2015/07/30

Day 142: Oldboy (July, 29)

I'd really wished that I wouldn't had to write about this movie. But I do not allow myself any escapes on this dare, so here I am. 

I could just go straight to the point and say how masterful Chan-Wook Park is in Oldboy, a movie from 2003 that i took too long to see. And I only can imagine how it would be seeing it at that time, because its cinematography is still fresh, despite the increasing productions with that kind of pop gamer aesthetics. During the whole movie, iIpictured myself at a cinema, 13 years ago, being amazed and terrified by what I would see in front of me. Even on the small old screen of my TV it was beautiful and of a great impact. 

That would be accurate, but a bit far from what actually happened to me with Oldboy.

Sitting alone in a desert dark world, bawling to turbulent skies in distress and big despair would be more appropriate here. If you think I'm overreacting, take a breath. I'm being subtle in fact. Because I was unable to figure what do with myself during its last scenes. I was cursing the decision to watch it, cursing the writers, at the same time that I couldn't deviate my eyes from the screen. In a disturbed and heartbreaking state, I wished I haven't seen it and was grateful to reach it on this day. 

A story of tragic proportions, peculiar ways of filming, outstanding performances: this movie is gold. Stunningly painful, horrid and true. Revenge seems to be a favorite subject of study to Chan-Wook, and by this movie I only can imagine what lead him to debate about it in a such scathing way. I'm not sure if I'll see his other films, though, at least for a time. I'm still trying to be ok after this one, a gut punch that is hard to recover from.


Oldboy (Oldeuboi). Directed by Chan-Wook Park. With: Min-Sik Choi,
Ji-Tae Yu, Hye-Jeong Kang. Writers: Chan-Wook Park et al. from the
comics by Nobuaki Minegishi. South Korea, 2003, 120 min., Dolby Digital,
Color (DVD).

PS: There's an US remake of this movie with Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen, but by the comments it is no good at all. 

PPS: Parce que moi je rêve, moi je ne le suis pas... Because I dream, I am not... One of the most, if not the most shocking movie I've seen also a favorite of mine. After the final scene of Léolo, a 1992 Canadian production, the whole cinema was paralyzed. No one moved, freezed in front of such a knockdown. However, Oldboy is one step higher on the tragic shocking factor, something that I wouldn't think possible.

2015/07/28

Day 141: A Big Hand for the Little Lady (July, 28)

Some while ago, a friend asked me if I had seen this movie with Henry Fond, A Big Hand for the Little Lady. He told me about one scene by which one of the characters goes to the bank to ask for money to keep playing poker and gives his card's hand as a collateral. I reckoned that yes, I must have seen it, but wasn't sure. I had some images of it on my mind. Today I decided to verify it. 

I hadn't seen it, and I'm grateful for that friend for bringing it up, because this movie is so good and clever and fun, I had a great time seeing it. A Big Hand is what many movies today want to be, with equal doses of witty, smart dialogues, well developed characters, amazing actors, a clever cinematography and a certainty of a good time for its viewer. At first, I was really anxious. A bit after, I couldn't help but be anything but amused - it is impossible not to have fun with Jason Robards' Henry Drummond, for example - and, at last, I was surprised by such a smart good movie, besides a nice chance to meet Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward in some of their best. 

An afterthought: this is the second Western in the week, and both couldn't be more different, despite sharing the same genre, as to say. Fred Zinnemann movie alludes to a land of nobody, a place where no one's safe - images and sounds in an outstanding cinematography tell about it. Today's film, by Fielder Cook, refers to a festive and light Wild West (even if there's tension and suspense in some moments), when all possibilities are on the table (sorry the pun).


A Big Hand for the Little Lady. Directed by Fielder Cook. With: Henry
Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards, Kevin McCarthy. Writer: 

Sidney Carrol. US, 1965, 95 min., Mono, Color (DVD).



Day 140: Neighboring Sounds (O Som ao Redor - July, 27)

The old ways, the new ways, the current matters... nothing seems to change.

The perverse background to a established community is presented in a peculiar and gripping narrative in Kleber Mendonça Filho's directional debut, Neighboring Sounds (O Som ao Redor). Unfortunately, I've missed the movie in the theaters, but finally i could be amazed by its way to tell a fundamental story on this day. 

