FILM CRIT HULK’S 10 MOSTEST FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2012

Join Hulk in engaging in the wonder and joy of truly great movies. 

FILM CRIT HULK’S 10 MOSTEST FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2012

SO HULK DOESN’T LIKE TOP TEN LISTS BECAUSE THEY INSPIRE A LOT OF BICKERING. WORSE, IT JUST TENDS TO BE BICKERING OVER SOMETHING AS EPHEMERAL AS “WORTH.” IT’S THE SAME REASON HULK DISLIKES USING LETTER SCORES OR NUMBERS. BECAUSE WHILE HULK LOVES “THE CONVERSATION” ABOUT MOVIES, THERE IS NO CONVERSATION MORE POINTLESS THAN WORTH.

SO THE ONLY WAY TO LOOK AT THESE TOP LIST THINGS IS TO REALLY SAY “WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THIS PERSPECTIVE?” OR “WHAT IS THIS PERSON VALUING IN CINEMA?” OR “WHAT IS IT THAT SPEAKS TO THEM?” AND WITH THAT YOU SHOULD FORGET ABOUT THE NOTION OF “TOP TEN” ALL TOGETHER, AND JUST ACCEPT THAT THESE ARE JUST HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE YEAR. AND SINCE THEY’RE JUST HULK’S FAVORITES, IGNORE HULK’S GRATING HYPERBOLE. IGNORE HULK’S CONVERSATION OF WORTH AND LEGACY. JUST TRY AND DO WHAT HULK DOES WITH THESE THINGS TOO, AND THAT IS TO ENGAGE IN THE WONDER AND JOY OF TRULY GREAT MOVIES.

CHEERS AND SMASHINGS.

<3HULK

FIRST UP! HONORABLE MENTIONS: HAYWIRE, MAGIC MIKE, THE AVENGERS, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, BEASTS OF SOUTHERN WILD, 21 JUMP STREET, LINCOLN, CHRONICLE, THE FINAL MEMBER, THE DO-DECA PENTATHLON, HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK

ALSO! THE FILMS HULK HASN'T SEEN YET: THIS IS NOT A FILM, AMOUR, ARGO, PARANORMAN, RUST AND BONE, BERNIE, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, KILLER JOE, THE ACT OF KILLING. YOU COULD PROBABLY EXPECT A FEW OF THESE TO CREEP INTO THE LIST OVER THE COMING MONTHS.

OKAY ENOUGH ADDENDUMS, LET’S DANCE FANCY PANTS:

10. CLOUD ATLAS / SMASHED (TIE)

OKAY HULK COULDN’T EVEN GO ONE ENTRY WITHOUT CHEATING. BUT HULK COULDN’T NOT INCLUDE EITHER ONE OF THESE FILMS. AND QUITE FRANKLY, THIS UNLIKELY PAIR SAYS SO MUCH ABOUT THE RANGE OF WHAT CINEMA CAN BE. ON ONE HAND, SMASHED APPROACHES EARNESTNESS FROM A WHOLLY INTIMATE SETTING WITH STRICTLY REALISTIC INTENTION. IN DOING SO IT IS PERHAPS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A “SMALL MOVIE,” BUT GLORIOUSLY SO. IT’S ALL SUBTLETY AND GRACE, OFTEN RESTING ON THE SHOULDERS OF AN INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE FROM MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD. IT ESCHEWS MORALITY, REFRAINS FROM DIDACTICISM AND SIMPLY SEEKS TO ESTABLISH THE JOYS OF SELF-TRUTH. AND IN DOING SO, IT IS, AS IT IS INTENDED TO BE, SOBERING. AS FOR THE OTHER FILM? CLOUD ATLAS IS PRETTY MUCH THE EXACT OPPOSITE. IT’S THE “BIGGEST” FILM IMAGINABLE AND SCREAMS ITS MESSAGE FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS, DRILLING IT INTO OUR PSYCHES; THAT MESSAGE BEING THE INESCAPABLE NEED AND CRITICAL FUNCTION OF HUMANITIES’ BASIC, RUDIMENTARY GOODNESS. AT ONCE DISMISSIBLE AS A “KINDERGARTEN LESSON” IT INSTEAD DEFINES ITSELF PROUDLY BY THAT CHARACTERIZATION. IT WAS ONCE REJECTED BY A FELLOW CRITIC WHO CALLED IT “SIX B MOVIES THAT SUPPOSEDLY ADD UP TO SOMETHING MORE SIGNIFICANT,” BUT IF YOU ASK HULK, YOU CAN TAKE OUT THE “SUPPOSEDLY.” THESE ARE TWO FILMS THAT ARE ACTUALLY ABOUT ONE HUMAN TRUTH, AND HULK ADORES THE WAY THEY ARRIVE THERE FROM STUNNINGLY DIFFERENT APPROACHES.

