All Films Watched in 2012

All films are rated on a scale of **** (A+), *** 3/4 (A), *** 1/2 (A-), *** 1/4 (B+), *** (B), ** 3/4 (B-), ** 1/2 (C+), ** 1/4 ( C), ** (C-) , * 3/4 (D+), * 1/2 (D), * 1/4 (D-), * (F)

Links are to longer reviews on site.  A film defined as 70 min.+  visual event. 
The year included with the film is the year I watched each film.
 (V) =  TV, Video or DVD    ( +) = repeat viewing      (W/O)= walked out

  January, 2012
JOSÉ AND PILAR (d. Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, Portugal)  ** 3/4
BULLHEAD (Rundskop)  (d. Michaël R. Roskam, Belgium)  *** 1/4
VOLCANO (Eldfjall)  (d. Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland)  *** 3/4
MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, THE (d. Jim Kohlberg) V. Amnesiac brought back by 70s rock, true story, moving nostalgia. Lou Pucci & J.K. Simmons really fine. *** 1/2
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA  (d. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)  ** 1/2
WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW  (d. Wei Te-Sheng, Taiwan)  *** 3/4
MISS BALA  (d. Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico)  *** 1/4
AMNESTY  (d. Bujar Alimani, Albania)  ** 1/2
LUST  (El Shooq)  (d. Khaled El Hagar, Egypt)  W/O
BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD (d. Liz Garbus) V. Illuminating, comprehensive docu about Fischer, whitewashes some aspects, but nicely made. ***
CHANTRAPAS  (d. Otar Iosseliani, Georgia)  * 1/2
ELENA  (d. Andrey Zvyagintsev)  ***
LAST WINTER  (d. John Shank)  ** 3/4
SIMON AND THE OAKS  (d. Lisa Ohlin)  *** 3/4
FOREVERLAND  (d. Maxwell McGuire)  *** 1/4
MORGEN  (d. Marian Crisan, Romania) ** 1/2
ABALLAY  (d. Fernando Spiner, Argentina)  * 3/4
MY BEST ENEMY  (d. Wolfgang Murnberger)  *** 1/4
  (d. Gianni Di Gregorio) ** 1/2
NORTH SEA TEXAS  (d. Bavo Defurne) *** 1/4
MONK, THE  (d. Dominik Moll) ** 3/4
COUSINHOOD  (d. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo)  **
SAL  (d. James Franco)  ** 1/2
MY AUSTRALIA  (d. Ami Drozd)  *** 1/2
HAYWIRE (d. Steven Soderbergh) Somewhat repetitive action flick with a fine cast and a kick-ass female protagonist. The boys were fine, too.  ***
FIVE FINGERS (d. Laurence Malkin) V. Interesting STV rendition flick, Ryan Phillippe vs. Laurence Fishburne in a political terrorist battle of wits. *** 1/4
DRESDEN (d. Roland Suso Richter) V. Soapy, romantic, horrifying, involving German 3+ hr. mini-series of Dresden fire-storm bombing raid as disaster flick. ***
RIO (d. Carlos Saldanha) 3D animated film with some fast, pretty sequences (esp. jungle birds flocking), but a silly, predictable story. ** 1/4
SHERLOCK: GREAT GAME (d. Paul McGuigan) V. + Timely re-play of final epi of series 1 leading to May start of season 2. I love the villain Moriarty!  ***
   February, 2012
(d. Nicolas Winding Refn) + Few movies worth 2nd view; but Refn's direction is so stylish & Gosling so interesting + great music, had to see again. *** 1/2
TREE OF LIFE, THE (d. Terrence Malick) + The gorgeous, impressionist take on raising 3 boys is impressive. The pretentious history of life still stultifies.   *** 1/4
CAT IN PARIS, A (d. Felicioli & Gagnol) Stylish, French style 2D animation with a rather ordinary "cat burglar" plot à la To Catch a Thief.  ** 1/2
CHICO & RITA (d. Errando, Mariscal, Trueba) Moving, involving, wonderful tribute to Cuban music & jazz with a sassy love story. Animation for adults!!  *** 1/2
CHRONICLE (d. Josh Trank)
Loved it! Wish fulfillment fantasy+Greek tragedy+mysterious superpowers+very talented young director+ Dane DeHaan *** 1/2
RANGO (d. Gore Verbinsky) Inventive animal characters & fine animation doesn't make up for director's excesses & hackneyed fake western plot. ** 1/2
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (d. Jennifer Yuh Nelson) Over amped, predictable, unfunny, soporific non-stop action 3D animation had frequent flaws.   * 1/2
PUSS IN BOOTS (d. Chris Miller) Story & vocal acting well done; flawless 3D animation. Too many familiar chase scenes! (but unusually inventive).  ** 3/4
MIDDLEMARCH (d. Anthony Page) V. 6-part Masterpiece costume mini-series, complex, informative but rather cold. I've always wanted to read the book.  ***
HUGO (d. Martin Scorsese) + 2nd time still magical, wonderful flick with fabulous 3D and a palpable love for cinema which brings me to tears. *** 3/4
(d. Michael Pavone) V. I read that this unknown coming-of-age '60s film was good. It's better than that! Superior Wonder Years stuff. *** 1/2
PROFESSOR, THE (Il camorrista) (d. Giuseppe Tornatore)  ***
20 CIGARETTES (d. Aureliano Amadei)  ***
SOME SAY NO (C'è chi dice no)  (d. Giambattista Avellino) ** 3/4
EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM, THE (Il mattino ha l'oro in bocca) (d. Francesco Patierno) *** 1/4
INDUSTRIALIST, THE (d. Giuliano Montaldo)  ** 3/4
TALK TO ME ABOUT LOVE (Parlami d'amore) (d. Silvio Muccino) ** 1/2 (but I loved it.)
ON THE SEA (d. Alessandro D'Altari) ***
HEREAFTER (d. Clint Eastwood)V+ Still one of the best films ever, incredibly moving, brilliantly written and acted, and Clint's score is special. An upgrade. ****
YOU'LL GET OVER IT (d. Fabrice Cazeneuve) V. Outstanding gay teen coming of age tv "afternoon special" French style. Julian Baumgartner, wow!  *** 1/4
SOMETHING BORROWED (d. Luke Greenfield) V. Girl loves best friend's fiancé and the morally suspect consequences. Enjoyed the actors. ** 1/2
   March, 2012
LIKE A BROTHER (Comme un frère) (d. Alapetite & Legann) V. Boy comes out in Paris while pining for straight chum from past. Involving, cute guys. ** 1/2
BIG MIRACLE (d. Ken Kwapis) Gripping film based on true story of family of whales trapped under Arctic ice. Fine cast, well directed, predictable.  *** 1/4
VOW, THE (d. Michael Sucsy) If this weren't based on true story, it would be unlikely because stars mismatched w/ little chemistry. But I enjoyed anyway ** 1/2
BEING FLYNN (d. Paul Weitz) Fabulous acting by DeNero and Dana; but film is such a downer it's hard to love. Crazy, homeless, bad father. Ugh. *** 1/4
8 (d. Rob Reiner) V. Streamed web reading of Dustin Black's play...great cast, unrehearsed, but strong. Book needs shaping. Still, moving & important. ** 1/2
SAFE HOUSE (d. Daniel Espinosa) Endless spy/chase flick about corruption high up in CIA etc. etc. Reynolds best foil for Denzel in a while.  ** 1/4
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT (d. Lorenzo Gabriele) V. Too broadly acted French farce about closeted professor chosen to foster a troubled teen boy. * 3/4
