with the bold text in the example below:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The English Patient by Anthony Minghella, 1996 (R)

with Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The Reader), Juliette Binoche (Breaking and Entering, Chocolat, Certified Copy, Paris), Willem Dafoe (Fireflies in the Garden), Kristin Scott Thomas (Bel Ami, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Partir), Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth (Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, The King's Speech, A Single Man), Julian Wadham (The Iron Lady), Jürgen Prochnow, Kevin Whately, Clive Merrison

Set against the backdrop of World War II, this Oscar-winning drama stars Ralph Fiennes as a badly burned pilot who recounts a tale of doomed romance to the nurse tending him. As his story spills out via flashback, so do secrets about his identity.

I watched this movie when I was 12 (it was allowed in France, forbidden for children under 12 :). I was by myself, since it wasn't the kind of blockbuster movies my friends would go to the cinema for, it was my first movie in English with subtitles, I was a bit nervous, and a teacher of my school was sitting right behind me, which made me uncomfortable during the love scenes, and also and mostly because I cried a lot.
This is the movie that made me fall in love with Kristin Scott Thomas. She was sublime, emotional, funny, strong, passionate. Ralph Fiennes was handsome (still is, but in this movie, he was really hot (actually quite cold, but with a lot of charm). Juliette Binoche was exuberant but cute. Anyway, at the end, she got the Oscar, not Kristin, which got me terribly upset.
Coming back to the topic, it took me a second time, 16 years later, to fully understand the movie historical context, the role of Willem Dafoe (I always see him as the bad guy, this time I guess I was wrong), and also perhaps the true content of the relationship between Fiennes and Scott Thomas, although I might have grasped back in time the essence of it, in an instinctive way. Anyway, this movie is a masterpiece, it is profound, rich of emotions and subtleties, an excellent portrayal of what war can be, when you are not political, when you do not really belong, except perhaps to someone. It is beautifully shot, almost artistic. And the remains of the love stories of this movies stay with you as soft sad memories, unreachable, yet emotionally palpable.

Wath Trailer (took me a while to find it!)

Dream House by Jim Sheridan, 2011 (PG-13)

with Daniel Craig (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Rachel Weisz (360, The Bourne Legacy, Constantine, Agora, The Whistleblower), Naomi Watts (Fair Game, J. Edgar), Marton Csokas (The Debt), Claire Geare, Taylor Geare, Rachel G. Fox, Jonathan Potts, Lynne Griffin, Elias Koteas, Mark Wilson

Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a successful businessman who forsakes New York City for the rural pleasures of New England, only to discover that the tranquil abode he's moved into was the scene of an as-yet-unsolved multiple homicide. Drawn reluctantly into the mystery surrounding the tragic events, Will and his wife (Rachel Weisz) soon begin finding plenty of reasons to worry about their own safety in this psychological thriller.

Not what I expected. It was saying "Psychological Thrillers" and from the trailer, I felt it was more of a horror film (I don't particularly like horror movies). But in the end, it was what it said it was, with an interesting twist of events around the middle of the film that confuses you for a bit and then unravels into a thriller. The acting is impeccable, but I cannot be truly objective, since every time I see Rachel Weisz on screen, she feels like sunshine. And here where all she is is love, she resonates. Anyway, difficult to say anything without unveiling parts of the plot. I recommend.

Watch Trailer:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Twilight by Catherine Hardwicke, 2008 (PG-13)

with Kristen Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman), Robert Pattinson (Bel Ami), Taylor Lautner (Valentine's Day), Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser (Young Adult), Cam Gigandet, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Sarah Clarke, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick (Up in The Air, 50/50), Christian Serratos, Michael Welch

"Bella Swan has always been a little bit different. Never one to run with the crowd, Bella never cared about fitting in with the trendy, plastic girls at her Phoenix, Arizona high school. When her mother remarried and Bella chooses to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she didn't expect much of anything to change. But things do change when she meets the mysterious and dazzlingly beautiful Edward Cullen. For Edward is nothing like any boy she's ever met. He's nothing like anyone she's ever met, period. He's intelligent and witty, and he seems to see straight into her soul. In no time at all, they are swept up in a passionate and decidedly unorthodox romance - unorthodox because Edward really isn't like the other boys. He can run faster than a mountain lion. He can stop a moving car with his bare hands. Oh, and he hasn't aged since 1918. Like all vampires, he's immortal. That's right - vampire. But he doesn't have fangs - that's just in the movies. And he doesn't drink human blood, though Edward and his family are unique among vampires in that lifestyle choice. To Edward, Bella is that thing he has waited 90 years for - a soul mate. But the closer they get, the more Edward must struggle to resist the primal pull of her scent, which could send him into an uncontrollable frenzy. Somehow or other, they will have to manage their unmanageable love. But when unexpected visitors come to town and realize that there is a human among them Edward must fight to save Bella? A modern, visual, and visceral Romeo and Juliet story of the ultimate forbidden love affair - between vampire and mortal." IMDB