The title is not for nothing. The sounds of a neighborhood in Recife, a big and beautiful city at the northwestern Brazil, are true narrators here. The great  care on the sound design (also by Kleber) is a form to put us inside the lives of its inhabitants. To insert us in what hides behind the banality of everyday life. We go through their day by day, their conflicts, love interests, difficulties... and, like them, we pass through all this without being aware of a greater danger, one that has been perpetrated since older times. Its established and even honored presence  in our time, in our neighborhood, is still astounding and horrid. An attentive look from a storyteller at his own community.

I absolutely loved this movie. It never fails to delight me how some filmmakers can tell about life in such a detailed and accurate way, through traditional or non traditional (as in this case) narratives. In those productions, we see life with a magnifying glass. We see our own faces in this magnifier: every pore, opened in order to absorb all around us, in an scathing manner. 



O Som ao Redor. Directed and written by Kleber Mendonça Filho. With:
Ana Rita Gurgel, Caio Almeida, Maeve Jinkings. Brazil, 2012, 131 min.,
Dolby Digital, Color/Black and White (DVD).

Fragments: Sense8 (again :), season 1, episodes 9 and 10.

Day 139: High Noon (July, 26)

it was only after seeing High Noon, a 1952 movie by Fred Zinnemann, that I became aware how it was a reaction against the blacklisting in Hollywood in MacArthur's time. But even so, I was able to identify there some aspects that sustained how a community and its inhabitants can be coward and lazy.   

The movie has a duration of 85 min., related to a time a little over that. During our one and a half hour in Hedleyville, we accompany the struggle of a man trying to do what he thinks is right, despite all the odds against him, including the people that only a few minutes before had praised him as a great marshal. But that's people, and it is not a surprise that Cary Cooper's Kane has to deal with a community problem alone. His anguish and deception become our own, and we go along in his quest for help.

The secondary characters are also great. katy Jurado's Helen and Grace Kelly's Amy, each in their own way, are strong women in a men's world. In a considerable short amount of time, we are able to understand not only the dynamics of this small western village and its inhabitants, but our own time. How relevant this movie still is turns out to be astonishing, and we go through the black and white narrative with many current references in mind. 

The trivia on imdb.com is full of interesting facts and relations, besides some juicy gossip :)

At the end, I was very impressed with this movie, even if I was already expecting a good one. But it is in fact great cinematography, with a good story being told in many subtle details and thoughtful performances. Besides being a Western movie, which is cool for its own. 


High Noon. Directed by Fred Zinnemann. With: Gary Cooper, Grace
Kelly, Katy Jurado. Writers: Carl Foreman from the story The Tin Starby 

John W. Cunningham. US, 1952, 85 min., Mono, Black and White (DVD). 

2015/07/25

Day 138: Barry Lyndon (July, 25)

Everything about Barry Lyndon is astonishing, from the very beginning. I think that the reason for that is the great care that presented in every scene. Each take is a painting, and it carries the feeling of another era, another time, reaffirmed by the narrative structure divided by chapters. This format is fit for the tale of an Irish sly guy and his misfortunes through life on the 18th century. Admirable.

The narrator's off camera voice takes us by had in each picture of this quiet  yet intense tale, accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack of classic composers - highlighting the amazing Schubert's Piano Trio n. 2 In Flat Major, Opus 100 (the same that had me by the throat in The Hunger) and Händel's Sarabande, both very omnipresent during the whole movie. Heartbreaking.

Everything is a part of the atmosphere here, beautiful, distant, evocative of a life that was not lived, but one that had lived Barry. He goes through life with his sly face and manners, trying to see where it will lead him. He leaves his village and comes back to it, without really changing at all despite everything that he had experienced - what is incredibly tragic. And we keep along, amazed by the living paintings of another time in front of us. Beautiful. 

And being Stanley Kubrick, we shouldn't expect just an adaptation of a written story (one of his trademarks). There are important points here - as we can find in each of his movies. One of them it is how futile can be some of our social attempts, what is considered fundamental but that, in the end, doesn't really matter. Stunning.




One of the famous scenes by candle's light

Barry Lyndon. Directed and writtem by Stanley Kubrick from the novel
by William Makepeace Thackeray. With: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson,
Patrick Magee. UK/US/Ireland, 1975, 184 min. Mono, Color (DVD).

PS: I first heard about Barry Lyndon through a T-shirt that I gave as a gift to a friend. It is unbelievable, but I didn't know about this masterpiece presented by Kubrick between A Clockwork Orange, 1971, and The Shining, 1989


Day 137: Land Ho! (July, 24)

The Land Ho! synopsis on imdb.com almost kept me away from this movie (that's why I don't like reading it), its description is much less than what I saw after. But it is set in Iceland, and this fact alone held me in front of the TV from the start. And so at a quiet Friday night that had caught me in a difficult mood I reached this small precious gem.

