with the bold text in the example below:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pa Negre (Black Bread) by Agustí Villaronga, 2010

with Francesc Colomer, Marina Comas, Nora Navas, Laia Marull, Andrés Herrera, Sergi López...

In the harsh post-war years' Catalan countryside, Andreu, a child that belongs to the losing side, finds the corpses of a man and his son in the forest. The authorities want his father to be made responsible of the deaths, but Andreu tries to help his father by finding out who truly killed them. In this search, Andreu develops a moral consciousness against a world of adults fed by lies. In order to survive, he betrays his own roots and ends up finding out the monster that lives within him.

Ok, summary reveals it all. And nothing. It is told from the child's perspective, a little bit like to movie is telling it. From the point of view of an adult, there is much more we can see, all the layers, the untold, the trying to be better, but circumstances having it worsen. The case of people that fate has put forever as losers, no matter how hard they try. It is a sad and quite too real story.
Cinematography excellent, with a very impressive opening and ending scene. Plot thickening into an incredible human drama. The acting, both of the children and the adults, impeccable. I recommend to watch it in its original version, which is Catalan. For it is also a great symbol of the recognition Catalunya has finally reached, after so many years of being on the side. This movie has won the Goyas, which is historical for a Catalan spoken movie, and is now in competition to represent Spain for the Oscar. May it go all the way.

La Piel Que Habito (The skin I live in) by Pedro Almodovar, 2011 (R)

with Antonio Banderas (The Other Man), Elena Anaya (Room in Rome), Marisa Paredes (All about my mother), Blanca Suárez, Jan Cornet

Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a brilliant plastic surgeon, seeks to overcome the grief of his late wife's disfigurement in a fiery car crash by inventing skin that is impervious to injury, but his experiments on a living woman hasten his descent into madness.

It's not because of Elena Anaya, I promise. But I felt detached from this movie as well. I believe there were a lot of opinion going to extremes whether you love it or hate it, but no real middle ground. I guess I didn't like it. It was fascinating to see the transformation of the man, but the movie wasn't really about it. I loved the object and the wall that was created in this room, but looking closely, it didn't feel very deep. Then, I guess it was not crazy enough to feel that I was watching a crazy movie, it was not sensitive enough so I could like the characters, It was not interesting enough basically. Too many departure, and too many dead ends...

Room in Rome by Julio Medem, 2010

with Elena Anaya (La Piel Que Habito - The Skin I Live In) and Natasha Yarovenko

A hotel room in the center of Rome serves as the setting for two young and recently acquainted women to have a physical adventure that touches their very souls.

It took me a while to watch it... I saw the original movie "En la cama" by Matías Bize from Chile, I got the idea, it was an interesting concept to put two actors in a room set, and make them play a story that grows out of the bedroom, while the staging remains there. From intimacy to strangeness, and the discovery of the other through lies and truth... Room in Rome follows the same story, except it is more daring to have two women playing the couple. And I guess more romantic to be in what seems a luxurious hotel room in Rome than a shitty motel on a road of Chile. But maybe because it has all these elements, and the technology that surrounds them, it feels less natural, and also, the fact that the actresses are not speaking their own language, it feels a little overacted, over-staged. I didn't click so much with the characters, didn't feel sad for their miseries, in other words, it didn't touch me. And the sensuality between the two women was hard to believe. Oh, and why on earth did they portrayed a lesbian as if they were all stuck in the 90's with awful kinda outfits looking like Scarlett from "Four Wedding and a Funeral".

Leaving Las Vegas by Mike Figgis, 1995 (UR)

with Nicolas Cage (Face/Off), Elisabeth Shue (Deconstructing Harry, The Saint) and Julian Sands

Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.

I was expecting some full speed reckless emotionally intense movie, with two people living on the edge, on a 90's soundtrack and neon light vintage Vegas. Wasn't quite far, except with it, I would have missed the point. The way to story is told above is some sort of "official summary" you find on IMDB. It is true, but the movie is not so much about Ben, or about Ben seeing Sera. The movie is built from a perspective where nothing seems valid, valued, until we get it from the eyes of Sera. Once she appears on screen, looking at him, this is when you start actually looking at him, and not some drunk. You start seeing the beauty within him, how he evolved to become that man that at the end of the movie you'll learn to love. And it is through her as well that the movie evolved, and looking at her, you get to love even more her than him. She is an angel. She is beautiful, but not only as a beautiful woman. She has a beautiful gift for love and emotion, and maybe all is because of the actress Elisabeth Shue. She is all in nuances, get her role perfectly, through rage, resignation, love, innocence, realization, generosity, she gives so much. The movie stops, or end, whatever way you want to say it, and you cry. You have fallen in love with Sera and Ben. (now, to be fair, I find Elisabeth Shue amazing in any movie she plays in, from the not too good "The Saint" to "Deconstructing Harry", so I will never be sure whether she is simply brilliant or I love her. :)

