Movie Reviews 1/13

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Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements
What Were We Thinking Films
On DVD: 11.20.12
If you’re not that familiar with the music of The Replacements, this two-hour documentary may fly a little over your head with its wealth of knowledge, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Unlike most music documentaries, which feature interviews and music from the band being featured, Color Me Obsessed veers away from that path. Instead, the entire film consists of interviews from fellow musicians and fans heavily influenced by the Minneapolis punk band. Despite the fact that the surviving members of The Replacements are not actually featured, there are a bunch of great stories told by those around them during their 12 years as a band. This is a truly fascinating and well done documentary about one of the seminal bands in rock n’ roll history. But again, if you are a bit of a stranger to The Replacements, it might help to listen to some of their albums beforehand, which will make it easier to understand the references being thrown around. –Jory Carroll

Django Unchained
The Weinstein Company
In Theaters: 12.25.12
For decades, Quentin Tarantino has borrowed themes, tones, characters and other elements from earlier cinematic works and placed them directly into his own creations. Some viewers scoff at this technique, while I, and many others, respect the director’s knowledge and appreciation for the art form. The writer/director has emulated Asian sword-wielding cinema, World War II Nazi dramas and has now decided to take on classic Westerns with a twist. Set in 1858, a dentist by the name of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) comes across a chain gang of slaves in the Texas wilderness, but this meeting was no coincidence. In search of a trio of criminals known as the Brittle Brothers, Dr. Schultz, who is actually a skillful bounty hunter, has tracked down Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave within the group who knows the identities of the sought-after criminals. Finding the notion of slavery unbecoming, Dr. Schultz offers Django a deal: In exchange for helping him locate the outlaws, Django will be set free, given $75 cash, trained in the art of bounty hunting and the two will set out to rescue Django’s wife from the clutches of an infamous plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Not one to let his fans down, Tarantino packs this rustic rendition with over-the-top violence and gallons upon gallons of blood spilled on the ground and splattered across the walls. He has assembled a proficient ensemble with a role that was clearly developed and written for Waltz and a never-before-seen merciless manifestation personified by DiCaprio. Known for his eccentric soundtracks, Tarantino does tend to go overboard with this selection that mixes a blend of genres that include 1970s folk and modern-day hip hop that tends to distract rather than contribute. –Jimmy Martin

The House I Live In
Abramorama
In Theaters: 01.04
Inspired by director Eugene Jarecki’s relationship with his childhood caretaker, Nannie Jeter, The House I Live In serves as a great introduction and overview of America’s 40-year-long War on Drugs. Through a series of interviews with law enforcement officers, scientists, drug users, drug dealers, incarcerated individuals and the families of the incarcerated, Jarecki paints a vivid picture explaining that the violation of drug laws has become a multi-generational problem for poor Americans—especially poor African Americans like Nannie Jeter.  Along the way, Jarecki explains that historically every drug law passed has been tied to race and that many small towns across the country have become financially dependent on their prisons and law enforcement agencies. As he carefully stacks the information, it becomes apparent that Americans jail their population more than any other country because prisons are profitable. Although The House I Live In was informative, some of the narrative connections Jarecki attempted to make seemed to stretch a bit thin, such as comparing the rate that American’s lock up their own citizens to an attempted genocide of the lower class. While I agree that it’s absurd that in 2009, 1.7 million individuals were arrested for nonviolent drug charges, comparing the statistics to genocide is a bit far fetched. Eventually the information in the film became incredibly repetitive and it felt as if Jarecki was leading the audience in circles. The House I Live In was good, but at 110 minutes, probably would benefit from some additional editing. –Jeanette D. Moses

