Movie of the Day – Confessions of a Superhero

We all have dreams that we would like to see become a reality one day.  Something almost grandiose for our own good, but dreams that seem so real to us that we can make them a reality.  It seems attainable and possible that it could happen to us.  Dreams are made every day somewhere in the world and why not my dream?  Why not something that I want in life becoming a reality?  We think about them daily, some people make a list of goals to get to that dream job or car or lifestyle.  We can the small steps to hopefully achieve the outlandish dream we have built up in our minds.  Some can achieve those dreams, others well, dreams are dreams for a purpose.  In relation to movies, some of us had dreams of becoming the next best thing.  A leading actor or actress, a director or successful writer, all glorious dreams.  There are people who have achieved that and there are some that haven’t.  Maybe their time will come some day or maybe it will leave them behind as time slips away.  Confessions of a Superhero is a documentary that explores the lives of those who come to Hollywood in hopes of their dreams coming true.  Instead of making it big in Hollywood movies, they are left dressing up as these larger than life characters in front of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It heartbreaking to know that their dreams are right beneath their feet.

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Movie Review – The Act of Killing

I was given another opportunity to review a movie for the site Lost In Reviews and this time it is over one of the most talked about documentary this year.  Joshua Oppenheimer has made one of the most shocking and in-depth documentaries about war criminals in Indonesia.  The Act of Killing is sure to be one of the best documentaries this year and frankly, the most harrowing and captivating documentary out there.

Check out my full review on LostInReviews.com.

“History is written by winners, and we won.”  A morbid act of justification and pride, this line uttered by the subject of the documentary The Act of Killing.  Director Joshua Oppenheimer takes a look at the genocide that befell Indonesia in the 1960’s, specifically focusing on the those that carried out the war crimes by getting them on camera to assist in a Hollywood re-creation of their participation in the mass murder of 1 million supposed communist citizens after the military overthrew the government.

Click here for the full review.

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Movie of the Day – The Ambassador

Mads Brügger must walk around with extra large pants because of the fucking massive balls that man has.  I don’t know what you do for work or even what you do for kicks, but I am sure poking fun at the postcolonial African nation of the Central African Republic and exposing the seedy corruption that happens there is not your idea of work or fun.  The Ambassador is certainly one of the most impressive, scathing and funny documentaries out there, all anchored down by a overblown caricature of the human known as Mads Brügger.

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Movie of the Day – A Band Called Death

I realized I just posted the full on review of this amazing, amazing documentary about a week ago, but I just can’t help myself in trying to get everyone to see it.  It played at our local Alamo Drafthouse and is getting legs in terms of opening at local art theaters, but the movie is out on VOD and available for download right this instance.  It is truly an amazing story that must be heard and one of the most compelling documentaries out there now.

I also wanted to toot my own horn as about a week ago I was asked to be an on air guest for HuffPost Live and chat with the members of Death and the directors of the documentary.  It was unreal to get to ask them some questions, which one only made it on air.  Still though, I don’t say this without some weight behind it and this is one of the best movies/documentaries out there this year.  Easily one of my top ten movies.

Well below is a link to the original review and also to the HuffPost Live interview with Death and my dumb mug on the screen towards the end of interview.

Enjoy!

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/a-band-called-death/51c2395b78c90a47590002ca

Original review of A Band Called Death.

Anchored by the wonderful storytelling of Dannis and Bobby, they openly talk about the band, the history and their lives with a bit a humor and emotional weight.  They lay the foundation of who they are out there for the audience and you connect with the story and their journey more than you will ever know.  You feel the highs and lows of the brothers, but the bittersweet ending is all that you need to leave the theater with a smile on your faces, redness in your eyes from the tears and newfound respect admiration for what it means to stick to your convictions through thick and thin.

It’s time to embrace Death.

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Movie Review – A Band Called Death

Death comes for us all.

You know, I always associate Detroit with the soulful sounds of Motown and funk music.  I mean bands like The Temptation, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and even the Contours basically defined the music scene there.  I fully get that this is a narrow view of the rich diversity of the Detroit music scene, but when I think of a group of African-American musicians coming together to create music, I and the subjects of the rockumentary A Band Called Death will tell you, the expectation is that it would be Motown-esque.  Thanks to the efforts of directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett, we get to uncover a band whose time has finally come.  Some 30 years ago, a group of African-American brothers would form a band that would change the music scene of their time by being, what some would contend, the first punk band ever.  That is, they would have been if it weren’t for the name and their unconventional playing style.

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Movie of the Day – Special When Lit

I do love these very specific subject documentaries that are starting to show up more and more on Netflix, mainly because most documentaries have a small, small theatrical run or just stay on the festival circuit.  Much like the documentary about concert posters, this is another little hobby/recreational thing I enjoy doing and that is about pinball.  Not so much about the game itself, but about the culture that surrounds it.  Sure they are something of a peculiar engineering feat, but much like the creation of pinball machines, it is about the culture that surrounds the machine.  From players to collectors, fans and fanatics, this is a perfect little chronicling of the rise, fall and eventual rise again of the pinball machine.  Time for some pinball wizard!