APPROPRIATE ADULT (d. Julian Jarrold) V.  True story of serial killing couple & woman chosen to represent man. Well acted, overlong. ** 3/4
CHOCOLATE WAR, THE (d. Keith Gordon) V. YA book about war of nerves among students at a private school: starkly shot with fine acting & adaptation. ***
FÖGI IS A BASTARD (d. Marcel Gisler) V.  Finally watched the DVD of my all-time #1 gay film and it still blows my mind! Honest, unsparing, sexy. *** 3/4
THIN ICE (d. Jill Sprecher) A con game thriller with more plot holes than Swiss cheese.  Some good actors defeated by a terrible, gimmicky script.   * 1/4
JOHN CARTER (d. Andrew Stanton) Good 3D f/x; but that's the last praise. Overlong, hero with no charisma, ridiculous dilemmas, bombastic. Ugh.  * 3/4
THIS MEANS WAR (d. McG) A dismal excuse for an action/romance flick. I love Tom Hardy; but he's miscast. Worst editing in a major film ever!  * 1/4
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (d. Lasse Hallström) Smart, heartwarming, entrancing & ecumenical ecological adventure. Fine script & direction.  *** 1/4
SEBASTIAN (d. Svend Wam) V. Norwegian gay coming of ager from '95. Naive, unrealistic & poorly acted (though the 2 main boy actors are attractive.) * 1/2
GAME CHANGE (d. Jay Roach) V. Julianne Moore & esp. Ed Harris are quite good in this political evisceration. Docu feel with actual news footage. ***
JOHAN (d. Philippe Vallois) V. '75 daring gay Fr. Warholian film with no story, but lots of sex.  "Making-of" on DVD much more interesting than the film. ** 1/4
FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD, THE (d. Joshua Marston) Slow developing, involving story of Albanian teen boy caught up in fatal family feud. *** 1/4
FRIENDS WITH KIDS (d. Jennifer Westfeldt) Adult rom-com, nicely played by great cast; but dialog misfires & leads' chemistry isn't convincing.  ***
STRAPPED (d. Joseph Graham) V. Gay version of No Exit, with real philosophical plot, lots of soft-core sex & some fine acting (Bonenfant a find). ***
LAST DEADLY MISSION, THE (d. Olivier Marchal) V. Gritty French policier, superbly played by Auteuil, Se7en like serial killers & realistic angst. ***
TIMES HAVE BEEN BETTER (d. Régis Musset) V. Fine, insightful Fr. tv dramedy: bourgeoise "liberal" couple flip out when 30ish son comes out. *** 1/4
GONE (d. Heitor Dhalia) Well done strong-damaged-young-women in peril thriller; but so predictable that it really didn't need to be made.  ** 1/2
CASA DE MI PADRE (d. Matt Piedmont) Spoof on mexi-narco western genre. Purposely shoddy; but still really shoddy and incredibly unfunny.  * 1/2
WANDERLUST (d. David Wain) Nouveau hippie commune comedy, ribald and at times tasteless; but gross-out fun, too. Paul Rudd is quite good.  ***
DAVID'S BIRTHDAY (d. Marco Filiberti) V. Overwrought story of married man yearning for gay affair with friend's son. Massimo Poggio one to watch. **
GAME OF THRONES (d. various) V. Season #1 on Blu-ray. Spectacular epic production, perfectly cast, event programming at its best.  ****
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (d. Edgar Wright) V.+ Comic book meets video games. Fine f/x. Cera perfect nerd hero, but just too silly for me. ** 1/2
JUDAS KISS (d. J.T. Tepnapa) V. Queer cinema at its most pretentious, with an ambitious, but unsatisfying timebinding plot. Cute, realistic gay guys is it. **
HOUSEBOY, THE (d. Spencer Schilly) V.+ Despite hard drugs, sex & despair, this is a sweet & life affirming gay film. Nick May is a find. *** 1/4
MIRROR MIRROR (d. Tarsem Singh) Gorgeous costumes, uninspired script & cheesy f/x. Armie Hammer is a convincing prince. **
   April, 2012
21 JUMP STREET (d. Lord & Miller) Grown up Superbad, but this one was funny more than stupid. Too many cock jokes! Hill & Tatum fine pairing. ** 3/4
STRANGER IN US, THE (d. Scott Boswell) V. Gay film to support, realistic relationships, authentic S.F. setting. But inept editing & pedestrian direction. ** 1/2
HUNGER GAMES, THE (d. Gary Ross) Disappointingly low key PG-13 action...but good acting (Josh Hutcherson fine) overcame story flaws.  ** 3/4
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (d. Boden & Fleck) V.+ Lovely, moving humanistic story with great perfs by Gilchrist & Galifianakis. 2nd time as good. *** 1/2
DEEP BLUE SEA, THE (d. Terence Davies) Ponderous, dark adaptation of Rattigan play. I felt no connection to story of obsessive, destructive love.  ** 1/2
CAMPFIRE (d. Bavo Defume) V. 4 short Belgian films of youthful male longing. Combine Fassbinder & Todd Haynes & no overt content & you have this. **
HERE (d. Braden King) Aimless travelog (Armenia) + love story with pretensions of indie cred. But Ben Foster is wonderful & vistas were beautiful.  ** 1/2
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (d. Whit Stillman) Smart comedy about college doufuses. Whimsical and slight; but Stillman's style still appeals to me.  ***
EARLY ONE MORNING (d. Jean-Marc Moutout)  ** 3/4
MICHAEL PETRUCCIANI (d. Michael Radford)  *** 1/2
ADOPTED, THE  (d. Melanie Laurent)  ***
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Brian Kirk) V.  Nicely staged, if too concised, version of the novel. Fine acting, but Gillian Anderson was over the top.  ***
17 GIRLS  (d. Delphine & Muriel Coulin)  ** 3/4
WELL DIGGER'S DAUGHTER (d. Daniel Auteuil)  *** 3/4
MINISTER, THE  (d. Olivier Gourmet)  ***
MEN IN THE NUDE (Férfiakt) (d. Károly Esztergályos) V. Serious, well-played drama: older straight writer falls "Death in Venice" style with teen boy. ** 3/4
AMERICANO  (d. Mathieu Demy)  ** 1/2
GOODBYE FIRST LOVE!  (d. Mia Hansen-Love)  ** 3/4
ART OF LOVE, THE (d. Emmanuel Mouret) *** 1/4
LITTLE DANCER (d. George Jecel) V.  ** 3/4

CLAPHAM JUNCTION (d. Adrian Shergold) V.+ Involving & depressing drama of one full moon night of sex, lies & gay bashings in London.
*** 1/4
DELICASY (d. D. & S. Foenkinos)  Affecting, perceptive office based rom-com...can a C-grade man make it with an A-grade grieving widow? *** 1/4
MESKADA (d. John Sternfeld) V. Atmospheric straight-to-video policier about murder/robbery in small town & the detective whose roots lead to killer. ** 1/2
POLISSE  (d. Maïwenn)  *** 1/4
GRIND (d. Casey La Scala) V. Medicre 2003 skateboard exploitation flick with (in retrospect) A-list cast. Mike Vogel's debut & he lights up the screen. ** 1/4
38 WITNESSES  (d. Lucas Belvaux) *** 1/2
HAPPY EVENT, A  (d. Rémi Bezançon) ***
GUILTY (Présumé coupable) (d.  Vincent Garenq) *** 1/2
