2015/12/31

Day 295: The Clan + Macbeth (December, 29)

Double feature on Omad!

On a day that I had a urgent need for being quiet, a late afternoon at the movies was the best choice, confirmed when I met Joe and Andre at the box office line. They were heading to The Clan (El Clan) too, and it was nice talk about the movie briefly with them after. I was happy to see  you, guys!

I missed the very first scene and the note about this film being based on a true story. However, I realized that soon at the begining. A teacher, quoting Kieslowski (maybe), said that the reality has a way of surpassing fiction. This story were so surreal that it could only be a based on facts.

For sure, I will never be able to look at Guillermo Francella without a cold shiver of fear. I spent the whole movie so freaked out by him (oh that stare...), a crescent sense of doom falling over me.

Some scarce thoughts occurred to me during the movie. One, that the generation after the '80s has no recollection of what a military dictatorship really means. In Brazil, it is becoming usual to see people defending it, without the slight idea of what it means - or so I hope that they've no ideia (the other option is too dreadful to even think about it). In a Argentina after the dictatorship , the military superiors continue to spread the terror, and The Clan is an astounding look to this fact.

Other thought is how Family is not a word... is a sentence. This is the tagline for The Royal Tenenbaums, a movie that I love. It is a long sentence... or it is a sentence for life. Both meanings are true. The last one is noticeable in The Clan. The family strings are too strongs... and to be free of it is not an easy task. For the Puccio's it was impossible for most of their members.

The most unbelievable true fact is presented by the fate of Arquímedes Puccio. Take a look at wikipedia after the movie, it is horrid and surreal. You, as I did, probably will nod your head in desbilief, asking yourself: what is this world?

El Clan. Directed by Pablo Tapero. With: Ghillermo Francella, Antonia
Bengoechea, Gastón Cocchiaralle. Writers: Pablo Tapero et al. Argentina/
Spain, 2015, 110 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).

After saying goodbye to the boys, I immediately headed to Macbeth. To be 100% honest, I wasn't expecting much. This way, I didn't get too disappointed (finally) when my first impressions were confirmed.

The cinematography here is stunning. The sound design is project to wow us. And that's it. Amazing actors proving that they can recite Shakespeare, in awfully pretentious performances - it pains me to say that, because we're talking about Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard here, great actors that I admire. But they weren't able to tell this tragic story, I think.

The whole movie lacks soul, it is my final verdict. It is sad to witness such a thing. However, as I've said above, the cinematography is outstanding, and it made stare in amazing to what I was seeing on the screen. At least the eyes were marveled, if not the soul.

Macbeth. Directed by Justin Kurzel. With: MIchael Fassbender, Marion
Cotillard, Jack Madigan. UK/France/USA, 2015, 113 min., Dolby Digital,
Color (Cinema).

PS: Dash & Lily time. I know there's a lot of spoilers on those quotations, but I'm trying to keep them at a minimum, I swear.

It both mystified and intrigued me that such a seemingly dour person as Dash was great friends with an extremely exclamation-pointed person as excitable Boomer.
(Lily, page 153- I love Boomer :).



Day 294: In the Heart of the Sea (December, 28)

And a movies date turned into a slumber party. So there we were again, at a shopping mall, heading to a movie. This time, it was my choice, and I entered the theater with three moody girls that were not so enthusiastic to see In the Heart of the Sea.

At the end, I looked at them and, as a typical aunt, said: see? They loved the movie, as I've said they would (or at least I hoped so). Even if they didn't, that theater is very nice in fact, with reclining chairs and all. But they loved the film. It is suspenseful, with a beautiful cinematography, and Thor as a protagonist. It is based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. And, as it happens in Melville story, this one gripped us by the throat, not allowing any other diversion until the final credits. 

It is a rather tradicional production, but a bit darker than usual (a good bonus) and beautifully crafted. The whale hunting are heartbreaking for sure. Not a filmto rock our world, but no doubt a nice time at the movies.

In the Heart of the Sea. Directed by Ron Howard. With: Chris Hemsworth,
Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson. Writers: Charles Leavitt et al., from the
book  In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel
Philbrick. USA/Australia/Spain/UK/Canada, 2015, 122 min., Datasat/Dolby Digital/
Dolby Atmos/Auro 11.1, Color (Cinema).


PS: Almost at the end of the book, again. December, 28th is a better day for sure. 

Where can I find Dash?
R U a stalker?
Possibly.
Awsome. His mom's place is at E Ninth & University. 
Which Building?
A good stalker doesn't need to ask.
(Lily, page 138).

We are reading the story of our lives
As though we were in it,
As though we had written it.
(Mark Strand/Lily, page 141).

I am not dangerous. Only the stories are dangerous. Only the fiction we create, especially when they become expectations. 
(Dash, page 148).

PPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)

Day 293: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (December, 27)

What we don't do for love :)

Still a bit wrecked after the amazing Christmas, my niece called me to take her and her friends to the movies. And there I was, in a still crowded shopping (Christmas is over, people!), with three teen girls and my oldest niece, to watch Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip. The girls say that they're not babies anymore, but that didn't prevent them to see a beloved series from their early years. I think it is not by chance that there's a cute young guy on this movie - after all, some of Alvin's fans are growing up (not too much though).. 

What was that movie theater. So loaded with hyperactive kids and desperate parents and great parents (and aunts and great aunts). There wasn't enough space to breath actually. The odd thing was: I had a better time than I'd expected at first. The girls were a few rolls from us, and Flavia and Me were squeezed between two families, kids kicking our seats and all of that. And still we could enjoy the movie, even if it is silly and not that good. I didn't matter, though. We were together, in a festive atmosphere, having too much fun with those three incredibly funny girls that think they're all grown up but are still nice and sweet kids.

I haven't talked much about the film, I know. Well, as I've said, it didn't really matter today :)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. Directed by Walt Becker. With:
Jason Lee, Jessica Ahlberg, Josh Green. Writers: Randi Mayem Singer,
Adam Sztykiel from the characters created by Ross Bagadasarian, Janice
Karman. USA, 2015,  92 min., Dolby/Datasat/Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).


PS: One of the best dialogues on Dash & Lily's Book of Dares are on December, 27th. the (not absolute) heartbreak happens on this day too. It is sad, but I the best thing that could happen to both Dash and Lily after all - as the next days will prove. This doesn't prevent a sense of dread everytime I reach this part on the story. I never said I wasn't silly, right? :) And thanks to the end of the chapter this day is over. 

"If you tell me, I will leave you alone," I said. "And if you don't tell me, I am going to grab the nearest ghostwritten james Patterson romance novel and I am going to follow you through this store reading it out loud until you relent."
(...)
"You're evil," he said. "You that?"
I nodded, even though I usually saved the word eveil for perpetrators of genocide.
(Scary Dash, page 113).

No. I had to reassure myself. The words in the red Moleskine were not written by the girl in your head. You have to trust the words. They do not create anything more than themselves.
(Dash, page 114).

"That would depend on what kind of tea you were offering."
"So different! Suppose it was Earl Grey."
I shook my head. 
"Tastes like pencil shavings."
"Lady Grey."
"I don't drink beverages named after beheaded monarchs. it seems so tacky."
"Chamomile?"
"Might as well sip butterfly wings."
"Green tea?"
"You can't be serious."
"The old woman nodded her approval. "I Wasn't."
(...)
"Would you like some mint tea?"
"Only under duress."
"English breakfast."
I clapped my hands.
"Now you're talking."
(Dash, page 116/117).

"Listen to me: I never married because I was too easily bored. it's an awful, selfdefeating trait to have. It's much better to be too easily interested.
(I couldn't say that better myself, Great-aunt Ida! - page 118).

I stared up to the sky, trying to search out the genius who coined the term wasted, because he or she deserved mad props for nailing it so perfectly. What a wasted girl. What a wasted hope. What a wasted evening.
(Dash, page 128). 

"But, you see, that's the luxury of being a lout - you get to be selective about when you care and when you don't. The rest of us get stuck when your care goes shallow."
(Dash, page 131).



PPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)

Day 292: Tango Libre (December, 26)

The main reason why I watched Tango Libre is François Demiens. His face and manners (so inadequate, I love it) lead to a vast roll of possible interesting characters. In here he is the best feature for sure.

The thing about tango and freedom is too loose to make a real impact unfortunately. It would be beautiful in its full potentiality. A way to freedom in a jail. But it is lost among a weak plot, one that could be so far beyond its easy compromise or confusing writing. The characters are so amazing - and so badly developed. 

There's not much to say. In a day that I was almost comatose (a happy vegetable, I must add), this movie didn't mean nothing but a slightly nice distraction. A sad fate for a film that could be a lot.


Tango Libre. Directed by Fréderic Fonteine. With: François Damiens,
Sergi López, Jan Hammenecker, Anne Paulicevich. Writers: Philippe
Blasband, Anne Paulicevich. France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2012, 98 min.,
Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).

PS: So, December, 26th - not an eventful day. Dash meets his ex-girlfriend, Lily reencounter Edgar Thibaud, and I have to confess that I'm not happy with that at all (seriously). Who told them they could have a life before the red notebook? The good news is that we finally meet Dov and Johnny :)

"Oh, my,", Sofia said when I was through. "You think you've finally found the girl in your head."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly who you want her to be. The person you think you will love the most. And every girl you are with gets measured against this girl in your head."
(Dash, page 102).

PPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)

2015/12/30

Day 291: Arthur Christmas (December, 25)

Merry Christmas, dear friends!!!!

Today's lunch was in my house this year, and it was pretty great. After a surprisingly good meal, we decided to see a film. I usually suggest Arthur Christmas for this day. And so it was.

I don't know why this movie is not better known. Most of my friends never saw it, and and it is a funny, endearing, amazing film for Christmas day. Usually we're with family on Christmas, and this movie depicts family relations in a delicate and precise manner. We laugh a lot (a lot, I promise), but we can also warm up to Arthur and his attempts to be truthful to Christmas meanings.

