Tag Archives: Dark

My Top 10 Movies Of 2012

If only I was a professional film critic, I’d be able to see all the movies and DVDs before year’s end to make my Top 10 list of the year. But I’m just an everyday schmuck like you who has to wait until the movies hit the theatre or come out on DVD to see them. Thus once again a delay this late in my Top 10 list. Maybe one year I’ll finally be an official film critic. You can always hope.

Anyways without further ado, many of you have already seen my lists of my Top 10’s from 2002 to 2010 and of 2011. Now I finally have my list out of the Top 10 of 2012 and five honorable mention picks:

MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2012

Zero Dark Thirty

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
  4. Argo
  5. The Life of Pi
  6. Les Miserables
  7. Lincoln
  8. The Master
  9. Searching For Sugar Man
  10. Amour

Honorable Mention:

  • Django Unchained
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Wreck-It Ralph
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Oscars 2012 Best Picture Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Chastain plays Maya, a woman who means business in Zero Dark Thirty.

Jessica Chastain plays Maya, a fearless CIA agent who means business in Zero Dark Thirty.

-So Patrick, be honest with me. You really believe this story? I mean…Osama bin Laden?

-Yeah.

-What part convinced you?

-Her confidence.

9/11 movies aren’t very successful and rarely are they good. I don’t know if Zero Dark Thirty can rightfully be called a 9/11 movie but boy does it deliver well. Many can argue it’s the best film of the year.

The film opens in 2003 as a prisoner Amar, who is believed to have connections to Saudi terrorists, is questioned brutally by CIA officer Dan at the US embassy in Pakistan on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. He is joined by a young CIA officer, Maya, who has spent her entire brief career on intelligence related to Osama. Maya assists Dan in his humiliating torture on Amar at the black site until he confesses the name of Osama’s personal courier: Abu Ahmed. Other detainees corroborate the claim with some claiming there’s a middle-man between the two named Abu Faraj. Abu Faraj is captured in 2005 and Maya is able to interrogate him under torturous conditions. He denies Abu Ahmed but Maya suspects a cover-up.

The whole scenario is one long puzzle from 2003 to 2011 where Maya is trying to connect the pieces. Maya is trying to determine the identity of Abu Ahmed and trying to track his whereabouts or even existence with every piece of communication she can find. She interrogates prisoners. She searches for clues with every further incident associated with al-Qaeda that happens. During the time she’s able to go from a rookie CIA officer to a veteran over that period.

However the dark cloud keeps on lingering. Osama is still at large and sending tapes to al-Qaeda of his latest messages for broadcast. Terrorist attacks continue like the 2005 London bombings and the 2008 Islamabad Marriott bombings in which Maya is actually in the hotel dining with her friend Jessica and colleague. Both survive despite the explosion blowing a massive hole in the street. Even Maya survives being shot at.

It isn’t until the 2009 Camp Chapman attacks where a suicide bomber kills nine CIA agents including Jessica that marks a turning point. It’s there in a meeting with all those involved including Jessica that the head is disappointed with all and even humiliated that these many years have passed and Osama is still not caught. Terrorist attacks continue. None of the traces come up positive. Agents even concluded that Maya’s claim of Abu Ahmed is long dead and now a false trail. Soon Maya receives a lead from a researcher of the identity of Abu Ahmed. It isn’t until Maya is able to get a trace to the mother’s phone and even a sense of the use of tradecraft that the man really is Abu Ahmed and residing in an urban compound near a Pakistani military academy.

Months of heavy surveillance by the CIA fail to prove that bin Laden is there. Even Maya writes the number of ongoing days on her boss’ window. Finally a mission is planned to capture bin Laden in the compound but can only receive approval from Obama if it’s confirmed he’s there. Most of the CIA agents give certainty estimates ranging from 60 to 80% but Maya is 100% certain he’s there. The raid is given approval by President Obama on May 2nd. What takes place is history in the making. What is shown in the film will surprise even those most knowledgeable of the hunt for bin Laden.