COME AND SEE (d. Elem Klimov) V. Russian WWII intimate epic of orphaned 14 yr. old boy's battles in partisan group. Too histrionic for my tastes. W/O
FREEWAY  (d. Christophe Sahr) **
SKYLAB, LE  (d. Julie Delpy)  ** 1/2
LOUISE WIMMER (d. Cyril Mennegun)  ** 3/4
PARIS BY NIGHT  (d. Philippe Lefebre) *** 1/4
HEADHUNTERS (d. Morten Tyldum) Norwegian thriller where antihero is chased by implacable evil. Fun, provocative, stylish; story maybe too slick. *** 1/4
WE WERE ONE MAN (d. Philippe Valois) V. WWII Vichy France story ('79) of weird affair between simpleton Frenchman & handsome German soldier. ** 3/4
LUCKY ONE, THE (d. Scott Hicks) Romance/drama -soldier seeks out woman he thinks saved him. Nicely underplayed by Zac Ephron, or it wouldn't work. ***
SHORTBUS (d. John Cameron Mitchell) V.+ Unique, better, more focused, beautiful & important on video than I recall watching in public 6 years ago. *** 1/2
     May, 2012
(d. Xavier Villaverde) *** 1/4
ACACIAS, LAS  (d. Pablo Giergelli)  ** 3/4
VALLEY OF SAINTS  (d. Musa Syeed)  ** 3/4
EDEN  (d. Megan Griffiths) *** 1/2
MEXICAN SUITCASE, THE (d. Trisha Ziff)  ** 3/4
SLEEPWALK WITH ME  (d. Mike Birbiglia) *** 1/4
LUV  (d. Sheldon Candis)  ** 1/2
TEY (Aujourd'hui) (d. Alain Gomis)  * 3/4
WETLANDS  (d. Guy Édoin) *** 1/4
BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, THE (d. John Madden) Elders do India in this fun dramedy. Dames Judi & Maggie are splendid.  *** 1/4
AVENGERS, THE (d. Joss Whedon) Comic universe makes little sense; but film holds together & f/x are nifty.  Ruffalo & Evans are particularly effective.  ***
GIMME THE LOOT (d. Adam Leon)  ** 1/2
HEMEL  (d. Sacha Polak)  * 1/2
IMPOSTER, THE (d. Bart Layton)  *** 1/4
EYE OF THE STORM, THE (d. Fred Schepisi)  ***
LIBERAL ARTS (d. Josh Radnor)  ***
YEAR OF GRACE  (d. Ventura Pons)  ** 1/2
MOONRISE KINGDOM  (d. Wes Anderson)  ***
ANY DAY NOW  (d. Travis Fine)  ***
STEP UP TO THE PLATE  (d. Paul Lacoste)  ** 1/2
UNFORGIVABLE  (d. André Téchiné)  ***
HAIL  (d. Amiel Courtin-Wilson)  3/4*
HOW TO STEAL 2 MILLION  (d. Charlie Vundla)  ** 1/4
DAAS  (d. Adrian Panek)  **
INTOUCHABLES, THE (d. Eric Toledano, Olivie Nakache)  *** 1/2
CRACKS IN THE SHELL (d. Christian Schwochow)  ***
FOUR SUNS (d. Bohdan Sláma)  ** 1/2
TAKE THIS WALTZ  (d. Sarah Poley)  *** 1/2
FAT KID RULES THE WORLD (d. Matthew Lillard)  *** 1/4
REBELLION  (d. Mathieu Kassovitz)  ***
MY BROTHER THE DEVIL  (d. Sally El Hosaini)  ** 3/4
TRISHNA  (d. Michael Winterbottom)  ** 1/2
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES  (d. Joe Berlinger)  *** 1/2
LOVERBOY  (d. Catalin Mitulescu)  ***
WELCOME TO DOE BAY  (d. Nesib Shamah, Dan Thornton)  ** 3/4
MOSQUITA Y MARI  (d. Aurora Guerrero)  ** 1/2
11 FLOWERS  (d. Wang Xiaoshuai)  *** 1/4
STUDENT, THE  (d. Santiago Mitre)  ** 1/2
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (d. Ira Sachs)  *** 1/2
COUNTDOWN  (d. Huh Jong-ho)  ***
DO-DECA-PENTATHELON, THE (d. Jay & Mark Duplass)  ** 1/2
IRA FINKELSTEIN'S CHRISTMAS  (d. Sue Corcoran)  * 3/4
HELLO I MUST BE GOING  (d. Todd Louiso)  *** 1/2
CAMILLA DICKENSON  (d. Cornelia Duryée Moore)  ** 1/2
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED  (d. Colin Trevarrow)  ***
EARTHBOUND  (d. Alan Brennan)  ** 1/4
170 Hz  (d. Joost van Ginkel)  ** 3/4
CLOUDBURST (d. Thom Fitzgerald)  *** 1/4
BERNIE  (d. Richard Linklater) Tongue in cheek re-creation docu of a weird Texas murder. The blue-haired lady interviewees are priceless. *** 1/4
JOSHUA TREE, 1951:  A PORTRAIT OF JAMES DEAN  (d. Matthew Mishory)  * 3/4
NORTH SEA TEXAS  (d. Bavo Defurne) +  *** 1/4
BETTER LIFE, A (d. Cédric Kahn)  *** 1/2
CAN  (d. Rasit Çelikezer)  *** 1/4
GOODBYE  (d. Mohammad Rasoulof)  ** 1/2
COMING HOME (À moi seule) (d. Frédéric Videau)  ** 3/4
FIRST ON THE LIST, THE  (d. Roan Johnson)  ***
BEL AMI  (d. Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormand)  ** 3/4
TWO FOR THE ROAD  (d. Stanley Donen)  ** 1/4
EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE  (d. Tracy D. Smith)  * 3/4
CONVOY, THE  (d. Alexy Mizgirev)  * 3/4
SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO, THE  (d. Robert Guédiguian)  *** 3/4
360  (d. Fernando Meirelles)  ***
LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE  (d. Gian Alfanso Pacinotti) **
ROMANCING IN THIN AIR  (d. Johnnie To)  *** 1/2
DIAZ - DON'T CLEAN UP THIS BLOOD (d. Daniele Vicari)  *** 1/4
6 POINTS ABOUT EMMA  (d. Roberto Pérez Toledo)  ** 3/4
PRIME TIME SOAP (d. Odilon Rocha)  **
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT  (d. Alex de la Iglesia)  *** 1/4
POLICEMAN  (d. Nadav Lapid)  ***
MY DAD IS BARYSHNIKOV  (d. Dmitry Povolotski & Mark Drugol)  ***
CHECKOUT GIRL'S BIG ADVENTURE, A  (d. Pierre Rambaldi) ** 1/2
CHAPITEAU-SHOW  (d. Sergey Loban) ** 3/4
4 DAYS IN MAY  (d. Achim Von Borries)  *** 1/2
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD  (d. Benh Zeitlin)  ***
   June, 2012
MIRAGE  (d. Jung-Ho Yang)  **
FIRST TIME, THE  (d. Jonathan Kasdan) ** 1/2
STARBUCK  (d. Ken Scott)  *** 1/4
GLASS MAN, THE (d. Cristian Solimeno)  * 3/4
SUNNY  (d. Kang Hyoung-chul)  *** 1/4
BEST INTENTIONS  (d. Adrian Sitaru)  *** 1/4
PRICE CHECK  (d. Michael Walker)  *** 1/2
(d. Nicolas López)  ** 3/4
WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKAVISTS  (d. Brian Knappenberger)  *** 1/4
COTEAU ROUGH  (d. André Forcier)  ** 3/4
KRYPTONITE!  (d. Ivan Cotroneo)  ***
WUTHERING HEIGHTS  (d. Andrea Arnold)  ** 1/2
SIN BIN  (d. Billy Federighi)  * 1/2
HOUSE, THE (d. Zuzana Liová)  ***
OVERHEARD 2  (d. Alan Mak & Felix Chong)  ** 3/
FOURTH STATE, THE  (d. Dennis Gansel)  *** 1/2
UNIT 7  (d. Alberto Rodriguez)  *** 1/2
LOST IN PARADISE  (d. Ngoc Dang Vu)  ***
ITALY LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT  (d. Gustav Hofer & Luca Ragazzi)  *** 1/4
L  (d. Babis Makridis).  W/O
EMPTY HOME, THE  (d. Nurbek Egen)  ***
FUTURE LASTS FOREVER  (d. Özcan Alper)  **
INNOCENCE  (d. Jan Hrebejk)  *** 1/2
CUBE OF SUGAR, A  (d. Reza Mirkarimi)  ** 3/4
DETAILS, THE  (d. Jacob Aaron Estes)  *** 1/4
DRAGON  (d. Peter Ho-Sun Chan)  *** 1/4
WHITE CAMELLIAS  (d. Russell Brown)  *** 1/4
INVADER, THE  (d. Nicolas Provost)  ***
I AM NOT A HIPSTER  (d. Destin Cretton)  *** 1/2
EASTON'S ARTICLE  (d. Tim Connery)  ** 1/2
LIPSTIKKA  (d. Jonathan Sagall)
MOURNING  (d. Morteza Farshbaf)  ** 1/2
RECALLED  (d. Michael Connors)  *** 1/4
HUNKY DORY  (d. Marc Evans)  ** 3/4
FUTURE WEATHER  (d. Jenny Deller)  ** 3/4
CHASING ICE  (d. Jeff Orlowski) Only watched half of this docu in order to make next film, so unrated.
