The Top Ten of 2012

What started as a fun write-up has turned into an obsessive ranking system over the years. At the behest of a few buddies, my last list kick-started a film blog. I already watch a ton of movies, but I still managed to break my personal viewing record in 2012.  The pressure is mounting, but I’m still having fun.

First, here are the Honorable Mentions:

Flight: If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, don’t. You can thank Zemeckis for the film’s early adrenaline shot. Once you realize where the story is headed, Denzel’s already taken control of the cockpit. Although Malcolm X remains his career-defining role, Whip Whitaker is Washington’s most nuanced performance yet. For those bored with his last few choices, Flight showcases the man’s range.

Headhunters: From the studio that tattooed the original Dragon Girl, this Norweigian thriller is a much more satisfying piece.  A professional art thief moon, er, daylights as the country’s top job recruiter. His lap of luxury masks an insecurity, which eventually leads to desperate measures when stakes are raised. Regardless, the audience can’t help rooting for the everyman, underneath. Which leaves the Jaime Lannister dude still the asshole.

Skyfall: While Casino Royale certainly has merit as the reboot’s flagship, Skyfall is now my favorite. As Bond’s latest adversary, Javier Bardem revisits his No Country creepiness. The series’ wide-aged audience will appreciate the subtle snark between 007 and Q. Adele’s sultry voice complements a nifty title sequence.

The Hunger Games: Calling you out, Battle Royale fans. Read Lord of the Flies or Stephen King’s A Long Walk. Watch The Running Man or any movie depicting Coliseum gladiators. Battle Royale is far from the bastion of originality. Everyone steals. THG, however, had more than a few key differences to distinguish itself. According to Godard, “It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.” If you’re a Tarantino fan, you should be the last one shouting BR war cries. Without Godard, QT’s Fiction has no Pulp. Disappointed book fans, please stop with “The movie left __ out” or “The movie didn’t develop xx’s character” complaints. The book is 500 pages of small font text. A movie usually has two hours to visualize the same story. If you disregard the constraints of medium B, you aren’t meant to judge the film separately. A legitimate gripe? The cut / two seconds rule. I’m sure the editors were thrilled with that executive decision. Wow, this rec veered into a rant. THG is nonetheless a worthy effort, highlighted by outstanding costume design and competent acting.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: The art of sushi begins with Jiro. Technique, perseverance and attention to detail create culinary nirvana. Who knew a train station could host a master chef deserving of three Michelin stars?

JGL double feature: Rian Johnson’s Looper was hailed by many as the year’s best sci-fi. Joseph Gordon-Levitt reunites with Johnson in this mind-bending twister. The first half puts a creative spin on time travel. Johnson takes a commendable risk by humanizing the second act. However, the conclusion’s emotional weight didn’t resonate. The last few lines were perfectly penned, despite the ending’s abruptness. Perhaps I was spoiled by the duo’s first collaboration, BrickPremium Rush is a much simpler story, yet the more enjoyable JGL showcase. Think updated version of Kevin Bacon’s Quicksilver, only with a fixed-gear and the Chinese mob. Sadly, Michael Shannon’s crooked cop charisma is diluted with Jamie Chung’s terrible immigrant accent. It isn’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s bad, but still…

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Imagine Pan’s Labyrinth constructed in a bayou. Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis shines as the year’s newest discovery. Six year-old Hushpuppy processes nature’s unforgiving destruction with the boundless imagination smiled upon youth. Grounding her fanciful flights are harsh lessons of survival taught by her father, Wink. Released from melting polar ice caps, the mythical Auroch creatures represent an ecological allegory inside Hushpuppy’s fantastical journey.

Butter: Eliciting lukewarm reception at best, this butter-carving comedy falls victim to an unsure identity. Why is it worth checking out? I had no idea Olivia Wilde could be this funny.

The Master: Watching a PT Anderson film is akin to staring at a masterpiece inside the Louvre. Between the grandiose shots, flawless composition and inventive sound design, the results are intimidating. The Master stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, no doubt inspired by L. Ron Hubbard and his unique take on spirituality. The film’s momentum is buried in the third act, eliminating Top Ten consideration. Unlike my Olivia Wilde preconception before watching Butter, I did have an idea Joaquin Phoenix could be this crazy.

Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick’s vocal vehicle is everything Glee ain’t- funny and not eye-gougingly annoying. John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks dispense side-splitting commentary during ear-pleasing perfection.

The horror genre: Considering the breadth of film dominating my time, some may be surprised to learn that horror is where my heart is. For the first time in seven lists, not a one lands in my Top Ten. However, feel free to use Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods as an introductory compendium to non-believers. The UK’s Hammer Films continues its return to form with the atmospheric Lady in Black. For a wide release, Sinister had some very wicked images flickering from Ethan Hawke’s projector (not to mention the year’s moodiest score). Australia exported the year’s top foreign horror, The Loved Ones. Released down under three years ago, TLO can be described as Fatal Attraction meets The Descent, written by Cameron Crowe (circa 1989). My favorite fright flick of 2012 is the quirky coming-of-age shocker, Excision. Full review here.

 

These four were the Heisman Hopefuls, just missing invitations to the Top Ten green room:

Detachment

A powerful wake-up call to parents everywhere, this inner-city portrait paints a grim picture. We’re losing our kids to the easiest facilitator of failure- apathy. Adrian Brody gives a layered performance as Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher-poet entrenched in an academic environment designed to fail. To win back the minds inside his classroom, Barthes must first choose to break free from self-imposed isolation. Unlike most teacher-saves-student films, Detachment refrains from solving systemic problems with a neat bow tie. Doing so only neglects the urgency threatening this generation.

 

The Grey

Liam Neeson utilizes his Taken alpha skills to survive a pack of man-hunting wolves, instead of sex-trafficking Euros. Add a deadly snowstorm to the mix and death by plane crash may not be the worst fate imaginable. The survivors’ dire situation tests the extreme boundaries of human condition. The Grey marketed itself as a wolf chase through the Alaskan elements. Beneath the fangs and hypothermia breathes a meditative exercise, a rediscovering of one’s will to live.

 

Compliance

How far will we be coerced under duress from authority? A fast food manager receives a call that one of her employees has stolen money from a customer. The accused is detained in the restaurant’s stock room and the caller’s demands stray further from civility. Overheard at my screening: “Nobody is that dumb.” “You don’t have to do what he says!” Until the viewer realizes the film is based on a true story. Social psychologists have studied these concepts before, specifically with the Milgram and Stanford experiments. While most of us share confidence in a sense of moral action, history remembers otherwise. Wholesale extermination wiped out millions while mouths remained silent.

 

Silver Linings Playbook

The only thing I loathe more than a rom-com is the phrase rom-com.  The only thing I hate more than the phrase rom-com is typing rom-com four times in two sentences. Matthew Quick’s fiction-turned-screenplay hints at the familiar, but takes a refreshingly unexpected route to get there. Bradley Cooper nails his performance as a released mental patient adjusting to life on the outside. However, Jennifer Lawrence absorbs the screen as Cooper’s wacky equal. Scrapping Katniss heroism for flawed humanism, J-Law delivers the best female performance of the year. Don’t worry… The Academy will screw it up again (cough, Winter’s Bone, cough). And just when I thought De Niro had left the building, thespian Rob shows up for game day. *The toughest omission, by far. I agonized for days thinking of ways to slip Playbook into the Top Ten. Dropping any other finalist proved impossible and slotting #10 a tie would have been a copout.

 

Without further ado, my Top Ten (Most readers probably skipped down here immediately. Don’t think otherwise… Your noses are all growing.):

10. The Sessions

 

The main reason why Silver Linings Playbook is on the outside looking in, an essay titled “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate” serves as inspiration for 2012’s most unlikely feel-good movie. Struck with polio as a child, Mark O’Brien is paralyzed from the neck down. When he’s not being transported on a gurney, he scribes from home with the breathing assistance of an iron lung. Determined to authenticate his poetry’s emotional foundation, the 38-year old virgin enlists the professional aid of a sex surrogate. Cheryl schedules six sessions designed to educate Mark about the sensual nature of the female (and his own) body. In a bold career move, Helen Hunt goes au naturel while providing tender assurance to Mark’s bedside vulnerability. In an industry where youth is stretched with Botox and scalpels, Hunt unflinchingly bares maturity in its unmodified beauty. With Mark’s gift of gab and an array of facial expressions, John Hawkes throws his hat into the Academy’s ballot box. The Sessions hits all the right notes and strikes more than a few chuckles. Take a bow, Mr. Hawkes. You’ve busted my Top 10 three years running.

