with the bold text in the example below:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Trumbo by Jay Roach, 2015 (R)

with Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg

In 1947, successful screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) and other Hollywood figures get blacklisted for their political beliefs.

An interesting look into the Hollywood world during the Cold War, through the life of Trumbo, one of the most prolific Screenwriter of the Cinema history. It is definitely the story of an impossible fight against a government which had lost their way, which finally was won through perseverance and dare.
The performances are excellent. The mix of historic footage and reenactment are smooth and subtle. The portrayal of the nature of people, when put on a stand is quite fascinating, and the movie doesn't hesitate to describe the different positions public people took during this dark time, which feels honest for once.

Joy by David O. Russell, 2015 (PG-13)

with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Röhm, Dascha Polanco

A story of a family across four generations, centered on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy's inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

Joy... What a journey. What a great story of overcoming your fate and being curious beyond what people think and say. Knowledge is power. Attitude is power. Still with all this, it is not an easy path. All these success story we read about sometimes miss the most important step. The one where people fail, collapse. Because then comes the moment to stand back on your feet, and move forward. Jennifer Lawrence is really convincing as the overwhelmed matriarch. De Niro, Rossellini and Röhm are the wonderful negative forces that always surround you, the voices that tell you you cannot do it, you have to give up. They are so fantastically performing you hate them. And it is good to see Dascha Polanco in something else than Orange is the New Black.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dark Matter by Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie - Bell Media, 2015-

Marc Bendavid as One / Jace Corso / Derrick Moss
Melissa O'Neil as Two / Rebecca / Portia Lin
Anthony Lemke as Three / Marcus Boone
Alex Mallari Jr. as Four / Ryo Tetsuda
Jodelle Ferland as Five / Das
Roger Cross as Six / Griffin Jones
Zoie Palmer as The Android

Android, Four, Three, Two, One, Five and Six

When six crew members working on a derelict spaceship awaken from stasis, they have no memory of who they are or how they got on the vessel. The only clue to their identities is weaponry and a destination -- a remote mining colony soon to become a war zone. They must band together to fight off the threats that they face on a voyage that is filled with vengeance, betrayal and secrets that make survival a question mark for all on board the ship. The sci-fi series is based on the graphic novel of the same name.

Reason why I watched this series? I was doing research on Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl) and there was a tiny article on Science Fiction series that didn't make much noise but definitely got the attention, and Zoie Palmer was in it. Great! Science Fiction, and Zoie Palmer. Wait! She plays what? An Android? Ok...

So, there are so few good Space Science Fiction series, or movies, that I had to check it out. Yes, count them, Battlestar Galactica/Caprica, Fascape, V, Stargate SG1, Star Trek, Firefly/Serenity...
But really, recently? There is an overflow in the 60s and 70s. Then there are all the animated series. But a series, with actual actors in it? Or they are Science Fiction series, but not Space Travel...
Extant, but is it really space travel or just an astronaut back on Earth?
Now, besides it, currently, there is Killjoys. Again, Canadian... Do all the good SciFi series have to be produced there? And thery have been approved for a second season. Is there a heaven there (Not Haven, Canadian again)?

Ok, back to Dark Matters is telling the story of a small team, from which we know nothing, as much as they know themselves actually. Through the episodes, we get to learn more and more about the,, and eventually, also solve one problem an episode... Which is usually a pattern in series, as it help get to know the character, and keep the series with a purpose. I am hoping they will develop a larger arch next season. Production is good, special effect impeccable, the way the world is developed is closed to Firefly, as there are no extra-terrestrial beings (yet?), but it is diverse and fascinating.

One of the things I really like about the series is the sense of humor, which seems to be a constant trait in all the Space Science Fiction series I listed above. It looks like we cannot remain serious if we are to do a series about the Space. And that is good... There are way too many series that take themselves seriously. And most of the humor comes from Zoie Palmer nerdy sense of humor, which we also found in Lost Girl. I wonder if this is why they picked her. She delivers lines like no other, without a hint of humor, but turns out to be so out of place it is hilarious.
Then you have the six crew members of the Raza, with different abilities, and very different personalities. Since they are back to not knowing who they are, or knowing who are the others, we are witnessing their discoveries along the adventures. The contrast between the men in the team is so stark it creates a lot of situations where it would be impossible not to laugh. Five and Two are more the serious angle of the series, but they complete the team to a more elaborate story-line and most of all a leadership regarding two. Gender plays a role, but ultimately, ranks are not divided according to gender. Personality will define roles.

