By Bob Clark
At the end of every cinematic year, there’s always the question of where certain movies fit in the rank and file of top ten listings, and the like. Do you list a film based on the year it was created, the year it was screened in festivals, or the year it received a wide release in your area? This is ignoring of course whether or not it was originally made as a film or a piece of television, or what have you. If you really wanted to have a completely accurate ranking of the best films from any given year, you’d have to wait until long after that year has passed, perhaps towards the end of the decade, and thus give yourself enough time to track down all the late releases and obscure curiosities that aren’t likely to enjoy significant screenings even in the most cosmopolitan markets (that goes double if you’re an anime fan). Last year I thought I managed a pretty tidy compromise in listing my favorite late releases from around the world, mostly foreign-market titles that might’ve played in domestic festivals but didn’t reach major theaters in the New York area until time had passed. But as I put together that list, I realized that I was still ignoring a significant amount of the time I’d been spending in the various moviegoing events both in the city and suburbs. One of the great advantages of living in New York is the dense art-house repertoire output, constantly showing classics both in festivals and year-round, allowing you to see some of the best films out there the way they were meant to be seen, and not hemmed in by the claustrophobic confines of a television screen, or worse.
10– Lawrence of Arabia (New York Film Festival)
And as far as experiencing big-screen movies the way they were meant to be seen, there’s no better place to start than this meticulously restored 4K digital scan of David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia that premiered at the 50th New York Film Festival, and later toured special screenings around the country to coincide with its release on blu-ray. I felt rather lucky to be going into this one almost completely blind on the film, having tried and given up on it at home and deciding to wait until it played theatrically in the city. None of Lean’s 70mm filmmaking has ever truly impressed me the way I feel they’re supposed to while watching them on television– at the very least, his previous efforts in black-and-white like his seminal Dickens or Noel Coward features, all hold up much better for home viewing, the 1.33 aspect ratio not nearly as compromised on a small screen by the expansive 2.20. At the end of the day those Dickens and Coward films may still be just a little stronger than his more mainstream efforts, but as far as a piece of intelligent adventuring goes, there’s little out there that can top Lawrence in terms of sheer power and influence, and on the big screen there’s practically nothing as beautiful.
Leans’ treatment of the desert locales and Lawrence’s egomaniacal efforts to tame it and the people around him become lyrical and poetic in their use of color, motion and space– above all, that sense of space is vastly improved when experiencing the film theatrically. Not everything improves, however– the various make-up used to disguise Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn as Arab warlords sticks out even more painfully than ever in this brightly cleaned and restored image, to say nothing of seeing it projected larger than life. And perhaps it’s more due to seeing it with a crowd of dedicated fans and adherents, but the experience of its screening at Lincoln Center was incredibly odd for how the audience responded to much of the movie with unintended laughter at Peter O’Toole’s sometimes fey performance, making it feel a little less like seeing a classic and more like seeing a Rocky Horror midnight classic. Yet at the same time, that just makes the movie feel all the more subversive at times, especially for how it seeks to paint this man of grand ambition in the most aggrandizing and humbling terms alike, maintaining both the magnificent swagger and lonely despair that ultimately leads to a kind of self-destruction. It’s harder to know whether to pity the hero, or those who believe in him the more.
9– Following (IFC Center)
Another kind of heroic cult surrounded the various screenings of Christopher Nolan’s work in the wake of The Dark Knight Rises and the end of his take on the Batman mythos. Between the career spanning retrospective screenings his work received at Lincoln Center (I really should’ve made a point to see Insomnia, the only one of movies I’ve yet to see) and this rare 35mm showing of his debut feature Following, right on the heels of its blu-ray release as a part of the Criterion Collection, it’s odd to be reminded of the sheer range of the director’s output, and just how much of it has been supplanted in its reputation by a few superhero capers. Nolan’s an odd director for me to think about, as he’s one of the few filmmakers who I’ve been able to track from almost the beginning of his career, enjoying Memento multiple times in the theater back in 2000. Though I’ve wrestled with his sometimes infuriating plot holes and often incoherence behind the camera as an action director (which wouldn’t bother me in the least, save for the fact that he keeps attempting to make action films), if I’m completely honest I have to admit that he’s one of my favorite filmmakers of this generation, and that his releases are always something to look forward to from my perspective.