I saw this movie with my beloved niece when it was released on the theaters, and we had a great time together, as it was on this day. At first, she wanted to see other film, a "not-so-childish-animation", but she enjoyed it a lot, with me, her great-grandma and three of her older (and very hangover) cousins. It was amazing, even if I put the owen on fire while cooking pork for the night's party (that was great too). An eventful and happy day with a sweet and funny movie.

Just perfection (something that I would never had related to Christmas some time ago).


Arthur Christmas. Directed by Sarah Smith, Barry Cook. With: James
McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy. Writers: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith.
UK/USA, 2011, 96 min., SDDS/Datasat/Dolby Digital, Color/Animation (DVD).

PS: I love how Dash spends his Christmas Eve. A vision of heaven for me. I can relate to him a lot, despite the fact that I actually like Christmas and he doesn't. Lily's usual happy Christmas is no more, and this is a nice change for her, even if she still doesn't see it this way. She is the most sweet teenager I've ever seen, and she is finally finding in her reasons to be more than that, and it is nice to see. Great-aunt Ida is an amazing character, by the way <3 The club thing is great too - I've been planning to see a klezmer band in NY one day since I've read this part for the first time. And the reference to Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist makes me smile every time I read it.

BECAUSE I'M SO UNCOOL AND SO AFRAID. I thought, good for you, Uncool and so Afraid, you made it here anyway. Maybe that's half the battle?
(Lily, page 91).

The Cure. For the Exes. I'm sorry, Nick. Will you kiss me again?
(Lily, page 91).

PPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)

Day 290: Love is in the Air (December, 24)

And the romantic comedy saga continues with another choice on Netflix. Despite being a bit traumatized by the previous day movie, I decided to check out Love is in the Air (Amour & Turbulences). The first surprise was that it is a French film. Even before someone could talk in here, the way the main actress achieves a perfect messy bun as soon as she gets out of bed is a french women's skill for sure.

However, this was one of the few lovely things on this movie. The story is good, it is entertaining and a nice flick, but for me the main couple is not captivating enough. They're just not interesting, besides the absolute lack of attraction between them. It is bearable most of the time. For me, the nicest trait on this film was how the main actress looks so much as a friend of mine. 

I must say that I'm not overly bitter these days. Tired, yes, but that's it. I've been just unlucky in the romantic features, I guess. Because both today and yesterday's films had everything to be a good entertainment and an interesting view on romance, and both failed for different reasons. This one is not so badly written, but it is not good also. That's ok, there's a lot of interesting and funny romantic comedies out there (is there? Maybe not).


Amour & Turbulences. Directed by Alexandre Castagnetti. With: Ludivine
Sagnier,  Nicolas Bedos, Jonathan Cohen. Writers: Vincent Angell et al.
France,  2013, 96 min., DTS, Color (Netflix).
PS: December, 24th brings a surprising revelation to Lily. It is not good, but an effective way to make her want to bust her safely happy familiar bubble more than ever. Her notes on the journal on this day are great just because of that. And Dash's answer to her is one of my favorite parts on this book (and there's many). 

This is how Shrilly was born, from people trying so hard to "protect" me. 
(Lily, page 61).

I've always resented Hermione, because I wanted to be her so badly and she never seemed to appreciate as mucha as I thought she should that she got to be her. She got to live at Hogwarts and be friends with Harry and kis Ron, which was supose to happen to me.
(That's Lily for you, in her best <3 - page 65).

"It looks like Animal and Miss Piggy had sex," I said. "And this was the spawn."
"My eyes!" Boomer cried. "MY eyes! I can't stop seeing it now that you've said it!"
(Dash, page 70).

Well, the meanings are out there. We're just so damn good at reading them wrong. It's not going to be explained to you in a prayer. And I'm not going to be able to explain it to you. Not just bexause I'm as ignorant and hopeful and selectively blilnd as the next guy, but because I don't think meaning is something that can be explained. You have to understand it on your own.
(Dash, page 70).

Because I hadn't knwon that I knew these things. Just having a notebook to write them in, and having someone to write them to, made them all rise to the surface. 
(Dash, page 71). 

But my gift to myself this Christmass Eve was a full retreat from the world.
(I enjoy a happy Christmas around my more loved ones - and this year it was really amazing - but a retreat from the world is always a favorite of mine - Dash, page 73).

PPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)

Day 289: Playing it Cool (December, 23)

When I first saw Playing it Cool trailer on the theaters, I thought that there was no way I would watch it. No freaking way in hell, that's was my last verdict. I didn't predict how in love I would fall for Chris Evan after Snowpiercer and Before I Go though. So it became inevitable to reach this apparently very bad rom com. What we do for love.

