Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner. This month we’re focusing on Oscar-nominated flicks.
This film honors the 50-year anniversary of James Bond, the 23rd film in the Eon Bond series, and Daniel Craig’s third chance as 007. Craig continues to breathe new life into the character, it feels like original writer Ian Fleming created Bond back in 1953 with Craig in mind. He balances sex appeal with emotional impact with razor wit with Bond badassery. This movie saw a four-year delay because of scheduling conflicts and the studio going bankrupt. It’s fitting that “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes took a back-to-basics approach – Bond as a horn-dog is toned down. The tricky gadgets are intentionally left out. And we’re able to see Bond’s weakness and play the underdog. Javier Bardem is a throwback to the classic, rounded Bond villain. Naomie Harris is an unknown British treasure. Judi Dench takes her seventh turn as Q, and each time has made the role richer. The film is nominated for five Oscars. How are they going to deny 007 five times? Destined to pull at least one and definitely worth a watch.
You may recognize John Hawkes for playing Kenny Powers’ “whipped” brother on HBO’s “Eastbound & Down,” but Hawkes has developed into quite the kickass actor in his own right. That being said, he’s not nominated for an Oscar for this film…which is a travesty. Hawkes plays the real-life writer/poet Mark O'Brien on his journey to get laid as a 38 year-old virgin – so what, you ask? Well naysayers, O’Brien was stricken with polio and confined to spend his life dependent on an iron lung to breathe. Hawkes does a phenomenal job, adding humor to a pitiful condition. Helen Hunt did earn an Oscar nod for playing a sex surrogate. And a large percent of her screen time is spent nude. We’re not talking side-boob; it’s full-on, unabashed and unflinching. Hunt brings her A-game and deserves the accolades. If only Hawkes could get some love. Hunt won an Academy Award 15 years ago, but this Hunt for Oscar might come back empty-handed – still well worth a watch.
“Searching for Sugar Man”
On Malik Bendjelloul’s first feature-length documentary, he earns an Oscar nomination. It wasn’t a fluke or undeserved. This film tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez – a folk musician from Detroit in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, who never caught on with America audiences and fell off the map by 1975. Well, he did catch on in South Africa, where his music became bigger than the Rolling Stones. His brand of acoustic, gritty storytelling was a cornerstone of underground music in apartheid-era South Africa and a major influence on later musicians. Unfortunately, in South Africa it was thought that Rodriguez had killed himself on stage. Two of these South African fans set out to find the legacy of Rodriguez – what comes out is a reverent story with twists and turns, always entertaining while paying respects to a musician who turned into mythos. Rodriguez’s music should’ve been nominated for a Grammy but since it didn’t maybe it can pull down an Oscar – well worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge