2015/06/30

Day 112: Thanks for Sharing (June, 29)

Sorry, but this poster is so not the movie.
There's a dialogue during Thanks for Sharing in which a character confronts another for not being forthcoming with his recovering addiction. She defends that she was opened about her breast cancer from the first moment, why couldn't he do the same? His answer: a disease gets sympathy; addiction receives judgment. 

And maybe for that reason I haven't heard about this solid and heartfelt movie before. Sex addiction can lead to very cynical and judgmental replies, I think - we can realize how much through the reactions a movie about the subject usually gets. And it shouldn't, because, according to one of the first lines in this film, it is like a crack addicted overcoming his addiction with the pipe attached to his body. He is not presenting an excuse, though. It is his way to explain the complex aspects on it. And it works beautifully in this caring story about the many faces of addiction through strong and lovely characters - despite our rejection to some of them at first. It is rather sad realizing how prejudiced we can be to others struggles and pain. 

Seeing it on cable, I was curious about why a film with Tim Robbins, Mark Ruffallo, Pink and Gwyneth Paltrow had passed by me unnoticed. And the cast, as the story, is also solid. Josh Gad is unbelievably good - we despise and love him with the same intensity. Through all the cast performances, we get to know some aspects of addiction, some of its patterns. We also can realize how thoughtful their presentation is, but it was smartly able to avoid being just a thesis. The movie carries some strong lessons, but through characters that seems so real, so close to us, we have not other option than caring for them, understand and respecting the difficult struggle they have ahead of them.

We also realize here how many aspects of our lives, despite not being an addiction, heads to its direction so easily, and reflects also our own difficulty to deal with life sometimes (everyday...).

I couldn't find any pic that reflected the movie to me, but as least in here they
are all together
Thanks for Sharing. Directed by Stuart Blumbeg. With: Mark Ruffalo, Tim
Roboins, Josh Gad, Pink. Writers: Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston. US, 2012,
112 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cable). 

PS: It was inevitable some comparisons with Shame here. Despite not bursting out your heart and mind like Steve McQueen's movie, this one is pretty intense and leave us with many contradictory feelings and a hopeful sense of being able to overcome our more difficult features. 

PPS: Answering about what he usually chooses to eat while watching a movie, Ty Burrell said that he would sound rather boring, because his favorite treat during a movie is a cup of tea. I was seeing it before seeing today's movie and while waiting for my tea to brew :)

2015/06/29

Day 111: Pride & Prejudice (June, 28)

Another day that found me not in the mood for movies... Unwilling to risk something new, I stooped in front of the TV, waiting for a miracle... just to see one of my most beloved stories on the small screen. I have three or four DVDs of this movie, but I couldn't move myself from the couch when I saw it was starting on the TV.  So I made the decision for a reprise this day, because few movies are so perfect to me as Pride & Prejudice, the 2005 version of Jane Auten's.

And to think that this film is the Joe Wright's directional debut on features. There are so many beautiful details, such attention to tiny aspects of a story that has been in the world for little more than 200 years, and inhabits the imaginary of its readers for many generations. The first scene, with Elizabeth reading the end of her own tale, with a knowing smile on her face, patting gently the closed book never ceases to amaze me. The whole movie never ceases do enchant me, actually. This way, a movie with approximately 2 hours, seems to me to goes through only for 5 minutes. It gets to its end too soon, and so I have no other option than to watch it over and over again. 

Movie adaptations of books, specially classic ones, are tricky. Two different medias don't enable the so called fidelity to facts. How we tell a story influences the story itself. What I think is valid on adaptations is to keep faithful to the the story and the characters that we loved in words. But in order to do that with images and sound and music, it will be necessary some changes. It is ironic that this changing is what makes it possible to tell the same story in different ways. 

An outstanding example of this - and the thing that made me aware of literary adaptations on movies - is a scene between Elizabeth and Darcy in Joe Wright's film: the characters have a strong and passionate argument, a confrontation that in the book is told in the distant - and yet strong - manner of Austen. The reader has to transcend the mere words and embark on what was actually being told there. At the praised BBC adaptation, the scene is exactly as described in the book - so it lacks passion, despite the impeccable production and performances. Joe Wright, in other hand, chose to change de scenario to achieve the intense emotions present on the scene. The result was one of perfection, I think. And so we are able to understand the link between those two proud, prejudiced and strong characters and what it means to them to realize the same. This scene never gets old to me.

As so many other on the movie: the mirror scene is outstanding... the long shots on the ball, all of the women in white... Darcy flexing his hand after touching Elizabeth... The hills scene... The camera that enters the private ambients... There are too many, listening it is to tell the whole movie :)

And among all the beautiful images, there is the surreal Dario Marianelli's original score. It tells the story in each scene, and it is one of the most beautiful things that I've seen in the movies. It is another aspect in this movie that never fails to enchant me. 

The controversy in the matter of filming a classic novel is even bigger when we consider some views that defend that such task is impossible. Gina and Andrew McDonnald, researchers of the subject, sustain that "[...] the very nature of translation makes “fidelity” to Jane Austen unlikely, while such characteristics of cinema as spectatorship, commercialism, visuality, idealism, realism, velocity, and a perceived need for “relevance” open up even wider distances from her texts.” (MACDONALD, Gina; MACDONALD, Andrew F. Jane Austen on screen. Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 44). According to that idea, a literary work has its place historically, and nothing would never change that.

