Monday, December 31, 2012

My Top Ten Films of 2012

Blog Post #15

My Top Ten list of my favorite films of 2012 are just that. These are films that affected me and gave me a pure cinematic experience! Some of these films I wasn't even checking for like that, but good word of mouth got me to see them and WOW was the word of mouth correct.  Even though there are a couple of films released in 2012 that I have yet to see, these are the best of what I did see as of this publishing.

The below list consists of films released in 2012 and in some cases my review or additional comments on the films are linked.

I’ve listed the films from ten to one as my favorites and at least seven of these films are EXCELLENT! The other three are very good, so good that out of ALL the dozens of new films I’ve seen in 2012 they made the Top Ten.


Liam Neeson was great again in this fantastic unconventional thriller. The “villains” are not who you think, but Liam is definitely a hero. A great tale of survival.

9. Looper
 I didn't even want to see this film despite liking the main stars. I’ve been a science fiction fan long enough to have seen every paradox about time travel that you can think of, but this film managed to take a unique slant on it. The performances were really great too!

8. End of Watch
This was another film that flew under my radar. Again, I thought I’d seen enough “cop movies” and this one didn’t look like it offered anything new, but it did. The film was gritty and excellent!

7. Think Like a Man 
Hilariously funny and romantic. All of the several couples in the film are likable and the movie is definitely one of the best of the year.
—>Read my full review here

6. The Avengers 
Who would have thought that after much build up that the “sequel” to all those solo superhero movies would be not good, but excellent. Writer/Director Joss Whedon crafted the perfect superhero movie!

5. Compliance 
A disturbingly excellent film that did not use gore, special effects or jump cuts to make you sick. All it did was have great acting and dialogue. An excellent film from 2012 that you might not have heard of.
—>Read my full review here

4. Middle of Nowhere 
This film came out of Sundance in January 2012 with all kinds of accolades that I thought couldn’t possibly measure up to my high scrutiny, but it did. An excellent motion picture that had a limited theatrical release that you should see when it becomes available.
—>Read my full review here

3. Prometheus 
An excellent film that NO ONE got. Well mostly no one. The biggest mistake on the audience’s part was expecting this to be a prequel to Alien despite the director and everyone involved saying it was NOT. That coupled with several ambiguous plot elements left the audience hollow. I got everything the picture was trying to say and accepted the things it did not. The film was still one of the spectacular films you will see from 2012
—>Read my full and EXPANSIVE review here

2. Argo 
This is the perfect Hollywood movie. An excellent movie. The fact that it involved Hollywood didn’t hurt none. I wrote more in my day after enthusiasm post Why ‘Argo’ Might Walk Away with it ALL at The Oscars here

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
My favorite film of 2012 had to have been the one that moved me the most. Watching this film was a reminder of the power of cinema to me. A phenomenal film.
—>Read my full review here

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Central Park Five - The Cool Black Review


Synopsis: The Central Park Five is a 2012 documentary film about the Central Park Jogger case, where five juvenile males—four black and one Hispanic—were tried and convicted for the assault and rape of a female jogger in New York City's Central Park. The film was directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. It was released in the US on November 23, 2012

REVIEW by Cool Black
If you like Ken Burns’ work you’ll definitely like this. The film wasn’t as “cinematic” as I would have liked instead playing like a short version of Burns usually PBS fare (which can usually run four hours or more). As expected Burns’ use of archival footage and new “transition footage” was impeccable and in the end Central Park Five is a really great documentary that makes for compelling viewing at times.

Cool Black’s Mad Commentary: Because of new voting procedures (described in more detail at Deadline where you can also see the shortlist of eligible films here) The Central Park Five WILL NOT be in consideration for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
“I’m truly baffled by this; Not that none of the 15 films listed below aren’t worthy (I haven’t seen them all); but I can say that of those I have seen (more about half) on this list, I think The Central Park Five most certainly belongs, and I’d say is even stronger than some of them,” write Shadow and Act’s Tambay A. Obensen.
Unlike Mr. Obenson, of the films on the shortlist I’ve only seen one, Bully, and The Central Park Five was indeed better than that. Again, I didn’t think it was that “cinematic”, but I admit I haven’t kept much of a tab on the Best Documentary category throughout the years and I assume the Academy voters know better than I. 

Read more about the Central Park Jogger case at Wikipedia here 

The Central Park Five web page is here

My Review of the 2019 Limited Series based on this case, 'When They See Us' below

#WhenTheySeeUs Review: I don’t know what to say. It was excellent, but to say I “enjoyed it” is a total misnomer. This film, presented as a Four (4) Part Limited Series, was IMPACTFUL. From the moment the arrests happen you are WITH these five boys. And that’s WTF they were—BOYS! Young males of other races are “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”, but young males of color are considered more mature than they are even when even accused of a crime without proof—considered monsters. WTSU makes you FEEL what these boys are feeling. This film takes a HARD, UNFLINCHING look at what these boys and eventual men went through in the legal system and didn’t sugarcoat shit! I’ve done MY OWN research on the so-called “Central Park Five” before I even saw this and AVA DUVERNAY et al, her cast and crew NAILED their traumatic journey. And that shit WAS traumatic. For real I was like “Shit! Is anything GOOD gonna happen in this film? Damn sis! Can I breathe?” Not really and I think that was the intent. Oh you’re gonna feel this shit. As usual I gotta talk about the filmmaking. Starting with Director and Co-Writer AVA DUVERNAY, she and the other credited writers JULIAN BREECE, ROBIN SWICORD, ATTICA LOCKE and MICHAEL STARRBURY as stated, took you THERE! Cinematographer extraoidinarre BRADFORD YOUNG shot the hell out of it with lots of flair and oft times gourgeous shots. The acting, wow the acting. WOW the acting. The five young men and four older men (one played both versions) did tremendous jobs as did the actors that played their family members. I’m running out of space here, but I’ll will list them on Twitter. Suffice it to say, bravo.👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 I binged watched all four parts in one sitting (a rarity for me) and •LIVE•TWEETED• the whole thing so a lot of the cast and crew are already mentioned. (I’ll post the thread🧵 at the Link in my BIO) Lastly, I highly recommend WHEN THEY SEE US, but ⚠️Caution⚠️ and I can’t state enough, YOU WILL FEEL. You will. Every.moment. 100%
A post shared by Dankwa Brooks (@dankwa) on

