Saving Grace... and Face: The 2012 PopMatters Fall Film Preview

Old fashioned movie cam and film reels. Photo via

Again, it seems like cinema needs to save itself. Here's a preview of what the next four months have to offer.

It seems like we sing the same song every year. Once again, film seems to have failed us. Winter/spring provides its typical dumping ground of cast-offs, the least considered, and the surprisingly competent. Summer soars, but only slightly, a few tentpoles making up for a myriad of missed opportunities, bad calls, and contractually obligated claptrap. And so we come to fall, and the slow sprint to awards season, in the hope that the artform we love redeems itself. Now, granted, 2012 was a little better than most. January through April gave us Chronicle and The Cabin in the Woods, along with foreign action sleeper The Raid: Redemption. May through August was equally impressive, giving us excellent examples of the superhero genre with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and of course, Christopher Nolan's dynamite (and divisive) The Dark Knight Rises.

Yet it's when you go down past the best that September through December has its work cut out for it. There were so many middling to mediocre movies in the last eight months that the final four will have to flourish in order to make up for the morass. Blame Hollywood's continuing micromanagement of the medium, the gapping divide between the US and international markets, or the overall artistic malaise of the minds behind the scenes, but whatever it is, we just don't have a lot to look backward on come final "best of" consideration. In the past, we had The Hurt Locker (an Oscar winner), several sensational festival favorites (like A Separation, The Tree of Life, or The Artist) and one or two post-Sundance knockouts. As of today, we're lost. Few performances are aiming for Academy consideration. In fact, most films and their featured players are just happy to rake in the global lucre and be done with it.

So it's up to fall to help the heroes find themselves and it looks like September starts us off in the right direction. While there's lighter fare, such as a Dredd reboot, a couple of keen kiddie flicks, and a number of lesser known entities, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is already riding its "not Scientology" considerations to major critical acclaim. We can also look forward to the latest from Brick/Brothers Bloom maverick Rian Johnson (Looper), as well as a return to the world of [REC] . October adds the necessary pre-Halloween scares with more Paranormal Activity and something Sinister. But there's also Tim Burton's highly anticipated return to stop motion (Frankenweenie), the latest from In Bruges's Mark McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths) and Ben Affleck (the '70s set Argo). Still, all pale in comparison to the ambitious, already buzzed about epic from The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas.

November will be known for Robert Zemeckis' return to live action filmmaking (Flight), Ang Lee's intriguing adaptation of Life of Pi, and the final (YEAH!) installment in the tepid Twilight series. More importantly, Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln arrives mid-month, star Daniel Day-Lewis already receiving major year-end consideration for his startling resemblance to the 16th President of the United States. December usually decides it all, with entries as intriguing as The Hobbit, Les Miserables (the musical, finally), and Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated Django Unchained. Toss in Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Judd Apatow (This is 40), and The Guilt Trip (with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand as mother and son). Who knows... by the time we are ticking down the last few seconds of 2012, we'll feel that the year in film has fulfilled our aesthetic desires. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, use this Fall Preview as a means of making up your mind. Naturally, we won't know anything until the films are actually released. Until then, let the laments rain down...

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.