And no matter what flaws his narrative and visual mannerisms have, overall there are few directors out there today whose work is as rewarding an experience on the big screen, if for nothing other than the sheer scale of his ambition with the photographic image. What then, to make of this 16mm effort from the man who’s gone on to popularize the use of IMAX in blockbuster moviemaking? In an odd sense, it confirms a lot of my previous suspicions about his visual dynamics, that he’s much more adept and nuanced with an aspect ratio closer to 1.33 than he is with the wider canvas of 2.35. Perhaps that’s due to his growing up in the age of video, with letterboxing seeming more a compression of the cinematic image than an expansion of it, but there’s something wide and freeing about how he composes and shoots the crisp, sharp shadows of Following, often on-the-fly as he gives his actors as free reign as possible, shooting quick and efficiently in long takes somewhat akin to filmed theater. Though I’d seen this film years ago back when it was originally released on DVD (in exactly the same condition as its Criterion release, seemingly, a simple repackaging), I hadn’t been terribly impressed by its visuals– at the main screen at the IFC Center, however, it loomed large and dynamic as a piece of classical, low-budget noir. And the experience was worth the price of admission alone for the moment captured in that still above, which puts those indie roots in stark contrast with his eventual superpowered franchise destiny. Another bit of unintended laughter, but far warmer than any of the guffaws uttered at Lawrence as Queen of the Desert.
8– Seven Days in May (Jacob Burns Film Center)
A question on the matter of unintended laughter, while we’re at it– can two different audiences, separated by decades and generations, laugh at the same lines in the same movie, yet for subtly different reasons, without the humor being accidental? John Frankenheimer was never the most reliable of directors when it came to the quality of his output (he closed out his career with Reindeer Games and a bunch of online car commercials, after all) but when he was on fire, he was in a blue heat. The Manchurian Candidate is still his absolute best, and one of the most remarkable American films of the 60’s for the zeitgeist of political paranoia it tapped into, and nearly all the rest of his output from that decade and around it match that classic in terms of how he uses space, motion and clarity of action on the screen. I’d love to see similarly paranoid nightmares like Seconds theatrically or even a lightweight panoramic parade like Grand Prix, but if I had to choose a movie other than Manchurian Candidate to see on the big screen, I couldn’t have done much better than this rare screening of Seven Days in May at the Jacob Burns Film center in Pleasantville, presided over by Westchester resident Jonathan Demme, at the height of the political season of the 2012 election.
As such, is this slow-burning potboiler following the gradual discovery and pursuit of a cabal of Army insiders plotting a coup d’etat to oust an unpopular left-leaning President from office a great film? Probably not– the limited budget shows, as Demme pointed out in a Q and A session following the film, from the inherently talky and interior nature of the proceedings. But that only adds to the genuine fear and frustration pulsating throughout the story– it isn’t as open or adventurous as The Manchurian Candidate, which balanced its dread with all kinds of asides for humor, locales and surreal non-sequitors to capture the fractured states of men whose minds have been reshaped both by Communist agents and Neo-Con conspirators alike. Instead, the suffocating claustrophobia of the various White House and futuristic Pentagon sets of Seven Days injects a deeper sense of suspicion and anxiety, such that when the President sends a handful of investigators to discover the truth at different army bases and the movie suddenly becomes something of a globe-trotting adventure, the suddenly open expanses of space only make the experience even more intimidating. It’s here where the theatrical experience is really necessary not only to get the best possible personal experience and enjoy a film to the fullest extent, but moreover to best experience the totality of a film’s use of the cinematic elements, rather than the abridgement of space and scale one must allow in mass-media.
