September 30, 2013

Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: David Lowery
Country: USA

Movie Review: The first scenes of “Ain’t Them Bodies Saint” were the premise to what would be a notable independent film. In a fantastic sequence of images set up in a field of Texas, Ruth (Rooney Mara) shows her love for the outlaw on the run, Bob (Casey Affleck), telling him that she’s expecting a baby and doesn’t want to go to jail. After a shooting with the authorities, Ruth wounds officer Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster), but is Bob who claims responsibility, getting arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. Nine months later, she gives birth to a little girl and curiously gets the protection of Patrick who creates a special bond with her daughter, while Bob, unable to stand apart from his family, escapes from prison after five failed attempts. However, all the cops and some reward hunters have an eye on his family and are ready to prevent him to see the daughter he has never met. Although patient and reflective most of the time, the film lets us sense a constant tension in the story along with an oppressive atmosphere. Indoor scenes were set with yellowish and dark reddish hues, while some outdoors images were picturesquely shot in counter-light, creating a diverging ambiance. The script, a love story marked by sacrifice of a forced separation, was positively structured by helmer David Lowery, becoming affectionate in its final scenes, where a tired Bob shows his huge will to redeem himself and have a family life as anybody else. As he said: ‘I used to be the devil, but now I’m just a man’.

September 29, 2013

The Kings Of Summer (2013)

The Kings Of Summer (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Country: USA

Movie Review: “The Kings Of Summer” is a funny, observant coming-of-age film that entertains and satisfies much more than most of the vast options focused on the same subject matter. Comparing it with two other recent alternatives of the same genre, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ debut feature is not so serious as “The Spectacular Now” but is much funnier and less dramatic than “The Way, Way Back”. The script, written by other debutant, Chris Galletta, revealed to have a sharp eye and the smartness required for a type of tale so many times revisited in the story of cinema. There were no idle times in this film and every scene was of tremendous importance to the development of a story about three kids who decided to abandon their families to live in a shack built in the woods where they can rule instead of obey. The parents are literally the enemy here and it was great to see a didactic side but in a different perspective, more the children saying how their parents should behave. Some scenes were a delight for the eyes, like when Patrick dances on top of a steel pipeline while Joe and the peculiar Biaggio played a tribal rhythm; others were simply funny, especially when involving Biaggio or when Joe appears with an ludicrous moustache as a symbol of his affirmation. This might well have been a Wes Anderson film, in which weird humor, distorted romance, and exciting adventure are present.

September 28, 2013

Closed Circuit (2013)

Closed Circuit (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: John Crowley
Country: UK / USA

Movie Review: “Closed Circuit” is a minor thriller directed by John Crowley (“Boy A”) and written by Steven Knight (“Redemption”, “Dirty Pretty Things”, “Eastern Promises”). When a Turkish man is arrested and accused of having blown up the Borough Market in London, two lawyers are promptly selected by the British Attorney General to defend him. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) accept the case but share the secret of having been ex-lovers, lying about it before the law and breaking the rules of communication. The conspiracy gains intensity when the lawyers find out that the MI5 may be involved in the case, and that the defendant’s son is the key to the truth. Regardless the threatening music that constantly gives a sense of danger, the story never took that direction, lacking boldness and clarity in its vision. Crowley’s bland approach might have contributed to the poor outcome, but it was the plot the most adverse factor, since it seemed a collage of preexisting ideas from other films with the aggravation of never add anything new or surprising. A relentless perception of falsity could be felt when the two lawyers meet and change information with each other as if nothing had happened, even compromising their jobs. For all this reasons and some more, “Closed Circuit” is an unchallenging film, which conveys a sort of dishonesty that leads to discouragement.

September 27, 2013

Rush (2013)

Rush (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Ron Howard
Country: USA

Movie Review: Ron Howard offers us another film of great intensity and humanity. The film, set in the 70’s, recreates the rivalry between F1 drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Written by Peter Morgan, who already had worked with Howard on “Frost/Nixon”, the film gives a precise notion of the protagonists’ characters. While Hunt was an impulsive man, spirited, and minded to life’s pleasures, Lauda was very serious, methodical, and strongly committed to what he loved most. Despite these huge differences, they shared the same talent to drive fast and ambition to win. In parallel with the sport's covering, we can see the posture adopted by these two men outside the racing tracks. Love relationships were faced in completely opposite ways: Hunt much more undisciplined and in a marriage that never convinced; Lauda always very truthful to himself and in a steady relationship with his supportive wife, Marlene. The flowing and fast pace, along with the brilliance of storytelling, make the almost two hours seem shorter, never allowing the story to be softened. The F1 security issues were very well approached, a matter that would have severe repercussions in Lauda’s career, after a terrible accident in the German Grand Prix, that almost took his life. Summarizing: a story of fierce rivalry that doesn’t hide admiration and recognition, intense races, amazing performances, and flawless direction, make “Rush” a film not to be missed.

