87th Academy Awards Foreign Language Submission post will be updated constantly with info about when each country will announce their selection. Today August 28: Luxembourg submission. Info about Norway..

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shabd


If you haven’t noticed yet I am in my Aish cycle watching movies released before 2007 and this 2005 movie is well, different to other Bollywood movies I have seen. Set in current time tells the story of a wealthy older man that was a very successful writer but his last book was a failure and went into a 2 years dry spell. Happily married to a young and beautiful college teacher (Aish of course) he decides to write a new book about a woman and mixing reality with fiction motivates his wife to become close to a young and handsome man and from then on everything goes into heavy drama.

Why is different? I did not like the story, it was really disturbing and predictable, even do the end was not that predictable. Sanjay Dutt plays the writer and I did not liked his performance and believe he was miscast as Aish husband, as there was no chemistry between them.

Then, every time the writer was writing they used a sequence of letters and words (he writes in English) on top of the screen that looked like Jenny awful sequences in the L Word. Gee, someone has to know that effects like this are not attractive in the big or small screen and make the characters, the writing and the stories they write totally repellent.

There are not many dances here, as there is practically one that have to admit is outstanding for showing Aish extremely beautiful, sexy and exotic as she is wearing a black western dress and dances to Spanish music, fantastic!! Just because this dance number and seeing her laughing many times the movie was tolerable, but when the drama catch her up and Dutt does all his going insane drama, unfortunately takes Aish down with him.

If you are like me and want to see every movie Aish has done (still have many to see) you can skip this movie, or better, rent it and fast-forward to Aishwarya scenes!!

Locarno Film Festival News


Next Wednesday this festival will start with the opening film Vexille by Fumihiko Sori from Japan on the Piazza Grande.

From the latest news worth mentioning is the withdrawn of the movie Son of Rambow from the Piazza Grande program and a Master Class with Carmen Maura that I imagine will be quite outstanding. Also there will be the world premiere on the Piazza Grande of J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster (I Always Dreamd of Being a Gangster) by French director Samuel Bencherit.

Then, building on the success of last year’s inaugural programme, the Locarno Festival will offer a selection of films directed by or featuring those jury members, across the various sections, who are filmmakers or actors/actresses.

The Locarno audience thus has an opportunity to discover a range of films, some of which are impossible to see outside the festival circuit – including some real rarities – and to see again a number of contemporary cinema masterpieces.

The programme includes the following films:

The International Competition Jury:
La double vie de Véronique by Krzysztof Kieslowski (featuring Irène Jacob, France)
Hamburger Lektionen by Romuald Karmakar (Germany)
In memoria di me by Saverio Costanzo (Italy)
Moacir – Arte Bruta by Walter Carvalho (Brazil)
Platform by Jia Zhang-Ke (China)
Son frère by Patrice Chéreau (featuring Bruno Todeschini, Switzerland/France)

The Filmmakers of the Present Jury:
Kurpe (The Shoe) by Laila Pakalnina (Latvia)
L’orchestra di Piazza Vittorio by Agostino Ferrente (Italy)
Tan de repente by Diego Lerman (Argentina)

The Jury for the Best First Feature Film:
Johanna by Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary)
Satin rouge by Raja Amari (Tunisia/France)

The Leopards of Tomorrow Jury:
After the Last Sky by Alia Arasoughly (Palestine)
Alex by José Alcala (featuring Lyes Salem, Algeria/France)
Das Fräulein by Andrea Staka (Switzerland)
Horst Buchholz… mein Papa by Christopher Buchholz (Germany)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kandukondain Kandukondain (I Found It)


This is my very first Kollywood movie and I have to say that is very different to all the Bollywood movies I have seen. For starters the songs are really beautiful and soft, the language (Tamil) is very fast, do not have the same cinematography values (Bollywood wins) and the dances are different, maybe less spectacular.

This 2000 movie is a contemporary Indian take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and stars Aishwarya Rai as Meenakshi that in the novel is Marianne Dashwood. Here Aish was not yet a star or she would have gotten the role of Elinor Dashwood that went to another famous Indian actress Tabu. Still there are some scenes where Aish looks outstandingly beautiful and her screen presence is very strong.

The classic story in this movie is set in modern India and tells the tale of a widowed mother and three daughters Saumya and Meenakshi who are grown-up and beautiful and Kamla who is still at school. Is a story of riches to poor to well-being thanks to the young women that succeed in their work, Saumya in computers and Meenakshi as a recording singer with their romance interests having setbacks, but everything ends fine.

Obviously the story does not follow the traditional everything good, then the tragedy, but is a strong drama with good performances Indian style of course.

Even if the dance numbers are less spectacular this movie has very surrealistic dances in the first half, which makes it totally different to what I have seen in Bollywood movies; maybe the nicer is the first dance/song that Aish does that has lots of wardrobe changes and the background dancers wear what it looks like cardboard masks. Also, this movie has songs and dances that move to other countries like Egypt and I think Scotland with no reason at all. I have seen this before in Bollywood movies and is sort of strange.

If I have never seen a Bollywood movie perhaps I could consider the cinematography nice as the movie has some very nice takes, like the pyramids in Egypt or southern India landscapes, but in general the technical aspects of the movie seem less spectacular than what I have seen in Bollywood.

I think that this movie will appeal to Jane Austen fans, Aishwarya fans and those who want to start learning about Kollywood the Tamil language film industry in India that started producing silent movies since 1916. In general, is an easy movie to watch even if is 151 minutes long.

Devdas


Oustanding movie with one of the most incredible beautiful cinematography I have seen in the screen and the most colorful and beautiful dance numbers, especially the last one where Paro and Chandramukhi dance together.

Beautiful Aish plays Parvati or Paro her nickname and in this movie she is the most beautiful woman in the world (as she is called) with many dramatic scenes that spectacularly show close-ups of her big eyes. Yes, here she’s shown as an object of beauty, but it is such a pleasure to see her in those scenes where she wears the most beautiful and colorful wardrobes. As trivia was fun to learn that one of the sari’s she wears was made out from pieces of 600 saris bought in Calcutta.

This is a very colorful movie with red, orange and yellow predominating, but also you will see green and blue sprinkled allover the movie. I just love how Bollywood movies use color to produce dramatic effects and complement the story they are telling at a specific moment.

The movie tells the story of Devdas Mukherjee played by Shahrukh Khan (my first two Bollywood movies were with him and never imagined I’ll be able to see Aish and Khan together in a movie… that’s how little I still know about Bollywood!). He comes back to India after 10 years in London and the first thing he does is go to see his childhood sweetheart Paro. His mother feels betrayed and his sister-in-law takes advantage of the situation to plot against the whole family, as she wants to be able to keep the large fortune to herself.

The sister-in-law manipulates Devda’s mother into splitting Devdas and Paro love and in the most lyrical dramatic way they shame Paro’s mother, who decides to marry Paro to an even richer and aristocratic family. Paro and Devda love each other but pride, family and revenge separates them forever, but their love for each other never stops. Paro marry an aristocrat, Devdas life is turn into hell and from there on he falls and falls into a dark alcoholic life.

Okay, the story is too much melodrama for me and at moments it seem like a soap opera; but, is a very old (1917) and traditional tale in India (considered as the local Romeo and Juliet), with a black and white version in 1955, that some viewers consider superior to this one, but it also has other versions.

Still, this is an outstanding movie with many technical aspects quite magnificent, like the set for the brothel, which inspire me to call it the “brothel of light” as is so unbelievable stunning that will marvel your eyes. Then the final scene is so dramatic because of the story, but is filmed in such a fantastic way with Aish barefoot slow motion running, her clothes waiving in the air and Devdas lying in a bed of red leaves with mostly red colored trees and surroundings, you have to see it, I believe that is one of the most stunning dramatic endings in a movie due to the use of the camera, the sets, the colors and well, the story.

This movie is the winner of 43 awards (wow!) and had 7 nominations; this means that most of the nominations became a win!! Incredible! One of the nominations was for a 2003 BAFTA as Best Film not in English Language and was an official selection at the 2002 Cannes Festival. Aishwarya Rai won the Popular Award for an Actress in a Leading Role at the 2003 International Indian Film Academy, the Best Actress at 2003 Filmfare Awards, Best Actress at 2003 Screen Weekly Awards, and Best Actress at 2003 Zee Cine Awards. She deserved all these awards and more…

As only happens in Bollywood, this movie besides winning so many awards was a blockbuster in the Bollywood circuit making an incredible amount of money!

I feel that this is a Bollywood movie that could appeal to western audiences because of the universal story, especially women that love to watch lyrical love stories. But as always, I have to mention that this is a true Bollywood movie with songs and dances that will suddenly happen and long scenes with dramatic content –mainly Khan character- that are way to long for western standards.

Still, this magnificent movie is a must watch for Aish fans (like me) and for the most incredible cinematography.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rosa e Cornelia (Rosa and Cornelia)


An intense drama by Giorgio Treves that tells the story of a young Countess, Cornelia that becomes pregnant and is send to the family country state as a prisoner; the family has to hide at all costs her illegitimate pregnancy so she can marry into wealth and the family recuperates their fortune.

When at the country state the family sends a maid, Rosa, that’s also pregnant, to be her companion and while coming from two extreme different worlds the two woman become friends and develop a bond that will be true until the very end of the movie in the most tragic and unexpected way. All this happens in 18th century Venice, but it can be so true even nowadays.

