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My 12 for ’12: The Raid (Redemption) & An Action Aesthetic…

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #12

It’s a bit of a stereotype that critics don’t like action movies. It’s one of those handy clichés that gets trotted around whenever some mega-blockbuster brings in a ridiculously large number at the box office after a thrashing from the pundits. I can’t speak for the critics, of course, but I can tell you that the reason I disliked The Bourne Legacy or Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon had nothing to do with an innate dislike of action movies as a genre. I’m a big fan of action movies. However, like any other genre, an action movie needs to be done right.

The Raid does an action movie right.

theraid1

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Non-Review Review: Super

Super is pretty much one joke, extended over a movie runtime. It’s a funny joke, and it’s told well by a great cast and a witty director, but it feels a little stretched, even at under a hundred minutes. It also suffered a bit from being released in the same year as Kick-Ass, a movie that dealt with similar themes in a much more compelling manner, but Super remains an interesting examination of geek power fantasy, and some of the more sinister undertones of the conventional superhero narrative.

Not so super, hero…

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Non-Review Review: The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors remains something of a curiosity. Its cult stature has only grown in the three decades since its original release, and the sense of young urban disenfranchisement that director Walter Hill tapped into remains as potent as it ever it was. That said, the film remains a bit of puzzle, and it is never quite sure what to make of its protagonists. Does the movie want us to root for the wayward Warriors as they navigate the urban jungle in a quest to get back to Coney Island, or does it instead remain passively amoral amid all the violence and nihilism? It’s hard to really say, but it remains a potent piece of cinema.

“Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals…”

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Commiserations! And Something to Perk Us Up!

We had the pleasure of attending the Blog Awards Ireland in the Osprey hotel over the weekend. We made the final five in the Best Pop Culture category. We didn’t win, losing out to a deserving A Year of Festivals in Ireland. There’s always next year. A massive thanks to the organisers as staff for all the hard work.

In other news, to help cheer us up, here’s Conan the Barbarian! The Musical.

I have no idea what the link is, but it made me smile. Also, “and hear the lamentations of their women” needs to be used in more chorus lines.

Untold Tales of Spider-Man by Kurt Busiek Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

I am of two minds about Kurt Busiek’s and Pat Olliffe’s celebrated Untold Tales of Spider-Man run. On the one hand, Busiek manages to affectionately evoke the spirit of those classic Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Spider-Man stories, without getting too bogged down in minor or confusing continuity. On the other hand, the stories feel somewhat trapped and confined by having to contort around the existing storylines. Naturally, for example, Busiek can’t resolve any plot threads he doesn’t keep exclusive to the book, and we all know how various situations unfold. It’s a strange cocktail, and it works slightly more often than it doesn’t work. It’s very much in the spirit of the author’s much-loved work on the Avengers, and there’s no denying the skill and love that went into crafting the issues collected here, but I find that I respect The Untold Tales of Spider-Man more than I love it.

They were on fire with this run…

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Is It Just Me Or Does The Artist Backlash Seem a Little Half-Hearted?

The annual Oscar race is a process so predictable that it could be a movie formula all of its own. You have your initial race to nominations, with various films falling at certain hurdles, leaving you with a fairly well-spaced field. You have the frontrunner surging ahead, but a dark horse waiting in the wings. And, every year, you have a very eager publicity industry ready to launch a very vehement attack on that frontrunner simply because it has the tenacity of pulling ahead. This year is no different, and The Artist seems to be seeing its share of controversies. However, these seem to be unfolding simply because it’s expected at this point in the race. I can’t help but feel like any of the attacks on The Artist are anything more than half-hearted.

Barking up the wrong tree?

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