7– “Past is Prologue: The Films of Ridley Scott” (Lincoln Center)
Seven Days in May had a nice occasion for its screening in the political climate of this past election year (The Manchurian Candidate also enjoyed a few midnight screenings at the IFC Center– if only they gave it earlier showings, I might’ve shown up myself), but what are the other occasions for previously released movies to be afforded a return trip to the theater? In the case of Nolan’s retrospectives in Manhattan there was something like a celebration capping the end of his Batman trilogy, and in the case of this career-long retrospective of Ridley Scott, the release of his return home to the Alien franchise in Prometheus, which enjoyed an early screening at Lincoln Center as well as a part of the series (and in 3D, no less). There’s less that needs to be said about the experience I had revisiting a handful of my favorite of his films at the Walter Reade over the summer– Ridley Scott remains one of the few relatively modern directors that nearly all young-ish cinephiles can find something to love in, especially for how his career spans all manner of genre from transgressive sci-fi to painterly historical period-pieces, and then finally to bloodsoaked, jittery action explosions. And though most of the stuff I came to see at this mini-festival amounted to all the usual suspects (this counts as the third time I’ve seen the director’s cuts of Alien and Blade Runner theatrically, and they only keep getting better), perhaps the most engrossing experience was the one that was completely new for me– the 80’s fantasy disaster of Legend, starring Tom Cruise as a woodland elf, Tim Curry as a strutting, naked red-skinned demon and unicorns galore. Is it a great movie? I’m not even sure if it’s a good movie, even in something close to its original condition, complete with the original Jerry Goldsmith score. But as a big-screen experience, it’s absolutely worth living through, if only to see something resembling what androids might dream of projected as big as you can imagine.
6– Total Recall (1990) (Film Forum)
Another occasion the modern era has found for a theatrical re-release of even the most disposable genre entertainments– the periodical remake. I’d never bothered to see this 1990 effort from Paul Verhoven, which picked up an adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick story begun by David Cronenberg before he was unceremoniously dropped in favor of a more mainstream vision (he wanted something closer in spirit to the Dick story or his own features; Alien creators Roland Shusett and Dave O’Bannon wanted “Raiders of the Lost Ark on Mars”). Yes, I’d enjoyed RoboCop and Starship Troopers, even seeing the latter film during its original release back in the 90’s, but both of those had an immediately easy to glean satirical glimmer that this pulpy Schwarzenegger adventure seemed to lack. That’s too bad, because probably the best way to enjoy an unapologetic B-thriller like this is to see it late-night on cable, between commercials for miracle products and detergent, but in the wake of the past year’s utterly forgettable remake directed by Lens Wiseman, the opportunity to see a digital restoration of the original at Film Forum was too good to pass up. All things being equal, there are far worse ways that you can spend a Saturday afternoon catching pop-corn in your mouth while you watch a delirious piece of sci-fi surrealism as this, and few better than at its best moments when Schwarzenegger and Verhoven both recognize the potency of Dick’s premise and the absurdity of playing it out to such histrionic Hollywood proportions. A reminder of a kind of blockbuster that seems increasingly rare nowadays– possessing just enough brains to keep from being disposable, but not so much it’s afraid of being fun.
5– Contempt (Institut Francais)
There are certain perennial favorites on the New York repertoire circuit, and across a wide swath of different venues, Godard seems to be the most consistent. For as long as I’ve been going there, Film Forum barely seems to have gone a year without at least one major revival of the director, from popular titles like Band of Outsiders and Weekend to works that are more obscure in America like Made in USA, Two or Three Things I Know About Her or Every Man For Himself. The IFC Center has exhibited his stuff time and again as well, though less frequently (Film Socialisme, the director’s latest, was the most recent of his to show there, I think). Even Westchester theaters like the Jacob Burns and Pelham’s Picture House have gone out of their way to screen stuff like Breathless and Pierrot le Fou every now and again, putting him into near constant rotation somewhere in the New York area. Though I sorely missed a showing of his 2001 release In Praise of Love at Brooklyn’s Museum of the Moving Image and was dismayed at a scheduling mishap at a previously planned, but scrapped screening of King Lear at the 92nd Street Y Tribecca location (they ordered Gordard’s film, but were shipped Peter Brooks’ instead), a recent screening of Contempt at the French Institute in Manhattan may have provided one of the most revelatory experiences I’ve enjoyed as far as small-to-big screen viewings have gone.
