Day 205: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (September, 30)

For once, I'm following a series adapted from books that I haven't read. Oh joy. I'm enjoying the lack of suffering and the opportunity to just go to a movie and have a nice time with no ties to a loved book. It is like watching a tenis match when Federer is not playing - lots of fun and no pain :)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials follows the first instalment with tons of good action, corny dialogues, a beautiful cinematography and a big production. It is nerve wracking and interesting, if you can pass over some of the cheesiest lines and the abrupt editing in some scenes, particularly on those when everything is terrifying - the characters are running from a big menace and, next, we see them waking up from a deep sleep. Oh, ok. 

The excessive number of different plots is a bummer too. That usually happens after the first book on a series: the initial idea is good, but in order to continue the story until the end of the apparently mandatory third book, the not so experienced new authors have to call upon all the hidden cards on their sleeves. And so many confusing twists are presented without making too much sense. But I was ok with that too. I was there just having fun, no strings attached, finally. At last, let's not forget the also mandatory love triangle... All the footprints of other YA trilogies are being faithfully followed here, even if it looks like there's a difference at first.

This way, it is a nice and gripping entertainment. I've read that this movie butchered the book. I wouldn't know about that, fortunately. I think that, after so much suffering on the cinema with lousy and ridiculous adaptations of stories that I like reading I deserve a time out, and just enjoy the mindless good action of the second installment on the good but not brilliant Maze Runner series.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Directed by Wes Ball. With: Dylan O'Brien,
Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Writers: T.S. Nowlin from the
novel by James Dashner. USA, 2015, 132 min.
(I haven't seen it pass, really),
Dolby Digital/Dolby Atmos/Auro 11.1, Color (Cinema). 

PS: Alan Tudyk was a nice surprise here, despite his brief cameo. I haven't see him for awhile, and he is the best in Death at a Funeral, 2007, one of the funniest and cleverer movies I've ever seen. 

Day 204: Persepolis (September, 29)

Persepolis, a 2007 French/US production, has been on my "radar" since its premiere. As happens with many and many other films, I'm not sure why I haven't seen it before.

The choice to tell the story of Islamic Revolution in Iran from a kid's point of view through comic is brilliant from the start. And the way the movie adapts the original images is outstanding. I was amazed at each scene, and the acting voices were a big part of my admiration. What a way to tell an importante story to our current time. The famous Eye of the Tiger off-key scene is so strong, it is impossible not to be knocked over by it. A beautiful, scathing cinematography.

My main thoughts during this movie took the direction of another Iranian emigrant, Behrani, from The House of Sand and Fog. Marji reminded him in how an emigrant is not here or there. For both characters, the reason for emigrating their home place has the same origin. They have different backgrounds and have experienced differently the Islamic Revolution. But they met each other in my mind for one important aspect: when they leave their original homes, they lose the sense of identity - their home makes no sense anymore, and they'll be forever a foreign in other places. They do not belong either there or here, and the lack of belonging is staggering in both movies. 

That was what called my attention here, especially because we see Marji since her early ages, trying to make sense of the absurd situation and changes around her. And even if she is clever and outspoken, her losses will be too big. From a strong, smart girl she becomes a fearful and sad woman, that has do deal with so much pain and losses, no allowing us to say that she is a lucky girl to get out of her country in safety. It is just not as simple as that, as we are told by this incredible narrative.

Persepolis. Directed by Vincent Porannaud, Marjane Satrapi. With: Catherine
Deneuve, Ciara Mastroiani
(another mother/daughter partneship), Gena Rowlands.
Writers: Vincent Paronnaud from the comib book by Marjane Satrapi.
France/UK, 2007, 96 min., Dolby Digital, Color/Animatiion, (DVD).


Day 203: The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta? - September, 28)

About 17 years ago, I've seen on court a trial by which a girl that had been raped and was seeking for the right to be legally represented by her neighbor. She had been brought from the North region by a couple that was vacationing there. Nobody knew her last name or exact age. Her parents were too poor to keep her, and so they allowed her to be raised by that couple. Some time after that, she had to run from their home after being raped by the guy and asked her older neighbor lady for help. The court had to decide if the neighbor could represent legally the young girl, despite not being a relative, because by our laws that would not be allowed. 

What is this world? 

Perverse structures can be naturalized on our daily lives in such a way that we are not even aware of them anymore - cases like that above are an important reminder of this perversity. Beyond that, movies are great to direct our attention to those evil traps that we shouldn't be able to justify by any means. The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?) does that with a careful eye and a scathing view. Val left her North hometown in order to find a job the would secure her daughter's maintenance. Send the daughter away or leave her behind, two extreme alternatives that no one would have to face.

The presence of the estranged daughter of a family's housekeeper exposes all the tiny perverse elements of this household. The stylish mother, the artistic father, the teen son have a very liberal speech: Val, the housekeeper, is family. They are so modern and understanding - it is a mask, of course, and I think that even them are perfectly aware of that. They welcome Val's daughter at their home with kind words and a big separating wall that are not visible to the eye, but that is very efficient to maintain everything on their "intended" place. Everything is (or looks like) roses until they realize that the girl won't condone the naturalized strong barriers underlying that place. 