 

9. Klown

This Danish export leads the year in laughs. Desperately trying to prove fatherhood readiness to his pregnant girlfriend, Frank “chaperones” her 12-year old nephew on a canoe trip. The only problem? Besides potential kidnapping charges, Frank’s buddy Casper planned the “Tour de P***y” without adolescent contingencies. The awkward trio descends upon Casper’s carnal objectives, despite their obliviousness to social mores. As Frank scrambles for parental intuition, his bad decisions only agitate their predicament. Just when Klown bares a little bit of heart, inappropriate humor rudely takes a bite. And it’s still okay to smile.

 

8. End of Watch

Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal concoct a winning formula in this buddy-cop thriller. Full review here.

 

7. The Imposter

In 1994, a 13-year old boy disappears in San Antonio, Texas. Three years later, Nicholas has been found over 5,000 miles away in Linares, Spain. The teen’s missing years tell quite a story, but the documentary really surges post family reunion. After a relatively short time apart, their son now looks noticeably different and speaks with a heavy accent. Despite the drastic changes, the family is adamant the boy is theirs. While family members, investigators and an adult “Nicholas” spin an incredible yarn, the stomach knot gets tighter. As the film digs deeper, extraordinary details emerge in a case almost too implausible to believe.

 

6. Chronicle

What happens when three normal teenagers are suddenly bestowed super powers? Chronicle dodges traditional found footage constraints by incorporating creative camera work into its storyline. After exploring a mysterious crater, the enhanced high schoolers test their newfound abilities by amplifying pranks upon an unsuspecting public. The light-hearted tone takes a dramatic detour when the group’s introvert begins acquiring skills faster than the others. An interesting character study unfolds in a fable Greek in scope.

 

5. Zero Dark Thirty

Katherine Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker is a much tauter production than her 2008 Best Picture. Accusations of American jingoism had ZDT on the defensive even before release. The CIA’s denouncement of torture scenes lobbed complaints from the opposite spectrum. Despite its inevitable conclusion, the film’s moral ambiguity deflects criticism from both sides. Hollywood darling Jessica Chastain develops Maya’s subtle changes while leading the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. The skirmishes are connected by a fascinating investigation, constantly impeded by the barrage of red tape. Between the explosions, Maya’s head remains buried in documents, photographs and maps. Despite the nearly three hour run time, ZDT sears at a blistering pace. The payoff is phenomenal and the last 20 minutes will leave viewers exhausted. With a possible second BP trophy on the mantel, Mr. Cameron may start learning a few things from his ex.

 

4. Sound of My Voice

A pair of journalists infiltrate a cult, whose leader claims to be from the future. Quite a setup, eh? Co-writers Zat Batmaglij and Brit Marling swing the audience between belief and skepticism, challenging our collective schema in the process. The investigative couple’s subtle transformation is organized into ten chapters throughout the film. Marling also doubles as Maggie, the cult’s enigmatic leader. Several instances border on the absurd, particularly the indoctrination scenes. However, levity is quickly silenced by a single voice. The audience is completely transfixed during Maggie’s teaching moments. The ending is sure to spark discussion, yet the script’s overall brilliance can’t be fully appreciated upon initial viewing. Following last year’s Another Earth, Marling has quickly achieved the “It girl” label among indie circles. Quite a rise for a gal who turned down Goldman Sachs to pursue silver-screened dreams.

 

3. Holy Motors

Like most art French, writer/director Leos Carax thumbs his nose at cinematic convention with an avant garde take on technology and film. Denis Lavant is literally the actor’s chameleon, transforming into an astounding 11 different faces throughout film. Lavant is whisked to each new assignment inside a stretch limo that serves as his dressing room. From his breathtaking choreography inside a motion capture studio to an unsettling romp through the Parisian sewer system, Lavant’s day swims along with the fluidity of its innovative narrative. Intermission is announced when Lavant’s accordion leads a flash mob of musicians around town. American blues legend R.L. Burnside’s “Let My Baby Ride” colors the neighborhood in the coolest scene of the year.