Watch Trailer:

Aïe (ouch) by Sophie Fillières, 2006

with Hélène Fillières, André Dussollier and Emmanuelle Devos

Robert, single and in his fifties. He accidentally sees again Claire, who just had a baby from another man, and realizes he is still in love with her. He decides to reconquer her, but at the same moment, he meets a young woman who makes an unusual proposal: if if wishes, she could fall madly in love with him...

This movie is an alien. I do not mean it because of the story, but because of its unusual plot, and the strangeness of its so familiar characters. There is always something that doesn't seem right, sound right, is expressed in an unclear way, but nevertheless with a common sense and a natural that make you feel connected to the character. It is after all an adorable story, with a beautiful language and a poetry beyond the words. It is about letting yourself be loved, and love with the innocence of the one that do not fear to not be loved back, but eventually will. The actors are amazing, while the movie evolves almost exclusively around the three main characters. Interesting...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Youth without youth by Francis Ford Coppola, 2007

with Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André Hennicke, Marcel Iures, Zoltan Butuc, Adrian Pintea, Florin Piersic Jr., Adriana Titieni

A unique love story that combines elements of suspense and science fiction. Set in pre–World War II Europe, the film follows an academic (Tim Roth) who's metaphysically altered after being struck by lightning. Thus begins a spiritual odyssey through time toward divine love, a journey in which the professor grows younger and more enlightened -- even as his nation stands on the brink of war.

This movie is terrible. Bad acting combine with a story that doesn't flow, a narrator that has to explain every step of the way, since the story is such a stretch, a never ending explanation of explanation, and some sort of arrogance in the language to make the movie look intellectual. Anyway, Alexandra Maria Lara is the only good thing about the movie, but definitely way too little important to have a relevance to the general opinion on the movie, it is bad.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love. by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, 2011 (PG-13)

with Steve Carell (Hope Springs, Get Smart, Dan In Real Life), Ryan Gosling (All Good Things, Blue Valentine, Drive), Julianne Moore (Chloe, Game Change, The Kids Are All Right), Emma Stone (The Help), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), Kevin Bacon (X-Men: First Class), Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Liza Lapira

When Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) discovers that his wife (Julianne Moore) wants to end their marriage, he reluctantly faces the unwelcome prospect of single life with the counsel of the younger and smoother super-bachelor Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Meanwhile, Cal's adolescent son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), has formed an unquenchable crush on his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) -- but is she more interested in Robbie's recently unwed father?

You only need to watch this movie once. Or maybe just the trailer, it gives the best. But still, once can be fun, the humor and the surprises are entertaining, Steve is good at not being attractive, Marisa is hysterical and it suits her well. Julianne Moore is absent, too bad... And you like Ryan Gosling or you don't, I guess I am more of the type that doesn't, except when is playing the bad guy.

Play Trailer:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another Earth by Mike Cahill, 2011

with William Mapother, Brit Marling (The Company You Keep), Jordan Baker, Flint Beverage, Robin Lord Taylor, Ana Kayne, Diane Ciesla, Matthew-Lee Erlbach, Meggan Lennon

Shortly after a strange, Earth-like planet is discovered, gifted astrophysics student Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) accidentally slams her car into the vehicle of John Burroughs (William Mapother), killing his family. After some time, Rhoda and John begin an unlikely romance. But Rhoda starts to wonder what would happen if she could actually visit the new planet in director Mike Cahill's romantic sci-fi drama.

How would you react if something out of the ordinary happens on Earth. This movie is strangely connected to the last Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia", for its human and small scale perspective on a huge phenomenon, and also for the extraordinary event to be the only element of science fiction in a movie that in the end, is a drama, not science fiction.

Beautiful movie. It happens to be very simple, very real and on the other hand, something happens that is surreal. It is an extraordinary story of two ordinary people. The movie is made of close ups, sensitive shots charged with emotion, insecurity, beauty, poetry, humanism. And at the same time, the shot of the other earth is a reminded of how great the universe is, how bigger the perspective is and somehow how this little story relates so much to a greater picture.
This movie was unclassified, since it didn't belong entirely to "drama" or "science fiction". Some started developing the idea of "science and fiction". I liked it.

Watch Trailer:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Margin Call by J.C. Chandor, 2011

with Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto (Heroes), Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany

Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin Call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When an entry-level analyst unlocks information that could prove to be a downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster.