September 26, 2013

C.O.G. (2013)

C.O.G. (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Country: USA

Movie Review: In this drama based on a short story from “Naked”, a book of collected essays by humorist, comedian, and author David Sedaris, we can follow David’s adventures in his quest for life experiences. After graduating in Yale, David refuses to go back to Connecticut to start a career right away, which caused a cut in the relationship with his parents, and decides to go to Oregon where he will try a job on an apple farm. Among several disillusions along the way, David is always confronted with faith issues that put to a test his profound atheism. Ironically, he ends up working with John, a self-called c.o.g. aka child of god, who shapes stones in order to turn them into clocks, selling them at local craft fairs. The film is presented as a sad song describing an unfortunate guy who is caught in recurrent bad experiences, but the question is: is he learning something valuable with all those characters who cross his path? The situations presented are more dramatic than funny, conveying a weird mood that gives a touch of darkness and acceptance to David’s life. The problem is that the whole is weaker than the sum of its little stories, which means that the film leaves us with interesting experiences but flat conclusions. The good performances by Jonathan Groff , Denis O’Hare, and Corey Stoll, don’t make Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s sophomore distinguishable for us to remember it in the future. However, enthusiasts of Sedaris’ stories may find something more tasteful here.

September 25, 2013

É o Amor (2013)

É O Amor (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: João Canijo
Country: Portugal

Movie Review: João Canijo’s new feature film focuses once again on very specific characters of the traditional Portugal. It comes after “Blood Of My Blood”, a tremendous success in Portugal and abroad, and consists in a sort of experimental documentary. The idea was to send the actress Anabela Moreira to live for several months with Sonia Nunes, a fisherman’s wife who has been working all her life in the fish trade in Caxinas, a Northern fishing town. The approach highlights the contrasts in the way that both women see and deal with love and life in general. While Sonia describes her past experiences, boasts about her child and solid relationship, and denotes a confident personality, Anabela seems more and more depressed after realize her incapability for love in the same way as Sonia, which led to identity issues to the point of calling into question her own professional career. Despite the curiosity that arouses, “É o Amor” was unable to convey stable levels of interest till the end, and the reason has to do with the repetition of its ideas. Canijo throws us long and repetitive close-ups of Anabela confessing her emotional state and admitting some kind of envy, invariable shots of women singing corny music inside a car, and detailed aspects about the everyday work and family life in Caxinas. In my eyes, not all the scenes were essential for this strange comparison between two worlds that nothing have to do with each other, and a good editing would have been fundamental to achieve better results.

September 24, 2013

+1 (2013)

+1 (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Dennis Iliadis
Country: USA

Movie Review: The third feature film from Greek-born filmmaker Dennis Iliadis (“Hardcore”, “The Last House On The Left”) is a comedy turned into supernatural thriller that works fine during the first half but gradually loses power and interest as it comes to an end. David (Rhys Wakefield) and Jill (Ashley Hinshaw) seem to be a very passionate couple who care for each other. One day, after Jill’s fencing game, David was caught kissing her opponent and the couple eventually split up. Next time they cross again, in a huge college party in a friend’s house, David will do everything he can to bring his relationship with Jill into good terms, but some supernatural occurrences will difficult his mission. When they found out that this strange effect caused the duplication of each of them, the chaos soon is installed among the young students. Time seems to shift back, giving the possibility to remake what was done shortly before, but the real question is to know if they are the real ones or their doubles. The film starts to be funny, presenting a certain mood and energy that was appreciated, but somehow it became confusing since the moment that everybody decides to kill their duplicates. From that moment on, the farce was never handled in a satisfying way, a fact that was reinforced with its insufficient finale and the amount of unanswered questions left behind. With a lame script, “+1” was able to minimally entertain, working far better as crazy-wild comedy rather than thriller, but as a whole it was far from convincing.