And it was so worthy the try. Two old friends, each one in their own crossroads, see themselves traveling through Ice(dream)land. Their heartfelt friendship, the subjects they talk about, the easy manner with each other, many references to movies (I loved each one), the people they meet in their trip through the most amazing scenarios... and suddenly it was the final credits already, when I wanted to stay there with them a little longer. 

I guess this is not a movie for every taste: the companionship between Mitch and Colin is what makes it such an endearing movie, but it is quiet and focused in those two guys - what for me is always amazing to see, but that can be not so attractive for those who seek more action in a feature. Nevertheless, I assure that it is worthy a try. Mitch and Colin are good company, and joyful guides through the surreal Iceland. 

Land Ho! Directed and written by Aaron Katz, Marth Stephens. With: Earl
Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Karrie Crouse. Iceland/US, 2014, 95 min.,
Color (Cable TV)




2015/07/24

Day 136: The Dust Factory (July, 23)

The Dust Factory. Directed and written by Eric
 Small. With: Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Kelly,
Armin Mueller-Stahl. US, 2004, DTS/Dolby
Digital/SDDS, Color (Cable TV).
The second out of space day got an even worse movie than the last one.

It was entirely my fault, because obviously it would be bad, but I chose not to hear any of the loud warnings about The Dust Factory, a family movie on Cable. The beginning was sweet, the middle is sheer bad filmmaking, and the end is just... ok, I'll stop here. Let me just tell you that I haven't liked it at all, but I persevered till the end in the hope for better days, as to say. The "nerdy space-fan" bit in the synopsis got me curious, and I decided to try it - a nerdy character is always worthy the try. And trying is actually the only way to discover if a film is for you or not. Still, as I said before, I really don't know why it should be for me since the beginning.

2015/07/23

Day 135: Red Lights (July, 22)

I spent two days in a sort of limbo... and at both of it the movies reflected that kind of out of space experience. 

The first one was Red Lights, on day 136. I found it by chance at cable, and was a little surprise for not heard about it before. Its cast is stellar: Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy (that I love more since On The Edge), Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen... But soon I was asking myself what all these amazing actors were doing there.

I enjoyed the movie, don't get me wrong. It is intriguing, intelligent, suspenseful... but its script has so many holes that it becomes more and more nonsense. Until the end, that I liked, but was so badly constructed that turned out to be one more element in the nonsense parade. 

And it was odd, because its conclusion talked how we sometimes try to avoid the exact things that we are made of, without even knowing it, only to be confronted by it at the end. It is so accurate, but the damage had already been done at this point and, despite believing that sometimes a good story can survive a bad writing, it was not the case here, unfortunately. 


Red Lights. Directed and written by Rodrigo Cortés. With: Sigourney
Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro. Spain/US, 2012, 114 min.,
Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).

PS: Fragment: Intouchables, 2011.

2015/07/21

134: Our Summer in Provance (July, 21)

The difference between a great movie and one that is just ok is not big in some cases. It is like an outfit, actually. Small details, nothing in excess, a few subtle elements... and there, we have an outstanding movie. Our Summer in Provence (Avis de Mistral) could have been a great movie if not for some heavy aspects in the story and direction. 

Nevertheless, it is a point in its favor that, even with a bit stereotyped story and characters, these were still dear to me, especially the young Theo (Lukas Pelissier). He is a precious link between his brothers and their estranged grandfather, and of course, as usually do the younger kids, the first to take a step toward a man that is a stranger to them. 

A few things here don't even make sense, and look forced in order to provoke some drama, and I couldn't see the use for it. It was too much, and at the end it turned this sweet movie (that brings many smiles to our faces and that in fact seem a vacation in many moments) in a lesser production, despite its beautiful setting and the great Jean Reno. 


Our Summer in Provence (Avis de Mistral). Directed and written by Rose
Bosch. With: Jean Reno, Anna Galiena, Chloé Jouannet. France, 2014,
105 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema). 



PS: The first time I saw the thunderous Jean Reno in a movie was in my beloved The Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu), 1998, a film that made me dream many times with under water swimming,  until I finally decided to learn how to swim. Its soundtrack was a constant in my days for a long time. About Reno, I usually remember his most usual line in the story: "Roberto, mio palmo" <3



133: Detachment (July, 20)

"Whatever is on my mind, I say it as I fell it, I'm truthful to myself: I'm young and I'm old, I've been bought and I've been sold, so many times. I am hard-faced, I am gone. I am just like you".