However, the wonderful thing about art and culture is that both are not shackled to their origins. The world changes, a work of art changes, the relationship between an iconic work and the public also changes constantly. And it is actually frivolous to ignore that. Of course, the mentioned icon is there, and we can try to understand its place in its time of origin. But today, Jane Austen, for example, is so many things to her readers and admires, there's no way to get around that and ignore it.

Adaptation is a form of translating, and it suffers from the same questioning and controversies. But the fact is that the place of an work of art changes in time in its original language... what to say in others and completely different societies and times from its own? What it becomes is not false or untrue to its origins... it's only different, as it should be. 

Joe Wright can be true to those ambivalent aspects presented in a classic literary work, and I believe he was very successful in telling this beloved story of how inane are the first impressions. Elizabeth and Darcy are considered one of the most iconic literary couples in history. Jane Austen didn't elaborate much about them in the end of her book, and Wright's film did the same, perfectly. The public is so avid to more information that an alternate US ending was added. We also see reflexions of this desire for more on many books that continue the story, or tell how it influences today's readers. Some of these I know, and enjoyed all of them, avoiding however those that present a sequel to the story - I don't want it to spoil my views.

A friend once told me how he wouldn't risk to watch the movie version of Tristan and Isolde on the screen because he'd rather be careful with a story that he loved so much. I was a bit incredulous at the time, but I understand him now. And I agree 100 percent with him. 

And this is one of the trickier aspects on telling such a story: how it is carved on the readers' imagination with such care that it becomes precious. Joe Wright took good care of those aspects, in a recognition of what is important in this story as only a good reader is. For me, Joe Wright is the most careful reader, presenting a beloved story with gentleness, accuracy, care, intensity and love for what he was telling, along with one of the most beloved writers in the world. 

An afterthought: the commented version on the DVD extras is a lesson on filmmaking and storytelling. Joe Wright highlights many details - as the housemaid always is singing when on screen -, showing his care in telling Elizabeth and Darcy's story. How he chose the sets, the relations with actors, the attention to various aspects, the long shots without a cut... It is all there, and it's as beautiful as the movie itself.  

I was very happy with my choice at the end of a boring cold Sunday.

Pride & Prejudice. Directed by Joe Wright. With: Keira Knightley, Matthew
MacFadyen
(Oh, my heart), Brenda Blethyn (the whole cast is actually incredble).
Writers: Debborahg Moggach  (and the uncredited Emma Thompson) from the
book by Jane Austen.  France/UK/US, 2005, 129 min., DTS/Dolby Digital, Color (DVD)


PS: The first time I've read a book inspired in Austen was one that I bought in a gas station in England. Mr. Darcy and Me was something that sounded good. And it is sweet, funny, silly but also reflexive about some aspects on the influence of Austen literature. Written by Alexandra Potter, I recommended it or gave it as a gift to many friends. And from this first encounters, I usually seek books like this, that present modern characters that have their lives influenced by Austen books and characters. Those who continue Elizabeth and Darcy story, though, I consider cautiously. One of these is the TV show Death Comes to Pemberley, that present the married couple some years after the end on the book, involved in a mystery plot. It looks good (and it has Kevin on the cast!!!), I've seen the first episode, but I'm still afraid of it, a little, even if it is an indication by the always wise Samara. 


PPS: Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy is too good. His "I love you, most ardently" line. oh, well. So, at the time, I was a bit of a stalker, actually, and could find some good movies with him (even if nothing like Darcy, though):  Death at a Funeral, 2007, one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and In My Father's Den, 2004, a heartbreaking story, were my favorite. 

PPPS: Some scenes lead to other on real life. In both classes I've lectured, I presented this movie. Everytime I see the "most ardently" scene I never fail to remember a student's dreamy sigh in class :) 



2015/06/27

Day 110: The Rice Paddy (June, 27)

Something very interesting about The Rice Paddy (La Rizière), a French/Chinese co-production, was the odd feeling that I was a fly that, without people noticing, was observing their lives in a small country village in the south of China. I got there one day and left one year after. So the that I witnessed had no beginning and no end. 

The focus of this observing is A Qiu, a young girl that wants a better education and a life beyond the Dong rice fields - the movie is spoken entirely in Dong, not Mandarin Chinese, giving an even bigger sense of isolation. Far from any modern aspect of life, she lives her tough routine with a gentle smile on her face. We feel like in another time entirely, and it is surreal, so beautiful. But it is also a hard life. 

Qiu is not a rebel, but she wants another life, a different one. Her dream is to be a writer, and for that reason maybe she is the narrator of her story, telling about her life with her grandparents, parents, brother and friend. Through her perception of things, we can see the conflicts of staying in the native countryside or to look for a job in the city by the choices of Qiu's parents - always through her eyes and quiet narrative. And she does a beautiful job. It is also beautiful when she describes how she feels while writing: like her hands had a life of its own. 

