Wednesday, September 6, 2017

When a director decided to use World War II as the main subject, the range of possibilities is quite big. You can bring so many elements: love, betrayal, action, drama, survival, etc. On the other hand the subjects about World War II are very sensitive, specially if you talk about the Nazi Germany.

“The Exception” tells the story of German soldier Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) a very trouble person with a turbulent past. Brandt is sent to Netherlands to protect as a personal bodyguard of a Kaiser, German Emperor Wilhelm (Christopher Plummer) who is been exiled for quite a while.

The main concern from the Germans is after the invasion of Netherlands, dutch spies are watching the Kaiser with the idea of finding information about the German army movement. A maid name Mieke de Jong (Lily James) meet Brandy after his arrival and start a steamy affair, becoming dangerous at the time, because is risky for both of them, but also Brandt suspicion of Mieke been the Dutch spy.

“The Exception” is a great film with a perfectly build cast lead by Christopher Plummer, the movie, besides been based from a novel, could be easily confused with a real story from World War II. The production values of the film shows how carefully the director work with production design to make it look believable. The camera work is well done.

On the other hand the film is very slow sometimes and melodramatic. But I praise the work of David Leveaux as a first director for this movie.

During the year 2001 to 2010 a TV show named Scrub captivate audiences around the world, specially with the character Dr J.D. Dorian play by Zach Braff. After those years Braff was fine tuning and idea, become a director. In 2004 the release of his film “Garden State” mesmerized becoming a sort of cult classic, in 2013 he directed “Wish I Was Here”, fully financed with Kickstater.

Those movies represents a constant soul searching as a character and as a human begin. Perhaps Braff decided to leave that path and go back to his roots in comedy with his third film “Going on Style”

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) are senior citizens who lives in NYC, they been friends for years. An unpleasant circumstances they loose their pensions because the company they worked for was bought. Joe received the news at his bank that his going loose his home in 30 days, at the same time he witness the robbery of the bank, where the robbers scape with the money. For Joe is a epiphany, rob a bank with his buddies will be the best solution to solve of their problems.

“Going on Style” is a light comedy with a glimpse of so many heist movies, you can even hint some of the story of Hell or High Water, a well reviewed film about a series of bank robberies in Texas. The movie attempts to bring so many talented actors is not enough to make this film meaningful. In fact the movie don’t bring anything new to the table, is just something that you could watch on an Sunday afternoon when you are very bored. My biggest problem is the look of the film, it look budget limited and have a lack of production value.

The expectations are not that high when you see the trailer, but when you see the film, you are totally unimpressed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The labyrinth of the mind is a very common subject for director Christopher Nolan. A film that made him famous was the movie “Memento”, about a man who is investigating the murder of his wife, but due a condition he cannot remember anything, so he needs to catalogo everything, between pictures and writing on his body information allow him to remember. In his two sci-fi movies. “Inception” and “Interstellar” he challenge times, space and the mind, by putting the characters to travel to time and also to dream, within a dream. The Prestige two magicians friends fight to become the most powerful magician using their abilities to trick the other. “Insomnia” A detective looking for a killer, travels to a very virgin territory where time is altered by the geography. Last but not least “The Dark Knight Trilogy” the challenges of the mind are based on the struggle between good an evil, by becoming a public vigilante.

There is nothing that Christopher Nolan cannot do these days. In 1940 the British army got stuck at the French corridor of Dunkirk, after several operations trying to take over the land from the Germans. The vast operation ordered by Winston Churchill is to rescue the British army using nothing than boats from coast of England, specially from Dover.

This historical event is been portraying in the film “Dunkirk” masterfully directed by Christopher Nolan. The movie is set in 3 different point of view of the events and 3 different times (one week, one day, one hour). The Mole, The Sea and The Air in which present the troops attempting to scape the bay of Dunkirk, The ships trying to sail way from France, but been intercepted by the Germans, and last the pilots flying of the channel protecting the British ships from any attack.