Detachment gave me a staggering sense of mourning. We should count the time here by seconds, not minutes, because every one of them explodes with the hopeless sense that our best doesn't matter, but it is actually what makes the difference. For whom, I don't know. But it is like it has to be. The only way to be. Be truthful, no matter what. There's no other way. 

At its beginning, there's a few testimonials about being a teacher. How it was a better alternative to a driver's job. How it was the last choice, but a inevitable one. How it is important to make a difference. And here's that omnipresent question again: to whom? And I don't think that is the main character's mission here. His only option in life is to be true to himself, and that is a curse and a blessing that he carries everyday, in every tiny instant of his life. But he has no other way, and so he lives his days being hammered constantly for just caring about what is around him. As I said, there's no other option for us in life.

He, Henry, says at one point: "We have such a responsibility to guide our young so that they don't end up falling apart, falling by the wayside, becoming insignificant". And this is the reason of the permanent mourning during the movie, because it is not always that we achieve that. In the setting of a battered school, what matters in life is debated in the overwhelming scenario of today's educational system and its attempts to make sense, with people getting more and more lost in the middle of it. There's no formula to be a good person, a good teacher, a good parent but, maybe, the real care, the kind that come from being attentive to yourself, to others and to what is around us. Be really caring. And that's why I come back to the beginning: there's no other option but be true to oneself, in order to achieve this care and attention, no matter how painful it shows up to be. 

At last, but not least, an outstanding cast helps beautifully to tell the story in this mandatory movie (you should really consider seeing it): Adrien Brody is unbelievable, and is surrounded by the kinds of the equally amazing Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, James Caan Blythe Danner, Sami Gayle, Christina Hendricks - each one a different aspect of life and living, in heartfelt performances that last a lot longer than the film's 5,880 heartbreaking seconds. 


Detachment. Directed by Tony Kaye. With: Adrien Brody, Sami Gayle,
Betty Kaye. Writer: Carl Lund. US, 2011, 98 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).



PS: At the beginning of this movie, I thought about my own experience with teaching, which is almost none, but that has changed my life. At my undergraduate studies, I avoided the elective educational classes as the devil runs from the cross. Why specifically I really don't know. It was this way until I first entered a class as a teacher. And so it became a dream for life, one that can be a nightmare, a desperate attempt to make sense from what lacks none, but, most important, a fulfilling way to view life and discover what in fact matters..

PPS: Neil Gaiman always getting right to the point:



PPPS: For a scary moment, I thought this day's movie would be 22 Jump Street, my younger niece's favorite movie of the month. We even watched 30 minutes of it, until she had enough and went for other adventures, as racking my phone, for example. 

2015/07/20

132: Delivery Man (July, 19)

Lazy Sundays can be a curse. Unable to get up from the couch, I passively watched what was in front of me at that moment, and it was Delivery Man.

I had seen some excerpts from this movie with Vince Vaughn (a remake of the Canadian Starbuck by the the same director), and had not been interested in knowing more. However, as I've just said, the laziness was stronger than me, and I endured it until the end.

At the end, I realised the movie was not so bad as I had thought at first,despite still not being what I would choose to see again. The goofiness is too much some times. But it is also sweet, actually, when we can overcome the silly moments. 

This film is a sort of a fable about parenthood as a way to stare life in the eyes, in spite of just passing through it. Being a parent is not the only way to do that, of course, but for some people it is the main way, and a valid one. And for a guy that has fathered 533 children by sperm donation, it is a slashing kind of staring.

At some moment, the guy's girlfriend asks him how he was able to take his whole family to Venice when he was so young. He replied saying that he had done hard handy work. Haha. He is not kidding, and 20 years after this hardy job, he has to confront the results of it, in what becomes at the end an endearing film about finally finding oneself in what seemed a senseless life. 


Delivery Man. Directed and written by Ken Scott (He has directed four
 movies, two of them about the same story). With: Vince Vaughn,
Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders. US/India, 2014, 105 min., Datasat/Dolby
Digital/SDDS, Color (Cable TV).



2015/07/19

131: Advantageous (july, 18)

The magic shuffle is still on :)

The lucky browsing of Netflix movies worked again beautifully with Advantageous, about which I didn't know much. I started to see it while eating dinner, and soon had to stop, get through my lasagna, tuck myself thoroughly on my blanket, rewind the first scenes and start it over again. Because from the start I realised since the very beginning of this small indie movie that it would require my total attention. A movie that looks like, by its production, as a very personal project. 

