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21 Jump Street – the raunch comedy from this year that actually delivered genuine laughs and chemistry between its two leads.

 

The Impossible – A movie singled minded in its theme of survival.  Realistic tsunami effects and honest, aching performances override the occasional made for TV sap.

 

Titanic 3D – The ultimate grand sweeping blockbuster of the past 15 years returned to theaters in a new 3d incarnation, and still managed to out-wow most of the recent pretenders to the mantle.  What sticks most about Titanic is its overwhelmingly haunting sense of destiny.

 

Dark Shadows – Universally reviled, and yet I felt that Tim Burton’s box office dud was the most sumptuous visual feast of 2012, and his handling of story and character felt more consistent here than in many of his other efforts.

 

Side by Side –  A portrait of an industry in transition. Keanu Reeves guides us through the brave new world of digital filmmaking, and the impending obsolescence of celluloid. Interesting confessions from an impressive slate of directors, performers, technicians and photographers attest to the possibilities and limitations of emerging technologies.  The film might not be as relevatory or probing for those who already clearly understand the issues at play, and the economic impact to our theater owners isn’t adequately explored, but it still works well as a primer on this anxiety-riddled moment of change.

 

Arbitrage – No one plays a morally compromised weasel like Richard Gere, and writer/director Nicholas Jarecki gives him a doozy in his corporate-greed-destroys-all morality play ‘Arbitrage’. There’s nothing particularly challenging or new here; just a more than competent treatment of a well worn subgenre. Tim Roth gives a fun and inventive supporting performance as the blue collar detective on the trail of his corporate prey, but the movie is really carried along by Gere’s infectious swagger.

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