 

2. The Raid: Redemption

Harkening back to John Carpenters 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13, a swat team is trapped inside an apartment complex inhabited by the city’s worst criminals. The cops attempt to reach the top floor, where the crime lord sets the chess pieces in motion. All hell breaks loose when the big boss offers free rent in exchange for total police extermination. Gareth Evans trims the dialogue by conducting a bloody symphony of violence. A cinematic orgy of bullets, impaled necks and broken bones replace any semblance of character development. Unbelievable fight choreography is rhythmically arranged to Mike Shinoda’s gritty electro-score. Indonesia’s top Pencak Silat fighter and his real-life teacher (starring as the boss’ badass enforcer) defy physics in the greatest action flick of the young 21st century.

 

1. Miss Bala

Y Tu Mamá También co-stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luno produce the Queen of 2012 cinema. Full review here.

 

That a wrap, folks. As always, you can lodge comments and complaints to the feedback box below. What were some of your favorites last year?

Excision (2012)

Unrated | 81 Min. | Horror, Comedy, Drama

Future Remake TitleI Just Want Mom to Love Me

In a nutshell: “Can you contract an STD by having sex with a dead person?” No stranger to the inappropriate, Pauline manages to befuddle even her second period sex ed. teacher. Then again, normalcy is light years from Pauline’s universe. Drifting through life with zero friends and a family with whom she fails to connect, she splits her “me time” between prayers to God and dreams mixing blood, sex and body parts. As she begins to discover her own sexuality, her private thoughts start leaking into reality… and that’s where the fun really begins.

Cobra’s Bite:  AnnaLynne McCord has flown under the radar with roles often accentuating her beauty. Her credits are highlighted by a darkly delicious turn as doc stalker Eden, in the FX sitcom Nip/Tuck. I hear she also makes a fairly believable elitist in the newer 90210, but I’ll take a fan’s word for it. Stealing a cue from Charlize Theron’s Monster, McCord bravely allows a makeup crew to work their magic in reverse. Bad skin, jutting jaw and ratty hair aside (don’t let the insert above fool you), McCord displays impressive range transforming into the eccentric. Sliding into a seemingly uncomfortable skin, she nails Pauline’s nervous ticks and wary mannerisms.

Although off-putting to nearly everyone she meets, Pauline’s tactless demeanor drives the film’s situational humor. However, Excision’s most incendiary moments spring from Pauline’s sleep. Executing her dream sequences must have been a cinematographer/production designer’s wet dream. Over-stylized, over-saturated and (over)shocking, the more sensitive viewers may smash the remote control’s stop button on Pauline’s journey prematurely. However, the dreams are key motifs that ultimately construct her thought processes. These visuals may reveal a diagnosis of absolute lunacy, but they also provide the film’s subtext of unrealistic beauty expectations.

At its core, Excision has surprising heart. As Pauline’s overbearing mother, Traci Lords may have finally shaken the former adult film star label. The complex struggle between mother and teen-angst daughter comes to an emotional head during the film’s explosive climax. Familial dysfunction seems to be a trending theme in American horror lately, most recently explored in Lucky McKee’s The Woman (2012). The film also borrows a bit from McKee’s earlier classic May (2006), an excellent character study of another woman misunderstood. Excision does stand alone in one regard: The grotesque has never been this erotic (or as wacky).

The Verdict:

Excision is available on DVD and Blu-Ray October 16th, 2012.  

End of Watch (2012)

R | 109 Min. | Drama, Action, Comedy

Future Remake Title: Cartels, Speeding Tickets & Paperwork

In a nutshell: A pair of LADP officers return to active duty after being cleared of a previous shooting. The next few hours take viewers on a simulated ride along, as the city’s finest uncover a serious case amidst their routine calls.

Cobra’s Bite: Boasting a strong resume of writing and directing credits, End of Watch is David Ayer’s second release wearing both hats. Ayer’s pen manifested one of last decade’s most ambiguous villains in 2001’s Training Day (and subsequently helped Denzel nab an Oscar). While Harsh Times (2006) wasn’t without its missteps, the freshman director cultivated a very rare chemistry from its two leads.

