Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wes Wanderson cinema is a world filled with symmetric shots, colorful characters, well design places and plot that seems to be repetitive from the last film.

His latest movie seems to go beyond his typical plot, but address social problems in the near future. Isle of Dogs is the animated story of a dystopian future where dogs overpopulation and flu virus threat the life all citizens in Japan.
The canine population is sent to Trash Island, by an authoritarian government led by the mayor Kobayashi (Konichi Nomura) of Megassaki City who signs a decree to expel all the dogs, while scientist Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) is looking for the cure at the same time.

Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) nephew of Mayor Kobayashi goes on a mission to find his dog Spot (Liev Schreiber) which is the first dog to be sent out to Trash Island. Atari steals a military plane and crashes into the island, he is rescued by five dogs: Rex (Edward Norton) King (Bob Balaban) Duke (Jeff Goldblum) Boss (Bill Murray) and Chief (Bryan Cranston). Later the dogs decided to help Atari to find Spots.

Isle of Dogs explores the future where authoritarian governments use media to alienate the people by making them believe what the need to believe, while political plots keeps happening in the background. For instance, in one point of the movie, Professor Watanabe finds the cure for the dog's flu but the people behind mayor Kobayashi try to eliminate this cure by poison him, so the threat of the dog flu continues to scare the habitats of Megassaki City. Trash Island becomes an exile place for displaced minorities, in this case, dogs, an animal who is been used as a metaphor for the people who left their home country because of wars of poverty and is mistreated by more developed countries.

This film has an interesting connection with Wes Anderson previous film The Grand Budapest Hotel which touch the subject of old Europe and the troubling politic arena. The most interesting thing about Isle of Dogs is the groundbreaking work in stop-motion animation and the Wes Anderson talent to make this story make sense. Is not his best film, but is very innovative.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The 80's is the decade with advances in technology and a worldwide move away from planned economics leaning toward capitalism, mostly due socioeconomic change. Still a period where pop culture, political movements, social changes, and technology influenced everyone around the world, it's perhaps now the most trendy subject in movies and TV shows.

Stranger Things, Halt and Catch Fire, The Goldbergs, The Americans, 21 Jump Street, Deutschland 83 and of course the long list of reboots from Hollywood a perfect excuse to keep squeezing money from fans: Star Wars, Star Trek, Pee Wee, Dallas, Dynasty, the list goes on and on. There is so many tributes, studies, and analysis about this period of time that you can spend months watching documentaries about what happens and how it happen.

Finally, another tribute based on a book comes to life, from the hands of a director who makes love the 80's with famous characters like Indiana Jones, E.T., Gremlins and Back to the Future.

Ready Player One is probably one of the biggest 80's tributes ever made to the film. In 2045 earth population have become a confined trailer park slum city. The citizens of the earth escape reality by using virtual reality world name OASIS which is the ultimate VR experience, you can be whatever you want in any place you like and play any game you want. One of the creators of the OASIS James Halliday (Marl Rylance) before his death left an easter egg in the game, if found, allows the player to win the full ownership of the OASIS. Everyone is trying to win this game and it's has been impossible for the players.

One of the players is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) an orphan living in Columbus, Ohio with his aunt and abusive husband/boyfriend, Wade has the avatar Parzival. Aech is Parzival friend in the OASIS and they have teamed up to win the 3 keys necessary to win the game. At the same time, the CEO of a company name Innovative Online Industries Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) recruited an army of people to win the game too, they are fully trained and supported by a team of geeks to knows every single aspect of James Halliday life. But still, they have not won the game. Art3mins (Olivia Cooke) is another avatar who's trying to achieve the same mission, is doing it for the cause of save the OASIS itself.

Ready Player One becomes a full pack action film, with a few clever moments, but sadly miss the point. For someone like me who lived the 80's to the fullest, this movie turns into a digital mashup of "some" of the most famous cultural references of the 80's, the problem is, you get so immersed into a virtual world and forget the essence of what that time was like. Steven Spielberg defeats the purpose of the movie message which embraces real life versus reality. When you watch this movie you are experiencing something like being in an amusement park where the sound is so loud that your seat is shaking, I can almost assure you they can splash water at you, to make you feel you are there.

