Thursday, September 29, 2016

Music is the vehicle for emotions, throughout the years films keep telling stories about rock bands, the people behind those bands, the music fans and people who just admire music in general and live their live thru music. In particular when you see a film that takes place in the late 70’s and 80’s about music, the story center in working classes who are trying to achieve something greater, they live in rough neighbor and the political environment is total anarchy.

In the film “London Town” director Derrick Borte tales the story of Shay (Daniel Huttlestone) a kid who is looking for his way in the early stages of puberty. He is been raised with his sister by his dad Nick (Doughy Scott) who is a cab driver by night and manage a piano store by day. Shay’s mother Sandrine (Natascha McElhnorne) is stranded in London living in a sort of hippie community. Shay becomes interested The Clash thanks to a instant connection with a girl on the train Vivian (Neil Williams) who encourage him to go with her in a live show which is filled with aggressive and violent youngster who just want to change everything in the world. This how the world was during the times of the clash.

Vivian and Shay adventures in the city guide them to meet Joe Strummer (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) lead of the band. During the first half and hour of the film you see how Shay’s character evolve from a innocent child to a true punk youngster. He experience the life in the city of London, but he also forced him to manage his house and his little sister due Shay's dad work accident.

“London Town” is a interesting film that use the point of view of a kid to cover a chapter in the life of the band The Clash, where the main protagonist is Shay, the music delivers and help you experience the road evolving as a kid to a teenager. This film present similarities with “Sing Street”, “Almost Famous” which also have stories concentrate in music and kids growing thru music and their experiences.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers shines as Joe Strummer, the kids are also great. My biggest problem is the lack of connection between Nick (Doughy Scott) and their kids, you can see how from act 1, 2, 3 the relationship evolve perhaps by the director influence or the development of the actual production.

Movies about journalism have very complicated task to achieve. No only create a message that engage with the audience explaing everything about moral, values and the idea to inform the public as a civic duty, but also tales a story of the the reporters, investigators, the victims etc. Many films explored this messages in the past: Network, Spotlight, All Presidents Men, Shattered Glass, Good Night and Good Luck, Frost/Nixon.

In the film “Money Monster” directed by Jodie Foster, tales the story of a TV personality/guru Lee Gates (George Clooney) who stars in a TV show about commerce in Wall Street, “Money Monster” The director of the TV show is Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) a strong woman who is basically tired of Lee’s facade as a person in and out of the TV spectrum. Lee is arrogant and never goes by the book, for Patty is always a problem to deal with him, he do whatever he wants and get away with it As a consequence of Lee’s actions, that goes from been risky advising the audience what he consider is the best investments to make fun of the market itself. During the production of one of the shows it’s aggressively hijacked by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) a viewer who lost his money thanks to Lee’s recommendations.

The film “Money Monster” is a well done thriller with a weak story. When you start watching it, you understand the pieces of the puzzle in a predictable way, but felt flat because some of the characters are been introduced in a dynamic TV style (Dominic West and Catriona Balfe), the development of the story seems to be self explanatory but you’re never fully aware of their actions and how they end up in the first place.

In a way the film “Money Monster” criticized the mayor social and economical issues in America, but also how mass media is becoming a mayor circus just for the purpose of money without caring about the importance of content these days. A reflection of that is how Lee make a variety TV show that also is focus mostly in the Wall Street market. The problem in the film is you try to tell the story of three mayor characters, criticism to the media and also explain how the stock market works, problem that cannot been avoid if you compare it to the films like “The Big Short” or “Margin Call”.

At the end Money Monster is a good thriller but with a story that confuse the audience and ends as a nice attempt to be added to the list of fantastic films about journalism.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The search for truth and justice always come with consequences. We live in a world where liberties are at risk, but also there is an illusion of liberties in general. The invasion of privacy for the greater good is the price that civilians have tho pay in order to catch groups who are trying to hurt our people in the most unimaginable ways.

Our laws have so many gray areas and people feel that the government is not trusted just for a simple reason. In order to find mayor threats we need to break the law.

This is the mayor focus of Oliver Stone’s movie “Snowden” Edward Joseph Snowden (Joseph Gordon Levitt) born in Elizabeth, NC. is a computer professional who worked for the CIA and also was a former contractor for the NSA. The film starts the story when he is training in the Army Reserve suddenly he breaks his legs in an accident and later discharged. Hi interest in computers leads him to apply into a position at the CIA, where he meets Corbin O’Brien (Rhyys Ifans) who hire him as one of his top computer wizard.