The first movie to really bother my sleep for a very long time. I don't know if this is because we already know how it happened and this is a bad souvenir, or if this is because it shows so obviously how people lost the reality of the world playing with numbers, and it hurts, or finally because it seems that this is going to happen again soon and feels a little like an economical apocalypse, making me terribly nervous about our future, us freelancers, who are so much depending on a day to day basis of the economy, trying every month to survive and pay the bills. It is very well played, the plot is serious and words, each and every one, are measured in the reality, meaningful to our ears and resonate as each character develops a threat or wishful thinking. Obviously, mostly threat, unconscious threats. The joy of players, playing with the rest of the world as we would play with chess on a board, sacrificing the pawn for a greater purpose, win the game. But what game, seriously?

Watch Trailer:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino, 1997

with Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Hattie Winston, Sid Haig, Aimee Graham, Ellis Williams, Tangie Ambrose

Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is an aging flight attendant who smuggles cash on the side. But when she's busted and pressured to help with an investigation, she plans to play the opposing forces against each other and walk away with the dough.

I feel a bit of pressure starting the review. This is one of my favorite movie ever. This is a movie I went three times to the theater to watch. I have of course the dvd, and haven't watched it for a while - which reminds me that maybe I should do myself a little Jackie Brown session. I loved this movie. For many reasons. First, I have to say I love Elmore Leonard writing (he wrote Out of sight, get shorty, 3:10 to Yuma...). Second, the cast was amazing. I mean amazing. I was impressed how the characters looked so real, and how the cast was chosen right on, because of what I saw of the actors work in other movies. I cannot say how much I love Robert Forster in Jackie Brown, and even stronger I fell for Pam Grier. They were with an incredible chemistry between them, and that is partly why the movie is so good. Besides, the story is very raw, it is about aging and not fitting in anymore, being in a need of a change, and being drawn into a perfect plot, for the fun of having a change in our life. It is tricky, you believe you have it all sorted, but not, it is full of surprises, changes. At the same time, it is not a crazy action movie, it is seen from a very personal point of view, very close to the characters. Maybe that is why the movie is so original. And the soundtrack, don't get me started on the soundtrack, it is perfect, from Bobby Womack to the Supremes to Foxy Brown to the Delfonics to Pam Grier herself to Bill Withers to The Grassroots to Johnny Cash. Anyway, perfect.

Watch Trailer:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, 2011

with Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni, Gad Elmaleh, Kurt Fuller, Léa Seydoux

A young engaged couple (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) whose experiences traveling together in Paris make them begin to question the kind of life they want to live as a couple.

Long time since the last movie of Woody Allen I liked. But this one came finally out. To be honest, I had major apprehensions on how he would portray Paris, as I am myself a Parisian. I didn't like in "Vicky Christina Barcelona" his vision of Barcelona, too touristic to me, too Spanish and not Catalan at all. Some scenes of it were hilarious, mostly thanks to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, but the rest was strongly cliché, and the two girls where not interesting. Anyway, coming back to Midnight in Paris, I was afraid also of Owen Wilson's version of Woody Allen. Anyway, all wrong. It was a brilliant and funny movie, with a great sense of nostalgia, beauty, cultural shock, well acted, ironic, with a great inventiveness playing with historical characters, the relation with the present and the comical of situation.

Deconstructing Harry by Woody Allen, 1997

with Woody Allen, Elisabeth Shue, Richard Benjamin, Billy Crystal, Kirstie Alley, Judy Davis, Bob Balaban, Demi Moore, Julie Kavner, Robin Williams, Caroline Aaron, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eric Bogosian, Mariel Hemingway, Amy Irving, Eric Lloyd, Tobey Maguire, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Garner, Paul Giamatti

Self-absorbed novelist Harry Block (Woody Allen) sees his literary chickens come home to roost after he pens a roman à clef that offends, enrages and alienates everyone in his orbit. The film's sterling cast also includes Elisabeth Shue as Harry's ex-girlfriend, Kirstie Alley as his former spouse, Bob Balaban as his best pal and Judy Davis as the erstwhile sister-in-law who wants to murder Harry.

Amazing Cast isn't it? Also, my first woody Allen. Also my favorite one, with Purple Rose of Cairo, Manhattan Murder Mystery, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and actually his latest "Midnight in Paris". But I loved the inventiveness of Deconstructing Harry, so many great concepts were explored, it felt like an explosion of concepts, of parabolic images taken literally, and the characters that were resolving the situations where just a whole bunch of crazy nuts that could be your neighbors and ordinary real people, incredible to the mind. I always have in mind the fun he makes of orthodox Jews, how wise a prostitute can be as opposed to the intellectual sister, and how blurry you can become sometimes, and self centered, all that with a tasty sense of humor.

