with the bold text in the example below:

Monday, October 31, 2011

On battlestar Galactica by Glen A. Larson (TV series, 2004 - 2009) (TV-PG)

with Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park...

Deep in the universe, cybernetic Cylons have all but wiped out the human race, laying waste to the Twelve Colonies of Man. Cast out, the few survivors aboard the Battlestar Galactica search for a so-called 13th colony: the mythical planet Earth. Cmdr. Adama (Edward James Olmos) and President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) lead the desperate quest with the Cylons in hot pursuit in this Syfy hit series, a reimagining of the classic 1970s program.

I just remembered today how Battlestar Galactica has rules one month and a half of my life, while being completely disconnected from reality. I watched almost every day two to five episodes of the series, addicted to something that I didn't know would even lead anywhere (since we all know usually, tv series, specially science fiction, do not lead anywhere, think of Heroes, X-files, Lost, 4400, Start Trek and many more, yes, no ending :). So I watched this series, quite intrigued by the level of questioning of our current values, the nice shaping of all these characters, the evolution in which they progress, the journey itself that made a whole lot of sense without being predictable, the dialogues (yes, for a science fiction - military context, the dialogues are quite elevated, almost in a surreal way, characters are intelligent), and therefor the feeling that one have is that he is actually watching an extremely long film.

One of the most interesting aspect for me has been the performance of the actors playing the Cylons, it has been a great fun seeing them being Cylons, discovering themselves Cylons, and sometimes, having even different characters to itself. The other good thing is how the past of the human characters defines them along the journey, without being sensational or superheroes, it is more about their humanity than their secrets. And the last point is the emphasis in a bigger vision of humanity as a specie, with its own mortality, weakness, flakiness, that the Cylons reflect or oppose as a mirror to the humans. It is not a story about heroes, not even about survival, it is about relationships and belief.
So after a month of watching the series, I think it took me a while to disconnect from the characters I had built a familiarity with, I had to learn to live with a story that ends, so my own story could take over. Addiction is a good definition. My favorite character: 6, amazingly performed by Tricia Helfer. What the frack!

tricia helfer six
6 - Caprica (Tricia Helfer)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thor by Kenneth Branagh, 2011

with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston (Marvel's Avengers, War Horse, Deep Blue Sea), Anthony Hopkins (360, RED 2, Hitchcock), Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel's Avengers, The girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Melancholia), Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba (Prometheus), Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair)
Kenneth Branagh also directed Sleuth and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Followed by Thor 2: The Dark World

The thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful warrior is forced by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) -- the king of Asgard -- to live among humans on Earth and learn humility. Once there, he finds a friend (Natalie Portman), along with unexpected enemies sent from his world.

The cast and director are really good, in essence, so the expectations were high. On the other hand, the movie is a marvel, big time hero movie, so the expectations in this place were much lower. The result is pretty much the direct result of a combination of great actors, good director and big blockbuster, moderate. Although the sense of humor is good, the definition of each character is too predictable, there is a strong frontier between good and evil that makes the movie a bit dumb, almost boring, while the situations and use of language is pretty witty and smart. Very strange combination. Almost as if someone kept the meaning of a simple script and translated it into a literate language. Anyway, an entertaining movie with big monsters and handsome hero, and some fun dialogues.

RED by Robert Schwentke, 2010

with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman (Invictus, The Dark Knight Rises), John Malkovich, Helen Mirren (The Debt), Mary-Louise Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes, Weed), Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, Karl Urban, James Remar

After trading in his professional past as a black-ops CIA operative for a new identity, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is basking in normality. But he's forced to return to old habits when an assassin puts a target on his back and goes after the woman (Mary-Louise Parker) he loves. Helen Mirren and John Malkovich co-star as former members of Frank's team who reluctantly reassemble to save his life in this Golden Globe-nominated action-comedy.

My mum who just retired recommended it to me. She had fun watching it, with some things she could relate to. So, I watched it, was on demand on Showtime. Mmhhhh, ok... It is funny at the beginning, maybe at some point when John Malkovich and Helen Mirren are at their best, but their are trying to do a action movie comedy with a hard time combining both, it either comedy with a good sense of humor, or action time with things we already saw that many times. The actors are a little bit over-acting which makes it a little bit heavy and obvious. In conclusion, someone has to make a good movie about action people retiring. Waiting...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (The Other Woman) by Don Roos, 2009 (R)

with Natalie Portman (Paris Je T'aime, Black Swan, Thor), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), Lauren Ambrose, Anthony Rapp, Scott Cohen, Charlie Tahan, Daisy Tahan, Elizabeth Marvel, Debra Monk (One for the Money), Mary Joy, Maria Dizzia (Keep the Lights On, Orange is the New Black)

Romance becomes reality for Emilia Greenleaf (Natalie Portman), who wins the heart of the handsome object of her affection (Scott Cohen), only to find that the relationship comes with some very real baggage -- including her new beau's troubled son (Charlie Tahan).

