18 days to go: Frank (March, 21)

What an odd and sweet movie.

On this day, I had a strong need for something meaningful, for a story about people and their struggle in life. Something that would remember me that we're alive and kicking, trying hard to make sense of our lives. Or even simply trying to stay alive. Frank was an perfect answer.

It is a fairly curious little film, starting for its production. Lenny Abrahamson (who, one year after Frank, would be gifting the world with the amazing Room) directs in a very experimental way some great actors as Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson (in frankly Ascension), Maggie Gyllenhaal in a story that is not easy peasy. Initially, it is funny, ironic, and we follow Gleeson's Don in his search for artistic creativity and fame. He thinks that he has found it in Frank's band, but he really understand where he is until later. Not for nothing he is pegged as an outsider. 

Ok, now I have to tell you that there will be a bit of a spoiler ahead. It is nothing that compromise the experience of this movie, we see this trait in one of the characters since the beginning... but I'm giving you, as always, the choice of meeting this film without any spoilers...

This Alex Murdock's song has nothing to do with the
movie per se, but...

Frank moves beautifully and with care in the direction of discussing difficult matters in life. One of them is mental illness. There's a thing about it that is very difficult to understand from the outside, unless you've been dedicating yourself in a careful exercise of empathy. However how advanced are the studies and despite all the information disclosed daily, there's a perverse judgment towards mental ill people, as it was their choice to be sick or not. And there's a way of looking at life that is very particular - I always remember Bradley Cooper's character in Silver Linings Playbook saying that there's something only he and his friends pegged as crazy could understand. Thanks for the movies that put us in the place of experiencing theses views in order to judge no more. 

This way, of course there weirdness in the movie, and it is cleverly applied. The songs are great, and the whole experience of shooting it must have been amazing. Simply outstanding - all the songs are played by the cast while filming. Scotland and Ireland and Texas ("This looks like Paris, Texas" became one of my favorite quotes instantaneously) are stunning backgrounds for the story of kindred souls looking for their place in life through art and relations. The best way to find out what the f* we're doing it, I think.

Thank you, movies; thank you, amazing cinema, for always being there when I need you.

Fassbender being dwarfed by a truly big head :)

Frank. Directed by Lenny Abramhanson. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall
Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Writers: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan, based on
the paper article by Jon Ronson.UK/Ireland/USA, 2014, Dolby Digital, Color, 95 min.

PS: Paris, Texas, directed by Wim Wenders in 1984, is one of my favorites movies in life. It is a masterpiece, actually, so mesmerazing. And the Ry Cooder score is something from another world. I should revisit it soon  - it has been a long time since I saw it for the last time. 


19 days to go: The Light Between Oceans (March, 20)

All the unusual rain and cold at this time of year in Brasilia leaded me to look for a movie that would fit the night's weather. I wanted a story that would invoke a comfy chair in front of the fire, with a hot cup of tea on the side. For that matter, The Light Between Oceans (other movie I've missed at the theaters last year) was a perfect choice.

The first sounds in the movie are from crashing waves, one of my favorites in life. The pace is quiet, as the characters. Isolation, the search for more peaceful days, the meeting of kindred souls, the amazing scenery... all of that met my expectations. I knew about the story, thanks to those trailers that love to tell the whole plot in just a few minutes. I knew sadness was coming, 

The first half of this movie is endearing, melancholic, sweet during the first beautiful and delicate days of Tom and Isabel's love. Fassbender and Vikander has a lovely chemistry on screen, one that may have been permeate for their feelings out of screen. They work well together, there are beauty and understanding there. 

When the story takes a turn for the worse, we see what this film is mostly about. How many times we take a wrong turn in life, relating small or big things, in order to avoid a conflict or as a sign of love only to discover that the worse is yet to come? It is inevitable. We don't avoid pain with more pain. Maybe this is one of life's biggest lessons. Even if some situations are not black and white, other are very clear, and on these one we know that there's not an acceptable alternative to the sheer truth. 

My biggest but to this movie? The final credits. What a waste of beautiful scenery in a corny attempt to emphasize  the link between the two main characters? It really let a bitter taste on me. Derek Cianfrance was so good in Blue Valentine, so fierce. This tragic story was worthy of the same strength from the first amazing wave sounds to its ending. 