The film use as main arc Laura Poitras (Melisa Leo) Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson) famous interview in China after Snowden leaves the USA and bringing a collection of secret classify documents from NSA servers. This sub scenes allow the audience to connects with Snowden personal conflicts about the secret programs from the US government spying their people, but also his political view during the Irak war, his commitment to a job that not only was his passion, sometimes was his own obsession. During his relationship scenes with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) he experiences happy moments in his life, but also makes him doubt about the work that he is doing for the government looking for a more mundane life.

Olive Stone drives the movie with a film structure which develops between the years 2003 to 2014, but specifically pays attention to the crucial days where Ed Snowden is hidden in a Chinese hotel with the group of journalist. Joseph Gordon Levitt is excellent playing the famous whistleblower, sometimes his physique and posture tricks you, which is very scary. One my favorite performance is by Nicolas Cage playing Hank Forrester.

The films excessive drama, specially of Ed and Lindsey relationship ruin part of the experience. At the beginning of the movie we been warned with opening titles: This film is a dramatization, which prepare the audience for a not be very accurate story. But according to a media personality Alex Jones, he talks about the scariness of what the film portrays and how the government collects data from their citizens, from social media to constant communication.

Snowden is a great film representation of what’s happening in the world of hacking, invasion of privacy but also the conflicts between serve your country and respect the liberties of every citizen.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A noisy Caracas street shows a 50's year old men Armando a dental prosthetic. He is very serious, formal man searching for his prey. Constantly he approaches to teenagers on the bus, offer them a stack on money, in exchanges of company. For him seems to be his hobby.

One day he noticed a 17th year old kid name Elder who works in a junkyard where he repair old cars. He is also a member of a gang who steal auto parts Suddenly a relationship of love and hate develops between them, as well a dramatic revelation for both and the consequences of their drastic actions.

Lorenzo Vigas directs "Desde Allá/From Afar" the first Venezuelan film to win the major price at last year Venice Film Festival. The movie explore homosexuality as a taboo in Latin American countries, but also the roughness of life in opposite places like United States where the capitalism has take over. The film shot in the neighborhood of Catia in Caracas, presents a place that can easily be confused with Bogotá, Lima, La Paz or even Quito. The director is not focusing as the city itself, but the characters in a city. "From Afar", separate the establishment of a country and concentrate in the intimacy and loneliness of the characters.

Armando and Elder both works in a place where they constantly fix and hide the traces of the damage of time, either in someone's mouth or someone's vehicle. Their life center of solving the problem of fixing part of a life, while their life itself is tortured by abuse, wealth and unsatisfaction. Elder always wear a jersey with the number 10, a sign of success of soccer players but also their demise a curse by becoming the best in the world, while in the end they become no one's hero.

In a recent interview Mr Vigas seems to be influence by the style from Robert Bresson's "Pickpocket" his shots are long and force the audience to look around and discover what the actors are thinking without telling everyone. It's an exercise of hide and seek. Less words more visual, describe what's happening. The actions goes out of focus, or the main roles separate from each other in a foreground background dance. It's visual style borrow from Europeans like Luc Besson, Michael Haneke, Igmar Bergman and even Mathieu Kassovitz.

The film is powerful and delivers an intense story with no music at all, that cause a big conflict in the audience who are expecting a cheap solution from drama. Vegas plays with the audience looking for there reactions.
The film is powerful and delivers an intense story with no music at all, that cause a big conflict in the audience who are expecting a cheap solution from drama. Vegas plays with the audience looking or there reactions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tom (Michael Fassbender) is a war veteran who get’s the offer to become lighthouse keeper in the remote shore of Australia, since his arrival, Isabel (Alicia Vikander) show interest in him, but due the social aspects of a small town she cannot live with him, unless she marry him. Their love grows with the distance, long distance communication help them to stay connected and share their dreams. The new married couple live in solitude trying to procreate but with several unsuccessful attempts cause cracks in this perfect loving couple. Until one day, they rescue a baby girl who has washed up on a adrift rowboat with a dead body. This happening will be the beginning of a happy life as family the also the beginning of their demise.

Dereck Cianfrance directs “The Light Between the Oceans: a tragic story of love and deception that teach us the real value of making the right choices in life. Cianfrance is not a rookie in the subject of tragic love stories. His previous films Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines represents parts of his body of work. This time he explore a period drama with two strong actors: Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender.

There is something unique about this couple on film, is because they are a real life couple and the chemistry for them is perfect, most their scenes are strong and the addition of Rachel Weisz make the film powerful enough.

