Sunday, 17 November 2013

Encore Awards (2012 in Review): Endings

Well, this is awkward.

As much as I’ll joke that I am terrible at blogging (just look at how rocky things have been here since May) I don’t think I’m usually that egregious in my incompetence. And, yet, here we are It was only an incidental look through my blog landing me on this page which made me realise that I hadn’t completed my 2012 in review shenanigans.

Should I bother posting my final two pieces on 2012 when people are already writing about 2014 films they’re anticipating? After cajoling from Amir, I guess I should bother. So, here goes.

All previous citations HERE (traditional Osary-y awards and made-up ones).

My final category before my top ten is usually my ballot of best endings. Looking back over the past few years my favourite endings would go like this:

2011: Take Shelter (Runner-Up: Certified Copy)
2010: The Ghost Writer (Runner-Up: Rabbit Hole)
2009: Cheri (Runner-Up: Nine)
2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Runner-Up: Revolutionary Road)

What am I looking for in an ending? Something that moves, sticks with me or sums up the film in its own way. This year's ending was marked with much sadness, which makes for an especially melancholy year, which 2012 was anyhow.

"Spoilers" ahead, I guess. Probably.

Clicking images take you to reviews where available.
Damsels in Distress directed by Greta Gerwig, Adam BrodyAnaleigh TiptonMegalyn Echikunwoke
In a year when so many of the best films ended on notes of sadness Damsels in Distress was a fresh burst of laughter. More than a year after first seeing it I still start grinning when I remember the strains of the Sambola melody and the instructions on how to perform this International Dance Craze. It doesn’t matter if it becomes a true dance craze, or even whether it’s a sophisticated dance all that matters is that, ultimately, for all her seemingly banal truisms Violet right. Dance can bring people together and as those closing credits roll and the cast dances to and fro how can you NOT want to grab a partner by the arms, spin them around and move in time to the beat. If Thor can do the Sambola, so can you!

The Deep Blue Sea directed by Terence Davies with Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Ann Mitchell
Some of you might remember me asking everyone to and fro what was the meaning of that final shot of the ruined building in The Deep Blue Sea. Why leave Hester’s face of renewed hope for this wreck. I’ve seen the film multiple times since and read numerous reviews but it wasn’t until Oslo August 31 it really clicked. The point is a sobering one. Will Hester’s life begin anew now that she’s opened the window? We can only hope. But her ability to let the light in is made more sober at the thought that right next door lays the wreck of a once beautiful building. If she’d had her way at the film’s beginning with that suicide, beautiful Hester with all that promise could have been an abandoned wreck with nothing to offer, too. Is this the *right* reading? You never know with Davies, but it’s the one I’ll accept.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: directed Nuri Bilge Ceylan with Muhammet Uzuner, Cemal Yılmaz Erdoğan, Taner Birsel, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan
I really want to talk Once Upon a Time in Anatolia over with someone at length. The construction of the film seems to counteract its existence as a true murder mystery, and yet the entire film is a series of seemingly surface level incidents with significant mysterious depths. But, that ending…. In the autopsy room we find out the dead man has dirt in his longs. Has he been buried alive? The good doctor omits it from the report and we wonder. How could the two accused, such strong men, have knocked a man out to kill him and not have succeeded? We’ve never been moved to second-guess their guilt and yet now, everything seems so. “Doctor, why don’t you step back a bit or you’ll get stuff on you,” the assistant tells him. But he already has “stuff” on him. He looks out the window and sees the victim’s wife and her son.
Who suffers the most in these situations, the film asked earlier? It’s the children. Does that bit of earth in the lungs mean something, it must have. I’d suggest maybe someone else killed him, the sobbing murderer who can’t reveal the paternity of his child might be covering for someone. And, yet, the who is not as important as the sad truth that sometimes the truth is secondary to other things. Life goes on either way…

Oslo, August 31st: directed by Joachim Trier with Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner
2012 was the year of melancholy. Even in the most positive films that I loved the happiness was tinged with sadness. But no movie hit me as hard as the end of Oslo, August 3.

From my review: “Chalk it up to my mood during the film, general naiveté and or an investment in the character but even as Anders entire disposition is marked by an ennui developing into despair I gasped when he takes out that syringe at the close. Because, solemnity and all, the film is not dour. The photography is more bright than dull, the feeling of life in the city spills over and I was so caught up in the possibility of going home again, I was not quite ready to realise that....sometimes you cannot.[….] At its end when Anders journey is complete we return to those shots of various parts of the city, it’s still the same even without Anders. And Trier’s point seems clear: even as Anders journey is one of (relative) significance there is a world that continues without him.”

The Turin Horse: directed by Béla Tarr with János Derzsi, Erika Bók
What is this darkness papa?
Three cheers for bleakness. I did not love The Turin Horse as much as the other four films here, but I don’t think it cares that I don’t. Its effects is felt either way. It’s the prototypical example of the futility of human existence to the point that I’d be surprised if you didn’t spend some time after it musing on your mortality. All the aspects of the film, that photography with the A+ use of darkness the howling winds and the terrifying mood even though it’s just a shot of two people in a room. What does it all boil down to? Raging even in the realisation that raging against our fate is pointless? “Light the lamps,” the man instructs his daughter. And then even he loses his purpose. “Fuck it.” How’s that for bleakness.

FINALISTS: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, by the time we’d reached the end I’d been so headily distracted by the splendour around I’d forgotten Smaug. And then he opened his eyes; Holy Motors, for its completely zany and yet elucidating ending conversation; Killing Them Softly, for much but specifically Pitt’s gameness in delivering that monologue and Dominik’s trust in the audience for ending it just there; Tabu, for the goodbye letter and the end of the affair in the saddest way

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Anna Karenina; The Impossible; Looper; The Paperboy; Take This Waltz; Zero Dark Thirty

So, tomorrow, I'll give you a list of my top ten films. But, for now, let's talk about 2012 endings. Which were your favourite?

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