2015/10/29

Day 233: Blue Ruin (October, 28)

Once more I'm not sure why the movie I've chosen for today was on my to-see list. But Blue Ruin was there, and knowing nothing about it, I put it on the DVD player. 

If I wanted to be surprised, I got what I've asked for - not always a good thing, if you're familiar with the old saying. In this particular case, it was, though, even with all the pain and dread on this story.

Macon Blair conveys so much, it is a one man show. And an example of how an actor builds a person and his whole world without the need of words. His Dwight is complex, provoking disturbingly contrary feelings - I lost count of how many times I called him stupid, at the same time that I could relate to him. It is beautiful see such a ambivalent character.

The quiet telling of a loud plot is usually also stunning to me, and it's not different in here. The silence is followed by a sense of discomfort and dread so big, that we become quiet too. It is inevitable, mostly at the end, when we realize how inane somethings are, even if they look like the only thing keeping us alive.

Blue Ruin. Directed and written by Jeremy Saulnier. With: Macon Blair,
Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves. USA/France, 2013, 90 min., Dolby Digital,
Color (DVD).



2015/10/28

Day 232: Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (October, 27)

Strawberry Fields Forever.  

I don't think that even The Magic Four would have envisioned how they would be a permanent part of people's life long after their splitting in 1970. Living is Easy with Eyes Close (Vivir és Fácil con Los Ojos Cerrados) is a movie that talks about that - a look at the past, but an important observation of our current days. 

I was acquainted, as to say, to The Beatles through my now estranged older sister. A cousin had gifted her with the Red and Blue Album, and that's how I remember first hearing one of their songs. At this beginning of what would become a great love story, my favorite was Michelle. My sister would smile from her wise older years (we're six years apart) to that weird girl listening Michelle non-stop. As I grew up, I went slowly further on the records, until, when I was about 13, I've reached While My Guitar Gently Weeps and my world was changed for good. It was a sounding (sorry the pun) split from my childhood years, and thing would look different from that moment on. 

Curious about what made me feel like the world was recognizing me as a person (songs do that, you know), I made my first attempts to translate my favorite The Beatles songs. Michelle was there, of course - the french classes at junior high helped me a lot. Strawberry Fields Forever was not easy. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was not simple too. But slowly I was realizing that there was more to that than what was being explicitly said. And that's how a childhood crush became a love story for life (I've already told you about that here).

Antonio is a English teacher on Spain during the Franco Dictatorship. He teaches the foreign language to his students by The Beatles songs. One thing that annoys him a bit is how there's no lyrics on the music albums - he finds difficulty to transcribe some of it by ear. John Lennon is shooting a movie in Spain. So Antonio recognizes it as an opportunity to talk to his idol about how important his songs are. Those are facts, the journey we see on the screen is something else.

Art is able to get through the cracks of every form of repression. The cracks are represented by people that, by one way or other, don't conform to leave under a unfair and criminal regimen. In that sense, songs are a way of rebelling, even if in the quiet form chosen by Antonio and the two young stray cats he finds on a road in Spain on 1967. Their generosity with each other, the understanding of each other struggles, is beautiful. And teach us a lot about our own times.

Living on a square-on-the-map, songs and music were a ticket to a journey around the world to me. That was how I became aware of what meant this world beyond the limits of my squared ghost town, the Capital of a dictatorship at the time I met The Beatles. Established borders and rules restrict us, but there's a way out. The most effective for me is art, for sure. Not that art that we used to relate to big masterpieces and museums, but the one that is a part of our daily life. That's why songs and movies and books and (from some time now) games are so important. Even if they seem to conform to what it is by mainstream productions, they are a way out, always. And that's Antonio' journey to meeting John Lennon. Quiet, simple and big as the world.


Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (Vivir és Fácil with Eyes Closed). Directed
and written by David Trueba. With: Javier Cámara, Natalia de Molina,
Francesc Colomer. Spain, 2013, 108 min., Color (Cinema). 


PS: David Trueba not far from John Lennon himself... There's a nice interview with him in this link



PPS: I saw myself in a movie once. Casa de Los Babys, a US/Mexico co-production in which three American tourists praise a mexican guide for his english. And he explains that, you know, there's a movie theater near his house, and it usually shows American films. They're subtitled, and so he hears what is being said in english and sees its counterpart in the spanish subtitles... so he had learned english by the best audio visual method in the world :)

2015/10/26

Day 231: Sicario (October, 26)

Denis Villeneuve describes his movie Sicario as a "dark poem". That was my first impression of this movie: the dusty trail in the air is so sharp and beautiful, I was sure I was in front of a strong and solid production. At each scene, I was proved right. Each movement, the constant silence that builds an almost unbearable tension, the somber soundtrack. It is outstanding.

Villeneuve also said that "movies are about movement" - again I must agree regarding this film. The movements are detailed, each action has its reasons. Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin are not kidding here - and we see that the director is not either. They're amazing, actually. It's very serious business, one that led to a deeper silence inside me that brought the dreadful awareness of how lost this world is in its dynamics. That famous quote from Apocalypse Now came to my mind at the end: The horror... The horror. I couldn't barely move during the final credits.

Reading about the movie, I realized that I have two of Villeneuve's films listed to watch soon: Incendies and Enemy. I was surprised to read that he is involved with a new Blade Runner project (with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford... wow). And by what I've seen in Sicario, he is just the man for the job. His images are too good, conveying so much, creating a whole claustrophobic feeling of manipulation, of no escape out, perfect to Blade Runner's dark future. 

One last minute note: How men still think that it is ok to manipulate a fellow woman is revolting. Emily Blunt's Kate is strong, a good agent... And because of that, guys around her choose to manipulate her in a outraging way because of her genre, questioning her efficiency. Another sight so familiar, so sad, so dreadful.


Sicario. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. With: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro,
Josh Brolin. Writer: Taylor Sheridan. USA, 2015, 121  min., Dolby Digital/
Dolby Atmos/Auro 11.1, Color (Cinema).



PS: I wouldn't be a honest blogger if I'd ended this post without saying how much I love Benicio Del Toro. That's it (I would write Period, but saw the irrelevance of that...I realize how it is a spoken emphasis actually).

Day 230: Hideous Kinky (October, 25)

Netflix has been presenting some older movies. I was surfing their lists when I found out about Hideous Kinky, a movie with Kate Winslet that I'd never heard before. I was curious, of course.

The first oddness is the discrepancy between the movie's poster and its synopsis: according to the last, the film is told from the point of view of the younger daughter of a British hippie living in Morocco. The poster, through, pictures the girls on the back, in smaller figures contrasting to the close on Winstlet (that had just a huge success with Titanic, so the focus on her face is understandable). The movie follows this confusion about who is main point of view there. Even it there were many, it isn't clear. So we keep bouncing from one perspective to other, without knowing exactly what is being said there. But that was not the worst for me in this movie. 

The two young girls are amazing - the young actresses are outstanding, and we fell in love immediately. Lucy is the youngest, and carries that lightness that her older sister, Bea, cannot afford anymore while being dragged by their mother in her pursuit of espiritual learning with the sufis. And Spirituality, it is important to emphasize, that is very distorted, as usually happen when it is seeked for exterior reasons, I think. The girls are not able to understand their mother pursuits, and are more baffled with why they have to be far from home, without money, living in an eminence of constant danger.

One of the characters tells the mother that a kid is a gift, but one that we must protect from any danger - contrary to what she thought that mother was doing.

With regards to the different contexts and degrees of risk, that's is childhood for everybody: being dragged along parents that are usually unsure of what they're doing. In a solid household, one of my nieces, when she was 5, realized that even the most careful attention from her relatives wouldn't prevent any accident or unforeseen events. Her small cousin had hit his head on the coffee table, and his mother rushed to the hospital with him right way - nothing serious, but we were worried. Then, she looked at me with her seriously guarded eyes and said: really, no one is capable to totally protect us. And that's right. We try and make everything that is possible to prevent any danger to our kids, but is terrorizing how powerless we are actually.

Lily and Bea face difficulties because of her mother's choices. I was so anguished, it was horrible. But even so I was not able to judge Winslet's character. She is trying, the way she knows, and learning through the more difficult way how to take care of ther kids. We can see clearly that Bea, the older kid, won't be a hippie, though, and will probably carry with her all the insecurities of her young age. We know the drill:a control freak that try to prevent any unforeseen event to happens, which is impossible. This way, she'll live all her life by impossible standards, until the day that she, fortunately, will be able to leave it behind, following her own dreams and desires.

You see, this movie was not easy to see. And I'm still reeling from it.


Hideous Kinky. Directed by Gillies McKinnon. With: Kate Winslet, Bella
Rizza, Carrie Mullan. Writers: Billy McKinnon from the novel by Esther
Freud. UK/France, 1998, 98 min., Dolby SR, Color (Netflix).  

2015/10/25

Day 229: The Rewrite (October, 24)

I was a bit cautious before watching The ewrite. It looked like an ordinary romantic story about a guy that finds redemption even if aware that he needed any at first.  A couple of nice actors as Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei, a small town as scenario.... It looked sweet, but nothing more. 

Yes, all those elements were there, no doubt. But one thing changed my preconceived approach here: the main character is a screen writer. According to the imdb.com synopsis, he is in a slump.  He only alternative in order not to pay his bills is to accept a teaching position, which he doesn't fancy much at first, but slowly warms up to. You see? We know this plot already. The difference here is all the talking about movies and which stories make sense to us. 