To stress the same key over and over again, SciFi can really talk about life in a way that can stun us with its accuracy. Through near future settings and improbable technologies we can envision our own present. By highlighting our main social features in futuristic fictional societies, we see clearly our own time. 

Advantageous does that in a stunning, heartbreaking and precise way. How women can never be sure of their place on society, how they have to actually raise their kids alone is staggering here. And what a mother has to do in order to give a better chance to her daughter leads us to a deeper silence through every scene, until the very end... when, again, we can hope for better days. But still in an impossibly sad scenery - because the loss is irreversible. Too beautiful, too sad, shocking and yet incredibly hopeful.  

Advantageous. Directed by Jennifer Phang. With: Jacqueline Kim, Samantha
Kim, Freya Adams. Writers: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang. US, 2015, Color (Netflix).




PS: Magic Shuffle is how Joe calls my lucky while looking for films in Netflix.

PPS: Fragment: Despicable Me 2, 2013.





2015/07/18

Day 130: Ant-Man (July, 17)

"I'm the Ant-Man... Yeah, I know".

This line summarizes the initial disbelief about this new Marvel segment. The movies are usually outstanding, but the first reaction to this new one is doubt. It doesn't help that Paul Rudd looks like an impromptu hero. But this movie is not usual in many aspects, and its cast is just one of them. 

Despite a slow beginning, Ant-Man has stunning moments, and the outcome is good after all. The usual Marvel puzzle got another interesting piece, and it is never too much to stay till the very end. 

It is inevitable to think how many tiny things happen in the world that has a great impact but we cannot see it. In this sense, the movie is genius - the Little Thomas scene is clever and funny, for example.

I saw the dubbed version (I was with my niece and nephew) in a crowded cinema, not my idea of a nice screening (except for the kids :), but even this way I could enjoy the movie. And the Avengers' funny cameo. And the amusing "lip sync" tales (it is pretty good). At the end, it was a cool movie actually. 

An early PS: The movie begins with a scene in 1989. Michael Douglas looks younger (He was digitally rejuvenated). Even if it is an impressive work, it was surreal when someone found fit to comment: Wow, he's looking really good! Oh, ok. Unbelievable. 


Ant-Man. Directed by Peyton Reed. With: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas,
Evangeline Lilly. Writers: Edgar Wright et al. from the comic book by
Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby. US, 2015, 117 min., Datasat/Dolby
Digital/SDDS/Dolby Atmos, Color (CInema).




PS: Fragments: The Big Wedding, 2013 (ugh); Innerspace, 1987 (I love this movie);  The Matrix, 1999 (Still surprising).

2015/07/17

Day 129: Safety Not Guaranteed (July, 16)


All elements of a nice indie movie were present in Safety Not Guaranteed. Jake Johnson, too awkward characters, a lot of (wannabe) witty dialogues, a bit of SciFi... No way it wouldn't be so much fun and even endearing. 


Many users in imdb.com thinks like that - they not shy on their compliments. But for me there was something missing. It looked so perfect, so likable, but despite being a relatively short movie, it got me bored pretty quick. I couldn't understand why, because, as I said, it seemed so good. But the characters fell into a void, the story was badly told... I don't know. It just didn't work for me. 

However, I'll say this: when two lovely weird individuals fall in love, it is magic. There's no doubt in that simple fact, and even this not so good movie could deny it. 

Safety Not Guaranteed. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. With: Aubrey Plaza,
Jake Johnson, Mark Duplass. Writer: Derek Connolly. US, 2012, 86 min.,
Dolby Digital/Datasat, Color (Netflix).

2015/07/16

Day 128: Paper Towns (July, 15)

I hadn't planned to see the new adaptation of a John Green's book today, and even so there I was, in a crowded cinema, with the unexpected company of a beloved friend, lots of popcorn and candy. An unexpected happy end to a weird day. 

The thing that I appreciate most when I see a JG book in the cinema is all the production's care in order to tell a story that are loved by so many. This kind of attentive care has been increasing regarding the adaptation of YA novels for a couple of years now, and it has been a joy to see this care. A good story has no age or specific public only, and the more recent adaptations bring this idea beautifully.

This way, with the involvement of John Green in the production, Paper Towns is a movie true to its original. Some facts are different, but that is not the most important thing in an adaptations. The story and characters are there, with the help of an amazingly good cast, and that is what matter at the end.  I must say, though, that the fundamental scene in the book was a bit rushed in the movie, unfortunately. Margo and Quentin's adventurous ninja night was too fast, too shallow, compared to its depth in the book. That's my only but... and an essential one. This scene could and should have been better. At least, it is still alive there, in the book, in its greatness. I don't think I'm being picky... my disappointment could almost be heard actually.