GAYBY  (d. Jonathan Lisecki)  *** 1/4
CROWN JEWELS, THE  (d. Ella Lemhagen)  ** 1/4
YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (d. Lynn Shelton)  Nice concept, improvised (according to Duplass in Q&A) indy rom-com, with great ensemble 3-some & lovely scenery.  *** 1/4
LOLA VERSUS (d. Daryl Wein) Most self-absorbed heroine ever has 3 attractive men, but never the right one. Joel Killerman is a knock out; but terrible dialog defeats all.  **
CLOSE TO LEO  (d. Christophe Honoré) V.  Emotional, well-acted 2002 drama of 4-tight knit Breton brothers, from pov of 12-yo youngest, whose oldest bro has AIDS. ***
THIS IS NOT A FILM (d. Panahi & Mirtahmasb) V. Ardent, poignant, rudimentary slice-of-life docu with heavy subtext about govt. repression in Iran. Heartbreaking. ****
RE:GENERATION (d. Amir Bar-Lev) V. Docu of making of 5 songs, created by modern masters in different categories. Interesting view of creative processes.  *** 1/4
FOUR LETTER WORD, A (d. Caspar Andreas) V. Glossy, superficial gay film which explores issues of love in NYC. Cliched acting; but director Andreas has style. ** 1/4
TO ROME WITH LOVE (d. Woody Allen) 4 farces stitched together about fickleness of fame. Amazingly unfunny (exc. for Allen's own schtick). Rome yes, love no.  **
Ludicrous title, ridiculous premise. But 3D action f/x are some of the best ever on film. ***
TINY FURNITURE  (d. Lena Dunham) V.  A more mordant version of "Girls" with fewer laughs but just as much brilliance. Dunham is her generation's Larry David.  *** 1/4
FRIENDS FOREVER (d. Stefan Henszelman) V. '87 Danish coming-of-age film about a straight hi-school boy accepting his gay friend. Culturally significant, well acted.  ***
HOLDING TREVOR (d. Rosser Goodman) V.+ I overrated this at OUTFEST in 2007; but it still is a well acted, realistic & tender slice of young modern gay life in L.A. *** 1/4
MAGIC MIKE (d. Steven Soderbergh) Until the cop-out ending hard hitting & sexy romp. Tatum is a great dancer, still can't act tho pulls his weight. Guilty pleasure. ***
    July, 2012
PEOPLE LIKE US  (d. Alex Kurtzman) Film about screwed up family, marvelous perfs by Pine & especially Banks. Keeps improving to beautiful, emotional ending. ***
200 AMERICAN  (d. Richard LeMay) V. 2003 earnest, no-budget gay film: young Aussi hustles in NYC, meets rich A-gay and much poorly acted melodrama ensues.  ** 1/4
BONSAI PEOPLE: VISION OF M. YUNUS (d. Holly Mosher) V. Feel good, do-gooder docu: Nobel Peace prize winner for starting Bangla Desh poor women's bank. ***
CRAZY HORSE (d. Frederick Wiseman) V. Formless, overlong docu of Parisian nightclub; behind scene stuff alternate with naked girl + gorgeous lit dance numbers.  ** 1/2
SAVAGES  (d. Oliver Stone) Over the top & ridiculous drug war story; but it holds together, has a great cast, and is entertaining as hell. Aaron Johnson is so fine. *** 1/4
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE  (d. Marc Webb) Much better than Rami's, great 3D f/x. Garfield is super likable as usual. Still, just diverting comicbook stuff. ** 3/4
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN (d. Michael Akers) V. 2003 film about an affair between an amnesiac & a ranger who saved him from suicide. Slow & poorly acted. **
MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, THE (d. Rob Reiner) Old fashioned, sentimentalized film- an old man learns from child. Morgan Freeman does Morgan Freeman well.  ** 1/2
MANDRAGORA (d. Wiktor Grodecki) V. Czech cautionary fable of 15 yr. old runaway boy prostitute lost to debauchery in Prague in '90s. Well acted, total downer.  ** 3/4
BOOKER'S PLACE: A MISSISSIPPI STORY (d. Raymond De Felitta) V. B&W, informative, if dry, docu based on 1965 NBC docu which had fatal repercussions. ***
I WANT YOUR LOVE (d. Travis Mathews) Commendably realistic, ambling S.F. gay scene quasi-porno, amateur actors, real sex, rudimentary uninvolving story. ** 1/4
BULLY (d. Lee Hirsch) V. Important docu following bullied kids (and parents of suicided bullied kids). Invisible camera? Pretty amazing, shocking & moving stuff.  *** 3/4
UNION SQUARE (d. Nancy Savoca) Annoying, overacted small film about 2 estranged sisters. Obvious script seems like a poorly transformed play, but isn't.  * 1/4

MORGAN (d. Michael D. Akers) Occasionally moving, afternoon-specialish gay film about newly paraplegic guy finding love. Attractive straight actors, coy sex. ** 3/4,
ELLIOT LOVES (d. Terracino) Latino coming of age...9 yr. old Elliot & his single mother struggle; gay 21 yr. old Elliot searches for love. Fun, insightful, unstructured.  ***
EASY MONEY (d. Daniel Espinosa) Kinnaman is winning playing a handsome young student on the make; but film is a confusing & suspiciously unmotivated thriller ** 1/2
MA SAISON SUPER 8 (d. Alessandro Avellis) V. Amateurish, plot lite 2003 film about start of Parisian gay liberation/female empowerment movements.  * 3/4
REFLET, LE (d. Morgane Rousseau) Handsome, studious bourgeois teen crushes on young farmboy. Bucolic, pretentious meditation on Narcissus myth & class conflict. **
OUR PARADISE (Notre paradis) (d. Gaël Morel) 30ish hustler meets gorgeous young thing & sex & murder ensue. Gripping. Visceral. Dimitri god! *** 1/2
CURIOSITY OF CHANCE, THE (d. Russell Marleau) V. Pleasant, eccentric, slick '06 coming of age American hi-school in Belgium indie. Gay clique vs. bullies.  ** 3/4
RUBY SPARKS (d. Dayton & Faris) Ultimate solipsistic wish fulfillment fantasy, except from the female pov of the wishee. Well made; but I didn't enjoy it.  ** 3/4
KILLER JOE (d. William Friedkin) Outrageous, occasionally over-the-top black comedy with fine actors & deft direction. Nifty Tracy Letts transgressive script works. ***
(d. Winfried Bonengel) V. Involving, violent '02 German flick about 2 political rebels in '80s GDR. Neo-nazi played by Christian Blümel terrifying & real. ***
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS (d. Satrapi & Paronnaud) Overly designed & precious fable about an Iranian (Mathieu Amalric) and his adored violin. Pretty, but boring. ** 1/4
    August, 2012
LONGING (Saudade-Sehnsucht) (d. Jürgen Brüning)V. Terrible '03 flick: 3 German gays in Brazil, the cute blond longs fetchingly telenovela style. No story, bad acting. *
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER (d. Lee Lee Toland Krieger) Bittersweet indie rom-com with killer script & genuine chemistry between all the actors. Loved it!  *** 1/2
TOTAL RECALL  (d. Len Wiseman) F/x heavy futuristic chase film with murky Phil Dickian plot which isn't as meaningful as 1st film. Farrell is buff, film is fluff. ** 1/4
FOUR WINDOWS (Vier Fenster) (d. Christian Müller) V. Parallel day in lives of bourgeois German family of 4. Hidden quirks the point; but too slow & opaque.   ** 1/2
DARK HORSE (d. Todd Solondz). Bittersweet satire of man-child's delusional life. Ironies abound, aided by perfect casting. Grown-up Dollhouse, funny & sad. ***
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (d. Will Gluck) V. Wanted to hate this rom-com which tries too hard to be unconventional. Timberlake is weak; but script won me over. ** 3/4
IN TIME (d. Andrew Niccol) V. A good premise gone bad.  Tacky looking f/x film, mediocre over-acting, plot holes bigger than L.A., no chemistry by leads. Why?  **
ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, THE (d. Peter Hedges) Innocuous, watchable fantasy about a "real" cabbage patch kid. Good cast, premise almost works.  ** 3/4
2 DAYS IN NEW YORK  (d. Julie Delpy) Fairly funny comedy, but I loathed all the characters (esp. prissy Chris Rock), jeered the script. Even NYC sucked.  * 1/2
BOURNE LEGACY, THE  (d. Tony Gilroy) Re-boot better than original. Renner & Weisz have chemistry & predictable, paranoid plot actually holds together. *** 1/2
SOUNDLESS WIND CHIME (d. Kit Hung) V. Opaque narrative switching between timelines obscures a beautiful if ponderous gay relationship film. ** 3/4
GRASSROOTS  (d. Stephen Gyllenhaal) Sporadically funny political comedy. Aced city of Seattle, double bogied transportation policy. Joel Moore too frenetic. **
HOPE SPRINGS  (d. David Frankel) Fine, adult script, superb acting, straightforward direction. I wanted to love the emotional heart; but too predictable. ***