Even if i was expecting an awful film, it still was very disappointing. Yep, this film is this bad. And I cannot figure out how the writing could sink so low. What love lead us to do is a main subject here, and Evan's character doesn't believe in love. Of course he will fall badly for Michelle Monaghan, one of the more lovely women in romantic comedies. I never saw a cynic, skeptic bachelor that wouldn't fall for her. That's an undeniable fact on the rom com world. Evans is not different, and so his saga begins.

There's many nice actors around him for his journey: Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson (Luke Wilson!!!!). But they're for nothing. Nothing and nobody can save such a sexist and confusing script. And the funny here is that it tries to invert the roles and go against the grain of the usual rom flicks, only to achieve just the opposite: an unbearable view of woman roles in society and of human relations. A trait of only the worst writers - and to think that Chris Schafer and Paul Vicknair are responsible for the heartfelt Before We Go. Many things could have been good here, but they turned out awfully wrong.

Not even this surreal downfall is worth to see, I think. No, let me rephrase that. Maybe it is worth your time, in a boring day in which you cannot decide what movie to see. Everything is already lost, so this movie won't add a lot of doom to it. There's some funny lines, all of them giving me hope for better days, all in vain. But I could see it without dying, a valuable sign I think.


Playing it Cool. Directed by Justin Reardon. With: Chris Evans, Michelle
Monaghan, Topher Grace. Writers: Chris Schafer, Paul Vicknair. USA,
2014,  94 min., Color (Netflix).

PS: I love December, 23rd in Dash and Lily. We get to know them better - they get to know each other better. Lily goes alone to the movies (my favorite occupation) for the first time... Dash gets the most delicious cookies as a gift. Live is good on the 23rs. And there's Boomer, of course <3 <3 

"Who's Lily?"

"Some girl."
"Ooh, a girl!"
"Boomer, we're not in the third grade anymore. You don't say, 'Ooh... a girl'"
"What? You fucking her?"
"Okay, Boomer, you're right. I liked 'Ooh... a girl' much more than that. Let's stick with 'Ooh... a girl'!'
(Dash, page 46/47).

I had a chance to read what Lily had written in the journal. I thought even Boomer would like the Shrilly story, although he'd probably feel really bad for her, when I knew the truth: it was so much cooler to be the weird girl.

(Dash, page 47/48).

"Why are there so many people out here?" Boomer asked as we bobbed and weaved roughly forward.
"Christmas shopping," I explained.
"Already? Isn't it early to be returnin things?"
I really had no sense of how his mind worked. 
(Dash, page 49).

PPS: Someone that have been in Madame Tussauds NY can tell me if there's in fact a bench with Elizabeth Taylor, Jugh Jackman and Clarck Gable perched on it?

PPPS: If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to the post scriptum on Day 287 :)



2015/12/28

Day 288: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December, 22)

This day is presented on Day 283

To not publish an empty post, I suggest the video below (Daisy's reaction to the Star Wars trailer is so cute :)






PS: Dash and Lily Book of Dares - December, 22nd:

Without the gratification of a self-aimed purchase, everyone walked around in the tactical stupor of the financially obligated. (Dash, page 27).


To know what I'm talking about here, see the post scriptum on Day 287



Day 287: Bronson (December, 21)

Holly mother of a homeless god.

I've heard a lot about Bronson, with the always surprising Tom Hardy - he is proving what he is capable of for sure. Joe had told me about it, as some other friends. But we can never realize how fierce a movie and a story is until we are in front of the unbelievable.

Such a story couldn't be less astonishing, uncomfortable, astounding. And beautiful, of course. It is filmmaking in some of its best. We always can expect a lot from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, from the stunning Drive. He deals with violence in such a maner, there's a few filmmakers that does the same (Hello, David Fincher and Michael Hannecke). I still have to see Only God Forgives, his most controversial film, but I'm expecting a lot despite the low ratings.

There's so much that is said by Bronson beyond what we see. Every bit of this movie is a masterpiece. It is not an easy movie, let me be clear. I felt suffocating most of the time. Joe asked me if I had liked it, and I told him how, for me, like is a week way to describe what I felt. My feelings were too strong for that, as it happens in some seriously violent and accurate stories (as Haneke's The White Ribbon, for example). But if by "like" it would mean that I thought it was incredibly genious, I can surely say that I like it a lot.

Bronson. Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. With: Tom Hardy. Writers:
Nicholas Winding Refn, Brock Norman Brock. UK, 2008, 92 min., Dolby
Digital, Color (Netflix).


PS: December, 21st: Dash & Lily Book of Dares' day! Every year, from some time now, I re-read this beloved book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan following the diegetic days in the narrative. The books begins at December, 21st and ends at January, 1st. Dash and Lily are apparently so different, but both are actually very similar. And it is not a surprise that their mind find in the a notebook a perfect way to express themselves. Read this book is becoming a Christmas tradition for me, one that I'll share with you along these 10 days with Dash and Lily. Both have a sharp intelligence, turning the written reflexions in some heartfelt confessions. Dash is overly cynical; Lily's too sweet - together, they find ways of be beyond their familiar spectrum The dialogues here are great, and so I envision 10 days of a good time with one of my favorite books <3
One last thought: if you care too much about age classification, I should warn you that this book is named as Young Adult lit. 
December, 21st

I nearly fell off the ladder. 
Are you going to be playing for the pure thrill of unreluctant desire?
I was,  to put it mildly, aroused by the phrasing. (Dash, page 16).

Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to venture to the darker side if the Lily-white spectrum. Maybe. (Lilly, page 22).

PPS: My own red moleskine, a thoughtful and incredible birthday gift by the super amazing Mandy and Mel <3 <3 








Day 286: Laggies (December, 20 - again)

Somethings will never change, I guess. My way of being with a story in such a obsessive manner is one of the traits I'll never see the end in me. After days and days, Laggies was still with me, so I had to reach it once more.

My niece accepted to watch it with me on this quiet sunday. I was so excited to see it again, it was even funny (and I had just seen a bit of it on this very morning). I love those characters, the simple and honest way by which thay connect with each other, so true to my own life. And Sam Rockwell is really a blast here, no doubt.

I never anticipated still having to find a place where I'd fit in by the time I was an adult either. I thought you automatically got one once you had a job and a family. But it's just you. Alone. 

Fla liked the movie a lot too. Just before she left, she told me how some bit were still on her mind. It is a film that makes us reflects about many aspects of life, human relations, relationships. It is a testament of how a film doesn't need to be a big production have a strong voice. Actually, it is usually the opposite. Indie movies have a way to treat life that is very endearing and surprising. And this one does that by a careful and funny fashion.

Laggies. Directed by Lynn Shelton. With: Keira Kneightley, Chlöe Grace
Moretz, Sam Rockwell. Writer: Andrea Seigel. USA, 2014, 99 min., Dolby
Digital, Color (Cable TV). 

Day 285: Before I Go to Sleep (December, 19)

Before I Go to Sleep is a pretty interesting thriller until the end, when all hell of bad writing went loose. A good plot doesn't make a story - many trilogies with a good first book and lousy sequels are there to prove that.

Nicole Kidman and Collin Firth together are always nice, doesn't mattering if in a big or a smaller production. I was spooked by the main character's troubles, eager to finally know what is really happening with her. The absolute lack of control on our own life is always a scary thing. But the conclusion is so badly tied up that I turned off the TV very disappointed with it. There was so many ways of making this believable, but the rush to finalize a story is one of the worst enemies of a writers, that's for sure.

Before I Go to Sleep. Directed and written by Rowan Joffe, from the novel
by S.J. Watson. With: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong. UK/USA/
France/Sweden, 2014, 92 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).

Day 284: Star Wars: Eçpisode VI - Return of the Jedi (December, 18)

And the next day, the journey wasn't over yet. After the events on Episode VII, it was fit that I saw Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi on TV by chance. It wasn't on my plans to re-watch it so soon, but at that moment I realized how suitable it was to be with Leia, Han and Luke after the events on the last day's movie.

When a saga ends, we usually get the feeling that there'll be better days ahead. Despite the fact  that it is true for awhile, the thing is, the hero's journey never ceases.There's an important lesson in this - our lives doesn't get easier, comfortable or stable just because we get older and assume apparently more comfortable ways of living. Every age has its own struggles, but it is so easy to forget that. A character in Laggies says how he thought that, after getting a job and more experience, he would never have to fit again, only to realize that it is an ongoing movement in life. Until we're dead (and even after, depending on your beliefs) the journey is still on. And on and on.

Greed, power struggles, politics, the dark side of the force... none of those ceased to exist because Luke, Leia and Han defeated the Empire. We see that on Episode VII. This way, it was nice to go back to those older days and stay a litlle bit longer with these beloved characters again.

And the saga continues :)


Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. Directed by Richard Marquand.
With: Mark Hamill. Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford. Writers: Lawrence
Kasdan, George Lucas. USA, 1983, 131 min., 70 mm 6-Track/Dolby, Color (Cable).

Days 283 & 288: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December, 17)

Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.
-- JOSEPH CAMPBELL

It took me a long, long time to finally be able to write abut Star Wars: The Force Awakens. First, I needed to see the movie again, to be sure of my bearings in a less emotional manner (that's why there are two days in this post). Second, Christmas was around the corner, and the days went a bit crazy.

It is weird to talk about this film only now, after I've said and heard so much about it already. On the second screening I could access what I had thought from my first impressions: the first episode of the third trilogy of Star Wars is amazing. It was able to present a heartfelt mix between the previous movies, especially the oldest trilogy, and a new beginning. 

J.J. Abrams is very resourceful, we know that - at least while he is invested in something (Alias and Lost, great TV shows, suffered from his neglect and are a sad testimony of what happens when Abrams get interested in a new project, forgetting that he has already something good on his hands to finish). However, even if I believe in his incredible ways of presenting good (and old) stories, I was a bit suspicious about Star Wars. I entered the midnight showing  on this day very afraid of what I would see, with great expectations and a cautious heart. 