The series left us in such a cliffhanger I don't believe we will know anything until next season, and that is the good news, it has been renewed for a second season!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino, 2015 (R)

with Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Dana Gourrier, Channing Tatum

While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.

Djanjo Unchained had perhaps a more elaborated purpose. This is revenge, this is vanity, and this is cold blooded madness. I mean, in some way, the Revenant and the Hateful Eight have a lot in common. I don't wish to elaborate too much on that, but outburst of violence, slow rhythm, landscapes, humanity (or the lack of), vengeance... Except I really did enjoy watching the Revenant.
The lines Jackson delivers are priceless, the layers Leigh gets on her face are quite mesmerizing, the rest is fine, not memorable. You also have to sit yourself for 3 hours and 7 minutes which is a little intense, specially if for one hour and a half, nothing actually happen.
I know the only movie that I really love from Tarantino wasn't actually written by Tarantino (Jackie Brown, one of my favorite movie of all time), but come on, there has to be a way his movies don't end up is such a random bloodbath, with no mean to its end. At least, there could be a more elaborated bloodbath where not everything is being mixed, some sort of intelligible way to understand death, or perhaps just understand the meaning of killing.

The Big Short by Adam McKay, 2015 (R)

with Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Byron Mann, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock

In 2005, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors' money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.

This movie is another depressing look at how financial institutions across the board didn't do anything to prevent the economic crisis that winded up making 8 million people unemployed, and 6 million homeless. And yet it didn't change anything about their regulation to prevent the next bubble. Scary.
Somehow the movie makes us feel sympathy for these guys that looked for a way to make even more money out of the crisis (yes, some of them tried to go to the press and denounce the system, but still), which afterward gives you a bitter sense of justice. If those are the good guys?... The movie is strangely set with a mix of YouTube feeds, people addressing to the camera for education/fact purposes, teaching the financial jargon with a bimbo or a famous person so we would theoretically pay more attention (this is second degree sense of humor I guess, but it is sometimes borderline offensive). Steve Carell is amazing in , the rest of the cast is fine, and the story needed to be told. I guess this could be a winner for the Oscars.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lost Girl by Michelle Lovretta - Showcase, 2010-2015

with Anna Silk (Bo), Ksenia Solo (Kenzi), Kristen Holden-Reid (Dyson), K. C. Collins (Hale), Zoie Palmer (Lauren), Richard Howland (Trick), Rachel Skarsten (Tamsin), Paul Amos (Vex), Emmanuelle Vaugier (The Morrigan), Vincent Walsh (Lachlan), Inga Cadranel (Aife)

Left to right: Trick (Richard Howland), Hale (K. C. Collins), Dyson (Kristen Holden-Reid), Bo (Anna Silk), Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), Lauren (Zoie Palmer)

Bo is a small-town girl on the run after a disastrous sexual encounter with her boyfriend ends with his death. Bo learns that she is not human, but a succubus, who feeds on the sexual energy of humans. She and her kind are members of the Fae, creatures of legend, who walk among humans and feed off them in different ways. As she searches for the truth about her origins and runs from her inhuman urges, she vows to help those she meets along the way - human or Fae - who need to right a wrong.

I am definitely team Lauren...

That said, we can move on to the task at hand. This series is quite interesting, as it uses possibly all the myths we have all over this planet, and link them into one specie, the Fae, and the theory holds together. We are in today's world, with people knowing about myths, and this is fun. I have often noted that one of the best part of Fascape is that John Crichton is a human with a general knowledge of pop culture, and when he jokes, he jokes about our human pop culture, such as Clint Eastwood, Einstein, or R2D2. The same way, humans or Bo, with their ignorance of the Fae world, are allowed to make fun of Vampires and Werewolves, or Zeus or Valkyries. Because they exist in our popular culture. So many Werewolf or Vampire movies and series are suggesting that humans are completely ignorant of their concept, as if they had no literature or movie that referred to them, like, about constantly! Anyway, first good point.