Chiara Muti plays Cornelia as a very spoil young woman and does quite credible, but is Stefania Rocca that plays Rosa who definitively steals the movie with a good performance. Also worth mentioning is Athina Cenci that plays Piera the housekeeper.

The movie had two nominations in 2001 Italian awards and film festivals. This movie is not for all audiences as looks and feels like a play (is based on the play L’Attesa –The Waiting- by Remo Binosi) consequently most of the drama happens inside the castle. But if you want to see a movie with strong female cast, I recommend you give it a try.

La Biennale di Venezia (64th Venice Film Festival)


The 64th Venice International Film Festival, organized by the Venice Biennale, will be held on the Venice Lido from 29th August to 8th September 2007.

The line-up of the Festival includes the following sections: Venezia 64 - In Competition, Venezia 64 - Out of Competition, Orizzonti, and Corto Cortissimo. The Festival has a screenings schedule of 11 days (29th August - 8th September).

This year’s festival will cast its eye over the protagonists of the cinema of tomorrow, and over the history of cinema: the 75th anniversary Golden Lion is to be awarded to Bernardo Bertolucci, the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement to Tim Burton, the celebratory events are directed by Alexander Kluge, and the retrospective is dedicated to “Spaghetti Westerns”.

This duel face of the oldest film festival in the world, which never ceases to both discover and reveal cinema, will once again be seen in the selection of films which are in the various sections of the Festival. It will be a programme which unites works by young directors who are as yet unknown with works by the greatest filmmakers from around the world.

These are the films participating in the Venice Film Festival.

In Competition

64th Venice Film Festival opening film
Atonement , Joe WRIGHT - UK/USA, 123’; Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave, Romola Garai, Brenda Blethyn

The Darjeeling Limited, Wes ANDERSON - USA, 91’; Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Sleuth, Kenneth BRANAGH - UK/USA, 86’; Michael Caine, Jude Law
Heya fawda (Le Chaos), Youssef CHAHINE - Egypt, 122’; Khaled Saleh, Mena Shalaby, Hala Sedky, Youssef El Cherif
Redacted, Brian DE PALMA - USA, 90’;Kel O'Neill, Daniel Stewart Sherman
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Andrew DOMINIK - USA, 155’; Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard
Nessuna qualità agli eroi, Paolo FRANCHI - Italy/Switzerland/France, 102’; Elio Germano, Bruno Todeschini, Irène Jacob
Michael Clayton, Tony GILROY - USA, 119’; George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack
Night Watching, Peter GREENAWAY - UK/Poland/Canada/Netherlands, 134’; Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Eva Birthistle, Jodhi May
En la ciudad de Sylvia, Jose Luis GUERIN - Spain, 90’; Pilar Lopez De Ayala, Xavier Lafitte
In the Valley of Elah, Paul HAGGIS - USA, 120’; Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon
I’m not There, Todd HAYNES - USA, 135’; Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Julianne Moore, Christian Bale, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Taiyang zhaochang shenqi (The Sun Also Rises), JIANG Wen - China/Hong Kong, 116’, Jiang Wen, Joan Chen, Zhou Yun, Jaycee Chan, Anthony Wong
Bangbang wo aishen (Help Me Eros), LEE Kang Sheng (LI Kangsheng) - Taiwan, 107’; Lee Kang Sheng, Yin Shin
La Graine et le Mullet, Abdellatif KECHICHE - France, 151’; Habib Boufares, Marzouk Bouraouïa, Faridah Benkhetache, Sabrina Ouazani
Se, Jei (Lust, Caution), Ang LEE (LI An) - Taiwan, 135’; Tony Leung, Joan Chen, Tang Wei
It’s a Free World…, Ken LOACH - UK/Italy/Germany/Spain, 96’; Juliet Ellis, Leslaw Zurek, Kierston Wareing
L’ora di punta, Vincenzo MARRA - Italy, 96; Fanny Ardant, Michele Lastella, Giulia Bevilacqua
Sukiyaki Western Django, MIIKE Takashi - Japan, 121’; Quentin Tarantino, Hideaki Ito, Kaori Momoi, Yoshino Rimura
12, Nikita MIKHALKOV - Russian Federation, 153’; Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergey Makovezkij, Mikhail Yefremov, Sergei Garmash
Il dolce e l’amaro, Andrea PORPORATI - Italy, 98’; Fabrizio Gifuni, Luigi Lo Cascio, Donatella Finocchiaro
Les Amours d’Astrée et Céladon, Eric ROHMER - France/Italy/Spain, 109’; Stéphanie Crayencour, Andy Gillet, Cécile Cassel

Jurors for Venezia 64 are: French director Catherine Breillat, New Zealand director Jane campion, Italian director Emanuele Crialese, Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Turkish origin director Ferzan Ozpetek, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven and the President of the Jury China director Zhang Yimou. This is an A-List directors jury!

On the closing evening of the Festival, 8th September 2007, the Jury will award the following prizes to feature films competing in the Venezia 64 section: the Golden Lion for best film, the Silver Lion for best director, the Special Jury Prize, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress, the “Marcello Mastroianni” Award for Best Young Actor or Actress, the Osella for Best Technical Contribution, and the Osella for Best Screenplay.

Out of Competition- Venezia Maestri

Cassandra’s Dream, Woody ALLEN - UK/USA, 108’; Colin Farrell, Sally Hawkins, Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson
Cleópatra, Julio BRESSANE - Brazil, 116’; Alessandra Negrini, Bruno Garcia, Miguel Falabella
La Fille coupée en deux, Claude CHABROL - France, 105’; Ludivine Saignier, Benoît Magimel, Mathilda May, Marie Bunel
Taek Chun-nyun-hack (Beyond the Years), IM Kwon - South Korea, 106’; Jae-hyun Jo, Jung-hae Oh
Kantoku banzai! (Glory to the Filmmaker!), KITANO Takeshi - Japan, 104’; “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Tohru Emori, Kayoko Kishimoto, Anne Suzuki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki
Cristovão Colombo - O enigma , Manoel de OLIVEIRA - Portugal/France, 100’; Ricardo Trêpa, Leonor Baldaque, Manoel de Oliveira, Maria Isabel de Oliveira

Out of Competition – Venezia Notte – Opening and closing films

Per un pugno di dollari (1964) - restored version, Sergio LEONE - Italy/Spain/Germany, 100’; Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volontè, Marianne Koch
Tiantang kou (Blood Brothers), Alexi TAN - Taiwan/China/Hong Kong, 95’; Daniel Wu, Zhang Zhen, Shu Qi, Sun Honglei
REC, Paco PLAZA, Jaume BALAGUERÓ - Spain, 85’; Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terrazza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Carlos Lasarte

Out of Competition – Venezia Notte

Far North, Asif KAPADIA - UK/France, 89’; Michelle Yeoh, Sean Bean, Michelle Krusiec
The Hunting Party, Richard SHEPARD - USA/Croatia/Bosnia Herzegovina, 103’; Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Diane Kruger
The Nanny Diaries, Shari SPRINGER BERMAN, Robert PULCINI - USA, 107’; Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti, Chris Evans
Nocturna, Adrià GARCÍA, Víctor MALDONADO - Spain/France, 83’; animation film

Out of Competition Special Event
Hotel Chevalier, Wes ANDERSON - USA, 12’; Jason Schwartzman, Natalie Portman

Out of Competition – Bernardo Bertolucci: 75th Anniversary Golden Lion
La via del petrolio (1967) - restored version, Bernardo BERTOLUCCI - Italy, 135’; documentary
Strategia del ragno (1970) - restored version, Bernardo BERTOLUCCI - Italy, 100’; Giulio Brogi, Alida Valli, Tino Scotti

Out of Competition – Tim Burton: Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 2007
The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D, Tim BURTON e Henry SELICK Tim Burton's - USA, 76’; animation film - voices: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hicke, Carmen Twillie

Out of Competition – Alexander Kluge: Special Events of the 75th Anniversary
Mein Jahrhundert, mein Tier! - 96’
Das Phänomen der Oper - 71’
Im Sturm der Zeit /Facts and Fakes - 89’
Die poetische Kraft der Theorie - 110’
Der Zauber der verdunkelten Seele - 106’

Out of Competition Event – Venezia Giubileo (1932-2007): Homage to Carlo Lizzani
Hotel Meina, Carlo LIZZANI - Italy, 110’; Benjamin Sadler, Ursula Buschhorn, Ivana Lotto

Out of Competition Event – Venezia Giubileo (1932-2007)
Gli uomini che mascalzoni... (1932), Mario CAMERINI - Italy, 67’; Vittorio De Sica, Lia Franca

Out of Competition Special Events
L’ospedale del delitto (1950 – unreleased), Luigi COMENCINI - Italy, 12’’ short film / documentary
Putiferio va alla guerra (1968), Roberto GAVIOLI - Italy, 88’; animation film
Duetto dei gatti (Opera buffa) (1985 - unreleased), Emanuele LUZZATI, Giulio GIANINI - Italy, 2’; animation film
Pulcinella (1973), Emanuele LUZZATI, Giulio GIANINI - Italy, 12’; animation film
Pulcinella e il gioco dell’oca (1961 - unreleased), Emanuele LUZZATI, Giulio GIANINI - Italy, 2’; animation film
Pulcinella e il pesce magico (1981), Emanuele LUZZATI, Giulio GIANINI - Italy, 10’; animation film
La tarantella di Pulcinella (1959 - unreleased), Emanuele LUZZATI, Giulio GIANINI – Barilla advertisement - Italy, 2’; animation film
Makhouredia Gueye, Manda bi – Le Mandat (1968), Ousmane SEMBÈNE - Senegal, 90’; Ynousse N'Diaye, Isseu Niang, Serigne N'Diayes

