Dave’s Cinema Digest 2012 – Week 44

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Marley (2012)

This briefly titled documentary is anything but brief in running time. At almost two-and-a-half hours, you’re not likely to run into a more comprehensive documentary about revolutionary reggae singer, Bob Marley. I’ve known and loved his music for a long time but until now, knew little of his life or politics. The director interviews family members and many of the people who worked with him and features many never before seen photos and video to make for an informative and always interesting portrait of a revolutionary. So light up a spliff and let the music flow through you.

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Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

The “revelation” that the title refers to is that they never should have done a Silent Hill sequel. The first movie wasn’t all that good and this one is way worse. There’s barely a plot and the rules they set up for their universe don’t make any kind of sense. The main character just wanders around and we (nor her, I suspect) never know why she goes where she goes or does the things she does. It plods on like this until the hugely confusing and incredibly anti-climactic climax. The production design is surprisingly lackluster given its predecessor’s frightening atmosphere and design. Apparently this time around, they decided that a flickering light was the scariest thing ever so every single scene has at least one malfunctioning light fixture. All of this plus the horrible acting and poor CGI make this one of the worst movies of the year.

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Village of the Damned (1960)

Mysterious happenings are afoot in a small, country village in England. The whole town falls unconscious for a few hours and when they wake up, discover that every woman is pregnant and the babies are growing at an accelerated rate. What is going on? This is the central mystery for the first half of the film which begins with striking imagery of a whole town of people seemingly dead. The film is haunting and well acted, still holding up after 52 years. If creepy children with strange powers are your thing, you can’t do much better than a visit to the Village of the Damned.

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Children of the Damned (1964)

The creepy kids are back. This time, they’re on the run from government officials who would use their powers to gain the upper hand against other world governments. This sequel to Village of the Damned (much like the Planet of the Apes sequels) eschews the mystery and suspense of the first film for a much more deliberate and pointed message. And unlike last time where we feared the children, this time around we are meant to pity them. It’s a good movie but I felt that it was missing a lot of the elements that made the first one so good. Still totally worth a watch and both movies work well in a double feature.

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Sound of My Voice (2011)

Two documentary film makers get more than they bargained for when they infiltrate a mysterious and incredibly secretive cult in order to expose its leader, the charismatic and ethereal Maggie, as a fraud. Should be simple since she claims to be from the future but things may not be as they seem. The film is co-written and stars Brit Marling whose previous film Another Earth I wasn’t a fan of but admired for its big ideas. This time around, I was completely in awe of her as Maggie. She has more than a few big monologues in the film and she pulls each of them off brilliantly, drawing you in to her until you, like her followers, are hanging on every word she says. Not an easy task. The director is obviously working with an incredibly minuscule budget but it doesn’t hurt the film one iota. It’s incredibly engaging, tense, and lovely to look at despite most of the film taking place in a townhouse basement. You could say it’s a small film but its scope is huge. It thrusts you quickly into this strange situation leaving you asking questions and when it ends, you’ll still be asking questions.

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

I have been a long-time gamer all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System. I’ve spent countless hours in front of the television with a controller in my hand, stomping goombas. So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard that Disney’s next animated feature would be set in the world of video games. Very excited. Ralph is an unappreciated bad guy who doesn’t want to be bad anymore so he abandons his game in search of a way to change his status. This is a delightful and funny film that could give Pixar a run for its money, at least in the last couple years. The game references are sprinkled in sparingly and cleverly enough to not wear out their welcome and the voice actors (especially Alan Tudyk‘s impeccable Ed Wynn) are uniformly great. If you’re in the mood for a fun flick, you can’t do much better than Wreck-It Ralph.

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The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

Let’s get with the negatives first. RZA is not a good director. He’s trying to pay homage to the Chopsocky movies of the 70’s but the film’s not made well enough to work as a facsimile of the genre like Planet Terror or Death Proof were. It takes itself much too seriously too much of the time to dismiss its problems as just being part of the homage. The story’s a mess and many of the fights incomprehensible or just poorly filmed. Now that being said, I had a good time for the most part. There are a lot of really fun characters and the production design is absolutely stellar. Those who can overlook its flaws will probably love it but this is strictly middle-of-the-road material for me. If there’s a sequel down the line, I’ll definitely check it out but I wouldn’t watch this one again.

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