Thursday, December 01, 2011

Autumn Movie Bites #2

Some bites to remind us that I have seen the movies and what I think about them.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Rupert Wyatt. USA. I start by saying that have seen the old movies, thus I know story; so my big surprise was to find that I liked the prequel, is a lot better than what I could ever imagined or expected. Loved the new apes, especially the protagonist with an amazingly expressive face that really transmitted feelings, truly fabulous how cinema technology has advanced and how good can be when is well-used. If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and watch if only just to pay attention to the great expression by the protagonist ape. Enjoy!!

What Women Want by Daming Chen. China. I’m crazy about Gong Li and will watch everything with her, but I have no idea why did she accepted to do this remake of the Hollywood movie with the same name. Much less because I did enjoyed original and gee, this remake was really awful and got me feeling embarrassed for Gong Li performance. If you love Gong Li please do not watch this movie. Sigh.

Margin Call by J. C. Chandor. USA. Nice entertaining drama about the financial crisis that seems will be explored from many points of view; this time telling about an investment bank that rushes to dump their positions before everything explodes and pushing fast-forward the crisis. Great cast with the likes of Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, and well, Demi Moore. Movie is starting to collect honors in this award season and yes, is well-deserved as film is a good representative of current American cinema that doesn’t target teenagers and doesn’t use special effects to fill movie duration. Enjoy!

The Help by Tate Taylor. USA, India, UAE. No, haven’t read the book and was expecting a not-easy-to-watch American period drama before civil rights were a possibility. To my surprise the story engage me to the point of making me very uncomfortable at moments as many things that are depicted in the movie are still true today between maids and their mistresses from many Latin American countries. Film is well done, so well that does generate emotions in viewers and I’m no exception, but great performances enhance story and movie in general, especially Viola Davis that I’m sure will get an Oscar nomination. Watch movie is entertaining and surely will make you laugh, shred a few tears, make you think a lot, and for some, wonder why no one has written a successful book about Latin America’s maid/mistress relationship. Enjoy!!!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Wayne Wang. China and USA. Film tells parallel stories between 19th century China and present day Shanghai with tales of two women joined by laotong, a biding vow and contract to be eternal friends and share each other lives communicating with a secret women’s language called nushu beautiful written on the folds between the spines of silken fans. Nice story isn’t? Unfortunately film does not match the greatness of the story and what could have become interesting, thrilling and engaging becomes banal, not interesting and focus less. If you skip movie won’t miss much, but I do suggest you read book by Lisa See. Enjoy.

Melancholia by Lars von Trier. Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany. Lars von Trier has said publicly that this is his most American-like (ie mainstream or commercial) movie ever and you have no idea how right he is as this film definitively is not the regular greatness von Trier imprints in his works. Maybe the cast helps too much to his Americanization, as the first part with Kirsten Dunst character story is really not-engaging and for me, dull. Thing change a bit in the second part when Charlotte Gainsbourg commands the story and the screen but by then you know the end is coming and effectively comes with a bang done more with light than with impact. I suppose that most honors will come because film is not as crude as for example The Antichrist, is a lot more easy to watch and one-dimensionally understandable. Sigh. All right because I really liked second part, let say is Enjoy! (I hope he goes back to do his remarkable movies that so goodly shock us).

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. USA. Let me get this out of the way I have seen Malick’s movies and yes there are some I don’t like (The New World) and some nobody liked but I did (Days of Heaven); so many like his latest and surprise, surprise I did not. Just let me share that can’t understand why to reproduce the big-bang for about 20 minutes (more or less) with images that look more belonging to Natgeo, Discovery or any of those cable TV channels than to a “serious” film. I literally forced myself to watch the complete movie, but boy that was really a very hard thing to do and do not suggest anyone to do it. Too hard-to-watch (ie boring) but got the Palm d’Or and praises from everyone, except me. Sigh.

Beginners by Mike Mills. USA. Could you believe I watched this movie because Mélanie Laurent? Lol! It’s an entertaining movie thanks to very good performances by Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor as father and son. Film is a drama that tells about a man inability to keep a relationship surely due to what he saw his parents live, especially after her mother dies and his father recuperates the ‘joie de vivre’ when he tells everyone that he’s gay. It’s a complex story with many layers that I got them but somehow didn’t engaged me and watched from a comfortable distance, I was just an spectator of whatever was going on in the screen. Enjoy!!

Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Greece. Very crazy movie, so crazy that I love it! But know that is not for everyone not for the story, not for the performances, not for the style and not for the whole that to me feels not hot like Greece but very cold like Finland –somehow film made me think of Aki K. films-. There is nothing lesbian interest in this film as I thought, so watch film only if you like cold-expression-less performances in very complex layered stories. If you dare to watch film I bet you will enjoy it a lot more than you expect, obviously you have to like art/arthouse films too. Enjoy!!!

Le Gamin au Vélo (The Girl with a Bike) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Belgium, France and Italy. Typical and particular Dardenne brothers visual style, amazing storytelling technique/style, and excellent directorial style that makes something very simple into a true masterpiece that’s a pleasure to watch. Period. Both Cécile De France and Thomas Doret give impeccable performances. A must be seen film for all of us that love the work of great Dardenne brothers. Enjoy!!!

Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Russia. This movie has been killing me since the moment I finished watching and as days went by it has gotten worst. See, my spontaneous reaction when I saw the movie was: it’s an okay movie, Russia now looks/behaves like the rest of us… hmm, not good. Liked the visuals but believed they’re not as good as in Izgnanie or The Return. But since I like this director way beyond what I saw, I replayed movie in my mind and from that moment on movie is killing me. I know there are a lot of symbols and film explores the capitalist dichotomy of poor-rich, have-have not’s, plus the roles nouveaux riches play in their societies and I suppose that in Russia those that have money have not old money, but new money. Then started to read about movie and gee, almost each review, no matter the language, has slightly different story interpretations. I even read what Zvyaginstsev says about story and yes is slightly different. So my conclusion, is that movie story could have as many interpretations as people who see the movie, there is a very easy to understand story essence that deals with what I said above plus the morals of committing murder, but when you see story essence you know there is more and indeed people find more. One thing I’m sure if you enjoy great Russian films, this is must be seen for you. Big Enjoy!!!

جدایی نادر از سیمین Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation) by Asghar Farhadi. Iran. Excellent movie, for me as good as Farhadi previous two films, Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly; but this film has something new as story flawlessly travels several genres and engages us viewers not like spectators but like we are inside the movie and sometimes we side with Simin, then with Nader, the with Razieh, then with the judge, then with no one, then we are completely immersed inside the story and film. Fabulous! Until you see this brilliantly crafted very simple story you have no idea how seeing something so banal and common can become a masterpiece in the hands of a master filmmaker. Chapeau Mr. Farhadi. I don’t doubt that has huge possibilities of winning the Oscar and if so, will be well deserved, especially now that I know Pina is also competing in the documentary category. I strongly recommend this film as must be seen for all everyone that loves great world cinema. BIG ENJOY!!!

There are many more movies, but this is it for today. Cheers!

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