The incredibly beautiful Tasmania

The Light Between Oceans. Directed and written by Derek Cianfrance, based on
the M.L. Stedman's novel. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel
Weiz. UK/New Zealand/USA, 2016, Dolby Digital, Color, 133min.

20 days to go: Julieta (March, 19)

Hey, Almodóvar, long time no see!

Every meeting with Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is a big bet, you never know what you will find, but can be always assured that you'll get out of the theater a bit shaken at least - it doesn't matter much if we love or hate it. His last for features before 2016 were a bullet on the heart: The Skin I Live In (Jeez, what to say about this outstanding film?); Broken Embraces (one of the most intricate homages to cinema). Volver (a little lighter, but just a little) and, finally, Bad Education (another bullet). it is just to quote the last fours... and, yep, letting I'm so Excited (2013) out, if you don't mind. 

So, I was a bit surprised with Julieta, probably the most delicate Almodovar's movie (as Volver). The opening credits are pure Almodóvar, beautiful, pungent, smart, red. The soundtrack, make-up, suspense, those are all Almodóvar too. However, there's something here that was present in all his movies, but in a more hysterical frame: the tragedy and goings of a simple life, of a simple woman. Some expectations are overcame, which is always nice to see, and this movie never disappoints. So beautiful, sad, true, subtle even. The relations are palpable. 

Guilt is one of the more lethal venom in life. It spreads with a dreadful easiness. We all have our own, unfortunately. They live in us, around us, penetrating our surroundings, our loves, our more cherished things in life. That's what Almodovar bring us, taking our hand with such delicacy that it is impossible not to be amazed. Yes, he gave us some bizarre traits - we talking about the incredibly creative Almodóvar, after all. 

I've missed this movie at the theaters precisely because I don't take Almodóvar with an easy heart. I'm always a bit afraid of what I'll find in the cinema, because I know we never leave the theater unscathed. However, times and times this fear of mine has proven to be silly, and with Julieta I had one more proof of that. 

Julieta. Directed and written by Pedro Almodóvar, based on "Silencio", "Destino"
and "Pronto" by Alice Munro. Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao.
Spain, 2016, SDDS/Dolby Digital/Datasat, Color, 95min.

PS:  A couple of yers ago, I've bought a short stories book by Alice Munro mainly because I thought I had seen a lecture about one of her writings in wich an Spanish tour guide in Scotland meets the Loch Ness Monster. I was mistaken, the writer of fhis story is Rosa Monteiro, a El Pais journalist. However, it was a nice opportunity to get to know Munro, an incredible writer. The book is Dear Life, and I'm taking it in small doses (all of them scathingly strong and sad). 


21 to go: John Wick (March, 18)

Saturday night, action movie time!

Again in a dead end in the choice of a movie, I decided for an old Omad strategy: Saturday nights are fit to action movies. Last year, when I saw that there was a thriller with Keannu Reeves, I found out it was a sequel. So I looked for the first one, and that's how I ended up with John Wick

An action movie directed by a stuntman ;)

It was such a bizarre experience. I thought, at first, that it was based on a HQ or a video game. Somethings are very peculiar, as the special currency of the assassins world, the hotel where the guests are exclusively hired killers. The plot by itself is a bit odd - a hired hit man starts a deadly hunt for the men who stole his car and killed his dog. Not that I think it is not a legit reason, but it is curious and not so common. I was joking about it until I've read on imdb.com that it was loosely base on a true event in Texas. This world...

I really don't know what to say to you about this movie. There are pretty cool stuff in here, but others things sound a bit off. The ratings on imdb.com are good, actually. I'll try the sequel to get a better feeling. For now, I can only say that there are way too many deaths to take  it seriously (it becomes almost a caricature), some good action scenes, characters that are interesting (long tlime no see, Agent Broyles) and Keanu Reeves, of course. It was a fun entertainment after all.

