Sunday, September 1, 2013

ON FILM: Favorites of 2012 [Part 1 of 5]

It's late. Too late. But then again, I'm posting it.

There's a bunch of reasons why this came late: first, I'm lazy. Or it's either that or I just don't have the time or motivation. But then again, I'm lazy most of the time. Second, I've waited my chance to see other films that I've been waiting to see, so I waited this late. This is true mostly for foreign films and films that I've missed during their limited screenings. For foreign films, I've waited for them to be available online for download or for DVD releases since major film distributors here suck at selecting films to be screened on commercial venues.

2012 was a fairly good year for films. It's probably not as exciting as 2009 or 2011, but, it's still good. Quite a number of good films have been made, some of them I haven't seen yet. There are some interesting new comers and some good documentaries too. Unlike this year, already half the year passed still not much buzz on anything. Though, we're still waiting for more films to come.

Here are my 25 favorites from last year's sea of audio-visual works:

25. Argo (Ben Affleck)
If we could just dismiss the facts and politics behind, it is really a brilliant film. Of course, things has been clouded all throughout these years, there are still things yet to be told, but this one, told from their government's perspective, is told wonderfully through the eyes of Affleck. Argo told the exodus of American Embassy employees from the height of a hostage crisis on Iran by means of a fake film production.

24. Psychic School Wars (Ryosuke Nakamura)
Sunrise Studio's (Gundam series, Tiger & Bunny) adaptation of the 70's sci-fi novel Nerawareta Gakuen (rough translation: The Aimed School) which was formerly adapted into many media, most known worldwide was Nobuhiko Obayashi's psychedelic adaptation. I haven't read the novel myself, but comparing with Obayashi's adaptation, this one's completely different. Here the story focuses on the life of four students who happens to be classmates from the start of school year, one being the transfer student. The aliens or time-travelers here seem to have a less evil intention. Nakamura written and directed the film with a lighter take and leaning more to the romance element and school life, which was kind of a trend lately for anime and manga... which is not that bad either.

23. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
Carax treat lonely hearts through Denis Lavant and the other workers of Holy Motors who are actors hired to play a certain role for each client, maybe to play as a friend or a family. Kind of similar in concept as Sono's 2005 film Noriko's Dinner Table, but here's a rather cyclical look at the theme, in which a day passes, starts and ends with loneliness.

22. Isn't Anyone Alive? (Gakuryu Ishii)
Ishii returns to filmmaking with a new name and with this deadpan comedy about the apocalypse. This is a rather different Ishii film; does name change affect the style too? From punk rock to indie pop, music did a very different feel for any Ishii film. It's rather remarkable that even a master can still have room for changes. He kept up with the times, making him still relevant.

21. MNL 143 (Emerson Reyes)
Lots of works in the Philippines last year was drowned in music (ehrm, like Ang Nawawala) but this is probably the best of them. Caused uproar just weeks before the Cinemalaya, Reyes pulled his entry out of competition due to casting decisions the festival's committee wouldn't allow, and then have it finished with the aid of crowd-funding. Result was a fully independent feature, made by friends, fans of cinema, and pure love. The music here, unlike those of Ang Nawawala's, is rather little heard of too, but more grounded and struck more in the heart. It's fun, a bit awkward and hopeful despite of what it has gone through.
part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5

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