Out of Competition Special Events – New Restored Versions
Intolerance (1917), David Wark GRIFFITH - USA/France/Denmark, 180’; Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, Elmer Clifton, Constance Talmadge
A Idade da Terra (1980), Glauber ROCHA - Brazil, 160’; Maurício do Valle, Jece Valadão, Tarcísio Meira, Antonio Pitanga, Ana Maria Magalhães

Orizzonti

Opening Film
Sad Vacation, AOYAMA Shinji - Japan, 136’; Tadanobu Asano, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Ken Mitsuishi

Mal nascida,João CANIJO - Portugal, 117’; Márcia Breia, Anabela Moreira, Fernando Luís, Gonçalo Waddington, Tiago Rodrigues
Searchers 2.0, Alex COX - USA, 90’; Del Zamora, Jaclyn Jonet, Ed Pansullo
Cochochi, Laura Amelia GUZMAN, Israel CARDENAS - Mexico/UK/Canada, 87’; Louis A. Lerma Torres, Evaristo C. Lerma Torres
Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi (With the Girl of Black Soil), JEON Soo-il - South Korea/France, 90’; Yu Yun-Mi, Jo Yung-Jin, Hyun-Woo Park
L'Histoire de Richard O., Damien ODOUL - France, 74’; Mathieu Amalric, Stéphane Terpereau
Sügisball (Autumn Ball), Veiko ÕUNPUU - Estonia, 123’; Rain Tolk, Taavi Eelmaa, Tiina Tauraite
Die Stille vor Bach (The Silence Before Bach), Pere PORTABELLA - Spain, 102’; Àlex Brendemühl, Feodor Atkine, Christian Brembeck, Daniel Ligorio, Georg C.Biler
Exodus, Penny WOOLCOCK - UK, 111’; Daniel Percival, Anthony Johnson, Ger Ryan
Xiaoshuo (The Obscure), LÜ Yue - China, 84’; Wang Shuo, Ah Cheng, Wang Zhiwen, Wang Tong
Closing Film
Médée Miracle, Tonino DE BERNARDI - Italy/France, 80’; Isabelle Huppert, Tommaso Ragno, Giulietta De Bernardi

Orizzonti Doc

Staub (Dust), Hartmut BITOMSKY - Germany, 90‘
Madri, Barbara CUPISTI -Italy, 90’
Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos), Lav DIAZ - Philippines, 480’; Roeder Camanag, Perry Dizon, Anglei Bayani, Dante Perez, Sophia Aves
Man from Plains, Jonathan DEMME - USA, 120’; Jimmy Carter
L’Aimée, Arnaud DESPLECHIN - France, 70’; Robert Desplechin, Arnaud Desplechin, Fabrice Desplechin
San (Umbrella), DU Haibin - China, 100’
Andarilho, Cao GUIMARÃES - Brazil, 81’
Wuyong (Useless), JIA Zhangke - China, 80’; Ma Ke
Il passaggio della linea, Pietro MARCELLO - Italy, 60’
Anabazys, Joel PIZZINI, Paloma ROCHA - Brazil, 140’; Glauber Rocha, Norma Bengell, Orlando Senna
Berlin, Julian SCHNABEL - USA, 80’; Lou Reed, Emmanuelle Seigner

Spaghetti Western - Secret History of Italian Cinema 4

The films (in chronological order):
Antes llega la muerte (1964) by Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent
100.000 dollari per Ringo (1965) by Alberto De Martino
Il ritorno di Ringo (1965) by Duccio Tessari
Ringo del Nebraska (1965) by Mario Bava and Antonio Román
Un dollaro bucato (1965) by Giorgio Ferroni
Django (1965) - Uncut - by Sergio Corbucci
The Bounty Killer (1966) by Eugenio Martin
La resa dei conti (1966) by Sergio Sollima
Navajo Joe (1966) by Sergio Corbucci
Sugar Colt (1966) by Franco Giraldi
Un fiume di dollari (1966) by Carlo Lizzani
Yankee (1966) by Tinto Brass
10 000 dollari per un massacro (1967) by Romolo Guerrieri
El Desperado (1967) by Franco Rossetti
Il tempo degli avvoltoi (1967) by Nando Cicero
La morte non conta i dollari (1967) by Riccardo Freda
Se sei vivo spara (1967) - Uncut - by Giulio Questi
Ognuno per sé (1967) by Giorgio Capitani
Preparati la bara (1967) by Ferdinando Baldi
Tepepa (1968) by Giulio Petroni
Una lunga fila di croci (1968) by Sergio Garrone
E Dio disse a Caino (1969) by Antonio Margheriti
La taglia è tua l’uomo l’ammazzo io (1969) by Edoardo Mulargia
Lo chiamavano Trinità (1970) by Enzo Barboni
Matalo! (1970) by Cesare Canevari
Vamos a matar companeros (1970) by Sergio Corbucci
La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (1971) by Pasquale Squitieri
Il grande duello (1972) by Giancarlo Santi
Il mio nome è Shangai Joe (1973) by Mario Caiano
Una ragione per vivere e una per morire (1973) by Tonino Valerii
I quattro dell’apocalisse (1975) by Lucio Fulci
Keoma (1976) by Enzo G. Castellari

Events in the Retrospective:
Una Questione poco privata - Conversazione con Giulio Questi (2007) by Gianfranco Pannone
Gonin no shokin kasegi (The Fort of Death, 1969) by Kudo Eiichi

To learn more about the festival go here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sin Noticias de Dios (Don’t Tempt Me)


Very nice satirical comedy directed and written by Agustín Díaz Yanes that tells the story of two angels, one from Heaven (Victoria Abril) and one from Hell (Penelope Cruz) that come to Earth to save the soul of a boxer.

One of the most outstanding codes this film uses is that in Heaven they speak French, in Hell they speak English and in the Earth they speak Spanish… gee, this almost sounds like reality!! Had to write this, as I was laughing so much with the parabole! Also when Heaven and Hell are confabulating about the soul of the boxer they speak Latin… well, what else could be but Latin.

With an outstanding international casting that includes Fanny Ardant as the one in charge of Heaven (isn’t St. Peter?), Gael García Bernal as one of the cousins in charge of Hell, Mexican Demián Birchir as the boxer, Elena Anaya as one of the workers in the supermarket and many other actors from other countries, including a closing picture of Javier Bardem. Perhaps is one of the most international cast I have seen in the screen.

Have to say that this is one of the few movies where I enjoyed Penelope Cruz performance and she does so well her butch character that becomes funny; but, what is outstanding is when she dances to that old Kung Fu Fighting song, she’s just fantastic!

Then Victoria Abril does a couple of numbers singing (according to allocine she sings!!) that are exquisite, especially the Brazilian Meditação by Antonio Carlos Jobim (one of my favorite musician, song writer and performer) and Newton Mendonça that was excellent! Just to watch her and hear this song I could watch this movie again. Sexy and classical.

Most Heaven scenes are in black and white and have the 50’s look, which totally fits Fanny Ardant that looks gorgeous and very elegant (as always!).

Not an oeuvre d’art but very much entertaining and ingenious that could be for all audiences, but perhaps is better suited for those that enjoy European cinema. Do not miss this movie if the dvd is near you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Live Free Die Hard


Not even me can remember the previous three Die Hard that came in 1988, 1990 and 1995, but I do remember seeing them and having fun; so I decided to give a try to the 2007 version with an older Bruce Willis.

Well the actor may be older but he is in good shape and kills everyone -as always- and obviously wins -as always. This new Die Hard 4.0, which I think means version 4.0, as the story has a lot to do with computers and the infamous Internet.

I laugh a lot as to me is pure fun to see that from the good ones no one dies even if they are in explosions, big falls, big blasts or big attacks! Have to admit that has more than one good adrenaline sequence and in general, this is pure macho entertainment, which is good to watch at least once a year.

Know that some of my known blog readers will skip this movie, but if you believe that you have to see one action movie a year, this is the one to watch as is very fun and Bruce is the man to see doing all those things. Another good reason to watch is that they toned down the violence so this movie was rated PG-13, instead of the R the other three got.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ho Yuk (Let’s Love Hong Kong)


This Yau Ching movie is absolutely not my cup of tea as goes many places without leading somewhere.

But if you dig deeply, then you could find a story about three women, one rich but can’t sleep, other makes money doing cyberporn and the last has nothing. What they have in common is that two lust for one of them.

Feel that the director tried to do an art movie and ended with a boring mess. I do not recommend this movie to anyone.

Cuore Sacro (Sacred Heart)


Between La Finestra di Fronte and Saturno Contro, Ferzan Ozpetek directed and wrote this movie that is totally mesmerizing because an outstanding performance by beautiful Barbora Bobulova that plays Irene, a heartless businesswoman that is forced to re-evaluate her life and priorities after the suicide of her two best friends. Consequently we are allowed to see a journey of darkness, regret and redemption.

The story is social relevant, strong and disturbing even if near the end it becomes for a moment unbelievable, it flows again with a very surprising ending that allows to understand the power of the hidden heart, the phantom second heart, the sacred heart.

This loosely translated quote gives an idea of the reason why for the title and the essence of the movie: “Your mother always used to say that each of us has two hearts but one of them eclipses the other. If each of us could spot, even for a brief moment, the light of this hidden heart, then we will understand that that one is a sacred heart. And we couldn't give up the warmth of its light.”

