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I'm definitely late on this review but like I say, better late than never! Kim Jee-woon, the South Korean filmmaker behind A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, and I Saw the Devil has made his first U.S. debut film, The Last Stand. When the trailer first came out, it seems apparent that this was THE genre Kim Jee-woon should do considering he is a firecracker when it comes to action films. But with every director that goes to Hollywood, they lose some control over their overall vision. And in The Last Stand, it is no different.
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Hitchcock (2012, Sacha Gervasi)

Alfred Hitchcock: I will never find a Hitchcock blonde as beautiful as you.
Alma Reville: Oh, Hitch. I've waited thirty years to hear you say that.
Alfred Hitchcock: That, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense.
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Year: 2012
Country of Origin: Swedish/British 
Rating: PG-13
Time: 86 mins

Searching for Sugar Man is a mesmerizing portrait and hunt for the mysterious American musician named, Rodriguez. Two Cape Town fans try to uncover if Rodriguez in fact did commit the most horrific public suicide on stage by pulling the trigger or setting himself on fire to waves of boo's or if he is in fact alive. Rodriguez's soulful social injustice songs screamed of heartbreak louder than any Bob Dylan song ever could but no one in the U.S. ever heard of him. A wanderer of the dingy dirt roads of Detroit, Michigan, Rodriguez, sang in street bars and shadowy corners with his back turned to the audience so only his voice could be heard. A woman traveled across seas with a boot leg version of Rodriguez's cd to South Africa, where in the midst of apartheid, Rodriguez's voice fueled South Africans' own revoution which made him a bigger musical influence to them than The Rolling Stones. All of which even Rodriguez wasn't aware. Then one day he disappeared.

So, how does one find a man who has no full name, no home, and no friends? With only ghost whispers on the street, where do one even begin? The quest to find him was beyond one of the greatest challenges ever face by music journalist, Craig Bartholomew Strydom. Without any leads, he resorted to find an ounce of a clue in between his lyrics and punctuation. And the pay off makes even the dead crawl out of the worm swamped coffin and into a tap dancing frenzy. It presents the dazzling journey through the tumbleweeds of the music industry and down to the mystery hole where the money goes to die. Searching for Sugar Man is an uplifting and unconceivable account of the man behind the shadows of the night. And it is only until you finally lay your eyes on him, will you be sure that who you're gaping at is not a ghost but a real man. A

p.s. Rodriguez is now slated to play at Coachella 2013!

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She Done Him Wrong (1933, Lowell Sherman)

Serge Stanieff: I swear I shall make you happy. I shall die to make you happy.
Lady Lou: Mmm, but you wouldn't be much use to me dead.
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This has got to be the longest vlog I've done for far, but it's worth it! I compiled 10 films that are coming out in 2013 that are on my MUST WATCH LIST! Please take some time out of your busy schedule to watch the whole thing as I am the scatterbrain mess that I am when it comes to these most anticipated films. 
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(2013, Kim Jee-woon)

Grade: C+
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Gangster Squad was pushed back several months which meant extra time for tons of promotions. Maybe because of the theatre shooting, the studios felt the need to put an annoying amount of trailers and posters up all around town. Whatever the case, these beautiful black and white stills from the set are the best thing to come out of their  promotional campaign.

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(2013, Ruben Fleischer)

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I used to be all for award season with its blitzy glamour but after The King's Speech won at the 2011 Academy Awards,  I was obviously not happy. Cinema is about taking risks, showing the true essence of the human condition, no matter how frightening that image might be. But the Academy are a conglomerate of old white people that don't want to take that leap of faith anymore. Naturally, this year Steven Spielberg's oscar bait, Lincoln scored a whooping 12 nominations leading the pack of other more great and worthy opponents. So, like I always do, I'm going to pick who I would ideally want to win and who I know are probably going to win. For those that I don't think I'm apt to judge I'm going to put N/S for not sure. Here we go!