Constantine by Francis Lawrence, 2005 (R)

With Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, The Matrix Revolutions), Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea, The Whisleblower, The Bourne Legacy, 360, Dream House, Agora), Shia LaBeouf (Nymphomaniac, Lawless, The Company You Keep), Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince (Simone, Beautiful Creatures), Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Michael Clayton, I am Love), Peter Stormare (Chocolat)

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is a private investigator who believes in things that go bump in the night -- an unconventional quirk that makes him somewhat of an eccentric personality in a world ruled largely by logic. When a female cop (Rachel Weisz) seeks his counsel after her twin sister dies in what first appears to be a suicide, she wants definitive proof of the cause of death. But the answers might only come with blind faith.

Another theory about how good and evil function and play with us on earth. Funnily the two movies, "Constantine" and the one reviewed previously "Sin Noticias De Dios", are very close in some aspect, such as the connection on earth through messengers on the paradise and hell, and the invasion of earth by any of the party. I like the inventiveness that the movie has on how they manifest. Also, I believe I watched this movie because I was curious on Keanu Reeves new role after the Matrix, and discovered (fell in love with) Rachel Weisz. The relationship between the two is funny and at the same time really works. I believe that after that, Rachel Weisz always had this roles of women charmful and a little nuts somehow, powerful and with beautiful souls. Ok, my mistake, I probably saw this movie after About a boy and was already madly in love with her... Anyway, its a good movie, and the intervention of Tilda Swinton at the end is making it an apotheosis.

watch trailer:

Don't Tempt Me (Sin Noticias De Dios) by Agustín Díaz Yanes, 2001

with Penélope Cruz, Victoria Abril, Demián Bichir, Fanny Ardant, Gael García Bernal, Gemma Jones, Bruno Bichir, Elena Anaya, Peter McDonald, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Cristina Marcos, Alicia Sanchez, Luis Tosar, Elsa Pataky

A concussive brain injury could spell curtains for a boxer named Manny (Demian Bichir). But no sooner does a priest begin to spout the boxer's last rites than a couple of supernatural agents -- an angel from heaven (Victoria Abril) and a waitress from hell (Penelope Cruz) -- are sent to vie for his soul.

I came across this movie when it came out, and was a little doubtful about the story. I love the actors, which was my main motivation to watch it. It happened to have a very ironic sense of humor and an interesting approach to the balance on earth between good and evil, god and its creatures. The name of the movie in English should say "Without news from God". The main departure point is that god is a kid who created good and evil, and life on earth, but its creatures became smarter than him and decided to take over the rules on earth (which is based on free choice of humans) and change the balance between good and evil, when god is tired and decides to retire for a while. The game between Victoria Abril and Penelope Cruz is irresistible and attaching, and make the movie something else than just a interpretative tableau of religion.

Snow Cake by Marc Evans, 2006 (NR)

with Alan Rickman (Alice In Wonderland, Harry Potter), Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Carrie-Anne Moss (Fireflies in The Garden, Chocolat, The Matrix), David Fox, Jayne Eastwood, Emily Hampshire, James Allodi, Callum Keith Rennie, Mark McKinney

Alex (Alan Rickman), a British man stranded in Ontario and haunted by a fatal accident that took place there, is forced to confront his past when he meets the autistic Linda (Sigourney Weaver). Linda is the mother of the teenage girl who died in the accident, and though she's sustained an unimaginable loss, it is she who helps Alex find his way back to a life once again filled with hope.

I believe I was randomly looking for movies either with Alan Rickman or Carrie-Ann Moss when I found this. I do not know when it actually came out, if it did came out, what was the general welcoming of this movie by the critics or the audience. I watched it quite amazed by the aesthetic of something that was reminding me so much of a Danish movie. It is a movie that really feels like the north. But it is Canadian. And it is with a British actor. And it is about people, which somehow means more than a country. But the cinematography is something I remember sharply. The acting as well, because the characters are all believable, and interesting. You learn on the way not to judge them, to respect their story and their behavior, and eventually to love them. And the lightness to it, the poetry of the story is something that we rarely see in movies, it is a little jewel. Well, now reading other reviews, I believe this is quite unanimous, although they describe the movie as a diamond, not a jewel!

The Thomas Crown Affair by John McTiernan, 1999 (R)

with Pierce Brosnan (The Ghost Writer), Rene Russo (Thor, Thor 2: The Dark World), Denis Leary (Ice Age), Ben Gazzara (Paris Je T'aime), Frankie Faison, Faye Dunaway, Fritz Weaver (Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight), Charles Keating, Mark Margolis...

