Killing Them Softly (2012) Written & Directed by Andrew Dominik
In the fall of 2008, with the presidential election and the financial crisis playing out in the background, Frankie and Russell carry out the robbery of a Mafia-run poker game. Planned by their friend Johnny “The Squirrel” they target a competition run by Markie, a man who once held up his own game and so now suspicion surrounds him. They figure everyone will think Markie did it again and he’ll feel the brunt of the mob. However, the Mafia calls in Jackie, a well-known hitman who immediately knows Markie isn’t this stupid. It’s only a matter of time until all parties involved in the heist are found and Jackie has to deliver his revenge. From there, things get dodgy as the film meanders off, focusing on side characters and slowing the momentum of the story way down.
The Master (2012) Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a veteran adrift after the close of World War II, caught up in his trauma, psychoses, and macho posturing to heal himself. He bounces around from job to job until, by sheer chance, ending up onboard a private yacht populated by Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and the followers of his philosophical movement “The Cause.” Lancaster takes a liking to Freddie and brings him into the fold slowly introducing his ideas and practices to the man. Freddie provides “The Master,” as his followers call him, with his moonshine and in turn, Lancaster begins taking Freddie through his process. Skeptics await The Cause on the East Coast, and Lancaster finds himself being swallowed by the movement, less sure of what his aim is anymore. Freddie struggles against his wild, animal nature and the hope that he can be free from the past and forge a better future.
Lawless (2012) Written by Nick Cave Directed by John Hillcoat
In 1931, among the foothills of Virginia, the Bondurant brothers were successful moonshine runners. Forrest (Tom Hardy) runs the operations with a cool even hand making sure to reign in wild man Howard (Jason Clarke) the youngest and greenest brother Jack (Shia LeBeouf). They also have the local law under their thumb by sharing some of the product from time to time. Things change when U.S. Marshall Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) is assigned to the region and works alongside the state’s attorney to pressure the Bondurants into handing over a more significant percentage of their profits. Meanwhile, Jack becomes obsessed with courting the preacher’s daughter (Mia Wasikowska) while Forrest strikes up a growing intimacy with city girl on the run Maggie (Jessica Chastain). Oh yeah, Gary Oldman plays a Chicago gangster who has moved into the area. Movie crowded enough yet?
Written by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner
Directed by Steven Spielberg
The American Civil War has been slogging on for four years. Hundreds of thousands are dead, and many in the North want it to end. President Abraham Lincoln has been elected to a second term by a landslide and has one thing he wants to spend his political capital on The 13th Amendment. Members of his cabinet and the Republican party are highly skeptical of betting all their chips on this risky Constitutional move. Lincoln is steadfast and works every angle possible to garner the votes. Meanwhile, a peace commission has been sent by Confederate leader Jefferson Davis to end things, but Lincoln knows if peace without the freedom of slaves is on the table the legislators will likely go with peace and nothing else. Time is running out, more than even the President realizes.
Magic Mike (2012)
Written by Reid Carolin
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Adam is a college dropout living on his sister, Brooke’s couch. After a day of work on a roofing crew that ends with Adam fired he meets Mike, a jack of all trades making money through construction, furniture design and, as Adam quickly learns, stripping. Mike is the star of Xquisite, a strip club featuring male performers. The owner, Dallas has plans to expand to a larger venue in Miami, and the success of his club in Tampa appears to be an omen of good luck. Adam takes to this lifestyle quickly despite the reservations of Brooke. Mike assures her this is a good thing while experiencing impediments in his journey to improve his life. As his days in Tampa dwindle, Mike begins to question the path he thought was clear of troubles.
Secret Avengers V1-3 (2012-13)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Patrick Zircher, Gabriel Hardman, Renato Guedes, Matteo Scalara, and Andy Kuhn
Founded in the wake of Norman Osborn’s reign as leader HAMMER, the Secret Avengers set out to deal with rogue nations and terrorists under a veil of secrecy. Initially founded by Steve Rogers, the reins are handed over to Hawkeye with a team consisting of Valkyrie, The Beast, Black Widow, Captain Britain, the original Human Torch, and the Irredeemable Ant-Man. Their first mission has them responding to what appears to be a terrorist attack in Pakistan. Instead, they uncover a conspiracy of robots, androids, and automatons that has been brewing for decades. These Descendants, as they call themselves, are intent on getting their hands on a child born from one of their own, an anomaly in creation. A second threat comes in the form of a life model decoy of Nick Fury that runs the rogue nation of Bagalia. This sends the Avengers into a full-on war with an army of super-villains.
Venom by Rick Remender Volume 2 (2012)
Written by Rick Remender with Jeff Parker, Rob Williams, and Cullen Bunn
Art by Tony Moore, Lee Garbett, Sana Takeda, Julian Totino Tedesco, Lan Medina, Kev Walker, and Declan Shalvey
Flash Thompson is down and out in Las Vegas, his relationship with Betty Brant ruined due to his obligations as Agent Venom for Project: Rebirth and the shadow of Crime-Smith looming over him. He becomes inadvertently involved in the attempted hostile takeover of Earth by the prince of hell Blackheart. This crisis also brings together Johnny Blaze & the new Ghost Rider, The Red Hulk, and X-23 for the “Circle of Four” story arc. Once this is resolved, Flash finds himself back in New York ready to face down Crime-Smith and Jack O’Lantern. However, they were prepared for him and unleashed their gang of villains, some familiar faces from Remender’s opening arc on The Punisher. All this culminates in Venom’s induction into the ranks of the Secret Avengers and the possibility of a new life for our hero.