Second great thing about the series is its sexual fluidity, and the non-statement of Bo (yes, the main character!) choosing to be in a relationship with a woman, and not making it about coming out, not making in a social statement, and her surrounding being completely natural about it. In fact, it is so special it is probably the only movie or series that doesn't talk about homosexuality, while having a character bisexual. Every series or movie I have seen have at some point to talk about how challenging it is, or they have to come out, or someone judge them for being gay, or it has to become about gay right. Here, the only main problem is basically, one is Human, the other one Fae, so basically, one will most definitely die before the other and that is a big problem. And perhaps also the fact that one uses sex as a regenerating boost which tends to drain the other. Minor details.

So, what is the third cool thing about the series... The series started with one case per episode, which can sometimes slow down tremendously the rhythm of the over season. Naturally the series evolved into a more complex canvas, with various intertwined story-lines, which sometimes converged. It allowed to develop not only the character of Bo, but the other characters, which have also had their interesting stories. When you have characters that are centuries old, you can afford to dig into their past. A blood-king, a well-traveled shifter, a Valkyrie, Zeus, Hades, a family of Sirens, a wanderer... Even the "humans" have their own curiosity, Dr Lauren Lewis aka Karen Beattie is the most interesting doctor. Anyway, so the series has the luxury to pick into Oriental myths, Germanic, Voodoo, South American, Greek, Native American, Eastern European, Scandinavian, Russian, Celtic... with limitless resources. And it is awesome.

Another great thing, and sad I admit, is that the series is over, but ended with a proper ending. It feels coherent, from the first episode, that this is where the series is headed, and the end is just the apotheosis that was expected, and then the series ends. (I am not gonna comment en series like Farscape and Firefly that had to have their fans striking so they would wind up doing some sort of conclusion). In other words, it is a series that you can watch like a long movie (very long I admit) with a beginning, a middle and an end. Fantastic.

What else, I think I forgot the sense of humor. It is at times sad, but overall, the characters don't take themselves too seriously, and it is funny. Number one funny, not consciously, Dr Lauren Lewis. I think her nerdy ways and the awkwardness are just irresistible. One of the best episode which makes everyone at its best is Season 2, Episode 9 "Original Skin", where Dyson is hilarious. Dex is probably one of the craziest character with the Morrigan, and those are supposed to be the bad guys... Sometimes, you would wish there would be more of them.

Anyway, the cast is really good working together, the writers were quite inspired, and even if the special effects sometimes where quite something, the production is great. I would definitely like to see more of this kind of series.

Left to right: Vex (Paul Amos), Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten), Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), Bo (Anna Silk), Dyson (Kristen Holden-Reid), Trick (Richard Howland), Lauren (Zoie Palmer

Oscars 2016: 88th Academy Awards Nominees

The nominees: Reviews

Best Picture

The Big Short – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner
Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, Kristie Macosko Krieger
Brooklyn – Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey
Mad Max: Fury Road – Doug Mitchell and George Miller
The Martian – Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam
The Revenant – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, and Keith Redmon
Room – Ed Guiney
Spotlight – Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagon Faust

Best Director

Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian as Mark Watney
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett – Carol as Carol Aird
Brie Larson – Room as Joy "Ma" Newsome
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy as Joy Mangano
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years as Kate Mercer
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn as Eilis Lacey

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale – The Big Short as Michael Burry
Tom Hardy – The Revenant as John Fitzgerald
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight as Michael Rezendes
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies as Rudolf Abel
Sylvester Stallone – Creed as Rocky Balboa

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight as Daisy Domergue
Rooney Mara – Carol as Therese Belivet
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight as Sacha Pfeiffer
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl as Gerda Wegener
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs as Joanna Hoffman

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen
Ex Machina – Alex Garland
Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Carol – Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
The Martian – Drew Goddard from The Martian by Andy Weir
Room – Emma Donoghue from Room by Emma Donoghue

Best Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa – Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, and Rosa Tran
Boy and the World – Alê Abreu
Inside Out – Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
Shaun the Sheep Movie – Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
When Marnie Was There – Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) in Spanish – Ciro Guerra
Mustang (France) in Turkish – Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Son of Saul (Hungary) in Hungarian – László Nemes
Theeb (Jordan) in Arabic – Naji Abu Nowar
A War (Denmark) in Danish – Tobias Lindholm

Best Documentary – Feature

Amy – Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
What Happened, Miss Simone? – Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, and Justin Wilkes
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom – Evgeny Afineevsky, Den Tolmor