9. THE MASTER

HULK HAS LOVED EVERY FILM THAT PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON HAS EVER MADE, BUT WHEN THERE WILL BE BLOOD CAME OUT HULK SHEEPISHLY ADMITTED THAT HULK HAD NO IDEA PTA HAD THAT KIND OF MOVIE IN HIM. AND NOW WITH THE MASTER, ANDERSON HAS CONFIRMED THAT THERE IS NO GOING BACK. IT SEEMS HE IS GOING TO BE MAKING TRUE BLUE “ART FILMS” FOR THE REST OF HIS CAREER. HULK KNOWS IT’S A WEIRD PHRASE, BUT WHAT BETTER TO CALL IT? ANDERSON HAS ABANDONED ANY INTEREST IN TRADITIONAL PLOTTING. HE’S DONE REFERENCING OTHER DIRECTORS. HE’S ESCHEWING STYLISTIC TICS. HE’S BEING BRAVE, BOLD AND DIVING DOWN THE HOLE OF TRUE CREATIVITY TO FIND SCENES AND INSPIRATIONS UNRIVALED. WHILE IT’S ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF HIS FOUNDATION, HE IS NOW LIVING IN THE CINEMA OF EMOTIONS, WRITING FROM HIS GUT AND UNEARTHING SOME OF THE MOST ENGAGING THEMATIC LOGIC HULK HAS EVER SEEN. THE IMPORT AND MEANING OF THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE MASTER ARE ENDLESSLY FASCINATING AND CAN BE DEBATED FOR YEARS TO COME. QUITE FRANKLY, HULK LOVES THIS ANDERSON. HULK LOVED THE OLD ANDERSON TOO, BUT BOOGIE NIGHTS ALREADY EXISTS. THERE IS NO NEED TO GO BACK. SO LET US ALL REJOICE IN THE STRANGER TIDES.

8. PAUL WILLIAMS: STILL ALIVE

EVEN IF YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE THE NAME PAUL WILLIAMS, YOU ALREADY KNOW PAUL WILLIAMS. “RAINBOW CONNECTION” SAYS IT ALL REALLY, AND IF YOU’RE LUCKY, MAYBE YOU EVEN REMEMBER THAT HE WAS ONE OF THE GREAT REVELATIONS OF MODERN CELEBRITY. A GENUINE PERSONALITY, ONE WHO FAMOUSLY TRANSCENDED ALL NOTIONS OF PHYSICALITY TO SHOW THE AMAZING PERSON INSIDE. WITTY. ACERBIC. GENUINE. FRIENDLY. A TV ICON. A CULT MOVIE HERO. AND MORE THAN ANY OF THAT, HE WAS A SONGWRITING GENIUS THAT IS PERHAPS UNPARALLELED.  BUT THIS DOCUMENTARY IS FAR MORE THAN JUST BEING A SILLY GAME OF “REMEMBER WHEN” - THIS A FILM THAT CAPTURES THE PAUL OF TODAY: SOBER, HUMBLE, THANKFUL AND INSPIRATIONAL. BUT HE HAS NOT LOST ONE OUNCE OF THE SPARKLE THAT MADE HIM SO BELOVED. THE POINT IS ACHINGLY SIMPLE: PAUL WILLIAMS IS STILL ALIVE… AND WE ARE ALL THE BETTER FOR IT.

7. ZERO DARK THIRTY

HULK HONESTLY DIDN’T THINK BIGELOW COULD EVER MAKE A SUBTLE MOVIE. THAT SOUNDS REALLY MEAN, BUT IT’S NOT INTENDED TO BE. HER CINEMA HAS OFTEN BEEN A REFLECTION OF MACHO ADRENALINE RUSHES AND THE SILLINESS OF BRAVADO; POINTED IN SOME WAYS AND SURPRISINGLY EMPTY IN OTHERS. HULK ISN’T EVEN THE BIGGEST FAN OF THE HURT LOCKER, A MOVIE OF STUNNING VISCERAL QUALITIES, BUT IT PRACTICALLY BLUDGEONS YOU WITH ITS TEXTUAL POINT FOR THE ENTIRE RUNNING TIME. MEANWHILE, ZERO DARK THIRTY IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE. A CAREFUL AND INTRICATE GEM ABOUT THE NOTIONS OF PATIENCE, LOSS, FORTITUDE AND DISPLACEMENT. IT MAKES ITS DEEPLY PROFOUND POINTS HIDDEN BENEATH THE VENEER OF ACCURACY AND VÉRITÉ, BUT SADLY THIS INCREDIBLE THOUGHTFULNESS ON THE CONCEPT OF TORTURE, MORALITY AND VENGEANCE ARE GLUGGED UP IN THE BLACK AND WHITE DELUGE OF PUBLIC ARGUMENTATION. FOR HULK, THE ENTIRE POINT OF THIS MOVIE IS SUMMED UP IN A SINGLE MOMENT. WHEN JASON CLARKE’S CHARACTER, CLEARLY AND DEEPLY DISTURBED BY THE AMOUNT OF TORTURE HE HAS DONE IN THE NAME OF DEFENDING AMERICA, HAS REACHED HIS BREAKING POINT, HE SHOWS IT IN HIS EYES… AND THEN SIMPLY PAWNS IT OFF IN A BRIEF MOMENT OF TOUGH GUY, HOMOPHOBIC BROISM, SAYING: “I’M TIRED OF SEEING SO MANY NAKED DUDES.” IT IS AN INCREDIBLE MOMENT OF A CHARACTERIZATION, RENDERING THE EXTERNAL WORDS A MERE REFLECTION OF THE TURMOIL WITHIN. EVERYTHING THE FILM HAS TO SAY ABOUT TORTURE AND OUR ROLE IN IT IS RIGHT THERE. BUT SADLY FOR THIS THRILLING AND SMART FILM, SO MUCH SEEMS TO BE MISSED BENEATH THE SURFACE.  A SAD REALITY WHICH MAKES THE ULTIMATE POINT OF ZERO DARK THIRTY ALL THE MORE RESONANT, AS THE SAME SURFACE-LEVEL APPROACH TO OUR NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS WHY IT TOOK 11 YEARS TO ACTUALLY CATCH BIN LADEN.

6. CABIN IN THE WOODS

SO WITH CABIN IN THE WOODS, JOSS WHEDON AND DREW GODDARD JUST DROPPED THE FUCKING MIC ON THE HORROR FILM. CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL. META. HORROR COMEDY. INTROSPECTIVE. OFTEN DROP-DEAD. HILARIOUS. THE POINT OF IT ALL IS THAT WE FINALLY HAVE A FILM ENGAGING NOT JUST THE CONVENTIONS, BUT THE FUCKING POINT OF WHY WE WATCH HORROR MOVIES TO BEGIN WITH. AND IN THE END, IT HANDS US THE PERFECT CINEMATIC CHECKMATE: ALL THE NEGATIVE REACTIONS JUST PROVE THE FILM RIGHT. WE ARE THE OLD GODS, AND WE DO NOT LIKE TO BE DISOBEYED.

5. MOONRISE KINGDOM

HULK WAS WORRIED THE REAL WES ANDERSON DISAPPEARED. NO, HULK IS NOT TALKING ABOUT THE STYLISTIC DIORAMA FRAMING, NOR THE DEEP PHYSICAL WORLD BUILDING, NOR THE SENSE OF WHIMSY. NO, THOSE WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF WES ANDERSON. HULK IS TALKING ABOUT THE ONE WHO COULD TAKE ALL OF THAT DELIGHTFUL SENSIBILITY AND FUNNEL IT INTO SOMETHING DRAMATICALLY FUNCTIONAL, DEEPLY INTIMATE, EARNESTLY SWEET AND MAYBE EVEN PERSONAL. WHILE NO ANDERSON FILM QUITE MAKES HULK LAUGH LIKE BOTTLE ROCKET, HULK’S PRETTY READY TO SAY IT: MOONRISE KINGDOM IS HIS BEST FILM. AND HULK WILL BE ENJOYING IT FOR YEARS TO COME.

 4. THE RAID: REDEMPTION

IN END OF THE YEAR LISTS, EVEN IF YOU LOVE GENRE, IT’S SURPRISINGLY EASY TO DISMISS GENRE. YOU LOOK AT SOMETHING OF GRAVE SOCIAL IMPORTANCE LIKE ZERO DARK THIRTY AND IT BECOMES HARD TO QUALIFY ANY MARTIAL ARTS FILM ON THE PLANET AS BEING “BETTER” OR AT LEAST “MORE IMPORTANT.” WORSE, FOR ITS IMPORT, THE RAID DOES NOT TRY TO TRANSCEND THE GENRE AT ALL. IT IS NOT TRYING TO AUGMENT ANYTHING. SO WHAT DOES IT DO? IT ONLY OFFERS ABSOLUTE PERFECTION AND ABSOLUTE PERFECTION IS ALL IT NEEDS. IT DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT. CLEAR STAKES. ECONOMICAL CHARACTERIZATION. RELENTLESS DRAMA. UPPING THE ANTE WITH EVERY SCENE WITHOUT EVER COLLAPSING UNDER THE PRESSURE. THE END RESULT? THE RAID IS THE MOST THRILLING, JAW-DROPPING DISPLAY OF SHOOTOUTS AND PHYSICAL INTENSITY THAT BELONGS NEAR THE TOP OF ANY ALL-TIME LIST OF MARTIAL ARTS FILMS. THE FILM’S DIRECTOR GARETH EVANS IS A KEEPER, FOLKS.