The movie looks like a romantic cheesy comedy, with a theme that we've already heard of about the kid of one having to go along with the new wife and the new wife with him. It is lovely as a story to tell, but I found more to the movie than I expected, such as a complex situation of having a baby die soon after birth and the guilt and anger that comes out of it. The character of Emilia is of a woman who is still a child somehow, doesn't know how to deal with a lot of realities, and on top of everything, not having it easy. Not perfect, not smart, but so human.

Watch Trailer:

Hævnen (In a better world) by Susanne Bier, 2010

with Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Markus Rygaard, William Jøhnk Nielsen, Bodil Jørgensen, Elsebeth Steentoft, Anette Støvelbæk, Kim Bodnia, Martin Buch

Anton is a doctor who commutes between his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and his work at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. Anton and his wife Marianne, who have two young sons, are separated and struggling with the possibility of divorce. Their older, ten-year-old son Elias is being bullied at school, until he is defended by Christian, a new boy who has just moved from London with his father, Claus. Christian's mother recently lost her battle with cancer, and Christian is greatly troubled by her death. Elias and Christian quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, their friendship is tested and lives are put in danger. Ultimately, it is their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy.

The movie is excellent, impeccable in all aspect, from the acting, kids and adults, to the cinematography that reflect two different environments with so much connectivity to them, to the dialogues: powerful, right on and unexpected. The movie has this awareness of the world that surprisingly, the wise characters do not use to lecture. Another very interesting point is the conflict that is underlying between Danish and Swedish and the revealing of what is to be a doctor on a humanitarian mission, with all the interior conflicts about that is good and what is fair, but most importantly, the captivating and scary rising of violence and the almost impossible mission to shut it off. An optimistic film after all, but with a major doubt subsisting on how long this will last...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On lesbian movies...

There is a wide range of movies, and so far I am still exploring, sometimes not too interested in certain genres, such as "sort of erotic" lesbian movies, comedians trying to stereotype lesbians (even being funny), and perhaps maybe movies that are so uncharming, from a communication point of view (yes, marketing count).

I am going to avoid tv series by saying two words. The L Word, as bad as was the last season of it, definitely redefined the word lesbian in wider terms, although I believe it didn't reach mainstream audience. And The Real L Word is simply building an awful image of lesbians, making them significantly stupid and superficial.

So, from my late experience of lesbian in movies, I have to say that my attachment to some movies has definitely be linked to the incorporation of women in love with women and shown is a normal way. For example, "Precious, based from the novel Push" was an amazing example of what is a lesbian relationship. "The kids are alright"could be an example, although the theme of the movie was about a family built by two women. I also recently watch the documentary "little man" which is about a mother experiencing the birth of her child 100 days earlier, and it happens to be that this woman was with another woman. It feels a reality of it without becoming all about it, all about the transformation/change of a woman into a lesbian... Which I have to say is a little too important in most of the movies I am watching lately.

For some reason, probably linked to the fact that it is major in the life of a lesbian to do their coming out or eventually even accept that they may have feelings for a person of the same sex, the movies are essentially centered on women realizing they are in love with another, usually another who had experienced love with a woman for some time. Rarely, you would have two women who have feelings for one another and discover at the same time they may happen to be in love with a woman. The one movie I saw lately about two girls discovering their love was "Circumstance". In most cases, the movie have to be of either two women of a more mature age, one married and the other one "long time lesbian", falling for the other. Incredible. From "Imagine me and you", to "Aimee and Jaguar", to "Elena Undone" to "Between two women" to "a village affair" to "gazon maudit" (french twist) to so many others... Good movies overall nonetheless. I can tho see tho that things evolves from older stories about the guilt of having betrayed the marriage and become 'the absolute sin' = lesbian, and finally deciding to not choose, or eventually choose the husband, to a more interesting step forward into accepting their feeling and facing it to the world. And eventually choosing that the surrounding would eventually welcome it.