As were my laughs, too loud for anyone's sake. I laughed out loud while reading the book, so much that I had to stop my times to get myself together. I laughed less in the movie, but enough to embarrass my more controlled dignified friend. And to talk about control, the surprising cameo got everyone giggling and even screaming almost hysterically (not me, of course). It is sweet and a good link to other John Green stories that I hope will become a tradition in the next adaptations. 

What a person is, beyond our own views, can be a mystery. It is usual that we project an image on someone only to be surprised when the person is in fact different from our idea of them. But this is our problem to solve, and Paper Towns refers to that task in the funny and sweet way that is a trademark of John Green stories. Fortunately :)


Paper Towns. Directed by Jack Schreier. With: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne,
Justice Smith, Austin Abrams. Writers: Scott Neustaudner and Michael H.
Weber from the book by John Green. US, 2015,  109 min., Color (Cinema).


PS: There are a few recurring things in John Green's stories: tulips, the sentence "I love you present tense"... and The Mountain Goats, his favorite band. Here's an easter egg in Paper Towns related to it:





PPS: I've read the four JG's solo books in a roll, during five days. First was An Abundance of Katherines, my favorite - I'm not being contrary here, but I really liked, and yes, I know it is the less favorite JG book by most of his readers. After came all the heartbreak and blinding tears of TFIOS. Finally, Paper Towns - the cow scene had me in laughing tears. The last one was actually John Green's debut, Looking for Alaska, my less favorite. It is was suffocating, actually, without any of his easy way of telling coming of age tales that we see in his subsequent books. 







2015/07/15

Day 127: Intimate Stories (or MInimal Stories - July, 14)

Some details looked familiar for me in Intimate Stories (Historias Mínimas), a small Argentinean movie. I wasn't sure if I had watched or not, until a character named his dog: Malacara. There, I had seen it a long time ago, I realized. This name is unmistakable. I've seen it probably 13 years ago, but I decided to continue anyway, there in the heartbreaking Argentinean Patagonia. 

Through an unusual day in the life of three inhabitants of a remote village in Patagonia, the movie depicts what life can be in such far way place. It is simple, quiet, vast, at some parts even suspenseful. I was divided between remember what would happen and create a new experience with this movie. He is so unpretentious, I wasn't surprised that he had slipped through my memory. Well', I'm getting old no doubt, and memory is something that rushes to fit old age, but I'm not used to completely forget a movie or that I've watched it. At the end, I understood why. It is not that it is unimportant or trivial, just the opposite. It is full of life in a delicate and quiet way, with the background of the stunning Patagonia to the extraordinary ordinary of three people in a God forsaken place. 

This movie is commonly referred as an South American The Straight Story, yesterday's film - and it was not by chance that I've seen them on consecutive days. Both are woven with vast scenery and careful details, but there's something staggering in the David Lynch's movie that is absent here. I'm wrong to embark on  comparisons like that, though. They are always a risk and a misunderstanding. However a movie can relate to other externally or by the way they touch us. And those both without a doubt have a nice chat when seated near each other.





Intimate Stories (Historias Minimas). Directed by Carlos Sorin. With:
Antonio Benedicti, Javier Lombardo, Javiera Bravo. Witer: Pablo Solarz.
Argentina/Spain, 2002, 92 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix). 




2015/07/14

Day 126: The Straight Story (July, 13)

The first take on The Straight Story took my breath away, and I couldn't get it back until a few hours after the movie ending. 

There's so much beauty in it, conveyed by details presented in a careful production. Everything here is outstanding: cinematography, acting, soundtrack. There's no need for words in order to understand Alvin Straight's journey, one that he undertakes in his own pace, despite what others tell him would be the best. But even if the silence tells a lot here, the few dialogues between Alvin and people he meets while crossing two states in a lawn mower present a world in itself. 

There are, by the way, many contrasts in here to tell the true story of a man that travels by lawn mower to see his estranged ill brother. Open shots of vast fields and close-ups on the characters. Big spaces and small houses. A hurt carried through a lifetime and the everyday pain. Each detail is staged in a way that holds our hearts hostages since the first moment. At each scene, I was more and more mesmerized.

This is a movie for life. 

