Casual Critics: A Hidden Legend – A Review of “Searching for Sugar Man”

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Is it possible for a man to be a complete rock star, on the opposite side of the world, in a country he has never visited, and never know about it? For many South Africans, Sixto Rodriguez was a lot more than rock star. He was social icon; an outsider who was saying the things they wanted to say but simply could not. Searching for Sugar Man (2012), directed by Malik Bendjelloul, is an eye-opening, heart-touching documentary on the legend and mystery behind the man simply known as Rodriguez.

Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary category at the 85th Academy Awards. Rodriguez opted not to attend the event because he did not want to overshadow, or take away from the creators of the film. This selfless gesture summarizes, on a few levels, the path of life chosen by Rodriguez, or, even, the path that he passed up.

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Casual Critics: Bigger and Better – A Review of “Kong: Skull Island”

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I would never have considered myself a King Kong fan, but that instantly changed once I finished watching Kong: Skull Island. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ 2017 reboot of the iconic, towering gorilla-beast contains more action and adventure than anyone could have expected.

In my opinion, this film brought the full package and more. Whether it was the fantastic special effects showing a skyscraper-sized monkey eating a cruise ship-sized squid, or the prefect ensemble of co-stars, or even the engaging story itself — every aspect of Kong had me submerged in the mystical world of Skull Island, the place where Kong is King.

The special effects of this film are superior to those of any movie that I have seen in quite some time. As the saying goes, one must “see it to believe it.” Although that may sound cliché, it could not be more genuine when pertaining to this particular piece. The dazzling precision of angles, sounds, and colors make this film intriguing and easy to enjoy.

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Casual Critics – 23 Personalities Plus-One: A Review of “Split”

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http://bit.ly/2lxxpUI

Kevin Wendell Grump can be Barry in the morning, Hedwig during the day, and Dennis at night. You never know who you are going to encounter; one personality here, a different one over there. Split (2016), directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is as twisted and demented as the recurring visual motifs make it out to be.

Split may not necessarily hit it out of the park, but it is without a doubt entirely intriguing, and certainly worth the watch. Kevin’s mental instability — in part due to his unheard of and widely-ridiculed psychiatric and physiological disorder — has led him down a path of complete lunacy. Although the different personalities living inside Kevin’s brain may not necessarily agree on what is best for him, they all agree on one thing: the beast is on the move.

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Casual Critics – The New American Church: A Review of “The Founder”

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http://bit.ly/2l25u03

Editor’s Note: “Casual Critics” is a new feature we’re introducing this semester on the Jet Fuel Review Blog. It’s a weekly feature about film, written by two critics, Reno Stramaglia and Donatas Ružys. The two critics will switch off week after week, with this week’s post being written by Ružys.

Ray Kroc revolutionized the American fast food service industry in the mid-1950s by turning McDonald’s into one of the most successful and recognizable businesses in the world. John Lee Hancock’s biographical drama, The Founder (2016), depicts the true-to-life events that propelled Kroc (played by Michael Keaton) from being an obsessively ambitious shake-mixer salesman into one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Surprisingly, the film does not overly rely on the subject matter to draw in audiences. Instead, it is easy to sense the fitting selection of actors for key roles, as they naturally immerse themselves into heart of the narrative and in turn cause the audience to feel a wide range of emotions. Michael Keaton’s performance is exceptional and well deserving of recognition.

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Student Feature: Two Reflections on the Cinematic Masterpiece, “City of God”

Below are two student’s perspectives on the 2002 film City of God.

Reno Stramaglia

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http://bit.ly/1LfkVZp

Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 film, City of God, is a work of art that is full of realistic depictions of the violence and drama associated with the impoverished favelas in Cidade de Deus during the 1970s. By utilizing the viewpoint of a young photographer (known as “Rocket”), this film immerses the audience within a story that needed to be told.

Based on a true story, Rocket experiences how the early influence of “Robin Hood-like” gangsters caused the growth of dark lawlessness and corruption within this Brazilian city. Although his peers and older brother, Goose, surrender to criminal activity in order to survive, Rocket struggles to avoid these temptations of misdeed. It is the sociopath, Li’l Zé, who leads the mayhem of murder and crime that takes place within the neighborhood. This film utilizes a wide variety of unique cinematographic techniques in order to convey the truth behind the activities of these gangsters.

Meirelles’ use of fast editing within the film helps to display the true nature of Rocket’s environment. From shot to shot, events happen in a fast-paced manner. Cutting to different depictions of violence within a small amount of time causes the audience to fully experience the chaotic environment. Life is hectic and stressful within these slums. Meirelles utilizes classical cutting in order to help the audience to understand this different way of living. In addition, music in this film acts in a similar manner. The fast rhythm suits the rapid depictions of action within the slums. The choice of music also acts to paint a picture of the Brazilian culture while providing the film with surge of energy to keep the audience on their feet.

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