with the bold text in the example below:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Woman of the Year by George Stevens, 1942 (NR)

with Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Minor Watson, William Bendix, Gladys Blake, Roscoe Karns, William Tannen, Ludwig Stossel, Edith Evanson

In this Oscar-winning romance, newspaper colleagues Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) and Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) -- he a brash sportswriter, she a headstrong political columnist -- trade barbs in print, then meet, fall in love and walk down the aisle. But balancing work and marriage turns out to be a problem for the cosmopolitan Tess, whose prosaic hubby strives to foster her ambition while keeping the relationship afloat.

It is an interesting comedy. The departing point is basically two journalists, she is definitely more "important" than him. But it is not, despite the stereotypes, so much about who is going to be the woman of the couple, but about growing together to become a couple, learning to understand the other. Of course, the contrast between the one who has seen the world, but probably never really touched the people, and the typical American who never went outside of his country but in a way understand so much better the human being is another interesting layer. To some extend, the movie made a point in allowing a woman to be herself without complying to a societal model that urges her to quit her job and have kids the moment she gets married, but still, she appears as the evil one when it comes to parenthood and professional priorities. The movie turned out ok, funny, and eventually not memorable.

Watch trailer:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Adam's Rib by George Cukor, 1949 (NR)

With Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Jean Hagen, Tom Ewell, Eve March, Marjorie Wood, Will Wright
From the director of My Fair Lady (which is probably my favorite musical ever...)

Successful attorney Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) decides to defend Doris (Judy Holliday), who stands accused of the attempted murder of her husband (Tom Ewell) and his mistress (Jean Hagen), while Bonner's lawyer husband, Adam (Spencer Tracy), signs on as the prosecuting attorney. The sensational trial that ensues finds them sitting at opposing sides of the courtroom -- and the dinner table. George Cukor directs this Oscar-nominated comedy.

Honnestly, there is a chance the next posts are going to be about the duo Tracy-Hepburn, I just got the whole collection for my birthday.
I have been told about their chemistry and love for one another, how cute they were playing couples in movies, of course her as a forward thinker, and him as an understanding man still shaken by the decisions of his wife. Very cute. Anyway, today was "Adam's Rib". Very funny. I have to say acting has evolved quite a lot since 1949, the over-dramatization of the wife killing (trying to at least) the husband was a bit tiring. Still, the movie flows, with great humor, romantic moments, drama, courtroom, a good plot and great dialogues. All we expect of a good movie. Even the narration of news, sometimes anticipated by the newspapers, sometimes summarizing, is a great way of telling the story and adding the outside perspective with a twist of wittiness. Why don't we go back to our classics and try to make good movies again?...

So, coming up, "Woman of the Year", "Keeper of the Flame", "Without Love", "The Sea of Grass", "State of the Union", "Pat and Mike", "Desk Set" and that's all, since I already reviewed "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner".

Watch trailer:

Men in Black 3 by Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012 (PG-13)

Will Smith (MIB 1, MIB 2), Tommy Lee Jones (MIB 1, MIB 2), Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emma Thompson

When Earth comes under the threat of an alien attack, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to join forces with a much-younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) and change the course of history. But if they fail, the future of the world is at stake.

So after a day catching up with the previous ones, it was mandatory to watch Men In Black 3. It is in the same line as the other ones, same humor, same making fun of celebrities, different time. It is really funny. Will Smith is is good shape, Tommy Lee Jones same old man, Josh Brolin perfect as a younger K, weirdly talkative, I believe the winner of this movie is Emma Thompson, she is not there very long, but with her long carreer ponctuated with severe, austere, depressed, sad characters, she has shown a certain talent in making fun of herself in her latest movies, including the ones she directed (Nanny McPhee series). In this one she has a solo discourse that I believe will never get out of my head. I do not know if the reaction is the same if people do not know her role in "Sense and Sensibility" and "The Remains of the Day", for me it was a radical shock. Anyway, good laughs, and again, Coney Island, Manhattan, this time back in the 70s, good time.