Richard Farnsworth conveys so much with his quiet and troubled Alvin. Sissy Spacek we want to hold near, her Rose is so caring that we immediately cared for her. The surprising (for me) cameo at the last scene goes beyond its few minutes on screen. This movie is so much, there's no fair way to describe it and the people in it. A storytelling in all its wonders. And if like me you've been taking too long to see it, don't postpone it anymore. A world of beauty, human connections, loss, atonement, pain, unfairness, love waits for you in this 1999 David Lynch's film.

Just before the vast farming scenes take hold of me in the first take, I was surprised to see the Disney logo associated to a David Lynch's movie. Some weird circumstances like a Disney executive bet that Lynch wouldn't be able to tell a story with a tender and delicate way. Bets done, everyone's a winner. Because a filmmaker that has such a strong voice and a attentive eye to life is for sure a suited narrator to Alvin Straight's story of what means to maintain his own pace in a faster world while he makes amends with himself and the people that matters to him.  


The Straight Story. Directed by David Lynch. With: Richard Farnsworth,
Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz. Writers: John Roach, Mary Sweeney.
France/UK/US, 1999, 112 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD). 

PS: Nebraska, the 2013 movie by Alexander Payne, has a lot of The Straight Story. The open shots, the careful picture of people, a beautiful soundtrack that links images and story. The main tone in both are different, but it is difficult not to relate those two movies in the personal journey undertaken by two complex characters. 

PPS: Richard Farnsworth had undergone a hip surgery at the time of this movie's production, and had a hard time moving around, the same as his characters. After the movie release, he shot himself in his ranch, at 80 years old. At the same year, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. A heartbreaking outcome for a great performer. 

2015/07/13

Day 125: The Concert (July, 12)

Something odd happened to me while watching The Concert (Le Concert). Usually, I'm averse to stereotypes and over cliched characters. It is inevitable sometimes, as is the case in this film.  The whole story is built by cliches, but it is funny and ironic, and so, contrary to what I usually think, it worked on this production by Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu. 

Facts here are so inaccurate that I would say it is almost a fantasy movie. The characters are alive, though,  and even in their stereotyped manners, they make sense and are endearing. They tell about individuals in a dictatorship, in which every aspect of human rights are ignored. 

In the pursuit for the members of Bolshoi Orchestra, we see them in different jobs: janitors, ambulance drivers, ticket sellers, extras for events (this part is funny and sarcastic)... everything that makes ends meet is valid. Absurd situations are not lacking here, even the storyline itself. But all the nonsense had an important matter behind it, so I the movie was gripping, funny... it's magic even. 

The Siberia part is criticized in some comments on imdb.com as inaccurate. Everything is nonsense in this movie (what to say about gypsies falsifying passports under the eye of authorities, in the middle of an airport? Sheer irony by an absurd situation), except what is truly important: wronged artists trying to get back to what is important to them, doing justice to people that have lost their lives to dictatorial governments. That makes immensely sense, and was enough for me in this movie. And even with the paralysed image that I hate so much at the end, the last scene was overwhelmingly beautiful. 


The Concert (Le Concert). Directed by Radu Mihaileanu. With: Aleksey
Guskov, Mélanie Laurent, Dmitriy Nazarov. Writers: Radu Mihaileanu
et al, based on the original story by Hédtor Cabello Reyes and Thierry
Degrandi. France/Italy/Romania/Belgium/Russia, 2009, 119 min., Dolby
Digital, Color/Black and White (Cable TV). 




2015/07/12

Day 124: The Taming of The Shrew (July, 11)

If I hadn't seen a few versions of Shakespeare's play before, I would have questioned the content of Franco Zeffirelli's The Taming of The Shrew,  1969, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (another DVD that I've bought years ago and was patiently waiting for me). 

But this is my favorite story by the bard, so I have seen it before in movies and television. BBC has a series called ShakespeaRE-Told that presents some of the Shakespeare works by a modern retelling. The Taming of The Shrew brings a view about the tale that I like a lot. It is so much fun, I laughed so hard, but it presents clearly a depth that is only hinted in the 1969's movie. This way, I wasn't so anguished about what looked as a perverse sexism in this story. 

The play's name refers to a taming... about a shrew... But that's is just the surface. What happens between the main couple is only for them to tell, and this aspect per se makes this story so endearing. 

Both Katherine and Petruchio don't conform to social rules. They are rebellious, uncontrollable... They don't fit the  average social rules. So it is not surprising that, after the first bite, they recognize themselves in each other. Peace between them will take longer than usual, if it will ever exist. 

