Someone once asked if I listened to critics as it pertains to me seeing a film or not. I said, “Yes. For the most part, I let “Rotten Tomatoes” determine my movie going.” That person then replied, “Not me. I like to think for myself and go off the beaten path. I went to see Battleship just because everyone was crushing it. Same with Red Dawn and Alex Cross.” I laughed and said, “Life is short. You only live once and I don’t like to waste time. So why waste time, that I’ll never get back mind you, seeing a bad movie?” “But don’t you like to think for yourself? Don’t you like to try things?” they replied. I put my hand on the person’s shoulder and said, “If you ate at a restaurant and got diarrhea from the food, why the hell would I go there? Just to "try it for myself" and see how it works out? I’d rather not think for myself on that one.” That’s what critics do. They get diarrhea so we don’t have to.
2012 has been a great year for movies. No seriously, a really great year for movies. This link proves it. I've seen more movies in the theater this year than I have in any year of my life. I saw some really great films and there are still so many more great films I still haven't seen. Some “good” films I just refuse to see. Les Miserables. Some, I can’t find a showing for. The Master. And some, I just don’t want to see in a theater. Silver Linings Playbook. With all the great films this year there’s no way I can see them all, so I enlisted the help of my good buddy and fellow screenwriter Greg “Doza” Mendoza. What follows is our breakdown of all things movies in 2012. Enjoy!
Greg: Come to think about it, I’ve avoided a lot of those “diarrhea” movies thanks to critics, but there were some I had to see, solely out of interest on my part. The new Silent Hill, which was so bad I don’t remember the full name.
Paris: Well, first thing’s first, would you say 2012 has been a strong year for movies?
Greg: I’ve always gone to the movies a lot. Going back to before I went to Full Sail (The film school we both graduated from), I use to watch as many movies as I could in the theater but this year, they could’ve just set me up in one of those theaters, because I was practically paying rent, if you pro-rate the ticket prices out over a month that is.
Paris: I say outside of animation, which was kind of weak this year, every genre did very well. The summer blockbusters, the Indies, the comedies, it's been a banner year all around. So lets kick this thing off by listing our top ten list. I'll go first.
|1) Zero Dark Thirty|
|9) The Dark Knight Rises|
In that order, those are the best films I've seen this year. Moonrise Kingdom was added late but it was worth it and to avoid death threats from fanboys, I added TDKR.
Greg: Here’s my list.
|9) Cloud Atlas|
|10) Les Misérables|
Paris: Really, Jack Reacher? I'd say Looper for me, honorable mention that is. Well, we got some differences, but some flicks are just universal this year. Why so high on Lincoln though?
Greg: Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Lincoln. That and it was a beautifully written movie about Lincoln and his party trying to pass an amendment to the constitution. I felt like I was really watching that event in American history happen. It’s the first movie where Lincoln was played as a real person and not just deified. He’s a real person that has people mad at him for real human reasons. He makes mistakes, he annoys people, his wife gets mad at him, and his son disobeys him. He’s just a regular guy for the first time. Also the Civil War isn’t just black or white, excuse the pun, this time around. It doesn’t play out like the “battle of good versus evil” like it is always portrayed. We finally see the “gray area” that some people had to deal with when it came to slavery. As for Looper, it was good, but for me, there were too many plot holes or things that would have made the story illogical.
Paris: Lincoln was very good. If it was not for Moonrise Kingdom, it'd still be in my top five. It was a bit of a chore to watch in some spots and the ending sucked.
Greg: What was so bad about it?
Paris: Not because Lincoln died at the end, but how are you going to make a movie about Lincoln's last days, show a theater scene at the end and have it NOT BE THE THEATER SCENE WE ALL WANT TO SEE! I felt so cheated that I wanted to ask for my money back. Steven Spielberg, you sir are a tease. It was like making a movie about Lincoln's final days and NOT SHOWING HIM GETTING ASSASSINATED! There is currently no analogy for how much that sucked!
Greg: I think Spielberg wanted some of the emotional connection with Lincoln's son because we all know what's going to happen in Ford's Theater. He was just trying to show us something that we don't already know, but I agree the assassination could have been a better climax than that ending.
Paris: Anyway, let's talk about the flick that's your number one film and my number two film, Django Unchained. You didn't get to see Zero Dark Thirty, but I'm sure when you do it'll be very high on your list. I have it above Django Unchained because it has the same thing going for it that Argo does, another film that was in both of our lists by the way. It’s hard to tell a story that we all know the ending to and make it suspenseful and BOTH films pull it off. Zero Dark Thirty more so than Argo. That and there's a Black law that says I can't make it my favorite film of the year.