The main character tries to creat a standard on his class by choosing a majority of pretty girls for it. Despite his attempts, his class is very diversified, presenting different views about writing, movies, what matters in a story, with diverse perceptions of life and human relations. It is just wonderful, not different at all from what we witness in a class actually. 

That an arrogant Oscar-winning writer finds in teaching a way out of his misery life is not surprising. Teaching is in fact amazing. I don't know why exactly, but during my college years, I strongly avoided the teaching classes - there was no way I would become a teacher, I said. The universe has a wicked sense of humour with my tantrums, though. During the masters degree, I realized how fortunate I was to finally enter a class as a teacher, lecturing about the best subjects: cinema, fiction, writing, art. How much we learn and confront ourselves by teaching is amazing. It sounds as a cliche, but for me it was a true one. The truest, actually. Maybe that's why I could understand Grant's character, identifying what was happening to him in the different aspects of his journey. Even if he is in fact unbearably inconvenient at first - but that's just the Hollywood way of proving how big and relevant his transformation is. 

This movie doesn't go far in order to explain why the difficult protagonist is able to change his views about teaching and the small town: the people that he met there. After all, that's what life is all about, if you think about it. Another cliche, uh? Well, they must come from somewhere...

I loved the debate around Dirty Dancing. There's the apparent cheery girls that loves the movie, and of course there's the smart girls that refutes the other taste for a romantic story. The plot about Jane Austen is so good too. Both sides of a controversy is complicated, we see. At the end, we shouldn't approach movies and empathy with stories by this kind of prejudice, and this is a subject nicely presented here. People are more than the stereotypes that we judge them by, and stories are so much more than its official classification on the DVD cover.

Another perk in this movie was Hugh Grant's voice-over narration: his voice only conveys a lot of memories of beloved movies, it is incredible, and a true sign that an actor usually carries some of his former roles in every movie he makes, for he has been creating a character of his own. See? Great subjects in a very simple movie.


The Rewrite. Directed and written by Mark Lawrence. With: Hugh Grant, Marisa
Tomei, J.K. Simons, Alisson Janney. USA, 2014, 107 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix) 

Day 228: Back to The Future Part III (October, 23)


When I decided to celebrate the McFly Day, Back to The Future Part III wasn't in my plans. After the second part, though, I remembered how the last two movies are one, and I had to watch this third instalment too.

It is not as insignificant as I my memory told me it was. The successful elements on the series are there, and it makes sense. It is good entertainment, even if a bit bittersweet for being a farewell. It is not my favorite, sure (that would be the first movie, for me), but it is a good conclusion to a great series.


Back to The Future Part III. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. With: Michael J.
Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen. Writers: Robert Zemeckis et al.
USA, 1990, 118 min., 70 mm 6-track/Dolby SR, Color (DVD).



Day 227: Venus in Fur (October, 22)

Brilliant. That's the word that comes to my mind when I think about Venus in Fur (La Vénus a La Fourrure), the most recent movie by Roman Polanski (it is pointed as his testament to the world, I sincerely hope it is not, although he surely will be also remembered by it).

Other words? Intriguing, clever, slashing, impactful, disturbing, provoking, truly outstanding. Super, as the French would say. Magnifique. Génial. My mind was in shambles at the end, a big smile on my face brought by the surprise before what I had seen.

I had read nothing about the movie before seeing it, and the discovering of what I was actually witnessing was amazing. The performances are spectacular. The writing refers to many aspects of the relations between men and women, the foundation even of what can turn out to be a crucial and yet perverse involvement as presented in other eras and nowadays. It is a big discussion, impossible to be limited to a single explanation. And that is probably the immense beauty of this movie - it covers so many aspects of human relations that is startlingly.

However, it could be only about the madness that art is, that performing is, and it wouldn't be less. It goes further, though, and it does that through art. And is there a better way? I don't think so.


The shooting must have been incredible... intense, course, but amazing (maybe
even because of its intensity)..

Venus in Fur (La Vénus a la Fourrire). Directed by Roman Polanski. With:
Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric. Writters: Roman Polanski, David
Ives (Screenplay); David Ives (Play); Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (novel).
France/Poland, 2013, 96 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).


2015/10/24

Day 226: Back to The Furture + Back to The Future Part II (October, 21: McFly Day!!!)



McFly Day, finally! After more then 25 years, the future is here. To celebrate it, there were a lot of fuss around the world. One of the examples we can see below: 



At my square on the map, there were some marathons in movie theaters around town, and I missed them all. With all the screenings sold out in advance, I decided to take a pizza home and watch the first two movies at the confort of my sofa, with the help of a fan working at full force. 