Mandy and me found a nice seat on the floor, near a red lightsaber and extreme fans, in front of the gigantic screen. Darth Vader was in the house too, and I was spooked when we crossed ways by the restroom exit. The atmosphere before the movie was effervescent, to say the least. We had no time to buy popcorn or soda before the movie, so my intention was buy it during the screening. After all, as I've told at the time Amanda, there's usually some boring scenes that allow a brief scape. As if.

From the first letter on the screen til the very end, I wasn't able to avert my eyes from what I was seeing. Neither the discomfort of the floor, the noise around me or the foot tapping near my head could avert my attention also. The pace is insanely good. The main character is absolutely endearing, and the fact that it's a girl is great - a nice change from the other episodes, that, despite presenting strong female roles, had mostly male protagonists. Rey is amazing, and I fell in love for her immediately - only a few didn't, I think.

I've read a lot of comments about how the Episode VII is not really a sequel, but a kind of a remake, because it mimics the previous trilogy events. I try to understand the fan's expectations and all, but I couldn't relate to that view, that sound plain stupid. For me, this movie has a perfect combination of what made Star Wars such a permanent part of popular culture and what means to continue the story nowadays. The new is there, beautifully represented by amazing new characters. What we recognize from the other movies is there too, in a respectful, funny, endearing, heartbreaking and surprising way. Those old characters are myths today, and the way this new chapter honors that is truly great. The usual elements of the Hero's Adventure are still present, and it is a sight to the eyes see who well a cherished story is well constructed in this new installment. Coherence was the word that came to my mind at that moment - aesthetically and in the storytelling. I reckon it is actually outstanding.

I was so surprised at the end at how good this new movie is that I had to see it again to be sure. The small (and annoying) but here was how weak the villain is - a spoiled brat, that's what I thought about Kylo Ren. But there's more to come, and from the many theories from fans, it will be good. I'll wait expectantly, a little bit less afraid of what is coming ahead, now that I've seen that there's a lot to wait for and not much to be scared (I hope).


Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Directed by J. J. Abrams. With: Daisy Ridley,
John Boyega, Oscar Isaac. Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael
Arndt, from the characters created by George Lucas. USA, 2015, 135 min.,
12-Track Digital Sound/Dolby Atmos/Dolby Surround 7.1/Dolby Digital,
Color (Cinema).

2015/12/20

Day 282: Star Wars: Episodes IV, V, VI (Dexember, 16)

I remember when I saw Star Wars: Episodes IV, V and VI at the movies for the first time. They were showing around the same time, for the premiere of Episode VI. I missed the first two at the theaters (just a kid :), but on 1983, I had a major crush on Harrison Ford, despite the fact that the trilogy had already a name for itself. 

It doesn't matter where you stand - a fan, not a fan at all, a truly hater -, it is undeniable how iconic this trilogy is. The whole saga, actually, but those first three movies opened the way to almost forty years of Star Wars as an important part of pop culture. 

It was not by chance that Joseph Campbell, the amazing Jungian mythologist, talked about Luke and his hero adventure on his collection of interviews with Bill Moyers in The Power of Myth. The hero adventure, by the way, is an image to the human experience. It is present in the majority of narratives around us - if not in all of them actually. From the Campbell's work, Christopher Vogler, per example, presented a memo to Hollywood writers entitled The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, now a book that we use a lot on cinema's studies. Despite my contrary feelings about Vogler's work, it is undeniable how clarifying it is. I hate that he instrumentalized something that is big as life for industrial purposes. He is not wrong on his assessments, though. Anyway, I always quote it with caution. 

What doesn't happen when talking about the hero's adventure and the Star Wars saga. George Lucas, also inspired by Campbell's work, proved how fiction can do so much better then theories while referring to the most profound aspects of humanity. On Episodes IV, V, VI he also proved how great entertainment is not devoid of an important debate. Some movies lack it all, of course... but most of cultural phenom are full of essential aspects in life, doesn't matter how silly they look at a first sight. 

Bill Moyers, on the Introduction to The Power of Myth, says a lot about it:

Walking to work one morning after Campbell's death, I stopped before a neighborhood video store that was showing scenes from George Lucas' Star Wars on a monitor in the window. I stood there thinking of the time Campbell and I had watched the movie together at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in California. Lucas and Campbell had become good friends after the filmmaker, acknowledging a debt to Campbell's work, invited the scholar to view the Star Wars trilogy. Campbell reveled in the ancient themes and motifs of mythology unfolding on the wide screen in powerful contemporary images. On this particular visit, having again exulted over the perils and heroics of Luke Skywalker, Joe grew animated as he talked about how Lucas "has put the newest and most powerful spin" to the classic story of the hero.

"And what is that?" I asked.

"It's what Goethe said in Faust but which Lucas has dressed in modern idiom - the message that technology is not going to save us. Our computers, our tools, our machines are not enough. We have to rely on our intuition, our true being."
"Isn't that an affront to reason?" I said. "And aren't we already beating a hasty retreat from reason, as it is?"