End of Watch balances an extremely taut narrative with enjoyable moments of natural levity. The film eschews thematic cliches exacted in most cop dramas, most notably police corruption and department politics. Instead, the audience is dropped inside South Central Los Angeles street theater, brought to you by Officers Taylor and Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaall and Michael Peña, respectively). Shaky cams catch the action, thanks to Taylor’s video project for his off-duty fine arts class.

* In the endless debate of shaky versus still mounted cameras, I’m a huge believer that the former works beautifully if done correctly. Detractors call shaky photography disconcerting, ultimately frustrating those who demand a clean view of each moment shot. Others become nauseous while watching erratic motion on such a large screen- this crowd should probably stay away. But if you prefer roller coasters to carousels, don’t let this film’s creative choice prevent you from seeing it. The free-flowing action is much more visceral when your eyes move in sync with the characters’ own. With each foot chase, knock down and recoil, the film replaces passive observance with active immersion.

While a good portion of the film explores the dynamic between Officers Taylor and Zavala, End of Watch is much more than a glamorized episode of Cops. The script never spoon-feeds the characters’ pasts, opting for expositional glimpses nestled within sound dialogue. The comparatively lighthearted peace-keeping sequences are suddenly splintered when the partners open a crime scene’s Pandora’s Box. The jokes remain steady, but the ominous arc grips tighter the rest of the way.

Much like police officers, actors must wear masks when called upon. Gyllenhall and Peña spent nearly half a year riding with officers, during late night beats in South Central. Witnessing the darker edges of urban sprawl together can’t help but forge a unique bond. The shared experience translated seamlessly onto the screen, as the two play off each other like childhood friends. The dashboard scenes are filled with hilarious banter, interspersed with relatable life quandaries. However, hands are never far from holsters and the mood is flipped within seconds. Peña continues to prove himself as one of the business’ most under-appreciated talents. His portrayal of Mike Zavala is equal parts assertive, comical and introspective. Gyllenhaal delivers an equally jarring performance as the rangy Brian Taylor. The audience rides an emotional volley throughout his most transformative scenes.

Although not at the forefront, the female leads are equally impressive. The entertainment industry often ladles female officer roles with emotional baggage or overcompensating egos. Thankfully, Watch’s America Ferrerra and Cody Horn exercise believable control over perps, while deftly shooting quips at their male peers. On the flip side of the law, a rare, yet twisted, example of feminism is highlighted within the ultra machismo gang environment. In both cases, each woman isn’t just trying to be one of the guys… she really is. Oh, and hearing Anna Kendrick sing along to Cam’ron is nearly worth the price of admission.

The Verdict:

End of Watch is now playing in theaters.

Killer Joe (2012)

NC-17 | 103 Min. | Mystery, Thriller, Comedy

Future Remake Title:  Now That’s Fried Chicken!

In a nutshell:  So your mom stole an ounce of blow to fix her dilapidated Cadillac. Gosh darn it, you’re now in the hole with the dealer. (Gee, thanks ma!)  But wait, she’s got a $50K life insurance policy. And you know a guy who knows a guy that can expedite the natural cycle of life?  Hey Mensa, there’s another layer to this sterling inspiration of Machiavellian profundity… The cleaner also moonlights as a Dallas PD detective. Pass me a drumstick and let the games begin.

Cobra’s Bite:  While known for such iconic titles as The French Connection and The Exorcist, William Friedkin’s last few projects translate material imagined for the stage. His screen adaptations tap into a hyperbolized, yet focused, illustration of psychological conditions. Friedkin’s previous feature, 2006’s Bug, was so bizarre that many audiences left theaters confounded.  If his goal was to produce irregular palpitations conduced by relentless paranoia, Friedkin succeeded in spades.  Bug’s two leads consume each other’s exhausting suspicions, but the original playwright’s own distrust ultimately paints the film’s timely verisimilitude.

* A quick tip before watching Friedkin’s last two efforts:  Skip the trailers.  Bug’s biggest obstacle was its marketing.  Audiences were promised a horror flick, driven by the promise of an entomological monstrosity. Honestly, the studio probably played the advertising as best it could.  The trailers had to appeal to a wide audience, despite the film’s niche scope.