The best thing about this movie is that it’s many things in one. It’s the story of the trace for the most wanted man in the world. It’s the story of a nation on a mission that’s long, complicating and frustrating as time goes by without success. It’s the story of one woman and her search to find that man. This is a multifaceted story that packs a lot into it. We see with each passing year and each passing additional terrorist attack committed by al-Qaeda how the search for Osama has to be done and how frustrating it is. We see from the people inside the government agencies the frustration they go through to find Osama with each passing year and with each additional terrorist attack. We also see from Maya her pursuit to find Osama through her computer work, questioning of those connected with al-Qaeda and her mappings out. But we also see her own personal involvement in the matter. She witnesses and questions the tortured prisoner. She’s with her friend and colleague in a hotel when an explosion happens. She loses that friend in another bomb explosion. She’s at the camp site when the mission to catch Osama is launched. This is as much Maya’s story and the U.S.’s story as it is about the hunt for Osama.

The funny thing is no one knows the identity of Maya. Many say she’s a certain different woman. Some say Maya is actually a combination of characters. All I can say is after this movie, she will be to the hunt for bin Laden what Deep Throat was to Watergate and we may never know her true identity until 30 or 40 years or even after her death. Only time will tell.

One thing to say about Zero Dark Thirty is that it has a lot of furious message board activity wherever anything to do about the movie is discussed; not just IMDB. I myself believe that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda did in fact cause the 9/11 invasions and destruction. I refute the claims of the 9/11 ‘truthers’ because I’ve done my own research. I’ve known of terrorist acts before 9/11 committed by al-Qaeda ordered by Osama and of terrorist acts since. I have read the news and have kept on top of things from the start of 9/11 to the various intermittent terrorist attacks to al-Qaeda’s acknowledgement of the death of Osama bin Laden. I’m not afraid to dismiss the claims of “9/11 was an inside job” for the garbage that I see it to be.

I’m not sorry I believe this and I refuse to consider myself a sheep. In fact I consider the ‘truthers’ that declare 9/11 to be an inside job out loud to be propagandists instead of truthers. They care more about media attention through their opportunistic public demonstrations and violent destruction of public property than they do about the truth coming out. Sometimes it left me wondering if left-wingers love calling everything a lie. Hey I’m from Vancouver: the leftist crap-disturber capital of the world–Right, Harsha Walia?– and they’ve given me every reason to think that way about them. Osama and al-Qaeda carried the acts of 9/11 out. Osama was brought to justice by being killed May 1, 2011. They should keep their media whore cravings to themselves. Hey, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for free-thinking. But don’t shove it down my throat as the truth! I’ll decide the truth for myself. Besides I’ve been on message boards long enough to know message boards are so full of clowns, who needs a circus?

Also on message boards are people saying how the movie doesn’t denounce violence towards prisoners of war. Let me remind you this movie is to tell the story as it happens. It owes nobody an anti-prisoner violence message. Besides as far as war goes, we are living in a time with the closest to humane methods of war. We didn’t have ‘smart’ weapons back in the past as we do now. Up until 50 years ago we didn’t show concern for innocent civilian deaths. And back then we didn’t care how prisoners of war were treated. War was war, the enemy was the enemy and a POW was a POW. Osama had a huge network of colleagues carrying out his actions and torture was necessary. Besides have we forgotten this is prison?

Without a doubt the movie was all Jessica Chastain’s. Her performance of Maya was a very 3D role of a woman who had feelings but had to be tough both emotionally and mentally to find Osama after such a long search for him. That scene at the very end when she sees ‘her mission accomplished’ was especially remarkable. It will be no surprise if Jessica wins the Oscar this year. It’s not to say that Jessica was the only good performance. Jason Clarke’s performance as Dan and Jennifer Ehle’s performance as Jessica was also good too. Chastain’s brilliant performance however couldn’t have been done firstly without the excellent direction of Kathryn Bigelow and the writing of Mark Boal. I have to say that Kathryn Bigelow has to be the most fearless director in Hollywood and Zero Dark Thirty shows how fearless she can be in touching very touchy subject matter. Mark Boal is also just as fearless. He’s a former journalist who has written books and news articles on the Iraq War. He would also go on to write the screenplay for Bigelow’s other fearless film The Hurt Locker. Its critical accolades and Oscar success helped make a name for both Boal and Bigelow. Both team up again here and they both deliver excellently.