Every single member of that family is presents a kind of inappropriate behavior toward Jessica, the daughter. Disbelief that she is capable to ingress in a prestigious university; sexual harassment disguised as care; the patronizing treatment; the anger toward her nonconformism... everything is so revolting, and Anna Muylaert chose to lead us carefully into this scenario. At each scene, the picture gets bigger and scarier. 

I've read one comment claiming that this movie defends that only poor people deserve to go to heaven. I think it is bullsh*t, despite the confrontation at some few scenes (I confess I was cheering at the ending). The rich family is a bit overly cliche in some aspects, it is true, but Jessica and Val are not victims at all - and that is one of the biggest triumphs in this movie. Jessica is strong, driven, intelligent, never conforming to what is expected of her socially. Despite the way she replicates her mother's fate in one important aspect, she is a proof that we can overcome our most ingrained features in order to achieve what we want to. She is also a living proof to her mother of how things can and must be different. 

And the members of the employer family are not just stereotyped higher middle class. The way they think they're superior is very common in a lot of households not only here, but around the world. The ways of house employment can be different, but the superior behavior is not. Social unfairness is everywhere, each culture with its own. To point what is on the screen as something far way from the viewer is to turn our backs to how close this injustice is The Second Mother is a picture of this kind of silent cruel structure,  and it is presented with respect and accuracy.

In this sense, I've also read about how perverse the Brazilian middle class is to allow such an  unequal structure. "How those people still have housekeepers?", it is a frequent question. For me, that's not the main questioning here, though. Housekeeping is a dignified job. For me, dreadful is how people think that they can be superior to others so easily. I'm an employee, and I expect that my bosses treat me with respect and dignity. And this shouldn't be different in a household job.

Muylaert puts a mirror in front of us all, asking to denaturalize this kind of separation and prejudice, so settled on our social structures. And she does that through an honest story and solid performances, that tell how real and perverse is what we're seeing on the screen and around us. 

The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?). Directed and written by Anna
Muylaert. With: Regina Casé, Camila Márdila, Michel Joelsas. Brazil,
2015, 112 min., Color (Cinema).

PS: Que Horas Ela Volta? is Brazil's official submission to the 2016's Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film.   

PPS: At the end of the night, I saw myself once more in front of Boyhood, unable to turn off the TV. I absolutely love the easygoing way of this movie, created by such a long and careful production.  

Day 202: The Little Prince + Rick and The Flash + The Last Drive-In Theater

Triple feature on OMAD! And better yet, on the last Drive-in theater in Brazil :)

A tedious and unbearably hot Sunday forced me to seek solace in a movie theater, as always. This time, I decided to go to my city's Drive-in to se for an special reason: The Last Drive-In Theater, the movie, was shot in that theater, and being surround by the scenario that I was seeing in front of me was amazing. It was exciting. I was thrilled by this lovely and heartfelt story about the life of the people around cinema and its amazing movies. That my hometown and the places in the film are a part of my daily life only added to this story that presents important social subjects in a sweet and honest manner.

The characters here are so real as the surroundings. Inside my car, the moon eclipse above my head, I could envision them around me, especially Paula, a girl that tells so much with her blunt ways. Those are carefull people, and being like this, we care and struggle with them, in the same scenario in front and around us. I was amazed by its sweet yet fierce voice.

The Last Drive-In Theater (O Último Cine Drive-In). Directed by Iberê
Carvalho. With: Othon Bastos, Breno Nina, Fernanda Rocha. Writers:
Iberê Carvalho, Zè Pedro Golfo. Brazil, 2015, 100 min., Color (Cinema).

It was an wonderful way to end this triple feature that had begun with The Little Prince, the movie adaptation based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry. What surprised me here was how this film is a clever view about the classic book. A well known story is told and retold in different ways, with different voices, and it is beautiful to see a movie adaptation recognizing itself as a interpretation among many.

The place occupied by Exupéry's book on current times is discussed by the impact of the Little Prince's story on the life of a driven young girl and her very organized mother. Behaving like an adult, the lost of childhood, the necessity of dreaming at all ages... the Little Prince's lessons are there, in the a present context of the unreal demands over children and adults. The Prince himself is hold hostage of the current demands. It is a beautiful written and illustrated view of a story that is a part of our imaginary. Its aging is visible though, mainly by the Portuguese dubbed version, in which the old formal language of the book is mantained. It spoiled the story for me a bit, to say the truth. It was sad, because the main point here I think was to show how modern the Prince's story still is, and its presence in our imaginations and daily life. 

The Little Prince. Directed by Mark Osborne. With: Rachel McAdams,
Benicio Del Toro, Marion Coutillard 
(original version). Writers: Irene
Brignull, Bob Persichetti from the novel by Antoine de Saint-Expéry.
France, 2015, 108 min., Dolby Digital, Color/Animated (Cinema).

