Critic/contrarian Armond White has released his 2012 “Better Than” list, where he uses one film to pick on another. Great stuff, even if you disagree. A few samples:
Sacrifice > The Master
Chen Kaige finds the roots of culture in patriarchal responsibility; P.T. Anderson loses culture’s meaning in anti-religious hysteria and high-art folly. Chen also featured superior acting by competing father figures You Ge and Xuegi Wang.
Holy Motors > Cosmopolis
Leos Carax’s dreamy limousine kineticism shamed Cronenberg’s oft-entrancing limousine stage drama. Carax parked and bloomed. Cronenberg parked then harangued.
Dark Horse > The Turin Horse
Todd Solondz’s modern soap opera steadily, comically bored into our self-deceptions, while Bela Tarr’s highbrow jape steadily bored us.
The Lady > Lincoln
Luc Besson’s bio-pic examined Aung San Suu Kyi’s marital and political commitment, while Spielberg’s unholy marriage to Tony Kushner pushed the cult of personality. Aphorisms vs. Propaganda.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Taken 2 > Zero Dark Thirty
Neveldine-Taylor and Olivier Megaton revealed the post-9/11 zeitgeist in genre tropes, while Bigelow reduced the zeitgeist to an enigmatic comic strip, a “mission accomplished” delusion.
A Thousand Words > Argo
Brian Robbins and Eddie Murphy dared the most personal Hollywood critique since Clifford Odets’ The Big Knife; Ben Affleck trivialized Hollywood accountability.