2012 Mini-Reviews: Killer Joe, Michael, Headhunters, Premium Rush, Bachelorette

Although I saw quite a few new releases last year, there were still several that managed to slip through the cracks for me. Here are some quick reviews on five 2012 films I saw recently:

Bachelorette [2012]
Bachelorette [dir. Leslye Headland]
It’s easy to compare this to Bridesmaids — it’s another crude, brash, female-heavy comedy centered around an upcoming wedding — but Headland’s screenplay actually made the 2008 Black List, well before the latter was even conceived. Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher are an entertaining trio of bridesmaids, even if Dunst does feel a bit miscast here. As expected, they run into a series of problems on the night before the wedding, some of which involve copious amounts of booze and cocaine. The jokes are hit and miss, but the best part for me was seeing a mini-Party Down reunion with Caplan and Adam Scott on screen together. A pretty solid comedy overall, one that got unfortunately overlooked. 7/10

Headhunters [2011]
Headhunters [dir. Morten Tyldum]
I had seen this pop up on a handful of year-end lists, so I was especially excited to see this Norwegian thriller. In what turns out to be a bit of cat and mouse, a so-called “headhunter” (Aksel Hennie) attempts to steal a rare painting from a merciless human tracker (played by the excellent Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a.k.a. Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones). Needless to say, this doesn’t go well, and the thief finds himself alone and on the run. It’s a pretty tense affair full of unexpected twists and turns, and the payoff is very satisfying. Very glad I was able to finally see this. 8/10

Killer Joe [2011]
Killer Joe [dir. William Friedkin]
Holy hell, this is one wild and twisted movie! In another in a string of recent unforgettable performances, Matthew McConaughey goes all out as the eponymous Killer Joe, a hitman who doesn’t take shit from anyone. The poster calls this “a totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story”, and that’s a pretty good depiction of what the film is all about. This is a trashy noir tale, and I felt like I needed to take a shower after viewing. The interactions between McConaughey and Juno Temple, playing a naive teenager, are creepy, but the dinner table scene is as gripping as it gets. I’ll never look at fried chicken the same way again. 8/10

Michael [2010]
Michael [dir. Markus Schleinzer]
This Austrian film is about one of the most disturbing subjects imaginable — pedophilia — and it is as hard to watch as you might expect. Michael (Michael Fuith) is a single bachelor who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement. The man appears normal to outsiders, even though he is a quiet fellow who keeps to himself. Little do they know the horrific secret he is keeping from everyone. It’s a gutting watch, but the performances from all involved are incredible. The ending will stay with you for days. 7.5/10

Premium Rush [2012]
Premium Rush [dir. David Koepp]
It’s not often that we get an action film involving cyclists, but here we are. This is pretty much a textbook popcorn flick. The action is fast and high octane, never letting up for a second. The characters are mostly shallow and the plotholes are plentiful, but it’s a fun ride all the same. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is reliable as always as the biker who gets mixed up with the wrong people, and Michael Shannon delivers a delightfully over-the-top villainous performance. Every now and then it’s nice to sit down for a quick, mindless film, and this easily satisfies that need. 7/10

Have you seen any of these? What do you think of them?

40 thoughts on “2012 Mini-Reviews: Killer Joe, Michael, Headhunters, Premium Rush, Bachelorette

  1. Nostra says:

    Have not seen Michael or Bachelorette. As for the others I thought they all were entertaining, although I wasn’t as big of a fan of everyone else seems to be.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      If you liked Bridesmaids, I’d say Bachelorette is worth a watch. I might have liked it a little more than most because I enjoyed seeing Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott on screen together, but it’s still pretty funny. Michael is a little harder to recommend because of its subject matter, even though it is a very well-made film.

  2. ruth says:

    Glad you like Headhunters! I was very impressed with that one, I wish more thrillers are this well-crafted. I already like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau before this but I was also impressed by Aksel in the lead, somehow he made his character sympathetic despite his flaws. It managed to surprise me too, not many thrillers do these days.

  3. truemistersix says:

    I didn’t really ‘get’ Killer Joe, but was definitely able to appreciate McConaughey’s performance in it. Oddly; I found it difficult to stomach at time, which is not normal for me – i’m Generation Y desensitised to most the most shocking cinema usually. Why? Couldn’t put my finger on it.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Killer Joe is pretty messed up, and I can definitely see where you’re coming from. It was just so sleazy, and I can’t think of another film like it. The trailer trash setting feels like a whole different world, not one I would want to visit often.

  4. sati says:

    I didn’t like Premium Rush, in fact it was one of the worst films I’ve seen during last year but I really loved Killer Joe – The Paperboy, while not nearly as good, is entertaining and wild too and it also features McConaughey.

  5. Dan says:

    Great to see you caught up with Headhunters – it was one of the highlights from last year for me. Great cat and mouse thriller that has some fantastic, darkly comic moments.

  6. Dan Heaton says:

    Eric, I’ll echo the other comments and say that it’s great that you were able to see Headhunters, which is awesome. It was my #3 movie of 2011 and one of my favorite experiences in the theater. I saw it totally randomly at the St. Louis film fest and think it’s one of the best thrillers of the past few years.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Headhunters on the big screen seems like it would be a blast, especially if you saw it by chance. I loved that the film wasn’t too long — it kept everything quick and to the point, and I think it was all the better because of this.

      • Dan says:

        I agree about the brisk pace. I seriously knew nothing about it and picked it from the movies available at a certain time. I was stunned by how good it is and was on the edge of my seat once it got rolling.

  7. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric and company:

    Great list. With a few I may need to see! Especially ‘Headhunters’, which looks exceptionally interesting,

    I kept looking for Joe R. Lansdale’s name to pop up somewhere in the credits of ‘Killer Joe’. It has his dusty, middle of nowhere, west Texas town’s fingerprints and feel all over it.

    McConaghey seems to have dipped his bucket back into the well of Bill Paxton’s ‘Frailty’. To add to Joe’s assured, laid back psychotic killer for hire.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Hi Jack, Headhunters is good fun. Well worth seeing when you’re in the mood for a good thriller. It’s on Netflix Instant now, too, if you are a subscriber.

      I had to look up Joe R. Lansdale, but he sounds like someone I should start reading. Pretty diverse resume!

      Loved McConaughey’s performance in Killer Joe. A lot of people have been praising his roles in Bernie and Magic Mike — and rightfully so — but I think this was his best of the year.

  8. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I have seen both Bachelorette and Premium Rush out of this bunch and they were both very passable and enjoyable movies. I do not think Kristen Dunst was miscast though, in fact, I think she was close to the best about the film.
    I plan to watch Killer Joe in the coming weeks after so many positive reviews.

  9. Jaina says:

    Very glad to see that you enjoyed Headhunters. It’s a fun film. Love the sense of humor in it.

    Killer Joe is so very twisted. I think I physically squirmed in my seat while watching. It’s that sort of film I’m glad I saw, appreciated and all. But don’t think I’ll be wanting to see it again.

  10. Anders says:

    Headhunters, yay! It sure was a good thriller, and as someone else said earlier, it really put some twists to the story and characters get deeper (and more likeable, regarding Aksel).
    I also enjoyed Killer Joe, saw it last week. Matthew McConaughey sure is a mixed bag, some movies are quite so-so, some are like this, where he really IS a pure psychopath! Have to second you on not wanting to visit this trailer environ if I can avoid it.
    Great movies as always man!!

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed both of those films as well, man. It’s so great to see McConaughey put together a bit of a resurgence lately — he nailed every film he was in last year. Hell of a way to make a comeback after so many dull rom-coms.

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