Carlos’ Review Round-Up

Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.


The Sessions (2012)

Directed by: Ben Lewin
Country: USA

“The Sessions” is an independent drama based on Mark O’Brien’s essay “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate”. Mark contracted polio in 1955 and got paralyzed for the rest of his days, a fact that didn’t prevent him from graduate and become a poet. The plot is centered in his decision of losing virginity, when he was 38. For that, he will count with a sex therapist, but nothing will be done before consulting his adviser and friend, Father Brendan. This priest, who looked more like a hippie or a veteran rock star, could serve as a good example on showing how to approach such a delicate theme as sex, with wisdom and good sense. At some point, I found myself impatient, hoping that Mark could achieve rapidly his goal. John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H.Macy were convincing in “The Sessions”, a gentle, sensitive and humorous film that was able to escape to sentimental excesses by adopting a positive and straightforward attitude.



Searching For Sugar Man (2012)

Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul
Country: UK / Sweden

This documentary depicts an incredible story about an American musician who lived all his life in the shadow, while his records were sold at a fast pace in South Africa, during several years. The movie begins with all the mysteries involving Rodriguez, a man who nobody knew much about. Appearing and disappearing like a ghost, this composer from Detroit was a complete failure in the US, despite the meaningful lyrics and an interesting acoustic sound. Being an inspiration to South African people during the apartheid, in a time where any kind of art referring drugs or sex were banned by censorship, Rodriguez aroused curiosity among several followers of his music. An investigation was started, leading to unbelievable conclusions. “Searching For Sugar Man” is one of the best documentaries of 2012, making justice to a humble and talented artist.



Stormland (2012)

Directed by: Marteinn Thorsson
Country: Iceland

“Stormland”, adapted from a novel by Hallgrímur Helgason, opens with a hostage crisis scene, which is suddenly discontinued to step into the kidnapper’s past. Bodvar is a teacher, a writer, a poet and a blogger. Clearly a misfit, nothing seems to go right in his life. Disillusioned with the world, he finds solace in writing for his own blog entitled “Stormland”, where he discharges his anger against consumerism, bankers’ power and rotten societies. A slight but incisive humor combines with the soreness of Bodvar’s fate, whereas love, seen as last hope, will be the culmination of his alienation. Darri Ólafsson’s performance was prominent, playing a well-intentioned man that suddenly breaks down when facing simultaneous problems. Then, we realize why Nietzsche’s quote “The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly”, became so meaningful to him.



West of Memphis (2012)

Directed by: Amy Berg
Country: USA / New Zealand

“West of Memphis” is the fourth documentary about the 1993 case known as West Memphis Three, on which three teenagers remained more than 18 years in prison, after being convicted for the murder of three 8-year-old kids in Arkansas. The victim’s bodies were found in a ditch, exhibiting sexual mutilation and several wounds. The prosecution assumed that the crime was perpetrated as part of a satanic ritual. However, further DNA tests and investigations pointed to another suspect. This case attracted the attention of many people, who claimed for justice, including several celebrities. “West of Memphis” is dense and long, but thoroughly guides you to the fundamental circumstances of this harrowing murder case. Having been produced by Peter Jackson and Damien Echols (one of the wrongly accused), this film also depicts a special love story, involving the latter and Lorri Davis, who he met after his conviction.



Keep the Lights On (2012)

Directed by: Ira Sachs
Country: USA

“Keep The Lights On” seemed to bring homosexuality to forefront, yet the prevailing aspect here is substance addiction and the way it slowly ruin happiness. Erik is a filmmaker who has living under pressure for nine years, due to the frequent disappearances of his boyfriend Paul, a lawyer who’s addicted to drugs, alcohol and sex. The movie focuses on Erik’s efforts to have the situation under control, while tries to give the best support to his lover. Occasional betrayals from each one of them were intercalated with the recurrent ruptures and restarts, highlighting the sensations of mistrust and uncertainty. Despite the pouting and tantrums that mark this relationship, Sachs manages to lead the movie in a right way through a simple and practical direction.