Tim Grierson on the Unforgettable Movie Moments of 2012


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When you think back on a year in movies, what flashes through your mind? It’s probably snapshots: incredible scenes or indelible images or a funny line that’s always going to stick with you. In 2012, I saw over 300 films, and even some of the worst had their moments that I can look back on fondly. So, as we prepare for 2013, here’s a random list of the scenes and moments of the film year that I really treasure. I’ve kept some intentionally vague so that I don’t spoil anything, but hopefully these favorite glimpses will help inspire your own happy memories of a great film year….

The dazzling motion-capture sequence in “Holy Motors.”

Josh Brolin’s dead-on perfect impression of a younger Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) in “Men in Black 3.”

Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) leaves the White House for the very last time in “Lincoln.”

Navy SEALs launch their raid on Bin Laden’s compound in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) meets the woman who may be her long-lost mother in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Anne Hathaway sings “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Misérables.”

The tsunami comes in “The Impossible.”

Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) travels through Manhattan in his tricked-out limo in “Cosmopolis.”

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) hatch their plan to run away together over a series of letters in “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is reunited at long last with his boyfriend in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

In a split second, something happens between Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and Alex (Gael García Bernal) that threatens their relationship forever in “The Loneliest Planet.”

We finally get to see Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence) dance routine in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) explains the intricacies of strip-club seduction to the Kid (Alex Pettyfer), complete with lots of pelvic thrusting, in “Magic Mike.”

The plane finally, finally takes off from Iran in “Argo.”

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have their big blowup in the jail cell in “The Master,” causing Freddie to go temporarily insane, smashing everything in his path.

Jafar Panahi, under house arrest, finally goes outside to see the fireworks in “This Is Not a Film.”

Feuding siblings J.R. (Carlen Altman) and Colin (director Alex Ross Perry) finally make some peace — in the most unexpected way possible — in “The Color Wheel.”

Ottway (Liam Neeson) prepares for his final showdown with the wolves in “The Grey.”

The utterly sincere use of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” in “Rust & Bone.”

The, uh, scene involving fried chicken in “Killer Joe.”

The riff-off in “Pitch Perfect.”

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sits down at a diner with his older self (Bruce Willis) to find out what’s become of him in “Looper.”

Pi (Suraj Sharma) barely survives the shipwreck in “Life of Pi.”

Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Janet (Anna Kendrick) do a pretty sweet choreographed dance to “Push It” at their wedding reception in “End of Watch.”

Although he’s drunk and high, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) manages to land his doomed aircraft in the harrowing opening of “Flight.”

Elena (Nadezhda Markina) finally decides how to resolve her disagreement with her husband (Andrey Smirnov) in “Elena.”

Mallory (Gina Carano) and Paul (Michael Fassbender) fight it out in their hotel room in “Haywire.”

Ohlsdorfer (János Derzsi) and his daughter (Erika Bók) try to leave their doomed farm in “The Turin Horse,” but then, for a reason that’s never explained, they turn around and head home.

The moment when we’re sure that the young boy Cyril (Thomas Doret) is dead in “The Kid With a Bike.”

A prank caller (Pat Healy) tells a fast-food manager (Ann Dowd) that one of her employees (Dreama Walker) stole money from a customer’s purse in “Compliance” — and then things just get worse and worse.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) squares off with a pigeon in “Amour.”

Performance artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen silently sits across the table from his collaborator and former lover Marina Abramović during her MoMA show in “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present.”

Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks) realizes he’s in love with Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) — just as his plane explodes — in “Cloud Atlas.”

Jackie and David Siegel’s dream mansion sits unfinished — a sad symbol of their fading riches — in “The Queen of Versailles.”

Batman (Christian Bale) confronts Bane (Tom Hardy) in his underground lair — and quickly realizes he’s no match for him — in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Erik (Thure Lindhardt) cries with relief after learning he’s not HIV positive in “Keep the Lights On.”

After trying to control his emotions for so long, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) finally becomes the Hulk in “The Avengers.”

Anna (Keira Knightley) and Count Vronksy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) dance through a sea of frozen-in-place partygoers in “Anna Karenina.”

A distraught Hester (Rachel Weisz) dashes into the London Underground in “The Deep Blue Sea,” suddenly finding herself having a flashback to when she and her husband (Simon Russell Beale) huddled there with others during the London Blitz while everyone sang “Molly Malone.”

Mark (John Hawkes) and Cheryl (Helen Hunt) say goodbye after the last session in “The Sessions.”

Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) lets it be known just how hot she is for convicted murderer Hillary (John Cusack) in “The Paperboy.”

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) meets a strange, scary creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis) in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

The final, beguiling dance in “Not Fade Away.”

Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) preaches his heart out in “Red Hook Summer.”

Super-competitive brothers Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and Mark (Steve Zissis) engage in a comically high-stakes Laser Tag battle in “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon.”

