Thursday, January 22, 2015

Movies are use to explore politics, war and other subject matters as a metaphors. 1995 Emir Kusturika, masterfully create the film Underground to represents the conflict of Yugoslavia subsequently divided in three countries. Others film explore another subject matters, like Aliens and the Vietnam war and X-Men and Gay Right Movement.

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) is based on the Biblical story of Naboth's vineyard. Kolya owns a property up at the hill, he is married and have a teenager son. Kolya property it's been on a trial against the town Vadim mayor, who wants to to own the piece of land no matter what. Dimitri (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) is Kolya old friend, but also his lawyer on the case against Vadim. No matter how law works in this town Vadim (Roman Madyanov) is able to win the case and also make sure to ruin everyone's life.

Kolya wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) have marital problems, they seem to be distant, besides Kolya's effort Lilya is no longer feeling anything from him, Surprisingly she is having an affair with Dimitri. On the other hand Roma (Sergey Pokhodaev) Kolya's son from the first marriage have problems accepting Lillya as his stepmother, which be reflected in problems of authority.

Vadim the towns lawyer, have a team of people who help him to cheat the system, hiding all his dirty laundry, which almost was releases to the public by Dimitri, when he was trying to negotiate with Vadim using the documents as solution win the case. Vadim is a very alcoholic person, also a very conflicted man who use the high priest as a confidant and also advisor for his none ethical political practice.

Leviathan explore a very controversial story about corrupt officials, corrupt church, money, power, laws that protect the perpetrators and not the victims and sadly your trust in the system.

There is so many images in Leviathan that represents metaphorically speaking the strong message against corruption, but showing a bunch of friends celebrating a birthday by practicing shot and range with old russian presidents also how god explain in the scriptures that truth is absolute freedom by using the high priest giving the final sermon. Do not pay attention of actions of violence, destruction and hate, because are not god good intentions, these are lies pretending to be the truth. The church will protect people because the church is state also also could be church.

After you leave the theater you are upset, not only fort the conclusion, but that the facts are not far from the truth. Leviathan takes place in Russia, but can takes place in U.S.A, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico or even in a African Nation. You are not longer protected by the state. The laws protect the politicians, but not the citizens, even if you go against the state using the laws, you will never win.

Leviathan is a powerful film that deserves awards and recognition for the masterful film making work, from their actors and crew.

Friday, January 16, 2015

War movies been around in Hollywood for decades. From films about the actual conflict, the before and after the conflict and also coming home stories. As an spectator the most complex stories are the ones of people who end up prisoner of war and how the person prevail the tortures of their enemies and comes back as a hero.

Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, The Rail Man, Rescue Dawn, The Bridge on The River Kwai shows diverse stories of soldiers coming to fight against the enemy and end up in a concentration camp been humiliated by the oppressors.

Unbroken (Angelina Jolie) presents the story of Lois "Louie" Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) a bombardier in World War II in a mission to attack the island of Nauru. The film takes place in several periods of the life of Louie, his childhood, teenage years and also his time as a runner for the Olympics in Berlin. The story focus on showing how Louie evolves from all this periods to become a successful athlete and his time during war. The tragic events that unfolds at the crashing of his aircraft in the ocean with only him and two others as survivors Mac and Phil.

After a long period of time Louie end up been transferred into a concentration camp where he is mentally and physically tortured.

I think Unbroken have a great premise as a world war film, but is becoming to sentimental and dramatic in a way that the audience becomes so affected with the film that stop realizing that the main focus on this film is how Louie Zamperini get back home after the horrors of war. The parallel stories make sense in a way that helps you to illustrate the bond between Louie and his brother Peter. But the story focus so much time during his 45 days stranded at sea without a solid reference of time which help the audience to understand the drama, besides just the cast away effect of finding food and surviving.

My problem with Unbroken it reminds me a mash up of movies all together Chariots of Fire, meet Life of Pi meet Rescue Dawn meet Empire of the Sun. The film is mushy (excessive sentimental) may be because of the nature of the story.

Overall the film have great technical achievements and delivers what is need it. solid war period drama.

Big Hero 6 tales the story of Hiro a an robotic genius who like to spend his spare time in back alley robot fights. Encouraged by his talented brother Tadashi, because he is so concerned on how Hiro waste his time on this kind of activities he brings him Hiro to his university. That's when he first meet Baymax, a personal care robot created by Tadashi.

The film setting is in a fusion of Tokyo and San Francisco named Fransokyo, a very interesting eclectic environment. Don Hall directs this animated film that goes in the roots of films about a person who is search of his own identity, after some tragic happening that force him to take the lead role and encounter evilness by fighting as a super hero.