This 1999 remake of the 1968 classic showcases debonair Pierce Brosnan as the titular billionaire who, for kicks, would rather steal works of art than buy them. Charged with investigating his crimes, sleuth Catherine (Rene Russo) instead falls under his spell. Despite the warnings of detective Michael (Denis Leary), Catherine moves closer to Thomas and finds herself facing a moral quandary.

I watched this film when it came out and loved it. It actually made me change my mind about the acting skills of Pierce Brosnan and his ability to play a gentleman, since I wasn't convinced of his performance in James Bond movies. But he actually has a real class to himself, maybe not as an action man, maybe not as a British gentleman, but as an rich American seducer and gentleman. Also, I got fascinated by the strong leading role of Rene Russo, I actually believe that this is a complete feminist movie that is ruled by this woman. So, for many year, I remembered that movie quite positively. I finally watched it again, in need of the "Catherine" character, and loved it again. Maybe it got old in some aspect, such as the computers and cell phones (this is a killer time proof), but on the other hand, luxury is still luxury, not much has changed in the standards, outfits impeccable, same goes to the Met, not a bit has changed either, and the seduction theme is still very up to date, and maybe won't change for quite some more time. I tried afterward to watch the original movie from 1968, but didn't get inspired by Steve McQueen. I forgot to mention a fun fact, the Psychiatrist Thomas sees is Faye Dunaway, who in the original cast was Catherine.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sleuth by Kenneth Branagh, 2007 (R)

with Michael Caine (The Dark Knight Rises), Jude Law (Anna Karenina, Breaking And Entering, Hugo, Contagion Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Harold Pinter

Aging detective writer Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) squares off against Milo Tindle (Jude Law), the struggling actor who stole Wyke's wife in this twisted -- and twisty -- plot of deception and double crosses from director Kenneth Branagh.

If this movie was a theater play, it would be amazing. The tricks of the single location can be easily reproduced on stage. The writing of Harold Pinter is definitely made for theater. So for the first half of the movie, it is hard not to see the acting skills, the theatricality of the story. But after some time, you get immersed into the action, the language become more fluid, and you buy the story. The twists in the plot are entertaining, the language is a delicious candy, the actors are great. Now this is a remake from the original Sleuth from 1972 where Michael Caine plays Tindle, so it would be interesting to see how he played the other character.

Watch Trailer:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The cooler by Wayne Kramer, 2003 (R)

with William H. Macy (Thank You For Smoking, The sessions), Maria Bello (Thank You For Smoking, Payback, Beautiful Boy), Alec Baldwin (It's complicated, To Rome With Love), Shawn Hatosy, Ron Livingston (Game Change), Paul Sorvino, Estella Warren, Arthur J. Nascarella (Solitary Man), M.C. Gainey (Tangled), Ellen Greene, Joey Fatone, Don Scribner, Tony Longo

The unluckiest man in Las Vegas, Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy), is employed by a casino as a "cooler" to defuse winning streaks. But when Lootz falls in love with a cocktail waitress (Maria Bello), she becomes his "lady luck" -- to the chagrin of the casino's crooked director (Alec Baldwin). Baldwin was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as Shelly Kaplow, the old-school casino boss who will do anything to keep Lootz down.

Another movie about chance. I loved it. Besides the intriguing story of luck, the actors are amazing, human, funny, the rhythm is perfect, the plot full of surprises. Refreshing dark comedy.

Watch trailer:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Intacto by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2001 (R)

with Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Mónica López, Antonio Dechent, Max von Sydow, Guillermo Toledo, Alber Ponte, Andrea San Vicente, Jesús Noguero, Ramón Serrada, Marisa Lull, Luis Mesonero

Set at a Spanish resort, Intacto tells the story of a World War II concentration camp survivor, Samuel (Max von Sydow), who lives in the basement of a casino and has a supernatural ability to acquire good luck -- which he can give, take, sell or gamble for others. As the story begins, he steals luck from an earthquake survivor, Federico, who then vows revenge on Samuel. A series of strange mind games of luck and intrigue follow.

I have something with luck, the theme fascinates me. So I won't be very honest, but I found the theme very fascinating. As well as the actors, impeccable, starting with Max Von Sydow and Mónica López. The more we move forward in the movie, the more we believe in chance, the more we play the same bet as the characters do, the thrill comes with it, and we believe this guy is going to win. It is built on expectation, and at no point you start loosing the interest (or you might call it the addiction of the game), even if you are only the witness of it. Intelligent.
watch trailer:

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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

El truco del manco (The One-Handed Trick) by Santiago Zannou, 2008

with El Langui, Ovono Candela, Javier I. Bustamante...