Six years later, the enigmatic director returns with the similarly eccentric Killer Joe.  Thankfully, the studio was smart enough to push this film through the independent circuit (helped along by its NC-17 rating, naturally).  Regional vernacular and a serious score keep the characters believable in this Southern gothic noir. Panic is established with the first shot, as Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) barges into his family’s trailer home. With shortages of collective brainpower and any sense of scruples, the family’s dangerously underdeveloped scheme isn’t exactly an original narrative. However, the film takes a serious turn after a Texas-sized pair of black cowboy boots walks across the screen.

If there was any doubt as to Matthew McConaughey’s range, Killer Joe effectively puts the notion to rest. His portrayal of Joe Cooper is masterfully creepy, unstable and surprisingly touching. Hitchcock believed a scene’s real power lies not when the bomb goes off, but in its audience knowing the bomb is ticking underneath the breakfast table. McConaughey pulls off two such instances with an authenticity that temporarily erases any memory of David Wooderson cruising for high school chicks (Linklater fans aside). These scenes are highly uncomfortable and perversely hilarious. Friedkin’s sardonic wink will likely elevate these visuals to cult-status, joining those immortalized in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

As Chris’ bumpkin father, Ansel, Thomas Haden Church provides much of the film’s deadpan humor. Gina Gershon completely submerses her body and spirit into the dark places her role demands. Despite being asked to leap out of any sane comfort zone, Gershon conveys brilliant subtlety during Sharla’s key moments. Unfortunately, Hirsch falls a bit flat while driving Chris’ persistent edginess.

Keep an eye out for British import Juno Temple.  The casting of dim, yet hopeful, Dottie Smith required a young actress capable of executing a measured performance. The fast rising starlet effortlessly displays a nuanced maturity beyond her years. As the film’s singular expression of innocence, Dottie represents a harsh truth: If purity stands alone in a grotesque world, it will grab love from the most despicable of places.

The Verdict:

Killer Joe is now playing in theaters.

Miss Bala (2011)

R | 113 Min. | Drama, Action, Thriller

Future Remake Title: Miss Congeniality 3: Tijuana Gone Wild

In a nutshell: Convinced by her best friend Suzu, Laura Guerrero decides to enter Miss Baja’s annual beauty pageant.  After the tryouts, Laura reluctantly meets Suzu at Club Millenium.  Unfortunately, the next few days thrust Laura into the center of a violent and very real drug war.  Oh yeah… In between bullets and bloodshed, there’s still a pageant to win.

Cobra’s bite: AFI graduate Gerardo Naranjo creates a dreary tapestry of a people under siege. Controlled by an unholy trinity of government officials, corrupt cops and ultra violent drug cartels, the everyday citizen is forced to juggle poverty’s puzzle with hopeless perpetuity.  Despite the city’s dilapidated buildings and ubiquitous military presence, Naranjo’s long tracking camera shots capture Mexico’s inherent beauty.  The juxtaposition is analogous to Laura’s shift between the harsh reality of war and the dream-encapsulated Miss Baja contest.

Naranjo’s rising star is certainly attached to Stephanie Sigman’s performance as Laura. Miss Bala follows a woman whose extraordinary beauty serves as both hope and curse. Sigman’s facial expressions and body mannerisms sprint through the emotional gamut.  Laura’s wistful eyes gaze over a skyline speckled with smoke and gunfire.  The very next scene may show her entire being consumed with fear, as she executes her next move.  Laura’s only reprieve is during a short visit to the dress shop. When the camera flips between her and the dressing room mirror, viewers may not even realize their own sudden relaxation. The relief is short-lived, however, as Sigman’s character is unforgivingly shoved back into the fire.

Miss Bala works because Naranjo transports viewers to a third world environment without exploiting its realism.  The violence, while raw and unglamorous, is rhythmically paced with the disturbing quietness simmering inside Lino, the cartel boss (played by the extremely scary Noe Hernandez). While the film ultimately revolves around Laura, Naranjo expertly weaves several nifty story lines into the three day snapshot.  Even scarier than Laura’s cinematic nightmare?  The film is loosely based on the true story of Miss Sinaloa 2008.  Miss Baja is also the best film I’ve seen in young 2012.

