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.

Lincoln (2012)

Classic-looking poster, gorgeous, really.

Classic-looking poster, gorgeous, really.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg (kinda hard to pick his best movie, as he has numerous candidates.  However, none since Munich)

Written by: Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay, based on “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and many, many more.  Check the tags.

What it’s about: a biopic of Abraham Lincoln’s last four months alive

B-Movie Alternate Title: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

What I liked: The movie hangs on Daniel Day-Lewis to portray a believable Abraham Lincoln, and of course he rocks it out of the park.  There are so many wonderful character actors throughout the movie in little parts, that half the movie I was mentally making notes to double-check IMDb.  It appeared to be lovingly made by Spielberg, with an attentive eye to details, but what do I know for sure?

What I disliked: Goddammit, there is a way to make an Oscar-friendly picture without pumping up the running time minutes.  Two and a half hours is about half an hour too many for this movie.  It lags, and while Day-Lewis is mesmerizing as Lincoln, the subject matter is fairly dry and honestly, it was a bit more tedious than Zero Dark Thirty was.  And we were all waiting for the assassination scene, and you don’t even put it onscreen?  BOoooooo.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Not really, it is pretty much one of those Oscar movies that exists to vie for Oscars and will rarely be brought up again.  It is long and informative and most people don’t want those things in their movies.

Rating: 3 / 5, and if it weren’t for Daniel Day-Lewis, it would have been 2 – 2.5.

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo 4. Zero Dark Thirty 5. Lincoln

I would like to see Abraham Lincoln argue with Daniel Plainview or Bill the Butcher.

I would like to see Abraham Lincoln argue with Daniel Plainview or Bill the Butcher.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by that brought you Three Kings.  DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?

Directed by that brought you Three Kings. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?

Directed by: David O. Russell (I would have to go with Three Kings as his best movie, though he has directed many quality pictures)

Written by: David O. Russell, based on “The Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Dash Mihok, and Brea Bee.

What it’s about: fresh out of a psychiatric institution, a guy tries to re-connect with his former life and finds new things

B-Movie Alternate Title: Shall We Dance 2

What I liked: If the entire movie was just Jennifer Lawrence doing.. whatever, I’d have been happy with the end result.  She is wonderful, talented, amazing and I will stop right there, because I could go on and on about how she is the greatest thing since Amy Adams to me and it would just get weird and awkward for all of us and hey let’s end this sentence sometime soon. Bradley Cooper was great, definitely deserved his Best Actor Oscar nom for his performance, same with Lawrence.  Whatever director David O. Russell did to make Robert De Niro an actor again, that shit should be bottled, because finally, he acted again.  Jacki Weaver was great too, all the Oscar nominations that went to the movie, totally deserving.  You might think that is weird to say for what is essentially a romantic comedy / drama, but it is great.  It truly is and I have to go back and say, wow, Jennifer Lawrence, holy fuck, she is just so good, so good in this role.  Also, holy shit, Chris Tucker can NOT be annoying!  Who knew?  And finally, the reaction to finishing “A Farewell to Arms” was pretty much exactly how I felt about it.  Fuck that book.

What I disliked: Nothing, I thought it was altogether excellent.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: I would try, though being part of the rom-com/dramedy genre makes it a slight hard sell.  “BUT JENNIFER LAWRENCE come on!” would be my follow up.

Rating: 5 / 5

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo

SHE IS SO GREAT

SHE IS SO GREAT

Argo (2012)

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Directed by: Ben Affleck (I enjoyed The Town, but I found Gone Baby Gone to be better)

Written by: The screenplay was written by Chris Terrio, based off of “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman (WHAT A NAME.  BEARman)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber and so many more.

What it’s about: based on true events that took place during the Iran Hostage Crisis, involving a CIA plan to use a fake movie shoot to rescue some hostages

B-Movie Alternate Title:

Movie Mash Up: Three KingsUnited 93 (minus all the horrific tragedy) + Munich

What I liked: I enjoyed about 90% of the movie (see below, but beware, slight vague spoiler).  Great acting, great “real life” story.  I don’t think Alan Arkin deserved a Supporting Actor nomination for his performance.  It was good, but not even on the level of his previous win for Little Miss Sunshine.  Bryan Cranston was great, Affleck was great but understated great, if that makes sense.  FINALLY, someone found a way to capture Clea DuVall in a way that didn’t make you feel weird for thinking she was attractive (unless I’m the only one?).  I liked the movie a lot in general, though I really can’t think of a time that I’ll re-watch it.

What I disliked: Almost the entire ending sequence.  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so SPOILER ALERT I guess.  The little things that kept taking time at the end kept piling up and I’m not sure if Affleck just wanted to push it as much as he could until the audience laughed in frustration or what.  I know there’s a lot of creative licence with “Based on a True Story” movies, but after that I had to do the research and it annoyed me so there.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, though it may move at too slow of a pace for some audiences.  I would preface my recommendation with that.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Picture Nomination Rankings (so far): 1. Django Unchained 2. Argo

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Django Unchained (2012)

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films.  Argue about that.

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films. Argue about that.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (we could argue over what his “best” movie is, but the safe bet will most likely always be Pulp Fiction)

Written by: Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar, Kerry Washington, Laura Cayouette, Walton Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson.  Also, check the tags for many actors that basically filmed cameo roles.