The percentage of live action footage vs computer generating is so unbalanced that makes you wonder, why don't just make the whole film CGI? I was unable to connect with any of the characters and also I hate to say this, but Sorrento character is such a terrible villain, it's clumsy with a lack of planning to make his plan works. Maybe is just a nice metaphor for typical American CEO who just know to use the resources to get what they want, but it's so stupid because it needs an army of trained monkeys to help them.

One of the things I can rescue from this movie is the easter eggs, there is so many that you can spend the whole film looking for them. Stanley Kubrick tribute was my favorite, perhaps the best scene.

In the end, the film is incredibly long and you just desperately want to end after watching a such a lame showdown between the heroes and the villains.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Joe Wright talented filmmakers with an interesting filmography that goes from Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, Hanna and Anna Karenina.

Brings one of the most challenging characters to be portrayed on film, Winston Churchill. A long list of actors has portrayed Churchill, From Albert Finney, Brendan Gleeson, Timothy Spall, Bob Hoskin and Richard Burton.

Churchill was a very complex character who was loved and hate for politicians in the UK and around the world. His personality and mannerism was his signature, but his thoughts and idea was the most controversial element from Winston Churchill personality.

The film Darkest Hours explores one of the most obscure and suspenseful time in the history of the United Kingdom. In 1940 the Labour Party of the UK demands the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for been weak against the Nazi regime. Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is chosen as the last option after others don't want the responsibility of the Prime Minister duties.

From the very beginning, he is dealing with a bad reputation due to his record at the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War. His first words in the parliament become controversial after promising blood tears and sweet against the German government. His troubled relationship with King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) is an addition to his conflicted actions against the war and refusal to negotiate with Nazi regime. He received support from his family especially from his Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott Thomas) who becomes his advisor and most powerful ally.

Darkest Hours explores dramatic moments where the UK have a lack of leadership, the Dunkirk miracle where Churchill plan to rescue British soldiers from the French and the thread of a German invasion to the island of the United Kingdom. Joe Wright masterful direct a solid group of actors and delivers an excellent film, with such a unique visual style and technical appealing, from cinematography, music, editing, costume, sound, and makeup.

In 1996 a book novel was released with the title The Beach, it tells the story of an English backpacker who travels to Thailand and discovers a secret place where a community of backpackers coexist as a cult. The book was a success and later was adapted as a feature film directed by Danny Boyle.

Alex Garland is the writer of The Beach, his collaboration with Boyle started with the film 28 Days Later and the sci-fi film Sunshine, he also wrote the most recent film adaptation of Dredd.

Garland passion for sci-fi brought him to his directorial debut, Ex Machina, the story of a computer programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) who is invited to spent a few days in the house of the tech CEO genius Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) and administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). The Turing test finds if a machine has the ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Ex Machina was a huge success winning multiple awards including the Oscar for best visual effects.

Most recently Alex Garland follows the success of Ex Machina continues his exploration for sci-fi stories.

Annihilation tells the story of Lena (Natalie Portman) a biologist former soldier married to Kane (Oscar Isaac) Army special forces who is sent on a secret mission in the US coastline to investigate with a team of people an anomaly called "The Shimmer". Kane comes back without memories and is the only survivor of that mission. After his arrival becomes ill, the government gets involved and quarantine Lena and Kane in a place named Area X.

There Lena meets Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who leads the investigation of The Shimmer. Lena decided to join Dr. Ventress expedition with other women Anya (Gina Rodriguez) paramedic, Jossie (Tessa Thompson) physicist and Cass (Tuva Novotny) a geomorphologist.

The film explores subjects about life and it works in the same universe of great sci-fi films, Annihilation is a psychological horror film with heavy visual influences from Predator, The Abyss, Alien, Solaris and even 2001 A Space Oddisey. The unknown, the danger of exploring other worlds or more powerful creatures than us. Alex Garland delivers another powerful sci-fi movie, that keeps you thinking after the movie was over. What just happen?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

In 2011 French photographer JR (Jean René) won the TED prize award with the wish of changing the world. This project was the inspiration of the phrase "inside out" this was the beginning of a massive photographic project with a photo booth truck traveling around the world, capturing images of people from different nationalities focusing on several subjects, from gun violence, equality, racism, segregation, physical violence to women etc.

Inside Out became a well-known phenomenon. Agnés Varda Belgium director started a friendship with JR that lead to the creation of a documentary film inspired in the Inside Out project.

