Day eighty-one: The Water Diviner (May, 29)

Today I remembered something from a Robin William's movie, The Final Cut, 2004: his character edits the chip that all humans have behind their eyes, capturing each moment of each one of us in Earth. The editing version is a sort of eulogy. After one of those, the deceased's brothers question him about the color of the family's boat. In the edited images, it is red, but he remembered it as green - something like that, because my memory is not so exact either.

No memory is, I think. "You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened", said John Green in An Abundance of Katherines

This quote could apply to me today. My mind played some tricks to me. For a reason that I'll never be able to point out, I thought the story in The Water Diviner was based in facts. And only because of that I gave a chance to the last Russel Crowell's movie - his directional debut on features, no less. Some films are interesting mostly by their biographic aspect, and we saw that last year with The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything (that I insist to remember as the theory of nothing...). But I was wrong, the story here is not based on facts, and so the whole reason for being there in front of this incredibly cheesy movie was lost by a shameless mind trick on myself. 

The movie is everything that I would thought and worse. Gratuitous and poor close-ups, lousy editing, terrible sound and dubbing(I don't know the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, but both are bad - no way something is saved from this mess), a wasteful use of soundtrack, cheesy romantic scenes, nonsense editing (I have to say this twice, because it is really bad). The plot is good, but that is all. The cinematography is not hideous as the rest (how ruin Turkish scenery?), but it is also not incredible to a point that would justify this whole hastily and stereotypied narrative. 

At some parts, I had to cover my face in shame. It was this bad for me. However, the ratings on imdb.com are good, so maybe it is just me being contrary once more. 

The Water Diviner. Directed by Russell Crowe. With: Russell Crowe,
Olga Kurylenko, Yilmaz Erdogan
(His character is one of the few reassurances
in this film). Writer: Andrew Knight, Andrew Anastasios. Australia/US/Turkey,
2014,  111 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).

PS: Today's two fragments present Benedict Cumberbatch in different moments of his career. The less known one in Third Star, 2010, that looked awfull to me at first sight, but actually has good ratings on imdb.com. The other is more prominent, and I'm in front of it right now: Star Trek Into Darkness, 2013. 

Day eighty: Away We Go (May, 28)

When I'll finally get to travel around the US, I'd like my trip to be an indie film.

Ok, this is a studio production, but its atmosphere s undeniably not mainstream (and it adopted a green filmmaking). Maybe the soundtrack of Away We Go, a 2009 movie by Sam Mendes, with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, inspired the thought about an indie movie trip. I'm not sure. The story of a couple that travels to many places where they have friends or family to decide where would be better raise their upcoming child has a part on it too. Both are trying to find their place in the world and  an affectionate and cherished home to their kid. They feel so inadequate to the task they have ahead that they don't imagine doing it by themselves only. So, they try to learn with others what to do, seeking a refuge and support in their loved ones. Many places, many people, different backgrounds:  I was able to relate ourselves to stories that made terribly sense to me. 

Lovely is a fit word to this movie. Pure love, a good expression. 

And too funny for my own sake sometimes was a constant thought (particularly when I choked on tangerine juice in one of many cute funny stunts by Krasinski. An advice: food and drinks should be avoided here). By the first "too good to be true" scene we can already realise that. Seriously. The beginning is already in my favorite first scenes.

I'm not sure Away We Go is a fit title, though. The sense is just the opposite in this movie. The travel, as a lot of the trips in our lives, happens actually inside ourselves, our heart, our souls, our minds. Sorry if this sounds cheesy, still it is true though. Especially a journey that has as a main goal find a fit place in the world. Not and easy resolution at all, but a really sweet one with both characters and the people around them - family and friends.

An afterthought: Sometimes, I'm really not in the mood for movies. I'm to engrossed on a book (the case here), or I want to see new episodes of Penny Dreadful... The thing is  that there are days in which I see myself without fulfilling this dare late at night. I found Away We Go by chance, at 11 pm, in Netflix, and it was a happy surprise. In minutes, I forgot about my book. Well, not entirely (I spent the night reading it afterwards, and I'm writing this post in a poorly zombie state), but at least during the movie I could enjoy the trip, relating to it immensely. 

Away We Go. Directed by Sam Mendes. With: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph,
Allison Janey.  Writer: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida. US/UK, 2009, 98 min., 

Dolby Digital/DTS, Color (Netflix). 


Day seventy-nine: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May, 27)

The characters in the Marigold Hotel movies are old and good friends. If in the first instalment, they were a sweet surprise, in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, they were finally and gladly back after a long absence, even if not in such a good and delicate story as the first.

But that really doesn't matter much in here. The scenario could have been worse when trying to revive such a lovely story and characters, and I was actually expecting the worst. The movie trips on some points, such as over exaggerate the already effusive character Sonny Kapoor. It gets annoying pretty soon in the film. After getting over it ,  though, it is easy to relate to those cherished characters, in the telling of all the possibilities of life when we erroneously think that there are anything else new coming up ahead. 