One of the problems of this movie is the length, the story develops but it gets sunk in one point trying to make the audience understand what’s the real problem. For me it’s pretty simple to understand. A couple living in solitude who are trying to have a baby, she suffer two miscarriages and then they found a baby girl in the shore. Against all rules and regulations they keep the baby without permission just to feed their grief for their lost babies. The story is about love, commitment but is also the difference between right or wrong.

The film is nicely done, with beautiful cinematography by Adam Arkpaw and a masterful score by Alexandre Desplat.

Woody Allen is always been surrounded by the nostalgic 30’s and 40’s Film like Midnight in Paris, Bullets over Broadway, Radio Days. The emotional aspects of this period, the glamour and fashion, represents the essence of a time that most of grandparents remember as magical.

Many film stars and musicians became legends for the audience who went to see them perform or play in the local clubs or movie theaters. There was also a very dark period during the 30’s and 40’s, it was called the organized crime, where gangster will use their power to control licor, gambling and also sophisticated clubs where everyone wanted to be.

This is the story of the Dorfman family. A jewish family who live modestly in NYC. Marty and Rose are the parents of Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), Evelyn (Sari Lennick) and Ben (Corey Stoll). Bobby wants to go to Hollywood and find fame, Evelyn is married school teacher, who’s husband have socialist ideas and Ben who is gangster.

Rose’s brother Phill (Steve Carell) works a powerful talent agent. Who received Bobby with the intention to help him to find his way into Hollywood. That’s when he introduce to his secretary Veronica ( Kristen Stewart) who have the task to help Bobby to get settle in California showing him around.

After a few days Bobby confess his love to Veronica claiming that she is different to any other girl in Hollywood. She rejects him claiming a relationship with a journalist…

Cafe Society is Woddy Allen’s latest film and explore the charming time of Hollywood in the 30’s using as an excuse a young kid who is looking for meaning to his life in the glamours setting of film stars and fancy clubs and restaurants. The story explore the twist and turns of several characters and their choices. It’s a comedy like any other Woody Allen’s comedy but more predictable than his previous work. The film is colorful thanks to the masterful cinematography by Vittorio Storaro and beautiful designed by Santo Loquasto.

The stronger characters in the movie are Jeannine Eisenberg, Cory Stoll and Ken Slott who portray Bobby’s parents and brother.

Friday, September 2, 2016

United States of America is considered for some experts as one worst education system in the world, that’s been said when you put your kids to school in America, you’re facing big challenges to make your kids to learn and been inspired to become a better persons. In America people face challenges in a healthcare system too, with so many loophole, lobbyist, pharma companies who care about the product more than the people and insurance companies who do their best to collect all the money they want a filled patients with financial burden.

What it takes to a person to give up the confort of the modern world and decided to embark on a mission to isolate from society in order to say goodbye to live a better life?

In the forest of the Pacific Northwest Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) he’s been rising his six children by himself after his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) was hospitalized for bipolar disorder. Ben kids been living in the woods for quite sometime completely isolated from modern society, but well educated by their parents who made them to follow several routines: Exercise, reading, gardening and hunting. From the very beginning you see this independent kids dealing with life in the woods using limited resources and enjoying learning. This routine is broken when Ben received the news that his wife kill herself. Convinced by his kids and the pressure of the funeral honoring his wife, the Chash family embark in a a road trip to discover America and the wonders of capitalism.

Actor and Director Matt Ross creates this wonderful story of a human being questioned by society on why he and his wife confined in the woods a bunch of kids and isolate them from the world. In way the film explain the main reason. Guide them as a smart human beings who are capable to hunt their food and use resources to their benefit. But also offers the challenge of this decision by showing them what they been missing. Nothing is good in excess, that’s the motto. Overall you cannot isolate so easily from the society. but you can manage the information that you get and how to control your life.

We live in a world where people act like zombies looking down to their phones, instead of looking front or up to the sky. Several key scenes in the movie shows you the peculiarities of life. When Ben bring the kids to meet his cousins in the city, the culture crash in big. City kids are unable to explain and quote the “Bill of Rights” but they are able to know what is the most popular game of playstation, but the youngest of the Cash family is able to recite all the bill of rights.

Viggo Mortensen is excellent as a father of this kids as well a very troubling father who is coping with the loss of his beloved wife. Is considered an outlaw and villain for his wife family, but simply said that he is totally against the status quo and he wanted to make his kids brighter.

The film explore parenthood from a independent director point of view, there is a distant conection with Hollywood parents, like Steve Martin in Fatther of the Bride and Spencer Tracy, George Clooney in the Descendants, Lamberto Maggiorani in the Bicycle Thieres, Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life,

George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks and Charlie Shotwell as the Cash kids is an outstanding cast. A notable mention is Frank Langella as Jack Leslie’s father.