3. LOOPER

IN THE THEORIES OF RUSSIAN CRITICAL FORMALISM, PART OF THE CONCEPT IS THAT YOU CAN OFTEN DEFINE THE THING BY THE THING IT IS NOT. THUS, WHAT MAKES A FILM LIKE LOOPER TRULY SPECIAL IS THAT IT DOESN’T DO THE THINGS THAT MAKE SO MANY OTHER SMART SCI-FI FILMS FAIL. IT IS THE FILM THAT AVOIDED THE TRAP. IT IS A FILM WITH A CLEVER SCI-FI CONCEIT THAT ELUDED THE DESIRE TO OUTSMART ITSELF AND AS A RESULT IT NEVER COLLAPSES UNDER THE WEIGHT OF TRYING TO IMPRESS ITS AUDIENCE. AS THE OLD ADAGE OF CINEMA GOES, “DON’T IMPRESS ME, CONVINCE ME.” SO INSTEAD THIS FILM STRIPPED AWAY ALL ITS FORMALIST PRETENSION AND BECAME AN INTIMATE STORY OF THREE PEOPLE: OLDER SELVES, YOUNGER SELVES, POSSIBLE SELVES, ALL TRYING TO DO WHAT THEY DESIRE OR SOLELY REALIZING WHAT THEY MIGHT NOT BELIEVE IN ALONG THE WAY. AND UNLIKE SO MANY FILMS THAT TRIED TO OUTSMART YOU, THE RESULTS OF THIS ONE RESONATED WITH US AS PEOPLE. PUT SIMPLY, LOOPER IS AN ALL TIME ENTRY IN SCI-FI.

*NOTE: ANY ONE WHO THINKS HULK TALKING ABOUT FILMS LIKE PRIMER AS ONES THAT FALL INTO THE TRAP, YOU ARE MISTAKEN. THAT’S A FILM THAT TAKES ON THE CHALLENGE AND SOARS MIGHTILY… HULK IS TALKING MORE ABOUT SHYAMALAITIS.

2. DJANGO UNCHAINED

IS QUENTIN TARANTINO THE BEST AMERICAN FILMMAKER WORKING TODAY? IT NEEDS A LARGER CONVERSATION (AND YOU COULD EASILY ARGUE THE COENS, ETC), BUT SO OFTEN HE JUST GETS CREDIT FOR TANGIBLE SURFACE THINGS IN HIS MOVIES: THE MANIFOLD CINEMATIC REFERENCES. THE ACERBIC VIOLENCE. THE DIALOGUE SO WITTY AND PLEASING THAT YOU REALIZE TARANTINO AND THE COENS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO SEEM TO BE CONCERNED WITH RHYME, METER, ALLITERATION AND ASSONANCE THESE DAYS (THERE’S A REASON HE TAKES YEARS TO WRITE THESE MOVIES FOLKS. HARD WORK PAYS OFF). BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO MR. TARANTINO BENEATH THE SURFACE. LIKE INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, HIS NEWEST FILM DJANGO UNCHAINED IS AUDACIOUS. BIG, BOLD, HILARIOUS AND AN EPIC THAT FEELS LIKE IT GOES BY IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. LIKE MOST GREAT ART IT’S MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE DANGEROUS. TO WIT ON THE POPULAR CONVERSATION, SPIKE LEE HAS MADE SOME OF THE BEST FILMS EVER MADE AND HULK DOESN’T THINK HE’S WRONG IN WHAT HE SAYS ABOUT THE FILM. BUT IT WOULD BE A TREMENDOUS DISSERVICE TO THE THOUGHTFULNESS OF TARANTINO. HE’S DONE IT TOO MANY TIMES TO IGNORE NOW. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HE’S GOT A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT TO SAY AND HE’S ENDLESSLY FASCINATED BY REFLEXIVISM, MORAL OR OTHERWISE. TAKE THE THEATER SEQUENCE IN BASTERDS, WHERE WE ARE A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE IN A MOVIE THEATER CHEERING AT THE VIOLENT MURDERS OF A ROOM FULL PEOPLE IN A MOVIE THEATER, WHO WERE JUST CHEERING AT THE VIOLENT MURDER OF PEOPLE WHILST IN A MOVIE THEATER… THIS IS NOT INANE STUFF, FOLKS. AND IN DJANGO WE HAVE AS MUCH ROLE REVERSAL AND CONTEXTUAL POLITICKING AS HULK HAS EVER SEEN FROM HIM YET. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, TARANTINO MAKES A LOT OF FILMS ABOUT UNEASY POWER, THE HUMOR IN WICKEDNESS, AND THE SUBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE. AND THESE ARE ALL TO GREAT IMPORT, THE CLASHING OF A HISTORY’S WORTH OF CINEMATIC AMALGAMATIONS TO CREATE THE NEW MYTH. PUT SIMPLY, HAVING DJANGO DOING GENE AUTRY’S HORSE TRICKS IS NOT A MERE REFERENCE, ITS CODIFIED LANGUAGE THAT'S MEANT TO USURP TRADITIONAL ROLES AND BLOW THE DOORS OFF CONVENTION. DISMISS IT AS HOLLOW ALL YOU LIKE, BUT THE FILM, LIKE ALL HIS FILMS, IS A TRIUMPH.

