man of my life”. Dysfunctional family helps to vary the storyline a little, and a cameo by Woody Allen put a little dazzle in the movie. [5/10]

43 | Manhattan – Following in the heel of Woody Allen-guest appearance movie, it’s Woody Allen-directed and starred movie, Manhattan. A man who insisted that his young lover must not fall in love with him, while dallying on the side with his best friend’s mistress, this movie is epitome of dysfunctional relationships but in the end, the closet romantic springs out anyway. [6/10]

44 | Tetro – Every family has its share of skeletons, and the Tetrocinis are no exception. What began as tensed reunion between two brothers unravelled through artistic differences and the obstinance in one brother to probe and meddle where the other wanted to be left alone. Charged and dramatic. Not usually my style of movie, but I’m digging it. [8/10]

45 | Cherchez Hortense (Looking for Hortense) – It is a movie of certain peculiarity, exploring the intricately linked human relationships and yet somehow, often, warmth and closeness does not correlate to blood or marital ties. The title confused me initially, since no character was named Hortense in the movie. Turns out, Hortense is an allusion to someone important, and to look for Hortense is to search for someone whose figure loom large in one’s life. [6/10]

46 | Quelques heures de printemps (A Few Hours of Spring) – Released from prison and penniless, it’s a hard-knocked life when topped with frosty relationship with one’s mother and inability to connect with another woman except for the physical. To have to then deal with the issue of euthanasia when his ailing mother insisted on dying with dignity, emotional turmoil abounds. [7/10]

47 | Después de Lucía (After Lucia) – Half way through the film, I didn’t think I could finished it. It was too tough to watch. If you want to know how horrible bullying in school can be, look no further. And for a 17-years old to hide the pain from her grieving father following her mother’s death, when she went missing, her father inevitably lost the plot. Harrowing. [6/10]

48 | Dans la Maison (In the House) – I am not sure how to categorise this movie. A classroom tale of a French teacher who found a student of his a gifted author in making, albeit rather voyeuristic in his writing style. His mentorship in return feeds an addictive need to know what’s next, with his student goading him as time goes on. Fascinating interplay. [8/10]

49 | Amour – the topic of (slow) death in old age is explored in this movie, making it poignant, moving and sad. A movie with the title of Love comes with reasonable expectation of something strong and positive, but in the face of death, it brings alternate emotions of anger, despair, hope, determination and resignation. [7.5/10]

50 | Frankenweenie – Burton revisiting an old work and bringing with it a tale of love that tries to breach beyond the gate of death. The animation is more adorable than sinister-like, and with reasonably short running time, it’s good for a quick reprieve from the day-to-day. [7.5/10]

51 | Skyfall – the latest 007 instalment has many theatrical moments but its enemy in the form of a former agent gone rogue is just genius and a very superbly-played character. Also love the new Q and his perfect portrayal of the new breed of savvy geeks in the world (hurrah!). Illogical-ish ending but spectacular nonetheless. [8.5/10]

52 | Au Delà des Collines (Beyond the Hills; Dupa dealuri) – when godly love and worldly love collides and they seem mutually exclusive, reconciliation may be sought in the form of unnecessary exorcist and perhaps not the best of solution. [6/10]

53 | A Royal Affair – two worlds – one of suffocation within role of unloved Queen of Denmark, one of liberation and rights to all citizen by a trusted doctor to the King of Denmark – the resulting affair among rise (and fall) of power makes this an interesting historical drama. [7.5/10]

54 | Argo – when American consular staff found themselves on the run following Iranian storming of its embassy, a sci-fi movie was used to create a cover story so exfiltration can be carried out to rescue them. Predictable movie but seat-gripping nonetheless. (Such a shame much of the movie is pretty much created based on artistic licence rather than actual turn of event.) [8.5/10]

55 | Life of Pi – several friends loved this movie, which piqued my interest. Great visuals and use of the 3D technology, but perhaps I was too focused on the story told on surface that I simply missed the point of revelation that makes one “believe in God”. [7.5/10]

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