What stands out the most is just how active Godard’s use of the screen is in the meticulously arranged tableaux throughout the film, and how easily he goes from one whole composition to another with just a subtle shift of perspective or framing, finding multiplicities of pictorial possibilities throughout this largely static story of a couple’s disintegration in the shadow of a looming, stalled Hollywood production in Italy. Raoul Coutard’s bright primary colors punctuate the vast distances of minimalist space that Godard arranges in set-pieces like the modernist apartment where screenwriter Michel Piccoli and Bridget Bardot bicker to the point of open warfare, or the piece of fascist-futurist architecture where Fritz Lang shoots producer Jack Palance’s revisionist take on Homer. The petty human squabbles in and of themselves don’t amount to much, and at times might not even make a great deal of sense as far as motivations go, but the ways in which they are dominated by the spaces they live in and the scale we get from juxtaposing their trivial concerns with the substance and weight of epic myths of history past help provide a framing context that puts things into perspective. Seen on television, even when letterboxed, you can only look at all these scenes through the lens of the kind of miniaturism that you see in Wes Anderson’s diorama-films, and indeed it’s worth wondering if he got some of his visual style less from Godard and the New Wave as cinematic idols and more from being exposed to them on television. In the theater, however, even in a slightly aged and ratty print, it becomes an abyss which threatens to swallow you whole.
4– “Life is Cinema: The Films of Nanni Moretti” (IFC Center)
Sometimes the occasion which provides the excuse for a retrospective of a director’s work can be overshadowed by the retrospective itself. When the IFC Center announced plans to show a career-wide series covering the works of Italian humorist Nanni Moretti, I was so excited by the prospect of seeing Caro Diario, one of my favorite comedies of all time on the big-screen, I barely paid enough attention to recognize that it was all timed for the release of his latest effort, Abemus Papum. I almost feel sorry that I never bothered to see that new film, and drowning myself with as much of his older works as I could afford– rather, I feel sorrier that I wasn’t able to see everything they had to offer, passing up a few of his comedies while concentrating on a series of films that blend fiction, documentary and political concerns in Italy throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Perhaps the best blend of those aspects was Aprille, which feels like something of a sequel to Caro Diario in how it charts Moretti’s obsessions with both his country’s looming elections and the prospect of imminent fatherhood. It’s a shame that Moretti isn’t better known in the states, and that he may well be best remembered for his most middling effort, the Cannes winner The Son’s Room, but as long as major art-houses like the IFC are willing to stage major retrospectives of his work more often, at least there’s the chance he can gain more exposure.
3– Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (3D Wide Release)
And now to something which hardly needs any more exposure already. This was an odd year for any admirers of George Lucas willing to brave the groupthink of critical and fanboy detractors. First there was the release of the long-gestated Tuskegee Airmen picture Red Tails, which boasted outstanding action sequences and aerial dogfighting from Industrial Light & Magic, but little else in a mediocre script from Aaron McGrudder and tepid direction from television veteran Anthony Hemingway. Then towards year’s end, there was the whiplash inducing news of Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney, as well as the prospect of a new trilogy to continue the franchise, with no shortage of big names being courted to direct the burgeoning productions (yet very few, it seems, who seem to know anything about staging and shooting an action set-piece more demanding than a heated conversation without succumbing to the symptoms of Bourne-itis). Between those events was the first of the 3D rereleases of the Star Wars movies, beginning with the critical whipping-boy The Phantom Menace, which perhaps might’ve stood as the first sign of the saga’s looming return to the breach of multiplexes.
Now I’ve said plenty about my love of this film, my personal favorite of the series, but its return to theaters in the guise of a 3D conversion bears observing for what it bodes both for the theatrical experience and the ongoing experiment of 3D filmmaking as a whole. I’m still not sure where I sit as far as 3D goes– some movies, like Cameron’s Avatar or this past year’s The Amazing Spider-Man, have done a lot to impress me with wholly designed worlds and action set-pieces that make as full a usage of the extra emphasis of space and foreground that binocular vision affords. Other efforts, like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus or Scorsese’s painfully whimsical Hugo have made used 3D in ways that don’t get in the way of the picture, but don’t necessarily add to it in ways that wouldn’t have been apparent from a 2D version. In the case of the mega-flop John Carter or the bloaded mess of The Hobbit, gimmicks like 3D can serve to make a bad film even worse. The conversion efforts in the case of The Phantom Menace are lucky in that they don’t detract from the overall experience, but don’t add very much to it either– given how much of the film was composed with an eye for the 2.35 picture plane, that’s not much of a surprise, as the already flattened picture doesn’t lend itself too well to the dimensionalizing efforts. Usually, as is the case of most conversion jobs, the result is to give the film more “depth” and less “pop”– that is, an image that recedes further into the viewer’s perceived vision than it reaches out to them.