Watch Trailer:

Men in Black II by Barry Sonnenfeld, 2002 (PG-13)

with Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rip Torn, Patrick Warburton, Rosario Dawson (Love In The Time of Money, Unstoppable), Tony Shalhoub, Johnny Knoxville

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as Jay and Kay, two highly secretive, highly funded and highly unofficial government agents dealing with all things evil and alien -- including "outing" aliens living among us.

Same old story as Men In Black, guys saving the world. Which reminds me of Independance Day, Will Smith was the great savior for a while. This time, the girl to protect is so cute (Rosario Dawson) that even the sexiest woman they could find (Lara Flynn Boyle who since then pushed a lot for surgery) would not beat it. Anyway, interesting, funny again, except perhaps the exuberant dog. I loved the realization that a post office is the perfect place for aliens. Also, the reenactment program of the arrival of the light on earth is magical, very seventies. Finally, the subway scene, with people so used to emergency that no one reacts when Will Smith ask them to leave the wagon is very typical. The other day, someone had a heart attack on the other side of the wagon, so a guy started screaming and calling for a doctor. It took us at least 30 seconds to realize the guys was not just crazy and there was an emergency.
Next step this week was of course to watch Men In Black III!

Watch Trailer:

Men in Black by Barry Sonnenfeld, 1997 (PG-13)

with Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Vincent D'Onofrio, Linda Fiorentino, Rip Torn, David Cross, Tony Shalhoub

In director Barry Sonnenfeld's hip sci-fi romp, a streetwise New York City cop is enlisted to work with a seasoned government agent on a top-secret team that monitors space aliens living on planet Earth, unbeknownst to the general public.

I remember when I was much younger, bored in the beach family house, and going to the movies with my cousin to escape the family rituals. And going to see: Men In Black! That was fun. Watching it again was great, but strange in a way. The outfit of Will Smith, pajama style, really got old. The suit on the other hand is timeless. The toys aka weapons are still up to date, New York as well, same old Manhattan. It was great to watch it again now that I live in New York, that I can recognize the references. I also realized it was really a great idea to put celebrity on screen as aliens, and most of all, reusing all the alien theories into a secret organization closer to a immigration custom.

Watch Trailer:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ice Age by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha, 2002 (PG)

Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Cedric the Entertainer, Stephen Root, Diedrich Bader, Alan Tudyk, Jane Krakowski, Lorri Bagley, Chris Wedge, Tara Strong

With the impending ice age almost upon them, a mismatched trio of prehistoric critters -- Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the giant sloth (John Leguizamo) -- find an orphaned infant and decide to return it to its human parents. Along the way, the unlikely allies become friends. But when enemies attack, their quest takes on far nobler aims.

It has been a long time, 10 years, since the first chapter of "Ice Age" came out. I watched it again with new eyes, eyes that have seen so many more movies with that kind of technology. Still, I believe it made a point, with a narration from the perspective of the animals, making humans almost primitive but dangerous. It is funny, sometimes pushing a bit far the sense of humor, with a family feel good outsiders belonging through ethics. Perhaps the story is a little simple but the antique squirrel makes the movie, as well as some unique creative moments such as the roller-coaster inside the iceberg.

Watch Trailer

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mirror Mirror (Snow White) by Tarsem Singh, 2012 (PG)

with Lily Collins, Julia Roberts (Duplicity, Fireflies in the Garden), Armie Hammer (J. Edgar, The Social Network), Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean, Danny Woodburn, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Ronald Lee Clark, Robert Emms

This remake of the classic Grimm tale, starring Julia Roberts as the evil Queen, is much darker than the well-known animated Disney version. Snow White's team of dwarves are a shady bunch, but dedicated to helping her regain her royal throne.