John Wick. Directed by Chad Stahelsk (a stuntman!), David Leitch (uncredit).
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian
McShane. Writer: Derek Kolstad. USA, 2014, Dolby Digital/Auro 11.1, Color, 101 min. 

22 days to go : In a Word... (March, 17)

You'll probably question me, a bit impatiently, about how I could complain of having so much time on my hands in order to read, be with my beloved friends, being catered by a sweet carer, being able to watch movies and all the tennis championships on TV. Well, the truth is, and you probably already know that, staying home is so good for being a kind of transgressions against all the rush in this world. Coming home, locking the door, silencing the phone, being alone or spending the night with a good story...it is heaven. However, when you're obligated to do so, the scenery is entirely different. 

Sorry, I'm not complaining. I'm finding ways to enjoy this kind of house arrest and all the changes in my routine, that has being showing me how I'm not the absolute loner I thought I was. One of the many ways to enjoy this time without putting my feet on the ground is to be real with movies, and in this sense such an addendum is helping me a lot. Take today, for an example: a lazy Sunday morning, a grey sky out there, the Away we Go soundtrack on (Alex Murdock, you're saving my days), seating at the table to write gave a great meaning to my day. So, all is OK, actually. 


But there are days I'm not in the mood for thinking. My head is like immersed in formalin. As had happened during my year with Omad, there's days I want to do anything but watch a movie, or think about choosing one. The difference is that, with painkillers, this disposition is more frequent. 

So, Friday night found me staring at the many and many lists of Netflix, praying for the gods of the magic shuffle for someone delightful, easy, endearing sweet to take me out of a foul mood. The problem is I over abused the lucky browsing during Omad, and I'd probably had watched most movies like that. 

In a Word... seemed to fit the bill, though, and so I'd chose it for this day. 

And it was worthy it? Well, I don't know.I think it was. It is with a bit of aloofness that I think about this movie now. It didn't grab my attention immediately. Lake Bell, an actress who we cannot situate in a specific movie is directing here, and she does an OK job. She is also the writer, and her intentions are clear and solid. The deliver is the problem, I think. There's nothing extremely wrong here except a lack of empathy at first. 

The characters are good, a kind of caricature, but even with that Bell gives a much appreciated lesson on prejudice - we keep expecting things from those persons based on their external image, and we see how prejudiced we are when they don't correspond to our expectations. This is always an amazing feature on a story, Unfortunately, here, it lacked more strenght. It is cute, but not endearing as expected .

There's an intention of a powerful message on feminism, however I'm not sure about that either. A dialogue between Lake Bell and Geena Davis, in a brief cameo, let me a bit uncomfortable. Because I've being noticing how some essential fights in life, as gender and race equality, are being dealt with a lot of manipulation. I'll enter sensible ground here, and I ask your help in order to clarify this for me. Do you remember the Oscars last year and all the controversy about the predominance of white nominees? This speaks directly about the lack of opportunities - with there's no roles for minorities, how they can compete fairly? So, this year it was very different, a lot of nominees and winners were not white - all of them deserving and wonderful. But, for me, it is not an evolution or a change of thinking, despite its unquestionable importance - because in a way or other things must change. 

The Geena Davis dialogue gave me a bad taste, though, when she says that the reason why a woman was chosen to do a voice over on a movie trailer was not because she was the best candidate, but because there's a need for strong female voices in the world. I'm not sure if it was proposital, and I don't know if it is just me, but this double standard worries me. On one hand, it is indisputably the truth, but on the other... Well, I hope real equal times are ahead of us, even if the start is very bumpy. 

In a World.. Directed and written by Lake Bell. Cast: Lake Bell, Tig Notaro,
Michaela Watkins. USA, 2013, Dolby, Color, 95 min. 


23 days to go: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (March, 16)

Holly freaking gods of amazing movies!!!

"I didn't chose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose me".

A thousand smiles :)

Joe told me about Hunt for the Wilderpeople some days ago, and it looked like a fit choice for me on this day. I could never have imagine that it would go so beyond all my expectations, becoming one of my favorite movies in life.

If ficcional stories allow us to relate to different people and ways of life, in an important exercise of perceiving the other,  different productions take us to many point of views beyond our own culture. New Zealand movies are remarkable in this sense, as the Nordic, with distinguishable ways of talking about life. Many other are too, I know, of course. But these two always surprise me. 

