Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Since the beginning of cinema, the idea of catch audience with fantasy subjects like monsters is Hollywood secret weapon, it’s been for almost a century since the big gorilla named King King climbed the Empire State Building with his dame in distress and the iconic battle over the NYC skyline.

Several versions have been made, from 1933 most famous versions to the 1976 which was an erotic and a sexual representation of women and monkey, later Peter Jackson made a version that probably was a tribute and a metaphor to the old dying cinema.

In Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts) the movie is set in 1973, the time where USA is defeated and leaving Viet Nam after a terrible war, leaving wounds to everyone. The discovery from a satellite pictures of a mysterious island bring a senior official of a government organization Monarch, William Randa (John Goodman) to lead an expedition, with scientist, a military escort and a group pf explorers. The first 10 minutes of the film will introduce every character involved. James Conrad ( Tom Hiddleston) a hunter tracker, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) a photojournalist, Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) an Army Lieutenant Colonel. The catch for all of them is this mission don’t have any scientific outcome. Is a corporation project to own and control certain territory with so many resources.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts use a very unique visual style with interesting transitions and a heavy influence of Viet Nam films, like “Apocalypse Now” and Kippour, But also the other visual references like Werner Herzog Fitzcarraldo. The storytelling techniques capture a stunning first 40 minutes with a great pace, but them fall off after the audience not understand if this is a rescue mission, or a kill and destroy mission or a revenge mission.

On the other hand the film borrow plots and stories from films like Aliens or Avatar. To me is another vicious circle of military involved in a scientific mission who is just want a corporation to control a place for their own benefit. The visual style vanished, showing more of the action sequences that the audiences need. The characters look more like puppets who are there to entertain, but not to drive the story into a certain direction.

Perhaps the character who have a mission is Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) who from the very beginning, wants to keep fighting and never come back from war, but after the mission who kills most of his mens, by King Kong, he now finds a new war to fight. In a way Kong: Skull Island is a metaphor of the war and the destruction of our ecosystem. Every monster in this island, represents the unbeatable campaign to kill an enemy hidden, who cannot be beat. At the end soldiers in Kong: Skull Island leave just with the taste of the Viet Nam war, defeated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

American society is completely obsessed with nostalgia, No matter how many times you redo, readapt, rehash or reinterpret a story, still the same story. Hollywood is have one of the worst time ever, creatively speaking, about making sequels, rebooting past films or adapting TV shows to movies or viceversa.

Disney new obsession is taking their most famous animated films into live action movies. A great idea, with less work on story development, but more invested into the technical aspects of it. The first attempts: Alice and Wonderland, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and now Beauty and The Beats.

Adapted from the animated film from 1991, “Beauty and the Beast” follow the same plot: a prince (Dan Stevens) very powerful, end up transform into a beast by a beggar in disguise. All the prince servants end up transform into household objects. The only way to cast the spell is when Beast can fall in love and receive love in return by a girl who can see beyond his appearance. Belle (Emma Watson) a rural girl who enjoy loves books and been an outsider in the small she live with her dad. She have a love interest Gaston (Luke Evans), an arrogant former soldier who loves him more than anyone else, with a sidekick LeFou ( Josh Gad) who is just there to boost Gaston ego.

All I can say about this movie is so well done, beautiful costume design, art direction, music and masterful work in visual effects. But I’m completely confused about the main reason of making this movie that long. From an original running time of 84 min to an insufferable 129 minutes of unnecessary songs and plot changes making the film unbearable to watch.

The charm of the first animated movie nominated for an Oscar in the category of best movie, still reigns in the original classic Beauty and The Beast from 1991, this film is a nice rehash, rebrand, re-adaptation or whatever ver “RE” we can add in it. This story only serves as a demonstration for great technical work and some shy political comments, like LeFou being gay, Belle been considered different by the town habitants for being a woman with other interest in life beyond been a housewife.

Hollywood explore the world of hypnosis in several films, like “Dead Again” by Kennetth Branagh, Danny Boyle’s “Trance” and “The Manchurian Candidate” these movies use the induction of a state of consciousness as a plot to tell a certain history. Could be past lives, certain personality disorder and the creation of the perfect presidential candidate.