It's strange how a teenager movie, supposedly, can be fascinating anyway. The meaning of it doesn't have much, but the actors are good, the story is interesting... and addictive. Aesthetically, it's beautiful. Gothic and poetic at the same time. It makes you want to see what is coming next.

Watch trailer:

Marvin's Room by Jerry Zaks, 1996 (PG-13)

with Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, It's Complicated, Julie and Julia, Kramer Vs. Kramer), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar, Titanic, Shutter Island), Diane Keaton (Morning Glory), Robert De Niro (Killer Elite, Limitless, Jackie Brown)...

"A man who had a stroke 17 years ago is left incapacitated and bed-ridden. He has been cared for by his daughter Bessie, and totally ignored by his other daughter, Lee, who moved to Ohio with her husband 20 years ago and has never contacted her family. Now, however, Bessie's doctor has informed her that she has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant and she turns to her sister for help. Lee, in turn, turns to her son Hank , who has been committed to a mental asylum for setting fire to his mother's house. When Lee finds that she may have to take over her father's care, she at first begins shopping around for nursing homes. Eventually, the sisters grow close to one another, their father Marvin, and Lee's son." Wiki

A very interesting movie about what the conventions are, and how you face them in a family context where death and illness is omnipresent.
It is also amazing to see two monsters like Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep in the same movie. The surprise was also to watch Meryl Streep rough and young after having seen her in "The Iron Lady" and "Julie and Julia".

Hereafter by Clint Eastwood, 2010 (PG-13)

with Matt Damon (Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!), Cécile De France (L'auberge Espagnole), Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Bryce Dallas Howard (50/50, The Help), Jay Mohr, Marthe Keller, Thierry Neuvic, Mylène Jampanoï
From the director of Invictus, J. Edgar, Million Dollar Baby...

Clint Eastwood directs this supernatural thriller about three very different people and their responses to death, including a hesitant American psychic named George (Matt Damon) who may be able to help the others find answers and peace. Marie (Cécile De France) is a French journalist caught up in the aftereffects of the devastating 2004 tsunami, while in London, young Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren) seeks to contact his deceased twin brother.

It is said people who experienced death and came back to life experienced something similar. I don't know that this is the afterlife or just something in between, or something else. But definitely, it is fascinating. And the parallel stories of this movie makes you long for something unique, and it is pretty well built. You want them to meet to see the "something special" happen. It does happen, but I think the climax happen too much towards the end, with no continuation and a cheesy happy ending that made me upset. Too bad for a movie that was so enjoyable until the last five minutes.

Incendies by Denis Villeneuve, 2011 (R)

with Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard, Abdelghafour Elaaziz, Allen Altman, Mohamed Majd, Nabil Sawalha, Baya Belal

When their mother's will implores them to deliver letters to the father they thought was dead and a brother they never knew about, twins Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) journey to the Middle East and attempt to reconstruct their family's hidden history.

The themes of the movie are very strong. I don't know that we can understand it to the extreme that it reaches. The movie takes alternatively place in the past and in the present in Canada and in the middle east. And it unravels slowly, just giving you enough clues at the time to make you anticipate the next scene, with horror, before having the confirmation of it. It is a sad movie, with powerful characters, excellently played. Worthy.

Melancholia by Lars von Trier, 2011 (R)

with Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things, The Virgin Suicides), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, Brady Corbet, Cameron Spurr, Charlotte Rampling (Never Let Me Go), Jesper Christensen (The Debt), John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Stellan Skarsgård (The girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Thor, Avengers), Udo Kier

This inventive drama charts the disintegrating relationship between newly married twentysomething Justine and her melancholy sister, Claire, just as Earth hurtles toward certain collision with a newly discovered planet.