Between those two sweet movies there was the las Meryl Streep movie transformations, Rick and The Flash. A thing about multiple screening in Drive-in is that there isn't an intermission between them. So immediately after the final credits of The Little Prince, I was faced with a very rock'n roll Meryl Streep singing. And we see many scenes like that, unusual on movies: the whole songs featured on screen, without other actions that the musical performances. IT is nice and weird at the same time, as it is the main goal of this movie, I guess. Because the whole story revolves around how inadequate Rick's family makes her fell in her pursuit for a musical career.

In its simple and unpretentious ways, this movie says a lot, in the loud voice of Streep's performance. She provokes on us recognition and repulse at the same time, and it's admirable I think. The many cliches here are used on the benefit of this story, and they are an example of how to tell a story with stereotypes without being fake or a caricature. People are presented here on their familiar categories, but they can do the unexpected. Until this day, I didn't know that Mamie Gummer is Meryl Streep's daughter, and they work beautifully together. Kevin Kline and Rich Springfield (Rick Springfield!!!!) are good too as a part of a cast that tell the story of familiar strugles in a simple and captivating way. 

Nothing pretentious, just a woman pursuing her dreams - and that's always worthy, even if the outcome is nothing like she would have imagined or wanted. 

Rich and The Flash. Directed by Jonathan Demme. With: Meryl Streep,
Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer. Writer: Diablo Cody. USA, 2015, 101 min.,
Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat, Color (Cinema).

PS: Rick Springfield alwyas bring me a smile because of one book in which Jesse's Girl makes a cute and importante cameo: it is Ralph's Party, the first book by Lisa Jewell, one of my favorite authors for a long time. 

PPS: The moon just before being eclipsed:


Day 201: Snowpiercer (September, 26)

A few weeks ago, the movie wizard Malu told me about Snowpiercer, saying that I should see it immediately, not without advising that the movie is extremely violent. Some time after, the also amazing Joe told me the same, and so this film was under my radar for a while. Unfortunately, I've missed it on the cinema, but was able to reach it on this day. 

The image here is this: a strong hand gripped by my bowels and dragged me through one of the most accurate pictures of the world that cinema has ever presented to me. I was bleeding and bawling in despair. Because I agree one hundred percent with the idea that we have only two options nowadays: to be conformed to a perverse worldly system or blow it without mercy in order to save at least one human being.

My niece and good friend Fla has developed a routine regarding this dare: every week or so she sends me a sms asking if I had watched the day's movie yet and she can see it with me. She embraced OMAD in such a sweet way that I'm always grateful for her company. On this day, she was ok with my suggestion to watch  Snowpiercer and embark in such a painful journey with me. Mostly, she could respect that I was becoming more and more wary at each minute of this outstanding production and narrative. Adding to my bleeding heart and destroyed guts, I could not even say a word at the last half of this film. I was too mesmerize for what was in front of me and its accuracy to even speak or socialize. I apologize to her for that, knowing that she understands how I cannot avoid to be too disturbed by a movie. 

Because there's no better way to discuss life as art - specially cinema for me. What this movie talks about goes beyond its apparent gross scenes and amazing cinematography even. This production is impeccable, featuring a cast that amazes us at each scene. I never thought I would see Chris Evans in such an intense role. Tilda Swinton delivers all the time, and even then she can surprises us. Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ah-Sung Ko and the other actors that give life to these futuristic view of our actual world convey so much that I'm not able to describe it. I can only say how they gripped me in a way that made it impossible to turn my back to what I was seeing even for a few seconds. 

I was and still am feeling sick. Only extremely bad or genial movies can do that to us. In this case, it was an outstanding production, with a spot on daring view about the world today. To think that even rebel actions are a mainstream instrument is a blow that can surely kill us. It was no surprise then that I'm still feeling choked by this incredibly actual and accurate Sci-fi.

Snowpiercer. Directed Joon-ho Bong. With: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda
Swinton, Jamie Bell. Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson base on Le
, by Jacques Lob et Al. South Korea/Czech Republic/USA/
France, 2013, 126 min., Dolby Digital, Black and White/Color (DVD). 

PS: I've read some comments on imdb.com trashing this movie pretty hard. I understand that its aesthetics is not for everybody, even if for me it is nothing but brilliant. However, I could not grasp all the annoying questioning of some facts. Many reviewers questioned the possibility of a world surviving on a train. Well, people, that's Sci-fi for you. I'm not saying that it should be absurd or incongruent, but science fiction is skillful in talking about current matters by some impossible features, and that's some of its most amazing aspects actually. Because, being a bit far from what would be factually possible to our time, it adresses beautifully the most pressing matters of current life, as Snowpiecer does in such a striking way. 


Day 200: Everest (September, 25)

When I got into the cinema to watch Everest, I was in a weird state of mind. I was feeling angry, sad, annoyed by some things in my life, but I wanted very much to see this movie - and I was with my beloved niece and friend Mari, the greatest company to a movie.The things took a turn to worse when I realized that the father and kid behind our seats thought they were at their living room at home: the kid was kicking our seats, they eat popcorn as Huns and decided that the whole room would hear what they were talking about. For someone that was already in a bad mood, this was too much. So, Mari agreed with me and we decided to change seats, and another small disaster took place, taking our attention from the film. This way, when I looked at the screen, the movie had already begun.