The first Back to The Future is a cherished movie for 30 years now. I remember when I watched it at the movie theater on the first of January, 1986 (yep, I'm that old). A sister that lives abroad was visiting with her husband, so I had lost possession of my room. I was sleeping on the sofa at the living room. I was 16, so the lack of confort or the absense of silence hasn't prevented me to sleep till 1pm. I woke up with my best friend (we're still besties :) on the phone inviting me to the movies. The movie was Back to The Future, and we had such a nice time in a day that usually is a bummer that we decided to begin a tradition. We were able to fulfill it only for a few years, but the film that had started it is a happy memory till today. 

And I must say, it is really good. How dated it is presents a bonus, actually, not a contrary element. I was smiling with tears on my eyes since the first scene. It is so well constructed, each scene related to other, it is amazing. Too good. I had a great time seeing it again. 

Back to The Future. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. With: MIchael J. Fox,
Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson. USA, 1985, 116 min., 70 mm 6-track/
Dolby, Color (DVD).


But the goal on this day was Back to The Future Part II, theoverly expected sequel to the first movie after it became a hit on the '80s. Because it in it that Marty and Doc go to October 21, 2015. What is different and the elements that we indeed see nowadays as a part of our lives are there. What surprised more is that how the '80s are cultuated - after all, a 1989 production that could somehow realize that the bizarre '80s would be back on full force is surprising. It was for me, anyhow, because I didn't remember any of it, actually - except the part when Marty leaves Jennifer on the front porch of her house (yeah, I know. Why remember that, right?). 

It was a nice sequel at the time, I reckon, but not so much for me nowadays. It is consistent with the first part, and that's good. But the alternate 1985 is an agony to me, too much, I think. The second half of this movie is better, though, and so I was back to having a good time.

I remember watching the Superman (1978) at the movies and cheering when at the final credits there was a warning about a sequel. This second Back to the Future has the same warning about a third movie, and I remember how static we were. Today, it is given that there will be a sequel, but at the '80s this trend was just in its beginning. This whole second part is constructed around the third sequel, actually. I didn't intend to watch it again, but now I'll have to, because the last two movies in this series are connected. You see it here soon, I guess. 


Back to The Future II Directed by Robert Zemeckis. With: MIchael J. Fox,
Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson. USA, 1989, 108 min., 70 mm 6-Track/
Dolby SR, Color (DVD).

PS: I love this sax, it makes me smile that I see these films :)







2015/10/23

Day 225: Tomboy (October, 20)

Tomboy attempts to offer a delicate view about sexual identity by the story of a 10 year old child named Laure that assumes the name of Michael, telling the new friends in the new neighborhood that he is a boy. The use of beautiful, evocative images, a incredible protagonist, a close look to his family, a playful yet delicate pace... all that transport us to the perception what that kid is going through.

The thing is that, for me, Céline Sciamma, that tells this story by her writing and direction, is not so sure about what she actually thinks about the subject. Her characters are so humane, close to us, as if we were another neighbor of them, passing by their lives as the other characters. But some relations are not solid here, as lost on the director's uncertainty about it. One example is the role of Michael's father: they're so close, but during the most difficult time for him, his dad is absent. I don't understand it. It is almost like Sciamma wants to tell a strong story, but was not able to fully commit to it. The ending is a bit problematic too, although it leaves a clue about what is true and important there. It allows us to reach our own conclusions, but even if it is admirable in a movie, still I felt like something was absent. 

Michael's mother's reactions are believable and understandable. We are tempted to judge her, but one thing that the movie makes clear is that there's no way we could do that. I praise this choice, but it doesn't diminish the fact that Michael's story seems sometimes more of a means to an end than a true tale about one realizing his true identity.



Amazing young actors <3
Tomboy. Directed and written by Céline Sciamma. With: Zoé Heran, Maionn
Lévana, Jeanne Disson. France, 2011, 82  min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix).


2015/10/21

Day 224: Crimson Peak (October, 19)

Expectations are the downfall of a movie goer, that's for sure. It was mine on the screening of Crimson Peak

But can anyone blame me? A Guillermo Del Toro film with Tom Hiddleston... How is it possible not to create humongous expectations? 

A traditional Gothic story with amazing visual but lacking in other important aspects, as the story itself. The performances are great, though. I don't need to talk about Hiddleston, he delivers whatever characters he assumes. But Jessica Chastailn is the real star here, she is incredible. Mia Wasikowska is amazingly weird as always. It was funny seeing here in a romantic duo with Hiddleston - they are in-laws in on of my favorite movies ever, Only Lovers Left Alive

There are suspense, of course, but it falls into the void of predictability (and it was definitely killed by my over expectations). It's a ghost story, which I love, but the creatures' design is very reminiscent of Pan's Labyrinth, and don't fit well here, in this Gothic tale. It is horrible and beautiful, but it doesn't have the same Gothic atmosphere as the rest of the art design.

So, at the end, I gathered the empty popcorn bucket, got up and left in an unavoidable sense of disappointment.