Judi Dench's Evelyn says, at one point, that there she is, having to reinvent herself again. "How many lives I'll have yet?", she asks. Getting old is not an easy business, but the toughest parts are brought in by our illusions and the comfortably numb idea by which older we get, less opportunities in life we'll have. I really hope that it is not true, because, at 45, I feel that my live doesn't even truly began. And the Marigold Hotel's guests tell me that by sweet stories about their new adventures at life in an age that most people thought they would be better at home watching TV, waiting for their own story to end.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Directed by John Madden. With
the ever amazing: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nigh. Writers: Ol Parker.
UK/US, 2015, 122 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).


Day seventy-eight: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (May, 26)

When, at night, I had a low fever and throat sore, I realized that a cold had caught me hard. But, earlier on the afternoon, while watching A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, by Swedish director Roy Andersson, I wasn't able to figure out why I was so asleep and kind of dizzy. 

During the film, I dozed off five or six times. In each of them, I started to dream about the movie in front of me, changing the story in the sketches (the movie is composed of many of them). Everytime I opened my eyes, though, the same scene was rolling in front of me, and the time hasn't moved much. For that, you can realize that the movie hasn't the fastest of paces. 

That is not a problem for me, in life or the diegetic world. Silence and quiet in movies as a way to tell a story can create some masterpieces in cinema. And at the beginning of this film, I thought it was leading to one of those incredibly woven movies. the silly bureaucracy that stops before nothing, even death; how life fades in a second; unrequired love and pain; ongoing bankruptcy; violence against fellow humans; aristocracy and its unfair ways; guilty, pain, loss... The whole story of humanity is there, in fragments united by some characters. However, because of my dizziness or because of the film itself, the downhill became too steep soon. 

I don't know, but I think that maybe the Pigeon had written the script. While looking at humans in aloofness, trying to find the next bread crumb, he could tell what he was seeing with occupancy, but wasn't actually able to relate to it. It is understandable, after all. I cannot judge the Pigeon for that.

If it was a Pigeon at least.

The sketches in the movie are very symbolic of human race. Some of its aspects are represented in what could have been a revolutionary and fierce way. Some people think the movie has achieved it, but not me, unfortunately. It was not a surprise to hear many footsteps leaving the theatre (the cinema where I was is small and an embellished dump, and we can hear every little movement made by the other patrons). Everything in it is made to take us out of a comfort zone - I can admire that. Yet, the way it was presented wasn't for me. 

A curiosity: Roy Andersson also directed  A Swedish Love Story, movie that I've seen four days ago.

Damm... this I've missed while dosing off.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En Duva Satt pá en Gren
Och Funderade pá Tillvaron
). Directed and written by Roy Andersson. With:
Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Viktor Gillenberg. Sweden/Germany/Norway/
France, 2014, 101 min., Color (Cinema).

PS: I don't know if I'm masking the facts, but I remember napping only three times in a cinema during my 35 career as a moviegoer. The first one was at Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, 1999, during the most boring chasing scene in the story of cinema. I was really surprised, though. That never had happened to me before. The next was only last year, in The Hobbit marathon at the movies. After lunch, in a comfy big chair, I nodded off for half an hour in the Rivendell part in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012. It is my favorite movie in the trilogy, but I had a good nap, actually. And the third was just yesterday. I don't like it, I don't even nap in front of TV, but sometimes is really inevitable.


Day seventy-seven: Short Term 12 (May, 25)

I was so in love at the end of Short Term 12 that my first thought was go back to the start and watch it all over again. I took a breath, saw again the last scene, and went to sleep very grateful to Joe for telling me about this movie. 

A sense of enchantment took hold of me during the whole film. To tell such painful and true and strong stories with a delicate tone is something amazing, and some movies do that wondrously. Short Term 12 is one of them. 

The thing is, we carry the pain of growing up with us for all our adulthood, until we are able to look at it in the eyes, holding the stare for as long as is needed. We grow up, turn up to be amazing, sensible, centered adults. We find love, a job that makes sense to us. Nothing is perfect, don't get me wrong, but someway we found the strength and courage to keep going. But an terrified child is still in us, crouched in a corner, until we actually look at them with care, attention, affection, and finally give them the love they deserve. 

Short Term 12 talks about that in a scenario that we cannot divert our eyes from: child abuse and abandonment. Something that, actually, happens in diverse levels to every kid. And despite the fact that fortunately not everyone had a violent childhood, it is more common that we and the statistics admit. A few years ago, I've read a journalistic piece about how Chile had the highest numbers of child abuse in domestic environment of South America, but no one would admit it. It was - and is, everywhere - hidden behind the closed doors of homes in different economical and social classes. It is around us everywhere, and movies like this tells that to us with a crude and yet delicate honest about it. 