So if the experience of seeing Star Wars in 3D doesn’t necessarily add up to the perfect rollercoaster thrill-ride it by all rights would appear to be with the advent of stereoscopic imagery, what else is there to say about the umpteenth time I’ve seen a film I already saw countless times in the theater and no less than three different home-video formats? Not much, except that one can never take for granted the role that repeated television viewings can in conditioning the viewer away from the immediate theatrical impression one gets seeing something the first time. I loved The Phantom Menace on the big screen, and I’ve loved it on the small screen as well, but over more than a decade of only viewing it on a television, even under optimal letterboxing conditions, I’d forgotten just how immersive Lucas’ camera can be, even without the additional bells and whistles of 3D. By marrying traditional perspective and composition with a propulsive mix of abstract framings and editing culled from the avant-garde, Lucas is able to come up with a marvelously exotic world and string together a tour from one pit-stop set-piece to another, choreographing lavish spectacles of pictorial and kinetic display in all manner of battles and chases that can dazzle the eye and excite the senses without condescending to the level of incoherent visual garbage that stands for docu-verite realism in blockbuster entertainment nowadays.
A kaleidescopic kind of cinematic action-painting, The Phantom Menace in a theatrical format breaks free of the stilted confines that it inhabits on television, where like Ben Hur it can break down into unimersive miniaturist tableaux, with only a shoddy script and wooden acting to make up for it (though much less-so than that tale of Christ). It reminds you how great Star Wars can be just as the franchise gears itself up to start again, but without the man who made it possible. I can only hope that he finally makes good on his promise to return to the smaller art movies of THX 1138 and its like, so that this sacrifice to the House of the Mouse wasn’t totally in vain.
2– Heaven’s Gate (New York Film Festival)
The Phantom Menace and the Star Wars movies in general have never enjoyed an outsanding critical reputation, yet they’ve maintained a popularity with mainstream filmgoers that’s second-to-none. Michael Cimino’s misbegotten epic Heaven’s Gate was unlucky enough to suffer disaster both at the hands of critics and audiences alike, almost immediately fizzling into obscurity following its release in 1980 and enjoying only the occasional cult devotion from viewers who discovered its unblemished director’s cut on home video or in television showings on Z-Channel and other cable outfits like it. As such, the news of its joining the hallowed ranks of the Criterion Collection in DVD and blu ray felt like a magnificent restorative to the decades of bad press it had unfairly gotten as the movie that effectively killed United Artists and ushered in the end to the glory days of the New Hollywood period. Even better, for New York residents was the prospect of the new Criterion restoration screening at Lincoln Center during the New York Film Festival, with Cimino himself in attendance alongside star Kris Kristoffersen.
I already wrote at length about Heaven’s Gate– both the film itself and seeing it at the festival, both for the ways in which it plays out differently on the big screen and for how validating it was to hear a live audience of viewers for whom the film was an entirely new experience, responding almost perfectly in tune to the film, laughing and crying just where you’d hope to hear someone reacting to the movie’s pressure points. Best of all, of course, was the knowledge that the director himself was here to observe all of this happening, and the tears in his eyes as he spoke to the audience afterwards. It doesn’t make up for the years of rejection the film and its maker suffered for thirty years, and it in the end it only really goes to show just how much was lost in terms of creative potential, just how many more masterpieces there might’ve been if not for its tragic misunderstanding by the press of the time. But there’s still a minor miracle at work in moments like seeing the joyful elegy of Heaven’s Gate play out in its full form before a crowd of virgin eyes, unweathered by critical voices. How often do you get to hear an audience fall in love with a movie for the first time?
1– “Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli” (IFC Center/GKids)
In a sense I shouldn’t be putting this series up on the list at all, seeing as it originally debuted late in 2011 at the IFC Center, after prints of Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away enjoyed screenings at the New York Film Festival. But as the majority of it ran through January of 2012, and thanks to how this collection of pristine 35mm prints of all but one of the Studio Ghibli films from Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and other directors spent the rest of that year touring the country (including a lengthy stop at the Jacob Burns) before finally returning to the IFC, where children’s classics like My Neighbor Totoro have now become almost permanent parts of their weekend repertoire, I can’t help but end this list of great theatrical retrospective experiences with this priceless assortment of animation. What’s better still, however, is the fact that, save for the exceptions of Castle and Spirited, each of these movies was a new experience for me, without any polluting baggage of television viewings to get in the way.