Crimson Peak. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. With: Tom Hiddleston,
Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain. Writers: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew
Robbins. USA, 2015, 119 min., Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS, Color (Cinema).



Day 223: Heat (October, 18)

Heat is one movie that I should have seen at the time of its release. It is a great crime drama, with a smart, suspenseful writing, but it carries too much of its time features to be strong still, I think. The main aspect in that sense is the music: in the middle of the '90s, it relates a lot to some of the scores on the '80s, giving to it an old feeling that diminishes a lot the drama for me - I could identify it, but not really feel it. 

A good surprise was to see Robert De Niro and Al Paccino opposite each other 20 years ago, when they were not condemned yet to the grandpas roles of nowadays. Here they are spectacular. I was in love with both, and a very melancholic feeling took hold of me during the whole movie because of that. I've seen De Niro and Pacino this year in more elderly roles, and despite not being over attached to a sense of eternal youth or something like that, It was weird confronting their roles in a 20 year gap. But that's life, and I guess it's ok for me to be melancholic about that sometimes. 

Michael Mann knows how to shoot at night, his images are spectacular. The pace of his movies are so suspenseful, smart, respectful to the viewers intelligence, it is always a good surprise. I wasn't totally sure before, but now, after Heat, I can state that my favorite Mann's film is Miami Vice, 2006. I cannot understand the 6.0 ratings on imdb.com. The cinematography there is so good, outstanding even. For me, it was like Mann was improving his skills as a filmmaker in order to achieve what he presented with Miami Vice. But, again, that's me and my contrary views about life. 


Heat. Directed  and written by Michael Mann. With: Robert De Niro, Al
Paccino, Val Kilmer. USA, 1995, 170 min., Dolby Digital/SDDS, Color (DVD). 


PS: Dea, my amazing friend that thought Batman and Dracula were the same, cannot tell apart Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.I imagine what it would be like watching this movie with her :)

2015/10/20

Day 222: Best Man Down (October, 17)

Best Man Down is that sort of movie that tests our own reactions to things. Our most ingrained prejudices regarding people and what they would probably do in our opinion when faced with difficult events. And in a delicate view of ordinary people's struggles, they prove how wrong we can be at a first impression.

After realizing that the film was not as inane as I first thought, I warmed to the character in a point that I wanted to hug them. They're so real, so against the grain, it is great. As I've been saying, nothing like a small indie movie to put a mirror in front of our daily life, our surroundings and relations.

There's a funny plot around a cafethan that I regarded as a example of how these kind of production can reach important aspects about human relations by such tiny details. This particular factor here conveys so much, it is incredible. Simple movies about intricate matters through a delicate story and solid performances are always a good treat, without being a safe recipe. And this one wasn't any different, fortunately.

Thank's again (and again and again), Magic Shuffle :)


Best Man Down. Directed and written by Ted Koland. With: Justin Long, Jess
Weixler, Tyler Labine, Addison Timlin USA, 2012, 89 min., Color (Netflix).


PS: The day after I've watched this movie, I've saw a facebook a post about how "human egoism" is probably a capitalist propaganda in order to keep people apart. The story (in Porguguese) has the following headline: "New research suggests: our species is mostly cooperative, selfless and caring. The idea of collective greed can be an ideological projection made up by concentrating power and capital". It immediately reminded me of the characters in this movie, that sustain the results obtained by this new research for sure. 

Day 221: The Walk (October, 16)

Until this day, I was aware of my big scare of highs. It had prevented me of getting to the top of Eiffel Tower. I had put some second thoughts on my desire to sky diving, for example. And it had represented a bit of a problem when I had to take a course because of work on a terrace 20 floors above the ground. 

But I was never ever so aware of being so afraid of highs as during The Walk, the movie about Phillipe Petit and his walk on a wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974.

With the help of a clever use of CGI, we are put right on Petit's motivations and planning for what he called "the coup". We know that what we see is not there anymore, but it feels truly real. We know it is not, though, and that is one of the pacts created between a movie and its audience. We can forget that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with a bizarre French accent, a bit caricatural manners (who can blame him after all?) and his amazing performance, is not in fact Petit. We forget it, just to remember again when we praise his performance. And at the next moment the actor disappears to became Petit once more. 

This way, it was easy to me lose the sense of where I was - at my seat in a movie theater - to embark in this crazy plan to cross the void between the two towers on a wire. I was having fun, the narrative presented by Levitt is fun, the atmosphere is very bohemic and so. Until the moment Petit and his faithful mad gang arrive at the top of the tower. At this moment, all hell broke lose for me.