What it’s about: in 1858, a former slave becomes a bounty hunter and searches for his wife

B-Movie Alternate Title: It’s a pretty B-Movie title already

Movie Mash Up: Inglourious BasterdsTombstone + probably hundreds of blaxpoitation movies that Tarantino has watched

What I liked: I have to admit, Jamie Foxx ruled in this movie, and I hate having to say that.  Tarantino wrote such a great character in Django, and knew exactly how he wanted the character to appear and succeeded on all levels.  I would argue that Christoph Waltz deserves to be nominated in the Best Actor category, rather than the Supporting Actor category for his performance in this movie, but whatever.  It is a fun movie, dealing with some super serious themes, and it may be Tarantino’s funniest movie yet.  Argue some more about that too, if you want.  The movie looks gorgeous, and flows fairly well (see below), so well that at points it doesn’t exactly feel like a near three hour-long movie.  DiCaprio was amazing in it as well, particularly the scene in which he actually accidentally cuts open his own hand, bleeding profusely all over himself, and continues acting.  Don’t know how Kerry Washington felt about having his blood smeared all over her face, though.

What I disliked: The running time of nearly three hours is fairly daunting, Tarantino movie or not.  You could make arguments about trimming the fat and lessening the homages to whatever obscure movie Tarantino was referring to with whatever camera angle or sound cue, but you don’t have the same movie then.  I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable movie fan, but I probably don’t know half of the references Tarantino is making, even in regards to certain actors and actresses he ends up casting for whatever reason.  There were some scenes throughout that I thought were misplaced or came from some wacky sitcom script (the Jonah Hill cameo scene springs to mind), and while they weren’t terrible, they did put me off a little.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: While it is pretty great, the exceedingly long running time and excessive (but totally in context) usage of the word “nigger”, probably means it isn’t for everyone.  Tarantino fans will eagerly lap it up, though.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I am surprised this .gif hasn't been Hasslehoff'd.

I am surprised this .gif hasn’t been Hasslehoff’d.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

I’m a big fan of alternate posters

Completely by accident, I found out that this movie was being re-released in 3D in theatres today!

Directed by: Pete Docter (I like this movie, but Up is definitely his best film so far), and co-directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3and David Silverman (director of The Simpsons Movie)

Written by: Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson, based off a story by Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon and Ralph Eggleston

Starring: the vocal talents of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bonnie Hunt, Bob Peterson, Frank Oz, Laraine Newman and John Ratzenberger.

What it’s about: an animated tale of two worlds where monsters need to scare human children for an energy source

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Monsters in Your Closet

What I liked: It’s a Pixar movie, so I’m already pre-disposed to liking it.  Big fan of the creativity involved in making up all the various monsters, and in creating that alternate world that is similar to ours, but monster-centric.  John Goodman did a great job with his performance, as did the late James Coburn.  Oh and Steve Buscemi was perfectly cast as well.

What I disliked: This is probably my least favourite non-Cars Pixar movie.  It is hard to identify exactly why that is.  For some reason, the story just doesn’t resonate with me as much as most other Pixar movies do.  It isn’t quotable, and I am not a big fan of Billy Crystal.  Maybe that’s why it rates low with me: so much Billy Crystal.  It just doesn’t feel as polished of a work as most other Pixar movies do.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a decent Pixar movie and a heartwarming tale for kids and adults alike.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Sully signals for the GTS

Sully signals for the GTS

Finding Nemo (2003)

Ha ha, "Sea" it in theatres.  That is wonderful.

Ha ha, “Sea” it in theatres. That is wonderful.

Directed by: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (Stanton directed the amazing WALL•E and Unkrich co-directed a couple other Pixar flicks, and solo directed Toy Story 3)

Written by: Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds based on a story by Stanton

Starring: the vocal talents of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, John Ratzenberger, Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney, Brad Garrett, Stephen Root, Austin Pendleton, Vicki Lewis, Elizabeth Perkins, Barry Humphries and Eric Bana.

What it’s about: the animated tale of a clownfish looking for his lost son, Nemo

B-Movie Alternate Title: LOST in the Ocean!

Movie Mash Up: Taken – all the violence + Toy Story or alternatively just The Pixar Formula

What I liked: I loved everything about this movie.  All of the vocal performances were top notch, the writing great, the visuals absolutely stunning (especially on Blu-Ray), and the story heartwarming.  Another in a long line of Pixar movies that get me all misty-eyed.  It’s a wild adventure that is grounded by it simply being about a father looking for his son.  I like that the fish – hell all the sea life – weren’t anthropomorphized like the terrible imitators, like A Shark Tale.  These are real fish (I mean, no, they aren’t real fish) acting like they should, not living in apartments and taking elevators for NO GOOD REASON.

What I disliked: There are some minor quibbles I have with some of the lines in the script, but nothing enough to dull my overwhelming enjoyment of the movie.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes.  I will never be a parent, so I can only imagine that this is how real parents would act if one of their children had gotten themselves lost.  It would also be fun for the kids.

Rating: 5 / 5

AUGH Kill it with fire!

AUGH Kill it with fire!