September 23, 2013

Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12 (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Destin Cretton
Country: USA

Movie Review: Based on his 2008 multi-awarded short film with the same title, helmer Destin Cretton creates one of the most heart-warming movies of 2013. The story is centered on Grace (Brie Larson), who works as a supervisor in a foster-care facility intended to accommodate at-risk teens. Despite doing her job with love and patience, Grace also had a difficult past and is not completely free from it. All her fears will come to her mind when a troubled young girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Diver) arrives at the facility. They established a special bond that will be tested when Jayden’s father takes her for the weekend, leaving a sense of danger in the air. This situation along with the fact that Grace was expecting a baby from her boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), will trigger a lot of confusion, fear, and angry feelings. Meanwhile, they have to keep an eye on Marcus (Keith Stanfield), a restless boy who is struggling with the idea of leaving the facility for good, due to turn 18. The outstanding performances made all the characters seem real, while Cretton’s direction, punctuated by intimate close-ups, creates a smothered atmosphere yet giving it some space to breath. I was amazed by how the humor worked so fine within a story with such a deep emotional weight. Beautifully and intelligently conceived, “Short Term 12” showed to be in a level of understanding and maturity that is quite difficult to find in films of its genre. Above all, and without being forced, it revealed to be human in every sense.

September 22, 2013

Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Country: USA

Movie Review: “Prisoners” is an admirable thriller without being outstanding. Directed by Canadian helmer Denis Villeneuve, the film never achieved the gripping tones of “Incendies” or the shocking coldness of “Polytechnique”, but I was able to follow its story with attention and curiosity. The plot, written by Aaron Guzikowski (the same author of “Contraband”, directed by Baltasar Kormakur in 2012), follows Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) efforts to find his 6-year-old daughter and her friend, mysteriously vanished in a rainy day during a Thanksgiving celebration in his neighbor’s. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), so far faultless in his assignments, will be in charge of the investigation case whose main suspect is the weird and non-cooperative Alex Jones (Paul Dano), driver of a recreational vehicle that was parked nearby the house. Villeneuve’s direction was superb and above reproach, but the film was more absorbing than breathtaking, with some surprises and tense moments failing to obtain a greater impact. Not all the performances were at the same level; Gyllenhaall and Dano were very good while Jackman and Maria Bello as the grieving couple, didn’t convinced me so much. Regardless the setbacks, the story is followed with pleasantness towards its sudden yet unsettling ending, making me attest that this is not the best Villeneuve, but is still capable of disclose some of his talent, especially if we take into account a screenplay that ended up being not so thrilling.

September 21, 2013

Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013)

Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Herman Yau
Country: Hong Kong / China

Movie Review: Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man was the subject of several films since 2008, going from illustrious unknown to appreciated martial-artist. His later life was depicted once again by the hand of Herman Yau, who already has directed “The Legend Is Born” in 2010, and the results are not so stylish and sumptuous as in Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster”, or entertaining as Wilson Yip’s “Ip Man”. Similar to those traditional martial-arts flicks in which multiple fights happen in the streets at the same time, “Ip Man: The Final Fight” seemed to have been prepared to look nice in its vivid colors but forgetting to tell this man’s story in a more captivating way. I was looking for something more vibrant and not so dramatic, a tendency that threw away any possibility of success. The cinematography was capable, while the soundtrack by Mark Chun-hung, alternating between sentimental and rambunctious, just intensifies everything that appears on the screen. The best aspect in the film is undoubtedly Anthony Wong’s performance, which despite not so charismatic as Tony Leung’s in “The Grandmaster”, was convincing and powerful. Some historical aspects concerning the political situation of Hong Kong at that time were not even mentioned, and as the title suggests, the most exciting moments were reserved for the final fight. In the end I had the impression that this wobbling portrait could have been done differently, for better, both in accuracy and spectacularity.

September 20, 2013

A Single Shot (2013)

A Single Shot (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: David M. Rosenthal
Country: USA / UK / Canada

Movie Review: “A Single Shot” is a murky neo-noir thriller written by Mathew F. Jones (based in his own novel), and directed by David M.Rosenthal. Sam Rockwell plays decently a solitary hunter named John Moon who is doing the best he can to retrieve his family, but an accident in the woods will change the course of his life forever. John accidentally shot a teenager when pursuing a deer, posteriorly finding her place and a box with a hundred thousand dollars. Scared, he keeps the money for himself and hides the body, but from that moment on, he becomes victim of several intimidating threats that put his secret uncovered. His wife and kids are also in danger and John Moon starts to ask himself who could be the ones behind his insomnias. His hints include two drug dealers who are frequenting his wife’s house, an unreliable lawyer who is working on his divorce case, and his long pal Simon who seems to live for drink. Adopting a similar dark atmosphere as in Smarzowski’s “The Dark House” or Granik’s “Winter’s Bone”, “A Single Shot” maintains the mystery till final but stumbles in crucial moments. Some aspects should have been clearer, like Simon, drunk, grumbling a long and almost indistinguishable explanation about the money’s origin, or how John was tracked. Although not totally satisfying in its details, its intriguing story of greed and degradation punctuated by accurate frames of the backwoods deserves a chance.