Brie Larson's Grace is incredible. She is so human, as the others characters, that I'd like to be her friend, to work with her, to talk to her about a lot of things, so close she was by the way her story was told. The characters are so real they are almost palpable. Grace is the protagonist, and she is admirable in her strenght and humanity and fear, and that a movie is able to picture this in that true manner is something that always amazes me. I think that's why I wanted to go back to the beginning after watching this film: to be with those people that had endured so much, and yet are able to give a lot to others that live the same hell.

Lose the faith in humanity and get it right back is a constant movement in me. And usually, what gives my faith back, renewed and bigger than ever, are people that show with their lives how it is possible to live beautifully, in a simple manner (not in the spectacular way of Hollywood heroes), day by day, with love, a careful attentions to other and companionship, always. And that I have friends like that in my life, not only in the movies, also is a true amazement to me every day. 

Short Term 12. Directed and written by Destin Daniel Cretton. With:
Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Keith Stanfiel. US, 2013, 96 min. Dolby
Digital, Color (DVD).

PS: I first noticed John Gallagher Jr. in his outstanding and awarded performance in the Broadway musical Spring Awkening, 2006. The two protagonists in the musical were played by Jonnanthan Groff (Looking, 2014) and Lea Michelle (Glee, 2009). John is in my favorite episode of The West Wing, 20 Hours in America: Part One (2002), but I didn't know about him at the time. So, after being amazed by his Moritz Stiefel (that I've only seen in fans videos, unfortunately), I was more attentive to his career, and I was pleased to see him in the last Aaron Sorkin's TV show, The Newsroom, 2012. He seems sweet, and so he gets many nice clumsy guys roles (He is so truly lovable in Short Term 12). But Moritz showed that he is capable of bizarre and strong characters, and I expect that the film and television industries don't forget about that. The following video is from the performance in Tony Awards 2007, the best image available in youtube. John Gallagher Jr. appears around 1'56'', and his brief appearance is able to show how good he is in this role.

PPS: I knew anything about Short Term 12 before watching it. Only after a few minutes into the film that I was able to situate myself in the story, but for a few minutes I didn't know where I was. And piece by piece the puzzle started making sense. Despite not bothering much about spoilers, see a movie without knowing about it is a great chance to be amazed. Disappointment is involved also, sure, but that's life, right? 


Day seventy-six: Altman (May, 24)

At the end of Altman, Kathryn Reed Altman, the main narrator in this beautiful documentary, says that her late husband, Robert Altman, has attended a movie screening on the afternoon after the World War II, in 1945. The film was Brief Encounter, an outstanding production by David Lean, my favorite director when I was 14 years old, and still a beloved and important filmmaking to me. She said, in the last line of the documentary, that Altman didn't want to see a Hollywood production at that day. That he told her how the protagonist wasn't a babe or too interesting, but 20 minutes into the movie and he was absolutely enthralled with the character and the story, and had tears in his eyes. That is cinema, she says at last.

Altman was also a favorite of mine in the 90's. Trying to trace a line to the reasons of this favoritism, I reached The Player, 1992. Its audacious and famous opening scene, with 7min8sec without a break, is a film lesson both by its technique as the ironic text that pokes fun at Hollywood, criticizing its ways of making cinema. At that time, Altman already had an extensive and disturbed history with the industry, and what he had endured allowed him to write such an accurate and scorching criticism. 

After that, his two following films were under my radar: Short Cuts, 1993, and Pret-à-Porter, 1994. I was a little disappointed at Dr T and the Women, 2000, but that was Altman: a diversified production on TV, cinema and theater. He wouldn't stop in front of a bad critic. After some changes, he would find a way to do what seemed to be his reason in life: tell about the world, his views about life and people and politics and art and movies through different media and stories. "I don't direct, I watch", he said once. A movie as a point of view about the world and humanity. That says all. 

I was very emotional during the whole documentary. The choice of familiar narrators - his wife and sons, and himself in amazing interviews and testimonials - brings him closer to us. When they show him getting the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1970 by MASH, I started to cry, stopping only in brief moments. In his second time winning Cannes, as best director, I surrendered to my emotion, and forgot any sense of decorum. Knowing more about Altman's life threw me back to the years that his movies meant so much to me.

He had many lives, as his movies. He reinvented himself in order to continue creating stories. He brought important technical advances to the cinema - all of them not for technical reasons in itself, but as a manner to enable a better voice to its characters and the story. He did try to insert life to films and TV shows. He produced a movie with his students when there were no money to produce it. He sold many houses, moved to Canada, France, and back to the US. During his life, one that could become a lot of different movies, he presented different stories to the world, some of them acclaimed by critic and public, other not so much. But his fundamental role in the movie's history is undeniable. To me, to my own story with movies, he is essential. 