In the same tone, the film “Get Out” by Jordan Peele presents hypnosis as a new metaphorical tool for slavery. A black man Andre Hayworth is adducted from a white suburb late at night. This is just the beginning of the film. A few months have passed, and we introduce black photographer Chris Washington ( Daniel Kaluuya) who is in a serious relationship with Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) are preparing for a trip to see visit Rose parents and introduce Chris to the family. The film presents the first controversial discussion: What are the repercussions of a white girl dating black guy?

Since the road trip started, the audience start noticing the ambivalence of Chris presence in the white only town. Rose hit a deer down the road and the cop as for Chris ID, knowing that he is not involved at all in the accident. After the arrival home, Rose parents Dean ( Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) make Chris as confortable as possible. But for Chris something seems not right. The groundskeeper Walter and housekeeper Georgina are black and present a very odd behavior.

Later that night Chris bump into Missy while he was doing a walk outside the house. Chris talk about his mom with Missy, who died when he was 11. Missy hypnotized Chris into a paralytic state.

Jordan Peele directs a very powerful thriller for the new Trump era. You get constant reminders that Obama is no longer in office and things are changing, not necessarily for good, but also racism is not only actions but a state of mind. The image of a clean cut white neighborhood who find ways to destroy successful black people, is a clear representation that superiority complex is still on, no matter if the USA lived turbulent times in the 60’s fighting for equality and 8 years with a black president.

The big reveals in this thriller are not only surprising scary, because we are watching horror movie, but the problems presented in this film are true and lives on. The recent events of white supremacist calling to attack of different skin tone citizens or scream a person get out of my country for being latinos is closer than you think.

The big hit of “Get Out” is the ability to mash up “Looks Who’s Coming to Dinner” and The Stepford Wives. A simple visit of a black guy to his white girlfriend parents hit the core of everyone not because the color his skin, but because he is successful and proud about it.


Monday, May 15, 2017

In the secret world of smart and gifted kids or adults, they go to very complex places and states of mind. Some goes to a very extreme and traumatic situations, others just trying or continue living their life. In a way, greatest minds, don’t live the best of lives, limited resources, challenging parents or caretakers who don’t understand what it means for them to be below average of the rest of the world. Little Man Tate, Searching for Bobby Fischer, August Rush shown a wide array of experiences for kids who have to live with this gift.

Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer and two Spider-Man movies) presents the story of Mary Adler (McKenna Grace) a little girl who shows remarkable mathematical talent on her first day in school. She lives with her uncle Frank Adler (Chris Evans) in a small town in Tampa. Her gift get attention by her teacher Bonnie Stevenson (Jenny Slate) and the rest of the school. Her talent comes from her mom who committed suicide, a prominent mathematician who was about to solve a big math problem.

In a way Gifted is a very predictable film, because you know a big conflict will be appearing soon. The perfect ingredients, an uncle who is fostering his niece while he is living in a very insecure conditions and grandmother who is a wealthy person wants to claim the girl care. This is perfect “tearjerker”
Either way the film is pretty entertaining and shows the talents of Marc Webb, leaving behind the superhero franchise as well Chris Evans, who is been exploring other genres since he first Captain America movie.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Serval filmmakers have been obsessed with a character with multiple personalities. Alfred Hitchcock create the ultimate member of this cinematographic mental hospital. Norman Bates in “Psycho”, a character who mirror his lost mother. David Fincher in “Fight Club” with the mysterious Tyler Durden presented between Brad Pitt and Edward Norton with the idea of confusing the audience about the sole responsible of "Project Mayhem" and Brian De Palma who loves in his movies the use of a character with multiple personalities to present a despicable killer in “Raising Cain” and “Dressed to Kill”

M. Night Shyamalan (the Sixth Sense, Unbreakable Signs) Take a step further on his devotion to thriller films focusing in on a simple story, with a low budget cost. "Split" is the story of Kevin (James McAvoy) a guy with 23 different personalities who is been treated by his psychiatrist Dr Karen Fisher (Betty Bucley) at the beginning of the movie he kidnap 3 girls by follow them to the parking lot. Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) Marcia (Jessica Sula) Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) The last one is an outsider with personality problems, but a very strong girl. The 3 girls end up in a basement build with certain amenities to keep people locked for days even months. At the very beginning, the girls are expecting a rapist who just going to use them or perhaps is a human trafficker. But as the story unfolds Kevin is not longer there. Meet Patricia a refine lady who will take care of the girls and Dennis a very confuse and shy kid who will to get the girls to play with them like kids, this is just the begining of people the audience will meet.

