Tag Archives: The Breaking Point

Favorite Older Films I Saw in 2012

Always an awkward post title, but I can never seem to manage to figure out a good way to sum up the kind of list I’m presenting here. My list of Top 2012 Films is included in the Row Three group post over here, and to be perfectly honest, this list of the pre-2012 films I enjoyed the most this year has already been posted on not only Row Three, but it’s also expanded from a similar list posted at Rupert Pupkin Speaks, where it joined a veritable gold mine of other such lists solicited from various bloggers – they’re all worth looking through, as there’s a ton of variety among what we each managed to catch up with and love last year.

Anyway, I figured I could post it here as well, now that it’s had time to run both the other places for a bit. I should stress that this is hardly an objective list, were such a thing even possible – it’s just what I liked the best and felt most desirous to share out of my first-time watches this year, excluding 2012 releases.

What older films did you love the best in 2012?

GIRL SHY (1924)
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE (1926)
WHY WORRY (1923)

GirlShy

I’d seen Harold Lloyd’s best-known film Safety Last before, but I really consider 2012 my crash course in his comedy, with a trio of films I saw in close succession and really convinced me for sure that he belongs in the silent comedian pantheon. Girl Shy is, in fact, my favorite new-to-me film I’ve seen all year, and thanks to its sweet romance and breathtaking final chase scene, I actually liked it more than I do Safety Last. For Heaven’s Sake, with Lloyd as a millionaire bringing in street thugs and miscreants to fill up an inner-city mission’s pews to impress the preacher’s lovely daughter, is a ton of fun, too, full of insane gags and stunts. I liked Why Worry, with Lloyd as a hypochondriac who gets mixed up in the Mexican Civil War, the least of the three, but it’s still a solid film and a whole lot of fun. With these three under my belt, chalk me up a definite Lloyd fan.

THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960)

virginspring

Sometimes Ingmar Bergman films are a bit tough for me to get into – I can appreciate their austere humanism, but they often feel remote and uninvolving to me. The Virgin Spring grabbed me immediately and didn’t let me go until I collapsed at the end breathless, like the grieving father in the story. A young girl is violated by a group of men who later unknowingly seek shelter in her father’s home, whereupon he finds out what happened and exacts retribution. But nothing is so simple in Bergman’s world, and this is a deeply thoughtful and starkly beautiful film, questioning a God who allows tragedy to happen and yet also accepting that personal vengeance may not be the best way either.

THE DRIVER (1978)

The-Driver

Clearly a prototype for 2011’s Drive (a recent favorite of mine), The Driver stars Ryan O’Neal as a laconic getaway driver who’s being hunted by an arrogant cop (Bruce Dern) who wants to collar him simply because he’s never been caught. In between them are a gambling woman who may be playing both sides and a bunch of thugs who are no match for the Driver. It’s a mystery to me why this film isn’t always mentioned in the same breath with great car chase movies like Bullitt and The French Connection, because the chases here are every bit as good. Mix in the Le Samourai-esque lead character, and this film was made for me.

SOLARIS (1972)

Solaris

First of all, it took me several days to get through this meditative sci-fi film musing on love and loss. I’m not proud of that, but it can certainly be blamed on my pregnancy-related tiredness at the time rather than the film itself, although the film itself is definitely on the slow side. I actually liked the pacing and though it worked well for the kind of heady, evocative sci-fi this is. That said, because of the viewing conditions, I had difficulty holding it all in my head at once or feeling like I had a solid grasp of it by the end. I’m already looking forward to a rewatch, upon which time I think I will appreciate it even more.

THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928)

passion-of-joan-of-arc

Even Top Five placement is probably not high enough for this film, but I’m being honest, and that’s where it is at least on first viewing. The movie is an intriguing combination of austerity (sparse set design) and raw emotion (Marie Falconetti’s extraordinary face, usually seen in close-ups). I’ve seen a couple of other Dreyer films, and I generally find them a bit difficult to relate to stylistically, and I have to say I felt kind of the same tension here. I do think some rewatches will move it much higher on my list, though – it feels like the kind of film I will grow into. Also, the print on HuluPlus does not have a music track with it, and I don’t think that helped my experience.

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Scorecard: June 2012

Figured I’d try to get around to posting this before we got quite halfway through July. There’s a pretty good range on here this month, thanks to a few screenings at the LA Film Festival. I usually get to fifteen or twenty screenings there, but this year I cut it back so I wouldn’t be quite so exhausted, and only ended up at eight total, but I think it was overall a good choice. I was able to process and appreciate the ones I saw more. We’ll see if I remember that come time for AFI in November, when I also usually overschedule myself.

What I Loved

The History of Future Folk

I went into this one at the LA Film Festival fairly blind, but came out pretty much loving it. A sweet little film about an alien who comes to Earth hoping to find a place for his people to live before an approaching comet destroys his homeworld. Instead, he discovers music and settles down…until another alien is sent to kill him and continue his mission. But the film focuses on the music and the relationships rather than the sci-fi elements, though when some special effects are needed, they’re surprisingly excellent. There’s a refreshing tenderness to the script and the characters are very appealing (they’re actually a real band who have been using the alien personas as their backstory for quite some time – the movie just expands and streamlines it). A hidden gem for sure, and worth seeking out. Full review on Row Three

2012 USA. Director: John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker. Starring: Nils d’Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery, April L. Hernandez, Dee Snider.
Seen June 17 at the LA Film Festival, Regal LA Live.
Flickchart ranking: 437 out of 2990

Safety Not Guaranteed

When a local paper runs an ad for someone wanting a partner to travel back in time with him, a human interest magazine can’t resist going to try to find out what this guy’s all about – does he really think he’s built a working time machine? Over time, though, this sort-of time travel investigative comedy turns into a very good, very poignant drama about people and relationships. It would be almost incredibly easy to screw this up – make it too cutesy, or too weird, or too maudlin, or too cliched, but even though it’s clearly in a specific American indie genre, it avoids every pitfall and ends up being one of the standout films of the year. The more I think back on it, the more I love it, and a lot of that is thanks to a very strong script and a fantastically grounded lead performance from Aubrey Plaza, who’s quickly becoming a must-see favorite of mine.

2012 USA. Director: Colin Trevorrow. Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Kristen Bell.
Seen June 16 at AMC Burbank.
Flickchart ranking: 572 out of 2990

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