February 27, 2012

The Artist (2011)

Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Country: France

Plot: Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
Quick comment: Very inventive and bold story, it manages to catch the audiences in an old fashioned way. I could feel the joy from the cinema of other times. The 5 oscars were deserved, including the one for Jean Dujardin for best performance in a leading role.
Relevant Awards: Best motion picture, actor and director at Academy Awards, USA and BAFTA Awards, UK; best actor at Cannes Film Festival, France; etc.

This Must Be The Place (2011)

Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino
Country: Italy/France/Ireland

Plot: A bored, retired rock star sets out to find his father's executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S.
Quick comment: Weird story and grey mood in a movie where Sean Penn looks like Robert Smith from the gothic-pop band "The Cure". Strong performances, solid direction and a great soundtrack in charge of David Byrne, contrasts with a doubtful and not so confident plot. From this italian director I highly recommend his masterpiece from 2004, "the consequences of love".
Relevant Awards: prize of the ecumenical jury at Cannes Film Festival, France.

February 24, 2012

The Flowers of War (2011)

Directed by: Zhang Yimou
Country: China

Plot: A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.
Quick comment: I thought something decent would come out of this, regarding the career of director Zhang Yimou and actor Christian Bale. But I was completely wrong. It stands ridiculously out of reality and should be shortened for at least 1 hour. So my advice is: don’t waste your time on this. Instead I would recommend "city of life and death"(2009) which deals with the same subject.
Relevant Awards: -

February 23, 2012

Elena (2011)

Directed by: Andrei Zvyagintsev
Country: Russia

Plot: Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy man, while Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife...
Quick comment: A relentlessly cold movie where nothing is given too quick or too slow. The perfect balance was found by Zvyagintsev to get our best attention in this realistic and shocking story. By using interesting subjects and having a fantastic sense of filmmaking (also evident in “the return” and “the banishment”) this is another gem of european modern cinema.
Relevant Awards: Un certain regard jury prize at Cannes Film Festival, France; best film at Ghent Film Festival, Belgium.

February 22, 2012

The Descendants (2011)

Directed by: Alexander Payne
Country: USA

Plot: A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.
Quick comment: This hawaiian folk song directed by the acclaimed Alexander Payne, manages to be light and warm without getting too corny. Far from the poignant humor of “about Schmidt” or the sweet emotions of “sideways”, “the descendants” still is an enjoyable movie.
Relevant Awards: Best motion picture and best actor at Golden Golbes, USA.

February 21, 2012

War Horse (2011)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Country: USA

Plot: Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.
Quick comment: The imagery is engaging but the unstimulating plot doesn’t follow the same path. A commercial movie which tries to awake your feelings. Perfectly watchable but instantly forgettable.
Relevant Awards: -

February 20, 2012

Carnage (2011)

Directed by: Roman Polanski
Country: USA

Plot: Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the evening into chaos.
Quick comment: In the beginning, I really felt interested in this very peculiar gathering of 4 disturbed parents. However, the curious dialogs and tense behaviors suddenly became hysterically exaggerated. It was a shame that such a good and promising idea had been hampered by these constant variations.
Relevant Awards: Little Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, Italy.

February 17, 2012

678 (2010)

Directed by: Mohamed Diab
Country: Egypt

Plot: Unfolds the poignant story of three women and their search for justice from the daily plight of sexual harassment in Egypt.
Quick comment: All the efforts made to denounce this typical situations in Egypt are to be praised. I would never have imagined that the men carried a lemon in their pockets just to start harassing the women. The bad part is that the storytelling falls in some kind of heroic melodrama and the connections made at the end are a bit forced.
Relevant Awards: Best actor and actress at Dubai Film Festival.

February 16, 2012

A Dangerous Method (2011)

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Country: UK

Plot: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
Quick comment: 90 minutes of psychology discussions between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein that worked fine for me. All the three played an important role in the first steps given in psychoanalysis and it was interesting to see how the acceptance and understanding of their own issues helped them to develop their theories. It might be monotonous for those who are searching for action.
Relevant Awards: -

Moneyball (2011)

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Country: USA

Plot: Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
Quick comment: Even without understanding the baseball game, I experienced some enthusiasm by watching it. Regarding all the other movies depicting the same subject, I may say this is a good one, though it is also true that it’s overrated by the critic in general. Bennett Miller was also the director of the acclaimed "Capote", released 6 years ago.
Relevant Awards: -

February 14, 2012

Kosmos (2010)

Directed by: Reha Erdem
Country: Turkey

Plot: Among desolated turkish landscapes, a man with healing powers comes to a small town shouting words of wisdom. Despite of his abnormal behavior, he soon becomes the admired doctor of the poor. But he hasn't got a solution for death.
Quick comment: An uncommon piece of cinema. Sometimes hard to watch, it won't be suitable for everybody. Although some very strange scenes, the message is clear enough - the crucification of a good man that heals and even steals in order to help other people.
Relevant Awards: Best director, film and cinematography at Antalya Film Festival, Turkey