Another interesting note is Zero Dark Thirty’s box office run. The first Bigelow/Boal film The Hurt Locker won the 2009 Best Picture Oscar but only grossed $17 million at the US box office: the lowest gross for a Best Picture winner since 1960’s The Apartment. Zero Dark Thirty is another Bigelow/Boal film that packs a lot of punch and this time it pays off at the US box office as it currently has grossed $78.6 million as of press time and its chances of passing $100 million look healthy. Great to see.

Zero Dark Thirty takes a piece of history that we all know and gives us some things we didn’t know. The outcome is the most fearless film of 2012 and one of the best films of the year. Definitely worth seeing.

2012 Box Office – With Three Months To Go

NOTE: This blog was meant for the beginning of October but was put on hold because of my writings for the Vancouver International Film Festival. And just right after the VIFF concluded, my RAM dies on me. Now that things are back to normal, I can post this.

Another three months have passes. Two months of summer heat featuring a September that usually slumps but they still want to give people reasons to go. Meanwhile people eyeballing the box office stats are hoping 2012 will be a record-setting year. Already I talked about 2011’s grief as well as the upswings of January and February, March and April, and May and June. Even if the months didn’t set records it still added to 2012’s consistency. The big question is how did July to September stack up?

July had the big struggle of trying to cope with the shootings that happened in the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Despite the tragedy, it did not deter moviegoers. The month started off strong with Ted being the sleeper hit of the summer and one of the biggest hits of the month. Strong showings by Brave and Magic Mike and a strong Top 10 ending by The Avengers also started the month off well. The following week saw a healthy opening for The Amazing Spider-Man followed by a good opening with Ice Age: Continental Drift. The tragic shooting in Aurora didn’t prevent The Dark Knight Rises from achieving the third-highest grossing opening weekend ever. The monster success continued into the following weekend. Overall this year’s July ended up being only the sixth-highest grossing July ever and almost $200 million less than last July. It’s unknown whether the shooting in Aurora had much to do with the drop but I’m sure most people knew this was a one-in-a-billion incident.

August showed some slight improvement. Action or adventure movies ruled the month as it began with The Dark Knight Rises continuing with its reign on top and the remake of Total Recall debuting at #2 in the first weekend of August. The following weekend saw The Bourne Legacy on top with some comic relief at #2 in the form of political goofballs in The Campaign. The following weekend had The Expendables 2 open on top but not without family movies like ParaNorman and The Odd Life Of Timothy Green opening strongly that weekend. The following week was weak in debuts as Premium Rush was the strongest debuter that weekend and it was only #8. The Expendables continued to be on top. Overall 2012 grossed more than $40 million more than August 2011. It stands as the second-highest grossing August ever with only 2009 being the highest.

In September, there’s always the mark of the slowdown of the movie season with the summer wrapping up and the remaining weekends having lukewarm results. The Possession opened the month on top that Labor Day weekend and continued to be on top the following week. The third weekend in September featured more excitement with strong debuts from Resident Evil: Retribution on top and the 3D re-release of Finding Nemo opening strongly in second. The fourth weekend saw three debuting movies on top–End Of Watch, House At The End Of The Street and Trouble With The Curve–but their opening weekend grosses were between $12.2 million and $13.1 million. It was the fifth and final weekend of September that added more excitement with the animated Hotel Transylvania opening with $42.5 million–the biggest opening weekend ever for a September release–and Looper in second with an opening of $20.8 million. September ended with a total of $532.4 million, almost $75 million less than last year’s September.

So with nine of the twelve months of 2011 completed, it appears that 2012 is poised to be a record-braking year: $240 million more than last year and $363 million ahead of 2009’s record-setting pace. However don’t get excited too soon. We should not forget that these last three months were what helped propel 2009 to the record and the milestone of being the first $10 billion movie year. That quarter’s total gross of over $3.5 billion is still the highest total gross for that quarter. 2010 failed to overtake it and just missed the record. And 2011 was on record-breaking pace by $120 million but a weak fourth quarter even with a Twilight movie failed to break the record. A fourth quarter of over $3.15 billion will finally do it. So let’s hang tight.

Also you notice I left October out. As I said at the beginning, this article was meant to be published weeks ago so that’s why it’s not there. Plus with Box Office Mojo not complete in totaling up October, I think waiting is a good thing.