1. HOLY MOTORS

AT LAST BEHOLD, THE TRANSCENDENT ONE. ON THE SURFACE, IT WAS AN ART FILM THAT SOMEHOW SENT EVERYONE WHO SAW IT AWAY FEELING LIKE THEY HAD AN EXPERIENCE. THEY MAY NOT HAVE UNDERSTOOD WHAT THEY SAW. THEY MAY HAVE TRIED TO ENGAGE THE ARTIFICE. THE MECHANISMS. THE BASIC CONCEPTS PRESENTED IN THE TEXT… BUT THE REAL TRUTH OF LEOS CARAX’S MASTERPIECE HOLY MOTORS IS THAT IT'S PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST DEEPLY PERSONAL FILMS EVER MADE. SAVE FOR A HAUNTING TITLE CARD OF HER FACE AT THE END, THE FILM DOES NOT LITERALLY COME OUT AND SAY IT, BUT IT IS VERY OPENLY ABOUT THE DEATH OF THE DIRECTOR’S WIFE, JUST IN A SYMBOLIC WAY. MOURNING AND REGRET HANG OVER EVERY FRAME. IT STARTS WITH A RESTLESS MAN GETTING OUT OF BED (LEOS CARAX HIMSELF), AN EMPTY SPACE IN THE BED BESIDE HIM, HIS WIFE NOW GONE. AND FROM THERE THIS WEARY TRAVELER JOURNEYS INTO A CINEMA AND RELIVES EVERY STRANGE AND RANDOM MOMENT OF HIS LIFE, ABSTRACT OR OTHERWISE. FILTERED THROUGH THESE SIMPLE PERSONAL REVELATIONS, THE ESOTERIC AND ABSTRACT NATURE OF THE FILM TRANSFORMS. TAKE THE “MERDE” SEGMENT WHICH ON THE SURFACE JUST SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THE GOOFIEST AND MOST UPROARIOUS SEGMENTS OF PURE PHYSICAL COMEDY AND WEIRDNESS, BUT WHEN YOU FILTER IT THROUGH WHAT LEOS CARAX OPENLY DESCRIBED AS HIS FEELINGS OF HOW THE WORLD LOOKS AT YOU WHEN YOU ARE FRENCH, AND SUDDENLY “MERDE” IS AN INSPIRED PRISM OF PERSPECTIVE.

LOOK. THERE IS PERHAPS NOTHING MORE GRATING IN THESE LISTS THAN HYPERBOLE AND POSTURING ABOUT A FILM’S LEGACY WHEN YOU ARE DOING IT LONG BEFORE THE TIME FOR LEGACY DISCUSSION HAS COME. FOR NOW, WE CAN ONLY PROGNOSTICATE. WE CAN ONLY SAY WHAT “SHOULD” BE. AND HAVING SEEN THE FILM THREE TIMES, HAVING HAD THE MONTHS TO DIGEST IT, HULK CONSIDERS HOLY MOTORS TO BE A GRAND MASTERPIECE OF CINEMA, BELONGING IN THE SAME BREATH OF 8 ½, THE SEVENTH SEAL AND TARKOVSKY’S THE MIRROR. IT IS EVERYTHING WE COULD EVER WANT FROM MEANINGFUL, INTRICATE CINEMA. AND IT CONFIRMS THE VERY PURPOSE OF ART.

<3 HULK

Categories: Cool Tags: 2012 Top 10Top 10
Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
t