But what is truly outstanding is Bobulova’s performance that is in almost all scenes and she has an incredible face and a body language that tells everything that’s going within her and around her. For this role she won the 2005 David di Donatello award for Best Actress and for what I saw in this movie, she truly deserved this award.

In total this movie had 5 awards and 14 nominations most of them to Bulova and to Ozpetek for his screenplay.

This is a movie that I recommend as a showcase of an amazing performance by an actress and there are not many movies that a performance by an actor/actress surpasses the director, the screenplay and all the technical aspects involved in a movie, but this one truly does.

Still Ozpetek is an incredible writer and director and now I am looking forward to be able to see his 2001 Le Fate Ignoranti (His Secret Life).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix


I can’t consider myself a Harry Potter fan, well, not as the ones that seem to be so passionate and know everything about the characters, the story and whatever else there is to know by fans. But let me share some basic facts starting with no I have not read one book and I will not read any in the near future, I’ve seen all the movies and finally I was able to see the last installment. The one I have enjoyed more is the one before this one where the kids became teenagers and the story was more appealing to all audiences.

This new Harry Potter is darker and according to me, deals with grownup situations that are presented as metaphors in a children story. Dialogue is more interesting, well the truth is that there is more dialogue than before and that it should have made it more appealing to me; but it was a sleeper.

For an hour or so the movie tells stories that are less interesting or maybe is that I missed all the action that previous installment had sprinkled through the movie making them easier to watch as entertainment. Yes, the rhythm in previous installments between action and story telling was better than in this one.

Here the action is left to the end and is grandiose, special effects are outstanding and the climax is very intense and have to admit that I woke up and felt all the excitement of Harry, all the gang, the villains and Dumbledore doing their thing.

Then being more a Star Wars generation, I have to say the climax had too many similarities to Star Wars than I think it should have, as the battle between Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort it was almost the same as the one between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obviously with all the new technology this one looked more spectacular, but even the color code was the same with evil in red and good in blue. For a moment I thought I was the only one thinking about this relationship but reading reviews found that others established it too.

On the good side I just loved all the British actors appearing one after the other with small but good roles. Liked the evil Helena Bonham-Carter and just loved Imelda Stauton, she is such a good actress. It made me think about all the good British actors in recurring roles and the ones that have been in previous installments and even made me think that in the next movie they should have Anthony Hopkins!!! As the story gets darker and darker, there has to be a character for the incredible Mr. Hopkins.

Well, if you fall asleep or not, this Harry Potter will totally awake you when it reaches the climax and only because the end of the movie, I say that is worth to watch it. So if you read the book you can consider just seeing the end, you’ll not miss much and you’ll not get upset like so many other book readers that are complaining about the many things the director and script writer decided to leave out in the screen.

2007 Outfest Los Angeles


These are the winners in the 2007 Outfest Film Competition, plus some information about the jurors.

Outstanding American Narrative Feature: 25 CENT PREVIEW directed by Cyrus Amini
Outstanding International Narrative Feature: TULI directed by Auraeus Solito
Outstanding Documentary Feature: JERUSALEM IS PROUD TO PRESENT directed by Nitzan Gilady
Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film: Merlin Gaspers and Dorian Brockington in 25 CENT PREVIEW
Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film: Michelle Ehlen in BUTCH JAMIE
Outstanding Screenwriting: Casper Andreas and Jesse Archer for A FOUR LETTER WORD
Outstanding Dramatic Short: PARIAH directed by Dee Rees
Outstanding Documentary Short: LEGACY directed by Inge Blackman

Special Programming Awards

Freedom Award: THROUGH THICK AND THIN directed by Sebastian Cordoba
Outstanding Emerging: Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, directors, FINN’S GIRL
Outstanding Artistic Achievement: Angelina Maccarone, director, VIVERE

Audience Awards

HBO Outstanding First Dramatic Feature: SHELTER directed by Jonah Markowitz
Outstanding Dramatic Feature: THE BUBBLE directed by Eytan Fox
Outstanding Documentary Feature: FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO directed by Daniel Karslake
Outstanding Dramatic Short: PARIAH directed by Dee Rees
Outstanding Documentary Short: FREEHELD directed by Cynthia Wade
Outstanding Soundtrack: Michele Mulroney and Micah Schraft for SUNNY AND SHARE LOVE YOU

FILM COMPETITION JURORS

U.S. DRAMATIC FEATURES COMPETITION

JENNI OLSON
Jenni Olson, director of e-commerce at WolfeVideo.com, is a leading expert on LGBT cinema history. She is a curator and archivist, has established PlanetOut. com’s massive queer movie database, PopcornQ, serves on the advisory board for Outfest’s Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation and is launching the new Wolfe Vintage Collection. Also a filmmaker, Jenni’s debut feature, THE JOY OF LIFE, won the Outfest Award for OUTStanding Artistic Achievement in 2005. She is in development on a new feature, GET ME GUINEVERE TURNER.

BARRY SANDLER
Barry Sandler is the screenwriter of CRIMES OF PASSION, THE MIRROR CRACK’D, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, GABLE AND LOMBARD, THE KANSAS CITY BOMBER, and the groundbreaking MAKING LOVE. He is the recipient of the GLAAD Media Award and the Outfest 2002 Gay Pioneer Award for Courage and Artistry, and was named by The Advocate as one of the most influential gay artists in America. Sandler also serves as Artistic Director of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab, and teaches screenwriting at the University of Central Florida School of Film and Digital Media.

DARRYL STEPHENS
Darryl Stephens studied acting while attending UC Berkeley and was part of the university-based theater troupe, Sassymouth. His television roles include MTV’s “Undressed,” CBS’ “That’s Life” and VH1’s “Red Eye.” Stephens studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse prior to joining the cast of “Noah’s Arc” in the leading role of Noah. Stephens can be seen in two feature films, Q. Allan Brocka’s BOY CULTURE and in a supporting role in Todd Stephens’ ANOTHER GAY MOVIE. His other feature film credits include SEAMLESS, CIRCUIT, and the independent feature NOT QUITE RIGHT.

INTERNATIONAL DRAMATIC FEATURES COMPETITION

ALONSO DURALDE
Alonso Duralde is the author of 101 Must- See Movies For Gay Men (Alyson Books) and vice president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. He was the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Advocate and Artistic Director of the USA Film Festival/Dallas. He is featured in the documentaries FABULOUS! THE STORY OF QUEER CINEMA and HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU, BOY and on the DVDs of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. He is currently at work on his next book.

EVE OISHI
Eve Oishi is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Her research specialities include Asian American, queer and experimental cinema and transnational media culture. Her book, The Memory Village: Fakeness and the Forging of Family in Asian American Literature and Film, is forthcoming from Duke University Press. She has curated film and video programs for film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia and served as international features consultant for the Sundance Film Festival.

CARLOS GARZA
Carlos Garza began his programming career at the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival while he was studying at the University of Texas in Austin. In 2003, he became a founding member of the Morelia International Film Festival, which has emerged as one of Mexico’s premiere film events. Garza has been a freelance journalist, editor, and publicist, coordinator of the World Cinema Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, and nominator for the Media Arts Fellowship program for Mexican film and video artists administered by Renew Media and established by the Rockefeller Foundation.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION

BILLY LUTHER
Billy Luther studied film at Hampshire College and worked for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian-Native American Film and Video Festival. A past honoree of Film Independent’s Project: Involve, Luther was recently selected for the Tribeca Institute’s All Access Program, the 2006 Sundance Ford Fellowship and FIND’s FastTrack with his feature documentary MISS NAVAJO, which screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. He is in development on the UNTITLED INDIAN MARCHING BAND PROJECT and Nanobah Becker’s FULL. Luther belongs to the Navajo, Hopi and Laguna Pueblo Tribes.

MEENA NANJI
Meena Nanji has been working in experimental and documentary film/video for the last twelve years. Her films VIEW FROM A GRAIN OF SAND, VOICES OF THE MORNING, LIVING IN COLOUR, and IT IS A CRIME have been recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul Robeson Fund, The American Film Institute, and NAATA. Meena has curated various film/ video festivals and screenings in Los Angeles and San Francisco, been a juror on grant-giving organizations and film festivals, and guest lectures at universities and conferences around the world.

LAURA NIX
Laura Nix began her documentary career in the early nineties in Boston, and has since produced and directed over 50 presentations for DVD and television, including the feature documentary on the creative evolution of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, titled WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT: THE STORY OF HEDWIG. She also wrote and directed the fiction feature THE POLITICS OF FUR, which won numerous awards during its appearance at 70 film festivals worldwide including the Grand Jury Prize for Best American Narrative and Best Actress Award at Outfest 2002.

SHORT FILMS COMPETITION

DIANE GAIDRY
Diane Gaidry is the Executive Director and co-founder of Filmmakers Alliance. She co-produced the feature film, THE DOGWALKER, and has overseen the production of numerous shorts made through FA. Diane has played lead roles in several independent features, including LOVING ANNABELLE (Best Actress Outfest 2006), NEED, THE DOGWALKER and AMERICA SO BEAUTIFUL. She is currently in pre-production on an omnibus film, RED WHITE AND BLUE, which was developed with 10 FA writer/directors.

