Jim’s 2012 Lists part 4: 10-6

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Top 20- Things Get Real- 10-6. The most diverse part of my list.

OK, basically every number above 10 is kind of irrelevant. Honestly, anyone who tells you that they can quantify a difference between 15 and 20 when writing a list like this takes themselves a bit too seriously. It’s like a teacher who claims their grading system is exact enough to justify a difference between an 89 and a 90. It’s just not so.

Now, we are down to the real list. I tend to obsess over thing like this and, with the exception of my number 1, which has been set in stone since I left the theater, everything else has moved around a little. So, before I reorganize again, here it is...

10) The Avengers

I was more than a little apprehensive going into this. Rarely has a movie had this much build up. I mean, how many films have had to act as the culmination of 5 essentially unrelated movies? Add to it that only one of the Iron Man films was good, Thor was... well, Thor was, Captain America was half of a good movie, and The Incredible Hulk was a good movie that happened a very long time ago, the deck felt, for me at least, fairly stacked against it.

Then it came out and people started talking about box office. Not the quality of the film, but how much money it made. That always turns me off because I feel that you should talk about what is most impressive about a film. If the most impressive thing was the box office, then it’s not something I really care to see.

But people with whom I tend agree started talking about how good it was and people with whom I tend to disagree started talking about how disappointing it was. So I had to give into the cultural zeitgeist (that’s right, I said it), and see it.

This movie is far, FAR better than it should have been. For starters, it’s fun as hell, which really is the most important thing for a movie like this. The characters are fully realized and brilliantly executed.

Joss Whedon nails it. I was a bit thrown by the choice of a TV guy for a movie like this, but if you think about it, a TV guy is the best choice. Joss excels at creating massive worlds populated with a host of interesting characters that balance big stories and small stories expertly. It’s a movie with 6 protagonists that needed a director who could manage a world. Joss nailed it.

9) Ted

I waited a very long time to see this one. When a movie comes out and people star throwing the “greatest _______ ever” thing around... I tend to shut down a little. I’ve always had the attitude that your second viewing, removed from the hype and emotion of the initial theatrical viewing, is a more accurate barometer of how you feel about a movie.

I saw Ted on video, by myself, after pulling a theatrical triple feature. So, it being my fourth movie of the day, alone on my couch, I was ready to judge it honestly.

Holy crap was it funny. Damned funny. Not funniest movie ever made, but funniest thing I’ve seen in years. When it comes to comedy, Seth MacFarlane just pins his ears back and goes full speed ahead.

Now, the story is pretty by the numbers and basically just serves as a vehicle for gags, but the gags work. Sam Jones absolutely steals the show, and I cannot remember laughing harder at anything than I did at the entire “shit on the rug” bit.

This is a juvenile movie aimed at adults who embrace the juvenile, so if you take yourself too seriously, then you are probably going to hate it. But, if you can just allow it to be what it is and have fun with it, you will laugh your stupid, stupid ass off.

8) Django Unchained

There is nothing like manufactured controversy, is there? Especially when it is one that is un-winnable. What do I mean by un-winnable? Well, Tarantino makes a movie about slavery in the United States. He makes a freed slave the hero. Aaaaannnnnnddddd.... people who are spoiling for a fight over racism LOSE THEIR GODDAMNED MINDS!!!

Of course they did. And in losing their minds, they purport to speak for an entire race of people. I can’t really comment. You see, I’m white. So, while I can understand how certain words can be inflammatory, they don’t really hit me with the same power.

All I will say is, how would Spike Lee have reacted were the term “African American” substituted? Is that what he wanted?

Would the exchange,

“Christ, Stephen! What is the point of having an AFRICAN AMERICAN that speaks German if you can't wheel 'em out when you have a German guest? Now I realize it is an inconvenience! Still, you take her ass out.”

have been better?

No. It would have sounded stupid.

Also, this is a movie that depicts a time when HUMAN BEINGS WERE PROPERTY! How the fuck is a WORD what’s offensive here?

But, let’s get past that. This is QT doing what he does best. Bad ass characters with bad ass dialogue doing bad ass things. It is brutal, funny, and entertaining as hell.

Christof Waltz is so fucking good in this that it almost pisses me off. He should be in every movie that gets made these days, and after he dies, I want a Tupac hologram of him in every movie that gets made.

Don Johnson, Tom Wopat, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jonah Hill all steal their scenes with ease.

The only reason this isn’t higher is because I had slight, and I do mean slight issues with three things in it, very brief things that were very much in keeping with the traditions of the Spaghetti Western genre, but they just made me scratch my head a little. No big deal, hell... it’s still in my top 10.

If you are easily offended in any way or are turned off by fairly brutal violence, you might want to skip this. If you are looking for a good time with one of the greatest genre tributes ever made, then check this shit out.

7) The Cabin in the Woods

Post modern film making is a tricky prospect. What I mean by “post modern” in this regard is a genre movie that admits to and plays with the fact that it is a genre movie. The genre is almost a cast member.

The Cabin in the Woods takes every horror movie convention you can think of and shifts it to the forefront, from the crazy old man warning our band of kids, to the makeup of the group, to the predictability of predictability of the outcome. All of those are exposed as just part of the world and then twisted and repurposed into something new.

This was a gamble of a movie. With something like this there is a razor thin line between brilliant and obnoxious. Not only does this movie never spill over onto the obnoxious side, it never even comes close to it.

If you are a horror fan, this movie is taylor made for you. The amount of inside jokes and references hidden and put on direct display throughout this movie is incredible. But it never feels like it’s trying to be clever, even though it is very clever.

Also, the ending is one of the outright ballsiest things I’ve ever seen, so... that’s pretty cool.

6) Eden

People, normally very self important ones, like to throw the word “important” around when talking about movies. Normally it’s code for boring and pretentious. Sometimes, though, sometimes it’s the only fitting word.

We may not like to hear it, but according to statistics there are more people held as slaves today than there have every been at any point in human history. Most are female, most are underage. Eden is the true story of a young woman survived a horrific three years of sexual slavery in THE UNITED STATES.

The movie unflinchingly shows this brutal world where young women are treated as property, rented out in a sometimes shockingly public manner. This is not a comfortable movie, but I think it is a vitally important one because it brings to light an issue that too many people are unaware of, and that no where near enough effort is put into stopping.

This movie will scare you, it will break your heart, and it will open your eyes. It’s not an easy one to watch, but it will change your outlook on some things. I am really grateful that I got to see this at South By Southwest and to hear the director talk about the process of making the film and the woman about whom it is based. I encourage people to look into this problem more, and hopefully begin to discuss how real the problem still is.

So that brings the most wide ranging part of this list to a close. Come back in a few days for the thrilling conclusion to my top 20 of 2012.



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