The Verdict:

Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)

R | 92 Min. | Horror, Comedy

Future Title Remake: Twins of Sin

In a nutshell: The title pretty much sums it up. Twin sisters Badass and Geek find a surprise in their car’s trunk. With the help of Junkie and Goody Two Shoes, the gruesome twosome sets out to find a burial spot. With a serial killer one step behind, the merry gang finds itself in all sorts of shenanigans along the way.

Cobra’s bite: Who said chicks can’t do horror? Vancouver natives Jen and Sylvia Soska co-wrote, directed and starred in their debut feature. The duo’s obvious love for the genre had an interesting beginning. Sylvia, older by 19 minutes, was born twice as heavy as Jen. Apparently, elder sis tried eating younger sis inside the womb.  The inauspicious births may actually have been blessings in disguise. While most girls were marrying off their Ken and Barbie dolls, the Soska kids were too busy looking for spiders.  Eventually, their arachnid playdates evolved into a fascination with fear, itself.  A lifetime of horror flicks spurred their own filmmaking dreams, eventually manifesting in Twisted Twins Productions.

Working on a shoe-string budget, Dead Hooker is certainly rooted in the grindhouse tradition. Uneven storytelling, coupled with a few moments of shoddy camerawork and sound design, will be tough sledding for some viewers. However, fans of the genre will appreciate DHIAT‘s overall vision. Select scenes deliver glimpses of genius, waiting to break through. Effects and makeup certainly displayed a professional aesthetic, surprising considering the budgetary limitations. In between the blood and guts splashed about the lens, the film’s most defining moments are stroked with an authentic horror sensibility. The dark comedy never hides from its camp, but the Soskas understand when to jolt viewers back to an unsettling reality.

Dead Hooker is far from perfect, even by grindhouse standards. In all likelihood, DHIAT will have a tough time gaining cult status.  Nonetheless, the film doesn’t sell itself out- DHIAT knows exactly where it comes from and never apologizes for what it lacks. At the very least, it’s a cinematic exercise conducted by two very knowledgeable students of horror.  Most importantly, the Soskas have injected a female perspective into the hardcore horror spectrum. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Dead Hooker only scratches the surface of their depravity (the twins’ next project, American Mary, looks incredible).  Are they good news for female filmmakers attempting to break into the fear business? You never know… The Soska twins may prove to be pioneers when the blood settles.

The Verdict:

Dead Hooker In A Trunk is available on DVD, January 31st.

British Television Meets American Craigslist

$5 Million Dollar Bounty: Group of Misfits


Date: 2012-01-07

Reply to:


 

Top notch villain needed to murk five “superhero” delinquents roaming the streets of Thamesmead. It is recommended to attack while targets serve community payback. Individual powers are fluid, so potential candidates must be able to adapt. Fortunately, the biggest threat has been removed. The immortal was last seen in Las Vegas, protecting his pregnant bird (never mind the child is some other bloke’s). Here’s the skinny on the remaining twats:

  • Simon Bellamy
    Position: Unappointed leader.
    Attributes: Carries an aura of mystery, some believe a mask for sexual perversions.
    Warning: Highly skilled in the arts of invisibility and free-running.
  • Kelly Bailey
    Position: Enforcer.
    Attributes: Knows what others think.  Keep intel outside your noggin.
    Warning: Mean streak traced back to council estates. The word “chav” is a likely irritant.
  • Curtis Donovan
    Position: The clock.
    Attributes:  Bending time and himself.
    Warning: Recommended first target.  Donovan may kill asset slowly with incessant whining and regret.
  • Alisha Bailey
    (No relation to K. Bailey)
    Position: Sex vixen.
    Attributes: Eye candy.
    Warning: Least priority. While inarguably the group’s fittest, our experts have failed to observe target’s utility.
  • Rudy Wade
    Position: Rookie.
    Attributes: Taking the piss.
    Warning: You may see double.

Here is their last photo taken.  Do not be fooled by collective dumbfoundedness.  Former assets have been eliminated and body whereabouts remain unknown.  

 

Location: Southeast London
Compensation: Listed.  Or funeral expenses paid.
Principals only.  Recruiters, please do not contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

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