From the same director as "Immortals", "The Fall" and "The Cell", The Cell being one of my favorite movies. I believe this director went backward, going from really interesting to really bad. Mirror Mirror is only good in the trailer. I mean, I really loved the trailer, if was funny, witty, visually excellent. But then, what happened. I was very long, slow, predictable, Snow White irritating, but so was the queen, so it wasn't really a statement. Julia Roberts was hilarious in the trailer, but for some reason, even the phrases we laughed at in the trailer fell flat in the movie, as if by enchantment, the humor was gone.

Watch Trailer: (which is really good)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Somewhere by Sofia Coppola, 2010 (R)

Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Erin Wasson, Alexandra Williams, Nathalie Fay, Kristina Shannon, Karissa Shannon, Laura Chiatti, Lala Sloatman, Amanda Anka, Michelle Monaghan

Set amid the hallowed grounds of Hollywood's legendary Chateau Marmont, this atmospheric dramedy centers on hard-living actor Johnny (Stephen Dorff), whose life is thrown for a loop when his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), pays him a surprise visit. As the two become better acquainted, Johnny realizes he needs to make changes. Oscar winner Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) directs this character-driven film co-starring Chris Pontius.

There are movies that tries to show you a different world in a small chunk and touches you in a way you would never have thought it would. This one doesn't. I don't even know what was the point of the movie, if there were any, if it was some sort of personal testimony of a boring life in lust, from the perspective of the daughter. Elle Fanning is good, so is Stephen Dorff, but the movie doesn't hold itself, it is too slow, too esthetic, too trendy bourgeois bohème, lacking of a personality, and at the same time, very unique, no one had ever dared to do such a pretentious movie.

Watch Trailer:

We Bought a Zoo by Cameron Crowe, 2011 (PG)

with Matt Damon (Invictus, Hereafter, True Grit, The Informant!, Contagion), Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers), Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Colin Ford, Elle Fanning, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, John Michael Higgins, Angus Macfadyen, Peter Riegert, Stephanie Szostak, J.B. Smoove

In this adaptation of Benjamin Mee's memoir about buying and saving a run-down zoo, the locale shifts from Britain to southern California. However, the wacky spirit of the original is retained, complete with escaped tigers and a zoo crew of misfits.

To be short, it is a cute movie, definitely for a young audience, with good messages, good family values, politically correct, almost boringly perfect, and with a brilliant way to make you cry, despite you feeling so disconnected from the story and manipulated into crying. At the same time, I found some of the conversation Benjamin has with his son having to deal with the death of him mother and entering the toughest part of adolescence very good. And Scarlett Johansson is very good for once being a low key zookeeper, it's a change, reminded me of her young in "The Horse Whisperer".

Watch Trailer:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Haywire by Steven Soderbergh, 2011 (R)

with Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Shame, A Dangerous Method), Ewan McGregor (Amelia, The Ghost Writer, The Men Who Stare At Goats, I Love You Phillip Morris), Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Mathieu Kassovitz, Michael Angarano, Anthony Brandon Wong

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive. Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she'll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

From the director of Erin Brokovich, Ocean 11, 12, 13, Out of Sight, Contagion, Traffic, The Informant!, a very strange mix of excellent films and over the tops, but he is a machine, very prolific. I really liked this movie for making the risky choice of choosing for main character a mix martial arts figure, turning her into an actress, a believable one. The cast that surrounds her is excellent, with heavy weight actors, not usually chosen to do action movies, more text actors. It balances the movie into not having a 100% action thriller, but also a nuanced film with great performances. The balance is also well done in making an action and character driven film. The cinematography is similar in many ways to the one of traffic, with very defining lighting for each scene, quire saturated, with a lot of post-production filters, which sometimes take over the flow of the movie (I found it disturbing when she runs over the roofs of Dublin, or the neon light corridor when Banderas discusses the interest of the transaction with Douglas. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the movie.

