Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The hipster meets Siri

A guy sits by himself dictating a letter, sounds like a lover letter, also sounds personal, but at the same time seems to point out the impersonal that could be when this guy is trying to express his feelings by using a dictation software and then is revealed that is an anniversary letter. When the camera pulls back the audience discover a whole office that their solely business is to create this letters for someone.

The guy dictating the letter is Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) a lonely and introversive guy, like anyone that you bump on the street. A guy who loves technology, use it for everything, it fills his wishes and desires, from a game alone at home to the traditional online porn. We can see easily that Theodore needs company, at the moment he is dealing with a dramatic divorce with Catherine (Rooney Mara). Like anyone in this period of time, he needs to occupy his mind with something. Theodore decide to get the new OS operating system, the most intuitive of all, basically it adapts to the user and grow with it. That's when Samantha (Voice of Scarlett Johansson) appears. She gives Theodore company, entertain him and give him something special and unique to live.

Spike Jonze (director) explore a surreal world about computers who metaphorically speaking rule our worlds and lives, give us solutions to our daily activities, but also make us dependable of the information, the pleasures, the entertainment, but sadly make us dumb.

One of the most particulars characters on the film is Olivia Wilde. Some friends of Theodore fix a date with this girl just to fill the loneliness and eventually help him with his love life. Throughout the date scene you discover that this girl is exactly like some of the girls you can meet using an online dating site, just girls as needy and desperate like this one, a girl with conditions but also with so much necessities. That's how you realize that in the world of technology people find love, pleasure, lust, entertainment, fun, but also the discovery of psychological illness.

Theodore and the rest of the characters shown their true skin just by see them interacting with their computers and their systems, that sort of help our lives to make it "easy" but at the end of the day can destroy our ability to be just us, humans.

If you recall computers in movies and the effect, you can see Hal from 2001, T800 and T1000 The Terminator The Replicants in Blade Runner, Tron you will see that most of the computers, devices and operating systems come to the humans as a total novelty, but then you discover how so much bad can do to you, physically and mentally

A divorce is a very painful moment in your life and in fact a very experience that help you remember your past life. The confrontation of what's left behind is the main plot of the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi "The Past", the story takes place in France where Ahmad (Ali Mostafat) return from Theran to finish his divorce papers with soon to be ex-wife Marie (BĂ©renice Bejo) and also visit the daughters of Marie previous marriages. Ahmad discover that Marie is already in a new relationship with an Arab man name Samir who has a son whose wife is in coma.

From the very begging Fahardi established very interesting film making elements in order explain his point on why the film is called "The Past" Ahmad arrived at the airport meeting Marie both seen divided by a soundproof glass, their expressions consist into a vivid metaphor of was left, dissolved emotions, good and bad memories but perhaps the glass represents inability to communicate which results into a divorce, Ahmad and Marie arrived at the car in the airport parking totally wet from a unexpected rain, you see the last sparkle of that relationship, you see their faces as a reflection picking the pieces of what's left.

Later Ahmad and Marie drive to pick up Lucie at the school, the daughter of Marie in a previous marriage, which have problems with Marie, because she disapproved Samir relationship with her mother. Again, Fahardi use the glass metaphor with Ahmad and cop who is asking him to move the car while he parked on a unauthorized section, the conversation is presented mute as hidden message, is Ahmad ability to offer solutions, by avoiding conflicts or perhaps find ways around.

That's how you finally discover in just two scenes how the main characters are going to play in this complex film. The story is revealed like a cop drama, where every revelation is painful but necessary for the conclusion.

Asghar Farhadi create another powerful story about difficult characters who still love their Arab roots, are dealing with new territories and new relationships.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When I first read that "The Wolf of Wall Street" I was wondering how difficult and complicated will be to make this movie. From the length of the story to the cast and the esthetics behind the film.

After watching the film, which cause me a headache after I finished the long 3 hours I will say that this movie should be called: Gordon Gekko's Wall Street on Steroids. The story of Wolf of Wall Street, tell the story of Jordan Belfort a stockbroker who started woking in the business in 1987. During a stock crisis he lost his job and started working on a Long Island boiler room which deals with penny stocks. His pitching style earn him a fortune, after meeting Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) they decide to open a their own firm. The story continues with the rise of Jordan's company, the lifestyle that goes from expensive prostitutes and drugs. Overall the film is intense, you can see Marty signature all over the place, from his typical filmmaking, Thelma Schoonmaker editing style and rhythm.

Unfortunately the problem of the movie is tell the tale in 3 hours, you can see how was cut and understand the lack of information in some characters as well the plot. Some nudity was necessary to show the excess of the stock brokers lifestyle, but to show the debauchery happening there you can use smarter tools.
The Wolf of Wall Street tried embrace the luxury, the excess and the pleasure of that lifestyle. Jordan Belfort and their team of con artist are heroes, their funny and they not representing any evil. But at the end of the day, they stole people money for their own pleasure. None is punished, comparing to Goodfellas, the last one, show you the good and the bad of been against the law.