From that moment ahead, feeling less annoyed, I could pay attention to the screen in front of me. Another thing happened to me, though. I've read about the events that took place in Everest on 1996 by Jon Krakauer's book, Into the Thin Air. I was reading it during a road trip with a boyfriend and his family, when I got to the end, and read the conversation between Rob and Jen. I hided my crying face on the window in an staggering sadness. That was my  main recollection of this story.

Trying to identify what I've read almost 20 years ago, I became overly rational when the movie is sheer adrenaline. I didn't allowed myself to forget that I was on a movie theater seat in order to climb Everest with those characters based on true incredible and brave climbers. Because this is what the movie is about: put you there with them during one of the biggest tragedies on Everest (it was the biggest disaster in that region actually, until events that took place just before this movie shooting in 2014). But I was too preoccupied in identifying characters and the pieces of the story I've read that I couldn't leave my seat and embark on that tragic climbing.

The movie is so good in bringing the events, people and the mountain to us that we almost die there - even me at that weird mood. It probably was crazy shooting it. And the funny thing is that, instead of being repulsed by the sport and the attempts to climb the highest point in the world, I'm more attracted to it each time I read something about it. It is the utmost challenge, and not for nothing so many want to conquer it (not always for the right reasons, I think, if we can determine what is right or wrong here).

Everest. Directed by Baltasar Komákur. With: Jason Clarke, Emily Watson,
Sam Worthington, Keira Kneightley, Josh Brolin, Jack Gyllenhall, Robin
(What is this cast???. UK/USA/Iceland, 2015, 121 min., Datasat/SDDS/
Dolby Digital/Dolby Atmos/Auro 11.1
(The amazing sound putting us on
different places...), Color (Cinema).


Day 199: Black Hawk Down (September, 24)

The first thing I knew about Black Hawk Down was the amazing soundtrack. I friend gave it to me, without believing that I haven't never see this awarded Ridley Scott & Jerry Bruckheimer production.

A funny thing is that it could be a recent film, but at the same time it shows its own time - the production was concluded a few months before 9/11. The cinematography is spectacular, and not for nothing it was nominated for an Oscar. I was intrigued by how it was filmed, and I'm not used to that - I'm usually more focused on the story. But each take here is a masterpiece show no signs of aging except for a few older technologies, putting us disturbingly inside that horrid battle. Maybe because of the small screen, I wasn't so perturbed by it as I was during Saving Private Ryan, 1998, which was good because I left this last one movie screening in a terrible state. It was close enough, though. 

What betrays its age is the fervent patriotism on it. Despite some major criticism to how unprepared the high military commanders actually are, the heroic actions of those soldiers are highlighted in order to validate such military actions. But I'm entering unknown territory here - that is just a humble opinion about something that bothers me a lot.

The cast is stellar, so many actual well known actor on their initial careers: It is Tom Hardy's first movie and Eric Bana's first US production (he is excellent as the intense Hoot). Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Dancy (I really like those three) and Orlando Bloom are kids here, and they are so good. It was incredible seeing them so young.

The whole movie as a production is outstanding actually. And the soundtrack, as I've said, is one of the best I've heard. But that annoying patriotism is a perpetual rock on my shoes, and so I had very conflicted feelings about this, even if I could admire Ridley Scott's filmmaking even more than I already did.

Black Hawk Down. Directed by Ridley Scott. With: Josh Hartnet, Ewan
McGregor, Tom Sizemore. Writer: Ken Nolan from the book by Mark
Bowden. USA/UK, 2001, 144 min., DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS. Color (DVD).

Day 198: The Upside of Anger (September, 23)

People don't know how to love. They bite rather than kiss. They slap rather than stroke. Maybe it's because they recognize how easy it is for love to go bad, to become suddenly impossible... unworkable, an exercide of futility. So they avoid it and seek solace in angst, and fear, and aggression, which are always there and reaily available. Or maybe sometimes... they just don't have all the facts. 

For me, The Upside of Anger is a genius story. For real. Its take on the futility of some kind of anger, that one that we create from nothing, is fundamental for present time. I was so chocked when I saw it the first time, that I keep recommending it.

I'm slowly realizing how many patterns are being built on this dare. One of them is that on a busy day I try to reach a film that I've seen before and want watch again. I began my morning with a cup of coffee and the first hour and so of this movie. Knowing the unexpected ending do not spoil the witty dialogue and good performances here for me. The dynamics between Joan Allen, her four daughters and Kevin Costner keeps us hooked on the screen. Allen's character is so damaged after her husband sudden disappearance, everyone around her are affected. Her whole world revolves around her anger.

Rachel Evan Wood's character Popeye is the narrator here, and her views about what is happening in her family are precious. They are the writer's point of view about the subject, I guess. But they are not a thesis, and for me this is important to noting. A strong view about something built through good characters and story is beautifull to see, and very different from the coldness of merely defending a point of view.

For me, The Upside of Anger is a genius story. For real. Its take on the futility of some kind of anger, that one that we create from nothing, is fundamental for present time. I was so chocked when I saw it the first time, that I keep recommending it.

