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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Chris Cooper Raps (The Muppets)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #1

If you ever need proof of how delightfully absurd The Muppets was, the sight of Oscar-winner Chris Cooper dancing and rapping across his desk, only to unleash a storeroom full of chorus girls while Jason Segel looks on in confusion should do the trick. It’s a fantastic moment because it’s so ridiculously surreal. Cooper is rapping for about a minute of screen-time, meaning that it’s over before it has really begun – leaving both the characters and the audience wondering what the hell just happened.

In a great way.

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Shared Pop Culture History (Ted)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #2

When it comes to end of year “best of” lists, comedy seems to draw the short straw as a genre. Like some of the less earnest genres, comedy is far too easily overlooked in favour of something more “worthy” of attention. Seth MacFarlane’s Ted has been something of a contentious film this year. Depending on where you sit, the film is either the epitome of everything wrong with American comedy, or it was a refreshingly profane yet heartfelt breath of fresh air. I lean more towards the latter than the former, and I appreciated the way that it played to MacFarlane’s strengths – concealing a surprisingly sincere sentiment behind a cynical and glib exterior.

As such, it’s no surprise that the most effective sequence in the film – the opening credits – managed to play to both that side of MacFarlane and also to his wonderful ability to channel pop culture as something of a shared collective history. Call me sappy, but there was something wonderful about seeing Ted interact with Johnny Carson and watching Ted and John queue for The Phantom Menace in costume, that created a tangible sense of back story between the characters.

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Missing Children (End of Watch)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #3

I was not as taken with End of Watch as some were. I enjoyed the film, and I think both Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal gave superb performances, but I think that the decision to structure the arc of these two police officers was a bit of a mistake – as the film resorted to clichés like drug cartels putting out a hit on these two individual cops. The film started as an impressively grounded and candid exploration of what life must be like in the line of fire, but then it became a much more conventional film (albeit shot in an unconventional manner).

Still, when End of Watch was good, it was great. It was raw, powerful stuff that gave an impression of what it must be like to do that job day-in and day-out. At its best, it demonstrated the obvious toll that these small day-to-day incidents must take on those protecting and serving. Often it was the smaller sequences that worked best, those with little-to-no connection to the overriding “cartel” arc – the kinds of things that felt like the stuff that must confront officers of the law on a daily basis.

None was more powerful than the rather simple house call investigating the disappearance of two small children.

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: “… it has its moments…” (Men in Black 3)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #4

Wait, this game doesn’t happen until October.

Oh, it’s always October and November and March. So many futures and they’re all real, just don’t know which one will coalesce. Until then, they’re all happening, like this one. It’s my favorite moment in human history. All the things that had to converge for the Mets to win The World Series. They were in last place every single season until they won it all.

You said you had a gift for us…

That baseball for instance, thrown for the last hour of the game, manufactured in 1962 by the Spalding Factory at Chicopee Massachusetts, was aerodynamically flawed. Due to the horsehide being improperly tanned because Sheila, the tanners wife, left him for a Puerto Rican Golf pro that Sunday…

– J, Griffin and K discuss the Mets

Sometimes great scenes pop up in the most unlikely of places. I enjoyed each of three Men in Black films, even if I’d be reluctant to rank them as among the finest films of their given years, or to consider all three among great cinematic trilogies. I’d be lying if I said that I had been eagerly anticipating the release of Men in Black 3 this year, which turned out to be a solid and reliable popcorn film in a year featuring films that so often went to one extreme or the other. It won’t be a surprise entry on my top films of the year, but it does what it sets out to do, and is often charming doing so.

However, it’s always incredibly satisfying to find one striking or memorable scene in a film that is fairly easy to dismiss as “merely” entertaining. Men in Black 3 has one such scene, featuring the superb Michael Stuhlbarg as the alien Griffin, who has the unique ability to see throw time, weighing and considering probabilities and possibilities. With the capacity to see any moment in history, Griffin uses his gift… to watch the Mets. Somehow, that makes all the wondrous “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” stuff seem even more magical.

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Let’s be Franco: Actors Who Don’t Like the Interview Circuit…

I actually don’t feel strongly one way or the other about James Franco. I do kinda like that he was willing to experiment a bit by appearing as “Franco the performance artist” on General Hospital, respect the fact that he doesn’t care too much about his image to appear in films like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, but I also feel a little frustrated when I see how incredibly bored he seemed hosting the Oscars. There’s been a bit of on-line discussion about Franco’s public persona, and his perceived lack of interest in his own projects or in giving interviews, to the point where the actor has found himself being compared to Harrison Ford, one of the more notoriously difficult celebrity interviewees. However, despite all that, I find myself having quite a bit of sympathy for actors clearly not comfortable with dealing with the press circuit.

Going to great lengths to get away from it all...

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Non-Review Review: Network

Network is a compelling condemnation of news television. The black comedy from Sydney Lumet is one of those great movies which actually feels more relevant now (thirty years after it was first released) than it did when it first appeared on the big screen. In particular, while some plot developments are clearly satire, it seems that quite a few moments in the movie seem a lot less ridiculous or fantastical in this day and age than they would have when originally written. It’s a rare movie that can do something like that, and the fact that it’s a lot easier to imagine some of the movie’s jokes coming to pass in this day and age only makes it all the more potent.

Beales appeal...

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Blueprint for Success: Is The Dark Tower The Future of Multi-Media Experience?

Perhaps it’s down to the fact that movies have always been inherently distrustful of other forms of media (particularly newer modes like television or the internet), as reflected in the constant battle with them (with movies seeking an edge – like 3D – that other media can’t quickly ape) – but I’m surprised that an idea like this hasn’t been tried before. After quite a long period of speculation, it has been confirmed that Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is coming to the big screen. But it’s also coming to the little screen, at the same time. In fact, the not-at-all unambitious plan for the franchise can be laid out as follows:  

Step 1: They’ll kick it off with a movie, presumably the movie will tell the story of the first book, The Gunslinger which is a shorter book and extremely cinematic. They could also maybe fit in The Drawing of the Three in which the Gunslinger Roland meets his companions.  

Step 2: That movie will be immediately followed by a TV series which will pick up where the movie leaves off. A TV series is the ideal format to tackle some of the longer, more episodic stories.  

Step 3: The TV series will then lead into a second feature film.  

Step 4: After that second feature film, a TV series will then cover the events of the book Wizard and Glass in which the story of Roland’s youth is retold.  

Step 5: That will then launch into a third feature film… perhaps to wrap the story up or maybe simply to take the next step. Whether they end it there or plan more movies and more television presumably depends on audience response.  

That’s certainly one heck of a roadmap for a franchise, right there.  

Towering ambition...

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