Di Caprio is amazing and earn his reward as experienced actor, Jonah Hill is great, Matthew McConaughey is really good besides his limited screen time. I love Rob Reiner performance.

Overall the film is entertaining

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Music in film is a true joy to watch. Stories of music bands, singers, composers or just creators of music, explore memorable moment when a tune came to life and the challenge pressing the dream of been famous.

From Alan Parker "The Commitment", Olvier Stone "The Doors" Steve Kloves "The Fabulous Baker Boys and Luis Valdez "La Bamba" films that explore music artits and their life most of the time tell the tale from the beginning to the end, sometimes tragic, sometimes ironic and even unusual.

For Joel and Ethan Coen and their film "Inside Llewyn Davis" this is not an exception. The movie takes place in a folk scene in NY during 1961 and presents the life of Llewyn Davis in a week of calamities, successful encounters, unwanted babies, missing cats and cold road trips.

"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a musical film as it best, you enjoy every part of it, in a way reminds me the importance that Alan Parker gave to "The Commitments" music performances are important to the story, it helps to connect the audience with the artist itself. It allows you to feels the music, and find meaning to their lyrics where the singer came from and where is going. Perhaps is an expression of freedom but also the struggle of been a true spirit in the music scene of 1961. Oscar Issac is great, Carey Mulligan is stunning.

This is a movie for music fans.

I'm always share fascination to movie about the making of a movie. Films like The Player, White Hunter Black Heart, Boogie Nights, Ed Wood and 8 1/2 explore the nature of a director, a producer or the actors during the production of a movie. Alternate stories of human suffering, personal approval, murder and turbulent pass represents this films and their characters.

In Saving Mr Banks Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers writer for the famous book Mary Poppins, and tells her story of her trip to Hollywood to start the production of this famous Julie Andrews movie. Mrs Travers is trudging finically and her only solution is to sell the rights of Mary Poppins book to make the film via Disney Studios. She met Walt Disney play by Tom Hanks and the team behind the film Richard and Rober Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak) and Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford)

Mrs Travers have a very difficult relationship with the team, she question everything on the film, from costume and set design, the use of singing on the movie and also the plot and how Banks senior play on the movie. The preproduction becomes an entire cathartic experience for Mrs Travers, bringing childhood memories make the audience understand that Mary Poppins is based on her life experience, her father alcoholism and how her aunt help the family to bring back their feet.

The film is sentimental and fun to watch, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are great, Paul Giamatti is my favorite on the movie. Is great to see a little bit of how the song were made and the involvement of Walt Disney into the production of Mary Poppins

Four years ago actor and writer Steve Coogan, made a TV show called the trip. The plot was a about a restaurant tour on the north of England. Coogan seems to be interest in a human exploration during a trip, could be like the American called: road trip, but mostly comedic.

In the movie "Philomena" by director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons and The Grifters) brought Coogan to do another kind of trip.

Judi Dench (Skyfall, Shakespeare in Love, Iris) plays Philomena Lee a woman who 50 years ago gave birth to a baby in Ireland, but because she wasn't married she is forced to give him up for adoption. Philomena's daughter introduce to Journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) after she met him in a party while she works as a waitress. She tell Philomena story and ask Martin to help her to find her lost son. Martin comes from been fired from BBC after an scandal.

The film into a soul searching experience that happens to be a road trip that start in England, passing from Ireland and ends in Washington, DC. Philomena a very religious person who was confined to a convent where she lived there a pregnant woman. Her beliefs go beyond her ability to understand that some members of the church can be bad persons and disappearance from her son. While Martin not believe in the church or religion, he believe in his work and his ability to find information and clues. His life just focusing on bring his reputation back at an cost. Philomena story is the way to achieve a good reputation.

Both performances are great Dench and Coogan are great together. The film is really well directed and adapted from the book.

Scammers or con artist films have the particularity of make them heroes or perhaps generate love and compassion for them. Audiences feel some connection to the fact of enjoying their operations and how defeat the system.

Cath Me if You Can, Bowfinger, The Color of the Money, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Sting constitute a notable collections of films where scammers did their best earn recognition and get enormous quantity of money. Most of this films have an element of comedy, but never dig deep enough to their drama and their humanity.

In David O Russell "American Hustle" focus on one thing specifically, Humanity. The film tell the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) a con artist and his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams).

During one of their operations they meet FB agent Richie Di Masso (Bradley Cooper) and they end up cutting a under the table deal to get politicians using a wealthy Sheikh as a decoy.

When you experience the movie, you think you are not watching something new, in fact, it looks like you put Martin Scorsese Goodfellas and Casino and Gregory Roy Hill "The Sting" in a blender. The result is American Hustle. What makes the movie different is the story and the characters. There is comedy in it, but in reality, what is comedy? Real life is comedy. Everyday situations are comedy? I took the film seriously, and I couldn't laugh to some situations like the rest of the audience.

There is seriousness of been a con artist. You live your life to the fullest, but you know that you can get caught, so your wealthy life might vanish in a blink of an eye. Every character in American Hustle suffer from a problem they need to understand that beyond the money and luxury, there is an end. You will love someone and you will loose someone, could be friendship or love.