"That's not what the hero's journey is about. It's not to deny reason. To the contrary, by overcoming the dark passions, the hero symbolizes our ability to control the irrational savage within us." Campbell had lamented on other occasions our failure "to admit within ourselves the carnivorous, lecherous fever" that is endemic to human nature. Now he was describing the hero's journey not as a courageous act but as a life lived in self-discovery, "and Luke Skywalker was never more rational than when he found within himself the resources of character to meet his destiny."

Ironically, to Campbell the end of the hero's journey is not the aggrandizement of the hero. "It is," he said in one of his lectures, "not to identify oneself with any of the figures or powers experienced. The Indian yogi, striving for release, identifies himself with the Light and never returns. But no one with a will to the service of others would permit himself such an escape. The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others." One of the many distinctions between the celebrity and
the hero, he said, is that one lives only for self while the other acts to redeem society.

Joseph Campbell affirmed life as adventure. "To hell with it," he said, after his university adviser tried to hold him to a narrow academic curriculum. He gave up on the pursuit of a doctorate and went instead into the woods to read. He continued all his life to read books about the world: anthropology, biology, philosophy, art, history, religion. And he continued to remind others that one sure path into the world runs along the printed page.

(CAMPBELL, Joseph; MOYERS, Bill. The Power of Myth. Achor Edition, 1991 - e-book).

Modern idiom, that's movies. A language that changes continuously while presenting to the world the same old humane struggles and achievements. The Star Wars saga has been doing it beautifully for almost 40 years, and it was not for nothing that I thought so important to re-watch the previous 6 movies before the newest one.

Star Wars. Directed and written by
George Lucas. With Mark Hamill,
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer. USA,
1977, 212 min., 70 mm 6-Track/
Dolby/DTS-Stereo/Dolby Digital/
SDDS/Mono, Color (DVD).
The first instalment on the saga was Star Wars. Even with the single name, we knew that it was a part of a saga - it is now referred as Episode IV. So, what happens in all the stories we see was explicit here: every tale is a cut in time and space. There's what came before and what will be next. And what it is now, the story we seeing, reading, listening to. Before Luke's journey, there other that lead to him, as his own story will have many future developments. It is not only a matter of cause and effect, though. It is how life goes, for generations and generations, probably since the beginning of times (whatever that means).

This movie is so good. It didn't felt old, as I though it would. I haven't seen it for a while - the last time was at the '90s, maybe. A long time ago, anyway. I remember a lot of it, contrary to what happened in the first and newer saga. I was really enthusiastic about it, even if a bit sleepy from the last night's marathon. By the way, I woke up from a few hours' sleep really looking forward to see this trilogy. I couldn't wait, actually.

The technical aspects here represent a big achievement for cinema: the sound design is insane for the time, and the cinematography is equally incredible. Truly amazing.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire
Strices Back. Directed by Invin
Karshner. With: Mark Hamill, Carrie
Fischer, Harrison Ford, Frank Oz.
Writers:  Leight Braket and Lawrence
Kasdan, from the story by George Lucas.
USA, 1980, 70 mm/6-Track/Dolby, Color.
So I immediately put Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back on the DVD player. Here we met Yoda for the first time - a presence that permeates all the saga from this moment on. The Indian yogi influence is more explicit with the figure of a master that seems silly, harmless and even annoying at a first sight but in fact is s soul that carries the whole universe in him - as everyone, it is important to say; the difference is that he is aware of it. Awareness being an important image here. Being aware of our true nature - that's the life's adventure and the hero's journey.

And so Luke's goes on his personal (and universal) journey: knowing more and more about his origins, he can access more of his true self. The romantic plot is more developed also - we must remember that the romantic myth is an important part of the hero's adventures. It is an heroic adventure by itself, in fact.


This film ends in a more uncertain note, a lot to come next, as usually happens in the second installment of a trilogy.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi at last! It was almost night, some hour before the time I should leave to the theater in order to see Episode VII and I was still amazed at how Lucas achieved such good action scenes with scarce resources. That he filmed the swamp scene on his unfinished pool is great - such a personal effort is nice to see nowadays, when everything became more impersonal in the biggest productions (there's great exceptions, I know).

My expectations was so high that I wasn't actually able to pay attention to this movie as I wanted - that's why he will make one more cameo on Omad very soon. The first part about all the Jabba the Hutt shenanigans I think is a bit too much. Leia is great here, though - a clue at how the saga view its strong female characters. Carrie Fischer is an other story, though. There are some gossip about how difficult she could be during filming, and there's a funny story about Leia's infamous skimpy costume on the imdb trivia.

I saw the special edition, that brings a different Anakin ghost at the end (it was released after the first trilogy). I was not aware of that, and it was a nice surprise. I don't know if the celebration on Naboo was added too, to justify the mere existence of such an obnoxious being as Jar-Jar Binks. Have you noticed that I didn't mention him in the previous post? He is so awful that his cameo on the third episode is limited to a one line. The comic relief that he is intended to present don't come closer to C3PO and R2D2 (or the amazing impromptu hero, Han Solo and Chewie).

