Searching for Sugar Man may not quite be, as director Malik Bendjelloul excitedly proclaims in the making of Blu-ray extra, the greatest story you’ll ever hear, but it is an ultra-fun one, told by the director with style in his movie directing debut.
The Best Documentary Feature finalist at this year’s Academy Awards tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, an American folk singer who recorded two little-known albums in the early ’70s and would have faded into obscurity if not for the seriously geeky and dedicated interest of some South African fans. Mix all those crazy elements together, and you have a rousing tale that would be hard to believe if it all weren’t amazingly true. Hit the jump for a review of Searching for Sugar Man on Blu-ray.
After taking an innovative approach to documentary making with the world-chronicling Life in a Day, director Kevin Macdonald went much more traditional with Marley, and the results are revealing and mostly satisfying—albeit somewhat exhaustive.
For this long-overdue movie about the reggae legend, MacDonald could have easily have made this a bloated mess, packed with stars and critics further analyzing Bob Marley‘s life. Instead, he uses remarkable access to Marley’s friends, family and bandmates to make this an often intimate, always entertaining and sometimes heartbreaking view of the man himself. Hit the jump for a review of Kevin Macdonald’s Marley on Blu-ray.
With British documentary maker James Marsh’s often wild mix of genuine footage and re-creations, in lesser hands his movies could easily slip into something approaching an episode of Cops. But luckily, as he proved with the Oscar-winning Man on a Wire and now again with Project Nim, he has the ability to blend the formats into an engaging narrative that pushes the definition of documentary filmmaking without ever breaking them down completely. In Nim, he tells the epic and often harrowing tale of a chimpanzee who becomes a pawn caught in the middle of the nature vs. nurture debate with visual verve and a genuine flair for storytelling. You can read Matt’s review of the film from Sundance 2011 here. Hit the jump for a review of Project Nim on DVD.
On paper, John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole would seem to be the most dour of viewing experiences: A movie about a couple dealing with the death of their young son, and how to continue in its wake. What it has in common with Mitchell’s debut movie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, however, is that in spite of it subject matter its a little joy to watch and is spiked throughout with humorous touches that make it all the sweeter to take in.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the couple at the center of this is played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Kidman, in particular, is at her very best here, and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, though of course lost out (rightly) to Natalie Portman for Black Swan in a very talented field. Hit the jump for a review of Rabbit Hole on DVD.
Doctor Who fans got a big Christmas gift when it was announced that for the first time, the Christmas special, this year Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, would be aired simultaneously on the BBC in the UK and BBC America in, well, America. And now, in case you missed out, it’s been given a quick turnaround to DVD today (Feb. 15).
Does the world need another A Christmas Carol? Of course not, but loosely basing this on Dickens’ classic Christmas story gives the latest Doctor Who mastermind, Steven Moffat, plenty of chances to have fun with tricks of time and space. Matt Smith is the 11th doctor to travel in the TARDIS booth, and he’s joined in this Christmas special by Michael Gambon (aka Dumbledore, of course) as the Scrooge of sorts for this tale. Hit the jump for a review of the DVD release of Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol.
After watching writer/director Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us for the second time, I had to go and double check that it really is her feature film directing debut. It indeed is, and as such, it’s a bold and often powerful vision from an exciting new voice in the world of movies.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt that in Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington she has two of the best young actors – black, white or anything else – working in movies today to tell at once a both intimate and ambitious story about the Black Panther movement and, more importantly, how its successes and failures impacted the individuals left in the wake of its peak. Hit the jump for my review of Night Catches Us on DVD.
While watching the sometimes uneven but often very hilarious first season of NBC’s Community on DVD, I had to wonder: Why don’t more TV shows aiming for the funny take on college?
Teen shows often avoid it like the plague. Judd Apatow and his crew found gold – if for only one season – with Undeclared, the natural successor to Freaks and Geeks. But not until Joel McHale and his Spanish study group at Greendale Community College entered NBC’s Thursday night lineup last fall has a show so successfully tapped into the contradiction that our four years or so of “higher learning” are often the silliest and most hedonistic time of people’s lives.
Hit the jump for a full review of the first season DVD set for Community.
As cliffhangers go, fans of the show will remember, the ending of season two of FX’s Sons of Anarchy was a real doozy.
With the SAMCRO crew watching from the end of the dock, “Irish” absconded with Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) baby Abel, while simultaneously, Gemma (Katey Sagal, yes, really) had been framed for two murders by agent Stahl (Ally Walker) and was on the lam with Police Chief Unser (Dayton Callie). Got all that? Hit the jump to find out what’s in store next for the motorcycle club with, if not quite a heart of gold, at least an odd sense of justice that makes the show extremely watchable.