Best Documentary – Short Subject

Body Team 12 – David Darg and Bryn Mooser
Chau, Beyond the Lines – Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah – Adam Benzine
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Last Day of Freedom – Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Best Live Action Short Film

Ave Maria – Eric Dupont and Basil Khalil
Day One – Henry Hughes
Everything Will Be Okay – Patrick Vollrath
Shok – Jamie Donoughue
Stutterer – Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Best Animated Short Film

Bear Story – Pato Escala Pierart and Gabriel Osorio Vargas
Prologue – Imogen Sutton and Richard Williams
Sanjay's Super Team – Nicole Paradis Grindle and Sanjay Patel
We Can't Live Without Cosmos – Konstantin Bronzit
World of Tomorrow – Don Hertzfeldt

Best Original Score

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Best Original Song

"Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey
Music and Lyric by Ahamad Balshe (Belly), Stephan Moccio,
Jason "Daheala" Quenneville, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd)
"Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction
Music by J. Ralph, Lyric by Antony Hegarty
"Simple Song #3" from Youth
Music and Lyric by David Lang
"Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground
Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren
"Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre
Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road – Mark A. Mangini and David White
The Martian – Oliver Tarney
The Revenant – Martin Hernández and Lon Bender
Sicario – Alan Robert Murray
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Matthew Wood and David Acord

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies – Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, and Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road – Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, and Ben Osmo
The Martian – Paul Massey, Mark Taylor, and Mac Ruth
The Revenant – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom, and Chris Duesterdiek
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies – Rena DeAngelo, Bernhard Henrich, and Adam Stockhausen
The Danish Girl – Michael Standish and Eve Stewart
Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson
The Martian – Celia Bobak and Arthur Max
The Revenant – Jack Fisk and Hamish Purdy

Best Cinematography

Carol – Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
Mad Max: Fury Road – Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, and Damian Martin
The Revenant – Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman, and Robert Pandini

Best Costume Design

Carol – Sandy Powell
Cinderella – Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl – Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan
The Revenant – Jacqueline West

Best Film Editing

The Big Short – Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road – Margaret Sixel
The Revenant – Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight – Tom McArdle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina
Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, and Andrew Whitehurst
Mad Max: Fury Road
Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams, and Tom Wood
The Martian
Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence, Richard Stammers, and Steven Warner
The Revenant
Richard McBride, Matt Shumway, Jason Smith, and Cameron Waldbauer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, and Neal Scanlan

Sicario by Denis Villeneuve, 2015 (R)

with Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Victor Garber, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya

After rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession, idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) receives a top assignment. Recruited by mysterious government official Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), Kate joins a task force for the escalating war against drugs. Led by the intense and shadowy Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), the team travels back-and-forth across the U.S.-Mexican border, using one cartel boss (Bernardo Saracino) to flush out a bigger one (Julio Cesar Cedillo).

And this is how you discover the entire thing is a trap. A trap which users all over the world participate in. As long as you will have users, you will have a business, and since the drugs are illegal, you will have traffic, and outlaws, and murder, and none of the justice. And since it is a risky but juicy business, you will have competition, interest and massacres.
What we witness in this movie is how a justice system decide to play its options, so the competition is less and they can have an illusion of control, but eventually, keep the business going. We are Emily Blunt and Daniel Kaluuya, innocent at the beginning, and eventually (SPOILER) in the end, feel dirty, used... It is not a feel-good movie, it is a slice in the life of drug trafficking, with no outcome. It is the prism mirror or Traffic from Soderbergh, except this time, Benicio Del Toro is not your friend.

What Happened, Miss Simone? by Liz Garbus, 2015

with Nina Simone

Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon and legendary recording artist Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy.

I only knew her music, which I really admire. This documentary gave light and life to all her songs, and the person she was, the struggles, the ambition, the journey, the fame, the rejection... It is so complete you feel overwhelmed by the extraordinary being she was, how she wasn't a woman of her time but a visionnaire, an outstanding artist, and somehow too ahead of her time to sometimes be understood. The documentary portrays her at her best at her worse, with very personal notes and footage, never judging, and leaves us with a feeling of sadness for all what she gave us, but all that she had to sacrifice. Shaking.

The Danish Girl by Tom Hooper, 2015 (R)

with Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch

With support from his loving wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), artist Einar Wegener/Lili (Eddie Redmayne) prepares to undergo one of the first sex-change operations.