February 13, 2012

I Wish (2011)

Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Country: Japan

Plot: The film follows two brothers: one lives in Kagoshima and the other in Fukuoka. Their parents separated 6 months ago. After having heard about a urban legend they decide to collect money and reunite for an unforgettable trip to have their wishes granted.
Quick comment: Another delightful movie from one of the best contemporary japanese directors. As in “nobody knows” (2004) and “still walking” (2008) – both highly recommended, Koreeda’s subject is based on family relationships. “I wish” takes advantage of childhood innocence mixed up with a wonderful sense of adventure. Honest and genuine.
Relevant Awards: -

February 10, 2012

J. Edgar (2011)

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Country: USA

Plot: As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life.
Quick comment: I use to say that Eastwood doesn’t know how to make a bad movie. "J.Edgar" reveals some issues, starting with the awful makeup of the characters when old - with Clyde Tulson seeming to be a puppet. With fair performances, its main strength turns out to be Edgar's frustrating life story.
Relevant Awards: -

February 09, 2012

Guilty of Romance (2011)

Directed by: Shion Sono
Country: Japan

Plot: The new crime noir from the award-winning director Shion Sono tells the tale of three women entangled in a mystery that is the gate to a hell-bound love like no other!
Quick comment: Alienation and madness usually are the favourite themes of this cult japanese director and this one isn’t exception. Not so powerful as “coldfish” - his previous work, “guilty of romance” is an erotic horror movie where vanity, infidelity, greed and murder are presented in a very bizarre way. Worth a look.
Relevant Awards: -

February 08, 2012

Headhunters (2011)

Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Country: Norway

Plot: An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary.
Quick comment: Vibrant and surprisingly funny, won't let you fall asleep. Supported by delicious details and a mysterious atmosphere that reminded me the Coen brothers darkest movies, we stand before a breathtaking bloodbath where the hunter becomes the hunted.
Relevant Awards: -

February 07, 2012

The Poll Diaries (2010)

Directed by: Chris Kraus
Country: Germany

Plot: In the summer of 1914, thirteen-year-old Oda von Siering (Paula Beer) leaves Berlin to join her family and an assortment of German and Russian aristocrats on an estate in Estonia.
Quick comment: It was beautifully shot but the director might have taken better advantage from the script if his approach had more guts. The moments of tension were not so often and its pretentions of being a great drama or a memorable love story were never achieved.
Relevant Awards: Best cinematography and costume design at German Film Awards.

February 06, 2012

Circumstance (2011)

Directed by: Maryam Keshavarz
Country: Iran

Plot: A wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain a teenager's growing sexual rebellion and her brother's dangerous obsession.
Quick comment: Bold plot with a clever direction in this iranian present-day story. We can notice slight glimpses of openness which can’t override with the society’s ultra-conservative ideologies. It will make you think about the consequences of your choices.
Relevant Awards: Best film at Rome Film Fest, Italy; Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival and L.A.Outfest, USA.

February 03, 2012

The Beautiful Person (2008)

Directed by: Christophe Honoré
Country: France

Plot: Sixteen-year old Junie changes high school mid-year, following the death of her mother. She finds herself in the same class as her cousin Mathias, who introduces her to his friends. All the boys want to date Junie, and she chooses the quietest among them, Otto Cleves. But soon after, she encounters the great love of her life, Nemours, her Italian teacher.
Quick comment: A few flirtations between high school students are shown. In one of them a teacher is involved. Not satisfactory as a whole and with some annoying characters. I found it a bit silly.
Relevant Awards: Best screenplay at Lecce Festival of European Cinema, Italy.

February 02, 2012

Tyrannosaur (2011)

Directed by: Paddy Considine
Country: UK

Plot: Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.
Quick comment: This is Heavy stuff! A raging film with superb acting and sturdy direction. The encounter between two lost human beings in a story that may hit you hard. A bittersweet movie and a challenge for the bold ones.
Relevant awards: Best film and debut director at British Independent Awards, Uk; Audience Award at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece; Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, USA.

February 01, 2012

Restless (2011)

Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Country: USA

Plot: The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.
Quick comment: Van Sant takes a new turn with this odd, dark romantic story reminding us of Hal Ashby’s “harold and maude”(1971). After major independent works such as “elephant”, “paranoid park” or “mala noche” and Hollywood sensations like “milk”, “drugstore cowboy” and “good will hunting”, this new feature reveals some weaknesses. Just watchable!
Relevant Awards: -