After this movie, George Lucas said that he would never ever work with the three main actor again - Hamill, Fischer and Ford. It was not his intention to film the other two trilogies either. It is actually cute how mercurial brilliant minds are. I'm not sure if it was the money talking or simply because the story was there to be told, but the reality is very different from the initial Lucas' intentions. And soon it was time to head to the movies to see the midnight screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thanks geniality, for being so inconsistent :)

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. Directed by
Richard Marquand. With: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer,
Harrison Ford. Writers: Lawrence Kasdan and George
Lucas, from the story by Lucas. USA, 1983, 131 min.,
70 mm 6-Track/Dolby, Color (DVD)>






2015/12/17

Day 281: Star Wars: Episodes I, II, III (December, 15)

One of the best practices on the present society is the movies/TV Shows marathons. Mel and Mandy are my usual accomplices, and they are amazing. And this time it wasn't different.

Before I start relating my own three day saga with Star Wars, I must remind you of the nature my comments here. Despite some of them featuring some sort of review, the main goal here is to present my perceptions about a movie, telling mostly about my experience with them. I think it is important to clarify this aspect while talking about Star Wars because there's a lot of more specialized comments by the professional fans of the saga. This way, I should alert you to not expect anything on this level in here.

Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace. Directed and written by George Lucas. With:
Natalie Portman, Ewasn McGregor, Liam
Neeson. USA, 1999, 136 min., Dolby
Digital EX/SDDS/DTS ES, Color (DVD).
For this Tuesday, only Mel could accompany me during the first trilogy of Star Wars. The new instalment on this almost 40 years long series was due to have an early screening on Thursday. For me, it was imperative to see all the movies again, especially the first three episodes. This way, with enough pizza and iced tea to last for a few days, tons of popcorn and candy, Mel and me were looking forward to see the first three films of George Lucas Saga.

Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace was the first movie that made me sleep not only on a theater but ever. I think it is so, so boring that it was inevitable actually. On this day, it wasn't different. I was tired, but it was early on the evening and I was overwhelmed by how sleepy I was. I had to behead a lot of jelly bears in order to stay awake.

I try to justify the mere existence of this movie by saying that it brings a good background to the rest of the story. Mandy took me out of this idea pretty fast, with just a few arguments. This movie is really bad, not adding much to the subsequent instalments. I was relieved when it ended and I could finally wake up. 

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of  the Clones. 
Directed by George Lucas. With: Natalie
Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor.
Writers: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales. USA,
2002, 142 min., DTS-ES/Dolby Digital EX/SDDS,
Color (DVD)>
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of The Clones were a different story whatsoever. Here we are able to identify the usual endearing elements of a prequel: the origin and reasons behind such iconic characters and story. It pace is not only faster, but more likely the previous trilogy. This is, by the way, one thing that I think admirable on this saga, filmed in different times, with different technologies: how consistent it is visually. The cuts, how fragmented the scenes are, the usual close on the character, the transition between scenes, the original score that puts us right on the story, the first lines explaining that chapter. We know that we are seeing a Star War movie from the beginning. A big smile is inevitable on the first sequences.

I've heard how the third movie was the best, and it is actually, but I dare say that this second episode  is my favorite on the first trilogy. Ok, except for the awful Padme's wardrobe and the "honeymoon" scenes - they are too cheesy for our sake. I tried to put aside my discomfort in order to concentrate on the story. But it was difficult sometimes. 

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. 
Directed and written by George Lucas. With:
Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan
McGregor. USA, 2005, 140 min.,  DTS-ES/Dolby
Digital EX/SDDS, Color (DVD).
At last, at 2 am, we reached Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. The sleepiness of the first episode was gone for good. I was glued to the screen mostly because this was the only film between those first three that started with an action scene - a strong first statement for sure. 

The only thing I remembered about this trilogy was how sleepy I was at the first episode, and nothing more. I was glad with my decision to watch the first trilogy before the new Star Wars installment. Not only I remembered the story, but could evade my first bad impression about it. It is not the best trilogy on the saga, for sure (I'm putting big hopes on the newest one), but it is not so awful as I recollected. 

And there is some great perks on it: Yoda has a lot more time on the screen than in the second trilogy. The day after, I was telling Mandy how iconic he is, because, even before the first trilogy, he was the most amazing character on the saga. It was nice to have more time with him on screen. Another impressive aspect for me is how strong the female characters are since the beginning - and I'll talk more about that when addressing the Episode VII. Padme doesn't depend on the others to save herself. She is strong, as Leia will be, and it is a joy to see on a movie (especially on a production from the '70s). Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan was a nice surprise also, he is one of my favorite actors. The lightsaber's fights are amazing, without contrasting too much with the older episodes (consistency, remember?). A more advanced technology allowed us to see Yoda lightsaber fighting is a big pink too.

This way, at 5 am, I could barely wait to reach the second trilogy, before the premiere of Episode 7.