Nothing is pasteurized here, which can lead to some weariness, but it is a feature I usually find amazing. In this movie, it is endearing actually. The story is so heartbreaking, but it is rare the moments we don't laugh hysterically. Julian Dennison as Rick Baker is something from other world entirely - we love him immediately, despite all his apparent unlovable traits. Sam Neil is almost unrecognizable here. 

The soundrack? Amazing. I was really excited during a rendition of Nina Simone's Sinnerman. The dialogues are something else too - amazing references from pop culture. Great scenery, great people, bizarre situations. A funny, sweet, captivating film, a good place to go from time to time. 

At the end, stay with the final credits, you'll have a nice surprise that will make you sing along happily.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it!!! For real, you'll love it, I'm sure.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Directed and writen by Taika Waititi, based on the
book by Barry Crump (with aditional writing by Tearepa Kahi). Cast: Julian
Dennison, Sam Neil, Rima Te Wiata. New Zealand, 2016, Dolby Atmos, Color, 101min.

PS: The first NZ movie that had a strong impact on me was, as I remember, In my Father's Den, a 2004 production with Matthew MacFadyen, my biggest crush in 2005/2006 (Why? Because of Pride & Prejudice, that's why - no need for explanation, actually. He's is an amazing Darcy). This movie is almost claustrophobic as we become aware of all the terrible trappings of that small town. It was the first time I remember hearing a song by Mazzy Star (absolutely heartbreaking).


24 days to go: Onlly God Forgives (March, 15)

If you ask me, I'd say that only a few things in life are absolute. Violence is one of them, and Nicolas Winding Refn takes it to the letter in Only God Forgives.

How to film a kind of violence that are a subject of many narratives, a lot of others movies? Drugs, revenge, abuse, madness, Oedipus complex... we've all seen it before, but rarely through the colors and aesthetic presented by Refn here. 

It is suffocating, as it should. It is not easy, and it couldn't be. There are reports of people leaving the theater during the movie. Reactions in Cannes were very contrary. The choice of interrelating facts with some of the characters' thoughts doesn't let it be too easy to stay with this story. However, if you let it go and simply go with the tide, everything will make great sense - a sad, tragic, terrible one. 

Refn has worked Ryan Gosling in this movie after the perfection that was their work together in Drive. Yes, for me, the 2011 collaboration epitomizes some features that makes a movie perfect to me. The silence, the characters, the right time for every move... I just love it. Few movie makers are so spot on in the debate about violence (Mikael Haneke is one of the masters), and Refn is taking the podium as one of the best nowadays. 

Discussing violence is a necessity, and there's no better media to do so as fictional narratives: movies, games, HQ... Instead of encouraging violent acts, as we usually hear, those narratives provide the opportunity to debate something that are usually a taboo, that we don't discuss during dinner. For that reason alone, movies like Only God Forgives are very important - and they cannot be easy, right? It is not a futile subject. 

I wasn't very sensible to all the violent deaths and all - they are horrible, graphic, with a bit of Tarantino blood. What really shocked me, and made this movie more relevant, was the dynamic between the mother (an unrecognizable and terrific Kristin Scott Thomas) and their sons, specially Ryan Gosling. Man, An absolute horror.

At the end, a bit mesmerized, I looked at Rodrigo (today's carer :), expecting what he would say. And of course he didn't disappoint: 'well,' he said, 'it is a movie about a police officer doing his job'. Who am I to disagree, even if the scenario is so, so much bigger than that?

Only God Forgives. Directed and writen by Nicolas Winding Refn. Cast: Ryan
Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansrigarm. Denmark/France/USA/Sweden,
2013, Dolby Digital, Color, 90 min.

PS:The scenes in Thai weren't translated. The discomfort that such a choice caused reminded me of The Name of The Rose. Umberto Eco said that the quotation in Latin in his book were like the lack of light in a movie: something you just don't see or understand. This feature in the Refn's film makes much sense. There's a lot we just don't know, and there's no way to be different.