LAST CALL AT THE OASIS (d. Jessica Yu) V. Docu of world's fresh water crisis, interviews & beautiful photography. Tries to bring hope to a hopeless cause. *** 1/4
MARLEY (d. Kevin Macdonald) V. Long & comprehensive docu of Bob Marley's life & music. Well written & edited with great concert footage & interviews. *** 1/4
MIS: HUMAN SECRET WEAPON (d. Junichi Suzuki) V. Docu of Japanese WWII intelligence soldiers, good interviews, moving, timely but not unique.  ***
REDWOODS (d. David Lewis) V. Borderline sappy gay affair among the redwoods. But legitimately moving, tight script overcomes some mediocre acting. ***
GOATS (d. Christopher Neil) Nice indie coming-of-age, prep school film with original characters, fine cast & superb photography. Graham Phillips one to watch. *** 1/4
SPARKLE  (d. Salim Akil) Hideously bad, cliché filled '70s Motown girl trio story centered on Jorden Sparks. Costumes & singing are only reason to see this. Ugh.  * 1/4
SCENES OF A CRIME (d. Babcock & Hadaegh) V. Powerful, infuriating docu of apparent
child abuse murder miscarriage of justice. Coerced confession, no crime! ****
WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER (d. Mark Mylod) V. Pleasantly kooky rom-com (of course Anna Faris!); but a supremely buff Chris Evans oft naked? Can't resist.  ***
SURVIVING PROGRESS (d. Mathieu Roy) V. Another docu decrying man's future; but filled with very smart talking heads, a fine script, & superb photography.  *** 1/2
WOMAN WHO WASN'T THERE, THE (d. Angelo Guglielmo) V. Fascinating companion docu to The Imposter. Nice animation fleshes out ordinary interviews. *** 1/4
CHIMPANZEE (d. Fothergill & Linfield) V. A true achievement Disney nature docu, fabulous footage. Marred by over-obvious slick narration & pop soundtrack. ** 3/4
COMIC CON EPISODE IV: A FAN'S HOPE (d. Morgan Spurlock) V. Amusing docu with Spurlock's gift for finding the right cast & story line without narration.  *** 1/2
CAMPAIGN, THE  (d. Jay Roach) Funny enough political comedy with a wonderfully prissy perf. by Galifianakis. Humor too broad; but occasionally trenchant. ** 3/4
ROBOT & FRANK  (d. Jake Schreier) Insightful well cast combo of Alzheimer & family melodrama plus heist comedy. SciFi elements add to fun; but plot too pat.  ***
INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE (d. Pajot & Swirsky) V. Fascinating, emotionally involving docu of 4 indie nerd computer game developers & their process and passion. ****
MARTIN (HACHE) (d. Adolfo Aristarain) V. Talky, cerebral '97 film, distant father, lost son, gay best friend, druggy girlfriend. Brilliant acting. Luppi! Roth! Botto!  *** 1/4
FIRST POSITION (d. Bess Kargman) V. Emotionally satisfying docu of young ballet student dancers. Familiar format; but well chosen subjects & nice editing. *** 1/2
INVISIBLE WAR, THE (d. Kirby Dick) V. Some advocacy documentaries are so important that they surpass the format; but are didactic & hard to watch.  *** 1/2
PREMIUM RUSH  (d. David Kopp) Superior adrenalin rush flick with cohesive script. Another winner for Gordon-Levitt & "Baba O'Riley" should have a new life. *** 1/2
HIT AND RUN  (d. Dax Shepard) Another adrenalin rush flick, only badly over-written with ocean size plot holes & reprehensible characters (exc. Kristen Bell). * 1/2
MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (d. Matthew Akers) V. Performance art docu...hypnotic at times, but ultimately insightful. Just not my cuppa. ***
DOG TAGS (d. Damon Dietz) V. Dysfunctional family drama, young man enlists in marines & has crisis of sexual identity. Slow & ponderous, yet pretty.  ** 3/4
ORDINARY MIRACLES: THE PHOTO LEAGUE'S NEW YORK (d. Nina Rosenblum) V. Narration heavy docu with gorgeous photos & leftist politics.  ** 3/4
NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS (d. Jonathan Demme) V. Beautifully shot concert docu with road trip interview...but I just wasn't engaged, so I quit watching at half. W/O
PINK RIBBONS, INC. (d. Léa Pool) V. Issue docu (breast cancer charities are businesses) which isn't hard hitting enough, although well made.  *** 1/4
KEILLERS PARK  (d. Susanna Edwards) V. Stylish, infuriating Swedish noir: gay romance/murder/policier. True story (?!); but so very flawed psychology.  * 3/4
BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS* (d. Fredrik Gertten) V.  Fascinating, heartening David vs. Goliath docu, with the filmmaker as David & Dole Fruit Co. as Goliath. ****
     September, 2012
BILL W.  (d. Carracino & Henlon) V. Informative, if dry bio-docu of flawed, human founder of AA, done with much re-created scenes, recordings & interviews. ***
CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (d. Yung Chang) V. Slowly developing docu of 3 Chinese boxers, young & mid-age. Boring, uneven start; but by end riveting & insightful.  ***
FOLLOW ME:THE YONI NETANYAHO STORY (d. Gruber & Pinchot) V. Fine, emotional if undistinguished bio-docu with weird structure which detracts.  ** 3/4
ONE DAY ON EARTH (d. Kyle Ruddick) V. 3,000 hours were gorgeously shot on 10/10/10 & this was edited from that. Informative, but mostly a stunt.  *** 1/4
TEENAGE ANGST (d. Thomas Stuber) V. Homoerotic boys school 2008 German flick with a psychologically weird, senseless S&M plot. Well shot; but unreal.  **
PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE (d. Stephen Kessler) V. Combo of celebrity bio-doc and bromance. Maybe too much Kessler. Williams is fascinating subject. *** 1/2
PORTRAIT OF WALLY (d. Andrew Shea) V. Fascinating docu of restitution of stolen Shiele painting. Great use of artwork + complex legal story told well.  *** 1/2
WORDS, THE (d. Klugman & Sternthal)  3 levels of narrative structure are just too many to sustain true insights here. Nicely acted; but I just didn't believe.   ** 1/2
BELOVED  (d. Christophe Honoré) Very Gallic 2 generation bittersweet relationship "musical".  Artifice of pedestrian songs didn't work, & too predictable. ** 3/4
LAWLESS  (d. John Hillcoat) Splendid direction, perfect evocation of period & several sterling acting jobs (esp. Hardy & LaBeouf) make a fine pop film.  *** 1/4
QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (d. Lauren Greenfield) V. Riveting docu that follows a classic hubristic fall, riches to rags story. Incredible "get" by filmmaker.  *** 1/2
SCHOOLBOY CRUSH (d. Kotaro Terauchi) V. Homoerotic, well written if sappy, Japanese prep school drama of teacher who falls for new hustler student. ** 3/4
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP (d. Ice-T) V. I've no interest in hip-hop & rap; but his docu representing won me over with great interviews. ***
WAGNER'S DREAM (d. Susan Froemke) V. Unprecedentedly complete "making-of" doc re Lepage's Wagner Ring Cycle at the Met. Fascinating, awesome.  *** 3/4
DROUGHT  (d. Everardo González) V. Slice of life doc of small, rural, agrarian Central Mexican community forced out by drought. Earthy, simple & affecting. ***
ARBITRAGE (d. Nicholas Jarecki) Some plot holes don't totally detract from a detail filled, rich looking, well acted, non-clichéd, crooked financier thriller.  ** 3/4
MASTER, THE (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) Gorgeous (70mm, prod. design perfection), fabu acting. But I don't get its elliptical plot, yet that doesn't matter.. *** 1/4
WATERCOLORS (d. David Oliveras) V.+ Coming of age gay film: hi-school love, jock & artist; romantic, moving, evocative, ok acting. One of the best of genre. *** 1/2
LITTLE WHITE LIES (d. Guillaum Canet) +  Saw this thinking I hadn't seen it before. Other than a weird déjà vu at the gay panic scenes, I hardly recalled it.  ** 3/4
GRAND SONS (d. Ilan Duran Cohen) V. Touching cinéma verité-ish story: relationship between young gay man & the mildly dotty grandmother who raised him. ***
LAST WILL & EMBEZZLEMENT (d. Deborah Robinson) V. Informative, dry docu re elder financial abuse by relatives & trustees. Poorly made, but important.  ** 1/4
LOVE FREE OR DIE (d. Macky Alston) V. Extremely well made, moving docu featuring gay Episcopal bishop & the advances in the American church.  *** 3/4
MAGIC LIFE, THE (d. Nelson Cheng) V. Very entertaining, if lightweight docu re: art of magic featuring 3 fledgling magicians & their struggles, education etc.  *** 1/4
SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN (d. Malik Bendjelloul) V. Stranger than fiction, incredible docu: forgotten 70's Detroit singer famed in So. Africa gets re-discovered. *** 3/4
