Searching for Sugar Man. Have you heard of it?

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary film, Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, that follows two fans and their search to uncover the anonymity of a singer. The singer was as big as the beetles in South Africa, he offered hope and strength to the country, his words bearing truth and inspiration to an isolated country, but in his home of the USA he was little to unknown, he wasn’t recognised and he wasn’t heard.  The true story focuses on would-be rock legend Sixto Rodriguez, with his songs centred around desolate Detroit, he was discovered on a foggy night, hidden in a smoke filled bar, playing his guitar singing his words that were true and told of his troubles.

The documentary is beautiful and incredible, not a second was spent thinking of anything else whilst I was watching, not what I was doing after, or what should I eat for dinner? Because all my attention was spent on the film. The story perfectly unfolds, flashing by in a blink. Were we really in there for over an hour? It felt like half the time.

True stories occasionally lack the substance of fiction, the thrills and tension but, when a film can encapsulate that with no added exaggeration, when it is just re-telling the truth it adds something truly special, and In Searching for Sugar Man the suspense lasted through the whole film and further remains after it ended. I could expand a lot on details because I fell in love with the film, the people in the film, who made the film and Rodriguez himself but, I want you to see it for yourself.

I have a few films that I can think off the top of my head that have moved me in such a memorable way. I haven’t stopped thinking about this film for a couple of days now, it makes me smile to think of it. It reminded me of what life is about, giving, the modesty of people and the power of a community. I really want you, your parents, and your parents, parents, your teenage son, teenage daughter or cynical auntie to go and watch this; I can make a guarantee, a promise that they will be inspired, uplifted and thankful.
Let me know what you think.

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Do you mind if I sit there?

The cinema is one of my favourite activities, watching new releases, eager to see what the world has come up with this time, to watch them on a grand scale with surround sound blasting out from mega speakers, the smell of popcorn and sour sweets. The cinema is romantic, used for first dates and through relationships, offering couples an alternative to couch potato-ing  and speech for approximately 120 minutes. The classic glamour of luxurious red velvet seats and tall curtains draping to the floor, that become epic in their unveiling of the big screen. Cinema go-ers are all united in watching the film, it is like a front sitting room only maximised and shared with a bunch of random guests. My recent trip to the cinema has brought to light some potential problems that surround enjoying a film with many strangers.

After the obligatory popcorn buy, then comes the long walk up the narrow corridor to the screens, Its all quite epic, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Walking into the designated screen you are faced with the mountain of stairs from which everyone looks down from, as their attention isn’t fixed to the screen yet their eyes are drawn to the new guest in the room. ‘um hi’ I mutter because it feels like everyone is staring at me, it dawns on me that we are all here to watch the same film, well what if we all hate it? What if someone decides to get up and leave, that would be awkward. What if the stranger sat next to me doesn’t find dramatic, over-exaggerated scenes funny? Will we all be OK  if I rustled my paper popcorn bag, or whispered the plot to my co-cinema go-er? Do you mind if I sit there?

I watch others enter, watching intently as  those sat before me did, the seats start to fill, empty seats are becoming few and far between, the seat to my right is free , I watch a man as he squeezes past, his eyes locked on the target next to me. He sits. Too much aftershave on and smelling like a fragrance store I became a little uneasy. His arm has claimed occupancy of the armrest, where do I put mine? I thought, there is an unwritten rule, I’m sure it exists, that you half share the arm or no-one gets it, in fear of being too rude or possessive. He hadn’t read the unwritten manual.  Nothing I could do apart from fidget, and sigh with my disapproving stare.

At the final moment when the lights were beginning to dull, conversation falls into a silent whisper as the sound starts from the surrounded speakers all voices are drowned and attention is fixed to that big screen in front of us. Together we are watching, all cosy in our large, very large, maximised front room. I’m sat, comfortably, my choice in seating has paid off and I have a good view of the screen, the film starts. A late comer shyly emerges and heads straight for the seat in-front of me, its fine I know it won’t jeopardize my viewing experience, unfortunately this young lady decided to create a sculpture out of her hair, towering in-front of me, creating a crazy silhouette, thanks no really thank you, there is a time and a place for fancy hair, and here ain’t that place. I left the cinema with a crick in my neck and a tired right arm.