September 19, 2013

The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012)

The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: João Pedro Rodrigues / Guerra da Mata
Country: Portugal / France / Macao

Movie Review: After “To Die Like A Man”, João Pedro Rodrigues continues his incursions into the world of Portuguese travestis, this time with the help of João Rui Guerra da Mata on direction, who also plays the main character. With a completely different approach, the plot was built in mystery, following Guerra da Mata’s return to Macao to meet with an old friend named Candy, a travesti who wrote to him asking for help and saying that strange and scary things were happening there. He also takes the opportunity to reminisce his childhood, since he lived in that former Portuguese colony for several years. Presented as an enigmatic espionage thriller in which we are not allowed to see the participants’ faces, the film arouses apprehension as the trip dives into obscurity. Among failed meetings, death premonitions, threats to leave the country, and mystical components associated to the local mafia operations, there are also considerations about the multicultural Macao, described in words and images that seemed to want to guide us throughout the city. The way it was done impelled me to want to see more in order to find more about the story. It remained in my memory after watching it, as a compulsive exercise on experimentalism, set up with an exquisite storytelling and ghostly images. Awarded at Locarno with the jury’s special mention, “The Last Time I Saw Macao” stands as a very personal work presented in the form of fake-documentary, becoming highly recommended for fans of alternative cinema.

September 18, 2013

Blue Caprice (2013)

Blue Caprice (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Alexandre Moors
Country: USA

Movie Review: Life is not pleasant in Alexandre Moors’ fantastic directorial debut, “Blue Caprice”, which was based on the true events occurred in October 2002, when two men started to shoot random people during three weeks, in three different states. The case got known by the name of Beltway sniper attacks and the title of the film makes reference to the blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice used in the murders. The story takes us to Antigua Caribbean, and we can follow the killer’s path and the motives that led him to commit those abominable crimes. Lee (Tequan Richmond), a 17-year-old boy who is despised by his mother, decides to kill himself by drowning in the sea, but in the last minute he was saved by John (Isaiah Washington), an American who was taking a special vacation with his kidnapped children, after lose their custody. John takes Lee with him to US, playing the role of adoptive father and brainwashing him until he becomes in a relentless killing machine ready to enter in action at any time. This balanced and meticulous tale of cruelty and anguish about two dangerous outcasts who decided to take revenge on society, was carried out in an unhurried pace and directed with sufficient intelligence to avoid conventional guidelines. The veracity conveyed by the performances was never in cause, making of “Blue Caprice” an enthralling crime/drama with a lot to think and discuss especially in the psychological field.

September 17, 2013

Simon Killer (2012)

Simon Killer (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Antonio Campos
Country: USA / France

Movie Review: Antonio Campos’ new film “Simon Killer” is a compelling character study, presented with an indie style, well matching soundtrack, and counting with convincing performances by Brady Corbet and Mati Diop. Since its first minutes, we realize that Simon (Corbet) is an unusual character, when he explains to his cousin he is in Paris to rest and try to recover from the shock of having been abandoned by his girlfriend. Seeming a bit disoriented and with nothing to do, he aimlessly walks through the streets of Paris searching for new experiences or fortuitous encounters. One night he enters a nightclub and gets to know Victoria (Diop), a prostitute who gave him her personal cellphone. Eventually they became lovers and confidents, and progressively we start to understand more about Simon’s personality and his true nature. Revealing a mundane side that lies between “Shame” and “American Psycho”, “Simon Killer” shows Parisian nightlife, carnal pleasures, and obscurities of the soul, from a perspective that challenges the viewer. Despite the usual cleanness in its presentation, almost every image was set in dark hues, in opposition to Campos’ previous film, “Afterschool”, which used a much brighter light to depict a story about juvenile delinquency. I could sense a beneficial experimentalism in direction, which coupled to the unpredictability of Simon’s moves, kept me interested in the darkness of this wandering soul.

September 16, 2013

Sandcastle (2012)

Sandcastle (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Shomshuklla Das
Country: India

Movie Review: “Sandcastle” is the first film written and directed by Shomshuklla Das (also poet and singer), resulting in a personal vision about the role of women in Indian society. The film starts to introduce us Sheila (Shahana Chatterjee), a successful writer, exposing her thoughts by a long monologue about freedom and how to find the ideal man. That's when Maya (Malvika Jethwani), created from Sheila’s imagination, gained life of her own. In the next scenes we understand that Sheila is disappointed with her marriage; she starts taking advices from her brother, the fictitious Maya, and also from her real friend and publisher, Koushik. With constant social pressures, what will Sheila decide to do about her private life and work, which is always under judgment? Despite the valid idea, the film gives the answers to this question in a disjointed way, using long, dense, and unsatisfactory dialogues that made me disconnect completely from the characters. This aspect was reinforced by the constant changing of chapters (in a total of 20), breaking down the flow of happenings. Repeated close-ups of feet, food, and hands, were used in an attempt to approximate viewer and protagonists, but this tactic only distracted me from the central point of the debates. With theatrical tones and an almost amateurish style, “Sandcastle” weighs tradition and emotion without a favorable outcome, losing itself in spiritual and literary considerations that were never exciting or even inspired.

