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Old November 6 2012, 12:56 AM   #1168
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Re: Movies Seen in 2012

169. Where the Wild Things Are (B)
170. Apollo 13 (A)
171. Silver Linings Playbook (B)
172. Sunset Blvd. (A)
173. Something in the Air (A-)

I said I wasn't going to see any new films this year, but AFI Fest and a screening at the UCLA Film/TV archive have allowed me to break that promise for free...

Where the Wild Things Are: It's always going to be hard to turn a short children's book (ten sentences, I think) into a satisfying feature film. Director and co-screenwriter Spike Jones (writing with Dave Eggers) does a reasonable job confronting this obstacle, but there are still times when the lush visual design doesn't have a lot of story material to complement. Apparently the studio didn't market this as a children's film, which was probably a wise move; it's not an inappropriate movie for kids, but it's certainly darker than most.

Apollo 13: I think this is still Ron Howard's best-directed movie. Aside from some computer-generated effects that don't hold up fifteen years later, it remains a good historical piece that keeps tightening the tension -- even when you know how it will end.

Silver Linings Playbook: This is getting Oscar attention, but I think that has more to do with the principals (David O. Russel directing; Robert deNiro acting in a good movie!) than with the film itself. Not that it's bad or anything, but for a movie that's ostensibly about the realities of mental illness, it veers into fantasy territory an awful lot. One one hand, Jennifer Lawrence commands the screen; on the other, I never got the sense that her character was a real person.

Sunset Blvd.: For a film made in 1950, this is as deeply unsettling as ever. The cast is terrific, the script is tight as can be, and the direction never falters. Great to see on the big screen, too.

Something in the Air: Olivier Assayas' follow-up to Carlos is a more personal film that that epic, but still a movie deeply invested in exploring the universe of European politics in the late 60s and early 70s. Once again, it's a film that could never be made in the US; it never romanticizes it's subject nor turns these people into villains. They're just young people, with all the corresponding flaws and virtues you might find among any group of teenagers (they just happen to be involved in leftist politics). For a cast of mostly first-time performers, the acting is quite exceptional, too.

Theatres: 57+4
Home Video: 105+1
Computer: 10
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