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.

Advertisements

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

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

This demon is just getting more and more creepy.

This demon is just getting more and more creepy.

Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Schulman directed the “is it or is it not real” documentary Catfish)

Written by: Christopher Landon, based off of Chad Feehan’s story

Starring: Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham, Brady Allen, Aiden Lovekamp and Katie Featherston.

What it’s about: continuing the Paranormal Activity franchise with another found footage film

What I liked: Well I am a fan of the franchise, though I do think it has run its course.  However, the story continues and I keep getting more intrigued by what may or may not be the final reveal.  See, I thought last year’s Paranormal Activity 3 was the big revelation and now it just keeps going.  I have this weird feeling that it is somehow going to end up tied to The Blair Witch Project and if there is a way for that to happen, it may or may not be the most brilliant reveal ever.  That’s just speculation on my part, though.  I like seeing Katie Featherston, I just wish she’d get more screen time in these films.

What I disliked: The premise is beginning to run a bit thin.  Hopefully the franchise takes a cue from this final season of “The Office” and reveals who is putting together all this found footage and for what purpose because right now, it is getting both cheesy and reeking of nothing other than an easy cash grab.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Only if they are a fan of the franchise.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Doesn't this make you want to watch the movie?

Doesn’t this make you want to watch the movie?

Killer Joe (2012)

Truth in advertising.

Truth in advertising.

Directed by: William Friedkin (I haven’t seen many of his movies, but I doubt they get much better than The Exorcist)

Written by: Tracy Letts adapted her own play to the screen

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church

What it’s about: a redneck family hires a killer to gain access to a life insurance settlement

B-Movie Alternate Title: The title it already has is pretty B-Movie as it is

What I liked: This is probably as black a comedy as it gets, and overall it isn’t even that funny, just slightly off-kilter and disturbed.  It has so many qualities of a B-Movie, but such powerful acting performances.  The entire cast deserved Oscar nominations in my book, mostly for how unflattering and brave their performances were.  Juno Temple is incredibly sexy, even as a white trash trailer park princess.  There are numerous stand-out scenes throughout, and shockingly a naked Juno Temple isn’t the most memorable scene in the entire film.  You just wait until you see Thomas Haden Church’s performance at the insurance building.

What I disliked: I didn’t necessarily dislike anything, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a 5-star rating.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: No,  it would be a hard movie to watch with company, let alone how skeevy you might feel watching it alone.  Very good movie, though.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Between this and Magic Mike, it is a goddamn crime McConaughey did not receive an Oscar nomination.

Between this and Magic Mike, it is a goddamn crime McConaughey did not receive an Oscar nomination.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

I hope they have a better cover for the Blu-Ray.

I hope they have a better cover for the Blu-Ray.

Directed by: Rich Moore (he directed many awesome episodes of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”)

Written by: The screenplay was written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, based on a story by Johnston, Rich Moore and Jim Reardon.

Starring: The vocal talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Joe Lo Truglio and many other voice over artists.

What it’s about: a villain from a classic video game decides he wants to be a good guy for once, putting the entire arcade in jeopardy

B-Movie Alternate Title: 8-Bit Ralph… I don’t know, I can’t think of one right now

What I liked: I loved the entire movie.  I was fully prepared to be cynical and dismissal of it, but NO, it ended up being completely awesome, and not just from a classic video game fan’s perspective, but also from a movie fan’s viewpoint.  It is superbly well-written, perfectly cast (my god, Sarah Silverman was AMAZING), looks absolutely gorgeous (especially with all the environment changes from the different games), the story is tremendous (not to mention surprising, my god I can’t remember the last time I was legit surprised by a plot development) and immediately after I finished watching it, I wanted to watch it again.  It is easily the best animated Disney movie since Bolt (which – if you recall – does not lend itself to repeated viewings in a positive manner), and possibly greater than Lilo & Stitch.  It also reminded me greatly of The Iron Giant, and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay a film.

What I disliked: Shut up, get out of here.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes, even people that aren’t gamers would still be able to enjoy and understand it.  It is altogether excellent.

Rating: 5 / 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Ratings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. Brave

Zangief describing the kind of women he likes.

Zangief describing the kind of women he likes.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

The most ridiculous of the poster options.

The most ridiculous of the poster options.

Directed by: Martin McDonagh (I absolutely loved In Bruges, and kinda feel like watching that again right away now)

Written by: McDonagh again.

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, and a bunch of other sorta names in smaller parts.  Check them tags.

What it’s about: a wanna-be screenwriter ends up finding inspiration in the actions of his best friend

B-Movie Alternate Title: Se7en Adaptations

Movie Mash Up: In Bruges + Adaptation

What I liked: Well Colin Farrell has been knocking it out of the park for years, and he continues that record here.  Walken is sometimes the best part of a shitty movie, and in this case, he’s one of many parts, but so delightful to watch.  Sam Rockwell can be hit or miss, and for the most part here, he’s hittin’.  There are so many great actors in the cast, some getting the briefest of screen time, but wonderful to see nonetheless.  Loved the writing, especially the heavy-on-the-meta story line.

What I disliked: Unlike Adaptation, there wasn’t much of a “letting the viewer figure it out for themselves” aspect to the meta-ness, which is fine, but it just seemed a bit ham-fisted at points.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes and no, so I guess that means no.  It isn’t a movie for every audience, especially if that person did not enjoy In Bruges.

Rating: 4 / 5

Goddamn I would have loved to been on this set.

Goddamn I would have loved to been on this set.

This Is 40 (2012)

Kids seem kinda gross. Stop having them everyone.

Directed by: Judd Apatow (I still think The 40-Year-Old Virgin is his best movie)

Written by: Apatow again

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, and featuring many more actors in smaller roles.

What it’s about: just like the poster says, a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, about a married couple finding out what being 40-years-old (and not a virgin) is like

B-Movie Alternate Title: The 40-Year-Old Non-Virgins

Movie Mash Up: Pretty much a mix of all three of Apatow’s movies, 40-Year-Old VirginKnocked Up and Funny People

What I liked: Paul Rudd is in nearly every scene and that is fun and great and wonderful and everyone should love that because Paul Rudd that is why.  I am a huge fan of Leslie Mann’s line deliveries, her whole acting, just the total package.  She’s also a foxy lady.  Speaking of foxy ladies, Megan Fox does what we hope she does in every movie (see the .gif at the end of the review), and less clothing on her is better, as well as less of her acting abilities.  She was used the perfect amount.  Great supporting cast with great roles.  I wish Apatow would have picked a hockey team to use in the movie other than the Philadelphia Flyers, but at least it wasn’t the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I disliked: As with any fairly personal movie, the running time tends to trend a bit long.  Apatow does love his stuff, and there could be a few trimmings made to make it a better overall movie.  I don’t know if I really disliked Iris Apatow’s performance, as it felt “real” and not fake Hollywood, but it wasn’t great in the traditional sense.  The movie tends to meander at times.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  I thought it was great, but there are some audiences that it won’t play well for.

Rating: 4 /5

Did you just scroll down to this?  How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?

Did you just scroll down to this? How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?