Greg: Because of slavery huh? I'm guessing you also got the pay off in ZDT that you were looking for in Lincoln, the assassination of Bin Laden. By the way, Bin Laden should have been assassinated in Lincoln.
Paris: The payoff was definitely there. That last act in ZDT was shot very well. Very real, no slow-mo, just raw, real action. I mean who, outside of a terrorist that is, doesn't want to see Bin Laden get shot in the face. My friend Al said that part with Bin Laden could have been shot CSI-style. You know, bullet goes into the body, rips through the skin, travels in and out of him, microscope view. Let's just say that part was pretty sweet. But back to Django, one of my real problems with it is the "n-word" is used a lot in this film. I'd say borderline too much. Almost overkill. It was a little disjointed as well. While, there were some flat out gut-busting laughs in the film, there was also some "What the hell am I watching this for, I'm black and I need to leave the theater right now” moments. I saw it with two other Black people and we all leaned over and looked at each other several times as if to say, "Okay this is it goddamn it! This is the part we walk out on"
Greg: Hmm, I really can't wait to see ZDT then. I was hoping for that payoff because that would be one of the reasons to see that movie. For me, Lincoln's assassination wasn't as important to see, but to see a guy that most of the world sees as pure evil get killed is needed. I think that shows us how violent we are towards people we don't like. I also think the "n-word" was necessary. Would you have plantation owners call their slaves, people they treated like dirt, “African-Americans”? It added a harsh realism to the movie that I think’s missing from movies about Nazi's. Which is why Nazism seems to be reviving in parts of Europe. Lincoln's story didn't spark the outrage and the need to talk about slavery and racial issues that still exist in this country, like Django Unchained has done.
Paris: Now, I'm not as mad about the use of the word as some people are, but I do think it was a little much at times. I'm sure the word was used a lot back then, but damn! Put it this way, I heard the “n-word” so much in Django Unchained, when I heard it the one time they used it in Lincoln I was really pissed off. They were fighting a war about Black people and they're not using that word like that and I'm going to guess that the “n-word” was used a lot during the Civil War. I mean, we use the word “terrorist” a lot because of the "war on terror" we’re currently involved in, so if the same is true of the Civil War, Lincoln should have said it, the “n-word”, as much as Calvin Candie. (Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Django Unchained) Before we move on, anything on my list stand out to you?
Greg: Flight stood out. I didn't like it.
Paris: Flight is the weakest of all the films on my list, but I really think that opening sequence, with the plane crashing, was the best opening scene I saw all year. The part with the chick doing drugs intercut throws you off because she ultimately proves not to be that important to the story to be set-up in the beginning like she was. They really could’ve cut that part out and just stuck with the crash itself. It was the only time my heart was literally pounding in the theater this year. No way I could leave that film off my list. Plus Goodman was money and so was Denzel.
Greg: Not only wasn't she not important, but nothing in that story was important. His relationship with his family was an after thought and the ending "Who are you?" question from his son was incredibly dumb. Throw his family in there for some pointless personal conflict and that druggy girlfriend too. Goodman was only money because he played a version of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski and Denzel was money because it was another “Denzel Character”. I'm tired of watching “Can We Trust Denzel's Character” movies.
Paris: Fair enough, which leads us to the best performance. I'm sure we both agree Day-Lewis was the best, but I'll give an argument for Denzel because he played both the protagonist and the antagonist in the same character. When you see that, it's usually from a “split personality” or an “evil twin”, but one character and one personality embodied both protagonist and antagonist in one story. You love him and hate him equally. There was a loud gasp from the whole theater when Denzel falls of the wagon at the end. The guy was his own worst enemy without being someone different and I've never really seen that before.
Greg: I get what you're saying, but I think it could have been done a lot better. I didn't feel his character was believable. I get that good people have vices that destroy their lives, but the situations he ends up in the movie are not done to the extent they needed to be done to explain his reactions. Nor does it do anything to explain that he's an “over reactor”. I would have focused on the family, since that's the direction they wanted to take at the end. Replace the girlfriend with his son and have the son be an addict as well. Anything would have been better than what they went with.
Paris: Day-Lewis gets the nod over Denzel because while Denzel was great, I had this thought a few times watching Flight; "Damn Denzel is killing it." I never thought that about Day-Lewis. Yes, Day-Lewis had the help of Lincoln being a period piece, which always pulls you in if the costumes and sets are on point, which they were, but I never thought of Day-Lewis as an actor when I watched Lincoln. He became the 16th President to me.
Greg: As I was watching Flight, all I could think about was Denzel. “Lincoln had a Looper as a son?” That was an actual thought I had during Lincoln.