Before video games took over the world’s amusement arcades, convenience stores and bars, pinball was a leading pastime for folks with some change in their pockets, and in the 1950s and 60s, America’s pinball machines took in more money than the movie industry. While electronic games have won away a large part of pinball’s market share, there are still plenty of fans of the old games out there, and filmmaker Brett Sullivan offers an entertaining look at pinball’s past and present in the documentary Special When Lit. The film presents a history of pinball (including how the addition of flippers radically changed the nature of the game) as well as profiling hard-core fans that are still committed to pinball and show off their winning styles and strategies. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

So there is this small bar in North KCK, 403 Club, that has a wall of pinball machines that I like to go to often.  Aside from the cheap drinks, knowing the bartender and close proximity to my house, I found myself enjoying pinball more and more than I have ever before.  I was never one to play it at the arcade back in the 90s during my youth, you know arcades, usually found at malls and strip malls and wherever else they are found.  Sorry, sidetracked there, I never gravitated towards the pinball machines at the arcade, I think it was because I outright sucked, but I have started playing it a lot more either on an actual machine or even digitally on a console or computer.  Something about the lights, sounds, multiball, replay, and frustration of putting the machine on tilt is intoxication.

Super Special When Lit

But this documentary is a chronicling of the fans and culture around the iconic arcade machine.  Some are appreciating the craftsmanship of the machine, the engineering and design that goes into each unique machine.  There are a lot of interesting designs out there for some of the pinball machines.  Themed machines, movie tie-ins, or just the run of the mill design, each has a lot of time and appreciation put into the machine.  Those are the fans that love the machine itself.  Then there are the fans of the game of pinball, the pro players who know all the little intricacies of the game, when to hit the right item for get the “special” or that coveted “multiball”.  Those are the people who pump quarter after quarter into the machine looking to perfect their technique or best their previous score.  There are some interesting characters that are interviewed in the player aspect of the documentary, as there always are with a certain fanatical subset of people for a particular subject.

There is always a documentary for everyone’s taste or particular likes and this one is for those that have spent some time basking in the glow and sounds of the pinball machine.  Looking at the early start of the pinballs fame to the decrease in its popularity and the eventual rise of its nostalgic comeback, the pinball machine is a fairly iconic machine of its time.  There will always be people, most of them shown in the documentary, that will keep it alive.  Whether they are collecting or seeking out places to play, pinball will always be around thanks to them.  Now to head off to the 403 Club.

Movie of the Day – Just Like Being There

This is one of my favorite documentaries I have seen this year.  As most of you know, I collect Mondo posters, actually just posters in general.  They are the art that adorns my walls, the things I covet and the stuff I love to show and acquire.  For me there is nothing better than scoring a limited edition print of a favorite movie of mine or the latest creation from some of the best movie and concert poster artists out there.  Lo and behold my excitement when this movie came across Netflix instant for my viewing pleasure, a movie that premiered at SXSW and finally have an opportunity to see the evolution of my poster obsession.

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Movie of the Day – Building Babel

Park51, a name that does not ring a lot of bells in the American psyche.  But what if I were to say “9/11 Mosque”?  Does that conjure up images of New Yorkers and Americans rallying together to stop the construction of an Islamic center just blocks from the site of the Twin Towers?  Polarizing and a view into the window of religious dialogue and tolerance, Building Babel is an appropriate title to a film that shows the monumental task of courting controversy and believing in what you do.

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Movie of the Day – Detropia

The collapse of the American dream is happening right now.  Detropia was one of the most evocative and haunting documentaries I caught last year at True False Fest and now that it is available for streaming on Netflix, this is a documentary I have to bring up.  We see it everyday on television, we see in our city and community, and I might not be effecting us directly, but I can assure you that this is something can and probably will happen to us sooner or later.  Detropia is documentary that shows the aftermath of the collapsing American dream.  It’s focus, Detroit, a city that was a bustling mecca for automobile makers, the burgeoning middle class and the effects of a collapsing economy when the jobs move overseas, the government becomes broke and a city is on the cusp on folding up.  This is about as real as it can get.

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Movie of the Day – Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

One of the things I love about Netflix, other than the obvious, is that they are able to feed my documentary cravings from time to time.  I talked about some of my favorite films of the past year back in January and I made sure to split the favorites amongst feature films and documentary films.  Ai Weiwei made it on the top ten list of documentary films for last year, a list that included several personal favorites and a few Oscar nominated documentaries.  Ai Weiwei stood out  to me the most for the topical reason of the current events that were taking place with its subject Ai Weiwei.  A political activist that was currently under house arrest by the Communist regime of China.  A dissident that dared speak out on a national level about his country and in doing so, makes him of the biggest, most powerful figures in China due to his international fame.

This documentary looked to highlight the man who dared to speak out against the government, an artist that uses his art to make a commentary on the society he lives in.  A daring and dangerous prospect since China doesn’t seem too keen on people speaking out against them, so utilizing his fame to cast the light on his country is a ballsy movie.  Never Sorry doesn’t shy away from getting at the core of this amazing individual, who’s work is polarizing and provocative.  You get to see a side of the country that isn’t seen by most people, as Weiwei exposes the hidden side of life and showcases it to the world through art and his recordings.

Below is an excerpt from my original review, hopefully you will take a look at this movie on Netflix Instant as well.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is, by proxy of Alison Klayman, one of his best works.  A visual recording of what his life is like in an increasingly hostile government controlled country.  His character defines who he is, a man who doesn’t falter and never stops breaking the old ways and rules of the country.  His art, from breaking a priceless Han dynasty vase to painting product brands on the side of century old vases, shows a defiance, but calculated move to get people to pay attention to what he has to say.  Weiwei is often quiet and reserved in the privacy of his house with his numerous cats, but his actions are the loudest voice of dissent.  It’s the quiet, tranquil moments of Ai Weiwei’s life that highlight the stark reality he goes out and faces with the government when he leaves his house.  Tender moments with his loved ones are then dwarfed by police brutality and the threat of prison.

Full review here.

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