Why hadn’t I made an effort to immerse myself in Ghibli’s work until now? Mostly because for a long time it represented a brand of anime that I was less interested in, a less mature and transgressive spirit than the kind of challenging fare that directors like Mamoru Oshii, Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Otomo practiced in their far more adult-oriented features. Works by directors like Miyazaki and Takahata were celebrated, of course, and the few of them I’d seen I’d enjoyed, but not retained very well, more skeptical and less open to letting them all sink in for their close association with Disney and Pixar. But as time went on, the reputation that the studio enjoyed with animators, even those behind the least child-safe entertainment imaginable, became too much for my curiosity not to be aroused somewhat. I became especially interested when I discovered that Hideaki Anno, creator of the celebrated but controversial Neon Genesis Evangelion, was not only an admirer of Miyazaki but had worked under him as a sequence animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, and that Studio Ghibli had been contracted to provide additional animation on the Evengelion series as well.
When Castle in the Sky was announced for the New York Film Festival and the entire Ghibli canon soon afterward at the IFC Center, that curiosity was afforded its first real bait. I took after it, and haven’t looked back since. It’s a great feeling to see so many of these titles on the big screen, after avoiding them on video and DVD where they’ve languished so long, and in some cases haven’t even received proper releases. As an anime fan in America, you begin to take it for granted after a while that you’re probably only ever going to see most features on television, as theatrical exhibitions are rare and the distributing arm limited, in spite of the genre’s domestic popularity. Considering how much quality animation gets produced for television in Japan, it can even be easy to shrug off the importance of seeing films on the big screen, especially in the case of features based off of popular works on the small screen. Over the years I’ve made an effort to see the new Evangelion and other features in theaters, and the lengths to which I’ve had to go to– tracking down an obscure Bollywood theater in Manhattan, suffering the indignation of a Comic-Con to see the latest Makoto Shinkai in its American debut– help put into perspective the comparative ease and convenience of GKids’ distribution efforts for the Ghibli films. If only all anime titles were given this kind of premium treatment.
As such, I’ve spent the past year seeing these films whenever they’ve toured theaters, soaking up a choice few, often right in the front row, making the most of each screening as though the next one might only arrive in years or decades to come. I’ve managed to see Castle in the Sky, in particular, enough times theatrically for me to give serious credence to the possibility of it toppling one or two of the sacred cows in my own personal list of all-time favorites (at the very least it’s managed to push American Psycho down a notch or two, and if you’re able to beat Christian Bale butchering Reaganite yuppies to the sound of Huey Lewis in my book, you’ve achieved a Herculean labor). Among the many rewards of attending theatrical screenings to the Ghibli films is the closeness and intimacy of the image, and the appreciation it affords for all of the effort and minutiae of the animated form. Watching on television, everything can often be a little too small for you to really pay close attention to the creative solutions that animators find to illustrate whole landscapes and sequences with a minimum of drawings. In an age where American animation studios like Pixar specialize in ever-fluid CGI and Peter Jackson and James Cameron croon over the possibility of 48 fps and even higher frame-rates, it’s nothing short of astonishing to watch passages of Miyazaki blown up on the wall and realize just how far under the norm of 24 fps is being used at times.
With the Castles in the Sky roadshow retrospective, not only are the masters of Studio Ghibli served well in the eyes of every audience lucky enough to find themselves within its reach, but all creators of Japanese anime and beyond that from any nation or discipline are the better for the increased appreciation it affords the animated arts. Hopefully we may see a trend begin in the wake of this series’ blockbuster tour of the art-house circuit, and see more and more obscure animated films both old and new being afforded respectable screenings (at the very least, I’d like to see Akira make rounds on the big screen for its 25th anniversary). Maybe we’ll even see new voices pick up the pen and start putting poetry in motion themselves. As in the case of a showing for any classic film from the past, there’s no time like the present.
Next week, my picks for the best late releases of 2012…