Best Picture
Beast of Southern Wild
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
Les Miserables
Lincoln Silver Lining Playbook
Django Unchained

Who I want: Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Lincoln

Best Actress 
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Lining Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of Southern Wild
Naomi Watts - The Impossible

Who I want: Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper - Silver Lining Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Denzel Washington - Flight

Who I want: Joaquin Phoenix
Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis 

Best Supporting Actor
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Robert DeNiro - Silver Lining Playbook
Alan Arkin - Argo
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

Who I want: Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Who will win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Master or Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field - Lincoln
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Jacki Weaver - Silver Lining Playbook
Helen Hunt -  The Sessions
Amy Adams - The Master

Who I want: Amy Adams - The Master
Who will win: Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables

Animated Feature Film
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreak-it Ralph

Who I want: Wreak-It Ralph
Who will win: Frankenweenie

Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
Life of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Skyfall - Roger Deakins

Who I want: Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
Who will win: Lincoln - Janusz Jaminski 

Costume Design
Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran
Les Miserable - Paco Delgado
Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman - Colleen Atwood 

Who I want: Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran
Who will win: Lincoln -  Joanna Johnston or Snow White and the Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

Amour - Michael Haneke
Beasts of Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi - Ang Lee
Lincoln - Steven Spielberg
SIlver Lining Playbook - David O. Russell

Who I want: Amour - Michael Haneke
Who will win: Lincoln - Steven Spielberg

Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugarman

Who I want: The Invisible War/How to Survive a Plague
Who will win: The Gatekeepers

Documentary Short 
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart


Film Editing
Argo - William Goldenberg
Life of Pi - Time Squyres
Lincoln - Michael Kahn
Silver Lining Playbook - Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg 

Who I want: Zero Dark Thirty- Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Who will win: Argo - William Goldberg or Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor and Willian Goldenberg

Foreign Language Film
War Witch
A Royal Affair
Kon Tiki

Who I want: Amour
Who wil win: Amour

Hitchcock - Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater, and Tami Lane
Les Miserables - Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Who I want: The Hobbit
Who will win: The Hobbit

Music (Original Score)
Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
Argo - Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi - Mychael Danna
Lincoln - John Williams
Skyfall - Thomas Newman

Who I want: Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
Who will win: Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli

Music (Original Song)
Before My Time - Chasing Ice, Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
Pi's Lullaby - Life of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
Suddenly - Les Miserable, Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublils
Everybody Needs a Best Friend - Ted, Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
Skyfall - from Skyfall - Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

Who I want: Pi's Lullaby - Life of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
Who will win: N/S

Short Film (Animated)
Adam and Dog - Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole - PES
Head over Heels - Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare" David Silverman
The Paperman - John Kahrs

Who I want: The Paperman
Who will win: THe Paperman

Production Design
Anna Karenina - Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration)
Les Misérables -Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration)
Life of Pi - David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
Lincoln - Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration)

Who I want: Anna Karenina
Who will win: Les Miserables

Short Film (Live Action)
Asad Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys - Sam French and Ariel Nasr
Curfew -Shawn Christensen
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) - Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Henry - Yan England


Sound Editing
Argo - Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained - Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi - Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall - Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty -Paul N.J. Ottosson

Who I want: Skyfall - Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Who will win: Argo - Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn

Sound Mixing
Argo - John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables - Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi -Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall - Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Who I want: Skyfall - Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Who will win: Argo - John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia

Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi -Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Marvel's The Avengers - Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus - Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman - Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Who I want: Life of Pi
Who will win: The Hobbit

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Chris Terrio - Argo
Tony Kushner - Lincoln
David O'Russell - Silver Linings PLaybook
David Magee - Life of Pi

Who I want: Tony Kushner - Lincoln
Who will win: Tony Kushner - Lincoln

Writing (Original Screenplay)
John Gatins - Flight
Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino
Moonrise Kingdom - Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Amour - Written by Michael Haneke

Who I want: Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
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The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974, Werner Herzog)

Opening Caption: Do you not then hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence. 
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I've decided to start another segment to So's Reel Thoughts, the youtube channel. Instead of trying to hash out lengthy film reviews for particular films that already have their designated audience, I'm going to do a first reaction video to the films. Hopefully this will be one of many to come. 
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Here's my review of Zero Dark Thirty. I was hoping that when I went to this screening at the DGA that Kathryn Bigelow and Jessica Chastain would be there but sadly, they weren't. But I'm hoping I can catch another Q&A with them this month! *fingers crossed. Zero Dark Thirty was incredibly powerful and probably my second favorite film of 2012 below Amour. It opens everywhere January 11th so please go see it. 
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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012, Alison Klayman)

Ai Weiwei: "The world is not changing if you don't shoulder the burden of responsibility."
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