It is sad that the frailty of Lili is performed with too much similarities with Hawking by Redmayne. There was therefor no way to believe that he was Lili and not just another performance of Redmayne. On the other hand, Alicia Vikander (who is everywhere: Ex Machina, U.N.C.L.E., Burnt, The Fifth Estate...) is amazing as a woman who has to evolve ahead of her time in a men's world and has to go through the emotional journey of see her husband transforming into a woman and supporting him through, despite the social convention of the time. 

Steve Jobs by Danny Boyle, 2015 (R)

with Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Sarah Snook, Adam Shapiro, Perla Haney-Jardine, John Ortiz

With public anticipation running high, Apple Inc. co-founders Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve "Woz" Wozniak get ready to unveil the first Macintosh in 1984. Jobs must also deal with personal issues related to ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and their young daughter Lisa. Eventually fired, Jobs launches NeXT Inc. and prepares to release a new computer model in 1988. Ten years later, Jobs is back at Apple Inc. and about to revolutionize the industry once again with the iMac.

Great dialogues. Great great dialogues. A bit brainy and of course nerdy, but great. That said, it is strange to see the career span of Danny Boyle, and it is harder and harder to understand its trajectory. One of the unusual traits of this movie is almost the lack of climax... Because when the presentation starts, we are out. Because the success story outcome is not part of the movie. Because the movie focuses on the process, the personal journey and the relationships Jobs has over the year with his employees, collaborators, investors and family. Somehow after the end of the second segment, we get the pattern and the movie looses its rhythm, so attached to the structure it becomes a constrain. Kate Winslet's character Joanna Hoffman (and most likely the real Hoffman) is irresistible in clashing with Jobs, and the best part of the movie. And of course, as an Apple user since my first computer, I found the behind the scene of the development of what became a successful brand and product fascinating.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by J.J. Abrams, 2015 (PG-13)

with Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis

Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights.

And we missed them so much... It was good to see them again. And finally, making fun of the Stormtroopers as they really deserve (they are the comic relief). And see some new characters emerge, intelligent, witty as Han Solo was. They chose a cast that is impeccable, with a mix of up-and-coming actors and Oscar winners and nominees, targeting the widest audience ever for a Star Wars movie. And as Star Wars fan, how could you miss Solo and Leia being back together?
Of course, that means there are a lot of things that you were sort of trapped to live as an audience, and the pattern of the story-line is getting a little old... But still, it was worth the watch... Now we have to wait another two years minimum to know more about Finn, Rey and Poe (Oscar Isaac). That is way too long...

Inside Out by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen, 2015 (PG)

with Amy Poehler, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Kaitlyn Dias

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions -- led by Joy (Amy Poehler) -- try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness (Phyllis Smith) to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley's mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.

This is quite a way of picturing the brain: very inventive, funny, imaginative. You really get transported into those visions of subconscious, emotions, memory. It is at the same time perfect, and on the other hand completely non-scientific. The outcome becomes almost a dream session, where not everything is logical, but everything makes sense, and it is fun, sad, intelligent, witty, all in one.

Carol by Todd Haynes, 2015 (R)

with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler

Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. The two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences. Adapted from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.

This is a beautiful romantic comedy, where two women fall in love. The simplicity of it, and the almost awkwardness they showcase, their natural bound make us forget for a moment this is the 50s and homosexuality is prohibited, specially if you are a mother fighting for the custody of your child. But the movie is also a road movie, a portrait of winter, and of the two worlds Therese and Carol come from. The cinematography is perfect, (the lack of) dialogues exquisite, the performance so subtle it feels like everything might shatter at any second. Of course, there is the question of why it wasn't nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, perhaps it is too much to see a beautiful couple that is not following the convention of heterosexuality. Pity, I do wish they receive the awards for Best Actress in Leading and Supporting role, and best adapted Screenplay...

Room by Lenny Abrahamson, 2015 (R)

with Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, Brie Larson, William H. Macy, Jacob Tremblay

Held captive for years in an enclosed space, a woman (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.