The worse has been said (mostly from the directors) around this movie, which didn't make it too interesting to watch. It felt like promoting the wrong people. But on the other hand, it had this great departure point and the director's background is good enough that somehow the movie would become intriguing. So... The first half of the movie with the wedding of Claire was absolutely torture. The second half is the realization that the planet is most probably going to hit earth and the development of the characters at that point become very interesting. The cinematography is ok, interesting, not as surprising as you would think it could, lighting is good, some sort of intensified moon light. Anyway, interesting... Reminded me in a way of this new concept: science and fiction, as opposed to science fiction, in the movie "Another Earth" by Mike Cahill.

Watch Trailer:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bandits by Barry Levinson, 2001 (PG-13)

with Bruce Willis (Looper, Surrogates, RED), Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett (Robin Hood, Hanna), Troy Garity, January Jones (X-Men: First Class), Rocky LaRochelle, Jaye K. Danford

Two bank robbers, charming Joseph (Bruce Willis) and neurotic Terry (Billy Bob Thornton), battle over the affections of Kate (Cate Blanchett), a housewife they kidnapped before one of their big heists in this quirky love triangle from director Barry Levinson. Gaining notoriety as the "Sleepover Bandits," the partners then force a reality TV show host to cover their 15 minutes of fame while they go on a crime spree -- Kate in tow.

I have been thinking about this movie for a while, I can still recall seeing Cate Blanchett's performance in the car of Total Eclipse of the Heart. It was amazing, reckless, funny and shameless. Then I couldn't remember what made this movie unusual, except perhaps a weird trio, with seemingly incompetent crew, absorbed stuntman by the cowgirl in pink boots and a twist in the story. The plot is good, it is really funny, Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are a great duet. It hasn't aged, I just watched it again, it really works. I recommend. Plus it is from the amazing director of "Sleepers", "You Don't Know Jack", "Sphere"...

Oslo, 31. August by Joachim Trier, 2011 (NR)

with Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava

This psychological drama follows a day in the life of Anders, a recovering drug addict who travels to his old stomping grounds of Oslo for a job interview. While there, he must confront his past as well as his plans for a new life.

First and foremost, I do not speak Norwegian. It has never been a problem until now. Usually, when I watch a movie with subtitles, I can follow the dialogues and still watch what is happening in the rest of the screen. Here, the dialogues required some brain presence so if you started focusing on the subtitles, you missed the action. I was experiencing moments where the visuals were so powerful that I forgot to read the subtitles, so I have no idea what I missed. It is a very beautiful movie, with the same esthetic as "Reprise", the previous film of Joachim Trier, which I found brilliant and powerful. But in this one, the dialogues were so dense that it didn't allow to be transported fully, too intellectual and therefor too much based on what you understood instead of what you felt. It is good, the main actor is excellent, supported by amazing actors. The landscapes of the city, the outskirt, the light, everything is perfect. There are a few moment which didn't have dialogue that were probably to most achieved ones, with a long bike ride at night leading to a night club, the piano scene where he expresses all that is left of himself in two minutes of playing. Another scene that was very powerful is when he becomes the experience of others, in a cafe, with a change of perspective, listening passively, still, very much the center of the attention, with the very presence of his perspective on the story of others. Perhaps to watch again, but I definitely recommend everyone to watch "Reprise" in the meantime.
Ah, funnily, I would never think of associating "The Grey" with "Oslo, 31. August" but it definitely has an identical view on life and death, which is interesting to see in two very different movies, with two very different contexts.

Watch Trailer:

Official Website: http://www.facebook.com/Oslo31august

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Duplicity by Tony Gilroy, 2009 (PG-13)

with Julia Roberts (Larry Crowne, Eat Pray Love, Mirror Mirror, Fireflies in the Garden), Clive Owen (Killer Elite), Tom Wilkinson (The Conspirator, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Michael Clayton, The Ghost Writer, The Debt), Paul Giamatti (Barney's Version, Deconstructing Harry), Dan Daily, Lisa Roberts Gillan, David Shumbris, Rick Worthy, Oleg Stefan, Denis O'Hare (Milk, Duplicity)

with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen co-star in this curveball-throwing thriller as a pair of romantically involved corporate operatives who are entangled in a bitter rivalry between two mammoth pharmaceutical companies. Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson convincingly round out the heavyweight cast as warring big pharma CEOs in this intriguing espionage effort from writer-director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton).