My LIVE TWEETS of the Limited Series in a Twitter thread linked below

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Must Talk Some More About ‘Compliance’

Blog Post #14

Dreama Walker
In particular, I must talk about one of the stars of Compliance Dreama Walker, who played the pivotal role of “Becky” in the film.

Dreama Walker as "Becky" in Compliance
See I saw Compliance at the 2012 Maryland Film Festival (My full review linked at the end) and it was excellent. While excellent I wasn't sure if such a small film would get any awards recognition and it has gotten some…some. Most prominently I’ve been reading about another star of the film Ann Dowd who played another pivotal role that of “Sandra”.
Ann Dowd as "Sandra" in Compliance
Ever since Compliance continued to traverse the festival circuit Dowd’s name has been mentioned as an awards recipient. At ever mention I think “What about Dreama?” Well actually at first I thought “What about that blond girl?”…then I looked up her name and thought…well you know.

Dreama in scenes from Compliance 
As both roles were crucial I think both deserve recognition. In my opinion Dreama did all the “heavy lifting” in the film. She wasn’t just a plot device. Without her performance you would never feel any bit of rage, and yes that’s what you feel, over the ensuing plot in the film.

Dowd recently received the National Board of Review (of Motion Pictures, founded in 1909) award for Best Supporting Actress for Compliance. The award was well deserved as you know I enjoyed Ann Dowd’s performance, but so did I Dreama Walker’s and she shouldn’t be disregarded.  

My review of Compliance

New Related

For 'Compliance' Star Ann Dowd, One Expensive Oscar Campaign

Magnolia Pictures wouldn't pay for screeners, so the character actress spent $13,000 for her own; Oscar winner Melissa Leo tells THR she should be reimbursed.

Being the subject of Oscar buzz should be an unadulterated thrill, but for one first-time contender it has come at considerable expense.
Ann Dowd, (pictured above left), a veteran character actress, earned the best reviews of her career for her performance as a restaurant manager targeted by a sadistic prankster in Craig Zobel’s controversial indie Compliance. The low-budget film was one of the standouts at January’s Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Magnolia Pictures, which released it this fall. It never played in more than 21 theaters and grossed just $319,285. But Dowd’s performance, for which she was paid just $100 per day for 16 days, resonated enough to land her -- with virtually no campaigning -- the National Board of Review’s best supporting actress award and Indie Spirit and Critics’ Choice award nominations.
So why, then, did Magnolia not send screeners of Compliance to SAG’s nominating committee and/or the Academy’s acting branch?
Matt Cowal, Magnolia’s senior VP of marketing and publicity, tells THR they would have -- if Compliance had made money. “This is a film that, unfortunately, we’re going to take a loss on,” he says. “If it had worked, like some of our films have, we would have supported Ann with a terrific end-of-the-year awards campaign, like we did for Melancholia and I Am Love.” Instead, he says, “When a film is already out on DVD, supporting actress awards buzz does help, but it’s not a game-changer on the film’s bottom line, so we just are trying to be as responsible as we can.”
Dowd, a soft-spoken, working-class wife and mother of three kids, tells THR that the lack of screeners from Magnolia -- while her fellow contenders, few of whom have garnered the number of accolades that she has and almost all of whom were better compensated, had theirs paid for -- prompted her and her husband to make a difficult decision: to foot the bill themselves, putting $6,000 on their credit card and borrowing $7,000 from friends. They feel that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her and that a nomination could change the course of her career, so they want to give her a fighting chance.

Two years ago, another veteran character actress, Melissa Leo, paid for several “for your consideration” ads promoting her performance in The Fighter. At the time, Leo said she did so because she had not been offered the same opportunities for media exposure as her younger and bigger-name competitors. The ads were criticized by some for being tacky, but the resulting controversy prompted many to rally behind her cause, and she ultimately won the best supporting actress Oscar. Leo tells THR that Dowd's situation “sounds a little familiar.” She adds, “I applaud her bravery in forging ahead, because there’s only regret to be had if she doesn’t give it her all in this moment. And I really hope they reimburse her and her husband.”
Dowd, meanwhile, says the whole experience has been an eye-opener. She emphasizes that she feels entitled to nothing and grateful for everything that has come her way this season, and says, “I had no idea what goes into bringing a name into the spotlight. It never occurred to me. I just had never been in that arena before.” Now, unless Magnolia elects to reimburse the actress -- which Dowd hopes they will, “not because they owe me anything” -- she and her husband will have 13,000 more reasons than most Oscar contenders to be crossing their fingers on nominations morning.

When the Oscar nominations were announced in January Dowd's name was NOT on the list.