The point of view of some of his collaborators in movies, actors and filmmaking, is presented by answering a question: what is Altmanesque? The answers are amazing, as the people that answer them.

Of course I was crying at the final line, that furthermore quoted my favorite movie and director. Because when something makes sense to us, it is like that: it envelops many aspects of our lives, and nothing better to do that than fictional art. Specially movies, those amazing bits of life in images, sound and daring artists. 

Altman. Directed by Ron Mann. With: Kathryn Reed Altman, Robert
Altman, Bruce Willis
(my favorite answer :).Writer: Len Blum. Canada,
2014, 96 min., Color (Cable TV).
PS: Look, I love Hollywood movies, my biggest life references come from it, but there's no doubt that french awards know better. Altman got two wins at Cannes Festival, but haven't won any of his 5 Oscar nominations. It is not unusual for the Academy the attempt to atone its own stupidity, and a few months before his death, Altman received a Honorary Oscar, and of course his speech, despite being ironic, even if sweet at times, got me in tears again (or yet, considering the time I spent crying in this documentary).


Day seventy-five: The Age of Adaline (May, 23)

I was curious but not actually excited to see The Age of Adaline. It looked like a good story, a nice movie, but... the risk of cheesiness was too high. I tried it anyway, though. 

And the movie has some major tricky issues, as a production, but the ups prevailed over the downs, and I had a smile during the most of its almost two hours. 

For me, the biggest problem here is the excess of explanations. It is a kind of SciFi story, for Gods sake. Consistency is important, of course, but the voice over narrator explaining every bit detail is nauseating. The explanation about why the main character no longer gets old is interesting, but was too much. The perpetual need of detailed explanation in Hollywood movies is something so old, they could have lost it by now. And it is even sickening in this movie. But the story is good, the performances are credible, the characters are enthralling, and that is some of the elements that lead to a good movie, despite other against aspects. 

Blake Lively carries her character in a contrite and soulful manner, and in doing that she is great. Michiel Huisman is Kira's father, so he can do whatever he wants (sorry GoT fans, I can't say much about Daario Naharis). His character is a sign of how romantic heroes are changing - and it has been like that for a time in literature. Of course, the guy is filthy rich, fit, über hot (and to think that poor fat ordinary people is still unworthy of love stories in popular fiction). But there are other features in him: smart (a genius actually), clumsy, honest, sweet, nerdy. Those were unusual characteristics for a romantic protagonist until a few years ago, but they are getting more and more common in romantic stories.

Am I being too obvious?

Sorry, but I think it's important to highlight my point on this  matter...

Ok. But in fact I want to say something more: Fantasy and SciFi fiction usually refer to fundamental aspects of life with their surreal tales. That's why they're so gripping. Here, the essential is how we fear living and falling in love, to one point that we stop to live at all - in this case, she stops aging. Until we dare to face what looked impossible and start living again. The universe also doesn't let us escape for much longer, I think, and it is beautifully pictured in the movie. However, once more, I must say: we could have faced less explanation here, because the better stories don't need it. The world they bring, the people they present us are suffice to tell all, when well told. But this movie couldn't dare to be that much, I guess.

The Age of Adaline. Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. With: Blake Lively,
Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford. Writers: J. Mills Goodloe et al. US, 2015,
112 min., Auro 11.1/Dolby Digital/Dolby Atmos, Color (Cinema).

Day seventy-four: A Swedish Love Story (May, 22)

I found out about this movie in some of the imdb.com's lists, where it was referred as a love story - hence the movie's name, A Swedish Love Story (En Kärlekshistoria), a Swedish production from the 1970's. Some of the comments on the same site sustain how beautiful this love story is and blah blah. 

Sorry, folks, but this is not a love story. Well, I must add, it wasn't one for me. 

Two teenagers fall in love in a quiet, beige, beautiful Swedish scenery. Silent dialogues, nothing too hysteric until the end, we accompany the two falling in love, their friends and family as a background. Or, better, their love story is the background for an incredible picture of the Swedish life at the time. For me, this is what the movie is really about: how familiar and professional matters were changing, going to the direction of a more capitalist way of life, loosing the simplicity and quiet way of living. 

The cinematography is outstanding. The images that tell so much without words are timeless. Cinema can be a way of documenting life by fictional stories, and the Roy Andersson's film does that to me. One disturbing aspect of the time, though, is that a 15 years old teenager looked like a 10 years old today's child. I had to tell myself all the time that they were 15, 16 years old, to remember that those were not children kissing and sleeping together. But it was weird anyway. I don't know if it was intentional, to mark how young they were. 