And so I was fortunate to know her tale for a short amount of time, and I have no idea of anything more than what she told me. That is a difficult aspect about the movie. The lesson here is that life is hard, the next day is uncertain, we have to work hard in order to achieve what we envision for us, but usually the most important things are not just under our control. There are too many unexpected events in life, that becomes a game of getting over it and keeping ahead. In short, there is sadness, hard work, hope and achievements and loss all around. It is only a matter to know how to deal with it with a truly faithful heart. 

The Rice Paddy (La Rizière). Directed by Xiaoling Zhu. With: Xiang
Chuifen, Shi Guangjin, Wu Shenming. Writers: Simon Pradinas, Xiaoling
Zhu.  France/China,  2010, DTS, Color (Cinema).

Day 109: Minions + Terminator Salvation (June, 26)

Tó, para tu!
Torpedo!!!!

Of course I was there to see Minions with my two lovely niece and nephew. Moving chairs, big screen, 3D images... with the addition of their happy laughs and popcorn and soda. 

Summarizing, it was great fun. 

And the movie? Yes, let's not forget about it. For me, the very beginning, with the Universal logo was already more than worthy. The first minutes, on the historical tale of Minions's journey in the world was fun too. We were laughing so hard. But then came the main plot, things got a bit boring (but not terrible, because those yellow guys are always great), only to resurface at the end, when it was really sweet. By the way, the songs from the '60s are amazing, and I got myself quietly (I swear I was discreet) singing along in many of them, specially with The Doors and The Kinks :)

One of the best parts happened with the theater almost empty, the cleaning crew just waiting to enter to clean the room, my two bundles of joy dancing under the screen, in a funny musical scene at the very end, after the credits. Don't rush, stay on your seat or dance through the cinema (it will be probably just you anyway), and enjoy this whole minion experience. Because it is like that, more than the movie actually.

Banana!

Minions. Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin. With: Pierre Coffin, Sandra
Bullock, John Hamm. Writer: Brian Lynch. US,  2015, 91 min., Datasat/
SDDS/Dolby Digital/Dolby Atmos, Color, Animation (Cinema).

PS: My own minions <3



At night, after too much fun, I settled down to watch the last instalment to the Terminator series, at least until next week, when it will premiere the fifth movie. The main memory about this film for me was that its darkness dark and that it was the first time I've seen Sam Worthington on the screen. 

I don't think there's any big problem with Terminator Salvation beyond the high expectations about it, being a Terminator movie. It is dark, closer to the apocalypse envisioned by George Miller that inspired James Cameron on the first movie. It has good action scenes, a plot that makes sense, and finally it places us on the world after Judgment Day. 

Christian Bale's outbreak during the production put a bad reputation on his performance, but he is not bad as John Connor. The events follow the story presented at the third movie, but in a more competent production, no doubt. So, it is not the first two, but it I liked its dark atmosphere. There's some cheesiness too, course. It was expected. However, I'm always game for discussions about humanity, and this one, despite its obviousness, brings an important debate about tolerance and being different. An important achievement, specially on this June, 26, when the US Supreme Court finally legalized gay marriage nationwide. 

A colorful day, despite the dark movie <3

Terminator Salvation. Directed by McG. With: Sam Worthington, Christian
Bale, Brice Dallas. Writers: John Brancato, Michael Ferris. US/Germany/
UK/Italy, 2009, SDDS/Dolby Digital/DTS, Color (DVD).

PS: All we need is love <3 Love leads to tolerance and respect, not prejudices... 



PPS: I thought about posting the audio of Bale's freaking out here, but it is so sad - even if he has a right to be mad in that matter. And it is also not necessary to insist on this, always remembering that everybody has a bad day sometimes. An awful day that we would like to erase from our existence. 




2015/06/26

Day 108: Terminator 2: Judgment Day + Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (June, 25)

It was a really good choice watching to the three first instalments on the Terminator franchise in a short amount of time. Many details, references, curiosities were possible to identify this way. I'm not usually aware of the nerdy trivia, unfortunately, and that way I could identify references and details in the three movies that I wasn't able to remember  until doing this. 

Another thought: I was also very aware of how the third movie has nothing to do with the first two. 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, produced seven years after the first one, was an expected and never disappointing sequel. Many of our questions are answered, the action is really good, Schwarzenegger was not just a weirdly muscled guy anymore, and the CGI technologies allowed more daring scenes and a scarier Terminator. It is cool, interesting, funny, melancholy and a sequence up to the original. 

The production story here is long and interesting too, it is worth to check out the trivia about it. 

I was surprise with some scenes that I had no remembrance, until the end, when I found out that I was actually seeing a remastered and extended version. The Kyle Reese's cameo, absent from the theatrical  version, was an amazing bonus. I couldn't believe that I had forgot that, but at the final credits I understood that I had not. Thanks God I'm not that old. 

Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Directed by James Cameron. With: Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong. Writers: James Cameron,
William Wisher Jr. US/France, 1991, 153 min. (extended version), Dolby
RS
(and many other sound technologies that, listed, make a book by itself),
Color (DVD). 


PS: Crazy credits on Terminator 2. Nintendo I get, but "now read the bantam book?" Ok.



