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