Nordic cinema I adore. Its views about human beings, life, the world  are so incredibly translated in movies. I was glad to reach an older Swedish production, to be a part of this document of a way of life that is no more - without nostalgia or regret (just a bit, maybe). But it is mainly an objective yet poetic view, I think. There is no "ah, but the old ways of living are  better and such", only a delicate and contundent vision of how things change. In that matter, the youth can carry the first marks of the transformation, and, at the same time, they can hold on beautifully to what really matter in life and is worth still, such as love. 

A Swedish Love Story (En Kärlekshistoria). Directed and
written by Roy Andersson. With: Ann-Sophie Kylin, Rolf
Sohlman, Anita Lindblom. Sweden, 1970, 115 min., Stereo, Color. 


Day seventy-three: 3 Hearts (May, 21)

I don't know exactly why, but one day my 11 years old niece looked at me and said: "C'est tragique". When I questioned her, she told me she had looked it on google translator. Why, as I've just said, I never knew.

C'est tragique is what came to my mind while watching 3 Hearts (3 Coeurs), a Benoît Jacquot's movie. Another thing that I remembered was something that Umberto Eco said (one of his fictional characters actually) in, maybe, Foucault's Pendulum, 1989: every what if conjecture, when opposed to something that occurred,  is false; it is per se something that didn't happened. Thus, it is a futile assumption. 

What if could also be the prerogative of every tragedy. What if Oedipus had known his father and mother, instead of being unaware of his own origins? Or, better yet, what if Laius hasn't been so rushed to avoid a tragedy and wouldn't act precisely in order to cause one? It is tempting keep imagining many possible what ifs, but the reality of what happened won't change.

3 Coeurs' tone is since the first scene a tragedy - the main musical theme, repeated in different moments, tells us that. The fear that causes the male protagonist many panic attacks is a presage of an imminent threat. And so we spend 106 min. in a strained state, waiting for the worst, with the story told in chunks of time - the viewer fills in between the parts that aren't showed. The movie is a bit irregular at telling this story, it is over dramatic at times, but some things in the narrative are well presented and elaborated. It doesn't highlight the facts and situations,but the characters. And that's always a good thing.

However, for me, this is not a movie about a lover's triangle, as hinted by the title. It is a tale about fate, unfortunate incidents, the tragedy that threatens even the most ordinary lives, not only that of the big characters in history. 

Seeing Catherine Deneuve so plasticized breaks my heart every time.

3 Hearts (3 Coeurs). Directed by Benoît Jacquot. With: Benoit Poelvoorde,
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni. Writers: Julien Boinvent, Benoît 

Jacquot. France/Germany/Belgium, 2014, 106 min. DTS. Color (Cinema).


Day seventy-two: Mad Max: Fury Road (May, 20)



This post could end here, with me babbling infinitely, and it would be accurate of what I saw at the movies today.

These amazing strong colors <3
With all the incredibly high ratings and praising comments, I was still cautious about Mad Max: Fury Road. As I've said already, I'm a bit contrary, so it was against the grain that I would trust this new installment in the Mad Max series, 30 years after the last one. Oh those of little faith.

By the same crazy visionary mind of George Miller, this movie was incredible. For a start, I wasn't able to really take a breath or blink until almost one hour and a half through it. The right use of 3D is a bit responsible for that - also a bigger screen and a good sound system in the theater. 

I was afraid that a bigger budget would mean a big change in the whole series, but no. All the bizarre craziness of the first films is still there, only visually more brutal, beautiful and breathtaking. The location was still South Wales, at Australia. The desert, the crazy character, the cars, the silent really mad Max... with the good addition of a powerful feminine story and strong female characters. Charlize Theron rules it, by the way.

The thing about a dystopian story is its similarity with the present world. One obnoxious and stupid person can rule the world, slaving people, abusing women, controlling the natural resources... and all that is accepted as natural for a lot of people. But it is not, and stories as Blindness do argue against it very accurately. Dystopian fiction does the same, in another kind of environment, with no less significance. 

George Miller did that beautifully in his new Mad Max, raising the tone of his previous movies on the series in order to speak loudly about the world today, in a futurist representation of our present. 

And lets wait for the other three movies, while catching the breath after this one.

MAd Max: Fury Road. Directed by George Miller. With: Charlize Theron,
Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult. Writers: George Miller, Brandan McCarthy,
Nico Lathouris. Australia/US, 2015, 120 min., Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS/
Dolby Atmos, Color (Cinema).

PS: In the post about Mad Max 2, I said how there were no songs in its soundtrack. This one keeps the musical logic of the series, with only a few songs. But the emphasis in the rock'n roll aspect of this story is finally there, in the ever presence of a guitar in the war front. 