Watch Trailer:

The Ghost Writer by Roman Polanski, 2010 (PG-13)

with Ewan McGregor (Beginners, Amelia, Haywire, The Men Who Stare At Goats, I Love You Phillip Morris, Perfect Sense, Salmon Fishing In Yemen), Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street), Kim Cattrall, Pierce Brosnan (The Thomas Crown Affair), Tim Preece, James Belushi, Olivia Williams (Anna Karenina, Hanna, An Education), Timothy Hutton, Tom Wilkinson (The Conspirator, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Duplicity, Michael Clayton, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), David Rintoul

After his predecessor perishes under mysterious circumstances, a ghostwriter agrees to help a former British prime minister finish his memoirs, but the author but finds himself in danger when he uncovers a web of secrets and corruption.

Interesting movie, very dark, very tormented, in a game of seduction and power that leaves the audience perpetually in alert, who is the person behind, who controls. The cast is perfect and the cinematography so cold you could feel the wind entering you. And of course, it echoes the games high personality play, when they know their actions can be protected. Never dig too deep...

Watch Trailer:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir) by Ari Folman, 2008 (R)

Documentary with Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag, Ari Folman, Dror Harazi

"One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there is a connection between the dream and their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised he cant remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images." IMDB

A strange documentary-Animation movie talking about what no-one wants to talk about. A large part of it is polemic. The form is technologically advanced although quite tiring to watch and honestly not impressive (robot effect, layers of 3d obvious), but the content is very important for the next generations to understands facts about Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, in 1982 Lebanon War.

Watch Trailer:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus by Ridley Scott, 2012 (R)

with Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Fassbender (Shame, Haywire, A Dangerous Method), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce, The King's Speech, The Hurt Locker), Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Young Adult), Sean Harris, Rafe Spall (Life of Pi), Emun Elliott (Lip Service)

When scientific explorers unearth an artifact that points to the origins of humankind, they're pulled into the unexpected adventure of a lifetime. But if they falter, the very future of their species is at stake.

From the director of Alien, Robin Hood, Body of Lies, American Gangster, G.I. Jane, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise...

Hum... Difficult to say anything... Perhaps I should let it marinate a little bit longer... I was mesmerized by the beauty of our "Engineers", the landscape, the technology, the departing ideas (a mix of search for existential answers and immortality), the art of the other planet, the planetarium, even the ship itself. I believe if Ridley Scott hadn't been the filmmaker of Blade Runner and Alien, he would have taken much more liberties in developing a philosophical background to his story, he would not have tried to connect this latest Blockbuster to the successful sci-fi predecessors.
Now here is my other thinking: I believe producers are afraid to loose their audience in a movie that has to serve a mainstream purpose, and by building a no-brainer, they just happened to have lost their credibility of the reviewers, those same ones who could be a substantial reason for the movie to be crushed. Fortunately, I believe people don't read reviews anymore, so it won't matter so much to the producers.
But honestly, this movie smells so strong of a commercial attempt to create a Prometheus 2, where of course the answers we are all looking for will not be developed either.
Now, why the movie who had the smartest campain ever in history of cinema can fail so vividly in being smart itself. A friend of mine said as a joke that when the producers saw the movie for the first time, they freaked out and created a campain that would defy the imagination to create a big enough buz that the movie would be successful in the box-office no matter what.
Now one wonder, how come the movie was launch at different dates all over the world. They would have launched it at the same time, people wouldn't have been able to read the negative reviews coming from... France in my case (I acknowledge it didn't stop me from going to see it on the opening day in New York...) So the viral campaign they did was brilliant, launching two videos that were completing the movie, without being part of it. First a Ted Talk with no real tip on whether this is serious or advertizing, the bright idea being having an arrangement with Ted Talk (Ideas worth spreading), so it would really look real.

The next idea in the same line was to create an add, which would launch the first humanoid, David,  explained by David himself. The logos at the end would suggest that it would be produced by a company named Weyland Corp. and distributed by Verizon.

