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Film Reviews: Searching For Sugar Man (2012), The Imposter (2012), and End of Watch (2012)
Movies
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Searching for Sugar Man (2012). Directed by Malik Bendjelloul. The film is a Swedish/British documentary about USAian 70s folk singer Rodriguez. Although he released two albums in the early 70s neither made any impression in the USA, yet went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies in South Africa. The belief was that Rodriguez had committed suicide on stage in the early 70s, so the documentary makers try to discover his roots. Searching for Sugar Man is certainly a moving documentary, and a real life Cinderella-type story. It's fascinating how something can be so unappreciated in one country, yet be very popular elsewhere. I was certainly moved to tears a couple of times during the film. Rodriguez's music was certainly pleasant enough, although not quite my cup of tea. I get the feeling that it was music of its time to a degree. Surely a must watch for those who like music documentaries, and an uplifting (true) story all round. 4/5 (Good)

The Imposter (2012). Directed by Bart Layton. The film is a British documentary about a French man, Frédéric Bourdin, who tried to impersonate a missing USAian child, Nicholas Barclay. The Imposter is both a fascinating and sad documentary, partly because we hear it from the perspective of Bourdin himself, and partly because the impersonation worked so successfully. It's hard to know whether to hate or feel sorry for Bourdin, because he himself has been a victim all his life. The documentary itself is slick and well put together, intercutting between both reconstruction and interviews. Strongly recommended for film documentary fans. 4/5 (Good)

End of Watch (2012). Written and directed by David Ayer. The film starts with two LA policemen (Jake Gyllenhal and Michael Peña) chasing a car. They eventually manage to stop it, at which point a gun battle ensues. The two policemen kill the thieves in the car. It then moves forward to some weeks later, when the policemen have been returned to duty following an investigation. One of the policemen starts filming his job as part of an evening class, as they patrol a territory that is erupting with gang violence. On paper I should have really enjoyed End of Watch. It was fast paced, had a fair bit of story, and plenty of characters. In reality though I struggled with it. The first problem was that it used first person footage throughout, as the police (and gang members!) are supposed to be recording everything. It's a gimmick that quickly wore off for me, and was completely unnecessary for the story it was trying to tell. Secondly, the story felt fragmented, confusing, and not that believable. A stronger narrative thread would have served it better. Gyllenhal is good, although I didn't find Peña to be on the same level. Be warned that the film is pretty gruesome, so sensitive types will want to avoid. Those who think they'll enjoy first person filmed police action, heavy on the contemporary edge, should enjoy. 3/5 (Average)
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