Amazing casting, a great duet Clive Owen - Julia Roberts, a ping pong with multiple layers (sometimes confusing) with fast dialogues, witty important people playing the world, in a childish behaviors, very strange, dynamic. A good movie overall.

Adrift (À Deriva) by Heitor Dhalia, 2009 (NR)

with Camilla Belle, Vincent Cassel (Trance, A Dangerous Method), Laura Neiva, Cauã Reymond, Debora Bloch, Gregorio Duvivier, Max Huzar, Josefina Schiller, Tais Araujo, Laura Leto

When a teenaged girl finds out that her debonair father, Matias (Vincent Cassel), is a philanderer, she enters into a voyeuristic world while trying to figure out her own burgeoning sexuality. Camilla Belle co-stars as Matias's gorgeous mistress, Ângela, in this sensitive, coming-of-age drama set in the 1980s. Brazilian Heitor Dhalia writes and directs this film, which was an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

I had mixed feelings about the movie. On the one hand, it is a movie about a teenager trying to understand what it is to be in a relationship as her sexuality awakens. On the other hand, it is about a couple that tries to survive a crisis, in vain, leading to the decomposition of the whole family, specially the older daughter. But being trapped in between, it feels like it doesn't really belong anyway, in a matter of perspective. The daughter becomes this irritating teenager, in a story that I would watch if it had an adult perspective on her growing up. Or perhaps the movie should just stick to being a movie for teenager that you would look at in that way. Anyway, Vincent Cassel gives a great performance, specially in Portuguese!

J. Edgar by Clint Eastwood, 2011 (R)

with Leonardo DiCaprio (Marvin's Room, Titanic, Shutter Island), Naomi Watts (Fair Game, Dream House), Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, The Social Network), Josh Lucas, Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Chocolat), Dermot Mulroney (The Grey), Lea Thompson, Miles Fisher, Ed Westwick (Breaking and Entering), Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Root (Mad Money, Rango)

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this riveting biopic as J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime FBI director as notorious for his overzealous methods of law enforcement as for the rumors regarding his cross-dressing and close relationship with protégé Clyde Tolson.

For some reason, the trailer portrayed a political movie, very serious, almost boring. So, of course, I guess no one came to see it, no-one recommended it, and when it was nominated for the Oscars, while Meryl Streep won everything with her performance in "The Iron Lady", no-one considered Leonardo DiCaprio. Sad, his interpretation of the strong and slightly megalomaniac but highly closeted J. Edgar Hoover is very impressive. And as any of Clint Eastwood movies, the characters emotions are perfectly developed, with amazing subtleties and a story that draws you in, no matter the topic, for example "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004 that I can still remember sharply to the latest "Hereafter" and "Invictus".  And I believe the trailer would have played more on the feelings of Hoover, it would have attracted a lot more people. Anyway, after a quite reluctant time, I finally watched it, and it is amazing. It is very interestingly built in a three parallel periods, showing how the FBI got its power, how he managed to create a continuity in its power, no matter the politics, until Nixon arrived and soon took over after the death of Hoover. At the same time, it goes to a more personal side of the story with the complexity of this person in his time. The movie is not so much about good and bad guys, it is the evolution of history, and finally the main character of the story turns out to be America itself.

watch Trailer:

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Grey by Joe Carnahan, 2012 (R)

with Liam Neeson (Love Actually, The Other Man, The Next Three Days, Chloe), Frank Grillo (Warrior), Dermot Mulroney (August: Osage County, J. Edgar), Dallas Roberts (Dallas Buyers Club), Joe Anderson (Amelia), Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale (Shame), Ben Bray, Anne Openshaw

After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers lead by Ottway (Liam Neeson) must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren't alone.

There is about this movie a strong idea of what is life and death. The poem the father of Ottway wrote describes their journey in a few words: "Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day." Survival is not the only option, when faced with the reality of death. The movie puts us in circumstances where there is no more worthiness than living in the moment, appreciative of what you have. The acting is excellent, the realism of the scenes is terrifying, suffocating or painless, beautiful. Intelligent.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bloomington by Fernanda Cardoso, 2010 (NR)

with Allison McAtee, Sarah Stouffer, Katherine Ann McGregor, Erika Heidewald, Chelsea Rogers

Ex-child actor Jackie leaves the entertainment world for college, where she meets engaging professor Catherine, who has a reputation for breaking the hearts of other women. Jackie ignores friends and begins a romantic relationship with Catherine.