Another surprise during the final credits was the presence of a song out of the original score, something not too usual at the time. It was You Could Be Mine, by Guns N' Roses. I have to read more about soundtracks over this period, because things were changing in regards of songs at movies. 

At the end of Jurassic World, Mari, Gus and me were talking about the new Terminator movie. Gus asked me about the instalment in which the Terminator was a woman. I couldn't answer or even remember about that, and while watching Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines, I understood why.

For some reason, I haven't seen it until this day. It is odd, considering that I was a big Terminator fan. However, at the end, I was able to see why I had passed straight by it: this movie has nothing to do with its prequels and the what made Terminator a huge success.

We can sneer at James Cameron and his rantings about being the king of the world, but his absence was felt here. The whole atmosphere is off, the production is awful, lesser than its older counterpart (and we're talking about 12 years of technological movie innovations). 

The jokes about the terminator in the previous film were moot here. Silly, actually. Even Clare Danes was nonsense. It is not  unbearable, I could enjoy it, if in some way I could made myself forget what it was about. 

According to the trivia about Terminator 2, the scene at the bar had many curiosities. The funny one was that a woman entered the bar without realizing it was a movie set. In front of an almost naked Schwarzenegger, she asked out loud what was that. His answer: laddie's night. This episode probably inspired the scene where Schwarzenegger's Terminator looks out for clothes in the third movie, one of the few jokes that was interesting - and not for itself per se, but for its background. 

Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines. Directed by Jonathan Mostow. With:
Arnold 
Schwarzenegger, Clare Danes, Nick Stahl. Writers: Gale Anne Hurd
et al. from the characters created by James Cameron. US/Germany/UK,
2003, 109 min., DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS, Color (DVD).


PS: I've referred above to two odd circumstances at the filming of the bar scene, according to Terminator 2 trivia on imdb.com. The other one is rather tragic: " In the audio commentary, James Cameron says that not only was the biker bar scene filmed across the street from where LSPD officers beat up Rodney King, but that they were filming the night of the beating." So close and so far. 

PPS: Introducing Sense8 to Mari, I've watched the first four episodes again :)

Day 107: Terminator (June, 24)

I've seen Terminator countless times, but even so I couldn't say no to a special screening on last Wednesday, June 24.. 

I was aware during the whole movie how it is in fact imprinted on my memory and imaginary. Seeing it again, 30 year after the first time, was surprising. Despite it being for sure my favorite film at that time, I haven't realise that it was still such a vivid part on me. Since the first line, "what the hell..." to many other small details, as Reese's head movement when he turns his stolen car were with me still, after so many years. Everything was so familiar and dear. A walk through a true memory lane  and a happy reunion.

But it was bittersweet, actually. A warning that, precious movie it is to me, maybe it is time to stop seeing it. The realization of how its scenes are part of my imaginary was cool, but the story itself and the characters were not so gripping this time. I wasn't emotional even in the title sequence, that never before had failed to move me. Better stop here, I thought,  before it doesn't make sense anymore. I cannot in any way let it happen. 

The movie was a big hit to me when I was 15. There are a few movies that, from a low budged and troubled production, became a cultural hit. James Cameron was inspired here for one of them, Mad Max (another success revised this year and present here on day 69, day 70 and day 72). So, I was not the only one to love it to obsession. If there was a screening, I was there, as many. In my case, there were a few obstacles to overcome, but my friends and I always would find a way to be there. Even in a shady downtown  Cinema at night, waiting for my friend's mother pick us up after ripping the movie stills from the cinema's window... It was an adventurous fixation for sure.

The fifth instalment of Terminator series will premiere soon, and the Wednesday screening was smartly timed, and not only for marketing reasons. It is interesting to realize how many things we take granted today in movie's productions had an uncertain and troubled start.  The trivia on imdb.com about this first Terminator is a curious story by itself. Such as the bit about James Cameron writing Aliens (1986) in his car while waiting Arnold Schwarzenegger to be available to start filming the first instalment in what has been a lasting franchise and ever present story and characters.


Terminator. Directed by James Cameron. With: Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn. Writers: James Cameron, Gale Anne
Hurd.  UK/US, 1984, 107 min., Mono (original release)/Dolby  (DVDr.e-
release)/DTS (DTS HD Master Audio), Color (Cinema)

PS: Another movie that I loved at that time, a couple of years after Teminator, was Day for Night (La Nuit Américaine, 1970), by François Truffaut. In the director's dream, I saw myself in every frame, specially on that night in an obscure cinema on the worst part of town  :)






2015/06/24

Day 106: Jurassic World (June, 23)

What a bummer.

The movie? No. Me. I'm officially declaring myself a picky cranky person. Maybe it is all this thinking and writing about films - a friend told me once that at some point I wouldn't simply enjoy a movie anymore. I disagreed at first, but now I'm starting to think that it is possible. 

And I'm very sad about it.