Disney exploration of Big Hero 6 is a very flat story with some nuances of previous stories. Tragedies, fight between good and evil, revenge, but most the use of Joseph Campbell The Journey of a Hero.
The problem with Big Hero 6 is not about how writers didn't developed too many layers of this story, making it meaningful, is about people, you see that Hiro and Tadashi friends developed a bond but is not that deep, which makes the whole transition to be none to be superheroes so quick that audience just witnessed in a blink of an eye. Films about super heroes take the time to show how this people transition from one personality to the other, may be is because is a kids film, the story is not a well developed. But if you see Pixar The Incredibles the story is powerful and hit the core on superheroes mythology.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The most recent events of police brutally and violence against minority shake the emotions of communities around the country and perhaps the world. Seems that this a vicious circle that still present without any evident solution. Ava DuVernay explore this problem in the film Selma.

The historical drama Selma recount the events in 1965 of the voting rights marches led by James Hosea Williams and Martin Luther King Jr. The film's approach is raw in some moments highlighting perfectly the levels of hate and violence that people and authorities of the south have against African Americans, but also how people were able to overcome race discrimination marching as one.

Selma is not a biopic about MLK is about everyone who always wanted to be treated as an equal and the struggle civil right movement leaders, finding answers and searching for understanding.

Ava DuVernay do a formidable work as a director, capturing a MLK vulnerable, thoughtful and spiritual. Selma is filled with excellent visual nuances, supported by the beautiful cinematography from Bradford Young and editing by Spencer Averick. Music selection for the film is spot on and it capture the emotions of the scenes in SELMA.

Lastly David Oyelowo is outstanding as a MLK he gets deep into the character, specially when he is doing the most memorable speeches from Dr King.

SELMA makes you understand that nothing have change and the work to develop better understanding about race and equality is not even half away.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pupil and teacher relationship it's always been covered in films as a very romantic, inspirational and emotional way of seen education.

From "Dead Poets Society", "Dangerous Minds", "Mr. Holland's Opus", "Monsieur Lazhar", "The School of Rock""Half Nelson", "A Single Man" these films presents the classroom as great space for different experiences. Students are encouraged to learn more and achieve greater things, so teachers to will give the most inspiring speeches and take relationships to the next level.

This is not the case in the film Whiplash. David Chazelle directs the story of Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) a 19 year old jazz drummer who is starting as a student in Shaffer Conservatory. This on of the best music school in the USA. He have a great and inspiring life, from love a relationship with Nicole (Melissa Benoist) a college student who works at a movie theater to the support of his dad Mr Neiman (Paul Reiser)

But for Andrew the most important things is becoming the next Buddy Rich considered the world best drummer. The big challenge in Shaffer school is win Terence Fletcher which is the most infamous conductor in school. Andrew put all his efforts to become the best and be for Fletcher his key drummer.

Andrew will encounter a hard road to reach a higher level, the destructive relationship with Fletcher will turn him into an obsessed person who painfully fight and fight to reach the best place. Fletcher demeanor attitude will focus of destroy Andrew moral, all this with a powerful jazz soundtrack

Miles Teller is great on the movie, but the show stealer is J.K. Simmons, he deserves an Oscar hands down.

Whiplash explore human tolerance, human will, the value of artistic careers versus other professional careers but mostly perseverance over an abuser. This film can be also a great piece of study for student been bully by their teachers.

Movies about media is probably on of the most interesting topics to talk about from films like Network, Broadcast News, All President Men, Citizen Kane, Good Night and Good Luck, The Insider, Natural Born Killers, Shattered Glass, Zodiac and To Die For. Is most of this film talk about an specific event that media covers or perhaps stories in the news frontline.

Nightcrawler I would say is the first film to talk about the new Citizen Journalism trend. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a thief who make a living taking part from construction sites. After stumble a film crew shooting a footage of an accident on the highway, Lou become inspired into do this job. After finally geared up, he approach to a morning news anchor Nina (Rene Russo) who offer him buy his footage. The main goal of Lou is to find violent incidents in neighborhoods because this attract viewers.

After a successful career covering the most violent incidents in Los Angeles. Lou hired an assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed) but also becomes highly obsessed on making the best work possible, to the point he will alter the crime scenes and also sabotage competitors in order to get more money even treat hen Nina to end their business relationship if she doesn't have sex with him.

Dan Gilroy director of Nightcrawler make a masterful job creating a dark Los Angeles. This is a very neo-noir crime thriller this is not the brightest and cooller time to see the Hollywood mecca, this is a city that breathe evilness and is it's dark and scary. The films reminds to "Drive", Collateral, To Live and Die in L.A. and other movies that shown a very obscure L.A.

This films question the role of citizen journalism, what is right or wrong, what sells as a piece of news and what's and what newscaster, reporters and news network personel are capable to do, to provide with what they consider the best news

Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic as Lou, you like him, you also hate him and scare of him. His mannerism and street talk make him a business charming man will to do what ever it takes to be the best. Cinematographer Robert Elswit and editor John Gilroy done a great job capturing the spirit of Los Angeles as well the darkness and tension of this seudo abandoned city.

Nightcrawler is a great achievement in filmmaking