Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Is another night in NYC, the wet streets after a scatter rain, yellow shapes of taxis passing by non stop, suddenly a man rush to get a cab, his wife is chasing him, she is in distress, after a back seat argument the driver accept to do two separate rides.

This is how the story of Wendy and Darwan starts. “Learning to Drive” is the most recent movie from the female director Isabel Coixet based on a short story from Katha Pollit and written to the screen by Sarah Kernochan.

Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley start in the tale of two lost souls in a very conflicted moment for them. Wendy (Clarkson) plays a book critic and radio interviewee recently dumped by her husband, and Darwan Singh Tur (Kingsley) is a driving instructor and also a moonlight cabbie who is soon to be married to an Indian woman in an arranged marriage.

Mrs Coixet approach to the story is to show a parallel life for both of them. The wealthy life of the Upper West side and a most mundane life in Queens. A manuscript from Wendy left in Darwan cab connects them, is like a divine intervention. Wendy is in her most vulnerable time while for her new cabbie friend Darwan security and strength he represents her light at the end of the tunnel, a way out for her.

Don’t get confuse with the story, this is not a romantic story, is a story of friendship how two cultures collide, while one person is highly educated book critic, the other is a well manner immigrant, with aspirations and dreams, but relegated in America by racial discrimination.

Darwan offers Wendy to teach her how to drive, not just because she don’t know how to, is because metaphorically speaking, Darwan is capable to put her on track in her life. “When you are cooking, how do you know if you put enough spices? By tasting, the same way is for driving, you have to taste the road” Wendy and Darwan grows deeper, they discover more of them, their fears and of course their aspirations.

Now that the road direction seems clear, a new detour comes. Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury) the arranged bride arrived to NYC, while the encounter is not the perfect one; Jasleen and Darwan have to adapt themselves to this new situation. The road needs some adjustments with a little bit of sacrifice.

I praise the simplicity and honesty of this film, which just try to describe an honest friendship that grows inside a car, by teaching one another that life can be very complicated if we hold ourselves to things and we are not capable of let go, let go anger, fears, sadness even some dreams.

Clarkson and Kingsley are perfect in their roles. The film is a real treat thanks to director Isabel Coixet. Beautiful edited by Thelma Scoonmaker and Keith Reamer.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Parents, the masterminds behind our first steps, our first experiences and our whole life of learning, the people responsible of shaping who we are, but also the one to blame if we end up been a mess.

This is the simple plot of the film “Trainwreck” directed by Judd Apatow the film focus on the little girl that been influenced by her father Gordon Townsend (Colin Quinn) with the message of monogamy isn’t realistic. Gordon is an alcoholic and promiscuous guy who spent his last days at a nursing home.

Amy (Amy Schumer) a writer for a men’s magazine is the mirror of her father, the resonance of the monogamy of dad’s message, makes her a girl without commitments, afraid of the future with somebody, but also an alcoholic.

You see the opposite attitude in Amy’s sister Kim (Brie Larson) a settled woman, with a husband and a step kid living the typical family life.

The film doesn’t focus on that parallel, but just highlight moments with comedic situations, which ease the drama of that, dismembered family. Mom is no longer with them and the two girls live the pain of taking care of their dad and coping with his behavior, specially for Amy who get along with him, not so for Kim.

The conflict in Trainwreck is when Amy is assigned to write a piece about a sport surgeon Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Her boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) is a cheeky British woman who projects her feelings about men and their lifestyle in the magazine. She is ruthless and insensitive, but is the boss. After Amy begged Diana to no give her this story, she have to accept, just with the promise of a promotion.

Amy spent several occasions watching him work and do his job. Unfortunately for Amy, Aaron fell in love with her and feel attached to this messy woman. The conflict begins and the relationship goes deeper. She has to confront all her fears and is not easy.

Judd Apatow develops a story written by Schumer into a funny story of this conflicted woman. The film presents the characters as caricatures of the typical life in NYC, with the vignettes of the urban city. The guys who date Amy are those stereotypes, including
Steven (John Cena) a sensitive body builder, who enjoys artsy movies, walks in the park to name a few. My problem with “Trainwreck” is the story and the dialogues. I can swear that Amy talks in the same voice of Annie Walker (Kristin Wiig) in Bridesmaid, in fact are kind of the same character. Sometimes I feel that I seen this characters in other films, but also seems that the conflict in “Trainwreck” never reach its peaks, but neither the resolutions. Don’t get me wrong some jokes are funny, other ones borderline into vulgar.

The movie is entertaining and fun, Amy Schumer and Bill Hader are great together.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

In the mist of Cold War for a secret organization is planning the use of a nuclear strike to create a conflict between the United States and USSR. The only solution is to bring the best secret agents from both countries and work together to stop this threat. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kurakin (Armie Hammer) antagonist to the very begging are forced to work together using their expertise and charm to transport Gabby Teller (Alicia Vikander) the daughter of a Nazi scientist who holds the key of a nuclear warhead.