The characters are very much tools for the action to continue, it is definitely not character driven, contradicting the viral campaign in a way. They are not attaching, they almost come and go in a random way, again, to keep the action going. They are trying to develop better the character of Elizabeth Shaw (Noomie Rapace) but somehow, it is more about what she is going through than how she feels. The same for the other characters, their relationships are not building up, they don't know each other at the beginning, they still don't know each other at the end.
About the "Engineers", from the first shot, they create a mystery, about their existential journey, when you see a ship leaving the planet while one who is staying is taking a poison that destroys him. When we finally have an interaction between one of them and the humans, there is nothing to bring to the story except then again destruction, action, and of course a limited dialogue that is made in an incomprehensible language so we are left aside.
My guess: a little bit of the mysteries launched in this movie are going to be explained in the next one, but a good movie part a good series has to be a stand-alone story, which you want to watch for itself, and in this case, it doesn't work, it is just a very long teaser (not even a trailer).
Now I am not going to mention the end of the movie and how ridiculous it is, I don't think there is a need to spoil the surprise...

Watch the trailer (the official one this time):

Watch my animation-interpretation of the opening scene:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman by Rupert Sanders, 2012 (PG-13)

with Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, Thor), Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone (Breaking and Entering), Nick Frost, Toby Jones

An updated take on the Snow White tale finds the fair-skinned maiden battling the Evil Queen with skills learned from the huntsman sent to kill her. Meanwhile, a love-struck prince bides his time from afar.

Two movies come out nearly at the same time, "Mirror, Mirror" and "Snow White and the Huntsman". I only saw the second one so far.Interesting revisiting of the tale, beautiful landscapes, amazing sound design, the silents and tensions well handled. But the dialogues... Something about the movie creates a distance between the sound design and the voices, the pauses and the dialogues, everything all of a sudden becomes pressure and therefor dialogues become awkward, over-staged. Coming back to the special effects, it was a strange thing to see still in this version the fairy tale-ish full-colored landscape of the dwarfs, while the rest is very black, white, brown and red, very beautiful and perhaps fashionable aesthetic. The queen's scenes are the best to my opinion, with amazing special effects, morphings and the symbolism of the crows (which is already used in "Game of Throne" but anyway...). Also to be noted is the nteresting vision of Snow White surrounded by men, leading men, definitely not influenced by men. She is her own leader, and the two main characters are the Queen and herself. A great contrast with the traditional Walt Disney tales. Now, lets see what "Mirror, Mirror" has to tell...

Watch Trailer:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

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

Following up on the "Strong (and Fascinating) female characters" reviews part one and two. I have been thinking of amazing actress carrying on roles that have influenced me, and I am pretty sure many others, men and women.

Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil, El Secreto De Sus Ojos - The Secret in Their Eyes, 2010)
My first choice for this new edition is: Irene Menéndez Hastings played by the amazing Soledad Villamil in "El Secreto De Sus Ojos" by Juan José Campanella.
I always like women who are strong without leaving aside their emotions, well, I mean that they actually are not super robot on a mission but sensitive people as well. The way Campanella writes his characters is almost like there is a main action, but most of all, because they are human, they are all going through emotions, which drives them in a very powerful way, you love his characters. Irene is a judge, new-comer, with high degree which allow us to land on higher spheres right on, but learning the way to be respected for who she is, which is of a value. She is funny, smart, sensitive and sometimes borderline with the justice she has to maintain.
Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil, El Secreto De Sus Ojos by Juan José Campanella, 2010)
Miss Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility, 1995)
Then, I thought of Miss Dashwood played by Emma Thomson in "Sense and Sensibility". I am saying strong in a very relative way. I have been fascinated by this character for various reason, one being simply falling for her. That's clear, who didn't. At the same time, she is a woman who's condition is to be bored and fall for a man, and eventually get married (not necessarily to the same man), have kids and do nothing for the rest of her life bur raise them to be married. This is a condition she cannot really change because of the time (19th century) she lives in. We see her all miserable, while watching a different movie, you would see the miseries of the time, for the people who didn't have food on their plate ("Albert Nobbs"?). Anyway, the choice goes because of the steadiness she has facing what would probably be the only happiness of her time going away. The movie has a happy ending (thank god), but the performance of Emma Thomson is close to masochism, painful to watch and honorable in a way, not ready to settle for less than being herself a truly generous person, leaving her priorities behind. I am going to try not to cry now :)
Miss Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility by Ang Lee, 1995)