INBETWEENERS, THE (d. Ben Palmer) Expansion of Brit tv comedy (I watched!), sex & scatology 4-some end-of-hi trip to Crete. Well done, but too American Pie. ** 1/2
WITHOUT A NET (d. Kelly Richardson) V. Docu of several kids in Rio slums learning ad hoc circus skills. Interesting enough, but mostly semi-tragic surface view. ** 3/4
EL BOLA (d. Achero Mañas) V.+ Ultimate child physical abuse film, an important film, Spain's version of 400 Blows, with superb acting by the great Juan Ballesta.. *** 1/2
OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY (d. Danielle Gardner) V. As tastefully done as a 9/11 tribute docu can be, by & for the families etc. of decimated Cantor Fitzgerald. *** 1/4
PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, THE  (d. Stephen Chbosky) Brilliant hi-school film, early '90s nerd culture expressed with keen eye & great writing & acting. *** 3/4
TOP PRIORITY: THE TERROR WITHIN (d. Asif Akbar) V. Possibly overdramatized, but totally frighteningly effective docu: Bush govt. abuses by Homeland Sec. *** 1/2
CLASS TRIP (d. Claude Miller) V. Creepy, expressionistic, even Gothic 1998 film of troubled young boy on class ski vacation, away from controlling dad. *** 1/4
HESHER (d. Spencer Susser) V. Strange, compelling coming of age flick, boy loses mom, dad depressed, & a hippie sociopath comes to rescue. Gordon-Levitt great. ***
THREE MUSKETEERS, THE (d. Paul W.S. Anderson) V. Bloated, excessively modernish production of story. Fine cast, fabu prod. design (lots of CGI). ** 3/4
AI WEIWEI:NEVER SORRY (d. Alison Klayman) V. Overlong, important bio docu of politically active, ever-tweeting Chinese artist whose life itself is worldclass art.  *** 1/4
AMERICAN EMPIRE (d. Patrea Patrick) V. Frightening docu re: corporate pillaging of earth, water, food, oil etc. Lots of green "big heads". Effective propaganda plus. *** 1/4
ANDERSON MONARCHS, THE (d. Eugene Martin) V. OK docu of S. Philly all-black-girl 13-under soccer team & white coach. Interesting comment on US today.  ** 3/4
END OF WATCH (d. David Ayer) Superb revisit to the mean streets of S. Central L.A. by writer of Training Day. 2 cops, fabulous chemistry, best editing of the year.  *** 3/4
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (d. Robert Lorenz) Totally predictable baseball film, genial enough. Clint & Amy are fine; but Timberlake lacks romantic lead stature.  ** 1/4
SHELTER (d. Jonah Markowitz) V. + YouTube is now carrying this seminal film which I really enjoyed at a film fest in 2008. It's still one hell of a tender coming out story. ***
BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING (d. Neil Berkeley) V. Fascinating, elevating docu of life & creations of pop artist & designer Wayne White (PeeWee's Playhouse etc.) *** 3/4
BLINKY & ME (d. Tomasz Magierski) V. Hopeful 1st person narrative docu of life of Polish/Israeli/Australian Disney-like animator Yoram Gross, Holocaust survivor, artist. *** 1/4
LOOPER (d. Rian Johnson) Dystopian time travel thriller, mostly true to its rules. Another amazing Gordon-Levitt perf. + pitch perfect Emily Blunt. Gritty, sociopathic fun.  *** 1/2
    October, 2012
MAN ON A LEDGE (d. Asger Leth) V. OK thriller, unlikely story of pains an honest cop goes through to disprove a frame job. Worthington convinces, plot doesn't. ** 1/2
BUFFALO GIRLS (d. Todd Kellstein) V. Hard to watch docu of 2 tiny & adorable pre-teen Thai girl kick-boxers who do bouts for money...exploited by family & promoters. Ugh.  **
BROOKLYN CASTLE (d. Katie Dellamaggiore) V. Uplifting docu...NYC middle school's chess team brings excellence to inner city. Great kids chosen. Superbly made. ****
CENTRAL PARK FIVE, THE (d. Ken Burns V.  Another hard-hitting docu: horrendous miscarriage of justice, the "Wilding" rape, '89 NYC. Important; I've seen better. *** 1/2
CHASING ICE (d. Jeff Orlowski) V.+ Fascinating docu with extremely convincing time lapse footage of effects of global warming on glaciers. But a slight lack of focus mars. *** 1/4
DEATH BY CHINA (d. Peter Navarro) V. Slick docu of China trade disaster for US jobs.  Well presented, frightening. I bought 2 things today, both "Made in China". Ugh. *** 1/2
DEFIANT REQUIEM (d. Doug Shultz) V. Another Terezin docu, featuring defiant production of Verdi's Requium by inmates before Auchwitz. Superbly well crafted. Glorious. *** 3/4
FATHER AND SON (d. Aleksandr Sokurov) V. Can't decipher a story from this beautifully shot film. But the guys are lovely to watch even if one ignores the homoeroticism. ***
DETROPIA  (d. Ewing & Grady) V. Companion docu to Death by China, showing destruction of moving US manufacturing to China with decay in Detroit. Well shot & edited. *** 1/2
DECODING DEEPAK (d. Gotham Chopra) V. I have no spiritual component; but a well made docu by a son about his famous father is always interesting & worth watching. *** 1/4
DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL (d. Lisa Vreeland) V. Fast moving hagiographic docu of fashion maven with great interviews; interesting but not illuminating. *** 1/4

PAPERBOY, THE (d. Lee Daniels) Despite great cast (esp. Kidman), the script is laughable in a bad way. Narration structure fails & everything seems excessive.  **
DIGITAL DHARMA: ONE MAN'S MISSION TO SAVE A CULTURE (d. Dafna Yachin)V. Well made docu of Gene Smith who toiled endlessly to save Tibetan Buddhist tomes. ** 3/4
ELECTORAL DYSFUNCTION (d. Deschamps, Farrell, Singer) V. POV docu lamenting voting system (incl. electoral college). Effective, tongue-in-cheek on-screen narration. *** 1/4
ESCAPE FIRE: THE FIGHT TO RESCUE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE (d. Frömke & Heineman) V. Important docu, covers too much ground but says what needs to be said. *** 1/2
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (d. Burnat & Davidi) V. Powerful & heartbreaking docu: 5 years of West Bank family man filming his town's non-violent struggle against Israeli settlers. *** 3/4
GARDEN IN THE SEA (d. Thomas Riedelsheimer) V.  Beautiful docu of building an undersea monument in the Sea of Cortez. Straightforward & a little boring. ** 1/2
HARVEST OF EMPIRE (d. Getzels & Lopez) V. Informative docu explaining & justifying Latino immigration from various troubled countries. Lengthy & a little didactic. ***
HEAD GAMES (d. Steve James) V. At times shocking indictment of sports & dementia causing brain injuries, especially kids. Slightly too long; but makes its point!  *** 1/4
HEIST: WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM? (d. Causey & Goldmacher) V. Another cautionary docu: nice graphics & correct message. But so much lecturing by big heads?
*** 1/4
HIGH GROUND (d. Michael Brown) V. Inspirational docu: ex-soldiers with PTSD & other disabilities climb a Himalayan peak. Bios, repetitive; but climb beautiful & moving. *** 1/2
OTHER SON, THE (d. Lorraine Levy) Lots of food for thought in this intriguing "switched at birth" Israeli/Palestinian story. Fine script, a few flaws; but realistic & human. *** 1/2
ROYAL AFFAIR, A (d. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark) *** 3/4
CHECK MATE (Jaque Mate)  (d. José María Cabral, Dominican Republic)  ** 3/4
KON-TIKI (d. Joachim Ranning & Espen Sandberg, Norway)  *** 3/4
MADE IN ASH (d. Iveta Grofova, Slovak Republic)  **
ARGO  (d. Ben Affleck) Superior geopolitical-saga-cum-Hollywood-farce-cum-CIA-spy-thriller which works on all levels. Only flaw is overdramatized climax; but who's counting. *** 3/4
ETHEL (d. Rory Kennedy) V. Emotionally devastating docu (at least for me) by RFK's youngest daughter featuring her mom & siblings plus a story more incredible than fiction. *** 1/2
PITCH PERFECT  (d. Jason Moore) Fun "Glee" style college flick (less campy, more like the film Camp). But who decided that "a capella" contests included instrument backing?  ** 1/2
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (d. Martin McDonagh) Another McDonagh absurd script...only this time I wasn't buying it despite the fine cast. The characters & their actions unbelievable. **
CAUGHT IN THE WEB (d. Chen Kaige, China) *** 1/4
TRIP, A (d. Nejc Gazvoda, Slovenia)  ** 3/4
DARK KNIGHT RISES, THE (d. Christopher Nolan)
I respect Nolan's vision, even if his plot machinations have me rolling my eyes in disbelief. Zimmer's bombastic score worked. ** 3/4
