Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

DrZchry

Directed by: Kurt Kuenne (I’d say he’s a mostly amateur filmmaker, though I hope he achieves some measure of success after watching this film)

Written by: Kuenne

Starring: Documentaries rarely “star” people, and in the case of Dear Zachary, there are no famous people at all

What it’s about: a documentary detailing the shocking and appalling events that took place after the murder of Andrew Bagby

What I liked: It felt like a movie that was made with passion, and not just loving passion, but justifiable raging passion.  When you see a movie like this, hopefully you don’t wonder why I get so angry about stuff that Hollywood directors shit out.  This is a documentary that defiantly has an agenda, and unlike a Michael Moore-directed doc, the facts are all easily researchable and impossible to deny.  I don’t like saying that “I liked” how surprising the story was, because holy shit, no, it is positively devastating to watch these events unfold.

What I disliked: There were some technical issues that I didn’t really appreciate, such as the occasional instances where a virtual cacophony of voices were speaking at once and while I do appreciate the artistic intention, it didn’t do much for me.  That is all, oh except for the fact that I am horrified and goddamn embarrassed about the judicial system in my country.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes, but it is a movie you probably won’t ever want to watch again.

Rating: 4 / 5

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

I liked the usage of a guitar on the Once poster better.

I liked the usage of a guitar on the Once poster better.

Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul (his first film ever)

Written by: Bendejelloul as well

Starring: Documentaries don’t so much “star” people as they feature them

What it’s about: a documentary exploring the mystery behind an obscure American musician whose albums achieved great fame in South Africa

What I liked: This is a beautiful, powerful movie, featuring one of those amazing real-life stories that are nearly too good to be true.  Bendjelloul cobbled together some truly great footage of Sixto Rodriguez.  I want to say more about the film, but revealing almost anything about the plot can potentially spoil some truly delightful things that you would discover by watching the actual movie.  The soundtrack – comprised of Rodriguez’ music – is amazing, and appears to have much in common with the music I enjoy nowadays.  I haven’t seen any of the other movies that were nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar, but this was definitely a deserving winner.

What I disliked: There were several instances of confusing footage choices (maybe just to me?) interspersing with other footage, but whatever, doesn’t hurt the overall movie.  It also bothered me that it was a documentary of an event that seemingly took place 15 years ago or so, but the tense of the interview questions seems to be misrepresented.  It’s hard to explain.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly, it is an engaging story, and a beautiful documentary and if it ends up with more people hearing the music of Sixto Rodriguez, everyone is the better for it.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Sixto Rodriguez in an old publicity photo.

Sixto Rodriguez in an old publicity photo.

Announcement

Believe me, I’m still interested in updating this blog.  However, I am working two jobs.  Most of my days involve me working from 9am to 2pm, taking an hour off, then working from 3pm to 11pm.  Currently I’m on Day 5 of what will probably be at least 15 days straight.  Not every one of those days is a double shift, so hopefully I find time in there to watch a movie or two, but I also have some Ni No Kuni to catch up on.  I don’t really have a personal life, so that isn’t holding me back.  Anyways, I hope all of you who are following me continue to follow me, as I assure you I have not given up on this.  Thanks for your patience.

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Directed by: Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon (between the two of them, they are responsible for some truly atrocious films, so this is easily their best one)

Written by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger wrote the screenplay based off of Letterman and Vernon’s story.

Starring: the vocal talents of Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Paul Rudd, Kiefer Sutherland and Stephen Colbert among many others.

What it’s about: a group of monsters are released by the American government to combat an alien invasion

B-Movie Alternate Title: It IS a B-Movie title

Movie Mash Up: The Monster Squad + oh I dunno, any Alien movie minus all the disturbing imagery

What I liked: For the most part I love the vocal cast, I mean look at them all!  There’s a huge “Office” presence, the former awesome real-life couple of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen and I guess Reese Witherspoon can be okay sometimes.  The monsters are wonderful, particularly the moronic B.O.B.  Paul Rudd gets to play an asshole for once, and while the role isn’t great, it is decent comedy.  Honestly speaking, I would rather this entire cast were reunited for an R-rated animated version of this exact film.

What I disliked: Well, I didn’t even realise it until the beginning of the film, but with the Russian meteor event of the past week, the entire meteorite sequence at the building was totally unrealistic.  And yes, that is only because of all those Russian YouTube videos that I knew that.  It put me off for the whole film.  I thought it was decent, but it wasn’t on a Pixar level by any means.  Enjoyable, but unless you’re a kid, repeat viewings will probably make it less enjoyable each time around.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is not an offensively stupid animated film, and it is decently entertaining for both kids and adults.

Rating: 3 / 5

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

The Notebook (2004)

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling's beard is removed.

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling’s beard is removed.

Directed by: Nick Cassavettes (I’d have to say his best movie is either this one or She’s So Lovely, but I haven’t seen the latter film in over a decade so that would require a re-watch)

Written by: Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi adapted Nicholas Sparks’ novel to the screen

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, Kevin Connolly, David Thornton and James Marsden

What it’s about: a man reads from a book to attempt to revive a woman’s memory

What I liked: First of all, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is off-the-charts explosive.  I mean, explosive in a good way.  You truly get the sense that these characters loved each other passionately.  The story is fairly by-the-numbers, and without Gosling and McAdams starring, it would probably have been a forgettable film, no matter what director Nick Cassavettes did.  The movie looks gorgeous, and the acting throughout is decent.  The characters feel real, in particular the poor James Marsden character, who reacts in a fairly realistic manner to life-changing news.  Plus, he’s charming!

What I disliked: Well, with any romantic drama (romama? dramantic?) there is an inherent quantity of cheesiness, and that is not absent throughout the entire movie.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly.  No, wait.  Some people will think it is just a “chick flick” (a designation I detest), and they will be pre-disposed to hate it, no matter how good it is.  I’d recommend it to people that like good movies.

Rating: 4 / 5

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

Daredevil (2003)

I don't plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

I don’t plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson (well, this is his best movie, sad as that may be)

Written by: Johnson wrote the screenplay based on the Marvel Comics character of Daredevil

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith and Leland Orser

What it’s about: a man struck with blindness as a result of a childhood accident finds his other senses are greatly heightened and uses those abilities to fight crime as both a super-hero and a lawyer

What I liked: To be clear, this was the Director’s Cut that I watched.  It’s a bit longer and in some cases it actually makes the film better.  Most of the action scenes are decent, as well as the special effects.  The costuming of the characters was a fairly decent translation from the comic books, as well.  I liked Affleck’s performance, as well as Colin Farrell’s enormously intense scenery chewing as Bullseye.  It’s also a fairly dark comic book movie, and I think it was actually ahead of its time.  If this movie were made today, it would be of a higher quality with more attention paid to the darkness of the character, as modern audiences are more accepting of those themes than they were 10 years ago.

What I disliked: At times it feels like a comic book, and that’s not a great thing when it comes to the execution of the story.  Pointless scenes featuring action hero poses, and lighting choices that make no sense when you take into account the fact that the character is goddamn blind.  Some scenes are positively goofy.  There was also the sense that – much like Batman & Robin – the story was trying to cram in as much Daredevil history as possible which just led to it being somewhat scatterbrained.  If you’re doing a proper Daredevil movie series, you don’t introduce Elektra until at least the second movie.  Also, the music choices for the movie just reeked of attempted cross-marketing, featuring two flash-in-the-pan Evanescence songs.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  It is a decent enough comic book movie, but unlike the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, it doesn’t transcend the genre.  All that being said, it is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

Rating: 3 / 5

See?  Goofy.

See? Goofy.

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