The cinema, so romantic with it’s red velvet, warming smells and anticipating costumers. Unfortunately it doesn’t all go so romantically and those sharing the film with you will attempt to disrupt the order, sabotage your view and arm space ,taking the romance vastly away. Do you have any tales from the cinema? Have you sat too close to a noisy popcorn chewer or been unfortunately the late comer, or seen some inappropriate hairstyles, not made for the cinema?

The film: Looper

Popcorn and Pespi, a pair I always look forward to on cinema nights. I actually find it a little offensive when people disregard popcorn as it tastes like cardboard or worse being called tasteless, I’m not ashamed to admit popcorn being in my top 5 favourite snacks and with a film like Looper, with its tension mounting scenes and questionable plot lines, this snack was well appreciated.

Looper is a Sci-Fi, action, thriller, futuristic, blockbusting film. Directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt , as the younger version of Bruce Willis, and Bruce Willis an older version of Joseph Gorden-Levitt, the two co-existing separately but brought together in the present through a whole charade of events. There is fighting, violence, futuristic portals, big guns and little romances all creating a fantastic combination to add to the pepsi and popcorn. The film, no spoilers, is about time-travel. The Loopers kill people from the future. In this fictional future people can’t kill others so they pop them in these portals, and the victims are welcomed to the present on their knees, heads covered to be shot with big blasters by the Loopers. That is the basic plot, but little hints throughout amount to the climatic and dramatic end to the film, as I said no spoilers.

I was first introduced to director Rian Johnson with his film Brick(2005), also starring our handsome lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Brick was fantastic, the scenes were so sharp, directed to perfect timing, slick and sophisticated, so I expected something impressive on my cinema night. As expected the same traits were evident in Looper, slick, stylish scenes, effortless and not afraid to pause a bit longer than accepted. The filming and the effects were interesting, it wasn’t shy on blood and gore, I’m squeamish but I was fine with the violence, go hard or go home so they went hard. The plot annoyed me because I was asking questions, making assumptions that weren’t justified, I got confused smack bang in the middle, there is a shift in the story and it all suddenly becomes a bit too much to handle. I was laughing at this point, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, was it a sketch, a spoof or something meant to be humours? It wasn’t, as nobody else was laughing, out loud.

So I can accept the weird plot line because I appreciated the filming, the performances, and the pauses, I love the pauses I am drawn to them, noticing them more than the couple rustling beside me. But there is still something I have tried hard to understand and forgive Johnson for, but I can’t not yet, it’s still fresh. I just don’t understand why they had to put so much make-up on Joseph G-L, yes he had to look like a younger Bruce Willis but his eyebrows were made-up for the stage and his lips, whilst still being kissable, looked a little clownish. I don’t get it, he doesn’t have to be dead ringer of young Bruce Willis, so to paint him up and highlight his face so much detracted and distracted me for most of the film.

Too much?

Too much?

Please go and see this weird and wonderful film, it’s odd, it’s hilarious, it’s in the future, the past and the present, its a Looper, fantastic directing and questionable plot directions but I haven’t seen a combination like it, popcorn and Pepsi included.

For the love of monochrome.

Black and white films are a deep love of mine. There is nothing quite like settling down to watch a good old black and white, with freshly made popcorn and shutting the curtains in an attempt to home cinematise your front room. They are antiques, when you watch one you can feel yourself getting drawn back to the past, the days of romantic chivalry and smart little day suits, or perhaps down haunted streets and mysterious stately homes. The lingering shadows in black and white films become light and dark, creating scenes of horror, lust or everyday love. The beautiful classic actors in black and white films effortlessly become storytellers, asking audience members to imagine their world. The big explosions and ‘Inception’ like CGI of today give way to skillful talents of the performers, luring our attentions in the duration of the film. Charming and classy they ask for more of their audience, as we sit intimately watching their story unfold. The films reel of their own accord, not afraid to pause or stare, the shadowy hues define their faces they let us understand the complexities of their emotions that come from behind their dark eyes.

