AN EMPIRE OF WORDS


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Searching For Sugar Man

The other night, I found Searching For Sugar Man on LoveFilm instant, and after watching their academy award acceptance for best documentary, I’ve been intrigued since. What is essentially the plot, is intriguing in itself, which is compelled me into watching it even more so.

The premise of the film surrounds a musician by the name of Rodriguez, a Detroit native, who had great promise when he recorded two albums during the early 1970s. The record labels had hailed him as a Bob Dylan-esque performer. Subsequently, both of Rodriquez’s albums flopped and he faded away back into his manual labour life in Detroit.

His first album, A Cold Fact, found it’s way to South Africa, where it was bootlegged and passed around, and this is where the inspiration from Searching For Sugar Man begins it’s journey. After A Cold Fact spread like wildfire among those whom opposed the Apartheid, there was two people that it touched more than anyone. Stephen Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom. Two young South Africans that felt A Cold Fact was life changing and that Rodriguez, shrouded in mystery at the time, was fascinating.

The mystery of Rodriguez was that he had killed himself on stage, some say he shot himself, others say he lit himself on fire, either way one thing was for sure and that was that he had disappeared. Both Segerman and Strydom wanted to find out the circumstances surrounding Rodriguez, which made them set up Websites, ring people who would’ve known him in hope to find out, generally doing what they thought that would help solve the mystery.

Now the film in itself is a real triumph of the human spirit. Not only this, you could find yourself loving the music of Rodriguez, as the soundtrack is a list compiled of his songs from his two albums. The film won the academy award for best documentary and it’s very deserved. Not only the human spirit prevails here, but also courage and inspiration, in the sense that Segerman and Strydom both wanted to find Rodriguez, and because they never gave up this quest of theirs they were rewarded in possibly the greatest way.

This isn’t a serious documentary, it isn’t a funny documentary, it’s just a simple search for an artist that went missing. As mentioned before, it’s a real triumph for the human spirit and just a fantastic tale in the search for Sixto Rodriguez. It’s a strong recommendation.

4/5.


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This Is The End.

Much like other recommendations, I had heard Seth Rogen’s and Evan Goldberg’s This Is The End was their best one yet. And after seeing Superbad and Pineapple Express, I had to admit, I was looking forward to it myself.

Initially everyone in the film is cast as themselves in the film, although it’s not themselves. It’s a mixture of the media thought of perception and the characters they usually play in films. For example, when Seth is waiting for Jay at the start of the film a bystander says “You always play the same character, when are you going to do some real acting”. A self-dig from Rogen, but it’s funny all the same, because we know it’s true as much as he does.

Anyway, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen are at James Franco’s incredible house party, which Jay is reluctant to go in the first place as he dislikes majority of Seth’s friends and his new Hollywood lifestyle. This party is full of A-Listers including Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, Kevin Hart and of course Michael Cera. Except, Michael Cera isn’t what you except, the squeaky clean teen is, well, not so squeaky clean. The main cast are also there which consists of James Franco (Of course), Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill.

After the party scene which is expected, the apocalypse begins and nothing stops the unaware party until a huge earthquake hits which everyone screaming for the rafters. Whilst outside, the Hollywood hills are on fire and Michael Cera and the other A-Listers are killed by the rapture from Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Hill and Robinson.

After madness has passed, the five, (Baruchel, Rogen, Hill, Robinson and Franco) all say in Franco’s house and board it up and await rescue. They have minimal food and drink to last them and props from films such as the ‘real’ camera from 127 Hours. Enter Danny McBride, someone who had not been seen previously, who uses all their water and cooks the food which causes a flurry between him and the others. Which is rather hilarious as McBride references the actors past works and essentially rips them.

The course of the film is then their trails and tribulations of trying to survive with minimal provisions. Such as a sequence including McBride and Franco arguing about cum on a pornographic magazine, albeit very odd, but hilarious in it’s own right. And not forgetting getting robbed by Emma Watson after an odd conversation outside her door. Now there is a lot of jokes like this, which is expected from Rogen and Goldberg, if you’ve seen Superbad or Pineapple Express, you’ll know what I mean.

Now I didn’t know what to expect from the ending, or what was going to happen with the apocalypse happening around them, but Rogen and Goldberg definitely made it work. Some of the sequences are brilliant, in particular a chase scene which is fine edge of your seat stuff. But I enjoyed this branching out from the pair as it shows maturity and they aren’t relying on the obscene jokes to keep them afloat.

It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a good film. It’s funny, but not side-splitting funny, and the whole actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves worked, where it could have failed disastrously. I would recommend it if you’re a big fan of Superbad and Pineapple Express, other fans should tread with caution as although this film has that a kind of humour that requires a thought process concerning the likes of a Pineapple Express sequel, or the actors personal lives.

3.5-4/5


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Despicable Me 2

After hearing good things about Despicable Me 2, via Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth, I thought I’d check out Despicable Me 2, having enjoyed the first one. A note though, I cannot remember much of the first other than “It’s so fluffy I could die!” and that I enjoyed it. I’ve found that it’s rare for me to enjoy sequels as much as the first, maybe it’s the expectation and how good the first one truly was. That being said, I had heard again, word of mouth, that this one was “much better than the first”. My expectations were high.

Picking up where any film that has a bad guy conflict in it starts, it begins with an important base being stolen by a mysterious magnet that is unknown to us. And then a cut, picking up where the film left off, with Gru and the girls. There is a birthday party scene in where Gru has a stressful time trying to find a Princess to come and see Agnes, and of course it leaves Gru having to play the Princess fairy, which is just all a bit odd. He is no longer the villain that he was in the first film, until Agent Wilde appears (voiced by Kristen Wiig) and offers him the opportunity to work for the Anti-Villain League, in charge by the man named Silas Ramsbottom, in which brings laughs from the two minions at the word bottom, and alas, laughs from the audience.

Don’t get me wrong, I was laughing too at this part and the rest of the fart jokes and the violence that the minions impacted on each other, because they were probably the most memorable part about the film in it’s entirety. The other parts of the film seemed too rushed, or there was too much to be considered, from a child’s point of view. To fit in the 98 minute limit there was, I felt, too much, considering the storyline of Gru’s love life, Margo’s treading into that dating life. Agnes questioning Gru about her mother and tied in to find out who stole this lab. Seems a lot for a child to take in and follow. And this followed with the antics of the minions, the minions could possibly overpower the screen time with their jokes and violence and general antics, making them more memorable.

I saw this film in 3D and felt it was kind of lost during the film, however, the ending sequence was something special for the 3D effects. It entailed three minions doing an assortment of things to put the 3D effect to full use, such as blowing bubbles at the screen and blowing those party blowers.

Now I would recommend this film, but I wouldn’t rush out to go and see it. It’s very easy to watch, the storyline is fine, maybe a bit overloaded, with same for the new characters introduced, but the best bit is simply the minions, those yellow tic tac shaped things of delight. The jumbling of the story does lose it’s effect and it made me wonder what was to come off the villain (You’ll understand), but its a good build up to feature film featuring the minions, but who knows how we’re going to follow what they’re saying.

3/5.