I slowly realize how many patterns are being built on this dare. One of them is that on a busy day I try to reach a film that I've seen before and want watch again. I began my morning with a cup of coffee and the first hour and so of this movie. Knowing the unexpected ending do not spoil the witty dialogue and good performances here for me. The dynamics between Joan Allen, her four daughters and Kevin Costner keeps us hooked on the screen. Allen's character is so damaged after her husband sudden disappearance, everyone around her are affected. Her whole world revolves around her anger.

Rachel Evan Wood's character Popeye is the narrator here, and her views about what is happening in her family are precious. They are the writer's point of view about the subject, I guess. But they are not a thesis, and for me this is important to noting. A strong view about something built through good characters and story is beautifull to see, and very different from the coldness of merely defending a point of view.

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That's what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that is swallows and smothers. It's real, though - the fury, even when it isn't. It can change you... turn you... mold you and shape you into something you're not. The only upside of anger, then... is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they're not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the pomise of calm. 

The Upside of Anger. Directed and written by Mike Binder (He is good here
as an actortoo). With: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Rachel Evan Wood, Keri Russel.
USA/Germany/UK, 2005,  118 min., DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS, Color (Netflix).

Day 197: Frank & Robot (September, 22)

I reached Frank & Robot when this day was almost over (I hit the play on Netflix only a few minutes shy of midnight). At the end of this indie movie, I had a bit of contradictory feelings toward it. Written about the film now, I think that's because this production is so pretentious that it lacked in many aspects.

It is not lacking in what concerns the acting, though. Frank Langella is this movie along Peter Sarsgaard, that gives so much to Robot through the way he voices it. Old age, oblivion, lost relations, resentment... everything that is a part of Frank is there, in those two great actor's interaction. From them, we can think a lot about what we see around us daily, specially what means getting older. Not for nothing, the film is set on a "near future", nothing not so far from our own experiences.

Memory is a key element here, and as you've probably seen in other Sci-fi productions, it is also what we are made of, what identifies us as ourselves. The changes that the library pass through in that near future world and the role fo the librarian talks a lot about this subject. The Robot's program is to help FranK, and it does it beautifully by connecting Frank to what he used to be. However, that is not what he was bought for.

At this point, I didn't know if I was seeing too ahead of the movie's plot or if the writing couldn't really commit to its real intentions. That way, we reach the mentioned lacking end, that gives an emotional closure to the story, one that are not truly related to what came before, I think. And so, I turned off the TV not sure about of what i just have seen, wishing that it would have dared to go farther than what people expect from small movies like this one.

Frank and Robot. Directed by Jake Schreier. With: Peter Sarsgaard, Frank
Langella, Susan Sarandon. Writer: Christopher D. Ford. USA, 2012, 89 min.,
Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix).

PS: Two of my nieces and I went to a friend's restaurant on this night, with the idea to watch a movie together after it. The food was too good, the beer excellent, the company was the best. When we were leaving, they said how sleepy they were, anxious to get home to sleep. You're so cute, I've said in my most sarcastic voice (that I regretted right way when they gave me a true puppy stare), because I had a movie to watch. Another day to remind me the meaning of a challenge :)


Day 196: Elvis and Anabelle (September, 21)

Do you know when a movie ends and you feel like you're floating, free of everything, because you now have a light fluttering heart? It was this way with me in front of Elvis and Anabelle.

I didn't know what to do on this day, because I wasn't on the mood for any story at all A heavy hand was holding my heart hostage, a feeling that life is on auto pilot once more and that I've been carried on by life, when I should be doing the opposite. It was nothing drastic, not even close to what suggests the dramatic way by which  I'm describing it, but It wasn't my best moments. It was a quiet sense of doom and loathing. I had a challenge to fulfill, though, and I asked myself how I would be able to do that on such a weird mood.

Indie movies - that was the answer. So I prayed to the gods of the magic shuffle and searched the indie's list on Netflix. And the answer came on the form of this lovely, fairy, dark story right on the first chords of Bela Lugosi's Dead. There, immediately I was on other place entirely. 

And what a place to be. From the first scene I realized that I've reached the golden pot. There's so many layers in those two characters, their demons being showed by a caring writing and cinematography, not by words or too many explanations. Even so they're there, screaming out loud in the quiet manner that this story has through their hurt characters.  

That a movie that refers so much to death is incredibly alive is beautiful actually and not without precedent. Restless have been here recently talking about just that. And there's Harrold and Maud, of course, and the cutest TV show of all times Pushing Daisies. The last two came to my mind at the end - if you've seen them, you'll know why at the end. I'm not being overly mistterious, it is not to spoil one of the greatest scenes on the film. 

I was in love with Elvis at his first appearance on screen. Max Minghella deserves a special mention because he carries the contradiction of carrying all his demons on his face in such a contrite manner. We see the whole Elvis life on his every movie and expression without needing any words or explanation, and when they finally came we could only confirm what we already knew. And Elvi's dad? Sheer love. 