Two friends, Enrique El Cuajo Heredia and Adolfo make music together in a barrio outside of Barcelona. Cuajo has cerebral palsy but chooses not to resign himself to sitting on the street selling lottery tickets. Adolfo has a heroin problem that he has been trying to kick and lives with his ill, alcoholic father. After getting kicked out of a recording studio when they run out of money, Cuajo decides they should set up a studio of their own. To finance their plans, Cuajo gets them a gig fencing stolen goods from local gangster Marquito. But when things go wrong with Marquito, their friendship, their dreams, and their lives are all in danger.

I just saw this on the festival New Urban Cultures from Spain, at the King Juan Carlos Center of NYU, the main focus being suburban culture. Right on. It is a good and tough movie, very difficult to find hope, except in the main character, he was fascinating. Amazing soundtrack, great acting, good scenario. But that reminded me too much of 1990's French movie La Haine by Matthieu Kassovitz, talking about the ghetto, drugs, violence, power, money... from the inside, with hip-hop musicians. I guess the phenomenon is new in Barcelona, so it felt like the right subject to talk about. Then two years later, Biutiful is again trying to portrait the changes of society in the outskirt of Barcelona. Hoping something can change.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Biutiful by Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010 (R)

with Javier Bardem (To The Wonder, Eat Pray Love), Maricel Álvarez and Hanaa Bouchaib...

This is the story of Uxbal, a man living in this world, but able to see his death, which guides his every move.

Barcelona, another version. The one of the left aside, the immigrants, illegals. A place where the rules of our society have no place to be, it is about survival. The main character is almost good, or maybe he is just using a system that allows him to make money out of the illegality of others. Or maybe he cares... It is a powerful slice of life near death, with amazing acting. Dark, very dark, with a tiny lamp in it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Simone by Andrew Niccol, 2002

with Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Rachel Roberts, Winona Ryder, Jay Mohr, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Pierce, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Schwartzman

Left in the lurch when a temperamental actress walks off the set, director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) is in trouble. Not only is he without a star, but his studio-exec ex-wife (Catherine Keener) fires him, endangering his chance at a comeback. So he decides to take matters into his own hands -- digitally, that is. He creates the ultimate star: Simone, a beautiful, computer-generated actress who will always do exactly what he says. Or will she?

This man did Lord of War and Gattaca. Two reference films. Interesting, I believe I loved it back in time, when it came out. I saw it again ten years later, it felt quite strange. It could be some sort of Woody Allen mixed with a little science fiction. Esthetically, it is a bit old, there has been much better done 3d characters. The story is ok, nothing spectacular... I guess the movie had a time frame, maybe in fifty years, the impact of it will be much bigger. Who knows...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Circumstance (Sharayet) by Maryam Keshavarz, 2011 (R)

with Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho

Atafeh and her brother, Mehran, have grown up in a home filled with music, art, and intellectual curiosity. Atafeh dreams of fame and adventure, and she and her best friend, Shireen, explore Tehran’s underground scene with youthful exuberance and determination to be themselves. Meanwhile, Mehran returns home from drug rehab, and renounces his former decadent life with a vengeance. His once obsessi...ve practice of classical music soon finds more destructive outlets. Having lost his parents’ trust, Mehran is jealous of Atafeh’s loving relationship with their father and tries to find new meaning in his life. He relentlessly watches his family and slowly becomes estranged from them. As Mehran disapprovingly observes a budding relationship between Atafeh and Shireen, he becomes obsessed with saving Shireen from his sister’s influence. The once close siblings find themselves at dangerous odds with each other. As violence and desire collide, the once safe haven of the family home becomes increasingly claustrophobic and threatening.

Circumstance is so poetic, full of beauty, amazing souls, perfect moments, happiness, love, respect, awareness. I didn't cry, it is just stuck there and doesn't want to get out. I am so angry. And sad. Desperate. Thank you Maryam Keshavarz for making this movie. May it travel all over the world and specially to Iran...
I think that even if the movie story passes and gets forgotten, there is no way not to remember the situation in Iran. It is shocking, backward, disrespectful, painful and I don't see how the situation will change. The movie compares the situation of the two girls to "Milk", but it is bigger than Milk: it is the whole woman condition, linked to the empowerment of religion, with a vicious circle of the impossibility of the system, thanks to fear and mistreatment, and the law that has been implemented to protect it. Yes, extremism is the main tragedy. And then there is homosexuality, that can be punished by death. So after all this, who can be a Milk when people are not only homophobic, but there is a law out there to punish homosexuality.
About the movie itself, beautifully shot, perfect rhythm, perfect actors. Excellent.
Freedom is a human right. Take Part: http://www.takepart.com/circumstance

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rachel Getting Married (Dancing with Shiva) by Jonathan Demme, 2008

with Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Debra Winger, Mather Zickel, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Tunde Adebimpe, Dorian Missick, Jerome LePage

Longstanding family conflicts resurface when drama queen Kym (Anne Hathaway, in her first Oscar-nominated role), a former model who's been in and out of rehab for 10 years, returns to her parents' home just before her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding.