It had been a long time I didn't feel so terrible after a movie, so moved, so frustrated by the darkness of our specie. The movie explore the beautiful and unusual relationship between a mother and her child, through captivity and in the outside world, with such a realism and without the compensation of feeling good they are out, or that the bad guy is being caught and tried, nor the settling feeling that everything is going to be fine, that the media are going to be respectful... This is a cruel story of victims that try nevertheless to share a beautiful life despite the most horrible things they are victims of. Jacob Tremblay is giving an amazing performance, as well as the rest of the cast, and the director Abrahamson managed via impeccable direction to allow us to see through the naive eyes of the boy, at time to the point that we cannot stand because we are from the outside world, and we understand far more than this boy does. Definitely Oscar material.

Ex Machina by Alex Garland, 2015 (R)

with Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson

Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a week at the private estate of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), his firm's brilliant CEO. When he arrives, Caleb learns that he has been chosen to be the human component in a Turing test to determine the capabilities and consciousness of Ava (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot. However, it soon becomes evident that Ava is far more self-aware and deceptive than either man imagined.

Ex Machina is a disturbing experiment that puts you in the most high tech setting, in the middle of the purest of nature, with a feeling of claustrophobia combined with a manipulating and brilliant script that bounce you from one vision to its opposite the moment you start believing in it, keeping you alert until the very end. It is disturbing as the robots are more humane than the humans, and the performance of Alicia Vikander is quite extraordinary in making us shift from our perception of her as a human to little by little seeing her as a humanoid. I do hope they get the Oscar for Best Script.

The Martian by Ridley Scott, 2015 (PG-13)

with Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Michael Peña, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sebastian Stan

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

One of my favorite movies this year, it is funny, inventive, scary at time, definitely nerdy, and Matt Damon whom I am not a fan of is quite the guy for the situation. The sort of non-science-fiction feel of the entire movie, very grounded, very methodical in the steps it takes to make the story be reel is original, and for once, a mega-drama movie plot such as "we left him for dead in a desolated planet" turns out to be a comedy, and most interestingly, it winded up at the Oscars, which is not big on comedy in general. I would love to see it get an award...

The Revenant by Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015 (R)

with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, Lukas Haas

While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

Beautiful movie, with beautiful music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and at the same time, tough movie with a character that has only left his revenge, and therefor doesn't offer much in terms of emotions, to allow to relate to the characters. The journey is interesting as you are learning along the way the politics of the time, the survival knowledge of the original owners of the land, how nature can be beautiful or destructive. I get that DiCaprio and Iñárritu might win the Oscar, but I hope they give the Award for best movie to someone else. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Brooklyn by John Crowley, 2015 (PG-13)

with Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent

An Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) in 1950s New York falls for a tough Italian plumber (Emory Cohen), but faces temptation from another man (Domhnall Gleeson) when she returns to her homeland for a visit.

This most likely is the worse selected movie from the Oscars. It is not bad, but everything is so perfect in the life of this immigrant, from the beautifully clean street of Brooklyn, to the perfect and impeccable success she has with everything she touches, and most boringly the lack of emotion she display throughout the movie, the detachment to all things that makes her journey forgettable. The movie is so perfectly designed, with no risk, no texture, perfect dresses, perfect landscapes, perfect light, perfect make-up, it is very disturbing.

Bridge Of Spies by Steven Spielberg, 2015 (PG-13)

with Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Billy Magnussen, Austin Stowell, Sebastian Koch

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.

Another Fascinating piece of history, and one of the first movie I see that showcase both sides of Berlin, portrays the issues the GDR encountered with its creation and its lack of recognition, and somehow the differentiation they needed to exist apart from the USSR. The topic is of course interesting in terms of justice, and the twisted turns of history that made this story so relevant. The movie is quite stylized, in a good way, but sometimes, Spielberg tends to add so much violin and emotional symbols it feels he is controlling the way we are supposed to feel. It is bothering.

Spotlight by Tom McCarthy, 2015 (R)

with Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Billy Crudup

In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

The movie is unpretentious, and takes us through the investigation process without taking us for stupid nor embellishing the story with climax and stylized cinematography. Its characters are real people, not heroes, the bad guys are not one-sided a-holes, or demons... It is a very particular theme as it unveils one of the toughest battle against the Catholic church and its almost absolute immunity. The historical context is also quite fascinating as it comes at a time where the main focus of the news is the attack on World Trade Center. Still, the impact the story had and the continuing research to convict those men who abused over the years children under the protection of the church is a definite must tell. Performance are impeccable, script is solid, definitely a contender for the Oscars.