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.