Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One of the most important element in political propaganda is the use of unsung heroes who become the representation of people who are controlled by the government. The tools of socialism or communism is generating illusions of success thru media and superficial events that serve as decoy to hide the reality/ This common in democratic governments who needs this to avoid crisis.

In the film Hunger Games: Catching Fire we see a stablished government ruthless to their people and eager to create this illusions buy using the winners of the latest Hunger Games Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who comes from district 12. Most of this districts are poor and the use of this heroes are perfect to boost moral and excitement while the government keep enforcing and fighting rebellions. This film is stronger than the first one, you can feel better the message about rise against a ruthless President in order to get better quality of life, by fighting the real enemy, non democratic governments.

Hunger Games is entertaining and fun to watch.
The Human suffering or struggle it's been depicted in so many ways by filmmakers. Perhaps the most chilling was developed by Steve Mcqueen in 12 Years of Slave.

The topic of slavery is represented in so many genres, like sic fi in Cloud Atlas, animated in The Prince of Egypt, Historical drama like Amistad and Glory or even black humor in Django Unchained.

No matter the connection about slavery in film, 12 Years of Slave is one the most difficult films that have seen this year. The story is about Solomon Northup free black man from New York, that is abducted and sold to slavery. He end up in several cotton plantation in Georgia. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon, with an all star cast from Michael Fasbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupia Nyong'o Sarah Paulson and Brad Pitt. The two and a half hours covers those 12 years on Solomon, his struggle to stay alive with dignity.

Ejiofor is fantastic on the movie, like the rest of the cast deliver a powerful film. Beautiful shoot and edited.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Book Thief is the story of a girl and her relationship with her frostier parents during a Nazi Germany. The book is an Australian author Markus Zusak.

The beginning of the movie have Liessel (Sophie Nélisse) on the train with her mother and her brother when suddenly her brother died, he is been buried in a near town, during the funeral one of the undertaker drop a book, which Liessel picked up as a memento of her brother, however she cannot read.

The narrator is the "death" and this narration allow the audience to understand some certain future of the main characters. In fact set the tone of the movie that we are about see. The film is starred by the marvelous Jeffrey Rush and Emily Watson as the foster parents of Liessel .

The story of the film explore the cruelty of the nazi regime and also the destruction of cultural artifacts such as books. Liessel become attracted to books and after several visits to Lisa Hermman, The majors wife, which are her foster mother costumer, she decide to borrow books without permission. That's how she earn her nickname, The Book Thief.

The film is good, is definitely a tearjerker for most of the audiences. Jeffrey Rush is great in the movie. The music by John Williams is beautiful.

The problem with The Book Thief length tend to make it so melodramatic, also the combine narration of the death and Liessel, confuse you, to the fact that you don't understand who is telling the story.

Time travel is one of the biggest mysteries in the whole world. Human beings keep searching for that powerful weapon to control destiny and be able to manipulate success and defeat failure.

Movies explore this phenomenon in so many ways, travel to the past with the intention to change the future and avoid world war against machines (Terminator, Terminator 2) Travel to the past and the future in order to create a better possibilities to a family and also avoid extinction (Back to The Future and their sequels) Time travel control to avoid criminals to manipulate or alter of the past (Timecop) and even time travel in the search for a better life in a better time period( Midnight in Paris)

In the film About Time (Richard Curtis) Time (Domhnall Gleeson) discover from his dad that the member of his family are capable to travel thru time. His father (Bill Nighty) warned him that the power to control time is delicate, also explain the consequences of doing so. Time move to London pursuing a career as a lawyer, and that's how he met Mary (Rachel McAdams) The attraction is instant. he collect her information to call her again. Back home his landlord, a playwright is depressed because his opening play was a disaster because his main actor forgot his lines. Time decide to go back in time to help him. Suddenly he released that he altered his future with Mary, because we never met her. After a whole series of time travels he finally was able to met Mary in the right moment and blend the present and potential future for him and Mary.

Tim, realize that you cannot change future constantly to make it perfect, without alter others destiny, from Tim sisters alcoholism, to some other family members future.

