Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Since the beginning of television, viewers have change their ability to perceive actual events, based on the level of information, the veracity and mostly what kind of content they see. In the past it was impossible to see events live, because of technology. The viewers adapt to the idea that someone, called newscaster will tell you about the events, explained and sugar coded.

On the other hand, society tendency is to be obsessed with the most dramatic events and that’s what sells. Most of the audience is not interested in information, they want to be entertain, as long is something contain blood, violence and drama you will be glued to the TV set.

A large group of films have analyze this phenomenon. Natural Born Killers, To Die For, Nightcrawler, Control Room and Network as among those movies exploring media as the vehicle to exploit the lower of human society, just for ratings. Mass killers, political scandals and personal life drama.

Christine directed by Antonio Campos is the biographical drama about Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) a television reporter from Sarasota. She is a very talented reporter, with a great eye in news pieces. Unfortunately, the station and her boss Michael (Tracy Letts) thinks that what really sells and generate ratings is, sensational content of human tragedies.

Christine is a very particular woman, lonely personality, No boyfriend, no sexual experience, depression, suicidal tendencies. She have a crush with George Peter Ryan ( Michael C Hall) the lead anchors of the station, she feels the emptiness of not having a boyfriend or experience love.

A sudden visit of Steve Turner ( Timothy Simons) owner of the station scare everyone, with the possibility of the station full closure. Which in reality is the promotion of two reporters to the new acquire Baltimore station. Christine realized that she needs to be on the top of their game to get that promotion pushing her limits and fighting with her boss. She will do what ever it takes to get that opportunity.

Rebecca Hall masterfully perform the late reporter Christine Chubbuck, she is practically unrecognizable doing this role, specially because we are use to see her as dame in distress in actions like The Town or The Gift. In this movie you see that she lives thru Christine Chubbuck personality. Another fantastic performance is by Tracy Letts playing Christine boss. Letts and Hall interaction is perfect. My favorite part of the film is the pace. The editing is impeccable and capture the essence of those days when technology was very limited and people was doing the news nail biting.
This cast deserve awards, specially Miss Hall

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The expression of love is one of me most sublime and powerful in any human being. Is what makes everyone alive, take chances or risk everything, it’s what change the world around us.
But also is a message against the UN-justice, the hate and the division.

The world of cinema have express in so many ways how love can help to overcome the illness of the world, their politicians and certain state of mind.

In 1958 the year where Fidel Castro begins broadcasting on the Radio Rebelde, NASA is created and is the beginning of the Cold War between Iceland and the UK. Among all these events a young guy name Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) from Caroline County, Virginia, falls in love with a local black woman Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga). Upon Mildred discovering that she is pregnant, they decided to get married. In that time in the state of Virginia interracial marriages violates the state anti-segregation law. So they decided to marry in Washington DC.

After their return their house is raid by sheriff’s deputies, later putting both in prison. Mildred already pregnant is treated with no respect in jail, while Richard is release the next day. Their life will turn upside down when they been offer by the judge to leave the state for 25 years to avoid been sentence to one year in prison. Is hard to believe that in the year NASA was created and so many political movements were happening a couple can struggle for so about their feelings to be together.

“Loving” directed by Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Mud, Take a Shelter) is a powerful story about the real life events of an American couple who were prohibited to be married by the color of their skin. Their struggle to fit in another city apart from their family force them to take risks, because the believe in something beyond what’s society in 1958 believe was a crime impose by ignorance and intolerance, but later overcome with the presence of more open minded and progressive politicians, like Robert Kennedy and ACLU, an organization very relevant these days with a movement to protect citizens from several countries for their religious beliefs.

The subtle film making style and pace drives the audience into a family who just want to live a normal life, but they’re constantly running from the law, knowing that their feelings are sincere. Adam Stone gives the film a beautiful look, and David Wingo score an emotional tunes to support the story. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are fantastic and deserve a big recognition for their work.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The year 1979 represents a year with outstanding movement of women and LGBT, on May 4th Margaret Thatcher become UK first female prime minister, Los Angeles pass it’s gay and lesbian civil rights bill. But also it a dramatic year, with the civil war in Salvador, the beginning of the Iranian revolution and the debacle of US president Jimmy Carter.

But it was also the year when an mother realized that the only way that she can continues raising her son is with help of other women, for the lack of a father figure. This is the story of “20th Century Women” Mike Mills (Beginners) create a intimate world in the life of Dorothea ( Annette Bening) Abbie (Greta Gerwing) Julie (Elle Fanning) and Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann)

Dorothea a drafter for Continental Can Company met Jamie’s dad then a few years later divorced. Abbie is a photographer who went to art school in NYC, Julie the daughter of a therapist, is very liberal girl, avid reader and feminist. Jamie a teenager who becomes more aware of the world that he is living, filled with sex, drugs, the punk scene.