What a strange movie. There is always about a romantic comedy how you feel about their chemistry. The movie is good, it tells the journey of a young kid wanting to rediscover what is "normal" and go to college. Along her journey, you discover what drives her in life, having this shared feeling about whether to continue studying and get a degree or give all to her career, cutting on the way a relationship that she values. The problem is the relationship. You can see that these two beautiful women love each other, that they have feelings for each other, but there is no chemistry, like nothing. It was the oddest film I have seen about two persons in love. The professor is more convincing, but honestly, sometimes they look like two friends, sometimes a mother and a child, certainly never a couple. They argue like friends do, the jealousy they have at some point look more like childish behaviors. Anyway, very strange.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif, 2008 (PG-13)

Celebrating the 200th article of this blog! Yay!

with Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Antonia Frering, Dalip Tahil, Nina Wadia, Anya Lahiri, Shamim Sarif, Amber Rose Revah, Daud Shah, Rez Kempton

When Tala (Lisa Ray) and Leyla (Sheetal Sheth) meet in London and begin to have feelings for each other, it's a problem. Tala's wealthy Middle Eastern family is currently planning her wedding, while Leyla is dating Tala's male friend. But as the forbidden feelings between the two women grow, they learn things about themselves that will change the course of their lives in this drama based on writer-director Shamim Sarif's autobiographical novel.

This is a funny romantic comedy. I watched it deceived by "The world unseen" by the same writer-director. I was impressed by the change of rhythm, the freshness, decisive tone, and the sense of humor that had this one, fast and witty dialogues on the middle east, totally politically incorrect. The acting is far better even if there are still some obvious moments in the story and a certain confusion on wether the characters are together in London, or some of them back in Lebanon. Anyway, interesting and charming, the magic works.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif, 2007 (PG-13)

with Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Parvin Dabas, Nandana Sen, Grethe Fox, David Dennis, Bernard White, Colin Moss, Amber Rose Revah, Rajesh Gopie, Natalie Becker

In a world where boundaries are rigidly defined, two wildly different women tentatively cross them in this story that focuses on their budding romance in apartheid South Africa. One (Sheetal Sheth) is a taxi-driving, café-owning rebel; the other (Lisa Ray) is a devoted mother and wife. Both learn lessons about themselves and their lives in their journey toward each other in this film from novelist-turned-director Shamim Sarif.

From the same director as "I can't think straight". It is a very touching story, but my goodness, the acting!... So sad, there are very little lesbian movies, and even less good ones, with a story that has other layers. The historical background is interesting, the older couple is good, the parents of the "One" are excellent. Somehow the beginning doesn't flow, the editing is laborious, the dialogues are stiff... The moments are over-explained, everything is predictable. The second half is much better. But then again, the ending doesn't tell anything, a feel good reunion and nothing to actually make you feel any right, since theoretically in a longer term, nothing has changed... Anyway!

Marvel's The Avengers by Joss Whedon, 2012 (PG-13)

with Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Chris Evans (Puncture, Captain America: First Avenger), Mark Ruffalo (Margaret, The Kids Are All Right, Shutter Island), Chris Hemsworth (Snow White and the Huntsman, Thor), Scarlett Johansson (We Brought a Zoo), Jeremy Renner (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy, The Hurt Locker), Tom Hiddleston (The Deep Blue Sea, Thor, War Horse), Clark Gregg (Thor), Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård (The girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Thor, Melancholia), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

An all-star lineup of superheroes -- including Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor -- team up to save the world from certain doom. Working under the authority of S.H.I.E.L.D., can our heroes keep the planet at peace?

What to expect from a superhero movie? A good mission, great special effect, superpowers, hope, some reference jokes for aficionados, a little geek spirit to it, violence, action, a lot of action. What you do not want from an superhero movie: Romanticism, realism, serious lesson in the end. It is OK to have some drama, but not too much. It gets better when you have a cross-hero moment, feels like an old-fashioned Marvel comic book, the ones from the 80's (maybe earlier for some of us...) Anyway, funnily, Marvel has been over-producing lately, between "Thor", "Captain America", "Iron Man II", so it was perfect timing to make them meet finally in what could be the continuation of all of them at once. It was well done, funny, entertaining, and sometimes, we just need some bad guys to have their asses kicked (reference to the hilarious scene of Hulk taking care of Loki).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Hunger Games by Gary Ross, 2012 (PG-13)

with Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, X-Men: First Class), Josh Hutcherson (The Virgin Suicides, The Kids are All Right) , Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman

In a dystopian future ruled by a totalitarian regime, resourceful Katniss and her partner, Peeta, represent their district in the lethal Hunger Games -- a televised survival competition in which teenage contestants fight each other to the death.