About Time is not a great film, is just a romantic comedy, with some tone of drama. The movie explore another side of time travel, the consequences of controlling this ability, the chaos if manipulating destiny and avoid living life day by day, expecting the unexpected. That's the real message of this film.
Life is simple, but also complex, you cannot make your life perfect, you have to enjoy it the best way possible.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Every film that explores real life situations about AIDS patient are considered films about struggle and should searching, with a mesmerizing message. The film Dallas Buyer Club plays the opposite message telling the tale of a real life cowboy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) consider himself homophobic and at the same time a promiscuous risky guy, who enjoy alcohol and drugs.
When the film start you see a semiotic message of a guy riding a bull, while you can see Matthew McConaughey character having sex right across the of the gates at the rodeo, looking at the action in the shadows. The paradox is two very dangerous activities with life treating conclusion.
That's what the film is all about, chasing danger while making life worth. Matthew McConaughey transform himself as skinny at could be with a Academy Award winning role, while Jared Leto perform as a transgender person who is also sick for the epidemic of Aids.
Dallas Buyer Club takes place in a very conflicted time for the US 1985, when Rock Hudson makes his announcement of AIDS decease and the beginning, a confusing time for people, deaths, sickness and no hope. Also a time for opportunism from pharmaceutical companies who look for make prophets with the decease.
The cast is strong, but the film is slow, the pace takes you to the miraculous life of Ron Woodroof on how he beat the odds of 30 days of life, and how he tricked the FDA and change the rule for AIDS patients.

The biggest challenge in portrait real events are a very difficult matter, specially if the story is pretty recent. Make films about true life events with a 3 to 10 year is controversial and risky. Wounds have not heal and facts are not completely accurate.
Perhaps in the case of the film Captain Phillips I can make an exception because the responsible in the director's chair is one of the most respected creators, Paul Greengrass with films such as The Borne Supremacy, and United 93. The last one nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Greengrass.
United 93 was a well reviewed film about of the events of the flight United Airlines flight 93 hijacked during the 9/11 events, with terrible consequences.
In the film Captain Phillips Paul Greengrass again, work in a real life events of the 2009 incident were Somali pirates hijacked a cargo ship Maersk Alabama in the coast of Africa. The story focus of the relationship of Captain Richard Phillips(Tom Hanks) and Muse the leader of the Somali pirates.
This is one of those films that keep you on the edge, Greengrass does pretty well. The cast is spot on staring Tom Hanks and the actors who work as the pirates, specially Barkhad Abdi who is scary and treating.
The problem in the film is accuracy, in the recent months the film is been surrounded by controversy because of suits against the cargo company who manage Maersk Alabama and the true events that happens during the hijack situation and Captain Phillips story
All the technical aspects of the film are very well done, sound design, editing, cinematography and directing. The movie is entertaining and a great achievement in film-making

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Spectacular now follow the tradition of indy films about love relationships with conflicted characters and misfortune situations.
Similar films like this one The Perks of Been a Wallflower, Submarine, 500 Days of the Summer. Spectacular Now tells the story of Sutter (Miles Teller) a popular kid from school, self possessed, charming and party lover who suddenly is been dumped by her popular girlfriend Cassidy(Brie Larson).
Suddenly after a long night of partying Sutter meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley) a not-so-typical "nice girl" who loves comic books and doesn't have a boyfriend.
The film explores several problem for youngsters in America. The search to fit in, by been popular, becomes a social drinker, potentially alcoholic, promiscuity, romantic rebounds, social goals and dreams about the future.
The cast is pretty good and delivers strong performance throughout the whole film.
The film is smart, sad and makes you think about life.

Alfonzo Cuarón always been consider an innovative director, with different approach to traditional stories, but also a very sharp technical influence in film production.
Gravity, seems to be a milestone for him. A few years in the making, multiple conflicts with the studio to make this film work. Finally the film comes to life with a impressive campaign focusing on the Academy Awards. Gravity tells the story of a medial engineer Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are working a routine space walk when a disaster happen leaving them alone in space.
The film premise is pretty good and makes you think about so many great films about space, like Solaris, 2001: Space Odyssey, Sunshine, the esthetics of a film about space and the dramatic images of loneliness. Suddenly the film is about a cathartic experience for Dr Ryan Stone, because she is grieving the lost of her child recently. It seems that most of the plot concentrate on survival and how is important to keep fighting no matter the circumstances.
Unfortunately the film becomes more like a Hollywood film at the end with unreliable situations that end up more like a fantasy to me. I didn't like the conclusion, and reminds me so much to films like Avatar.
Don't get me wrong the film is a technical achievement.