The writing is beautiful, so well constructed, an amazing attention to details. Many of my thoughts I could hear on the mouth of one of the characters. It is not previsible, as you would think. It is something more transcendental, actually - sorry if I'm being cheesy, but it is true :)

I'm becoming more and more convinced that nerds bookworms and indie movies will be the salvation of this wrecked insensitive way that the world has assumed as natural. Elvis and Anabella really saved me yesterday, reminding me why life is such a delighful adventure through very painful journeys. 

Elvis and Anabelle. Directed and written by Will Geiger. With: Max Minghella,
Blake Lively, Joe Mantegna . UK/USA, 2007, 106 min.,  Color (Netflix). 

PS: I'm not a big fan of the kind of cover presented by Nouvelle Vague, the vocals are not strong enough to my taste, but their version of Bela Lugosi's Dead put me right on this movie, as I've said. It is beautiful.

PS: My favorite version of Bauhaus' song is this one:


Day 195: The Flying Scottsman (September, 20)

If The Flying Scotsman hadn't been good at all, it would be worthy just by the warning at the very end of the final credits about how the movie, despite being based on true events, is a dramatization of real life. It would be obvious, but we sometimes pursuit some sort of truth in movies like that.

The fact is that it was also visible that the life of the heroic cyclist Graeme Obree is not fully there. The writing is a bit abrupt, trying to convey so many important events on this amazing story about tenacity, courage and sports that I was a bit lost in some moments. The movie is a bit irregular, but the story is incredible. I enjoyed to know about this brave Scotish athlete that fought bureaucracy, lack of money (he built his own competition bike) and, over all, mental issues in order to pursuit amazing feats.

There's no wrong with John Lee Miller. I wasn't even disappointed to know that David Tennant was offered the role of Obree but had to refuse. And I love Tennant. John Miller, however, is the link between the real Obree and his surreal story of endurance and achievement against all the odds, that were slowly overcome of course with the help of the loving people around him - his wife is great, as his friends, very caring and supportive.  Sweet, but never cheesy. 

I'm curious now about his story (I love sports tales), and I'll be reading his biography in a near future. Not a bad Sunday with a movie after all, I think. 

Graeme Obree + John Lee Miller
The Flying Scotsman. Directed by Douglas Mackinnon. With: John Lee Miller,
Laura Fraser,  Brian Cox.  Writers: John Brown, Simon Rose, Declan Hughes.
Germany/Uk, 2006, 96 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix).

Day 194: The Way Way Back (September, 19)

Imagine that we're talking about movies. The ones we like and hate most, some favorite scenes, scary or even gross ones. Or we're not chatting about cinema at all, but something in the conversations lead us to remember something from a fictional story that we've seen on the screen. We remeber so many movies, but are able to just quote a few, because they go back to that recess on our mind where they live forever.

A 14 years old boy involuntarily spends his summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend and his unpleasant daughter in The Way Way BackAt the first scene, we catch that something is wrong there. The couples are on the front of the old car; the girl is alone on the backseat and the shy 14 is on the trunk. Yep. On the trunk, with his back to everybody else. Or it's just the opposite, actually.

What would sound like heaven, a summer on the beach, is a living hell for him. He has no place on this scenario, but slowly he starts to make his own, between missfits as himself.

I wasn't too captivated by this film, and at some points I was even a bit bored, despite the many endearing elements on this movie. The story is well constructed, the characters are alive (a bit cliche, but they are truly there). The cast is outstanding, and the main reason why I choose to see it on this day. I was a bit disappointed by Steve Carell's jerky character - I thought this one would be one of those films in which he is so weird and cute, but no. Toni Collette and Alyson Janney are a joy in their awkward characters - to think that Collette was the weird teen once, in the amazing Muriel's Wedding, 1994. Liam James is amazing as the shy and intelligent 14 old Duncan. But Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph take the screen to themselves, especially Rockwell, despite their little time on it.

A summer that changes someone's life can be way, way back, but it is ever present in who we are and will be. They are an important part of the tales about coming of age. On that matter, we can remember many movies about the subject. We'll talk about two or three, the other may be lost somewhere in our memories. I'm not sure if some years from now this one will come to my mind, but on this Saturday night he told me some things that I'll carry with me for at least a few days. Or a bit longer, maybe.

The Way Way Back. Directed and written by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash. With:
Liam James, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette.  USA, 2013, 103
min., Dolby/Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).


Day 193: All is Lost (September, 18)

I turned on the TV and saw that Até o Fim was about to start. The Portuguese title (translated as Till the End) is very similar to the Seth Rogen's production This is the End. The relaxing time is still on, so I decided that it would be today's film. The beginning is very dark, and I was a bit surprised. The voice-over narration is somber, and I thought that I've never saw this actor/director in such a contrite state. 

Well, that's because it wasn't Seth Rogen. 

The names are similar in Portuguese, but there's no mistakes in the original titles. All is Lost, a 2013 movie with Robert Redford, I skipped on the big screen because I thought it would be too stereotyped. Well, the cliches are on my sometimes overly prejudiced mind, because this movie is amazing. Stunning cinematography in a kind of story that grips me all the time. A man alone in the middle of the ocean dealing with possible misfortunes fights for survival. He is skillful without being MAcGyver. His attempts to survive are believable, without recurring to sentimentalism. We don't need to know his name or his background to understand his fight. It is a gripping and sober narrative that keep us on front of the screen for its 106 min. I wasn't able to move from the sofa, wanting to know what would come next.