Leyla (Sheetal Sheth, I can't think Straight, 2008)
If you are from an Indian Muslim family, coming out to your family isn't easy. Coming out to our parents is not easy in any case, even if they are the sweetest. Definitely, her feelings are so clear she needs to communicate it. Also, she feels there is something about her life missing if she cannot share what is becoming so important in her life with her parents and surrounding. But still, she belongs to a society where first, it is considered a sin, second, the community is tight and you can be totally rejected from it and finally of course, what if her parents do not accept her any longer. Anyway, she goes all the way, even influences another into telling her parents, she is true and beautiful, strong in her personal belief and persuasive in making people change. It is important. And the character is based on a true story of the director of the film, even better.
Leyla (Sheetal Sheth, I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif, 2008)

Catherine Banning (Rene Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999)
Femme fatale, with brain. She is smart, likes to play and hunt down her subject (she is an insurance investigator), and this handsome man named Thomas Crown just happened to have stolen one of the painting her company insured. She has class, a sharp sense of humor, eventually some emotion which makes her look ethically good, although it wouldn't matter. Or perhaps a little but just because I am a romantic. Anyway, somebody you definitely remember.
Catherine Banning (Rene Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair by John McTiernan, 1999)

K. aka Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient, 1996)
She never got the Oscar she deserved for that role. She is amazing, taking risks at a time where women are just around to help men, be nice and presentable. She is curious, delicate, passionate, courageous facing death, it is actually a very beautiful scene, her awaiting for her death. I believe beyond her being the object of desire of the main character, she stands out as a strong woman, original and beautiful. I really love Kristin Scott Thomas is general, but she blew me away with this role. I was only 13 when I first watched this movie, I am now 28, I realize this impression of her hasn't changed one bit.
K. aka Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient by Anthony Minghella, 1996)

Manuela (Cecilia Roth, Todo Sobre Mi Madre - All About My Mother, 1999)
First, the movie is beautiful, full of humanity is many shapes and forms. It is not so much that Manuela is beautiful, more that the people who surround her are looking at her in a beautiful way, everybody loves her, carries her in her downs, and she has a lot to carry starting with the death of her unique son. The more you look at her, the more you look at how people look at her, the more you fall for this genuine generosity, devotion for her surrounding, no matter how fit they are in the society. She doesn't judge, she follows her purpose with a unique strength, without loosing at any moment her humanity.
Manuela (Cecilia Roth, Todo Sobre Mi Madre - All About My Mother by Pedro Almodovar, 1999)

Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt, As Good As Its Gets, 1999)
I am still wondering why I didn't put Twister as a role for Helen Hunt. I think because it wouldn't be fair to her acting skills, "Twister" is where I fell for Helen Hunt, but then again, I couldn't think of why I had an issue putting her in "What Women Want" either. Maybe those movie didn't get enough recognition for me to feel confident in adding her in them. Also, "A good woman" could have worked, it is a great performance of the downfall of a woman, trying to keep her head up through this degrading journey. Anyway, I guess the complexity of playing a waitress, a mum, a responsible person who can control her emotions to a certain extend and try life for herself for once, with all the complexity that these different facets - and many others - have to be coherent together.
Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt, As Good As Its Gets by James L. Brooks, 1999)

