10. Not Fade Away
Revolving around the lead singer of a teenage rock & roll band and his hometown community in the 1960s, David Chase’s Not Fade Away in no way purports to reinvent the way we view this tumultuous and thoroughly documented period of American culture. The film instead offers a spectacularly smart and layered screenplay, an insightful and unvarnished portrait of 60s middle class culture and social mores, a lot of top-notch vintage rock & roll, and some of the most nuanced, finely observed characterization of 2012, thanks in part to wonderful performances from John Magaro, James Gandolfini, Jack Huston, and Bella Heathcote.
Is it enough to re-establish the way we view or dramatize the era? No, but it is an embarrassment of cinematic riches nevertheless, one that substantially deepens and augments my personal understanding of the period while offering some razor sharp insight into our ever-changing modern culture as well. That is more than enough to make Not Fade Away one of the top films of 2012, and I very much hope it finds an audience when it debuts later this month.
Not Fade Away will open in limited platform release starting December 21st, and roll out across the nation in January 2013.
The best ‘blockbuster’ of 2012 by leaps and bounds, Skyfall is the best 50th birthday present any franchise could ask for – assuming any other series could make it to the golden anniversary in such good shape. Sam Mendes and his team of wildly talented collaborators have crafted the ultimate 007 flick, not just on the surface – with clever gadgets, insightful callbacks to franchise iconography, beautiful women, a great villain, and, courtesy of Roger Deakins, the best damn cinematography of 2012 – but also underneath, where an exploration of Bond’s psyche, motivations, and past form the film’s surprisingly resonant subtext.
Skyfall may be a potent action drama, but it is also a wicked smart deconstruction and reconstruction of James Bond, the icon and the character, on levels meta and textual, offering a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking examination of why Bond endures, both as an on-screen legend and a harrowing secret agent. No other ‘event’ picture this year came close to matching Skyfall in sheer all-around effectiveness; after 50 years, it is still abundantly clear that nobody does it better than Bond, and I would not have it any other way.
Skyfall is currently playing in theatres nationwide.
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