Hunger Games was long awaited but somehow I missed the passion, so coming to watch it, I was more or less expecting a well done teenager movie. It is, but not only. I was greatly surprised by the strange esthetic that the movie carries, between a - what could be - post-wold war II France in a village, the idea of 1984 Big-Brother civilization and some Brazil reference to a decadent society, risible, ridiculous. Behind all this is a system that some people would love to maintain, brains that influence all these trends so the whole society would stay put.
So, the character of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone) is a misfit, but at the same time, naturally embodying the values of nowadays society, free-spirit self made woman, an archetype of genuine generosity, emotional, true, getting to learn the hard way the rules of the game (the hidden one). Peeta is the anti-hero, the one everyone can identify to, an ordinary guy, with fear, low self-esteem, sometimes cowardice, but in reality, pretty normal indeed.
Between those two characters and the rest of the cast (carefully chosen obviously), it takes only a few seconds to get into this new and original atmosphere. The story hold itself together in a very smooth way and, despite the fact that this is only the beginning of a saga, it is a standalone movie, which is nice since lately, saga producers have a tendency to just want to sell more tickets by not giving you anything. So, as probably everyone, I really enjoyed this movie.

PS: They have peacekeepers too, wonder if this was an influence of Farscape or... :)

PS2 (July 28, 2012): I just read the trilogy, was curious about the differences between the book and the movie, and couldn't help reading "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay". It was interesting to see that the books focus on the only perceptions of Katniss, what she can witness, what information reaches her, with sometimes a distorted reality that cannot be truly verified, so you have to learn to trust or distrust her, filter the information she provides you to figure the bigger picture, what is the state of Panem, this gigantic state that is replacing our current United States, what is going on in each district, what is the strategy of the Capitol, the response. Which eventually is shown a little more in the movie, giving a broader perception of the outside world. Interesting... Perhaps strategic in making you want to see the next ones. Oh, and also I kept reading the books thinking how amazingly they had chosen the cast, I could really imagine the characters the way they were in the movies, evolving into the two other books, specially Haymitch (Woody Harrelson).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Rum Diary by Bruce Robinson, 2011 (R)

with Johnny Depp (Alice In Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Chocolat, Rango), Aaron Eckhart (Thank you For Smoking, Rabbit Hole), Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Eat Pray Love), Giovanni Ribisi, Amaury Nolasco, Marshall Bell, Bill Smitrovich

Eager to flee his humdrum life in 1950s New York, booze-loving journalist Paul moves to Puerto Rico, but his life becomes unhinged when he falls for a gorgeous woman and clashes with her shifty fiancé in this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel.

Funny how someone can play the exact same character in movies as different as "The Tourist", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", "Alice in Wonderland" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"... The only one lately that I actually liked of the exuberant Johnny Depp is "Rango", in which, thank god, he doesn't appear. I figured now that he is a four faces actor, smile, fake smile, half smile, no smile, and his eyes are constantly surprised. Therefor, getting into my nerves. Anyway, the movie is a succession of stereotypes, which I can understand only with the fact that this American narrator is discovering the island as an American tourist in a way, his perception being altered by what he experiences over time. The only character that deserves some credits is the one played by Giovanni Ribisi (which I usually don't like), and who delivers in its drunkenness the most memorable quotes.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On strong (and fascinating) female characters (second part)

Following up on the "Strong (and Fascinating) female characters" reviews, I would like to add a few more examples.

