A silent rendition of Snow White, political robberies, the influence of religious cults, first love in the 1960s, the truth about crime and the poignant regrets of an affair. The year 2012 was a dark year for me. I liked the Oscar’s choices but I didn’t love them. The highlights came from a different reel. The Anderson auteurs, an Australian’s twisted take in Hollywood, filmmakers of Spain, Turkey and Portugal provide the best of the best for 2012. Here’s a list of films you should watch:
Blancanieves (directed by Pablo Berger)
Translation: Snow White. Yes, it’s the classic tale that Disney famously adapted to the screen for their debut. Pablo Berger’s interpretation is rather off-the-wall. Instead of a gentle princess, his Snow White is an aspiring bull fighter in Spain. It’s a film full of that vibrant energy despite being in old fashioned black and white. Like how The Artist took the style and conventions of silent Hollywood, Blancanieves takes the style and conventions of old foreign movies, bursting with creativity, heart and tragedy.
Killing Them Softly (directed by Andrew Dominik)
On CinemaScore’s scale of audience accessibility, Killing Them Softly received an F. It’s unsurprising, despite the attractive cast including Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins, the film hardly follows familiar formulas. But it doesn’t need to. Its tension puts your heart in your throat and its desolate landscape communicates its political ideas very overtly. Perhaps down your throat, but with good reason. An introduction to the brilliant Scoot McNairy who also has small roles in Argo and 12 Years A Slave.
The Master (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)
The return of Joaquin Phoenix. And what a ferocious arrival. Having taken a break of 5 years for a publicity stunt turned mockumentary, it was clear that Phoenix wanted to take risks in the roles he can commit to. His Freddie Quell is the definition of the id. Riling with brutish anguish. But there’s the tender human buried inside that’s revealed when he connects to the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, a performance equal to Phoenix’s. Mesmerising cinematography and music too.
Moonrise Kingdom (directed by Wes Anderson)
The characters of Wes Anderson movies usually have a rich past. In fact, the story that unfolds is usually the epilogue to their stories. Moonrise Kingdom details a beginning. The protagonists are a frustrated pair, and Sam has certainly suffered some loss, but their structured and scheduled journey into first love is an experience you know that sparks the rest of their lives. Anderson clearly has perfectionist fever after the meticulous production design of Fantastic Mr. Fox as there isn’t a stick out of place here.
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is no less than epic. With its grand wides that hold for several minutes at a time, it captures a beautiful but tragic contrast of nature and men. It truly earns the right to borrow the “Once Upon A Time In” label from Sergio Leone. The film is sparse and deliberately slow, but there’s a warmth in its network of characters that makes it endearing. It’s about the nature of truth and how it’s impossible to ever really understand it, only interpret it. Just like the poetry of cinema.
Tabu (directed by Miguel Gomes)
A film of two halves. Paradise and Paradise Lost. There’s an ethereal atmosphere to the film, a majesty that’s hard to capture. The first half is scattershot, cryptic and surreal, but drenched in mourning. It’s only when we come to its second half when the first makes sense. It’s approached in an unusual way where we can’t hear characters talk but hear the jungle sounds, but it makes you think about the way memory works and how we pay for the sins of the past. Thoroughly profound.