Ron Howard director of films like Apollo 13, Backdraft and Da Vinci Codes explore the world of Formula 1 in the film "RUSH" this is the story of the 70's race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda and they rivalry to earn the title. The movie focus on the story of both drivers creating parallel plots and triumph and defeat. Their relationship with their family and romantic relationships. But the real importance of the movie is the racing scenes. Ron Howard achieved an amazing look of the 70's races, amazing point of views that takes the spectator in the real eye of the storm during each race. The film is a master class of editing and sound design and visual effects. Unfortunately the film is weak in performance, Chris Hemsworth doesn't deliver, as well Olivia Wilde. Perhaps Daniel Brühl is the one who gives a decent performance portraying Niki Lauda. Rush is entertaining and fun and leaves you breathless witnessing the 1976 Formula 1 competition

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Usually when I'm going to see movies with true life events that leads into a tragic conclusion, I'm always go with a lot of stress and tension. Besides knowing the ending still want to know how the director will achieve the iconic images.

In the case of "Fruitvale Station" which tell the story of Oscar Grant a 22 year old Bay area resident who will face a tragic moment of 2008 New Years Eve.

Micheal B Jordan plays Oscar Grant, Octavia Spencer plays his mother. Ryan Cooler the director, use a hand held camera technique and very simplistic cinematic point of view in order to engage with Oscar and his life, as a son, boyfriend and a father, trying to leave a dark past behind.

The film is powerful with two different kind of pace, slow at the beginning showing his life and struggle and a fast pace the definitive moments of Oscar and his demise on the BART station. The story takes place on the last day of his life, with using traditional techniques of titles to represent the hours of the day or corny transitions.

Fruitvale Station represents a great attempt to show how life can be affected by a chain of events.

Lee Daniel's The Butler, represents a very in depth exploration of social consensus, racial vindication and a message of perseverance.

Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines an African American butler for the president of the United States. His roots comes from the cotton fields where he witness the inevitable when he loose his parents and later saved by one of the owners turning it into a private servant of the family.

The film with an all star cast, that goes, from Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, John Cusak, Live Scheriber just to name a few represents an impressive work made by Lee Daniels director of the award winning "Precious".

The Butler is a great piece of American history and also a great film about the racial struggle among African American.

Monday, August 19, 2013

JJ Abrahams repeat his traditional formula for a epic and groundbreaking VFX feast in Star Trek: into the Darkness.

In this new adventure the crew of the Enterprise discover an unstoppable force that terrorize the London and then San Francisco headquarters played by Benedict Cumberbatch. After a serious of tragic events, Kirk decide to lead a manhunt to capture this evil guy and bring it back to justice, just to discover a plot of epic proportions.

The film is breathtaking, impressive and perfect for a summer treat. Start Trek is fun, a of course a technical achievement.

Since early 2000 independent films are establishing an interesting pattern of freshen up the summer with interesting stories, less epic and VFXless. In 2006 Little Miss Sunshine change the course of the summer and most of filmmakers saw a trend. Why not bring great stories, fun and human allowing them to get into theaters appealing audiences tired of visual effects and plot with meaning. Most of this films already successful coming from Sundance circuit.

This year the team winner of the Academy of Awards for best screenplay fro The Descendants, create a little film called :The Way, Way Back.

The Way, Way Back tell the story of a 14 year old kid name Duncan on a summer vacation with his mom played by Toni Collete and her overbearing boyfriend Steve Carell. Duncan is trying to fit in this world and well meeting with kids of his ages and appeal to girls. In this search he find himself meeting the manager of Water Wizz park Owen played by Sam Rockwell. Thanks to this experience he will grow as a human being and connects with the world, specially his mom.

The film is a true gem, Sam Rockewell and Allison Janney are fantastic in this film. Hope to see some Spirit Awards and Oscars here.

A legend and a remarkable superhero reborn in the Man of Steel, by the director Zack Snyder (Watchmen and 300) The film tell the story of the arrival of Jor-El to earth and how slowly becomes Superman.

The story is been told in a none chronological order, which is used as anchors to connect some aspects of Jor El / Clark Kent personality and how he discover and manage his unexplainable powers. His earth link parents played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane raise the adoptive son well, but no parents are prepared to teach their son how to explain how supernaturals power can be used.

