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2012 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:
  Inspector Jason  

Inspector Jason's Top Five Albums of 2012:

  1. Crystal Castles III by Crystal Castles
    Morrissey once sang, “Now I know how Joan of Arc felt.” This year, thanks to the third self-titled Crystal Castles album, we all know how Joan of Arc felt. Alice Glass and Ethan Kath carry us along through darkly restrained electronic tunes reverberating in a mixture of conflict, despair, fear, redemption, and hope. This album reminds me of The Cure's Faith, in its conveyance of soul-searching in the midst of struggle.

  2. Oshin by DIIV
    This debut album by DIIV carries the attentive listener on a gleeful nostalgic trip through landscapes once dominated by The Ocean Blue, The Mighty Lemon Drops, The Cure, The Smiths, The Church, and Echo And The Bunnymen. There are no standout singles or anthems to be found here, and, instead, this DIIV album plays through like a collection of outtakes and demos from one of the above-listed bands. Strangely enough, this just adds to the understated charm of this band.

  3. Strange Bruises EP by Mode Moderne
    I heard Mode Moderne's song, The Open Air, on Album 88 this summer and ordered the EP online as soon as I had a chance. Mode Moderne are not the first band to wear The Smiths and Echo And The Bunnymen influences on their sleeve, but the homage has rarely sounded this good.

  4. Kill For Love by Chromatics
    Chromatics have that "too cool for school" vibe that usually turns me off other such acts, but it happens to work in the band's favor in this instance. This one is part electronic, part shoegaze, and all brilliantly ethereal.

  5. Ghostory by School Of Seven Bells
    I expected the worst when School Of Seven Bells lost a member after their last album, so I was pleasantly surprised when this new album turned out to be the band's finest effort to date. Ghostory is crystal-clear and less cluttered than its predecessors, but the danceable fun is still there.

Inspector Jason's Top Five Films of 2012:

  1. The Grey
    Every now and then, a movie comes along at just the right time and resounds in such an intensely personal way that the viewer cannot shake its effect. I saw The Grey in January of 2012 when I was struggling with burnout in every aspect of my life. This tale of doomed oil refinery workers who struggle to escape from wolves after a plane crash in the remote Alaskan wilderness reminded me that the will to keep trying is what life is truly about, even if success is a long shot. When I approached the finish line of my first 100-mile ultramarathon ten months later, I chanted a poem featured in the film. "Once more into the fray… Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day… Live and die on this day…"

  2. Skyfall
    Daniel Craig continues to helm the Second Golden Age of the James Bond franchise by portraying the Ian Fleming literary character in a way that surpasses the effectiveness of previous Bond actors. The reboot of the franchise comes to a completion here in a way that allows future Bond films to continue breaking new ground or to follow the gloriously fun status quo. A fight sequence on a Shanghai high rise, with pulsating video images in the background, is a Bond moment for the ages.

  3. Django Unchained
    I wanted to see Quentin Tarantino direct more Kung Fu movies after his two Kill Bill films, and I wanted to see him direct more WWII adventures after Inglourious Basterds. This time around, Tarantino tries his hand at a spaghetti Western with spectacular results. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz make such a fun bounty hunter team that I could easily watch several films with these two characters. Leonardo DiCaprio steals the show, however, as a ruthless plantation owner. I am of the opinion that Leonardo DiCaprio should play a villain from now on, because he made me think of a younger Vincent Price with his work in this film. I'd even love to see him star in a House Of Wax reinterpretation, perhaps.

  4. John Carter
    John Carter is a wondrous epic that recalls the larger-than-life feel of older live-action Disney films, such as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Treasure Island, or The Swiss Family Robinson, and, with its interpretation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories, takes the viewer back to childhood days of reading books with a flashlight after dark. The critics were merciless with this film, and it left theaters in a flash, but I believe that time will be kind to this underappreciated classic.

  5. Lawless I had trouble deciding between Lawless or The Avengers for my fifth spot. I ultimately chose Lawless because it was filmed in Troup County, Georgia, where I grew up, and because it showcases another home run by director John Hillcoat and writer/musician Nick Cave. This tale of Virginia moonshiners has its share of brutal violence, but there's also an undercurrent of joy that I have never experienced in a Hillcoat movie.
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Inspector Jason's 2007 year-end lists.
Inspector Jason's 2008 year-end lists.
Inspector Jason's 2009 year-end lists.
Inspector Jason's 2010 year-end lists.
Inspector Jason's 2011 year-end lists.

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