With that all said and done, I recently watched Rebecca directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, written by ‘And as for today’s’ favorite author of the moment, Daphne Du Maurier. The combination of Hitchcock and Du Maurier had excited me for a while now. I wanted to see how Hitchcock rafter my favorite book, he wasn’t on trial but if he didn’t do the book justice I would of got mad. Book vs film much? Not in this case. I don’t like to Vs them off each other, of course they are going to be different. The book, in brief, no spoiler alerts here is about a young nameless woman, who marries dashing Mr Maxim De Winter to escape being a paid companion to an old intolerable women. There are twists and turns with the book, Mrs De Winter fears she is in the shadow of Maxims previous wife Rebecca as she is slotted straight into married life, created and preserved from the first Mrs. De Winter, in their Manderley stately home.

Its dark, romantic in a desperate, deep longing, not the sloppy soppy type, there is suspicion and mystery, suspense and affection. The book sits perfectly in black and white, it is all about the emotions af feelings.
I love this film, I love this book, with the film I fell in love with the acting, bringing to life characters of the pages, Maxim De Winter played by the dashing Laurence Olivier and young Mrs De Winter played by porcelain beauty Jane Fontaine portray their characters with gusto and impeccable realistic, reliable and rare talent.

Beauties in a black and white wash.

A Brief Encounter 1945, directed by Noel Coward, is another reason I love black and white. I have left my best until last.

The film is short so there is no excuse to watch it, my emotions went on that steam train all the way. It is such an intimate film where we share the longings of a housewife, she tells the story in first person, we are there, “Laura I am listening” I confess as she speaks her solace and her want of escape and resurrection with another man.  She meets him, the other man at the train station, they stare, they stare some more, she contemplates and decides her fate. If this was in colour it wouldn’t feel the same, I don’t think I could read their eyes, their unspoken communications.

Staring, Staring, lots of staring.

I recommend both these films, there are plenty more in black and white that are incredible because of their monochrome tones. Take Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang in 192, this film is outstanding, so haunting and interesting because it is so anything but Inception-like. Naturally there are films made in black and white that would be a flop in any age. But the ones I have seen hold a special place in my favorite film repertoire.

What is your favorite B&W classic? If you watch mine, I’ll watch yours.

Well this Knight was Dark.

Already I’m falling behind. I had plans yesterday to write about my day, it was lovely, I had fun, I saw things, did this and did that. But what stopped me from blogging was the Batman himself, I went to the cinema to see the latest film from the franchise, The Dark Knight Rises, and the title doesn’t lie, it was very dark when I left the cinema, far too late on a work night. I got home at 11pm bursting with things to say but tiredness overwhelmed me. I think this blog will just become ‘And as for yesterday’ or ‘And as for last week’.

A miniature review of batman is in order. The film started at around 20:17 give or take, adverts these days take advantage of watchful eyes, I finished most of my popcorn as a result. The film was long, it didn’t feel long but then again a lot happened. The film fast forwards 7 years after the death of Harry Dent, Bruce Wayne is a recluse still in mourning for his lost love Rachel. The film begins in the usual way, the bad guy has his intro with scenes of heavy violence and hard knocks. Wayne shown in all his lonesome sorrow, new characters like Blake,  Joseph Gordan-Levitt, who we later find out is Robin, although I figured that out pretty early on and Cat Women played by Anne Hathaway. It took a while to warm to Cat Women and Hathaway, we are used to her gracing our screens literally, always the elegant, sweet hearted girl who lives an ordinary life. Quite the contrary with her Cat Women and her brutal meanness and kick ass attitude. I like superhero films because it makes me want to be a super hero, Cat Women doesn’t begin as a hero, I’ll forgive her for that but by the end I want to be Cat Women, she is a strong female protagonist of the film and stands boldly alongside Batman. The story line, well I couldn’t go into too much details because there was lots of details. It was strong and well justified, I think too much went on when certain parts could be cut. I will tell you now that it could be borderline and tipping into a comedy genre,  beware as some scenes are very dramatised, I found myself laughing at a lot of these, they are great!

That’s a small review, I don’t want to give the plot away because that would take too long, it is a very handsome film in many respects. It is Gothic and dark which is what makes me so hungry for more, there is always a cloud lingering over Gotham City with great anticipation waiting for the next bad ass, kick ass, I dare say a little too violent, and tough loving film.