It’s a very interesting film stye, it’s like when you been introduced to a new friend and as the relationship develops you start discovering more about that person. You don't get all the info at the very begining. The power of every character is their background, some like Dorothea have a heavy influence in the cultural aspects of USA. She was born in 1924, with no money and no TV, during her teenager years World War II broke. Jamie was born in 1964 during Vietnam War, Nixon, computers, drugs and boredom. This is the style developed by Mills, the soundtrack of 20th Century Women is layered with powerful songs about anti establishment views and promotion of individual freedom.

The real conflict is how Dorothea needs to embrace Jamie manhood, basically surrounded by women, in a very limited man environment. She ask Abbie and Julie to help her. This becomes Jamie right time to know about women’s empowerment, sexuality, men’s way of seen women, when to talk, when to shut up, but also his big encounter with mortality. In a way this is a very progressive message and could be metaphorical speaking, like when a same sex marriage adopt and child and needs to raise it. “Sometimes” your values goes beyond the traditional status quo, is more about the message and how can you influence your love ones to be a person of good.

“20th Century Women” is a powerful film which show you a a glimpse of what could be life after the 20th century, technology, politics, no matter what’s going on in the world. Annette Bening is fabulous as well Greta Gerwig.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cities and people represents a certain duality in life. Emotions and happenings connect them with intensity like searching meaning to destiny.
Bigas Lunas explored in the film Bilbao, a film about a prostitute name Bilbao, Woddy Allen discovered with Vicky Cristina Barcelona about two friends who engage a game of love with an Spaniard artist, and more recently Jim Warmish with the film Paterson about a character name like the city Paterson in New Jersey.

The film “Paterson” tells the story of a bus driver name Paterson (Adam Driver) , like the New Jersey town.
He is a aspiring poet who live with his girlfriend Laura (Golshftheh Farahani) a lovely girl, who is constantly soul searching, looking for what to do with her life, both live with a bulldog name Marvin.

Patterson story takes place in a week, Patterson is a methodical person who follow a very mathematical routine of waking up around 6:45, takes breakfast and go a drive his bus. During breaks he writes poems, which are kept in a journal. The poem follow Paterson journey till he gets home. He walk the dog, goes to a bar have a bar and comes back. This is the life of this poet bus driver, living with a girl that one day is a fashion designer and other day is a aspirin country singer.

In a way this movie follow the path of Jim Warmish movies, a lone character who is looking for something in life, from the macro to the micro. A samurai in Ghost Dog, a don Juan in Broken Flowers, a lone man killer in The Limits of Control. But for Patterson is very clear that he could be a more than just a bus driver in Paterson NJ. His life is like a repetitive poem, about his life in this town, his trips to a bar where he meets a bar owner who never ends his chess games with himself, a guy in love with a woman who cannot fulfill his wishes and a NJ transit manager who don’t wants to talk about his life every day.

In Patterson film we see regular people riding the bus and that’s what Warmish ants you to see, nothing is sugar coded to over the top, is just regular people, living life.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The story of Chile is mostly filled with political turmoils, important personalities and great food. Is a country with so much richness with is represented the words of writers, sounds from their musicians, and visuals from their visual artist.

During the late 40's the government of Gabriel González Videla he started a witch hunt against communist, a new breed of politicians who solely believe in the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social class. One of the members was the poet Pablo Neruda. This is the premise of the film Neruda by Pablo Larrain (Jackie, NO)

The film starts with the petition of Chilean president Videla (Alfredo Castro) to capture the poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) for his role the antagonism between the senate and the communist party. This was becoming a politic conflict started in the US in the McCarty era and the cold war>

Neruda is forced to escape and hide in several houses, but he is closely chased by Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal.

The concept of the film is pretty interesting. Since Neruda was a fan of cop stories, the movie set the tone of a classic film noir. Peluchonneau is the narrator of the story, guiding us and taking us to the scenes, the emotions, the moments but also the the characters conflicts. But there is a twist instead of borrowing the narration style of films like The Maltese Falcon, Larrain give a poetic voice to Peluchonneau.

Some scenes is like reading a chapter of a book, several times in different locations, the style is complex and effective, altering time and space but not the story arch.

Federicu Juis music is engaging and repetitive the right way, Sergio Armstrong cinematography is beautiful capturing the silhouettes of clandestinity or the vast countryside of Chile and Argentina when Neruda try to escape.

Neruda is a great document about Chilean history, but with heavy influences of American culture. Gnecco and Bernal deliver great roles as the main characters of this poetic film noir drama set in Latin America.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Everyday society is wondering when the aliens will come, it's an idea reflected in short stories, novels and movies. Just the fact of receving the visit of people from other space constitute a scientific breakthrough. The implications of communication, etiquette and approach goes down to a single question: are you come in peace?