A new dance craze, the Sambola, is born in “Damsels in Distress.”

Neil Young drives around his old hometown telling stories in “Neil Young Journeys.”

Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) and Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) paw each other while belting out “I Want to Know What Love Is” in “Rock of Ages.”

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in “The Hunger Games.”

Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) saves the boy from the burning car in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Jeff (Jason Segel) dives into the water in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.”

“Afro Circus,” from “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” gets embedded in our brains.

We discover tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun’s (Jane Lynch) comically horrible backstory in “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) start having some trippy drug visions in “21 Jump Street.”

After a night of drinking and bonding, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Jack (Mark Duplass) decide that sleeping together might not be the worst idea in “Your Sister’s Sister.”

Daniel (Luke Kirby) tells married Margot (Michelle Williams) in sensual detail exactly what he’d do to her if they were lovers in “Take This Waltz.”

The android David (Michael Fassbender) watches “Lawrence of Arabia,” modeling himself after Peter O’Toole, in “Prometheus.”

In “Taken 2,” a kidnapped, imprisoned Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) calls his daughter (Maggie Grace) and tells her to throw grenades around Istanbul so he can figure out where he is. (You know, because, sure, why the hell not?)

Armie Hammer playing a perfectly lunk-headed prince in “Mirror Mirror.”

Any time Rihanna says anything in “Battleship.”

The big motorcycle chase at the end of “The Bourne Legacy.”

Any scene with Eva Green in “Dark Shadows.”

The wonderfully ridiculous and over-the-top action sequence that kicks off “The Expendables 2.”

The restaurant dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.” (Honorable Mention: Every other dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.”)

We discover the reason why James Bond (Daniel Craig) doesn’t want to discuss Skyfall in “Skyfall.”

Happy holidays, everyone. See you in 2013.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl 1920

Carrie Opens Up

Read Carrie Brownstein’s Moving Essay About Her Father From Her New Memoir

Carrie's book Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl will be released on October 27th.

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Writer/actor/rocker Carrie Brownstein recently added another credit to her poly-hyphenated resume: autobiographer. The Portlandia star and Sleater-Kinney musician penned Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, a memoir covering her years playing gigs, writing comedy, and producing a sketch show with cohort Fred Armisen.

Brownstein shared an excerpt from her memoir with The New Yorker that details her complicated relationship with her father, his coming to terms with his homosexuality, and how it led up to him coming out to Brownstein in 1988. A compelling and moving read, the essay is highlighted by the final passage wherein her father opened up to her grandmother and the life lesson Brownstein learned by her tragic response.

When my father came out to his mom, my grandmother said, “You waited for your father to die, why couldn’t you have waited for me to die?” I knew then that I never want to contribute to the corrosiveness of wanting someone to stay hidden. Despite all my initial conflicts about trying to reconcile the father I had as a child to the one I have now, I am thankful that he is happy, that he did not waste another second. Now there is someone to know.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl will be released by Penguin Press on October 27th, and readers can enter a contest to see Sleater-Kinney in New York City by pre-ordering here. And be sure to catch Carrie on her Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl book tour.


Turkey Day Binge

Spend Thanksgiving in Sweatpants With IFC’s Sweatsgiving Marathon

Spend Thanksgiving weekend on the couch with Todd Margaret, That '70s Show and more.

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Thanksgiving means food, family, stretchy pants, and a lot of time on the couch. Make the most of your couch time and come hang out with IFC, because we’re spending the long weekend running marathons. No, not the kind that involve actually sweating. We’re running back-to-back episodes of all the shows you love and movies you can’t stop watching. Don’t believe us? Check out the turkey-tastic video below.

Starting early Thursday morning, November 26th, head to Red’s basement for some quality time with Jackie, Kelso, Donna, Fez, Hyde, and Eric with a marathon of That ’70s Show. Afterwards, sink into a turkey-induced TV coma with David Cross and the Thunder Muscle crew in seasons one and two of Todd Margaret before the new season starts on January 7th.  On Black Friday, skip the shopping-crazed hordes for marathons of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Exorcist movies. And while you’re gorging on leftovers on Saturday, catch a Resident Evil movie marathon that’ll sate your zombie-killing appetite. (Comedy Bang! Bang! fans take note — Scott and Kid Cudi will return Thursday, December 3rd at 11P with back-to-back episodes.)

If you’re spending the weekend on the couch, be sure to tweet or Instagram along with us using the #IFCSweatsgiving hashtag. Post a selfie watching IFC with the hashtag #IFCSweatsgiving and you’ll be entered to win a sweet pair of IFC pants. IFC’s Sweatsgiving is the perfect way to catch all your favorite IFC programming and avoid your kooky Aunt Edith this Thanksgiving season.


