[Marxism] Armond White's better than list of 2012

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 15 14:52:59 MST 2013


Better-Than List 2012
by Armond White on Jan 9, 2013 • 9:00 am

Armond White takes stock of the past movie year in annual list

In 2012, politics became personal fantasy. Movies weren’t just 
entertainment but were used to justify escapist (possibly even 
anti-social) points of view. Critics misread films to suit their 
politics, but they could do so only because filmmakers were similarly 
biased. The year’s movies glorified power, just in time for our 
presidential election (as when Spielberg’s Abe Lincoln replaced honesty 
with political chicanery). That heartbreaking reconfiguration of history 
parallels our distorted contemporary art and politics, which indeed was 
the subject of the year’s most masterly film, Andre Techine’s 
Unforgivable. Thus the 2012 Better-Than List salutes the movies that 
preserved aesthetic complexity, humane values and honesty. The best 
films weren’t necessarily apolitical, but their artistry transcended 
transitory politics. If you don’t know these movies it’s only because 
our slanted media constabulary favors crap.

Unforgivable > Zero Dark Thirty
Andre Techine tested political correctness against the difficulty of 
family/social life. It was the most sophisticated and morally 
challenging film of the year. Its essential politics exposed Kathryn 
Bigelow’s non-committal and unexceptional genre movie, a “mission 
accomplished” delusion. Techine showed how “family” and forgiveness are 
unfinished missions.

The Deep Blue Sea > The Loneliest Planet
Terence Davies’ gay sensitivity to sex roles (and memorable performances 
by Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale) bested Julia Loktev’s 
juvenile view of female infidelity and male weakness.

Sacrifice > The Master
Chen Kaige finds the roots of culture in patriarchal responsibility; 
P.T. Anderson loses culture’s meaning in anti-religious hysteria and 
high-art folly. Chen also featured superior acting by competing father 
figures You Ge and Xuegi Wang.

Holy Motors > Cosmopolis
Leos Carax’s dreamy limousine kineticism shamed Cronenberg’s 
oft-entrancing limousine stage drama. Carax parked and bloomed. 
Cronenberg parked then harangued.

Les Miserables > Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Tom Hopper and cast preserved the power of pop opera, while Nuri Bilge 
Ceylan cynically, tediously observed man’s inhumanity to audiences.

Dark Horse > The Turin Horse
Todd Solondz’s modern soap opera steadily, comically bored into our 
self-deceptions, while Bela Tarr’s highbrow jape steadily bored us.

The Lady > Lincoln
Luc Besson’s bio-pic examined Aung San Suu Kyi’s marital and political 
commitment, while Spielberg’s unholy marriage to Tony Kushner pushed the 
cult of personality. Aphorisms vs. Propaganda.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Taken 2 > Zero Dark Thirty
Neveldine-Taylor and Olivier Megaton revealed the post-9/11 zeitgeist in 
genre tropes, while Bigelow reduced the zeitgeist to an enigmatic comic 
strip, a “mission accomplished” delusion.

A Thousand Words > Argo
Brian Robbins and Eddie Murphy dared the most personal Hollywood 
critique since Clifford Odets’ The Big Knife; Ben Affleck trivialized 
Hollywood accountability.

Damsels in Distress > Compliance
Whit Stillman showed affection for female independence, while a po-faced 
indie’s misogyny masqueraded as class critique in the year’s worst film.

Moonrise Kingdom > Beasts of the Southern Wild
Wes Anderson’s fable of childhood innocence lifted the curse of racist 
liberal condescension preferred by Benh Zeitlin’s obnoxious, way-late 
Hurricane Katrina fantasy.

The Skinny > Django Unchained
Patrik Ian-Polk’s gay comedy expanded and enhanced black American life, 
while Quentin Tarantino treated blacks, whites and the history of 
slavery to comic violence.

Americano > Amour
Mathieu Demy sourced his family heritage (our cinema heritage), while 
Michael Haneke celebrated the end of life (and cinema). Joy vs. pessimism.

Detention > The Life of Pi
Joseph Kahn dared trace modern moral confusion to its pop culture 
source, while Ang Lee offered banal 3D philosophizing.

Chronicle > 21 Jump Street
Josh Trank’s existential teen flick achieved beauty, deeper than the 
adolescent nonsense of a TV-franchise movie that was the year’s 
second-worst film.

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