My January ’13 in Review

After neglecting this feature for the latter two months of yesteryear if only for diminished viewing habits, January marked a fresh (re)start for me as I took in some relatively pleasant surprises. Having been silently dissatisfied with my best of 2012 list, I mostly sought out those few stragglers that either slipped under my radar or eluded my local theater entirely, not to mention a title or two that Netflix Instant’s been brandishing in front of my face for much too long. Enjoy, and feel free to compare your lists with mine!

The Deep Blue SeaThe Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies, 2011)

An expectedly if appropriately melodramatic remake of the 1955 film, The Deep Blue Sea alternately explores the personal and social perils of infidelity in postwar England, examining the not-so-quietly conflicted woman (Rachel Weisz) at its core as she longs to free herself from a loveless marriage. Textbook indeed, but Davies’ latest is anchored by a loving attention to era-appropriate detail and excellent central performances that elevate the proceedings above your standard character study-cum-period piece.

GamerGamer (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)

A hyperkinetic tornado of a production characteristic of the anti-auteurs at its helm, Gamer is trashy and violent while it passively incorporates some more complex existential, hard Philip K. Dick-ian sci-fi thematic substance. Arresting, sometimes evocative visuals permeate wonderfully realized set pieces throughout, aiding the film by way of polarizing originality that’s unrivaled by those afraid to take the risks Neveldine and Taylor (Crank, Crank 2: High Voltage) have threefold.

Zero Dark Thirty 2Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

A meticulously constructed dramatization of the decade-long hunt for the world’s arguably most wanted individual, Zero Dark Thirty (thankfully) remains relatively unbiased in its recreation of the pivotal events at its core, transforming the film into a wholly engrossing, frequently taut experience amid all of the controversy it’s garnered. All things considered, Bigelow and two-time collaborator Mark Boal have certainly found their niche and are determined to capitalize on their strengths as both director and screenwriter, turning even the more mundane procedural aspects of the tale into something worthwhile as Maya (Jessica Chastain) and company put forth stellar central performances. Full review here.

The Color WheelThe Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry, 2011)

A morally beguiling effort about two endlessly cynical siblings embarking on a road trip together, The Color Wheel easily sidesteps its glaringly low-budget sensibilities by laying on the uneasy charm and wit early and often. Straightforward as it all seems, you can’t help but feel conflicted when it comes to liking the brother-sister duo, funny as their interplay may be, especially as the film comes to a rather peculiar close. All things considered, Alex Ross Perry’s latest is a very welcome departure from mainstream fare, even if your opinion of the film will tend to directly correspond with that of the characters themselves.

WeekendWeekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011)

Successfully splicing incisive civil rights commentary with a heartfelt portrait of a couple’s reluctance in committing to a full-on relationship, Weekend is essentially the best of both worlds even if its views on the former ring a bit familiar. Emotionally rich portrayals of the titular Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) benchmark the proceedings, allowing us to care for and even relate to them as each expresses his views on the budding issue at the film’s core, right up until the clock strikes twelve and the duo has to face the harsh reality of their impending fate. Haigh’s assured direction does wonders for his intelligent, moreover tasteful script as it all teems with a sense of authenticity I’ve always fervently admired within contemporary cinema.

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Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order):

10 Years (Linden, ’11)
Save the Date (Mohan, ’12)
Sexy Beast (Glazer, ’00)

Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 9

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