There really hasn’t been much out there to shout about this year in film, but I did find a few gems that I thought were worthwhile. Some were mainstream, some indies and a few that just fell off the radar, but should be available for viewing on DVD.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2- We got to know Harry, Herminie and Ron as kids at Hogwarts and grow into young adulthood through their adventures. Love gained, love lost, mystery, suspense, the battle between good and evil, honor and true friendship was explored through these characters the audience had grown to care over the past ten years. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fitting end to a great series and like a fine wine, it starts off as a delicious taste with robust middle, finally ending with a perfect finish.
DRIVE- Ryan Gosling steals the show as the quiet, stuntman by day, getaway driver by night surrounded by an eclectic assortment of characters that include the talented Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Brian Cranston and a great performance by director/actor Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose the bad guy gangster you love to hate. Combined with a great soundtrack and stylishly directed by Nicholas Winding Refn make this neo-noir film a must see.
CAPTAIN AMERICA-THE FIRST AVENGER- Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is transformed from a 90 pound weakling into a super soldier to battle the evil Red Skull (magnificently portrayed by Hugo Weaving) and his Hydra horde from taking over the world during World War II. A fast moving story with lots of action that does the comic book character justice.
IDES OF MARCH- George Clooney delivers the goods in this behind the scenes film of dirty politics he directed and co-wrote along with a supporting role, but again it’s the talented Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood and Phillip Seymour Hoffman who steal the show.
MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER- An indie film that fell off the radar here in the States that plays like a 21st Century American Graffiti. It’s the last summer weekend before school starts on Monday where an assortment of high school and college characters in a small, mid-western town in America discover themselves and what they’re after in life. Funny, emotional and bittersweet, it’s a nice slice of Americana resembling Homer’s Oddysey in the characters various quests.
DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME- A Chinese Sherlock Holmes and his two Watson’s try to solve the riddle of why someone is executing political officials with spontaneous combustion before China’s first empress is next. A well thought out film filled with action and adventure based on a series of novels. Let’s hope there’s more.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- A search for the cure for Alzheimer’s disease through genetically enhanced chimpanzees backfires creating an intelligent chimp, Caesar, that leads other simians to revolution. A new take on Pierre Boulle’s Monkey Planet story that works enhanced by incredible make up and effects. Homage’s to the original films give it a nice touch.
13 ASSASSINS- Dirty Dozen plus one Eastern style. Takashi Miike crafts an entertaining epic tale of action and adventure in 1844 Japan about 13 samurai who are true believers of truth and justice embarking on a suicide mission against an evil tyrant. Well choreographed action scenes and lots of swordplay combined with a solid story make this a must see.
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE- Dominic Cooper turns in an incredible, tour-de-force performance he should be nominated for an Academy Award playing the insane Uday Hussain and his reserved, body double, Latif Yahia during the Iraqi War. Directed by Lee Tamahouri, the movie is engaging and interesting.
THE ARTIST- Hollywood 1927 and the arrival of talking pictures may mark the end of silent screen star George Valetin’s career, but he finds romance first with a young dancer named Peppy Miller. It’s a clever, intelligent movie that stars Jean Dujardin(who looks like a cross between Jean Paul Belmondo and Sean Connery that starred in the OSS 117 spy comedies and Lucky Luke) and the gorgeous Berenice Bejo(who looks like a young Natalie Wood) as the two protagonists in a silent film about silent films, peppered with lots of Hollywood cameos in fun roles and brilliantly directed by Michel Hazanavicius.