Nolan, borrow the best from silent movies about the war, like other war movies made. The suspense build with groundbreaking soundtrack and original score, by Hans Zimmer make the film a true spectacle. The editing by Lee Smith is a perfect synchronization of visual actions, with a glimpse of Sergei Eisenstein in “Battleship Potemkin” creates a stressful experience for everyone willing to experience it. Hoyte van Hoytema Director of photography of the film takes the challenge to shoot this movie in IMAX 70mm capturing the finest details of this historical moment in World War II.

One of the most important aspect of the movie is how the story is been told, for the audience could be a major struggle, when they are full aware the the story takes place: one week, one day and one hour. The juxtaposition of these events makes sense once you fully understand the scope of the narrative and how the main characters start connecting each other creating these story in 3 time dimensions.

Dunkirk, is a masterful film that needs to be seen in the big screen.
It is hard to not see women in history as the responsible or the engine of greatest movements. Esther, hebrew queen and heroine. Joan of Arc, lead an army and a heroine of France, Queen Elizabeth from England, Marie Curie first woman to win Nobel prize and Eleanor Roosevelt co president of the USA.

A very notable character who change the course of the middle east is a woman named Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman). She was a the daughter of a wealthy British family, who moved to Tehran thanks to her uncle. She falls in love with a Embassy employee Henry Cadogan (James Franco), but she is not allow to marry him, because her family considers him bad company. Sadly, due this circumstances Henry commit suicide forcing Gertrude to leave Tehran and devote herself to travel the middle east and explore this territory that is very turbulent at the time because British government wants full power.

Gertrude, becomes a writer, traveller, political officer, administrator and archeologist.

Werner Herzog directs this Lawrence of Arabia style film with a female hero in his hands. The film beautifully shot, but the story is a mess. When you read Gertrude writings and stories, you become so interested to understand how this woman becomes a hero for the middle east, but sadly the screenplay don’t honor her story and experience. The beautiful vista of the deserts and the compelling images of war simply vanished when you see a movie not fitting the characters in place. After 20 min of film you loose interest, because there is no appeal between Gertrude and her lovers as well her mission to change the middle east.

Nicole Kidman performs masterfully, but she cannot hold the film much longer.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

In 1920 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony lead the fight to let women vote. Many years have passed since 1854 when the state of NY introduce a piece of legislation to give women rights, many efforts happened around the world like the suffragette in the UK, where one thousand women went to jail because they wanted better opportunities.

During the middle of the second World War 1941 a female super hero comes to life Wonder Woman, an amazon with super powers who join forces to fight the evil forces of the world.

The film directed by Patty Jenkins presents the character of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) an amazon princess daughter of queen Hippolita and Zeus rescue an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who crash his plane off the coast of Themyscira, later followed by a German cruiser. All this events leads Diana to return with Steve Trevor to London where they need to find the responsible and creator of this war who Diana calls Ares.

The film explore the horror of World War 1, when Diana, Steve Trevor and his team decided to go to the Western front in Belgium to find General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) who next to his scientist is planning to spread a deadly gas.

Wonder Woman is a superhero film like any other, because presents a woman as the lead in the fight against evil. Many other women on film have fight oppression, avenge their past or look to improve their life for a good cause. Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill”, Gina Carano in “Haywire”, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu in “Charlie’s Angels” Scarlet Johansson in “Lucy”, Jane Fonda in Barbarella.

The idea is to forget the concept of the dame in distress, women’s are powerful and they know how to defend themselves, but in a misogynist world were female are not seen as limited and weak people, the response of these movies is to show that is possible to be protected and care for women. To me the problem with Wonder Woman is just a document of how women can become a more powerful force to fight their image as a the person who stays behind while men fight, work and enjoy the fruits of success. But in reality is another blockbuster film, with a well crafted advertising campaign who seems to impress everyone. Don’t get me wrong, little girls or girls in general will be encourage by this movie, but for adults could be another super hero movie.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

In 1993 a movie about the world war II Holocaust, change the completely the way that viewers see this kind of films. Schindler’s List is one of Steven Spielberg masterpiece and tells the story of Oskar Schindler a german owner of a factory, also member of the of the Nazi Party, responsible of saving the lives of 1200 Jews during the holocaust. Since then Hollywood have tried to repeat the model by digging into the most particular stories about jews been saved by personalities during World War II.