It is a very simple story, focusing on human relationship, when a tragedy occurs, when everyone has to face the consequence and not in a same way, but still having to cohabit, at least to for the most important events of one's life. It is excellently directed, acted and edited. I can remember sharply the intensity of the "filling the dishwasher" scene, until its breaking point, being out of breast and collapsing at the same time as the characters: an unusual scene, somehow amazing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adoration by Atom Egoyan, 2007 (R)

with Devon Bostick, Scott Speedman (The Vow, Barney's Version), Arsinée Khanjian, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole, Katie Boland, Duane Murray

Assigned to translate a terrorism-related news story for his French class, teen Simon (Devon Bostick) weaves personal details into his tale, which soon leaves the Internet swirling with rumors that Simon's dead father was an actual terrorist.

I have seen this movie a long time ago now, but I am astonished how this movie comes back to me from time to time, always more accurately. Or is it that I started creating a story around the story, like Simon did while translating is assignment. It made me so close to the character, and at the same time, the absurdity of certain scene, the surrealism of others brought me away, in a more personal dream. I had never seen Arsinée Khanjian and I found her - i don't know that astonishing is really the word, so lets find another one - so strange: captivating, unusual, right on and at the same time, so bothering. It was a very good and unique experience.

Watch Trailer:

Chloe by Atom Egoyan, 2009 (R)

with Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right, Crazy, Stupid, Love., A Single Man, Game Change, The English Teacher), Liam Neeson (The Other Man, The Next Three Days, The Grey, Love Actually), Amanda Seyfried (In Time), Max Thieriot, R.H. Thomson, Nina Dobrev (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Mishu Vellani, Julie Khaner, Meghan Heffern, Laura DeCarteret
From the director of "Adoration"

Suspecting her husband, David (Liam Neeson), of infidelity, doctor Catherine (Julianne Moore) hires sexy escort Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him and test his faithfulness. But as Catherine checks in on Chloe's encounters with David, Chloe's reports become increasingly lurid. Soon, the relationships between all three intensify in unexpected ways.

I love how the movie tricks you into something that was much sexier and manipulative than what the plot seem to be. Really dangerous! Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried are perfect. I still have a preference for "Adoration" tho.

Watch Trailer:

Buried by Rodrigo Cortés, 2010 (R)

with Ryan Reynolds (Fireflies in the Garden)

While on a job in Iraq, civilian contractor Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is attacked and kidnapped, then awakens to find himself buried alive in the middle of the desert with nothing but a lighter, a candle, a cell phone and a knife. Does Paul have the instincts he'll need to save himself?

Have you ever seen a movie happening with only one actor, in a box? How long do you think you would watch it? Till the end? Well, this one, you watch it until the end, and get smashed so well you do move during the credits... Impressive. It is built as a suspense/horror movie, but at the end of the day, it is a political satyr, too true to be funny, coming with companies that protect themselves so well it's disgusting, and a political power that cannot control anything.

Watch Trailer:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick, 2011 (PG-13)

with Brad Pitt (Moneyball, Across The Tracks), Sean Penn (The Game, Fair Game, Milk), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, The Hurt Locker, Take Shelter, Lawless), Hunter McCracken, Fiona Shaw (True Blood), Joanna Going, Kari Matchett, Kimberly Whalen, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan (Mud)
Duration: 139 minutes

Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star in Terrence Malick's 1950s adventure about a confused man named Jack, who sets off on a journey to understand the true nature of the world. Growing up in the Midwest with two brothers, Jack has always been torn between his mother's guidance to approach everything he encounters with an open heart and his father's advice to look after his own interests. Now, Jack must find a way to regain purpose and perspective.