Because, yes, my afraid of highs is severely more serious than what I had realized. There's a scene with Petit and Jeff hiding from a guard that led me to such a state of despair that I had to breath deeply in order to put myself together. Barely. From then, it was a roller coaster ride for me, because things only got worse, scare of highs wise. You see, I know the images I was seeing were being projected on a screen. I knew for sure. But that was not what I was experiencing at all. Because I was there, on that extremely high roof with that crazy and brilliant gang. I was witnessing it, especially through Jeff, who is scare of highs just like me. What he had to endure in order to help Petit, you won't believe. Maybe that character is a clever way of putting a regular audience inside what represented being there. it worked, at least with me it did.

I wouldn't be able to even go up that wooden stairs leading to the roof. I'm sure I would have been paralysed right at its first step. But Jeff goes on, and he is incredible. However this fact didn't prevent me of being overly scared, in the cusp of a meltdown actually. When Petit gave his first step on the wire, letting go of the roof's railing, I was in fact in shambles. in the verge of a breakdown, crying so hard, I attempt to get a grip over my fear. It seems too much? Well, that's fear: insane, irrational, uncontrollable. It didn't work the reminding  of it was "just a movie", because that line had never worked for me. That's why movies are such a way to be in the world for me. They are not just anything... They are a experience of life so intense that there's no way to turn my back to it.

And Petit, that arrogant s*b (sorry)... He made me cry even more. At first, from fear. I felt like screaming to him to get out of that roof. But slowly, I was emotional for another reason: the kind of experience that makes us aware of how fundamental life is can be overwhelming. An experience shared only by that man and the world around him, the clouds above his head, the wire below his feet, the immense feeling of gratitude for being able to experience it. This movie put us right there with him, and it does that beautifully.

Of course I was relieved when, finally (!!!), his feet were on the roof again, after what looked like a lifetime of nerve-wracking walked between the towers. The man is crazy, that's for sure. And what a blessing to be so.

Being able to breath again, I was once more overwhelmed by the amazing homage to the Towers. Another special ability on the cinema is how it can manipulate time. The Towers being built on the Screen are not there anymore, we know that. Past, present and future time are involved in a movie... As have been said by Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time - that's what cinema does. And without any explicit mention to the attack to the Towers, what they means to us today are still addressed in a respectful and compelling way.

An spectacular movie in all its features, no doubt. It took me a long time to plant my feet firmly on the ground again. 


The Walk. Directed By Robert Zemeckis. With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon. Writers: Robert Zemeckis,
Christopher Browne from the book To Reach The Clouds, by Phillipe Petit.
USA, 2015, 123min., SDDS/Datasat/Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).

2015/10/19

Day 220: It's Kind of a Funny Story (October, 15)

There's a bookstore in my city that became my second (and favorite) home for a while. I made good friends there, spent a lot of time like a true flanêur between its shelves and chose it as a kind of office even. Notebook balanced on my knees, I could write for hours there. It was my place on the world out of a movie theater. But then, the management politics changed, the people working there stooped to chat with customers for half an hour about their favorite books, and that place was not my paradise anymore. This detachment is the only explanation of why I hadn't stuck with Ned Vizzini from the first time that I hold one of his books.

Galifinakis is incredibly good here
I'd noticed his books before, especially the one that was adapted on today's film It's Kind of a Funny Story. I even took a copy from the shelf, looked at it, without paying more attention to it. Because, you see, I don't wander by the shelves in this lost paradise anymore. Because of that, great stories pass unnoticed by me, what would never have happened before.

During the whole movie, I was certain that it had been based on a true story and adapted from a book. There's a sense of a personal story being told here that led me to that conclusion. And I was not wrong. After the final credits, I googled it and there it was: a book by Ned Vizzini telling his own experience during his short hospitalization in a psychiatric ward by characters and facts that, according to the author, portray 85% what had happened to him during that time of his life. 

It was impossible for me not to relate to Craig since the beginning. He is such a driven young guy, so committed to his goals and views about life that he decides to voluntarily checks himself in a hospital for his overwhelming depression. The people he meets in the psychiatric ward confirms what I think about depression and craziness: the intensity and sensibility can be so, so much, that there's not other way than to fall into depression, and be a bit (or a lot) crazy.

Ned Vizzini's story highlights this aspect in an endearing way. We see people on screen, and we have no other option that to relate to their struggles as our own. And so, of course I was crying and laughing and hoping. There's not other way with this story, I think. 

After the movie, I've read that Ned Vizzini had struggled with depression for years. At the age of 32, he put an end to his life by jumping from his parents building. He was married and had a little son. I was so sad when I've read this, I didn't know what to do with my feelings. The movie showed the contradictions presented by a mental illness, but had also ended in such a high note... That was years ago, though, a length of time that I scoured in a few minutes.

I was sure of one thing, however: Ned Vizzini did not invalidate his battle by terminating his life. It is sad, horrible, no doubt. But I'm sure he had fought hard, until he wasn't able to do it anymore. But what he achieved was big, and there's no way to ignore that. His story brought so much. Despite being really sad, I'm also immensely grateful to him for sharing his experience in such a beautiful tale. 