ROBERTA MARIE MUNROE
Roberta Marie Munroe is the Program Director at the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. She was a short film programmer at the Sundance Film Festival from 2001-2006, and is the author of the upcoming book, How Not To Make A Film: Confessions Of A Sundance Programmer. Her short film DANI & ALICE has screened at over 70 film festivals and won the Planet Out Best Drama Award. In 2005, Roberta was named one of the 10 Amazing Gay Women in Hollywood by POWER UP.

CAMERON YATES
Cameron Yates is the Short Film Programmer for NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival. He has also worked for Sundance, the New York Film Festival, Albert Maysles, and Zeitgeist Films. As a documentary filmmaker, Cameron’s first film 14 AND PAYROLLED, a portrait of teenagers working for the Virginia House of Delegates, premiered on PBS in 2003. He is currently working on a feature documentary about a New Orleans Madam and her family.

Monday, July 23, 2007

High Heels and Low Lifes


Very nice British comedy that will make you laugh and will be total eye candy as the two stars are -like they are called in the movie- beautiful Mary McCormack and attractive Minnie Driver.

The story is about a nurse (Driver) that eavesdrop with an actress (Mary) a mobile conversation where they talk about a bank robbery. They decide to blackmail the robbers and all the fun starts.

Yes it is a great British comedy with their typical peculiar and somehow dark humor; just loved the scene with the many guns… I was I laughing a lot!! Please do not expect more than pure entertainment and you will find plenty of enjoyment.

Still, the movie has one nomination in the British Independent Film Awards for Best Technical Achievement in costume design.

I think I needed to see a movie like this one for a good and refreshing change in my eclectic taste.

Enjoy!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Le Conseguenze dell’Amore (The Consequences of Love)


As we all know falling in love always has consequences and became careless enough to provoke your own death is just one of them. This movie deals with this matter in a unique way as actually the movie is about mobsters.

But do not expect a Hollywood depiction of the mob, this is one of the finest mob movies I have ever seen as is Italian style with fantastic filmmaking and an extremely slow pace that introduces an almost 50 years old unpleasant character that very slowly starts to melt in front of you as he falls for a beautiful barmaid Sofia, nicely played by Olivia Magnani (grand-daughter of Anna Magnani). Also, as he melts you will start to very slowly learn his story.

Most of the movie is indoors in a elegant but plain and orderly Switzerland hotel with many scenes giving you a sense of asphyxia and you feel like you’re about to suffocate by the tediousness of the main character everyday life, that’s it until things start to slowly change.

Great performance by Toni Servillo that plays Titta di Girolamo, the main character that is in all the scenes, and the one that transforms itself from the arrogant unpleasant character into a man in need, a man in love and a man destined to die. His performance is based totally in expressions that will make you feel as if it is happening to you.

I really like French cinema and enjoy the extremely slow pace most good French movies have, but this Italian movie by Paolo Sorretino has the slowest pace I have ever endure with total pleasure, unbelievable how a story and the camera can be so slowly moved and keep your attention at all times.

The movie has 8 wins and 13 nominations in European awards and festivals including a nomination for the Palm D’Or at 2004 Cannes.

Absolutely not for all audiences, much less for those that like action packed mobster movies; this is an art house movie with the slowest pace you can imagine. Then I feel that this is a movie that you will like a lot or you will not like at all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

La Captive (The Captive)


As someone said taking Marcel Proust to the screen is quite a challenge, but this movie that was inspired in La Prisonnière, the fifth volume of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, does credit to the novel and surpass the imagination with outstanding performances and a cinematography with the most incredible use of the absence of light.

The story is basic as is about the obsession of having what you cannot have and will never have and I am not talking only about Simon, but also about Ariane, as the two characters will never have what they want to have. Obviously Simon is the obsessive that lives in his own prison, but Ariane has a greater prison while she lives in total freedom.

Dialogue is fantastic with the most evasive language I have seen in the screen, as most of the dialogue the two main characters exchange is Simon placing a question and Ariane answering with another question. Brilliant.

But what I found absolutely extraordinary is the manipulation of absence of light in the movie with the magnificent clear-dark (chiaroscuro) of the beginning, that turns into darker-dark as the tale starts to unveil the obsession and when there was a glimpse of separation there is a striking light that even hurts the eyes, as much as the characters are hurting. Magnificent.

Then there is the extraordinary director Belgian Chantal Akerman that moves the movie at a pace that allows seeing and mainly feeling everything that is happening and what you are imagining in your own head. The challenge of taking Proust to the screen is not only taken by directing but also by co writting the script.

Even if most of the movie is centered in the two main characters, a man and a woman, the movie is also about woman that love woman and the infamous question that men have in their heads that seeks the answer to what woman do together? An answer that has very little to do with any sexual innuendo.

The movie had a nomination for Best Actress for Sylvie Testud (Ariane) in the European Film Awards and was part of the selection in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at 2000 Cannes.

This movie is so extraordinary that absolutely is not for all audiences and probably not even for art or art house cinema lovers; this is what I call a very French movie with a very slow pace that if you do not really enjoy French cinema you could have a hard time watching it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

싸이보그지만 괜찮아 (I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK)


One of the strangest and craziest movies I have seen lately, but then the story happens in a psychiatric institution. Okay this is no One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, as if you get through all the craziness, you will uncover a very sweet and nice story.

The psychiatric institution allows the filmmaker to do the most unthinkable things in the most surrealistic and realistic way, that most of them are quite comic, like for example yodeling in Korean! I should say that this is a comedy developed in the most unusual way.

In a way the story is about unfinished business, those affairs that drive you “crazy” as you are not able to put an end to it. Also about loneliness and finding someone that “speaks” your language, that understands you and helps you and himself to “close” the unfinished business and go on with life.

I been wanting to see this movie since it premiered in the 2007 Berlinale and have to say that the wait was worth it, not only for the story but also for the outstandingly beautiful cinematography and good performances. Lim Su-jeong plays the pale longhaired Young-goon a paranoid schizophrenic that believes she is a cyborg, and famous in Korea Rain plays Park Il-sun a thief that steals personality traits from other patients.

The movie has two wins and two nominations in different awards and festivals, including winning the Albert Bauer Award for Chan-wook Park, the director, and a nomination for the Golden Bear in the 2007 Berlinale.

Have to admit that this is a very special movie that most will love it or hate it, as there is no middle ground in this fantastic film. Just in case you are wondering I just loved the movie as is visually stunning and has a very nice story.

Absolutely not for all audiences, this is an art house film that will take you into a trip full of magnificent colors, visions, fantasies and special effects; but most of the movie you will be wondering what is all about, until the story unravels at almost the end.

P.S. This is the movie that has so many “names” in westernized Korean that I decided just to copy and paste the name in Korean... hope I'm right and wrote the name and not whatever else... lol!

59th Emmy Awards


I know this is a blog about movies, but I cannot help but share with you some Emmy nominations.


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Patricia Arquette, Medium
Minnie driver, The Riches
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer (Like a lot this series and her performance!)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

America Ferrera, Ugly Betty (she has to win!)
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds (if you have not seen this show, you should!)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Queen Latifah, Life Support (Good she’s here!!!)
Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre) (what can I say?)
Mary-Louise Parker, The Robber Bride (like her a lot, have to see this movie!)
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife
Gena Rowlands, What if God Were The Sun

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Jaime Pressly, My Name is Earl
Jenna Fischer, The Office
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men (love her in this role!)
Cochata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty (well, she’s good here)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters
Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Aida Turturro, The Sopranos
Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Greta Scacchi, Broken Trail
Anna Paquin, Burry My Heart at Wounded Knee
Samantha Morton, Longford
Judy Davis, The Starter Wife
Toni Collete, Tsunami, The Aftermath (She was good here)

Outstanding Drama Series

Boston Legal
Grey’s Anatomy
Heroes
House
The Sopranos

Outstanding Comedy

The Office
30 Rock
Entourage
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty

The Sopranos got 15 nominations in its last season (finally is over!) and the freshman Ugly Betty became the “Cinderella” of the Emmys with 11 nominations, if you have not watched this series you should as is crazy unbelievable good!! Salma Hayek (she’s Ugly Betty producer) also got a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Worth mentioning is that Elizabeth Reaser also got a nomination for her appearance in Grey’s Anatomy (I liked her performance here, at least more that in Puccini for Beginners).

Also Ellen Degeneres has a nomination for hosting the 79th Annual Academy Awards, even if I am happy she got it, I don’t think she was at her best in that show.

Last but not least, I am going to go public with my total addiction to Grey’s Anatomy!!! Yes I still LOVE this show, which has one of the best actress ensembles ever on TV and well, in movies too.

There are lots of great actresses in TV nowadays and these nominations proves that TV has A-list actresses as some are Academy Award winners and/or had nominations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sévigné


The third Catalan Marta Balletbò-Coll movie and the second one I see, as I haven’t seen Darling, I sent Men to the Moon. I have to say that this one is a lot better than experimental Costa Brava, as the script is more interesting and has strong well-developed characters.

The story is about a woman Julia Berkowitz that after the death of her daughter becomes incapable of expressing her feelings and consequently can’t cry, can’t dream and can’t act, as she used to be an actress. She ends up directing plays and her life will change in many ways when she reads and decides to do the Marina Ferrer script Sévigné.

The story is supposedly to show romance between the two women, the director Julia and the play author Marina (played by Marta) , but I have a hard time seeing in the movie any romance between those two, to me they behave more like teacher and student and coincidentally that is what Balletbò-Coll said in an interview. But in the same interview she also says that she does an analysis of desire with its different levels and shows a falling in love process. I could not see any of this!