PPS: Today, I started a new experiment :) For a time now, my friend Mel has been talking about Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's horror trilogy in books The Strain. I've read the prologue last year, and I was so scared that I couldn't continue it. These last days, though, I got curious about the TV adaptation, and tried to read the books again. Knowing more about the story helped me to go beyond the first pages. Thus I decided to try something different: After reading some pages, I watch the episode related to what I've read. There a need for some compromising, because the TV show can go ahead of what I've read. And so, negotiating part by part, I intend to finally go through the whole trilogy. I confess that I'm a bit smug about this idea... Silly me :)

PPPS: Penny Dreadful is back! I'm hoping for an amazing season 2, as good as the first. I've watched the first two episodes of season 2 and it is looking good already: beautiful, heartbreaking, anguished, scary.

PPPPS: I've just seen this pic of Mad Max: Fury Road's  cast in Cannes... Tom Hardy's Max has a high heels boots for the movie, for sure.


Day seventy-one: Rust and Bone (May, 19)

I'm here with my heart on my hands.

It is funny how somethings are, the things that are connected even without our knowledge. Earlier today, I was waiting a medical appointment. On the TV, a movie that I couldn't hear, only see. A mother in a grocery store with her hungry son, without money to buy some food, takes a sandwich without paying. Her fear while leaving the store is so sad, there wasn't any need for words to realize that. I thought, for a moment, what it would be like to not be able to take care of your own kid. 

So, I shouldn't have been surprise when I just came across this same situation in the beginning of today's movie, Rust and Bone (De Rouille et D'os), with the always amazing Marion Cotillard and the surprising Mathias Schoenaerts. The first scenes are about a father trying to take his son out of the city, seeking for leftovers food on a train. The sadness and desperation are the main tone of this film, from its start, one however that at last speaks loudly about hope and love.

Tragedies are made of dubious matter. They can break us. They can mend us. All in the same disturbed and painful manner. That we sometimes need such a thing to put us in our own track is one of the saddest things in life.

The main characters are great: I wanted to hit them on one moment; the next, they brought a big smile on my face, particularly Alain, a guy that goes through life as if it is absolutely nothing at all, until he realizes that there's more to it. He is so full of nonsense sometimes, and at other moments he does the most unexpected right things. It is mesmerizing actually.

A strikingly good movie - despite the good reviews, I don't know why I wasn't sure about it. But it brought me a warm feeling about life in a day that I was asking the one carrying the world to stop it and let me out. 

Rust and Bone (Des Rouille et D'os). Directed by Jacques Audiard. With:
Marilon Cotillard, Mathias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure. Writers: Jacques
Audiard, Thomas Bidegain from the story by Craig Davidson. France/Belgium,
2012, 120 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).

Day seventy: Mad Max 2 (May, 18)

So, after the first George Miller's movie, the next day I reached Mad Max 2. It has better ratings and enthusiastic comments, so I was expecting a lot (I remembered anything about the film from the first time I saw it). 

It begins differently, trying to do what the first one didn't: explain the setting of this Apocalypse world and its characters. We  are not put in this world without warning anymore, as did better the first Mad Max. Another difference is the more explicit violence and sex/rape - but still short, as in the first film. The protagonist is yet the car chasing scenes.

There's something to say about older movies. What gets old to me is not the images or the filmmaking or the costume design in itself - elements that we can identify with a specific time. What annoyed me a lot in this movie and sounded (no pun intended) really old was the soundtrack. 

Orchestrated scores were usual that time, and despite the composer be the same from the first installment -  the Australian Brian May -, I thought the placement of music here is a bit heavy. Of course, nowadays it would be a lot of rock songs, according to the movie atmosphere. I know the times are different, but I didn't felt like this on the first movie. The omnipresent musical score got in the way, for me, of the good action scenes. The first movie brought more silence, what was fitting to the desert scenery. Here, there's no space for other sounds than the score. 

Ok, maybe I'm being picky and contrary, it is a prerogative of every movie goer :) But the first movie, being so recent in my mind, still had a highlighted place in me compared to this second one. 

MAd Max 2. Directed by George Miller. With: Mel Gibson, Bruce
Spence, Michael Preston. Writer: George Miller, Terry Hayes.
Australia, 1981, 95 min., Dolby/70 mm 6-Track, Black and White,
Color (DVD). 

PS: The trivia here is great too.

Day sixty-nine: Mad Max (May, 17)

A low budget movie from an unknown aussie director has a fourth sequel 35 years after its premiere... That's Mad Max, and I thought I should watch it again before going to the movies to check out this new film on the franchising.

I rarely read something about a movie before seeing it, so I didn't know the new Mad Max: Fury Road is a sequel. First, I thought it was a remake, so I wasn't so enthusiastic about it. But all the hype and great ratings (100% at RottenTomatoes on the first days is something to look for - now it is in 98%) lead me to pay careful attention to it. 

I've seen the first Mad Max 30 years ago, and had no recollection about it beyond the fact that I'd enjoyed it a lot and that the third installment - Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - was pretty silly. So see it again before reaching the new Mad Max movie sounded a good idea. 

