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October 15, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

2012 In Technicolour

Even with a few months left to run, 2012 has treated to a slew of quality films, and even more diabolically awful ones. Hollywood did its best to churn out the brashest, noisiest blockbusters possible, with films such as The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises peppering the big screen. However, not all the multiplex fare was so dire- for every generic action movie there was a Looper, Hugo or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. Meanwhile the International Film Festival provided us with such quality genre-pictures as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cabin in the Woods and Holy Motors. So without further ado, here are the Salient Film team’s picks for the most interesting and disappointing films of 2012.

gerald lee


Unsurprisingly, many of this year’s most distinguished movies debuted at the Film Festival: Wes Anderson’s comedic gem Moonrise Kingdom, as well as Drew Goddard’s genre-bending Cabin in the Woods among others. Given the calibre
of the aforementioned flicks, my choice for 2012’s most interesting film may seem unorthodox: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. When it was released everybody cried foul over the hammy dialogue and crude characters, dismissing it as an exercise in hollow beauty. People seemed to forget that the sumptuous visuals exist to serve Scott’s broader vision. They develop a captivating contrast between the vastness of space and the insignificance of man; ideas which tie in perfectly with the film’s exploration of the meaning and origins of human life. Sure, it hardly contains any revelatory insights, but it does manage to explore familiar themes in a way that is powerfully cinematic. Even though it is flawed, Prometheus deserves more than the scorn that has unjustly been heaped upon it.


There hasn’t exactly been a shortage of highly-anticipated films that have disappointed this year. Both big-budget blockbusters The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises proved to be atrocious films that barely manage to entertain on an aesthetic level. However, one of the greatest disappointments remains French drama The Minister. Previews portrayed it as an intricate examination of how political life affects a man’s sense of self. Instead it turned out to be a bizarre, overwrought piece of nonsense. The high-quality elements, particularly the impressive acting, become overwhelmed by inexplicably strange segments such as the eponymous minister audibly taking a dump. The greatest compliment that I can credit The Minister with is that it inspired me to write a rather randy letter describing naked- woman-in-alligator’s-mouth porn.

michael kumove


Moonrise Kingdom. I’d never seen a Wes Anderson film before, but after Moonrise Kingdom I think I’m going to end up as a devoted fan. The performances from the two young leads are stunning and the rich, textured screenplay features a myriad of engrossing relationships. While being probably the cutest film I’ve ever seen—the plot concerns two neglected 12-year-olds running away to get married— Moonrise Kingdom is nevertheless underpinned by a thick vein of sadness and malaise. Director Anderson creates a timeless utopian setting, and then fills it with an array of sad, miserable characters. The juxtaposition works brilliantly and makes it a film that is touching in a way few others are.


On The Road. Admittedly, it‘s ridiculous to expect that any film adaptation can match the mad, jazzy brilliance of Jack Kerouac’s prose, but even so, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that Walter Salles has failed in his attempt to successfully adapt this classic novel. The film is very well made and features excellent performances from a cast including— gasp—Kristen Stewart, but fails to really capture the yearning, adventurous spirit of the novel. Parallels can be drawn with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In both cases, the film comes from a novel based on real events and noted for the style of the prose rather than the actual story. On The Road is another example of why this kind of novel can never be adapted well.

erika webb


A complex legal struggle in Iran provides the core of an unexpectedly brilliant and compelling film. A Separation takes us somewhere real and intricate, sometimes ugly and always convincing. It’s a rare opportunity to see into the day-to-day life of a country whose stories are usually so misconstrued by the time they reach us. The non-linear narrative plays with equivocation and misconception whilst carefully considering the perspectives of all involved to create unresolvable tension. With spirals of conflict between social classes, marriages and religious constraints, it’s uncomfortable to watch but impossible to look away from.


I thought the ‘Indie Drinking Game’ was best played with 500 Days of Summer, or Scott Pilgrim, but Moonrise Kingdom is even better. See a cute girl with a fringe, a record player, or ‘vintage’ sepia tones? Drink. Maybe if Wes Anderson’s overly hyped masterpiece hadn’t appeared in the midst of self-obsessed hipster consumer culture it could have been less clichéd. So many things are good: every scene is picturesque and filled with dry, subtle Bill Murray driven humour. The characters are awkward and engaging, and it easily reaches Anderson’s typical Royal Tenenbaums levels of greatness. There’s nothing wrong with it  in itself, but if you consider it within context it’s another manufactured celebration of quirkiness: cute, privileged narcissism.

adam goodall


If I had been writing this piece two months ago, the movie I would have called my favourite and the most interesting would have been last year’s critical darling A Separation—a patient and searing critique of middle-class Iranian society that only got a limited release in May. However, the New Zealand International Film Festival yielded a typical array of quality work, among them a Brazilian film called Neighboring Sounds. A confidently-crafted, tonally audacious tale of a ramshackle private security team appearing in a Recife suburb to ply their trade, director Kleber Mendonca Filho uses that story as a jump-off point for an extensive investigation of a middle-class community defined by lies, passions and perpetual insecurity. Mendonca Filho is an unconventional director—his off-kilter framing brings the local architecture to life in vibrant, unexpected ways—and his unique sensibilities make Neighboring Sounds this year’s most striking, most individual piece of cinema.


I’ve strongly disliked a small number of films released this year—Tekken: Blood Vengeance; The King of Pigs; Resident Evil: Retribution; The Dark Knight Rises (ooh controversy)—but none have been as disappointing as Sion Sono’s Himizu. Miserable and histrionic about that misery, Himizu starts loud and keeps ramping up the volume. The lack of nuance to this aggressive ‘sins of our fathers’ treatise is only compounded by the unearned attempt at catharsis in the final minutes. It’s a total 180 on what made Sono’s messy, daring Love Exposure so intoxicating, and it’s a major letdown.



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  1. Victor says:

    look at all you mindless gullabe mindless dare you say avengers and dark knight rises were the most dissapointing movies of 2012.well they have been the best movies of 2012 and the reason why the 2012 movie season was good its mainly because of the Avengers and Dark Knight Rises you mindless gullable brainwashed sheep inbreds.

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