It's Kind of a Funny Story. Directed and written by Anna Boden and Ryan
Fleck from the novel by Ned Vizzini. With: Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts,
Zack Galifianakis. EUA, 2010, 101 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Netflix).


PS: Funny fact: I think that another reason why I wasn't able to give more attention to Ned Vizzini's books is because of Vizzini, from the amazing The Princess Bride... I could no help but keep the image of Wallace Shawn on my mind every time I saw his name on a book cover :)

Day 219: Elsa & Fred (October, 14)

Another day that found me without any will to risk a new story... I took it then as an opportunity to fulfil an inevitable task: check out the American version to the outstanding Argentinean movie Elsa y Fred, 2005.

Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer gave an English accent to two lovely characters in Elsa & Fred. But even them are not able to give a soul to this remake. The story is there, the characters (plus a few secondary characters), but it is empty, unfortunately. I thought that it would be like that, and that's what I was reluctant to watch this movie. However, I felt a kind of obligation toward it, in order to see what had been made of such a delicate story about love and dreams in a time of a person's life that society usually sustains that there's no place to any of it.

Usually, Hollywood remakes of good movies have the uncanny ability of taking out what is more important in the story. No reservations, 2007,did that to Mostly Martha, 2001, for example. The facts are there, no doubt. In this sense, these remakes excel in one thing: proving how facts don't make a story. They are not the life and soul of a narrative, and it is mesmerizing that movie studios didn't realize that by now. 

Fortunately, there's some amazing exceptions, as the American version (2011) to the Sweden adaptation of The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo, 2009. The known characters and story were there, but with a whole new dimension that added to the Swedish movie. But we're talking about David Fincher here, and it was very unlikely that he wouldn't deliver a great version of this incredible thriller. 

I missed the Argentinean version of Elsa & Fred. I missed the depth gave to this characters by the beautiful and complex performances delivered by China Zorrilla and Manuel Alexandre, despite the outstanding cast on this one. I couldn't avoid to keep going back to the original movie, in order to create a minimal relation to what I was seeing in front of me. And in doing that, the remake missed all the purpose to me. No surprises here, though. 

Those two <3
Elsa & Fred. Directed by Michael Radford. With: Shirley MacLaine,
Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Hardem. Writer: Anna Pavignano,
 Michael Radford. USA/Canada/Mexico/Puerto Rico,  2014, 97 min., Dolby
Digital, Color/Black and White (Netflix). 

Day 218: Words and Pictures (October, 13)

Words and Pictures is an odd movie. It's not here or there, suffering from a double personality. Well, regarding films, we can say that there's a serious writing issue in this history.

The thing is, the two protagonists are very interesting at a first sight: they're ironic, clever, witty, damaged... It is initially very good, actually. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche have no chemistry as a couple, but they fit their roles beautifully (Owen can be charming and repulsive as as the troubled Mr. Marc), until the personality crises crashed over them. And then what was disturbed and interesting, became predictable, banal, cheesy. A true horror. And a waste of a good story and characters.

I should have been aware of this risk, because the movie's poster gives away all the bad aspects actually... It's dreadful.

Furthermore, the conclusion to the rivalry that moved those two teachers- one about what is more important, words or pictures - falls into the void of a comfortable outcome. Another shame, and a total disregard to the story being told.

Plus the damaged characters at first, I loved the mention to one of my favorites books, and author: Saturday, by Ian McEwan. In his novels, art uses to have a great impact on life, what is very compelling in the different scenarios that he presents by his stories. It was a nice surprise in what turned out to be a very disappointing movie after the promising beginning.

Curious fact: all the painting on the movie were painted by Binoche.


Words and Pictures. Fred Schepisi. With: Juliette Binoche. Clive Owen,
Bruce Davison. Writer: Gerald DiPego. USA/Canada/Australia, 2013, 111
min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).

2015/10/18

Day 217: What's in a Name (October, 12)

I was pleasantly surprised by What's In a Name? (Le Prénom). What seemed like a light comedy became an interesting debate about family affairs and even human relations. It is witty, funny, scary in its accuracy, and even hopeful at last. Because we can expect perfection from the people we love, but what does it mean really? Everybody has its own issues, one more than others, sure, but we are equals in our daily struggles. There's no way to escape that, and this movie keep us glued to the screen, looking at it with open eyes.

There's so many familiar references in here... impossible not to relate to what is happening in that living room, with some relatives and in laws battling for recognition. It is truly staggering.

A clever script, amazing performances, a detailed direction: this movie is a bull's eye. We laugh because it is funny, witty... we laugh because it is a true nerve-racking. A must-see, I think, even if it seems a bit silly at first sight.


