The normal schedule precludes much movie-going, but now HOLIDAYS, so it is time to be properly gouged.
First was Life of Pi, which I am told is pretty faithful to the book. So the book must have a framing device in which an author has a writing block and wants a story. In the film, that frame can be dropped. It must be the whole point of the book, but when the rest of the movie has carnivorous islands and the shipwreck of a zoo ship and leaping phosphorescent whales I want nothing to do with two guys in a suburban environment talking. What they are eventually talking about is a ridiculous theological proposition that is pretty much this: "It was all just a crazy dream...OR WAS IT? And you know what? The crazy dream is PROOF OF GOD." It's like Pascal's Wager for hippies and it undermines everything. Had the movie simply been a guy and a tiger on a boat it would have been a better film. It is, however, very very pretty.
The Hobbit was like Lord of the Rings but it starts with the boring part instead of ending with the boring part. I was honestly considering sleeping about a third of the way through and I was much amused when I heard someone doing so, but it turned out it was an on-screen event. It eventually picks up and becomes what you expect it to be, minus a main character. The guy who plays Bilbo does a convincing job of being a nonentity thrust into adventure, and remains the least interesting thing on the screen for the length of the film. Oh and NO YOU DO NOT NEED THAT MUCH 120 PIECE ORCHESTRA IN EVERY GODDAMNED SCENE.
Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary about South Africans trying to figure out the fate of an American singer you've never heard of who is unaccountably the biggest thing in music there, bigger than Elvis and The Rolling Stones. I don't want to add spoilers here because remarkable things happen, but it's a good story I am glad I saw, bad film. Questions you have will not be pursued, scenes you want to see were either not filmed or not included. It would have been much better to see a film about the singer than a film about the nostalgia of the people who liked him. And yet, worth the money.
Here is a recreation of my favourite part of Django Unchained:
Django Unchained is a relatively linear enterprise, tight by Tarantino standards, and it's fun fun fun. Christoph Waltz talking is tremendously entertaining all the time, and Tarantino is playing as much as directing. Where long bouts of talk happen, potential payoffs for the scene - emotional and technical - are in view and there is tension. There are laffs not far removed from Blazing Saddles, there is furious violence and vengeance fit for spaghetti westerns, and it rides an excellent line between HEY LOOK IT'S ME QUENTIN TARANTINO MAKING A MOVIE (which to my mind already has benefits (except for him being on-screen again)) and an involving story that hangs together well. There's a degree of manipulation that must be helping: people have strong emotions about slavery so maybe that revulsion (and attendant approval of revenge fantasies) helps draw you back into the proceedings after a bout of Tarantino's fiddling about with image theft and abrupt zooms. That's not to slight most of the cast doing a great job. Go see it if you can handle violence.