Today, I spent all the time in Jurassic World hating it. How stereotyped the characters are, how silly they are, how this could have been so much better. I complained out loud about many scenes, hope that some characters would dye an awful death by dinosaur, and got to the end relieved that it was over. Sure, the dinossaurs are amazing, so real. Truely outstanding. Chris Pratt is no bad either (But he is so much less than he was in Guardians of The Galaxy) But I couldn't enjoy any of it, actually. The most important, though, it is that I wasn't able to care about the story and characters, and this is a death sentence for me in a fictional narrative. 

No, I'm lying. All the references to Jurassic Park were great, since the first one with the Jake Johnson's shirt, till  other parts that presented something of the first movie. And speaking about Johnson, his almost kiss scene was good also. But that's it.

Haven't I  said already? What a bummer. 

The worst for me was Bryce Dallas' character. So cheesy, so badly written, so ill performed. And if in a movie about dinosaurs, I pay more attention to Brice's hair than to the incredible re-creation of the extinct animals, Houston, we got a problem. If it is just with me, or else, I don't know. But that's how I felt, anyway. Unfortunately. 

Sorry Mari and Gus, for being such a bad company. I promise I'll try to behave myself next time :)

Jurassic World. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. With: Chris Pratt, Bryce
Dallas Howard, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy. Writers: Rick Jaffa et al. from
the characters created by Michael Crichton. US/China
(I should have known...),
2015,  124 min., Dolby Digital/Datasat/Dolby Surround 7.1, Color (Cinema).



2015/06/22

Day 105: Rocco and His Brothers (June, 22)

Sheer perfection.

I could end this post here, and I would have said enough about Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli, Luchino Visconti's masterpiece and his first commercial success. I've heard a lot about how good this film is, but I was not prepared for what I saw. It would be amazing see it in a cinema's big screen, where this movie truly belongs.

The story has so many layers, is impossible to pinpoint all of it. It is as complex as families can be. Love, hate, meanness, guilt, forgiveness... Each of the five Parondi Brothers has a role in the family that brings a resemblance to our own family or any other that we know. The problematic demanding brother that blames the world for his all the unfortunate luck that he causes to himself. The quiet brother that thinks he is responsible for the whole family - and does a disservice to everybody, despite his noble and sincere intentions. The guy that wants nothing than to have his own family. The sensible brother. And the younger one, that witnesses everything, trying to make sense of it. At last, of course, the mother, that cannot see that the old familiar pattern cannot be sustained for long without a big and even tragic conflict.

A society that is changing from its old rural ways, the social aspects of life in modern centres are there. Visconti wouldn't exempt himself from discussing social matters in scope of realism in this specific time and place of cinematographic Italian production. But it is curious that, despite the recurrent argument in the movie that all the Parondi's troubles would be a result from moving from their village to a big city. one of the last lines defends the opposite: the world is changing, says one of the brothers (the more perspicacious of the five, I think), and probably their birth place would be not the same also. It is compelling such a careful reflexion on a movie. 

The cinematography is beautiful and, of course, being Visconti, it is also crude. It is absolutely brutal, and the images tell about it with perfection, along the masterful text. I was constantly amazed by both, and couldn't believe how good this film really is. A movie for life.

Even the dubbed dialogues, and the uncomfortable  lip sync doesn't affect the intensity of all the performances. Alain Delon's Rocco presents such an internal conflict, it is painful and sad. He understands the true colors of what he is seeing in his family, but his way to deal of it is not successful - it is the average action, though, what we usually see: someone in a family tries to desperately correct what is wrong, acting in the place of the others. There's no way to succeed. It is actually a very delusional belief, and it leads to more conflict and troubles. So, after the first scenes, I was able to disconnect from the lip syncs troubles (something that usually bothers me a lot) and focus on what mattered: the outstanding cinema production in front of me. A remarkable and beautiful film, a true and honest story.

Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco i suoi Fratelli). Directed by Luccino Visconti.
With: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot. Writers: Luccino Visconti
et al. Italy/France, 1960, 177 min., Mono, Black and White (DVD).

2015/06/21

Day 104: Touch of Evil - restored version (June,21)

A weekend of incredible filmmaker, that was. 

I've studied Touch of Evil, by Orson Welles, in a history of cinema class almost 8 years ago. The teacher, course, showed us the famous first scene, a single tracking shot sequence. It is remarkable filmmaking, and it looked like an outstanding movie.

And it was, in many aspects, except the storytelling - an important part of a film for me. Poorly choices on casting (and I'm talking about Charlston Helston and Marlene Dietrich here), a heavy hand in direction, a confusing narrative... I know I'm against the grain here. François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Goddard had high praises for this movie. Everyone has, actually. But I couldn't relate to it beyond its amazing cinematography. The takes are insanely good, so beautifully orchestrated, specially if we consider the time it was created - a true Welles work. But the rest don't follow through as I think it should.

I love noir stories, but this one was over dramatic for me. The irony, the elegant scenes, the subtle story is absent here. There's an ongoing sense of something terribly wrong during the whole movie, and I couldn't get rid of it.

This movie also has a controversial history. Welles was fired at the post-production. New scenes were filmed, the final edit had nothing to do to Welles vision. So, the director wrote a manifesto to Universal in order to maintain his view, what didn't happened. The version that I've seen today begins with some words in the screen, explaining that this remastered copy is an attempt to keep Welles's view.