The other move of the lesbian movies is to present the blossoming of girls into their feelings, and the discovery that their are lesbians, either having to face it through falling for someone of their surrounding, or having to do their coming out to their family and friends. "Pourquoi pas moi?" (why not me), "The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love"...

I was wondering if those movies were not reflecting the main realities of women of two different generations, one generation where it was the right thing to do to get married, have kids and not think too much about love as an essential and passionate thing to live, and having to confront their feelings once they had been shaken (which we also can see in other movies with women falling for the right guy), and the younger generation who is surrounded by gay right movements, and discovering who they are, and feeling love for the first time, for a woman.

Anyway, there are a lot of beautiful movies about lesbians, mostly romantic comedies/dramas, around us... But I cannot wait to watch more movies where lesbians are part of the script without having to find the movie classified in the Lesbian section or being shocked about the stereotype they made of the lesbians.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011 (R)

with Ryan Gosling (All Good Things, Blue Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love), Carey Mulligan (An Education, Shame, Never Let Me Go), Bryan Cranston (Total Recall, Argo), Albert Brooks (Out of Sight), Ron Perlman (Tangled), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Oscar Isaac (Agora, The Bourne Legacy)

In this thriller, Driver, a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.

I heard so many positive feedback from this movie, that almost, I felt forced to watch it. But in a good mood, I went to see it and... exited and hour and forty minutes numb. It started well, with a quasi silent protagonist, almost inexpressive, coming out of nowhere and bringing us to into a mysterious plot that we have no clue about, including crazy characters from a Tarantino movie, with that note of absurd violence. The shots are worthy of a fashion clip from Tom Ford, the actors are perfect, great fast cut - slow motion editing, but nothing flows and it becomes boringly common. There are no attachment to the perfect characters that are stereotyping the behavior you expect of: the good wife, the lonely hero, the bad Italian mafiosi, his idiot right hand, the good friend, the husband who is always in trouble, but a good guy after all...

Contagion by Steven Soderbergh, 2011

with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Sanaa Lathan
By the director of "Haywire", "The Informant!"...

"Contagion" follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.

This is an unconventional film. I mean, some others could say this is a filmmaker's dream of choral movie, with amazing actors, super famous, with a great chance of blockbuster effect. On the other hand, this is an unconventional movie. First, you hear about this movie watching CNN, not NBC. Then, you go and watch it, and wonder where is the thriller, the suspense, the emotion, the violins, the tear-sheder, the super hero, the bad guys... Guess what, this is a movie that is promoted on CNN, and made as if we were watching the news, except with less dramatization, a documentary almost. So we are watching day after day the expansion of a virus, and as soon as the past weeks are gone, the subject becomes less hot, less suspenseful, but still, the ones who have to do the work are still involved, they keep doing their job, and the attention gets focused on what the job is really about, trying to contain a virus, trying to find vaccine and trying to make the world go back round. So it is interesting in the sense that it is not what we expect and along the way, we learn more about the ins and outs of our society management, and forget about the sensational of it. It becomes somehow as real as the last epidemic we were watching carefully on the news, two years ago, except that this time, it is about the people that are working for real on resolving the problem. How about that?

Watch Trailer:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little Man by Nicole Conn, 2005

Turning the camera lens on her own life, lesbian filmmaker Nicole Conn ("Elena Undone") captures the heart-wrenching process of having a surrogate child with her life partner, political activist Gwen Baba, only to have the baby be born 100 days too early. Weighing just 1 pound with a heart the size of a cashew, the tiny infant Nicholas fights valiantly for his own survival while his parents fight to keep their commitment alive.

What a movie. Documentary. It is so accurate and precise and intimate. Because of the honesty of the people filmed, it recreates perfectly the context, the questions, the despairs, the behaviors of everyone and each one upon one another. It is a difficult documentary to watch, because it is always at the edge between life and death, between what is ethical and what is not, when it is bearable and when it is not. In a very understanding way, in a very human way, we go through all the steps and complexity of the journey without trying to give a universal judgment on what is right or wrong about it. It makes you believe that while in the journey, it is almost impossible to have a perspective, everything is decided in an emergency, and has to be decided somehow upon instinct, which is usually how things are done, when the matter of life and death is present. And it is well made, well analyzed. I believe that the journey of Gwen is as understandable as the one of Nicole. That is also why I find the documentary so right.