And it was. Today, dystopian fiction is  a common sense, but to realize what was for a doctor-turned-director produce such a story on the late 70's in the remote Australian desert is a good story in itself. The desert could be the protagonist in this story. The post-apocalypse punky visual is greatly bizarre. An unknown too young Mel Gibson has no expression, but who's complaining? And some scenes are awfully edited. But that doesn't take out the credit of this movie and his pioneering features. Not for nothing it is still here 35 years its first appearance.

George Miller got the money for his post-apocalypse movie doing shifts as a doctor in a ER. He did what he could to shoot Mad Max in such a low budget. After 35 years from his first movie, he finally was able to achieve his vision - that I have to see yet, I'm just assuming. His filmography during this time is curious: from the Mad Max movies he went to more emotional productions as Lorenzo's Oil and child films, with The Witches of Eastwick  in the middle. For that, I think his story would deserve a film.

Seeing Mad Max before going to the movies to check out its new installment was a nice experience. And it continued in the next day, with the second movie in the series. But that is a story for another post. See y'a :)

Mad Max. Directed, written (with James McCausland), produced, envisioned
by George Miller. With: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne.
Australia, 1979, 88 min., Mono, Color (DVD). 

PS: There's a lot of interesting curiosities in this production: see imdb.com trivia.


Day sixty-eight: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (May, 16)

With The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (extended version) I got to the end of the Swedish movies for the Millennium trilogy. Finally.

The movie has a different pace from the other two - the second one I've seen just a few days ago. The third instalment presents less action, more suspense, more complicated intrigues and secrets (I was still chewing my poor nails though). The personal sphere is transcended to the public one, and Lisbeth's story is not only about a wronged girl anymore. 

I love the dynamics between Lisbeth and Mikael - they are connected even from a distance. And at this movie I changed my view about a subject that annoys me a lot in the books: how characters are able to identify the changing expressions of each other. Sentences like "he had a painful look, but it disappeared immediately" are really annoying. Go figure. Sure, we can identify other people's feelings by their expressions, but I think this gets a bit too far on the books. However, and a big one but, in one of the last scenes, Noomi Rapace and her outstanding performance as Lisbeth proved me wrong one more time. And I was happy with that :)

Every time I see the movies about the Millenium Trilogy, I wish I'd read the books. And at the next moment I change my mind. Maybe a couple of years from now, after these movies had vanished a little from my mind (which is not difficult with my weak memory). The story has many layers, and despite having said before that the movies, good as they are, would be enough, I still get the feeling that much more wait for me in Stieg Larssons's books

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (Luftslottet som Sprängdes). Directed
by Daniel Alfredson. With: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre.

Writer: Ulf Rydberg from the book by Stieg Larsson. Sweden/Denmark/
Germany, 2009, 189 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).

Day sixty-seven: Dr. Strangelove or... (May, 15)

"How can we win, when fools can be kings?", says a song by MUSE. Stanley Kubrick built, with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb, a comedy around this question, more than 50 years before Matt Bellamy's song.

Despite being staged in the context of the Cuban missile crises in 62, and even if the Communism is not The question anymore (unless you live in Brazil, where the 50's paranoia is oddly enough worse than ever) and the cold war has been already replaced for other horrid conflicts, the Kubrick's main topic in this movie still prevails. The world is on the hands of unqualified, greedy, fool, crazy, disturbed rulers. Stupidity, provincialism, madness are presented in some of its characters. The ongoing presence of Nazism, under other names, is also discussed on the Peter Sellers's Dr. Strangelove. I caught some of the references in the movie, but there are so many that probably some of it escaped me. The ones that I've identified, though, were incredibly current in the nowadays politics. 

The situation was so unbelievably odd that a parody was a good choice to approach it. Peter Sellers is genius, George C. Scott is also terrific, and the whole movie unfolds in a dark comedy about the inapt rulers in a world increasingly deregulated.The final discussion about who would have more land and women when in the underground, bellow a destroyed planet was really scary, even if truly funny.  

Against this madness, we cannot do much but the best we can. However, as another musical quotation, "If you try the best you can, the best you can is good enough". Or we can hope so. 

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb.
Directed and writen by Stanley Kubrick. With: Peter Sellers, George C.
Scott, Sterling Hayden. US/UK, 1964, 95 min., Mono, Black and White (DVD).

PS: What a cineast as Stanley Kubrick is capable of... Four years after this staggering comedy, he presented the world 2001: A Space Odissey and, a couple of years later, A Clockwork Orange (both are book's adaptations). One man, three very accurate views of the world in different genres of movies. 


Day sixty-six: I Was Here (May, 14)

Another Estonian movie this week: I Was Here (Mina Olin Siin), despite being another amazing production from Estonia, was a very hard choice for a morning movie.