The last installment is the the film “The Zookeepers Wife” directed by Niki Caro and starring Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska. As the owner with her husband Jan (Johan Hedenbergh) of a Zoo in Warsaw during World War II. They witness how the Nazi regime arrived to Poland, displacing jews, invading the city and also killing some of the animals of the zoo, but some German scientist decided to take some animals for experimentation.

Jan and Antonia decided to close the zoo, but comes with a plan to start a animal breeding program at the zoo in order to remain there, using pigs to provide food for the occupying forces. This is just a plan to use the pigs food transport to help jews to escape from the Gettho.

Niki Caro director of the beautiful film “The Whale Ryder” presents the audience a very beautiful story. While you watching the movie, you are always captivated by Jessica Chastain beauty and amazing performance, but fell flat when the story and the direction make the film unemotional about simple happenings, like the horrific killing of animals at the zoo, the struggle of Jan and Antonia as a marriage, trying to raise their kids, but also you’r not able to connect entirely with all the characters, specially the families rescued by the Żabińska family. Sometimes you get lost try to understand why some scenes are over the top, instead of create a visual and tense drama, about a family who saved 300 jews at the Warsaw zoo. To me the biggest waste is Daniel Brühl as Lutz Heck as Hitler Zooologist, his performance is boring and exaggerated.

“The Zookeepers Wife” is a film that could be a better movie, a movie story and a powerful story of another important saviors during the World War II holocaust.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The dilema of man vs machine it’s been explore in movies, cartoons and also sci-fi novels. Those early days of cinema, when Fritz Lang brought “Metropolis” opened the eyes of everyone curious about this subject. Films like Robocop, Terminator, Tron, Bicentennial Man, iRobot, Ex-Machina, Blade Runner, The Matrix are the perfect example of how technology can be not as beneficial as we think to improve quality of life. On the other hand TV also explore the possibility of AI with Humans and Westworld. With all these examples I can say that every filmmaker interested in make a movie about it, is up to a big challenge.

“Ghost in the Shell” is the Japanese franchise created by Masamune Shiron and tells the story of a public security section 9 in the fictional city of Niihama best know as New Port City. A corporation Hanka use humans with augmented cybernetics and several enhancements as a counterterrorism operative. A young girl (Scarlett Johanson) is the sole survivor of a cyberterrorist attack which killed her parents. Her body is apparently beyond repair, and is use in an experiment were here human brain will be attached to a mechanical body. The experiment is successful, and after a year the girl becomes the Major Mira Killian leader of the bureau section 9.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the dilema of man vs machine is again explored in this movie. The references are so close. Are machine can have dreams or conciseness? How a machine can understand humans and their constant variability in emotions? Is not that easy and the problem with Ghost in the Shell is the movie try to present to American audiences a piece of history from Japan. Being one of most important Japanese creation, is hard to not compare with so many movies. The environment of Blade Runner, the androids erotism in Terminator, Ex Machina and Westworld. The trauma of now a artificial intelligence after been altered from a human being in Robocop. But after all those comparisons, the shadow of The Matrix is there, when meta-humans, altered mentally can achieve the imposible. On the other hand a film should fit perfectly into this analysis is “Lucy” where again Scarlett Johanson becomes a super powerful human after a terrible accident with a mysterious drug.

For fans of the comic, this is a treat as a movie, for people who wants to be entertain this works too, but for someone who is looking for a in depth exploration of artificial experience it could be a big disappointment