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

Monday, July 10, 2017

A ship with colonist travel to a mysterious planet searching for a better future. A story that seems to be repeat and repeat but with the fate but with different twist. It’s been 38 years since the ship Nostromo was taken by a mysterious creature who kill them all, except officer Ripley ( Sigourney Weaver) her life changed forever becoming a hero capable to beat this monster in several sequels.

In 2010 Ridley Scott decided to tell the story of the true origins of the Alien trilogy with “Prometheus” a film who left audiences with more questions than answers. Now in 2017 Scott goes back with now 5 films about one of the most famous space monsters trying to connect the dots in “Alien Covenant”.

An unexpected accident kill the captain Jack Branson (James Franco) of the ship Covenant and cause severe damage to the ship needing some major repairs. The big casualty creates a new problem, after loosing the captain the first mate is in charge Christopher Oram ( Billy Crudup) which for the rest of the crew is not the best fit. Chris don’t have leadership and the pedigree to lead the crew to their final destination. Danny Daniels (Katherine Waterson) the chief of terraforming was Captain Branson’s wife, who don’t believes in his capacity either. The crew discovered a strange transmission, end up as a John Denver song, with this information in mind, now captain Oram make the decision to go send the crew to the planet, because there is 7 years left to travel to the final destination and this new planet seems to have the resources with earthlink needs. The trip becomes a tragedy with lost of most of the crew members…

“Alien Covenant” is another attempt to tell the “Alien” story from another angle looking for unnecessary answers to the begining of Ridley Scott original movie. The film explore a new planet which to some people will look like watching a Predator film, where a space monster is hunting humans. Then the story get the absurd idea of trying to connect “Prometheus” to this movie by giving you the answer of where Dr Elizabeth Shaw(Noomi Rapage) and David (Michael Fassbender) end up. The film is confusing from the very beginning by presenting so many characters, so easily to forget, because they die so quickly. The screenplay look for an emotional attachment between audience and characters by presenting colonist as a crew, but also families who are looking for a better future. Sadly you just wonder, who train this people? NASA? The lack of protocols and decisions made by emotions instead a good judgment make then the perfect objective for creatures who know they gonna take the bait.

In essence “Alien Covenant” is the terrible example of how Hollywood, cannot stop doing this movies.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Wikipedia define Heist as a robbery from an institution such a bank or a museum. The long filmography of movies about robberies presents the most easy dilema, what are they robbing, who is going to do the robbery, where and when.

Talk about the subject could take hours and name all the movies, and discuss what are the influences or connection between them, another hour. All I can say the mere concept of putting together a group of people with a primary mission of stealing something, by working as a team and not kill each other in the process is already a complex story.

From Steven Soderbergh “Oceans Eleven” and sequels. Michael Mann “Heat” Bryan Singer “The Usual Suspects” Kathryn Bigelow “Point Break” Peter Collison “The Italian Job” John McTiernan “Die Hard” and Gregory Roy Hill “The Sting” Most of these films, are action packed stories, with some comedy, but also drama.

But this is the first time I seen a movie about a heist, but on the inside is a action musical, of course without singing actors.
Baby Driver is the 6th film by the director Edgar Wright responsible of great films like Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Death and Scott Pilgrim Vs the World.

The story is about a a getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) that as a child suffer a car accident left him with severe tinnitus ( a hearing problem similar to a hiss) the only solution is to hear music. Baby is very talented, but also is questioned by his fellow robbers who think he is un-capable because his hearing problem. On the other hand his boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) assure the robbers he is fine, proving them constantly, he is not mentally slow. In the group of robbers Jason (John Hamm), Monica (Eiza Gonzáles) Leon (Jamie Foxx) they sort of rely on Baby, not necessary as a person but his driving amazing abilities.

The real charm of Baby Driver is the smart use of music on the film, with about 30 tracks songs in the soundtrack, the movie is choreograph by the songs, which make the film a action musical. Something that I haven’t seen before. Another element making the film a new classic is the amazing editing work, done by Jonathan Amos and Paul Machiss. This is a treat to every editor who wants to learn the best tricks, how to develop smart transitions and the perfect drama and comedic timming.

If we talk about the story Wright create a great balance of comedy, action and some dramatic moments. The film contain cool twists in the story that needs to be seen. The dialogue is witty and funny.