It is a very long movie. Long and slow. Having said that, it is a peculiar movie, peculiarly constructed. In its structure, it reminded me of "The fountain". But the story is sequenced in a way that it is uneasy to connect each part. To me, it has amazing moments, amazing dialogues, amazing acting, amazing cinematography to it, integrating video-art and amazing soundtrack... but it lacked of continuity, which makes the length a little bit challenging. Instead of immersing us, it emerges us, and makes us conscious of the tricks and structure. So beautiful, but a bit artificial.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et des Dieux) by Xavier Beauvois, 2010 (PG-13)

with Lambert Wilson (On connaît la chanson - Same Old Song, The Matrix Revolutions), Michael Lonsdale (Agora), Olivier Rabourdin (Ma Mere), Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Loïc Pichon, Xavier Maly, Jean-Marie Frin, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Sabrina Ouazani (Inch'Allah, Le Passé - The Past)

Awarded Grand Prix honors at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this compelling historical drama relates the ordeal of seven French Trappist monks in the mountains of Algeria who are taken captive by Islamic fundamentalists. Before the monks' abduction, they have ample reason to believe they may be in danger, but their assumption that there can and must be common ground between Islam and Christianity leads them to remain at the monastery.

It is unusual to see Lambert Wilson as a priest, to be honest. But the movie goes beyond the faces of actors we've seen so many times to explore a faith beyond religion, a faith in humanity. And the love and trust that one can share with one another, so different he can be. We all know the end of the story, before it even start, but you are led to believe this didn't happen, this couldn't happen, because of the trust that these men put in life and in love. Very powerful.

watch Des Hommes et Des Dieux trailer:

Farewell (L'affaire Farewell) by Christian Carion, 2009

with Emir Kusturica, Guillaume Canet, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Aleksey Gorbunov, Dina Korzun, Philippe Magnan, Niels Arestrup (Elle S'appelait Sarah, Un Prophete, War Horse), Fred Ward, David Soul, Willem Dafoe

In this thinking man's spy thriller, KGB agent Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) plans to hand over hard evidence that proves the depth of his agency's penetration of U.S. intelligence, in a one-man crusade to bring down the Soviet empire. French engineer Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet) is drawn into this web of espionage against his will, but proves a surprisingly resourceful operative in the process.

Very very interesting, and true. And challengingly intelligent. They say about this movie that it could only be great, since it is made by three talented filmmakers, two in front and one behind the camera. It put the spectator in two positions, one in a nutshell, and later on in the bigger picture. In reality, both make sense, but when they have to be confronted, so much wrong comes out of it. So much that it makes you question a system that was already undoubtedly questionable.

Watch Trailer:

Disgrace by Steve Jacobs, 2008 (R)

with John Malkovich, Natalie Becker, Antoinette Engel, Antonio Fisher, Isabella De Villiers, Cindy Mkaza, Liezel De Kock, Charles Tertiens, Jessica Haines, Eriq Ebouaney, Fiona Press, Paula Arundell, Scott Cooper, Monroe Reimers

After an imprudent affair with a student, Cape Town professor David Lurie (John Malkovich) flees to his daughter's remote farm to escape the scandal, only to find tragedy when a trio of black youths brutally assaults them. But Lurie is forced to face apartheid's lasting repercussions when he discovers that one of the attackers is related to a trusted employee (Eriq Ebouaney) in this pensive drama based on J.M. Coetzee's novel.

It is a very difficult to understand and not judge what we see in the movie too fast. It is painful to watch considering how far we've gone away from it, and yet still not. And especially for a woman. But considering the history, it is also challenging not to experience guilt. And sadness, and hopelessness, and in that, the movie reaches another level.

Watch Trailer:

You Don't Know Jack by Barry Levinson, 2009 (NR)

with Al Pacino (Scarface, Ocean's Thirteen, Simone), Susan Sarandon (Solitary Man, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Company You Keep, Cloud Atlas), John Goodman (The Monuments Men, The Artist, Flight, The Princess and the Frog, Trouble with the Curve), Danny Huston ( X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitchcock, Robin Hood, The Conspirator), Brenda Vaccaro, Delaney Williams, Eric Lange, Allen Lewis Rickman, Adam Mucci, Peter Conboy, James Urbaniak

Al Pacino stars in this Emmy-winning biopic that focuses on the life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the controversial physician who boldly advocated the legalization of euthanasia and personally helped more than 100 terminally ill patients commit suicide. Directed by Hollywood veteran Barry Levinson, the made-for-cable drama also stars Susan Sarandon as vocal activist Janet Good and John Goodman as Kevorkian's trusted friend and supporter Neal Nicol.

This movie is about euthanasia and for those who never really got into the dept of the subject, Jack Kevorkian was one of the character of our history the really insisted that you should not skip the question. Putting at risk his liberty. So it is interesting to see the journey, the opposition, and eventually build your own opinion on the character.