JOHN RABE (d. Florian Gallenberger) V. The 3rd film I've watched lately on the Rape of Nanking.  This the slickest, but not the best.  Too sentimentalized, more movie than reality. ** 3/4

LORE (d. Cate Shortland, Australia) *** 1/2
PATIENCE STONE, THE (d. Atiq Rahimi, Afghanistan) ** 1/4
FAME HIGH (d. Scott Kennedy) V. True life Fame. Follows 4 performing h.s.students at L.A. County Arts thru a year (and beyond). Nice choice of subjects, & heartening.  *** 1/2
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (d. David France) V. Docu of Act-Up and the decade of death sentences by AIDS. Great archival footage & coverage. Moving. Important. Vital. ****
HOLY MAN: THE USA VS. DOUGLAS WHITE (d. Jennifer Jessum) V. Another docu re-creating a horrendous miscarriage of justice, Lakota Medicine Man falsely imprisoned. *** 1/2
IN THE SHADOW (d. David Ondncek, Czech Republic) *** 1/4
WHERE THE FIRE BURNS (d. Ismail Günes, Turkey)  **
NO  (d. Pablo Larrain, Chile)  *** 1/2
CHILDREN OF SARAJEVO (d. Aida Begic, Bosnia & Herzegovina)  **
CLOUD ATLAS  (d. Wachowskis & Tykwer) 1 viewing is insufficent to follow complex 6-story narrative. But production (esp. make-up & f/x) is fabulous, perfect acting ensemble. *** 1/4
SPEAK (d. Galichia & Weidling) V. Occasionally involving docu of 10 finalists in the Toastmaster Int. yearly speech contest. Some gripping people stories; but filmmaking is mediocre. ** 1/2
HONOR FLIGHT (d. Dan Hayes) V. Sentimental docu of WWII veterans flown to D.C. to tour memorials & family appreciations etc. Too saccharine for me; but uplifting anyway.  **
MANZANAR FISHING CLUB, THE (d. Cory Shiozaki) V. The bright side of the Japanese WWII internment, sneaking out to trout fish in the lakes & streams. Lovely, heartfelt docu.  *** 1/4
CLANDESTINE CHILDHOOD (d. Benjamín Ávila, Argentina)  ***
SCENT OF BURNING GRASS, THE (d. Nguyen Huu Muoi, Vietnam)  W/O
ONCE IN A LULLABY: THE PS22 CHORUS STORY (d. Jonathan Kalafer) V. Immensely entertaining docu: 5th grade chorus doing 83rd Oscar show.  Wonderful, uplifting stuff. *** 3/4
WHO BOMBED JUDI BARI? (d. Mary Liz Thomson) V. Quintessential tree-hugger docu: 2 redwood activists car bombed in 1990 & FBI spent all efforts to prove they bombed themselves. ** 3/4
16 ACRES (d. Richard Hankin) V.  Informative docu of infighting over 16 acre site of 9/11 culminating in memorial. Lots of politics, but very clearly shown with fine footage.  *** 1/4
FLAT, THE (d. Arnon Goldfinger) V. Disturbing, think piece docu: 3rd generation Israeli explores his deceased German expat grandparent's relationship  with (maybe?) high ranking Nazi. *** 1/2
WHEN DAY BREAKS (d. Goran Paskaljevic, Serbia) ** 1/2
AMOUR (d. Michael Haneke, Austria)  *** 3/4

GATEKEEPERS, THE (d. Dror Moreh) V. 6 Israeli spymasters (heads of the Shin Bet) tell "all" in this bleak, controversial, horrifying docu. Important revelations, if mostly dry, big-heads.  *** 1/2
IRAN JOB, THE (d. Till Schauder) V. American plays basketball in Iran's superleague.  Sports & geopolitics, a powerful mixture. I cheered several times, a first for this year's docs. *** 3/4
SEXY BABY (d. Bauer & Gradus) V. 3 females, 13, 23, 33 explore sexuality in the internet age. Youths obsessed with Facebook, women with labiaplasty & porn. Well made, but sickening. ** 3/4
EMPTY HOME, THE  (d. Nurbek Egen, Kyrgyzstan)  ***
SISTER (d. Ursula Meier, Switzerland)  *** 1/4
PURGE (d. Antti Jokinen, Finland)  ** 1/2
HASING MAVERICKS  (d. Curtis Hanson) True life film about young surfer who conquers the big waves as a teenager. Clichés abound; the ocean is powerful, even if the acting isn't. ** 1/4
SESSIONS, THE  (d. Ben Lewin) Intriguing story: paralyzed man's sexual awakening by sex therapist. Hawkes convincing, Hunt's nudity brave. Taboo subject, middlebrow filmmaking.  *** 1/4
BAD 25 (d. Spike Lee) V. Shamelessly hagiographic docu celebrating 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson's "Bad"; but damn it, despite my personal problems with MJ, this film rocked! *** 1/2
BURN (d. Putnam & Sanchez) V. Dispiriting yet hopeful docu of Detroit fire department, most fires, least money, 80,000 abandoned buildings. Some exciting footage, good characters. *** 1/4
MY WORST NIGHTMARE (d. Anne Fontaine) A French farce about a low class Belgian man who melts a stuck-up French woman...sort of. Huppert is fine, I just never laughed.  ** 1/4
KAUWBOY (d. Boudewijn Koole, Netherlands)   ** 3/4
MYN BALA: ARRIORS OF THE STEPPE (d. Akan Satayev, Kazakhstan)  *** 1/4
HOUSE I LIVE IN, THE (d. Eugene Jarecki) V. Docu cogently & compassionately comparing the "war" on drugs to Holocaust. Wake up!  Hard to find a doc I agree with more this year. ****
IT IS NO DREAM (d. Richard Trank) V. Informative bio docu of Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionist movement.  Nicely done graphics & well written, but made for specific audience. ***
KING, THE (Kralj)  (d. Dejan Acimovic) V. Docu of Croatian paralympics shot put champion Darko Kralj, war amputee. Uplifting, positive and a little specialized & light on substance. ** 3/4
LA SOURCE (d. Patrick Shen) V.  Docu of Haitian emigree, janitor at Princeton, who raises money & aid to bring water to his village. Beautifully shot, emotionally fulfilling.  *** 1/4
   November, 2012
LAW IN THESE PARTS, THE  (d. Ra'anan Alexandrowicz) V. Difficult, dry, wordy, disturbing docu explores legal contradictions of 45 yrs. of military rule in Palestine "Occupied" territories. ***
LOVE, MARILYN (d. Liz Garbus) V.  Gorgeous, illuminating docu of Monroe's life & times told by major stars in Marilyn's own words from recently discovered diaries. Truly affecting. ****
LUNCH   (d. Donna Kantar) V. 12 altacocker comedy writers/actors/directors get together every other Wed. at Factors Deli to bat the breeze in this loving & delightful, if minor docu.  *** 1/4
SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (d. F.W. Murnau)  *** 1/2
LITTLE ONE (d. Darrell Roodt, South Africa)  ** 1/2
PHARMAKON (d. Joni Shanaj, Albania)  W/O
LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE (d. Johnnie To, Hong Kong)  ** 1/2
BUTA (d. Ilgar Najaf, Azerbaijan)  ** 1/4
LATE QUARTET, A (d. Yaron Zilbeman)  *** 1/2
FLIGHT (d. Robert Zemeckis)   *** 1/2
MAN AT WAR (d. Jacek Blawut) V. Complex docu about multi-national group of virtual air fighters re-creating WWII air battles over Europe by computer. Fun game; but not for me. **
CAFÉ DE FLORE (d. Jean-Marc Vallée) Vallée is a stylish auteur whose take on a fateful couple's relationship through past lives is ambitious, difficult to grasp and rewarding. *** 1/4
ANTIVIRAL (d. Brandon Cronenberg)  ***
MAN'S STORY, A (d. Varon Bonicos) V. Bonicos followed Ozwald Boateng, men's designer, for 10 years+. I knew him from the tv reality series: interesting life, but so-so editing. ** 3/4
NOT IN TEL AVIV (d. Nony Geffen)  *
MUSHROOMING (d. Toomas Hussar, Estonia)  *** 1/4
HYPNOTIST, THE (d. Lasse Hallström, Sweden)  *** 1/4
KID  (d. Fien Troch)  ** 1/4
LAURENCE ANYWAYS  (d. Xavier Dolan)  *** 1/4
OH BOY  (d. Jan-Ole Gerster) ***
ANGEL'S SHARE, THE  (d. Ken Loach) ** 1/2
OC87 (d. Bud Clayman et al) V. Clayman has had mental illness, OCD, bipolar etc., and this self-funded docu follows him & explores his life POV. Painful to watch, I had to stop.   W/O
ZAYTOUN  (d. Eran Riklis) *** 1/2
QUARTET  (d. Dustin Hoffman)  ** 3/4
OF TWO MINDS (d. Blush & Klein) V. Docu featuring 4 bi-polar persons, all interesting characters. But even though they're verbal, I still don't connect entirely with them & the film. ** 3/4
ORCHESTRA OF EXILES (d. Josh Aronson) V. Docu of violin prodigy Bron Huberman & his efforts to save musicians from the Holocaust. Re-enactments detract; but film elates.*** 3/4
OTHER DREAM TEAM, THE (d. Marius Markevicius) V. Docu of Lithuanian statehood thru metaphor of their '92 Bronze metal Olympic basketball team. Heartening, uplifting.  *** 1/2
BLANCANIEVES (d. Pablo Berger, Spain)  *** 1/2
ZABANA! (d. Saïd Ould Khelifa, Algeria)  ** 3/4
LINCOLN (d. Steven Spielberg) *** 3/4
HITCHCOCK (d. Sacha Gervasi)   ** 1/4
SKYFALL (d. Sam Mendes)  ** 3/4
PLANET OF SNAIL (d. Yi Seung-jun) V. Docu about blind/deaf Korean poet Young-Chan & his loving, physically challenged wife. Interesting, but lack of explanatory narration hurt. ***