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano, Haywire, 2011)
Ok, she is really strong, and I mean physically (Gina Carano is champion of mixed martial art). She can walk on the wall to beat a guy from the shoulder down. Or just smash on him a beautiful vase found on the nearest shelve. Or simple be smashed with a bottle of Ketchup, be really upset to the point of crushing the guy that played G.I. Jo, yes ma'am! Anyway, her character is of a Marine, but she has something interesting about her, first because she not manly despite her resume, she can even play sensual, she righteous, funny, smart, a survivor and get things done.
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano, Haywire by Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Limitless by Neil Burger, 2011 (PG-13)

with Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro (Marvin's Room, Jackie Brown, Killer Elite), Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth, Tomas Arana, Robert John Burke, Darren Goldstein

With his writing career dragging and his girlfriend casting him off, Eddie Morra's life turns around when he takes a drug that provides astonishing mental focus -- but its deadly side effects threaten his future.

This movie is brilliant. It even finds its own flaws and fix it along the way, in the same way the character becomes brilliant by regenerating his options, in adapting to his situation with him new capacities. Anyway, it talks about the brain, about our abilities, what we can do, what we cannot do, and the consequences, although that movie is cynical enough we don't have a lecturing at the end. It is fast, witty, smart, Bradley Cooper is truly believable in becoming a genius and everything about the movie flows perfectly, stimulating, making us experience how fast how brain can go. Tripping!

Watch Trailer:

RoboCop by Paul Verhoeven, 1987 (UR)

with Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise, Felton Perry, Paul McCrane

In Paul Verhoeven's landmark sci-fi thriller, the monolithic corporation controlling a futuristic, crime-riddled Detroit transforms a dead cop into a cybernetic law-enforcement unit called RoboCop -- and soon the streets are safe.

Paul Verhoeven is the director of "Total Recall" and "Basic Instinct" with is already good enough to consider. Plus, "RoboCop" is a classic in Sci-fi. I had never seen it, and was wondering how good it could be, specially because I am a fan of "The Terminator" (1984), and was afraid the similarities would make the comparison unfair.
Anyway, nothing to do, and a great surprise. The movie has its very own esthetic with a city in its downfall, Detroit, its abandoned factories and crime, while some are enriching themselves in a sort of futurist design home or hyper-company. Then visually, I found interesting in 1984 to incorporate the first video-presentation (when they are introducing the new cop-robot), the screen effect when we are seeing the world through the eyes of RoboCop, and also computer technology which later will look like that. Then the story is interesting, because they are actually using the body of a dead cop to make an hybrid, which somehow reminds me in a stretched parallel to "Source Code".
It is very action driven, with good and bad people, a humanized robot, not many subtleties, still, an intelligent vision of the future, and therefor great entertainment.

Watch Trailer:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Solitary Man by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, 2009 (R)

with Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Richard Schiff, Jake Richard Siciliano, David Costabile, Anastasia Griffith, Arthur J. Nascarella

Michael Douglas stars as a former car dealership owner who sees his personal and professional lives take a nosedive when the repercussions of years of shady business dealings and chronic womanizing finally catch up with him. Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker, Danny DeVito and Jenna Fischer co-star in this comedic drama written and co-directed by Brian Koppelman.

Incredible cast, which right away gives a plus. Then the plot has an interesting tone, it starts cynical, goes dramatic, an interesting journey leads the main character to meet or rediscover persons that leads him either to a deeper hole or give him lessons of life, that finally puts him to the ground. In the end, real people, how boring they look, remains real people, so he learns. That is why it is so important to have good actors every step of the way, each character has a role to play, and even small, they become relevant to the journey. It is not a lecturing movie, funnily. It is very human, I believe the magic operates because of Michael Douglas looking like he gets the main character. Also, it is very nuanced, smart, subtle, I really enjoyed.

Watch Trailer:

Monday, June 4, 2012

On Lip Service by Harriet Braun (TV series, 2010-2012) (TV-14)

with Laura Fraser, Ruta Gedmintas (The Borgias), Fiona Button, Heather Peace, Emun Elliott, James Pearson, Roxanne McKee, Steven Cree, Anna Skellern, Adam Sinclair, Natasha O'Keeffe, Valerie Edmond, Hilary Maclean...