I'm really not sure about it, though. A sense of discomfort was present all the time. I guess it was too ambitious, actually. It was not for me. But, at the same time, I think that if a filmmaker like Welles could not dare to be ambitious, who else would be?

The time of this scene is so good.
Touch of Evil. Directed and written by Orson Welles, from the book  Badge of
Evil
, by Whit Marterson. With: Chalston Helston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles.
US, 1958 (1998), 150 min., Mono, Black and White (DVD).

PS: Just to let you know: I'm about 30 min. from the new season's premiere of True Detective. We get the world we deserve...

PPS: Fragment: True Detective, season 2, episode 1; La Belle et la Bête, 2014. 



Day 103: Dersu Uzala (June, 20)


How can man live in a box?
Dersu

At the eve of winter's beginning in the South Hemisphere, I decided to go to Siberia with a movie that I took too long to reach.

Dersu Uzala, directed by Akira Kurosawa's in 1975, by request of the Russia Ambassador at that time, is more than I ever could imagine. The early 1900s witnessed a lot of changing around the world, and even in some remote places on Earth. The two main extraordinary characters represent how difficult the modernization can be: a Russian Captain meets a tribal hunter in one of his military exploring expeditions. A confrontation could arise from this meeting, but what happens it is just the opposite: their mutual and deep respect and friendship prove to us how different ways of living are possible to coexist - even if only by two special beings.

But something doesn't depend solely of their will. The modern world, in Kurosawa's view, is not able to sustain the simple ways of  older times. In this, his thoughts meet Walter Benjamin's, whose ideas I mentioned three posts ago. Learning by experience and not only by intellect is a big lesson here, and the Captain cherishes all of what Dersu hand to him through simple and wise actions and words. 

Cinematography is the way this story is told. At every scene, I couldn't let to think how difficult the shootings must have been. It is so overwhelmingly beautiful, that in a few minutes into the movie and I was in an almost meditative state. Some movies can do that, and Dersu Uzala is masterful in this and others aspects.

But the sadness, and loss and futility of some elements of modernization are presented too by Kurosawa, and the last tone in the movie is of mourning - a feeling matched to what we see at the last part of the movie, with Dersu losing his connections with nature, losing himself in a world that doesn't make sense to him anymore. It is devastating, through the poetic and respectful images of Kurosawa.

An afterthought: There are filmmakers that we respect and admire for their lifetime achievement, even with we haven't met some of their most appraised works. It was like that with me with some of them. After watching Woody Allen's Manhattan, 1979, and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, 1976, a couple of years ago, I could finally understand how ingenious they truly are - despite the fact that I already admired them. The same happened here with Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala. An outstanding movie, that transcends its own time - as classics are known for. 




Dersu Uzala. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. With:Mksim Munzuk, Yuriy
Solomin. Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Yuriy Nagibin from the novel Dersu,
Okhotnik
, by Vlaldimir Arsenev. USSR/Japan, 1976, 144 min., 76 mm 6 Track,
(70 mm prints) Mono (35 mm prints), Color (Sovcolor)  (DVD).


PS: The first time I was aware of how a movie can be a form of meditation was at the end of Departures (Okuribito), a 2008 Japanese production. During the final credits, no one got up to leave the cinema. A silence took hold of us all, and I realised how meditative I was. It had happened with me before, but that was the first time I could name it this way.

PPS: I use to call my flat "the little Siberia". The sun only reaches part of the living room during two months a year. I'm not complaining, I live in a fairly hot city. But yesterday, it was cold for our standards: 16 C. So Dersu Uzala was a fit choice for a chilly night. This morning, Brasilia seemed to remember that seasons do exist, and it was an unusual grey cold morning to salute the first day of winter :)

2015/06/20

Day 102: Ernest & Célestine (June, 19)

I usually watch animations with my niece and nephews, but sometimes I reach one by my own. At night, I was feeling sick, still with a cold or affected for a new one, I'm not sure... so I chose what looked like a sweet story to acompany me. 

And again I got it right. Ernest et Célestine is based on the books by Belgian author and ilustrator Gabrielle Vincent - an alias for Monique Martin, deceased in 2000. Wikipedia told me that, and I was very sad to hear about it. Her colors are endearing, her scenes so beautifull. I'm guessing here, but I think the movie tryed to reproduce her water color's painting

The water colored images were the true storytellers here for me. The tale of two socially opposed outcasts became real to me through those paintings. There's many ways to feel unfit to the ambient around us, and usually kids deals with it on  daily basis. Adults too, and that's Ernest, a bear that lives on the "good" ground, the above world, but is not able to adjust himself. Celestine is on the despised underground, and her inadequacy in an already outcast society is exposed by her thoughts about the world - pictured on her drawings, considered a nuisance by the adults. 
The two together seem an impossible matching, but of course they are not. And their friendship is only not a product of fairy tales, as both their communities could think. it is real, beautiful and moving - and, of course, daring.  

Any society has rules to keep people on track. While enabling the coexistence between peers, it also can create huge gaps that separate who is considered inadequate. And it is mainly through inadequacy that we can change the rules that persist still without any other reason than to create an abysm between people - a serviceable abysm to the economical and political current matters. For me, Ernest et Celestine is specially about that, and the outstanding creative power of inadequacy. 