Guy Ritchie directs The Man From U.N.C.L.E. the film adaptation of the TV show from 1960's the film a very entertaining movie, action packed and also very sophisticated looks of Italy, probably steal from famous traditional Italian movies from that period. Ritchie brings a lot of energy to this cast. Cavill and Hammer have great chemistry on screen and comedic timing brings life in the most hectic moments. Alicia Vikander complete this trio bringing more comic relief and also elegance with her style and beauty.

The film setting in East Germany 1963 start with a very energetic chase, well orchestrated a must say and ends with on a very funny circumstances. The rest of the film is pretty entertaining with witty humor, great soundtrack and fantastic film transitions

A rock band playing "American Girl" in a decadent bar in Los Angeles, filled with a very hype bartender, a war veteran and some typical characters for this decadent setting is the very beginning of Ricki and The Flash. Directed by Jonathan Demme

Ricki (Meryl Streep) is the lead singer of this typica band, her partner in the band Greg (Ricky Springfield) is also her long time lover. Ricki is a cash register in a local supermarket with the bucolic images of new trends (produce, gluten tofu and etc) Ricki is tired of that life, always questioning the most recent establishment. She also joke about the current president with the keyboard player.

At this point we see a woman living a decadent world, she disapproved the life she is living but also who is ruling our institutions. A victim of 2008 financial crisis, she is disappointing of how we live.

To make matters worst, Ricki received the call from her ex husband Pete (Kevin Kline) who lives in Indianapolis with his new wife Maureen (Audra McDonald) and Ricki's tree kids who were raised by them when Ricki left for a more artistic life. Julie (Mamie Gummer) suicide attempt after discover that her husband cheat on her and also divorcing her.

Pete and Maureen are presented as the opposite of Ricki's life in Los Angeles, well established family, a cookie cutter house and with a very wealthy lifestyle. Julie re encounter with mom is not the most pleasant, because everyone blame Ricki for abandoning the family to pursue her dream in music.

The biggest conflict comes when Ricki reunited with her two sons Joshua and Adam who despise her mom for not been there and also they exclude her from important landmarks in their life, a marriage and been gay. The discussion turns ugly and that's when we discover that Ricki represents the past in American way of living. She voted for George W Bush Twice, she is homophobic but also is not the perfect mom.

Ricki and The Flash develop slowly, but also with several bumpy transitions. The film seems flat sometimes, some crucial moments don't have proper conclusion or definitive progress. We see characters that comes and go and we look for emotive moments to give closure. Even a character so powerful like Greg (Ricky Springfield) who to me represents Ricki conscience helping her to understand the problems in her life is not enough on screen to make us understand why Ricki is a failure as a mom who make mistakes and the need for a second chance.

The conclusion of the film is sort of circle that close with the family together while Ricki and the Flash plays together one last tune. Ricki defeat the establishment, the people who judge her for not been the perfect mom, but also for not care abut a cookie cutter life.

Ricki and The Flash was written by the famous screenwriter Diablo Cody

Monday, August 3, 2015

The arrival of a plane in Hawaii brings a guy two women together in sort of love triangle. An ex wife and a potential love interest makes this conflicted man to decided what ever happen to me and where I’m going with my life.

Aloha is directed by Cameron Crowe, the film starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams is a romantic comedy about Brian Gilchrest (Cooper) a contractor for the military after a messed up work in Kabul. Arriving to Hawaii he discovered that his ex girlfriend Tracy (McAdams) is now married. During his assignment Brian meet up with his Air Force liaison Allison Ng (Emma Stone).

All I can say is Aloha is a really flat film, the development of the story doesn’t offer a real twist, besides passages of Brian and Allison relationship and Brian memories of missing time with Tracy. All this is happening in the setting of the beautiful Hawaii. The characters are weak and cannot hold longer in the duration of the movie.

There is no conflict so the story falls apart gradually.

I’m always fascinated when a film’s subject is film itself. The actors conflicts, fame, the making a play, show business in general. In “Cloud Sils Maria” is a French movie by director Oliveier Assayas, about an actress Maria Enders (Julliete Binoche) and her relationship with her loyal American Assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart)

At the beginning of the movie Maria and Valentine are traveling by train to Zurich for an event to honor a famous writer Wilhelm Melchoir who gave Maria her first opportunity in the industry, playing a young role in Maloha Snake. Maria received the news that Melchoir passed away, but the event will happen as plan. During the event a theater director approached Maria to play a role again in the play Maloja Snake, but this time the older character, Maria decided to spent the following months in Wilhelm Melchoir house in the mountain to prepare for the role, the house name Sils Maria

“Cloud Sils Maria” is a deep exploration of fame in the film industry as well the theater circuit. The film divided by chapters present a conflict, young vs old, from Mari to Valentine, they argue on how important celebrities are portrait themselves in the media to be relevant. This is when Jo-Ann Ellis (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) appears, which is the new younger antagonist she is a reflection of Maria at her younger years as an actress. Maria is famous but is not relevant as Jo-Ann is.

The film is powerful, with great performances and a very unusual structure that makes the audience question the reality of the characters and their actual presence on film.