Several directors have portray aliens like friendly, mysterious or a real threat to humanity. James Cameron “The Abyss”, Steven Spielberg “Close Encounter of The Third Kind” Robert Zemeckis “Contact” are to me the most influential movies of Dennis Villeneuve “Arrival”

Linguistic Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is been introduced in the movie as a mother and wife, she holds her baby, when she start talking, walking and becomes a teenager, until she passed away. She seems to be alone, even visually. Perhaps as a linguistic she knows how the world communicate, but she is unable to communicate emotionally with her love ones. During the emotional scene you can hear her voice over “But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrive…” Her nihilistic words are the vehicle to the arrival of a large group of extra terrestrial.

12 spaceships appear across the planet (China, Greenland, Siberia and Black Sea in Russia, Japan, United States, Sudan, Venezuela, Sierra Leone, Wales, Pakistan and the Indian Ocean. All the government of these countries are looking for answers. So they decided to bring specialists in several areas to obtain information about the aliens as well their intentions. Jeremy Renner plays physics professor who also works with Louise to find ways to communicate with the aliens.

Villeneuve develops an impressive environment, where atmospheric sounds are very important for the movie. The story encapsulate Louise character, close ups where she is with her daughter and open spaces when she is alone, in fact when she is in a group her position is always ahead differentiate herself from the rest. To me Louise connects perfectly with Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) in Gravity a smart professional who is grieving the lost of a love one, in the middle of a situation require her to develop a new set of skills and abilities to reach a goal.

The political tone of “Arrival” express how divided are nations in peril, but also able to work together when you take risk on your own. Governments set rules that meant to be broken just to make things right. Like in the The Abyss the government secret agenda presents them as the real enemy, not the aliens, which for the audience are friends.

The film is powerful and keeps you thinking about the timeline of the story, specifically when are we located. The experimental music by Jóhan Jóhannsson is a masterpiece, Bradford Young cinematography is engaging as well Joe Walker film editing.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The idea of making movies based on plays is very common in Hollywood, great plays been successfully adapted to the screen. A Streetcar Named Desire, Amadeus, Glengarry Glen Ross, Hamlet are among them. But when a filmmaker take the risk of literally turn a film into a play on film. The director needs to bring a good cast to attract the audience and help them justify this risk.

Denzel Washington embarks in the director’s chair making the film “Fences” The story takes place in a neighborhood in Pittsburg in the 50’s Troy Marxon (Washington) lives with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and his son Cory (Jovan Adepo). Troy works as a waste collector his life is surrounded by constant reminders of mistakes from the past. His brother Gabe Maxson (Mykelti Williamson) suffered from a head injury in World War II wich generates 3000 dollars in payout from the government used by Troy to buy a house also, his son from a previous relationship Lyons Maxson (Russell Hornsby) frequently stop by the house to ask for money. Troy is hunted by a major task which is install a fence around the house, Rose always remind him about it and Troy needs Cory to help him.

The film takes place close locations where the actors develop for long scenes of almost 20 min, kind of like the experience of been in a play, is a nice experiment, but for some audience member could be a very tedious. Fences it’s a metaphor of how in life we surround ourselves with the idea of keep everyone around us and not letting anyone set free, it constitute our mental and emotional cage. We are blind enough of stop everyone for been successful, because we know that we fail as a human being. The fact that Troy builds the fence as a task that never ends, is an act of procrastination that always has excuses.

Your lack of success cannot be justify by limit others to succeed. Your failure is your own responsibility and you are the only one who can do something about it.

A noisy, not so hot and sunny traffic jam in Los Angeles on a major highway welcome group of people, who just decided to start singing and dancing in the middle of the whole thing. It’s “Another Day of Sun” a title song written for the opening credits of the film La La Land, a very energetic and big band style of song, just like those musical from the 50’s and 60’s at the end we introduced our star cross lovers, Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)

La La Land is the film directed by Damien Chazelle (Wihiplash) is the story of Mia a Barista who works at a coffee shop in the Warner Brothers lot, her dream is become and actress, a very typical story in the city of Los Angeles. Sebastian is a talented pianist who works in bar just playing what is required for the job, but his dream is to own a jazz club and play the music he likes. The film presents a gorgeous and colorful life in the city where everyone is a dreamer to become successful, in the industry of movies, music or fashion. Thorough the first half and hour of the film Mia and Sebastian characters bump into each other in a very comedic situations defining their roles and presenting them to the audience as mean to be together.

Chazelle pays perfect tribute to films like Singing in the Rain, American in Paris and West Side Story. On the other hand the plot in La La Land explore stories about dreams, aspirations and how we put them aside just for the purpose of make money, sacrificing the true essence of us. Mia represents the dreamers; the people are just willing to leave everything behind to fulfill your goals. Sebastian represents the traditional, the classic. He wants to preserve jazz knowing that is dying, like film which metaphorically speaking is portrayed in the movie theater “Rialto” when Mia and Sebastian goes to see Rebel Without a Cause and later is closed, may be out of business.

La La Land is divided in seasons, a reminder that some times are better than other, no matter how’s the weather. This movie is a revelation to Hollywood who just left musicals behind just by the sake of explosions and car chases. The film is a true work of art, in cinematography, costume deigns, editing and art direction.