The Impossible
Summit Entertainment
In Theaters: 01.18
You may not recognize Juan Antonio Bayona’s name at first glance since he’s only directed one feature (The Orphanage) prior to this release, but after witnessing his tragic tale of family, loss, courage and the kindness of strangers, you won’t be able to stop talking about the director from Barcelona. The Impossible is the true story of a family spending their Christmas vacation in Thailand during the horrific tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004 and the widespread devastation the country endured. After the catastrophe shatters everything in its path, Mary (Naomi Watts) and her eldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland) find themselves separated from Henry (Ewan McGregor) and the two other children. In need of medical attention and with his father missing, Lucas is forced to take on the role of caretaker for his mother and rely on the benevolence of the country’s locals. With wars and unspeakable crimes occurring everyday across the planet, Bayona reinforces the good nature human beings are capable of when duty calls. Watts and McGregor offer career-defining performances as both protective parents and vulnerable victims, but it’s the unknown Holland that surfaces with a career-igniting performance that is sure to launch the young actor into the next stage of stardom. The unbelievable visual effects set the viewer directly in the chaos, but Bayona takes you by the hand and guides you on a journey that’s so astonishing, it has to be real. –Jimmy Martin

Spokanarchy!
Carnage & Ronge
On DVD: 08.06.11
You ever hear of extremophiles? They’re microbes that thrive in places where life is incapable of thriving. Environments like hot sulfur pools, deep sea vents and lightless caves are completely detrimental to life, both macro and micro, but something still thrives in their own way. Spokane, Wash. is a place where no music should exist—much like our own Daggett or Wayne County—and yet, here came a scene unique in its own rights. Spokanarchy is a documentary about Spokane’s punk scene during the ’80s and how it evolved independently from outside scenes like LA, NYC, DC and other smaller scenes. Thirty years later, these once reckless children are bitter, drug-addled crusty adults. You know your uncle who was once in a band that opened for L.A. Guns and then disbanded? You know his overbearing nostalgic self-importance? He was their man. He knew the scene, he drank with Phil Lewis … Imagine that uncle being interviewed over and over again in different wigs and hats. Repetitive and borderline depressing, if any documentary will convince you to give up on your dreams and start working at the cracker factory, it’s this one. Choppy editing, unnecessarily long montages and poor interviewing skills really set back what could have been a well done, in-depth look into the lives and bands of young Spokane. Instead you’re stuck with an 80-minute circle jerk about how fucking cool the ’80s were. Buy it and drink every time someone goes on about their uniqueness to the robots below. –Alex Cragun

Zero Dark Thirty
Columbia Pictures
In Theaters: 01.11.13
Kathryn Bigelow returns to the director’s seat after her intense war drama The Hurt Locker won six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director at the 2010 Academy Awards. Back in the Middle East for her next project, Bigelow focuses her attention on the global manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist of all-time, Osama bin Laden. Bigelow opens the film with a blank screen and the audio from 911 calls made from victims trapped inside the World Trade Centers on that unforgettable morning. She instantly sets the tone on the gravity of the crimes committed and the necessity to capture/kill those responsible. Fast-forward to 2003 and we are introduced to a CIA interrogator (Jason Clarke) and Maya (Jessica Chastain), a fresh-from-the-farm recruit recently deployed to the war zone, attempting to acquire information from a known terrorist affiliate. Once again, Bigelow refuses to pull her punches as she spotlights the controversial methods used to extract the desired information as Clarke repeatedly states, “When you lie to me, I hurt you.” Informational trails are followed and dead ends are discovered on a regular basis, but Maya, unlike her colleagues, refuses to take her sights off the goal at hand no matter how far off the path she’s pushed. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year and a half, you’re well aware of the story’s conclusion, but I can guarantee you you’ve never experienced it like this. The recreation of the raid on bin Laden’s compound is as intensely heart-pounding as it is unnerving. While Chastain stands toe-to-toe with her associates in a workplace dominated by males to get the job done in front of the camera, Bigelow does the same behind the camera, and the result is a commanding lead performance led by a brilliant filmmaker who is sure to receive multiple accolades once again. –Jimmy Martin