In a way Man of Steel is sort of similar to Jesus Christ days of pilgrim and and teachings, Everyone was afraid of this supernatural powers, the unexplainable and the new. How to manage something unknown? Heroes, sometimes are not loved by their savior, are afraid of this unusual character.

Overall the film is interesting and fun, but cannot surpass the first Richard Donner film. There is somethings about the 80's films that are too special and represents so much of a good film making collaboration.

Man of Steel represents and idea if create a dark Superman, a more human, with temptations, weakness and sociological traumas, which are a consequence of been raised on earth.

Don't get me wrong, the film is epic as can be. The all star cast bring a breed of fans to the comic book franchise. But the film can be forgettable after a few months.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Can't repeat the past

Making remakes is a big challenge for every filmmaker. The details, the story and the cast are the most important parts of this quest. In a way movie goers always refer to the previous or the original version where this film is based.

For Baz Lurham is been a long and difficult road to bring "The Great Gatsby" to the big screen. After a big failure with "Australia" Lurham, bring back one his most important actor as a major headline for this film Leonardo Di Caprio.

Gatsby is the story of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maquire) a yale graduate and a world war I veteran. Confined into a sanatorium for alcoholism.
During his meeting with doctors he always talk about Jay Gatsby (Leonardo Di Caprio) a mysterious business man and his extravagant parties.

The story of Gatsby is about a lost love from Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) cousin of Nick and how Daisy's husband Tom (Joel Edgerton) have a mistress. Gatsby wants to recover Daisy trying to erase or repeating the past.

The film is extravagant, elegant and full excess. Sing of times in the 20's where none saw the crashing of set stocks and the depression coming to the US. In a way the film reminds me to "Mouline Rouge" but then turns into a tragic soap opera of epic proportions.

Di Caprio is always great, the soundtrack is fantastic. Unfortunately the film overuse VFX to the fullest.

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers is the true story of four college students and friends Faith, Candy, Britt and Cotty (Selena Gomez Vanessa Hudgens Ashley Benson Rachel Korine) that start robbing stores in order to have money to enjoy their spring break in south of Florida.

During their crazy beach parties, drinking, and using drugs they were arrested by the police and later bail out by Alien (James Franco) a rapper and gangster from St Petersburg. Faith (Selena Gomez) feel extremely uncomfortable with Alien, probably for her education and family oriented education based on religion. After Faith departure Candy, Briit and Cotty get involved with Alien in the crime ring turning all into serious consequences for all.

The film explore violence, serious youngsters decisions, drugs and excess during Spring Break.
Honestly the movie is hard to read, you never have serious performances from all the actresses. James Franco is great. The cinematography, and editing is very good. The soundtrack is a great compilation.


Director and actor Dustin Hoffman make his debut film with a tremendous cast of well know british actresses and actors.

The film takes place during the rehearsals and preparation for Verdi's birthday concert celebration disrupted by the arrival of Jean Horton a famous opera singer play by Maggie Smith which is the newest addition to this nursing home, Jean as a diva and former wife of one of the residents

Quartet is the story of a musician nursing home in England. In a way the film reminds a lot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a group of retired fellows that get together, probably in Quartet the film is not exploring soul searching, is about what those musicians were in the past and now they are facing deception, all that stardust is gone and the only thing left are just fans.

Maggie Smith is wonderful as always, the rest of talented actors such as Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Billy Connolly are great too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

destiny, fate and karma

Derek Cianfrance is becoming a symbol for independent filmmaking, with a bold style explore elements of humanity like failure and happiness in a single structure.

With "Blue Valentine", he brought sadness to our hearts for a love story that started so beautiful and end up so bad, is like a the fireworks at end credits of this film. Love: Volatile at the beginning and then fades slowly.

With his new movie THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES explore two parallel worlds. crime and enforcement completely separated from each other, but then connected by destiny, fate and also karma.

Ryan Gosslin plays Luke a motorcycle stunt rider that decide to quit the circus and start robbing banks to help support his family and his newborn baby. Eva Mendes plays Romina, Luke love interest and mother of the baby. The collision between crime and enforcement takes Luke to been chase by a rookie cop played by Bradley Cooper, after robbed the last bank.