During breaks Kevin will continue seen Dr Fisher for the treatment. After several unexpected request from Kevin to see the Dr Fisher, she suspects that something is going on. Her thesis is every personality from a person who suffer this illness could transform dramatically, not only the mind, but the physique.

Shyamalan develop a story digging deeper in deeper into a person with sever psychological problems like Kevin, but at the same time you have Casey who start revealing to the audience with her own personal flashbacks the trouble childhood who help her to be strong enough to protect himself from Kevin and the other 22 personalities.

James McAvoy is incredible playing all these roles as well Anya Taylor-Joy. "Split" is a great thriller becoming the latest addition of great movies about multiple personalities.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The dilemma of interracial relationships it’s been discuss in so many movies. From silly comedies like “Fools Rush In”, “Made in America” to even “The Bodyguard”. In this comedies, the problem is often a practical joke, just to make the film more entertaining. But when the problem of interracial relationships film is discuss as an issue to criticize societies with lack of tolerance and lack of diversity. Films like “Jungle Fever” “Love Actually” and “Loving” can show the audience that society have a problem with people from different races starting a relationship and even having a child.

Sir Seretse Goitsebeng (David Oyelowo) is one of the most powerful men of the royal families of Serowe a Bechuanaland Protectorate from the UK is studying in the United Kingdom. In a friends gathering he meets Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Quickly the fall in love and decided to get married. Both families are completely opposed to the union as well the British government.

Seretse and Ruth travel back to South Africa to settle in there. Just at their arrival that’s where are confronted the British government because their union could ruin the stability for the region of South Africa, not only because of the implications of a interracial relationship, but the fact a white woman will be queen in a African royal family.

Amma Asante (Belle and Way of Life) directs a powerful drama about the struggles of this couple to be together to be together, the contrast of the white and black be against the union gives a great lesson to the audience. Governments willing to question love for the sake of politics as well manipulate the people of a country to control them and continue the legacy of a crown who wants to own certain territories.

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike delivers a great performance as Ruth and Serete.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In 1996 brought a cult film leaving everyone breathless with a film as a reflection of Edinburgh young society, but also the reflection of how society use to see the world. A movie hard to make it better, the idea of making a sequel is probably scary, because it can ruin the original. Hollywood trend of rehashing or repurposing stories trying to make movies to cash it, end up destroying masterpieces for the sake of money.

It’s been 20 years for all the characters, the director (Danny Boyle) and the actors:Ewan McGregor Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner. Trainspotting 2

The idea of choose life still there, but now is about an opportunity then a betrayal. Renton lives in Amsterdam married with family, happy, fulfill, Spud continues struggling with his addiction, taking a large toll, his job, longtime partner and son Fergus. Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson, a cocaine addict runs a pub with side job of blackmailing people with his Bulgarian girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) Francis “Franco” Begbie is serving 25 years in prison for probably the events at the end of the first film Trainspotting.

With this setting Danny Boyle discover a near perfect sequel with the perfect ingredients, comedy, action, drama, but mostly nostalgia. With a story revisiting all 4 characters seems that things haven’t change a lot, the nuances, in places and sounds is there, if you pay close attention, you can hear Underworld’s Born Slippy, Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. To me is like visiting a place you lived and some things have evolve, but not change. Danny Boyle take the risk of bringing footage from the original film to help the story, and even bringing back Diane and Mikey for a brief scene. This decisions pays off.

Some things to change, others don’t. Renton is the perfect example of the promise to change things, he seems to be cure of this crazy life from the Renton from 1996. Choices are not longer an idea of a better life, family, health and even wealth. It’s all a lie, and illusion, is the syndrome of apparent success. He comes back to Edinburgh because he miss all this, but specially the thrill of a “Final Hit” The most powerful character is Spud, he wants to change but he can’t, because society push you too hard, is too strong. One of my favorite scene during Spud therapy, he tells the members that the main reason of his demise is “Daylight Savings”, that’s why he gets late to his job, then loosing it, then getting late to his unemployment appointment, becoming a whole series of unfortunate events. Simon and Renton miss each other, that’s what bring them together and Begbie is just Begbie a caricature of a person too violent who cannot make things right.

Trainspotting 2 is a great sequel and excellent continuation of the events of the original film back in 1996.