OUR CHILDREN (d. Joachim Lafosse, Belgium)  ***
KEEP SMILING (d. Rusudan Chkonia, Georgia)  W/O
PRIMUM NON NOCERE (d. James Reynolds) V. Latin for "first do no harm", doctor's oath. Docu has dozens of testaments that blood transfusions harm. Even if true, film is turgid. ** 1/2
PROSECUTION OF AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT (d. Burke & Hagen) V. Vince Bugliosi prosecutes Bush et al for murder over Iraq. No defense; but the case is air tight. ACTION! *** 1/2
REVISIONARIES, THE (d. Scott Thurman) V. Docu about battle in Texas Bd. of Education to affect Science & History textbooks for next 8 years. The rightists are so tedious. ** 1/2
RICKY ON LEACOCK (d. Jane Weiner) V. Docu following Ricky Leacock around for years, his films & life shot verité style. Leacock is wonderful, the film sort of an editing mess. ** 3/4
ROOM 237  (d. Rodney Ascher) V. Docu expounding with voice-over & clips some wacked out film theory stuff about Kubrick's The Shining. Silly fun; but they're serious!  Oops.  ** 1/4
RIGHT TO LOVE, THE: AN AMERICAN FAMILY (d. Cassie Jaye) V. Docu of the Leffew family & the struggle for same-sex marriage. Immensely moving & truthful & beautiful. ****
SAVING AMERICA'S HORSES: A NATION BETRAYED (d. Katia Louise) V. Advocacy docu with an admirable message, but told with a repetitive, flat, chopped up, amateurish style.  **
SEEDS OF RESILIENCY (d. Susan Schultz) V. Docu tells heartening, single-minded stories of 12 people who triumph over adversity (illness, Auschwitz, Idi Amin, child's death etc.) *** 1/4
SHADY LADY (d. Tristan Loraine) V. Hybrid docu, mostly re-creating incredible WWII bomber run n. of Australia. Terrible acting; but story and film execution suspenseful & thrilling. *** 3/4
SIDE BY SIDE (d. Christopher Kenneally) V. Informative docu comparing film & digital in all aspects with huge directors & cinematographers weighing in to Keanu's interviews.  *** 1/2
AFTER LUCIA (d. Michel Franco, Mexico)  *** 1/2
WHITE TIGER (d. Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia)  ** 1/2
OUR HOMELAND (d. Yong-hi Yang, Japan)  ***
SNITCH CARTEL, THE (El Cartel de los Sapos)  (d. Carlos Moreno, Colombia)  ** 3/4
TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 2, THE (d. Bill Condon)   *** 1/4
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (d. David O. Russell)  ***
MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD (d. Alex Gibney) V. Important subject, priest pedophilia. Focus on deaf Milwaukee boys personalizes & narrows.  *** 1/2
ANNA KARENINA (d. Joe Wright) *** 1/2
LIFE OF PI (d. Ang Lee) ****
SIX MILLION AND ONE (d. David Fisher) V. Docu of 4 siblings exploring Holocaust survivor father's past in Austrian death/work camps. Talky, but fascinating family dynamic. *** 1/4
HOLY MOTORS (d. Leos Carax)   *** 1/4
SAMSARA (d. Ron Fricke) Gorgeous cinematography around world, docu emphasizing people's achievements for good and evil and just life. I wish context was more obvious. *** 1/4
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN (d. LInda Knowleton) V Moving docu of 5 Chinese girls adopted by Americans & their quest for shared culture. Edifying & heartrending, too.  *** 1/2
(d. Harry Lynch) V. Docu dispassionately examining all potential of mankind's energy sources. Very informative; but the conclusion by filmmaker/narrator not so digestible. *** 1/2
TEARS OF GAZA (d. Vibeke Lokkeberg) V. 85 minutes of unrelenting shots of children killed & maimed by 2009 Gaza incursion with no broader context. Doc as pure propaganda. **
TRASHED (d. Candida Brady) V. Another docu decrying ecological disaster, this time Jeremy Irons traveling the world examining waste making & disposal. Vital & persuasive. *** 3/4
TRIAL BY FIRE: LIVES RE-FORGED  (d. Megan Smith-Harris) V. Docu of plucky survivors of horrendous burns. Heartening stories; but similar and a little repetitive.  ***
2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA  (d. D'Souza & Sullivan) V. Docu starts out interestingly as Obama bio, then degenerates into unfounded opinion and poorly reasoned conjecture. ** 1/4
UNTIL THEY ARE HOME (d. Steven Barber) V. Docu of returning to Tarawa battle site of 11/43 to find remains. Interesting stuff, with battle films & lots of pomp. But unaffecting. *** 1/4
VERSAILLES '73: AMERICAN RUNWAY REVOLUTION (d. Deborah Draper) V. Docu of seminal fashion show at Versailles. Too many big head interviews...yet totally entertaining. *** 1/2
WAITING FOR LIGHTNING  (d. Jacob Rosenberg) V. Docu of daredevil skateboarder Danny Way. Dramatic, manipulative, thrilling, amazingly well told life story of crazed boy/man. *** 1/2
WAITING ROOM, THE (d. Peter Nicks) V. Docu of 24 hrs. in an Oakland, Ca. county hospital ER. Fine verité feeling, but lacks pov.  Yet, various stories are gripping human interest *** 1/4
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (d. Peter Ramsey) Nice 3D visuals & good vocal talent don't make up for overly frenetic action sequences and too young kid orientation.  ** 1/2
WE WOMEN WARRIORS (d. Karsin & Gabbert) V. Docu featuring 3 Colombian tribal women and their sufferings & triumphs.  I was somewhat bored & didn't relate at all. **
WEST OF MEMPHIS  (d. Amy Berg) V. More intimate than the Paradise Lost trilogy, film is stirring document to justice triumphant and an indictment of stepfather Terry Hobbs. ****
WHISPER TO A ROAR (d. Ben Moses) V. Docu of 5 countries where people rose up to combat repressive government in 2000s.  Stirring stuff, but somewhat muted & even handed. ***
WORDS OF WITNESS (d. Mai Iskander) V. Docu of girl reporter in Egypt during 2010-11 revolution & elections. Short, but repetitive. Lots of shouting & crowds and no editorializing. ** 3/4
YOU'VE BEEN TRUMPED  (d. Anthony Baxter) V. Best type of David vs. Goliath (The Donald) muckraking docu, only marred by the ambiguous ending. Loved Local Hero metaphor. *** 3/4
ZEN OF BENNETT (d. Unjoo Moon) V. Docu of Tony Bennett singing duets & philosophizing, drawing & waxing eloquent. A little ego, too. But Amy Weinhouse, Aretha & Gaga!  *** 1/2
BEWARE MR. BAKER (d. Jay Bulger) V. One of the better music docus, mostly because Baker is bad crazy, a great jazz drummer; and was at center of rock scene. Film nails it all. *** 1/4
RAMIN (d. Audrius Stonys, Lithuania)   **
BARFI!  (d Anurag Basu, India)  ***
RUST AND BONE (d. Jacques Audiard)  *** 1/4
PLEASURE BOY KOMOLA (b. Humayun Ahmed, Bangladesh)  * 1/4
TOUCH OF THE LIGHT (d. Chang Rong-ji, Taiwan)   *** 1/2
    December, 2012
WHEN I SAW YOU (d. Annemarie Jacir, Palestinian territories)  ** 3/4
CLOWN, THE (d. Selton Mello, Brazil)  ** 1/2
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (d. Roger Michell) * 1/4
HOBBIT:  AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, THE  (d. Peter Jackson) *** 3/4
IMPOSSIBLE, THE (d. J.A. Bayona)  *** 1/2
80 MILLION (d. Waldemar Krzystek, Poland)  ** 1/2
HEADSHOT (d. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Thailand)  *** 1/4
CAESAR MUST DIE (d. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Italy)  ***
BLOOD OF MY BLOOD (d. João Canijo, Portugal)  *** 3/4
FILL THE VOID (d. Rama Burshtein, Israel)  *** 1/2
THIRD HALF, THE (d. Darko Mitrevski, Macedonia)  ***
BEYOND THE HILLS (d. Cristian Mungiu, Romania) *** 3/4
PROMISED LAND  (d. Gus Van Sant) ** 1/2
ZERO DARK THIRTY  (d. Kathryn Bigelow) ****
THIS IS 40  (d. Judd Apatow) ** 3/4
ON THE ROAD  (d. Walter Salles) V. 
* 3/4
DEEP, THE (d. Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland)  *** 1/2
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS (d. Hernán Jabes, Venezuela)  *** 1/4
JUST THE WIND (d. Benedek Fliegauf, Hungary)  ** 3/4
DEATH FOR SALE (d. Faouzi Bensaldi, Morocco)  **
BARBARA (d. Christian Petzold, Germany)  *** 1/4
PIETA (d. Kim Ki-duk, South Korea)  ***
WAR WITCH (d. Kim Nguyen, Canada)  *** 3/4
LES MISÉRABLES  (d. Tom Hooper)  *** 3/4
GUILT TRIP, THE (d. Anne Fletcher)  * 1/4
DJANGO UNCHAINED  (d. Quentin Tarantino) *
NOT FADE AWAY  (d. David Chase)  ** 1/4
BAD INTENTIONS, THE (d. Rosario Garcia-Montero, Peru)  ** 1/2
NAIROBI HALF LIFE (d. David "Tosh" Gitonga, Kenya)  *** 1/2
SMASHED  (d. James Ponsoldt) V.  **
TED  (d. Seth McFarlane) V.  *
STAND UP GUYS  (d. Fisher Stevens) V.  **
THE GREY  (d. Joe Carnahan) V.  ***
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (d. Rupert Sanders) V.  ** 1/4