Film

Statuesque's Ben Travers Selects His Top Ten Films of 2012...

Channing Tatum fans of the world rejoice...

1) Looper

If originality, or better yet, the follow-through of an original conceit, is most important to you, than it would be hard to refute Rian Johnson's time-traveling opus as the best film of 2012. So I didn't.

2) Silver Linings Playbook

There wasn't a more justifiably joyous film this year, and by that I mean a story that celebrated characters' downs as well as their ups with equal measure. Every tear jerked from your eye is earned and by the time the wet drops reach your lips, they'll find a smile waiting.

3) The Master

Confounding, confusing, and irrefutably crazy, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest is told in as grand a manner as any of his other masterful tales. The themes may not be as relevant, but the story's elaborate construction makes the characters just as riveting.

4) Safety Not Guaranteed

A charming SXSW hit that stuck with me through the year, Safety Not Guaranteed is a fairy tale rooted in the skepticism of modern times. Never would I have thought the two could come together so beautifully.

5) Killer Joe

Though also benefitting from strong buzz at SXSW, Killer Joe has very little in common with the film listed ahead of it. It's charming, but in the darkest way imaginable. Funny, but only when you don't want to laugh. Above all, it's violent-so much so it can only be redeemed by its impeccably crafted script.

6) Ruby Sparks

Zoe Kazan's script is impressively imaginative, and that's what hooks you. Its frighteningly realistic finale is what sticks.

7) Killing Them Softly

Designed to hated by the general public but released for their mass consumption nonetheless, Brad Pitt's pet project has bigger balls than any other movie this year. It says what it has to say without censorship or fear of reproach.

8) Les Miserables

Unparalleled performances from Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway bring this incredibly emotional and faithful adaptation of Jean Valjean's ageless tale to vibrant life.

9) 21 Jump Street

Any year-end list without one Channing Tatum movie on it is simply wrong. If this was, I don’t know, too funny for you, there’s Magic Mike. If you’re too homophobic for that (or women suffering from phallophobia), there’s 10 Years. If you didn’t know that existed, there’s Haywire. If you didn’t like Haywire, well, I don’t blame you.

10) Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson does it again, this time with the help of some gifted child actors and veteran thespians, but newcomers to Wesland. Bruce Willis and Edward Norton seem especially at home.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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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
Amazon

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.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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