What's in a Name? (Le Prénom). Directed and written bu Alexandre de La
Patellière, Matthieu de Laporte, from their original play.  With:  Patick
Bruell, Valérie Benguigui, Charles Berlling. France/Belgium, 2012, 109
min., Color, Dolby Digital (Netfllix).  



2015/10/16

Day 216: The Intern (October, 11)

For a long time I haven't seen a movie like The Intern, that kind of feel good mainstream productions that make us laugh, cry, relate to those improbable characters and leave the movie theater feeling really good about life and so.

But, in reality, I first thought it would be so much worse. And it isn't bad at all; it's the opposite actually. Even if predictable, the story and characters are good, and a good take on current way of life in the (higher) middle class.

Nowadays, there's an common sense idea about what is politically correct to do. And we see all that on the way by which Anne Hathaway's Jules  manages her company: she rides a bike to circulate on the big office; her firm has a program to hire older interns; there's even a masseuse on call to treat the employees. But Jules life's a mess, because she acts in the opposite direction of her believes. 

Every now and then, there's a movie that becomes a hit for picturing the current times images and people's main struggles in a more common way. The Intern is designed to be exactly that, an easy and cute image of our more intricate struggles. It is not difficult to like it, and even laugh hysterically in front of the funny character's antics. They are so cute, we're have no other option that relate to them, even if they are too perfectly created to fulfill the story's mission, as to say. And Robert De Niro is less stereotyped than his last roles (even if there's still a lot of cliches here). But he is believable - I actually could see a lot of myself on some of his features. I'm not being vain, I swear... it is only  that some aspects here are really accurate. It is not because it is easy that it is not true, as we can see in many and many movies out there. 

And so, that was it. I left my seat in a full movie theater, on a hot Sunday, in the company of one of my dearest friends, with a smile on my face. And the thought that it was too easy to get it there.

The Intern. Directed and written by Nancy Meyers.  With: Robert De Niro,
Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo. USA, 2015, 121 min., Dolby Digital/Datasat,
Color (Cinema)..





Day 215: Ain't Them Boddies Saints (October, 10)


Ain't Them Bodies Saints has a more interesting story behind its name than the movie by itself. Don't get me wrong, it is a good period movie, but nothing that you've not seen before. The mood is melancholic, which I always love, the scenes are beautiful, the characters are doomed and sad. All of them elements that give poetry to a story. But it is all. End of final credits, good songs, and that's it. I went to sleep without a second thought.


Casey Affleck I'm able to stand better than his brother, the rat Ben. Rooney Mara is always a strong presence on screen, and Keith Carradine is on his usual role on the last years. Cinematography is pretty, the silence is great - I love silence in a movie. But there's nothing outstanding here. Just a couple of hours with a well known story about outcast love.

I've read some comments on imdb.com about how this movie has a Terence Malick (one of my favorite filmmakers in life) kind of feeling. I disagree with that. Ok, there's the silence, and melancholic takes and so, but the main feature on Malick's films is absent here: how time is something more sensed than told. We have here the sense of time, something that is pictured in a different (brilliant) way by Malick. 

The curious thing is its title, as I've said above: it came from the director misquotation of a song's lyric. No, seriously. Ain't that cool? I thought so, and that's the main recollection of this movie that I'll have on a future time when I'll think about it :)

Ain't Them Bodies Saints. Directed and writen by David Lowery. With: Rooney
Mara, Casey Affleck,  Ben Foster. USA, 2013, 96 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).

The seventh month is also gone

Elvis & Anabelle, 2007

Day 185: Barbecue, 2014
Day 186: Collateral, 2004
Day 187: Moon, 2009
Day 188: Frances Ha, 2012
Day 189: Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?, 2014
Day 190: Love, 2015
Snowpiercer,  2013
Day 191: The Journey of Natty Gann, 1985
Day 192: Le nom des gen, 2010
Day 193: All is Lost, 2013
Day 194: The Way Way Back, 2013
Day 195: The Flying Scotsman, 2006
Day 196: Elvis and Anabelle, 2007
Day 197: Frank & Robot, 2012
Day 198: The Upside of Anger, 2005
Day 199: Black Hawk Down, 2001
Day 200: Everest, 2015
Day 201: Snowpiercer, 2013
Day 202: The Little Prince + Rich and The Flash + The Last Drive-in Theater, 2015
Day 203: The Second Mother, 2015
Day 204: Persepolis, 2007
Day 205: Maze Runer: The Scorch Trials, 2015
Day 206: Hanna, 2011
Day 207: Event 15, 2013
Day 208: Before We Go, 2014
Day 209: What We Did on Our Holiday, 2014
Day 210: The Martian, 2015
Day 211: Last Night, 2010
Day 212: French Movie, 2008
Day 213: Pretty Woman, 1990
Day 214: Priceless, 2006

Before We Go, 2014