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991)
Transformed from the first Terminator to the second into a leader, perhaps a freak from everyone's perspective, a survivor, also a mother, strange combination, innovative for the time. Amazing.
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, Terminator 2: Judgment Day by James Cameron, 1991)

Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich, 2000)
Difficult the take seriously, Erin builds her credibility upon her brain, persistence, involvement instead of appearence and diploma. Therefor, she looks like a prostitute and have her language betraying her origins, not afraid to get close to people, crossing some legal boundaries and finally unveil a great environmental scandal. And it is a true story, making it much more valuable.
Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich by Steven Soderbergh, 2000)

Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower, 2010)
Another whistleblower, besides that I always love Rachel Weisz, from "the Fountain" to "About a Boy", to even "The Mummy", specially "Constantine", "Agora" (which will probably be my next female character to list) or her similar role in "The Constant Gardener" (perhaps except that poo movie that was really low "Envy" or "The Shape of Things"). Anyway, she is the perfect UN agent, with the non-bureaucratic spirit that the whole UN has taken on being, a true believer of the values that the people can bring: peace, help, respect, hope. She is thrown into a man's world where no humanity rules applies, protected by its own governance. It is of course a real story, which makes it even more horrific, but her more courageous, beautiful, suicidal to some extent. It was a difficult movie to ingest, knowing that little has been done to change the order of things. But at least, the movie spread the word that K. Bolkovac started to spread on the BBC a few years back. "The interpreter" was the other movie that made me question our greatest institution.
Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower by Larysa Kondracki, 2010)

Hypatia (Rachel Weisz, Agora by Alejandro Amenábar, 2009)
History is sometimes painful to look at. What science has reached is being removed so easily from the minds, the libraries, the civilizations. Replaced by religion, beliefs, blind submission. Hypatia's character is not well known, much because most of her researches have disappeared. What remains is the idea of a woman that in her time, made major discoveries that it took more than 15 centuries to recover. The character played by Rachel Weisz is of a modern woman, who believes that knowledge is power, that everyone should be entitled to this knowledge, and be free to believe in what they want, in her case, science, philosophy. She wasn't wrong.
Hypatia (Rachel Weisz, Agora by Alejandro Amenábar, 2009)

Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez, Out Of Sight by Steven Soderbergh, 1997)
Charm-full Jennifer Lopez, which I really loved in this movie and "The Cell". Besides, she has been singing too much r&b and been in too many romantic comedies. But Steven Soderbergh nailed her it what must be her best performance. She is strong, seductive, emotional, a cop with some internal conflict when comes Georges Clooney (who wouldn't), fast to answer, intelligent. Her character is very human with all its facets, and I believe that is what's making the movie so appealing.
Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez, Out Of Sight by Steven Soderbergh, 1997)

Ms. Rain (Paula Patton, Precious by Lee Daniels, 2009)
Ah, this is a modern character. You get to know her little by little, through the eyes of Precious, get to admire her strength, determination, the devotion she has for her students, the role and sacrifice she is taking to give them a chance. And beyond any judgment, you discover her personal life, with her life partner, a woman, and how the normality is to being surrounded by good people, no matter who they are, who they love. It is a beautiful.
Ms. Rain (Paula Patton, Precious by Lee Daniels, 2009)


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Killer Elite by Gary McKendry, 2011 (R)

with Jason Statham (The Italian Job), Clive Owen (Duplicity), Robert De Niro (Marvin's Room, Limitless, Jackie Brown), Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski, Ben Mendelsohn, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Grant Bowler, Michael Dorman, Firass Dirani, Lachy Hulme, Sandy Greenwood

This globe-trotting thriller, based on a novel "The Feather Men" by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, follows Danny Bryce, a former British special ops tough guy forced to come out of retirement when his mentor is kidnapped by a ruthless criminal in the beginning of the 80s. Enraged, Danny has to dodge three top assassins.

In between two weeks of extreme rush, nothing better than a good action movie to release the stress and change your mind. The departing plot in interesting, an alternative I guess to "RED", with ex-agents, retired killers, killers who cannot let it go and retire. The context is real, which brings up the SAS that are the British CIA, and a war started in the 70s in Oman. It seems that we will have an insider look at what goes on in the family of the Sheikh, with one son still alive and not very interested in taking over the business of the father, oil, living in the desert. It seems that it will be a tedious job figuring who of the SAS agents killed the other sons of the Sheikh, leading to a chase, interrogation scene, strategy. Also, since they have to get the testimonies of these agents before they are killed in a natural manner, the movie would go into being intelligent and stratege. But not, everything becomes lost and found, agents speak out their murders, they have they name on the mailbox... So the plot evolves into a economical machination of the british towards facilitating those murders so they can get the exclusive contract with the Sheikh on the oil. But even there, there are two lines of dialogue and that's it. Basically, the film is an action movie with great combats, stunts, but pretending to be at times a spy movie, an economical analysis, even a romantic drama. Wrong! If a movie has to be an action movie, don't tease your audience with leads that will never be explored.