Cast of "Lip Service", Season 1 - from left to right: Cat (Laura Fraser),
Sam (Heather Peace), Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas), Sadie (Natasha O'Keeffe),
Lou (Roxanne McKee) and Tess (Fiona Button)

Lives, loves and lusts of Lipstick Lesbians in Scotland.
"Lip Service" is an irreverent and poignant drama series that focuses on the romantic lives of young gay women in contemporary Glasgow. Frankie, Cat and Tess were at university together, and in the subsequent years, were all swept into relationships.

Cast of "Lip Service", Season 1 - from left to right: Sam (Heather Peace),
Cat (Laura Fraser), Sadie (Natasha O'Keeffe),
Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas), Lou (Roxanne McKee)  and Tess (Fiona Button)

Who doesn't remember "The L Word"? Who doesn't miss a decent series that actually speaks to lesbian in a - if possible - positive way? Lip Service is a BBC production, a risky one, that decided to take on the subject, with the idea of representing mostly lipstick lesbian, in their environment, in a set place (Glasgow) and time (the series two seasons take place in six month nowadays time).

Cast of "Lip Service", Season 2 - from left to right:
Lexi (Anna Skellern), Ed (James Anthony Pearson), Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas),
Tess (Fiona Button), Jay (Emun Elliott) Cat (Laura Fraser) and Sam (Heather Peace)

The fist season was more of a show off of a diversity of lesbian having an active emotional life (and sex life for some), focusing on the love drama and the past of Frankie, with a soft mystery on who are her true parents. Honestly more of a pretext to go on with a dramatic and imbalanced character. The second season take a turn (radical) which makes the character deal with it in various ways, creating a better context for the audience to involve themselves.

In other words, if the first season was a way to discover characters in a very shallow way, with fancy cinematography and hot/original sex scenes, the second one goes deeper in a psychological journey for some of the characters in dealing with an intense event, growing up and dealing with a departing career for Tess and the brother of Cat, Ed, and eventually more romantic drama and sex.

Cast of "Lip Service", Season 1 - from left to right: Sam (Heather Peace),
Sadie (Natasha O'Keeffe), Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas), and Tess (Fiona Button),
Cat (Laura Fraser) and Lexi (Anna Skellern)

I didn't like so much the first season of the series, kept on watching and was greatly surprised by the second season. Will there be a series 3? To be continued...

Watch Trailer - Season 1

Watch Trailer - Season 2

Friday, June 1, 2012

Breaking and Entering by Anthony Minghella, 2006 (R)

with Jude Law (Hugo, Sleuth, Contagion), Robin Wright, Martin Freeman, Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Chocolat, Certified Copy, Paris), Rafi Gavron, Ed Westwick, Serge Soric, Velibor Topic, Rad Lazar, Ting Ting Hu, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone (Snow White and the Huntsman)

When his London office is burglarized by a young thief, an affluent architect (Jude Law) is forced to rethink his priorities and re-evaluate his life, weighing the difference between emotional and physical robbery.

It is strange how some movies stick to your brain, coming back as a wave from time to time in which you plunge and stay for a while, until your mind comes back to reality. This movie is one of them. Well, first for me because it is in London and I always want to go back and live there. But also because there is a complexity in the characters that leads them to a fantastic journey through curiosity, discomfort, belonging, reaching out to something they should stay away from. It is beautiful and at the same time worrying, almost unhealthy. There has been a violation when the robbery happens,which built into a feeling of unsafe, wanting to identify to the one who stole a piece of your life, personal piece (I have been robbed not long ago, they took my computer, just like the main character). It feels powerless as your anger builds up with the irresistible will to get to know more about the robber. It is very well portrayed and combine to his personal family issues, in a way, the story is much more about breaking and entering someone's emotions, and eventually, he reproduces the behavior in the life of the robber. Fascinating.

Watch Trailer: