Sunday, March 03, 2013

Another Winter Movie Bits

Winter is almost over so let's recall some of the movies I have seen during the cold season.

Infancia Clandestina (Clandestine Childhood), Benjamín Ávila, Argentina, Spain and Brazil
Known for his documentary Nietos (Identidad y Memorial) Avila debuts with his first feature film about a similar subject, the children in the troubled Argentinean days of the late 70's. As stated by Avila film story is not autobiographical even when he mixes some of his personal memories with fiction and tells story from a child point of view, which is very safe but becomes a lot less engaging for viewers as at moments becomes a melodrama about puppy love more than how to handle a double identity when you are so young. In this sense while watching story became very familiar for me and not unique as similar stories were told by films like 1988 Sidney Lumet's Running on Empty and 2000 Christian Petzold's Die innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In). The second is also Petzold's feature film debut and for a debut is a very engaging film and story, an opportunity that is lost in Avila's film perhaps because is not easy to objectively direct a film about what happened in your real life.

As we know was Argentina's submission to 2013 Oscar, an honor that perhaps was given more for the story film tells than for film's quality. Still stories like this one need to be told and people need to know them. Watch at your own risk but do not expect much from film specs and perhaps you will enjoy it more than me. Enjoy!  Trailer.

Las Malas Intenciones (The Bad Intentions), Rosario Garcia-Montero, Peru, Argentina and Germany
The debut feature film by Garcia-Montero that also has a story centered in a child and her view of everything that surrounds her in the critical and violent moments in Peru of the early 80's. This time the story is set in a wealthy family where the lonely young girl world collapses as her mother tells her she is going to have a sibling, which is the excuse to lightly explore Peru's conflicts. Not many stories have been told from this specific conflict, so there was a big opportunity for this film to excel at least for the story told, but no it did not as the little girl personal story overshadows everything else that is also told. Then you have the problem of not-so-good acting which makes film very hard to sustain watching.

Peru's submission to 2013 Oscar definitively has not the quality of films by more accomplished Peruvian directors like Claudia Llosa or Vega brothers outstanding films so suggest to watch at your own risk not expecting a great film and maybe you will enjoy it more than what I did. Sigh. Trailer.

Todos Tenemos Un Plan (Everybody Has a Plan), Ana Piterbarg, Argentina, Spain and Germany
Another debut feature film by Ana Piterbarg that unfortunately is not much amazing perhaps due to the lack of developed directorial skills as film starts very well both story wise and tech specs but around the middle film clearly lost direction after setting up some really interesting concepts that are abandoned for stretching a film too long without a clear direction to a much predictable end.

The best film has is that Viggo Mortensen performance looks great thanks to other actors really bad performances. Alright there is something else, Piterbarg style suggests that she will have a good future in filmmaking when her directorial skills improve. Enjoy.  Trailer.

Blancanieves, Pablo Berger, Spain
A very interesting take on classic Snow White tale as film is one of the most clearly Spain's values showcase that I have seen in ages, not only because is about bullfighting, has great music score (mostly Flamenco) but because is set in the 20's and has some great costumes. Also as film is black and white delights us with some very interesting use of light creating some outstanding to watch compositions. The silent film is an homage to German Expressionism which makes film very different to the "other" recent silent film and makes it a very artistic feast to the eyes. That's the good part.

On the not-great side, unfortunately some of the performances doesn't fit what you expect from a silent film nor recreates the fantastic performances in films of the German Expressionism era. For me performances are "too modern" with the occasional exceptions when the necessary silent film dramatic-exaggerated performance is present in scenes by Maribel Verdú. Still and considering modern performances is Macarena García who captured my attention and who I enjoyed most in film.

Spain's submission to 2013 Oscar was surely overshadowed by last year Best Picture Oscar winner but do not let this fool you as this is a movie that I strongly suggest you do not skip especially if you appreciate art in movies but somehow I know that due to the known tale very unconventional adaptation could please wider audiences that never imagined Snow White could be told as is told here. Enjoy!!! Trailer.

Hypnotisören (The Hypnotist), Lasse Hallström, Sweden
A great entertaining film that in my opinion represents well Nordic mainstream films as absolutely has the fantastic cold performances style, blueish/greyish look, slowish pace and a story that can easily capture your attention. But one word of advice, do NOT expect this film to be a Hollywood thriller as thankfully it is NOT.

My best reference is that if you enjoyed 2008 Tomas Alfredson's Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), 2006 Baltasar Kormákur's Mýrin (Jar City) and/or the original 2009 Niels Arden Oplev's Män som hatar kvinnor (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) then perhaps you will also enjoy this film that was Sweden submission to 2013 Oscar. Enjoy!! Trailer.

Den skaldede frisør (Love Is All You Need), Susanne Bier, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France and Germany
Was expecting a less mainstream movie but movie is really mainstream cinema and perhaps the most crowd-pleaser/feel-good that Bier has done. Unfortunately and mainly due to casting but also because story, film makes you think about Mamma Mia! -without the songs- which somehow didn't help me to enjoy more film. Still film has some great Nordic style performances by Trine Dyrholm's as Ida and Paprika Steen as very unpleasant Benedikte; the only cast misfortune is Pierce Brosnan even when his performance is not bad, role should have been given to another good actor that hasn't star in a similar story high profile movie.

This romcom is nice to watch but please do not expect a Hollywood romcom as there is nothing American in this film, not the performances, not the storytelling style, not the humor, not the background drama, nor anything else. Film is an enjoyable entertaining moment that could please many that enjoy European cinema. Enjoy!! Trailer.

Cloclo (My Way), Florent-Emilio Siri, France and Belgium
Was more interesting in recalling the life of Claude François than watching film as a film, so you can say that my expectations were very low which was perfect as film as a film is not that good. Assume that this biopic will please many fans of the French pop singer but wonder if those not familiar with him and his brief life could enjoy film that much. Still Jérémie Renier performance is very acceptable as if not has the true looks has most of the mannerisms of Claude François, however is Benoît Magimel transformation what impressed me the most.

For those not familiar with the French singer (he was contemporary of Gilbert Bécaud, Johnny Hallyday and Frances Gall -all are in movie) perhaps knowing that he was the co creator of one of the most famous songs in the world, My Way that Paul Anka bought the rights, created new English lyrics and Frank Sinatra made it an international success. In this sense perhaps what film also has is an interesting take in how songs are translated into other languages to make local singers very popular in that language-speaking countries, sometimes overshadowing locally the success of the "original" song/singer and this story works BOTH ways here, from English to French and from French to English.

It is a very French film with a very French story that I am not sure non-French can enjoy, so my best suggestion is to watch Youtube video clips of the real Claude François before watching movie. Enjoy! Trailer.

The Paperboy, Lee Daniels, USA
With the mostly not positive reviews was expecting a film that I could not enjoy, but surprise, surprise film is truly "trashy" but highly enjoyable with one scene that I know will NOT forget, ever. This particular scene made me jump with a mix of disgust and incredibility as even when during the entire movie I really forgot I was watching Nicole Kidman in the screen, during this scene I couldn't help but seeing her doing a very sexually graphic scene (actually you see not much as almost everything is suggested) that yes, shocked me. Please do not allow me to confuse you, this is one the best Kidman's performances I have seen and one that everyone should see.

Know that film is not for everyone as is very violent, very sexually suggestive (not much is actually shown but it is suggested and makes your imagination flow into only one direction), highly homoerotic (again not much shown but suggested) and story is in one word, bizarre. But somehow Daniels take on the Pete Dexter award winner novel reminds me of Tarantino and bet you all that if Tarantino dared to tell this story, many will praise his work. Then you can't forget that Pedro Almodovar produced film which makes the Daniels-Almodovar collaboration very unconventional and yes, bizarre. Great.

I couldn't watch Daniels previous film as was too much for me, but this one strongly recommend you watch it; however prepare yourself for a sleazy/trashy very unconventional film. Enjoy!!! Trailer.

Have seen many more films but this is it for today. Cheers!

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