The thing here is not taming, but understanding, empathy between two outcasts, that create a non traditional relationship that defies all social and familiar expectations. They are not what their society see... what matters to them is theis only. It is genius, but I could only realise that by the 2005 BBC production. 

This way, I could admire Zeffirelli's movie. I had to remind me constantly that it was his direction here, when I was amazed in front of some scenes. So, it wouldn't be a big surprise that the scenes were so beautifully staged. It is stunning, ironic, full of smart details, with two protagonists played by actors that would not conform to an average life either.


The Taming of the Shrew. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. With: Elizabeth
Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack. Writers: Franco Zeffirelli et al.
from the work by William Shakespeare. Italy/US, 1969, 122 min., 70 mm 6-
track/Mono/4-Track Stereo, Color (DVD).

PS: The BBC's Taming of the Shrew relates to this 1969's movie in many aspects. Ruffus Sewell's performance directs Burton's in some moments, specially with his lunatic "Kiss me, Kate!". It is worth to have a look in this good version (or see the whole movie, you choose):




PPS: Other beloved version of Shakespeare's play is a less obvious one, but that I love love love. 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999 is a sweet smart teen version of Taming of the Shrew, and it is great. With the missed Heath Ledger and the underestimated Julia Stiles, this is one of my favorite movies. 









2015/07/11

Day 123: The Burning Plain (July, 10)

The Burning Plain is, sorry the pun, a plain movie. Its fragmented narrative, the mysterious connexion between characters and time lines, secretive motives behind their actions... even that does not turn this movie in something more. It is interesting, with a good cast, an ok editing. But nothing more than that. I wasn't moved by it, wasn't anxious to know what would happen next, and at the beginning had already discovered its "big secret"  (not usual for me, knowing the mystery before hand).

Jennifer Lawrence presents a strong performance here, two years before her big break, Winter's Bone, 2010 (outstanding movie, if you haven't see it yet). Charlize Theron is anguished, sad. Both actress carry themselves in a manner that regards the story in a good way. But there wasn't anything else for me, and it is a movie with a storyline that usually gets my attention - our link to familiar heritage. At the end, however, I was trying to figure out what I would write in here, because this movie told me not much, as you can see by this post. 


The Burning Plain. Directed and written by Guillermo Arriaga. With:
Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Bassinger
(long time no see).
US/Argentina, 2008, 107 min., Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS, Color (Netflix).

2015/07/10

And here goes the fourth month

Restless, 2011


Day 93: Les Femmes du 6ème Étage, 2010
Day 94: PS: I Love You, 2007
Day 95: Cursed, 2005
Day 96: Drinking Buddies, 2013
Day 97: Aloha, 2015
Day 98: Obvious Child, 2014
Day 99: Les Amours Imaginaires, 2010
Day 100: The Good Lie, 2014 + Specil Guest: Sense8
Day  101: WildLike, 2014
Day 102: Ernest et Celestine, 2012
Day 103: Dersu Uzala, 1975
Day 104: Touch of Evil  - restored version, 1958 (1998)
Day 105: Rocco i suoi fratelli, 1960
Day 106: Jurassic World, 2015
Day 107: Terminator, 1984
Day 108: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991
Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines, 2003
Day 109: Minions, 2015
Terminator Salvation, 2009
Day 110: La Rizière, 2010
Day 111: Pride & Prejudice, 2005
Day 112: Thanks for Sharing, 2012
Day 113: Kraftidioten, 2014
Day 114: Restless, 2011
Day 115: Terminator Genesys, 2015
Day 116: Locke, 2013
Day 117: While We're Young, 2014
Day 118: The Best of Me, 2014
Day 119: On the Edge, 2001
Day 120: Inside Out, 2015
Day 121: The Maze Runner, 2014
Day 122: Minions, 2015


Locke, 2013


Day 122: Minions (July, 9 - again)

Do you remember the happy meeting with old and dear friends on day 121? Two of them are young nieces that invited me to the movies. We had first planned to see Paper Towns, but at the last minute they chose the Minions' movie. I've already have seen it, but it didn't matter actually. Their company was the protagonist here :)

In a too crowded cinema, I could confirm my first impression about this film: the first scenes are good (but my friends didn't laugh as I thought they would... while I was cracking without any shame), the development is boring, and the scene with a Beatles song at the very last moment after the final credits is cute. I could also see some details that passed unnoticed at the first time. I don't mind see a movie more than one time, even one that I didn't appreciate much, like Minions. Nevertheless, it was a fun screening, with two dear friends, in a noisy and crowded cinema in July. 



Since last time, Minions' collection has increased

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).