Ernest et Celestine. Directed by Stéphane Albier et al. With: Lambert
Wilson, Pauline Brunner
(Forest Withaker and Mackenzie Foy in the dubbed US
version). Writers: Daniel Pennac form the books by Gabrielle Vincent. France/
Belgium/Luxemboug, 2012, 88 min. Dolby Digital, Color - animated (Netflix).


PS: I wrote this post in front of Silver Linings Playbook, the film on day eight-nine (JUne, 6). I can't resist to it, and seeing it for the millionth time, I remember something that I forgot to talk about before. There's a sentence that I love in this film. Pat, meeting his estranged brother after a long time, tells him: "I got nothing but love for you, brother", ending an awkward moment between both. This line summarizes so many things in there, that I was amazed by it. it got me sadder after reading the book, by which this character is not an inoffensive douche, but a stand out guy, very supportive of his younger brother. 


2015/06/18

Day 101: WildLike (June, 18)

WildLike is the kind of movie that leads us to reflect about serious things through a delicate voice. At the end, at the final credits, I didn't make any movement, not willing to move. I just stayed there, thinking about the characters, while listening to the nice song playing. The truth is that I didn't know where to go from there. 

So I came here, to write. 

Abuse, abandonment, neglect, desperation... and hope. We go through a lot with the silent and troubled Mackenzie. Actually, she is not troubled by herself. When we read this on the synopsis, we think she has a problem. Well, her problem are others, a neglecting and abusive family and the lack of a place to go for help. So she goes ahead, hoping for a solution, with the beautiful Alaska's scenery as a background. 

In a quiet but strong pace, there's no need in this filme of much talking. We infer each character and their struggle without much explanation. That is a trait of a good narrative and a gift to any viewer. 

WildLike. Directed and written by Frank Hall Green. With: Ella Purnell,
Bruce Greenwood. US, 2014, 104 min., Color (Netflix).

PS: After Iceland, my place to go will be Alaska, that has been in my  travel plans for a while. This movie reinforced this idea in a very convincing way. 

Day 100: The Good Lie (June, 17) - Special Guest: Sense8

After getting to the end of the Sense8's first season, I couldn't stand to see a cold movie as yesterday's. Browsing the Netflix movies, I found one that looked to match my mood. 

I don't know why we don't heard more about The Good Lie, a 2014 production about The Lost Boys of Sudan, how are known the Sudanese refugees that migrated to the US in the early '2000s.The program was halted after 9/11 to be restarted on 2004. By a lottery, refugees were selected to move to a city in the US. The movie talks about this program through the lives of 5 of these Sudanese. 

There are moments in which my heart seemed to stop. That old sense of impotence came back with full force. The scenes of Sudan Civil War were devastating. And all the things this group of brothers and friends go through, their lost childhood to war, the loss of their parents and brothers, the long peregrinations across a country that became an impossible place to be , the arriving to a new but strange possibility... it is painful  and sad to say the least. But we go through that by the lovely hands of those who lived the impossible. 

An institutional program can be amazing and very important, but it is still an institution way of taking care of people. This aspect is highlighted when the five refugees arrive at the US. People designated to assist on their transition don't understand at first where they came from and their views of the world.I like this element on the story, it shows how their travel to the US is not just a happy event, a lucky opportunity. Even if it is indeed a great program, they still have to leave behind all the life they know... it is not easy and simple. Bureaucracy has also a role in this. And it is not because a new opportunity is presented, that all the awful loss and pain and violence automatically disappear from their lives. What makes the difference at the end is people, those incredible individuals that act in order to reverse some of the discrepancies created by bureaucracy. 


And here's all their luggage...

Uma Boa Mentira (The Good Lie). Dirigido por Phillipe Falardeau. Com: Alnold 
Oceng (filho de um refugiado), Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Kuoty Wiel (os útlimos 
três são refugiados - Jai foi uma criança soldado). Roteiro: Margareth  Nagle. Quênia/
India/EUA, 2014, 110 min.,  SDDS/Datasat/Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix). 

Usually, I would talk about Sense8 on a post scriptum, but after a few days with the story created by the revolutionary Wachowskis, there was no way to talk about it by small letters. 

At the TV show's first episode, all the outlines that make this series so good and relevant are there. The despicable sexism present on the world - sentences as "a woman is no good to close anything, just to open..." or "she is a good DJ for a girl" say a lot about some of the prejudices debated on the show. It is also on this episode that what for me is the essential aspect of it is presented by the opinion of one of the eight protagonists on the series, Noomi. At some point, a girl questions her opinion on how LBGT terminology is a disservice actually. Her argument is that the name focuses on the difference. The girl is mad with her, saying that the gay community fought hard for their rights and their recognition. 

Noomi's opinion meets my own about this. For a while, I've been thinking how so many of the human's rights terminology highlight the differences, in a contrary way to its own purpose. By any means I'm diminishing the efforts of those who work for a better world. But without us being aware of that, some of these politics focus on the difference, no in the equality. And that's exactly the point by which Sense8 plays an important and pioneer role on the pursuit of a more equal world. 

Lana and  Andy Wachowski
I've read at imdb.com how Andy Wachowski is fiercely protective of his sister, Lana, that went through a gender change about 7 years ago. This fierceness is an important part and one of the main strengths of the tale about eight individuals from different places on the world that have a strong and deep connections with each other. It's a SciFi story, and why this is happening with those eight is explained in a not so fantastic way, as many of the scifi plots, oddly enough. But I've already said here how fantasy and science fiction can approach life in a manner that facts cannot. This is specially true in Sense8.

Empathy is rare in the world nowadays. If it was present in some time of human history actually. That's one of the reasons it is so difficult to relate to different cultures, views of the world, sexual orientation, different ways of life from our own. It is absolutely sad that things has been like this since we know it. Humanity is one, human beings are the same, and we shouldn't have to live the same way to understand that. From my little literal square in the middle of Brazil I can see that (thanks to many amazing friends and the movies, lets not forget them). My own choices don't exclude the understanding of other's ways of living. I really don't know why is so difficult to see that. 

The pursuit for equality on gender and sexual matters, for example, is around the world. But many still have the opinion of how the relationship between the same sex is wrong, an anomaly, and even a crime. Mostly don't dare to express it outside their intimacy, but the prejudice is still on. Under other perspective, there are many TV and movie's productions that focus on homosexual relations, and they are a way to debate equality. But, except for a few ones, they do that reaffirming the difference . I usually don't stay with these shows  for long. Again, I'm not saying they are for nothing, that they don't present an important debate and views, but there's something there that sounds off to me. 

During the first episodes of Sense8, I could identify why was that: all the stories until now (with, again, a few exceptions)  were like that for me, a bit off. They had the main focus on the difference of choices. Sense8 highlights how equal we are. There's no space to prejudices there - the empathy between the characters talks fiercely against any kind of harmful judgment. An empathy that the world still lacks, except for few individuals, and that's why this series, for me, is so important in nowadays' discussion about freedom of choice, equality, genre, social fairness and also fair trade. It is all there, in many precious details, through an impeccable production. 

With eight (amazing) protagonists, we don't see time passing. The ending of each episode comes too soon. And every relation, connections, references  is clearly presented with a lot of care.This show has a clear and strong voice, and I was enchanted by it. Some references and relations are great and part of a big puzzle. There are fundamental dialogues, incredible action (we couldn't expect less from the Wachowskis), a bizarre and scary villain (Called Mr. Whispers...spooky), funny scenes, heartbreaking characters, sweet interactions, beautiful and explicit sex. But, above all, there are eight people that stop in front of nothing in order to support each other, each one an individual that is part of a whole. As humanity should realize it is in essence. And it will, I hope, with the help of amazing and daring artists, always. 

I really love those characters :)
Ok, they  all are beautiful, sexy, attractive... I'm not complaining, but it is inevitable
to wonder how long we'll have to wait for this other milestone in the history of television?

Sense8. Created by J. Michael Straczynki, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski.
With: MIguel Angel Silvestre, Doona Bae, Amil Ameen, Jamie Clayton, Tuppense
Middleton, Max Rielmelt, Brian J. Smith, Tina Desal. US, 2015 (Netflix).



PS: Although English is the main language in this US production, each different culture presented in it has its own voice, either by the actors' nationality or natural language,the scenery (the filming take place in 9 different cities around the world), or yet by other careful details in each part. One of these details is the soundtrack. For Iceland (my one place to go before I die), there's the beautiful cameo of Sigur Rós, a Icelandic band from Reykjavik. Their heartbreakingly overwhelming music is a good fit for this story, and I was very emotional to see it on the last scene of this first season (There's one of their songs at the first episode, but I couldn't identify it at first - Rodrigo, that thankfully introduced me to Sigur Rós, called my attention to it. Both songs, I think, are a link between the beginning and the ending of this tale).




PPS: Some scattered thoughts came to me with Sense8, by many well presented characters and various details on the story, beyond what I've said already. They were so many, impossible to remember all. Some of them are: Art is fundamental in its different forms (Hernando is a way of debating that). Endorphins are a true trouble :) Different people relate to us in each specific moment of our lives. Books, movies, music are a way to be in the world, to relate to others, but can also be a lonely choice. Otherness is a way to understand ourselves - and art is a way to that. 

Another thought was how it would be nice to see someone not related to the characters writing this story. It would be empathy at its best. But after thinking this, I remembered what Walter Benjamin wrote about storytelling: how a true storyteller is one that narrate from experience. He doesn't inform, he transmits experience through generations and generations by his tales. That is what makes the art of storytelling for the German philosopher: telling experience through stories. We write mostly about what we know, what we live and our experiences. 

PPPS:  TV shows has been an outstanding media for telling good stories. The current format of most of the more recent series - 10 to 12 episodes, instead of the more traditional 22 - presents stories without stalling or wasting time. Movie's producers, writers and actors have found in TV a place to express different and relevant views of the world in impeccable productions. A part of those shows is its title sequence. Maybe not by chance my favorite ones has the most beautiful intros, so much that, even in a marathon, I don't skip them. They are part of the telling.