Still with or without romance between the two characters, the movie is entertaining and with a quirky sense of humor that some American critics relate Marta as the Catalan Woody Allen (???) I don’t think they are related, but dialogue is intelligent and has some quotes I will remember, like what Gerardo, Julia husband, says: “You don’t love me, you admire me as much as I admire you … what do you want, that we admire each other for the rest of our lives?” This is just an example of the kind of black/dark humor and peculiar dialogue they use.

The movie is inspired by the real Madame Sévigné story and won 3 awards and 1 nomination in the Catalan Butaca Awards.

As a lesbian interest movie, no I did not like it; but as a mainstream drama/comedy, yes I did enjoy the story and especially the dialogue.

Nancy Drew


This Andrew Fleming film is also known as Nancy Drew and The Mystery in Hollywood Hills, is according to me a mix of traditional Nancy Drew with Ghost Whisper and a new version of a contemporary Nancy Drew that behaves more like a nerd than anything else. But then, I really do not know what I am doing watching teenagers films!!

Long time ago I used to read and watch Nancy Drew stories, so I was looking forward to see what they did with a classic. Honestly, I did not like it but reading critics and viewers that probably have never read or seen old stories -and know Nancy because video games (!!)-, well they liked the movie.

I could not stand Emma Roberts (Julia Roberts niece) acting; she played a “plastic” and too nice to-believe Nancy. Then she looks like a very young girl, not even a teen and she behaves like an older teen, not credible. Besides Nancy Drew was much older than what they tried to portrait her here.

If you are a teenager then maybe you will enjoy this movie, otherwise I do not suggest you watch it, you’ll be very disappointed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ma Fille Mon Ange (My Daughter My Angel)


This Alexis Durand-Brault film tells the story of a father that when browsing porn sites discovers an ad with his daughter on it and his daughter was supposed to be going to school in Montreal. Nice and entertaining melodrama that involves a crime and not until the end you know who did it.

Karine Vanasse plays Nathalie the daughter, perhaps you remember her from her award winner role in Lea Pool’s 1999 Emporte-moi, obviously she has grown a lot in 7 years, but is still recognizable.

Not an oeuvre d’art but was good for a rainy afternoon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Itty Bitty Titty Committee


This is a movie I have been avoiding because of the title and the poster I saw; so even if I could have seen it months ago I chose not to, until today. Boy, was I totally wrong!!

This Jamie Babbit movie is just visually fantastic! The music is loud and very good. Everyone, well, almost everyone is here! Carley Pope, Clea DuVall, Melanie Lynskey, Guinevere Turner, Jenny Shimizu, Daniela Sea, and new to genre and incredibly good looking Nicole Vicius. This is the female Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen someone that reads this blog was wishing for!!!

Then I have to say that from the moment Nicole Vicius appears in her first scene I could not take my eyes of her character. Very nice.

The story is socially relevant, fun to watch, sexy and even includes romance. Is about a young woman’s journey and discovery of herself as a human being, as a person with a purpose and even if in her learning process she does many mistakes, at the end she knows/finds who she will become.

Characters are so quirky, crazy, parody like, making/poking fun at almost everything, that even if the acting is not outstanding the total ensemble cast delivers quite credibly.

As someone said in a review this story could have been filmed with straight characters and would have been the same, as the fact that all the characters are lesbians is not relevant to the story. Totally agree, the story is about women and not their sexual orientation, but I also say that I am glad that the writers chose to portrait lesbians in a story like this, as is one of the few times were lesbians are portrayed as very interesting and multidimensional characters.

The movie was premiered at the 2007 Berlinale and up-to-date is the winner of two awards at the 2007 SXSW Film Festival.

The genre is rapidly improving and the bar is absolutely raised by this movie, which is one not to miss.

Enjoy!!!

Teresa, el Cuerpo de Cristo (Teresa, the Body of Christ)


Not my regular choice of movie because of the story, but since someone insisted that I should watch it, I did.

I was not familiar with her story and said was because now I am… well, not thanks to the movie, but because after watching it I decided to learn a little bit more about Saint Teresa. These are some key historical facts: First woman saint to be declared Doctor of the Church, founder of the reformed Discalced Carmelites, her literary works reach highest expressions of mysticism and are considered the pinnacle of Spanish lyrical poetry of the Golden Age.

The story in the movie is more about Teresa de Ahumada, than about Saint Teresa of Jesus, which makes it controversial and more interesting. Played by gorgeous Paz Vega that makes the character magnetic and very erotic, especially in the scenes with the director interpretation of her visions with (not of, but with!) Christ.

What makes this movie really outstanding and worth watching is the magnificent cinematography and the outstanding beautiful costumes. Some scenes are true portraits of paintings and even the camera stops for you to contemplate the scene, like the Pietá scene where the robes of the Virgin Mother and Magdalena are contrasted against a black background, incredibly beautiful. Then some outdoors scenes have overexposed light creating surrealistic visions of landscapes and outdoor sites.

Worth mentioning too is Geraldine Chaplin performance as Mother Superior making the character cold, calculating and mean. Fantastic.

If you are interested in the drama of a woman that lived in times of the Holy Inquisition -was subjected to several inquisition trials- and was strong enough to challenge the “men dominated” society, then the story and the movie may be appealing to you.

But, if you are looking forward to see a biographical or religious portrait of the Saint, this movie IS NOT for you and you should not see this movie.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Les Amants du Flore


An interesting made for TV movie about the tumultuous and mutually dependant relationship between Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. But I should say that is more like a long (1929-1960) slice of the life of Simone de Beauvoir, which indeed makes it more interesting at least to me, as Sartre life tends to be more common knowledge than hers.

I particularly enjoyed very much the performance of Anna Mouglalis as honestly I am not that familiar on how Simone looks like and Mougalis made me see a credible portrait of Simone. Being more familiar with Sartre, I feel that Lorant Deutsch gives an acceptable performance, but according to me definitively does not have the bizarre charisma and magnetism that Sartre had.

The director Ilan Duran Cohen, as well as the writers, did an extremely good work to compress so many years and events into a movie that keeps your attention as years go by. Of course there are many things missing, but what is told is enough to get a portrait of those times.

Most interesting was learning about Simone de Beauvoir sexual behavior and her preference for her female students, which eventually gets her into trouble as she is dismissed after a mother complains.

I really wanted to see this movie for the story and have to say that I am not disappointed at all, is a more than good made for TV movie that tells a very interesting story about two gods of the existentialism.

I recommend it to everyone that wants to see how Sartre and de Beauvoir became the incredible working couple they were.

Baise Moi


I have been avoiding this movie since a long time ago as it did not appeal me the basic premise of two girls going in a sex and killing rampage. But since it was available at the video club, I decided to rent it.

Well, it is very graphic, violent and I had to keep telling myself that it was just a movie and most of it was not real!!! And I say “most of it” as I hope it was fake sex… but you never know.

I should have followed my instincts and kept away from this movie that was shot in videotape with no artificial lighting, like The Blair Witch Project. This movie can be described as a road movie and is similar to UK Butterfly Kiss and Italy’s Benzina, two movies that I did not liked at all. Then one of the actresses, Raffaëla Anderson was also in the lesbian interest made for TV movie Amour de Femme, so you may be familiar with her.

Still is a movie that has 3 nominations in European film festivals, including one for the Golden Leopard at the 2000 Locarno International Film Festival.

If you have not seen this movie –know a lot of people that have seen it- maybe you should keep away from it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Secret Life of Words


INTENSE!!!

One of the best movies I have seen in years, one everyone should see it. Great director, great casting, great performances and excellent terrifying story.

The movie starts in silence and words start to appear, not many words. A woman is forced into vacation and ends up in an oilrig in the middle of the sea where there was a fire and they are about to close the rig… but there is one man badly burned and injured. As you start to learn his story, the woman slowly starts to express words and becomes alive, you wonder if is because his story is heavy. As her walls start to crumble, one day her words are brought to life and the outpour will make you feel unbelievable insignificant. I ended up in a knot, my whole body was a tense knot. I am still in shock.

Okay this movie is not for everyone, as is slow, so slow that you are able to see everything including the t-shirts that Javier Cámara wears that are from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela and Cabo Verde … and his hat from Chile. Yeah I know I am rambling…

Magnificent movie that will play with you as a spectator and outstanding climax!

Directed and written by Isabel Coixet this movie tells a story that only a woman could tell with such intensity. Sarah Polley is magnificent and Tim Robbins is outstanding.

The movie is a winner of 17 awards and 7 nominations in awards and festivals around the globe, including the Lina Mangiacapre Award in the 2005 Venice Film Festival.

To my loyal and special readers –you know whom you are-, please do not miss this movie, is a MUST BE SEEN.

To my dearest photographer friend, thanks for insisting that I see this movie!

La Puta y La Ballena (The Whore and the Whale)


This Argentinean Luis Puenzo film is quite a nice surprise because actress performances, spectacular cinematography and the director’s vision to successfully intertwine two stories with many parallelisms.

There is a current time story about Vera, a writer that discovers that she has breast cancer and has a mastectomy, and in the past there is the story about Lola a woman that is sold to a bordello. The linking narrative between the two stories comes from a research Vera does into the life of an Argentinean man that fought and died in the Spanish Civil War.

This movie has the most beautiful views of La Patagonia with spectaculars sunsets and ocean views that of course include whales.

I believe that this is the best performance by Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (Vera) I have ever seen, as here she is not presented only as an object of desire (as she is in most of her movies) but also as a mature and interesting character, which allows her to perform beyond her usual.

Also Merçè Llorens (Lola) has a great performance, especially since I just know her from her role in the Spaniard Hospital Central sort nighttime TV soap opera.

This movie has won 3 awards and had seven nominations in Spain and Argentina awards.

As mentioned by a viewer, knowing Spanish will be an asset, as the language used in the past story is outstanding as depicts period vulgar expressions and brothel language… and perhaps with subtitles this particular effect will be lost. But then, you will still have very nice interpretations of tangos, both dancing as musicians playing, and great performances with interesting characters.


If you like Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and/or enjoy period dramas, be sure that you will enjoy very much this movie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Zodiac


Not an easy movie to review as I can say that I liked it, but there is something that bothers me and makes me feel uncomfortable saying that I liked. Let’s try to explain what I mean.

Not your regular American movie and not even a typical David Fincher movie, as I do not find it similar to Se7en, The Game, Fight Club or Panic Room. This one is different. Is more international, more centered in the main actors performances than anything else.

I was not familiar with the Zodiac real life story (and I was in San Francisco in those years!!! –well, I was a very young) or with the two books Robert Graysmith wrote about the “most elusive” serial killer in the US. So I was not aware of the end of the story and think that the movie gave me too much information about the case that made me sort of tired and didn’t even wanted to guess who the killer was and always thought that in the end the story will tell me. So it was a surprise to find that no, I will never know who the killer is.

Yeah I think that the problem with the movie is that it gives too much information. Seems that Fincher also got obsessive about this case and was flooded with lots of additional data and somehow he transferred to his vision of the script based on Graysmith books.

I enjoyed the beginning when the story introduced the killings, the killer and the role the San Francisco Chronicle plays, that was thrilling and exciting; at some point the story goes stall and little boring until Jake Gyllenhaal character becomes obsessive with the case and the story again starts to be interesting, thrilling and exciting. His performance is quite good and according to me is the only character that you really feel his obsession.

Reading some reviews found a viewer comment that called my attention, he believed that in this movie nothing happens. Actually is true, nothing happens and I believe is the reason why the movie is so good, different from other American thrillers and why is doing good in the festival circuits and bad in America theaters. The movie was nominated for the Golden Palm at 2007 Cannes Festival.

So, lets try to summarize. Yes I liked the movie and it bothered me the amount of information that flooded the story the movie tells. The movie is 158 minutes long and to be honest time passed fast even with the middle sort of boring part, as is squeezed between two very good parts.

Perhaps this movie more than a drama, thriller or crime is a great study about obsession… and in this case I do recommend it to everyone that want to feel some thrills and a lot of obsession angst.

License To Wed


Used to be a fan of light headed and light hearted comedies and I said used to, as lately all the ones I have seen are like not viewer friendly and bore you to death.

Starring Robin Williams and Mandy Moore this one could have been at least “weird funny” and easy to your eyes, but it was neither, as Williams does very little of what he always does and Moore, well Moore has looked better in other movies.

So do not bother to watch this movie.

60th Locarno Film Festival - Open Doors


The Open Doors program is organized with the support of the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s Agengy for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The 2007 program focuses on cinema in the Near and Middle East.

Selected Projects

HARAG WE MARAG (Egypt) Director: Nadine Khan
MESSAGES FROM THE SEA (Egypt) Director: Daoud Abd El-Sayed
JUSTICE MUST BE SEEN (Israel) Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz
MAN WITHOUT A CELL PHONE (Israel) Director: Sameh Zoabi
THANATOR (Israel) Director: Tawfik Abu-Wael
FROM NOWHERE WITH LOVE (Jordan) Director: Hazim Bitar
HALAL (Lebanon) Director: Assad Fouladkar
THE ONE-MAN VILLAGE (Lebanon) Director: Simon El Habre
EYE OF THE PHOENIX (Lebanon)Director: Mai Masri
I CAN’T GO HOME (Lebanon)Director: Khalil Joreige & Joana Hadjithomas
FIX ME (Palestine)Director: Raed Andoni
Hé! N’OUBLIE PAS LE CUMIN (Syria)Director: Hala Alabdalla
LE CHEMIN DES FIGUIERS (Syria) Director: Meyar AL-Roumi

This year Open Doors invited two special guests: The Cinéfondation from Cannes and the Buenos Aires Lab (BAL).

Selected BAL Projects

LA BELLEZA / NOSILATIAJ (Beauty/Nosilatiaj), Argentina, Director : Daniela Seggiaro
RIO FIJMAN (Fijman River), Argentina, Director : Luís Ortega
NAVIDAD (Christmas), Chile, Director : Sebastián Lelio
AGUA FRIA DE MAR (Cold Sea), Costa Rìca, Director : Paz Fabrega
PUERTO PADRE, Costa Rica, Director : Gustavo Fallas
LAS CENIZAS (The Ashes), Peru, Director : Raúl del Busto

CINEFONDATION Projects

AUSENCIAS (Argentina / Switzerland) Director: Milagros Mumenthaler
K & ALI (Turkey) Director: Pelin Esmer
KEEP SMILING (Georgia) Director: Rusudan Chkonia
THE ROOSTER: urban legends (Iran) Director: Mitra Faharani
THE POLICEMAN (Israel) Director: Nadav Lapid

In red are the winners of the Open Doors program that were annouced on August 8th.

60th Film Festival Locarno


Here are the movies that were announced today.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION


Ai No Yokan (The Rebirth), Japan, Masahiro Kobayashi
Boys of Tomorrow, South Korea, Noh Dong-seok
Capitaine Achab (Captain Achab), France-Sweden, Philippe Ramos
Contre Toute Esperance, Canada, Bernard Emond
Extraordinary Rendition, UK, Jim Threapleton
Freigesprochen, Austria-Luxembourg, Peter Payer
Fruher Oder Spater (Sooner or Later), Germany, Ulrike von Ribbeck
Fuori dalle corde, Switzerland-Italy, Fulvio Bernasconi
Haiti Cherie, Italy, Claudio Del Punta
Joshua, USA, George Ratliff
Ladrones, Spain, Jaime Marques
Las Vidas Posibles, Argentina-Germany, Sandra Gugliotta
Lo Mejor de Mi, Spain, Roser Aguilar
La Maison Jaune, France-Algeria, Hakkar Amor
Memories, South Korea, Eugene Green, Pedro Costa, Harun Farocki
O Ca Pacete Dourado, Portugal, Jorge Cramez
Restule Tacere, Romania, Nae Caranfil
Slipstream, USA, Anthony Hopkins
Sous les toits de Paris, France, Hiner Saleem

Main competition jury are Swiss-French actress Irene Jacob, actor Bruno Todeschini, Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke, Brazilian filmmaker Walter Carvalho, German filmaker Romuald Karmakar and Italian filmmaker Saverio Costanzo.

PIAZZA GRANDE

The Bourne Ultimatum, USA, Paul Greengrass
Death at a Funeral, USA-Netherlands-Germany-UK, Frank Oz
The Drummer, Hong Kong-Taiwan-Germany, Kenneth Bi
Hairspray, USA, Adam Shankman
1 journee, Switzerland-France, Jacob Berger
Mio Fratello E Figlio Unico (My Brother Is an Only Child), Italy-France, Daniele Luchetti
Vexille, Japan, Fumihiko Sori - This is the Openning Film
Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon), France, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Waitress, USA, Adrienne Shelly
Winners and Losers, France-USA, Lech Kowalski - This is the Closing Film
Chicago 10, USA, Brett Morgen
Knocked Up, USA, Judd Apatow
Nichtsals Gespenseter (Nothing but Ghosts), Germany, Martin Gypkens
Planet Terror, USA, Robert Rodriguez
Vogliamo Anche le Rose, Italy, Alina Marazzi
1408, USA, Mikael Hafstrom

FILMMAKERS OF THE PRESENT COMPETITION

An Seh (Those Three), Iran, Naghi Nemati
Comme a Ostende, Belgium, Delphine Lehericey
Estrellas, Argentina, Federico Leon, Marcos Martinez
Guillaume et les Sortileges, France, Pierre Leon
Imatra, Italy, Corso Salani
Japan Japan, Israel, Lior Shamriz
Juizo, Brazil, Maria Augusta Ramos
Lo Bueno de Llorar, Spain, Matias Bize
Loren Cass, USA, Chris Fuller
Never Sleeps, France, Philippe Flechaire, Benoit Falize, Jeremy Boury
Nirakar Chhaya (Shadows Formless), India, Ashish Avikuntha
Nos Vies Privees," Canada, Denis Cote
Nuage, France, Sebastien Betbeder
Nu Te Supara, Dar... (Ne Te Fache Pas), Romania, Adina Pintilie
Phantom Love, USA, Nina Menkes
Tagliare le Parti in Grigio, Italy, Vittorio Rifranti
Tejut (Milky Way), Hungary, Benedek Fliegauf
Tussenstand, Netherlands, Mijke de Jong
Xia Wu gou Jiao (Mid-Afternoon Barks), China, Zhang Yuedong

ICI ET AILLEURS

La Capture, Canada-France, Carole Laure - fiction about violence against women
Crime and Punishment, China-France, Zhao Liang - documentary shot in the border between North Korea and China, follows young policemen on their daily rounds.
La Danse de l'Enchanteresse, France, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Brigitte Chataignier - ballet masters in Southern India
Dutti der Riese, Switzerland, Martin Witz - about the founder of the Swiss supermarket chain Migros
Io non sono un moderato, Italy, Andrea Nobile - follows Nobel Prize laureate Dario Fo as he campaigns in the Milan municipal elections.
Il pianto della statua, Italy, Elisabetta Sgarbi -forays into history
Morceaux de Conversations avec Jean-Luc Godard, France, Alain Fleischer
Preussisch Gangstar, Germany, Irma-Kinga Stelmach, Bartosz Werner - youth unemployement Le Retour des Cinephiles, France, Louis Skorecki - reflections about cinema
Sally Gross -The Pleasure of Stillness, USA, Albert Mysles - about a famous choreographer
Shake the Devil Off, Switzerland, Peter Entell - set in New Orleans after Katrina an Afro-American priest is fighting to prevent the closure of his Saint-Augustin parish.
UPA! Una pelicula Argentina, Argentina, Tamae Garateguy, Santiago Giralt, Camila Toker - a parody poking fun at Argentine cinema's New Wave.
Wierszalin, USA-Poland, Francesco Carrozzini - a Polish theater company with a charismatic director

The 2007 Leopard of Honor goes to veteran Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose Flight of the Red Balloon, shot in Paris and starring Juliette Binoche, will be shown in the Piazza.