What I felt was similar to my feelings while reading A Hundred Days Between Sea and Sky. I was so anxious to Amyr Klink finally end his journey, that I felt like it depended of how fast I could read (I know it was not, though. Don't worry :) The same happened here, and because of that I remained glued to the screen.

Robert Redford is somewhat terrifying here. He conveys so much in his solid performance that there was no way I would let him alone on his misfortunes. That way, what at first looked to me like a overly sentimental and cliched movies, is an amazing story about survival.

Along the great performance of a sole  man on screen and a daring cinematography, the sound design is something to praise here. The Dolby 5.1 put me right there with Redford on his sinking boat, creating a sense of claustrophobia and the conviction that in fact all is lost.

Something that this dare has teaching me is how I should revise the amount of (good) movies that I decide not no see in the theater. Because even if I'm also learning that a movie can be incredible in my small TV, the cinema is the appropriate place for most of movie's productions. And it was a real shame to miss All is Lost on the big screen.

All is Lost. Directed and written by J.C. Chandor. With: Robert Redford.
USA, 2013, 106 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cable TV).

PS: This movie reminds a lot what I also felt with Gravity. The situation here is more down to earth (I know there's a lot of puns in that sentence, sorry), but the two character's struggle on both productions, and the silent way by which their story are told are similar (yes, contrary to what I read on some comments on the Internet, I think there's a strong story in both movies). I felt the same angst in front of the predicament portrayed in both movies, and I wasn't able to leave those people there, on their misfortunes, alone. So I ended up struggling along with them.


Day 192: The Names of Love (September, 17)

At first sight, The Names of Love looked like an inoffensive sweet French comedy. And it is on some aspects, but under a lighter speech, we can find a staggeringly beautiful and sad story.

Following, there'll be some spoilers - they're not facts per se, but the main point in this story is behind its cheerful surface. Experiencing that realization is very interesting in this case, and I suggest that you stop to read this post if you intent to see this movie. It is worthy, I assure you.


Ancestry and origins are a big part of the two protagonists. Where we came from, our ancestors, the way we remember them and what they mean to us, the hurtful events and memories from the childhood... those are all a part of our present, and they become clear in our choices.

The movie debates what is part of a person, and how it influences relationships, with a particular focus to immigration, prejudices and crimes against humanity, and it does that through the tragic background of the characters here, and how they are shackled to it even if they're not aware to the extent of it.

How things are the way we remember and imagine is pointed here. When Arthur Martin tells us how their parents meet, his father is old - Arthur is unable to imagine his father young, and he explain that to us. It is a funny way to defend how any storyteller has a big part on a storytelling. And in this one we have two amazing narrators, Arthur and Baya. 

The way we carry with our inner child even in adulthood reveals that our childhood sorrow and pain is still with us. Arthur and Baya are chatting on a park bench, their inner younger versions are doing the same on a near bench. They are not free from what truly had hurt them years before - that is a particular feature but also a feeling that gives them a sense of belonging. 

Maybe because of that the parents are so important here. And heartbreaking. Arthur's mother and Baby's father broke my heart a million times.

The couple's attraction is not by chance. They struggle with the same feelings, but in a different way. Baya brings her anger, sadness and will to fight in her every breath. She speaks out loud to her surroundings. Arthur is quiet, repressed, he doesn't even want to be associated to his family's background. Although through different ways, they both are extremely hurt, and that's what glue them to each other - at least at first.

The odd thing is that, to be able to be together, though, they will have to let their hurt go away. Not an easy task. 

The choice of a sweet, funny, playful voice to talk about such painful feelings and relations turns this story even sadder, what is more apparent on the last half hour. A movie that I took for a forgettable fun turned out to be an accurate story about the humanity struggles nowadays - and always. 

The Names of Love (Le nom des gens). Directed by Michel Leclerc. With:
Sara Forestier, Jacques Gamblin, Zinedine Soualem. Writers: Baya Kasmi, Michel
Leclerc. France, 2010, 100 min., Dolby DigitalColor/Black and White (Netflix).

PS: Sense8 season 1, episodes 11 and 12. 

Day 191: The Journey of Natty Gann (September, 16)

Slowly, I'm realizing that in order to keep going on this dare, I need to allow myself to watch some movies in a more relaxed way. I became aware of this on this day specifically, while I was in front of the TV watching The Journey of Natty Gann.

It was morning, I was weaving a new rug for a friend, the breakfast dishes still waiting for me on the sink, when the TV started to show this movie. A young John Cusack was the bigger attractive here, and so I kept on.

First, I thought it would be too sugar coated, and at some points, especially at the end, it really is. However, this story of a girl that crosses the US to meet her father at the time do the great depression is gripping, sometimes terrifying. Although aimed to a family audience, the many risks of such a journey are presented, but in a more subtle manner. Everything goes wrong for Natty, it's unbelievable. My initial concern that this movie wouldn't deliver were for nothing, even if the overly sentimental ending took a bit of its intensity.