What’s more important, a job in the Obama White House or making sure the world get a third Harold & Kumar movie? Well, thankfully for all fans of great stoner comedies, Kal Penn has apparently chosen the latter.
Deadline is reporting that filming on the third film in the franchise that began with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle will begin filming by summer, with New Line about to hire a director and considering making the movie 3-D (I can’t say I’m terribly thrilled about that last part, but maybe 3-D pot smoke can give you a contact buzz.) And since the duo has already gotten high with W. in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, it’s a pretty solid bet that Santa and the boys will be toking up in the third movie, which will be a “holiday” flick for release in 2011 or 2012.
Co-star John Cho revealed the title of the third movie, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, and what it’s about in a Collider interview you can watch here.
Deceptively simple and sweet, Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service has still managed to linger in the hearts of movie lovers, and now it’s finally gotten the proper DVD treatment it deserves from Disney and Studio Ghibli.
Kiki, voiced by a young Kirsten Dunst in this Western version of the story, is a 13-year-old witch who – as is the custom – is sent to live away from her parents for a year to figure out what her talent is. Kiki eventually settles on Koriko, which resembles a seaside European village in the 1950s, and sets up her titular delivery service.
Hit the jump to find out why I still think the first Ghibli/Disney collaboration is the best one, and what kind of extras make this special edition worth buying.
In a movie world in which it seems like everything we see will be in 3-D (and I’m not exaggerating one bit there), there are really very few better reminders of how beautiful old-fashioned storytelling can be than in the still extremely charming films of Hayao Miyazaki.
Out now on DVD from Disney and Studio Ghibli are special editions of Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky and My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro, more than any Miyazaki movie, just perfectly captures his ability to view the world through the eyes of mischievous children, and Totoro himself gave the studio its signature mascot.
Hit the jump for a review of the special edition DVD release of My Neighbor Totoro.
If there’s one sequel I could get completely behind, it would certainly be one for Eastern Promises, especially since all the key components seem to be coming together for the second go-round.
Indeed, Deadline is reporting the as-yet-untitled sequel will be a reunion of star Viggo Mortensen, director David Cronenberg and scribe Steven Knight, who wrote the script for the engaging original. The only things missing so far are Naomi Watts and any mention of just what direction this new gangster tale from London’s extremely seedy underbelly will take.
The film is set up at Focus Features with hopes to begin filming next winter, so definitely stay tuned for more details about this as we get them, and hit the jump to find out what else frequent collaborators Cronenberg and Mortensen are up to.
Anyone who remembers Forest Whitaker’s take on Charlie Parker in Bird way back in the day (and if you haven’t seen it, please do) knows the man knows jazz, and he’s about to put that knowledge on display again on both sides of the camera for What a Wonderful Life.
For the biopic, which has gone through some rough patches but now seems to be solidly back on, Whitaker will both play Louis Armstrong from his birth in New Orleans to his death in 1971 and direct the movie. And even though that sounds like a pretty conventional biopic, Whitaker told Empire Online to expect something that instead deals with different perceptions of the jazz legend.
“It covers his whole life but more from a myth point of view – it’s told as two different myths of the same person.”
Sounds delightfully trippy to me. Hit the jump to hear more of what Whitaker had to say about how the production is coming along and how he’s enjoyed getting to know all about Armstrong.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to see Conan O’Brien live on tour this summer, you’ll have to wait until at least this fall for his return (assuming Fox can seal the deal), but in the meantime singer/songwriter/comedian Ben Sheehan has come up with a tribute that just about perfectly captures why we miss him so.
Sung to the tune of Diddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” (which is of course already a pilferation of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”), Sheehan’s “I’ll Be Watching You (Miss You Coco)” video on Funny or Die fits perfectly in the Coco spirit, and is thankfully as funny as it is bizarre. And besides, any song that name checks the trifecta of the coked-out werewolf, the masturbating bear and Polly the NBC Peacock has to have something going for it.
Hit the jump to watch Sheehan’s tuneful tribute.
Tyler Perry has his next movie, the sequel Why Did I Get Married Too?, coming out next week, but since the man feels the need to make at least two movies in most years, he’s already well into setting up his next one, and with some really big stars, too.
According to Black Voices, Perry used the occasion of the premiere of Why Did I Get Married Too? to announce that one of that movie’s stars, Janet Jackson, and also Mariah Carey have joined the cast of his next movie, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.
The large female ensemble movie based on the play by Ntozake Shange is set to begin shooting in NYC in June for a January 2011 release, and also in the cast will be Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine and Macy Gray. Among Perry’s greatest strengths (and yes, I’ve seen all of the man’s movies) is his ability to write strong, well-rounded parts for women, so this project is one that definitely fits him to perfection. Hit the jump for more about Perry’s next film.