The Raimondo Rezzonico Prize goes to Argentine producer Lita Stantic. As a tribute to her, a special screening will be devoted to Lucrecia Martel's La Cienaga.

The Locarno Excellence Award goes to Michel Piccoli. A Variety Masterclass with Michel Piccoli will be held at the Forum.

Semaine de la Critique


These are the movies in the Selection for the 2007 edition of the Critic’s Week that will run from August 3 to to 10th, within the 2007 Locarno Film Festival.

Allien In vier Waendern, Alexandra Westmeier, Germany - a portrait of several children and teenagers guilty of different transgressions that spend time in a minors prison.

Zu Fuss Nach Santiago de Compostela, Bruno Moll, Switzerland and Poland – a very particular road movie that follows a nearly three months trip toward the tomb of the apostle John at Santiago de Compostela.

One Minute to Nine, Tommy Davis, USA – Follows Wendy that killed her husband.

El Paraíso de Hafner, Günter Schwaiger, Austria and Spain – SS officer Rainer Maria Hafner immigrates to Spain in the 50’s.

Lynch, blackANDwhite, USA, Denmark and Norway – An insider look to David Lynch universe.

La Reina del Condón, Silvana Ceschi and Reto Stamm, Sweden and Ireland – A German woman that in the ‘60s goes to Cuba; twenty years later starts a sexual revolution in the island.

Los Ladrones Viejos, Everardo Gonzalez , Mexico – The story of Efrain Alcaraz Montes de Oca, alias “El Carrizo”.

Have to say that this is one of the strangest selections I have ever seen, but I am definitively puzzled by all the movies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Raibu Mai Raifu (Love My Life)


I been repeating to myself that I should pay more attention to manga, but for whatever reason, I can't make myself like it. Then movies like this one make me not only want to really learn Japanese beyond arigato and mushi mushi (!!) but start to really enjoy manga and anime. Think that for me it will be easier to learn Japanese.

I am sharing all this with you because this movie is based on Yamaji Ebine award winner manga that is known to rely on minimalist art, background jazz, good literature and characters that live in a real world. Gee, this sounds just great, as great as this movie.

This is the second time I see this movie, but this time I did understand it and have to say that has an interesting and somehow surprising story that the director, Koji Kawano chose to tell in such an easygoing way, that everything seems so “normal” and beautiful.

When beautiful Ichiko, played by Rei Yoshii, decides to tell her father that she is dating a girl, she will be opening the closet door to a bigger truth about her mother and father. When Eri, played by cute Asami Imajuku, decides to stop seeing Ichiko, as she has to study for her law degree, another closet door is wide opened into accepting your life as it is and to get rid of all the walls that you built to protect yourself from others. Very, very nice and positive story told in the most natural and not a bit sensationalistic way.

Lovely story, lovely movie and lovely actresses. I probably sound a little sugary, but honestly the movie is not sugary, is that after seeing the movie your own sweetness level simply goes up more that a few notches. Well, is just an image to say that this movie is outstandingly good in many beautiful ways. As Okazu blog says about the Yuri Manga: Love My Life “every time I read this manga, I finish with a smile on my face”, I have to say that’s exactly what happened to me with this movie… I end up with a nice, sweet and soft smile on my face.

I am very grateful to two of my most loyal readers for allowing me to see and understand this beautiful movie and for this I say a truthful thank you.

Do not miss this movie; even the music by Noodles is great.

Enjoy!

Le Voyage en Douce (Sentimental Journey)


This movie confirms what many say, the mind is the most erogenous zone. The movie is just fantastic and titillating, when is over you are totally exhausted and even if you paid attention to the story… well, who cares what the story is all about?? …after that experience?

Okay I’ll tell you, the story is about two childhood friends that when one of them fights with her husband goes for comfort to the other one and decide to go on a summer house hunt at the most beautiful French countryside. While one recuperates from her breakdown, the other just goes down her own breakdown.

Beautiful Dominique Sanda plays Hélène and Geraldine Chaplin plays Lucie and their performances are quite unique as they are able to take you into a very special voyage while doing absolutely nothing… as most of what they do is talk.

I am a huge fan of Dominique Sanda and one of my favorite movies of all times The Garden of the Finzi-Contini is still in my mind, not because of the story or beautiful cinematography, but because Dominique Sanda performance. Now I have two movies with Sanda performance that will stay forever in my mind!!

Written and directed by Michel Deville the movie had a nomination for the Golden Bear in the 1980 Berlinale.

Someone was wondering if this movie could fit the lesbian interest label, after watching it my verdict (??) is a big YES!!! But be aware that is a very non-conventional movie for this genre.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Maple Palm


The argument and story that this movie presents I found it to be totally valid, there is no legal way to protect a same sex relationship in USA when one is not an American citizen. Not many movies have dared to deal with this issue and much less in a way like the Andie MacDowell and Gerard Depardieu Green Card comedy. This movie does not do it either and whatever good intentions the director had to tell the story, he got lost with bad acting, a terrible screenplay he wrote, awful dialogue and annoying camera moves and angles.

Yes I understand that is a very low budget movie, with a script written in 10 days and shot in 2 weeks and the lead actress losing 20 pounds during the shooting (??), but with all these limitations they should have done a better final product.

After watching this movie I have to say that lately lesbian interest movies have improved a lot and when you see a movie like this one you appreciate more the efforts that serious directors and filmmakers are doing to improve the genre.

Gee, this was extremely bad movie and the issue is very important to be presented is such a pitiful way.

Malèna


The third movie is probably the most beautiful coming of age and infatuation movie… and my first Monica Bellucci movie... I ever seen. This outstanding 2000 movie written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore tells the story of a 1940’s schoolboy that falls for the most beautiful and desired woman in a small gossipy Sicilian town. The linear story hides another more dramatic story about women with their husbands at war that are left alone in a small closed environment and what they have to do to continue living.

This movie was nominated for two Oscars, won 3 awards and had 13 nominations in awards and festivals around the globe.

Before Malèna, Monica Bellucci was better known as a model, but she had 10 years as an actress and 20+ movies. But it was this movie that projected her outside Italy and into international cinema including Hollywood with her The Matrix Persephone character. There is another movie where Bellucci is just outstanding, the French Irrèversible directed by Gaspar Noè; it may not be a movie suitable for all audiences, as it is best known for the famous 10-minute rape scene and its avant-garde style, but is one movie not to miss.

Since 2000 she has been in around 22 movies, including the comedy She Hate Me where she plays a lesbian daughter of a Mafioso that wants to have a baby and pays for a donor and The Passion of Christ where she plays Magdalen. Currently she has three in production movies starring with Clive Owen, Daniel Auteuil and Patrick Cooper in each project.

Monica has won 1 award and has 8 nominations in festivals and awards around the world, including a nomination for best kiss in the MTV Awards! Well, I tend to watch everything where Monica Bellucci is in.

La Stanza del Figlio


The second -up from the end- movie from the Locarno special program is La Stanza del Figlio, which I already did a review and if you like to check it is here.


After La Stanza del Figlio Laura Morante has participated in many Italian and French productions, worth mentioning is the 2007 Laurent Tirard, Molière where she plays Elmire Jourdain and three more in production projects, The Hideout, The Anarchist's Wives and Falsa Pista.

She won the 2001 David for her role in La Stanza del Figlio and has three more awards and six nominations in Italian and European awards and festivals.

Broken English


Two reasons made me see this movie. First it stars Parker Posey and second is written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes, which belongs to the Sofia Coppola generation and is the daughter of famous actor/filmmaker John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands.

Even if Parker Posey is not here the usually quirky self I like, as she gives quite a serious but good performance as a late thirty something successful, single and lonely woman living NYC, who feels her personal life is empty without a steady man. There is nothing new in this story, but Cassavettes gives a different angle as she concentrates in actor’s performances and the end result it is very believable characters.

Support performances by Drea de Matteo as the best friend and Gena Rowlands as the mother complement this well crafted movie.

This movie may not be a work of art, but I do believe that Zoe Cassavetes is a filmmaker that will deliver interesting movies in the future.

The movie was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

This is a melodrama with comedy tones that can be painful to watch if you are a single female, but otherwise is entertaining as dialogue is ok.