The Journey of Natty Gann. Directed by Jeremy Kagan. With: Meredith
Salenger, John Cusack, Ray Wise. Writer: Jeanne Rosenberg. USA, 1985,
101 min., Doby Stereo, Black and White/Color (Cable TV).


Day 190: Love (September,15)

There's a point when the main character and voice-over narrator on Love says that he never sees a movie presenting "emotional sexuality". Sex, semen and blood, that's what people would like to see. Murphy is a filmmaker, or so he says. Actually, I think he is just a puppet to Gaspar Noé intents in this too stereotyped film that had the big ambition to be innovative.

Love has been creating some noisy around the world, and has been like that since its premiere during Cannes. Explicit sex and love scenes on 3D, that is how the movie has been known mostly. Despite the bad reviews, I thought it would be at least interesting. It wasn't, at all.

Before the first scene, there's a sign announcing the moment to put the 3D glasses on. And so the terrible nonsense begins. At the very begin I've already realized this movie is just noisy. The sex is explicit and so, so boring, that I was begging to the characters to finish their business as soon as possible.  

What was announced as innovative, is just a bunch of cliches put together. It is filmmaking in its worse. Gaspar Noe thinks he knows so much, and that he is above the other mere mortals. His condescending arrogance is staggering, actually. I imagine him thinking: this world is so mediocre, full of prude hypocrites,  I'll show them how it's done and make a movie about excruciating love and sex. So he started to write it and finally realized it wouldn't be so easy. To talk about life, and love, and sex it is necessary to be really alive, and not just criticizing the other's ways from outside. Unable to write a true love sexy story, he decided then to check every box that came to his mind relating to sex: explicit scenes, close on dicks, threesome, sex clubs, homosexual sex, trannies, public sex and so on. As if a close on a ejaculating dick would be the quintessence of a revolutionary speech. There's a bunch of unrelated scenes, as if the awful voice-over could succeed in giving them some meaning. 

An example: at one scene, the couple are lying on bed after sex, and from nothing, the guy asks the girl about her biggest fantasy. Sexual? she replies. Of course, he says. And she tells him how that she would like have sex with him and a third woman, a blond with blue eyes. The next day or so, they are getting their mail when they meet the new neighbour: a sixteen blue eyed blond that are living next door. After the badly filmed threesome, the guy says: thanks for Europe! (a place where eh would have a three way sex with a minor). Did you get the image? So.

Gaspar Noé, by his main character, affirms that there's not sexual love stories on the screen. I think he never saw any of Bernardo Bertolucci's movies. Or the Spanish/French production Sex and Lucía, a beautiful story about love with stunning and heartfelt sex scenes (Paz Vega is incredible). Or even Betty Blue, for everybody's sake. Sorry the rage, but it is inevitable. Noé should look better around him, or, even better,  he should head to the DVD section on a store and just see how wrong he is. 

I've read how the acting here is terrible, and it is a fact. The actors are not even able to walk naturally (it is so staged that hurts), let alone show deep feelings or have real sex. And despite what has been said, I don't think it is difficult to find good actors that would accept to be a part of this project if it was a good one. At least his protagonist should have been more endearing - even if I'm not sure that it would have saved this doomed story anyway. Because the problem here is not just the bad acting, the lousy dialogues, the incredibly lousy and staged sex scenes. The main trouble in this movie is the sexist, arrogant, wrongful view about the world and people. And when a filmmaker start this way, there's nothing that can save him from the impending doom. 

People were leaving the theater constantly, they were dropping like flies. However, rather than doing that by how explicit the sex is, I think people did leave for the sole reason of how bad is this movie. It's unbearable in fact. And we see no end to it, two hours and fifteen minutes of sheer bad filmmaking. Not could be more far from deep emotion, an intense love story and visceral sex. 

Love. Directed and written by Gaspar Noé. With: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman,
Kiara Kristin. France/Belgium, 2015, 135 min., Dolby Digital, Color, 3D (Cinema).

PS: For me, what Gaspar Noé tried to do in Love was attempted before by Michael Winterbottom with 9 Songs, a movie that I like lot despite the all the bad reviews. Some friends do think it is a pretentious movie. I, on the other hand, consider it honest, full of beauty and crude poetry, close to what a relationship can truly be. It is not simulated, it is real, in my opinion. The old premise of sex, drugs and rock n' roll is presented without artifices, only by two lovers on the screen, with the help of live rock performances on . This movie is awfully underestimated, I guess.

PPS: Joe told me once that we should praise even the movies that we dislike for the simple fact that they were made, because a film production is always a miracle. Well, my glass is half empty about this matter, and I can't share his optimistic take. For me, some movies are a waste of money and time, when there's so many talented filmmakers waiting for a chance to show the world what they can do. I'm usually reluctant to point the finger, though - I know I'm expressing a personal view that is not shared by many. But in the case of Love, I'm not cautious at all: it is awful. Period.