WORKS CITED:

“Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/

“Quarterly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/quarterly/

2012 Box Office: May and June Make For A Good End To First-Half

The first half of 2012 has passed already. A lot of movies have been released. A lot of hits and a lot of flops have been decided. But the success of the first six months of the movie year has also been decided. There was a lot of yo-yoing but its success has been determined and has allowed for studios to set goals to make 2012 a record-breaking year for them and for the movie year as a whole.

As some of you may know, the box office of 2012 is an interest of mine ever since the box office slump of 2011. 2009 still remains the highest-grossing box office year ever. Since I’ve been writing and paying attention, January and February showed big signs of improvement while March and April had a bit of a yo-yo.

May is usually seen as a month of excitement as it’s the month when the summer movie season opens. This May opened full of excitement as The Avengers broke box office opening records left, right and center and continues to draw audiences to this day. It reigned supreme over the first three weekends of May only to be dethroned in the last weekend by Men In Black 3. Even strong debuts from movies that didn’t open at #1 like Dark Shadows, Battleship and The Dictator as well as continued success of The Hunger Games helped May 2012 in ending with a strong total of  $1.141 billion. It wasn’t has high as last May but didn’t go under by that much: only $52 million. This year’s May is actually the sixth-highest grossing May ever. 2003 is the highest grossing ever with $1.4 billion.

June opened well in its first weekend with Snow White And The Huntsman debuting on top along with continued strong showings with MIB 3 and The Avengers. The following weekend was also strong with the debuts of Madagascar 3 and Prometheus both grossing over $50 million that weekend. Its successes in the Top 2 continued the following weekend with the debuts of Rock Of Ages and That’s My Boy lacking muscle. The following weekend saw Disney/Pixar’s latest picture Brave opening strong with $66 million. Nevertheless it was the final weekend of June leading into July 1st that saw strong debuts for Ted and Magic Mike. They don’t call the summer movie season a tight competition for nothing. June 2012 ended with a total gross of $1.169 billion: $27 million more than June 2011 and the third highest-grossing June ever. Only two other Junes have had higher total grosses: 2004 with $1.376 billion and 2010 with $1.41 billion.

Now that the months have all been looked at, it’s now time to look at the first half as a whole. And upon looking at the first half of the year, it appears that 2012 is on a record-setting pace. The first six months of 2012 have grossed a total of $5.184 billion. This makes it the first time the first six months have grossed a total more than $5 billon. Its total is $320 million more than the first six months of last year and $255 million more than the first six months of 2009, the year that holds the total-gross record.

So for those who are also keeping track of this year’s box office stats, remember that 2012 has $5.41 billion dollars to go in order to break 2009’s record. July opened well with continued success of Ted and an impressive debut for The Amazing Spider-Man. A strong chart-topping debut of Ice Age: Continental Drift also continued the success the following weekend.

However it was this weekend that has been hit hard. The Dark Knight Rises was expected to open phenomenally this weekend. Instead it opened with tragedy in Aurora, Colorado on Thursday as a crazed gunman named James Holmes opened fire in a theatre killing 12 people and injuring more than 50 of others. This incident has sent shockwaves in the US, around the world and in the entertainment industry. Warner Brothers was saddened by the shootings and cancelled premieres in Paris, Mexico and Japan, suspended marketing in Finland and won’t release box-office figures until Monday the 23rd. Director Christopher Nolan spoke on behalf of the film’s cast and crew and called the incident ‘devastating’. Many moviegoers remained undeterred by the incident and continued to show up. I myself plan on seeing this knowing that the shooting is a one-in-a trillion incident. The last time I ever heard of a shooting in a theatre was when Boyz ‘N Tha Hood opened back in 1991.

The second half of 2012 opened on an exciting note however currently stands on a tragic and nervous note. Will there be any changes in terms of cinema admittance in the future? Will the showings of movie trailers be changed or altered? Will this year’s box office be affected in the long run? Only time will tell.

WORKS CITED:

 “Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/

“Quarterly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/quarterly/

WIKIPEDIA: 2012 Aurora Shooting. Wikipedia.com. 2012. Wikimedia Foundation Inc.  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Aurora_shooting&gt;