Visages Villages-Faces Places tells the story of Agnés and Jr traveling into small towns in France, meeting interesting people and creating portraits of them as part of the legacy of their faces and the places that make them.

Every character in this film is a treat, from the first encounter, the prep work for the massive picture, to the final result and the character reaction, the audience is presented with an emotional tale of simple people, who becomes work of art in their own front door. Jr and Agnés friendship are perfect, two characters with such age difference are so together, joking and teasing each other.

Visages Villages-Faces Places is a refreshing documentary when you are only exposed to tragic stories of war or political corruption. Don't get me wrong there are great documentaries, but you need to laugh a little about life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

One of the most unusual subjects in films is fashion industry, from the models, the brands, their influence in modern history to the creators. There is always been a question about the origin of the person behind the brand and behind the style. But also what's going on inside their minds and their lives. Coco Channel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent are some of the films digging into the lives of their creators outside their creations, their struggle, their passion, the success, and failures. A new film Phantom Thread explores the life of a fictional fashion designer from the United Kingdom but influenced by the Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Balenciaga was disturbed artist, drowned on his own creations, convinced his how geniality, using his perfectionistic neurosis as an emotional wall against everyone. This description fits perfectly into the role of Reynold Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) a charismatic genius that at the same time is obsessed with his own work. Reynold sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) is the backbone of his company, she runs operations but also is able to control a serve as an influence of his work.

One day after finishing up a dress Reynold decided to take a break from his work in the countryside, after visiting a restaurant, he becomes interested in a waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) later developing in a relationship. This event leads to Alma moving with Reynold and becoming his muse and assistant. He presence is disturbed the routine at the Woodcock house. From Reynold and for Cyril. But Alma is a very determined woman who is able to tolerate Renold bullying on her.

Paul Thomas Anderson team up with Daniel Day-Lewis on another powerful performance, in a disturbing film about a troubled relationship where the muse becomes the perfect artist block. A perfectionist artist cannot get inspired when the routine is altered or daily nuances become a norm.

In the end, Phantom Thread brings revenge to a whole new meaning, sometimes evilness has to pay the price, but mildly. Lesley Manville
Vicky Krieps was the perfect role for Cyril and Alma. Jonny Greenwood, delivers a beautiful film score accompanying the film.

Monday, March 12, 2018

In the art world, the artist develops a unique vision of art installations with the sole purpose of engaging with visitors and museum-goers. There is a clear definition of modern art and classical art. The first one is the most misunderstood and less appealing. The second is the most attractive because represents the classic intake from famous sculptors and painters who in the past create work to tell stories in the history of the world.

I love modern art because allows the artist to express their point of view about the what's happening in our society. It is hard to find a film that uses a museum and an art installation as the main theme to discuss and explore human nature.

Ruben Östlund director of the highly acclaimed Force Majeure directs The Square, a satirical drama about Christian (Claes Bang) a museum curator of the X Royal museum of Stockholm who is responsible to launch one of the biggest exhibitions yet, also named The Square.

Christina is divorced with two girls, a player with all the women he dates, but he seems to be very conscious about world problems. As a museum curator, he likes to use The X Royal as a stage to let artist start discussions about the human nature. At the very beginning of the film Christian, it's been interviewed by Anne (Elizabeth Moss) a journalist who develops feelings for Christian after a one night stand together. Christina is supervising the production of the exhibition The Square, but also he is dealing with the robbery of his wallet and his phone on the streets. After this event his assistant as Michael (Christopher Læssø) find the phone using the device geolocation, so he comes with the plan of going to the building where the phone is located and delivering a threating letter to every apartment demanding the return of the wallet and phone.

In essence, the events of the film The Square serves as a metaphor for most of the characters who express a certain mindset but in reality, they don't care about it. The exhibition examines how far you can trust everyone within the square, but then you see that Christian doesn't trust everyone because he's always begging to be trusted. The film also explores how we see the work of museums of modern art exposing visitors to ambiguous self-expression that is supported by millions of dollars and is not clear what the message is. For instance, you see a character like Julian (Dominic West, who is a good renown artist been interviewed at the museum but is constantly interrupted by a guy who suffers from Tourette's disease who barks obscenities to him and moderator, you can easily read this like is making fun of an artist point of view to why this work is considered art.

The Square is a rare film with a not define the genre, is a comedy, is drama, is a social critique.