The rest of the story is a lesson of consequences of our actions and how good vs evil are always around the corner tempting us to choose the best one for us, not the right one.

The film is slow and tense, there is a lot of dramatic moments that deserve to be experience without spoil the whole plot.


The Wizard of OZ is a famous film of 1939, awarded and loved by the audience thought decades. So many want to explore this story and find alternatives to tell the tale creating parallel worlds, from sequels, spin off till prequels.

This is the story of OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. Sam Raimi director of SPIDERMAN TRILOGY. Starring James Franco as OZ, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. The use a singular formula, the esthetics of the original film WIZARD OF OZ, black and white, 4;3 format and when the tornado hits change gradually to color with a impeccable colorful environment.

Doing some research I found out that the Robert Downey JR was asked to play OZ, so during the film I was trying to imagine him as the magician instead of Franco. I came to the conclusion that RDJr was better for this part. The cast is good, but sadly Mila Kunis is not good enough to play the evil witch, besides Rachel Weisz who is always marvelous playing any part.

To me the best thing of the movie are the visual effects, the music by Danny Elfman, the art direction, the well done 3D and last but not least Zach Braff.

Iconoclastic dream

After the success of a film like INCEPTION, everyone filmmaker would like to explore the possibility of make a film about subconsciousness, dreams within a dream and even hypnosis.

Perhaps this one of the fewest genres that Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionare, Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and 28 Days Later) haven't explore. With an amazing and diverse filmography. Boyle explore this subject in TRANCE. Simon play by James McAvoy a fine art auctioneer who get involved in a big hit. Steal a very famous painting. During the heist Simon is hit in the head by Franck play by Vincent Cassel. Suddenly he end up in the hospital with amnesia.

The painting get lost in the situation, the only place that the location of the piece can be found is in Simon mind. Franck and Simon look for answers with a psychiatrist Elizabeth play by Rosario Dawson.

The story of TRANCE have so many twist and turns, with sexual innuendos between Simon and Elizabeth and Franck and Elizabeth. The film is interesting and intriguing, with a beautiful cinematography and music by Underworld band member Rick Smith.

TRANCE find subplots in Alfred Hitchcock early films, David Lean and Nic Roeg.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Django Unchained is the most recent film by director Quentin Tarantino. The film exploit the subject of slavery. With a dream cast and spaghetti western plot Django Unchained prove to be a film about violence, about races, but most of all about the search of nothing. The film is fun, entertaining, fill with irony and great performances. Like Tarantino is filled with violence and that's who his world is. I love the film, but I don't consider a masterpiece. The film delivers what Is been told.

I love that kind of movies and helps me to scape from all the drama in other movies.
Great soundtrack as always and perfect achievement in technical aspects of the film

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Silver Lining Playbook is a twisted romantic comedy about two very different disturbed people who are looking for answers. A man suffering a divorce and bipolar disorder and his equal a troubled widow.

This is the story a family united by football but divided by tragedies and destroyed relationships, the idea of a second chance, a dancing contest and the values human success no mater how small it is.

Great performances, Bradley Cooper did it, Jennifer Lawrence lovely and amazingly gorgeous as always. Robert De Niro is back in action and great Jacki Weaver. The big surprise is Chris Tucker part.

The biggest human hunting in history took place for several years thanks to the a woman who believe, in her capabilities to follow everything, but not focusing on a very important thing, herself.

Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of Maya a CIA agent to follows all the steps to chase one of the biggest enemy of the US, Osama Bin Laden. The narrative of the film explore periods from September 11, July 2005 bombing in London and several attacks to the US citizen in Pakistan.

Kathryn Bigelow deliver an amazing directing job, making the film a tense and stressing 8 year story. Jessica Chastain is marvelous, her melancholic look from the very beginning of the film, to her dramatic performance during investigation and interrogation till the end hem she finally breakdown in tears when finally achieve here biggest mission ever.

The film is powerful and technical success.

There is no way to express my confusion to this movie. Explore the nature of Scientology in a film could be made as a documentary. But digging the idea of create a dramatic plot as "The Master".

"The Cause" is what it called the group where Freddie Quell, Joaquin Phoenix character discover a life after post war and alcoholism. The leader of the cause Lancaster Dodd and Sue Dodd played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams represents a transition to Freddie. A way to escape from the insanity within but no the solution to his problems.

This is a very complex film