It was nauseating sometimes, so much that I really question myself about seeing it today on early morning - the only time available to me to see a film today. This proves how where and when are fundamental choices regarding a movie.

The thing is, Mina Olin Siin is very effective in what he says, and so it is difficult no to feel bad. So many hard subjects, such violence... There's no way to not feel sick, actually. Maybe it contains a bit of a professorial tone noticeable by the drug subject, but the movie goes beyond that for me, and revolves around our choices in life settled mostly by our attempts to run away from what hurts, and also by trying to take care of the whole world at the same time. 

The music at the end, by EEls, tells a lot about the main character and the story: I won't ever be the same. That is Rass' journey. As the English title says, Rass was here, but maybe he is not anymore. By his own words, "You fight so you don't have to watch our soul bleed". But it bleeds anyway, and Rass realizes that in the hardest way: by loosing himself while trying to survive. 

I Was Here (Mina Olin Siin). Directed by René Vilbre. With: Ramus
Kaljujäv, Doris Tislar, Hele Köre. Writer: Ilmar Raag from the book
Mina Olin Siin: Esimene Ares, by Sass Heno, Estonia/Finland/Taiwan,
2008, 95 min., Color (DVD).

Day sixty-five: The Girl Who Played With Fire (May, 13)

There are three basic things that I refuse to see in the movies: sexual violence, torture and fishes. That is a life and death kind of rule for me. However, sometimes, as everything in life, there are exceptions.

The Millenium trilogy, based on the books by the Swedish author Stieg Larsson, is one of those exceptions, and a very good one. The first instalment of the series on the cinema is outstanding, either in the Swedish or in the US adaptation. I know that the books have so many other layers than the films, but after both adaptations, I didn't see no reason to read the books, despite the fact that I'd bought the whole trilogy. 

I had watched only the first movie, so on May, 13th I decided to reach the second instalment, The Girl Who Played With Fire, in the Swedish version. The US film is predicted to premiere in 2016, and I can't wait for it - David Fincher directing + Rooney Mara + Daniel Craig = an amazing adaptation (the things got a little muddy after the script had leaked in the Sony hacking last year). 

The Swedish films are incredible too. The trilogy's main subject is sexual violence as an sick, hideous and unforgivable crime. And something that can go on and on by generations and generations. This second installment on the series adds the sexual trafficking and slavery to the more familiar  criminal aspects on the first film. And there is no place to talk about social taboos as violence and sexuality as the cinema. It is a very precious medium of discussion, when the stories are well written and filmed, as it is the case here.

Sexual abuse in familiar environment and sexual slavery are crimes that have increasing numbers year by year. According to Do Something, 80% of the human traffic is sexual exploitation, the numbers estimate as something around 20 to 30 million slaves in the world. That is, 10 million are even nowhere to been seen or even counted in the statistics. Where are those victims? All around us, and we don't see them. Larsson's books discuss this obnoxious crime in a very accurate manner, through a good action story (At the end, I had chewed all my nails...). Books and movies do that without  eroticising the sexual violence, a risk in many stories about the subject. 

Lisbeth Salander is a great character, and her involvement in solving sexual crimes are not casual: her own story is a reason why she is so dedicated to eliminate those that perpetuate such hideous crime: the men that hate women. She is an amazing troubled strong beautiful heroine. I love her either in Mara's or in  Noomi Rapace's performances. 

Noomi Rapace

Rooney Mara

Soon, the last instalment of Millenium series will be here, The Girl Who kicked the Hornest Nest - That's Lisbeth, kicking everything around her without mercy, never conforming to a victim script, and fighting against all this violence with everything that she has.

The Girl Who Played With Fire (Flickan Som Lecte Med Elden). Directed
by Daniel Alfredson. With: Noomi Rapace, Michael Niqvist, Lena Endre.
Writer: Jonas Frykberg from the book by Stieg Larsson. Sweden/Denmark/
Germany, 2009, 129 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix).

PS: I've read that the second American instalment on this series will be a bit different from the original book. The reason is an aspect that I loved in the Swedish movie, and I thought was the biggest strenght in the narrative. I won't spoil it here, though. But this series is worthy your time, you should take a look at it :)

PPS: The opening credits in The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo US is one of the best title sequences that I've ever seen, rivalling only with Bauhaus's Bela Lugosi is Dead  in the first scene of The Hunger, 1983, and the Virginia Wolff's suicide note on Nicole Kidman's voice in The Hours (I cried so hard from the first sentence ahead that I thought I wouldn't be able to watch the rest of the movie). I remember entering the theater, and staying immediately paralyzed by the scene in front of me, with Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (performed by Karen O and Trent Reznor) blasting on the speakers. So beautiful that I stayed on my chair to see it again after the movie ending.