Sounds Like Fun

The 15 Funniest Fictional Bands Ever

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Just because a band is fictional doesn’t mean it can’t be as popular as its real world counterparts. (Admit it, you still have that Zack Attack album buried in your closet somewhere.) Whether spoofing a famous act, or creating their own inept sound, these fake bands often wear their love of the music world on their sleeves. Documentary Now!‘s chronicling of the soft rock giants Blue Jean Committee is just the latest example.

It’s no surprise that the folks behind the show (Fred Armisen in particular) have a long track record of finding the funny in the music industry. (It takes musical talent, along with some serious comedy chops, to pull off the smooth lyrics of “Catalina Breeze.”) So, while Blue Jean Committee, or A Mighty Wind’s The Folksmen, could easily have been on this list, it’s not a shock that the folks behind them are. If you love music and comedy in equal measure, you’re going back to that well more than once. Here are some of the funniest fake bands to ever turn it up to eleven.

15. Citizen Dick, Singles

Citizen Dick, the band from Cameron Crowe’s alt rom-com Singles, was both a spoof of, and a turning point for, the Seattle grunge scene of the early ’90s. While many of the bands from that scene were cult hits, the Singles soundtrack helped turn them into superstars. It’s no surprise that the made-up band, fronted by Matt Dillion’s Cliff Poncier, could hold its own with so many grunge standouts, considering 3/4ths of its members were in a little group called Pearl Jam. Heck, Dillion even wore Pearl Jam’s bassist Jeff Ament’s clothes for most of the shoot. Now that’s commitment.

14. Titannica, Mr. Show with Bob and David

With hits like “Try Suicide” and “Try Again,” no one rocked harder than Titannica, the heavy metal band made famous in one of the downright weirdest sketches from the cult hit Mr. Show. But no matter how messed up their music was, the boys of Titannica knew it couldn’t hold a candle to the creep show that was their biggest fan, a chipper kid with the body of a wet cigar. This sketch is a surreal lesson in the power of music.

13. Sonic Death Monkey/Kathleen Turner Overdrive/Barry Jive and the Uptown Five, High Fidelity

You can watch Jack Black become a star in the final minutes of the 2000 cult hit High Fidelity, as his character Barry takes the stage to front his frequently renamed band. While Barry may not be able to decide on a sound for his band, Jack Black knows how to deliver when given the chance. A fun movie about and for music lovers, this scene is the cherry on top. It doesn’t matter what type of music you’re playing, as long as you leave it all on the stage.

12. Dethklok, Metalocalypse

When Metalocalypse co-creator Brendon Small was working on his previous Adult Swim hit, Home Movies, few would’ve guessed that he’d be responsible for one of the most face-meltingly metal bands to ever grace the small screen. And Small didn’t just dream up Dethklok he writes and performs every one of their songs with co-creator Tommy Blacha. While Dethklok has surpassed mere superstardom on their show, becoming the seventh largest economy in the world, their popularity in the real world isn’t far behind. Small and Blacha have fronted more than one tour as the band, and recently played the comedy/music festival Festival Supreme, created by none other than Barry Jive himself, Jack Black.

11. David Brent and Foregone Conclusion, BBC’s The Office

In The Office Christmas Special, which served as the final episodes of the beloved BBC series, co-creator Ricky Gervais revealed his character David Brent had finally chased his dreams of stardom too far, by recording a cover version of the hit “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” But while the show was wrapping up, this sojourn into music was just the beginning for the former general manager of the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg. Gervais has kept up with his most famous character, recording a song for Comic Relief and creating a series of YouTube guitar tutorials. This all culminated in a tour with the made up band Foregone Conclusion. Rumor has it, he’s even been prepping a movie to cover Brent’s presumably delusional journey through the English music scene. While knowing when to say goodbye is a gift, it’s not something David Brent would be capable of, so why should we expect any different from his creator?

10. Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution, Arrested Development

Playing in Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution was a great excuse for some family bonding time, while promoting a worthwhile product to boot. At least that’s what David Cross’ Tobais Fünke thought on the first season of Arrested Development, forcing his family to play in the pharmaceutical funded family band. More a promotional vehicle than a hit maker, any chance to see the dysfunctional Fünke family interact is worth inclusion on this list. The music may not be worthwhile, but the fury behind Maeby’s eyes is.

9. The Rutles, All You Need Is Cash

The Beatles were no stranger to parody, as you’ll see later in this list. But what separated The Rutles from the legion of spoof bands that plagued the world as the ’60s turned to the ’70s was the guidance of Monty Python Hall of Famer Eric Idle, and a will to not just send up, but really satirize the boys from Liverpool. The band first premiered in 1975 on Rutland Weekend Television, a sketch show fronted by Idle, and immediately took on a cult following. George Harrison was such a fan, he ended up appearing in The Rutles‘ feature film All You Need Is Cash.

8. Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros, Saturday Night Live

Long before Fred Armisen made his name on Saturday Night Live, he was a drummer for underground punk bands. The Clash in particular was an inspiration, and even with a right turn into comedy Armisen’s love of punk never diminished. That’s evident in this SNL sketch about a very Sid Vicious-like rock star who hates everything…except for Margaret Thatcher. Initially just a one time performance, the bit struck such a chord that Armisen reunited The Bizzaros for his last sketch as an SNL cast member. Still not done with his alter ego, he’s since taken the band into the real world, playing gigs as the foul mouthed punk rocker with a love for the Iron Lady.

7. Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

If your band is responsible for world peace, you probably deserve a spot on this list. While Bill and Ted start off as musically inept, one visit to the utopian future brought about by their sweet jams reveals them to be more than a mere rock band. They’re modern day messiahs, which is most excellent.

6. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, The Muppet Show

For many of us, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem was the first exposure we ever had to a rock band, real or otherwise. For the better part of four decades the Electric Mayhem has kept at it, managing to cover everything from classical to “Crocodile Rock” with a drummer so wild he has to literally be chained to the set. Even Keith Moon wasn’t kept in shackles.

5. Faith +1, South Park

It’s tough to pick between the two most famous bands to ever be fronted by foul mouthed fourth grader Eric Cartman. While the boyband Fingerbang is for sure a classic, Cartman’s Christian rock band Faith +1 combines his megalomania, cynicism and racism into a beautiful collage of sacrilegious majesty. And considering South Park is far from done, who knows what other bands creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have up their sleeves.

4. PoP!, Music & Lyrics

Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as one half of a Wham!-esque group in this charming rom-com. And he learned from the best — Martin Fry from the new wave group ABC served as Hugh’s vocal coach.

3. Sexual Chocolate, Coming to America

Both “good and terrible,” Randy Watson may not have been the legend he believed himself to be, but to fans of Coming to America, he and his perfectly named backup band were responsible for one of the funniest scenes in this classic comedy. Eddie Murphy was at his peak here, donning the puffy faced prosthetics necessary to truly inhabit the pitchy son of Jackson Heights. And having Morris Day of The Time fame on guitar didn’t hurt either.

2. The Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers

As the ’70s gave way to the ’80s, The Blues Brothers, along with their creators John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, were forces of nature. The two comedians and friends first premiered their creation on Saturday Night Live, promptly launching a sensation. At one point, Belushi found himself the star of the week’s number one film (Animal House), number one television show (Saturday Night Live), and singing on the number one album (Briefcase Full Of Blues). Belushi and Aykroyd would soon add a hit Blue Brothers movie to that hot streak. Combining their perfect chemistry with a whole lot of soul, Jake and Elwood transcended comedy, and helped relaunch the popularity of the blues genre itself.

1. Spinal Tap, This Is Spinal Tap

If the last two entries show you anything, it’s that the ’80s were the high water mark of fake bands in popular culture. And yet, with all the classics that came out in that decade, there was never any doubt who would sit at the top of this list. Spinal Tap isn’t just a movie. They aren’t just a band. They’re the id of rock music, manifested into reality by the all-star team of Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. In the ridiculous world of rock and roll, which already operates in a perpetual cycle of self parody, finding the balance of comedy and reality is no easy task. By using the form of a documentary, director Rob Reiner allowed his brilliant cast to improvise their way through the movie, creating the gold standard of fictional bands in the process. The film also introduced the “mockumentary” form to a mainstream audiences, which has gone on to become one of the most popular styles of comedy over the last three decades.


'Soft' Rock

Get Gentle and Soft With The Blue Jean Committee’s New EP

The Documentary Now! band has a new EP.

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The Blue Jean Committee is about to head straight up the charts with their new song “Gentle & Soft.” Is it us, or did it just get really smooth in here?

The band, whose tumultuous history was chronicled in a compelling two-part episode of Documentary Now!, is back with an extremely soft bullet with the release of Catalina Breeze, an actual 12″ EP with actual songs that you can actually (and should actually) buy. As Fred Armisen, who sings in the Blue Jean Committee along with his Documentary Now! cohort Bill Hadertold EW, he wanted the band to capture the ’70s California soft rock sound. “So the best way to do it for us would be to just spell it out and call the song ‘Gentle and Soft,'” Armisen said.

The EP, which will be released on November 20th, also features the classic BJC tracks “Mama You’re a Dancer,” “Walking Shoes” and the titular jam all about relaxing Catalina breezes. True to its name, the Catalina Breeze EP will hit you like the wind, rushing your hair into a halo, which is as gentle and soft as it comes. Head over to Drag City to listen to song samples and grab the EP.

For more Documentary Now!, check out the complete archive, episode clips, and music from the show.

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