September 15, 2013

Four (2012)

Four (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Joshua Sanchez
Country: USA

Movie Review: There are so many things going on in “Four”, a drama that triggers intense emotions by illustrating an agitated 4th of July for four different characters whose lives are dipped in a sort of prison. The film shows us that if you’re not well resolved in life and don’t assume what you really are with absolute conviction, unhappiness and pain will be inevitable. Despite still living with his wife and daughter, Joe (Wendell Pierce), sneaks out home to meet for the first time with a teenage boy named June (Emory Cohen), who in turn is struggling to find his identity in terms of sexual orientation. Simultaneously, Joe’s daughter, Aby (Aja Naomi King), leaves for a while the heaviness of taking care of her sick mother, to meet with Dexter (E.J.Bonilla), a former High School basketball player who takes refuge in drugs. These people’s secrets will be exposed through a series of encounters, coincidences, and findings that will change their relationships forever. Sometimes the way the film was structured and the story’s coincidences seemed wisely fabricated, but that aspect was exceeded by the interesting emotional battles that each character was fighting. It succeeds in making you think about some characters' choices, whereas some are deliberated, others are part of a growing up process. The fantastic performances were able to give some credible airs of reality, even considering that there are no happy moments in “Four”, which make us lose ourselves in its gravity.

September 14, 2013

Wadjda (2012)

Wadjda (2012) - New Movie Review
Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Country: Saudi Arabia / Germany

Movie Review: “Wadjda” is the first feature film accomplished by a female Saudi director, the debutant Haifaa Al-Mansour, who was triply awarded in Venice and has to be congratulated for this rewarding piece of cinema. Set in the suburbs of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the story tactfully follows Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), an 11-year-old girl whose dream is to buy a green bicycle that is exposed in front of a store where she passes every day. This gives rise to a problem since girls from her culture are discouraged to ride bikes and her mom, who is more concerned with the possibility of her husband's second marriage, does not even consider that fact. But Wadjda is determined not to give up, and her eye for business and some special favors conceded to a schoolteacher will bring her an extra income, which nevertheless is insufficient. Her last hope is to win the school's Koran contest whose cash prize is considerably large. With a touch of modernity, the film addresses the strict morals of a society and their impact on women with a sort of lightness and freedom that are not very common on movies alike. There is sweetness in the children’s non-harmful but illicit operations to get what they want, but there is also an evident disappointment and frustration in Wadjda’s mother that is understandable. Merit goes to the newcomer filmmaker who built a compelling drama with great sense of storytelling and handled with expertise and absolute confidence.

September 13, 2013

And While We Were Here (2012)

And While We Were Here (2012) - New Movie Review
Directed by: Kat Coiro
Country: USA

Movie Review: Actress Kat Coiro seems focused on film direction, since three of her films were released in the last couple of years. “And While We Were Here” tells the story of Jane (Kate Bosworth) who moves to Ischia Island with her violinist husband, Leonard (Iddo Goldberg). While he is working in Naples, she wanders around the city listening to a tape, which contains her grandmother’s voice talking about life in wartime. When looking for Aragonese castle, Jane bumps into Caleb (Jamie Blackley), a much younger man with whom she will start an amorous relationship. The talkative and seductive Caleb slowly awakes in Jane a sense of adventure that was lost a long time ago. Jane’s immediate openness not always seemed truthful, but the film overcomes this aspect by giving us sufficient hints to understand her attitude. It is a wordy film in its first part, and I was afraid that Coiro had followed the same path of the Linklater’s trilogy. But fortunately, this didn’t happen, and as the time passes, “And While We Were Here” becomes more active and more restrained in words. Despite the familiarity of the marital crisis and search for oneself, this journey of necessary life change can be followed quietly in its quietude through the reserved and gentle style together with alluring landscapes in the background.

September 12, 2013

Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish (2013) - New Movie Review
Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Country: USA

Movie Review: Gabriela Cowperthwait’s sophomore documentary, “Blackfish”, is a real-life thriller, which explores possible factors that could have motivated the killings of three individuals perpetrated by Tilikum, an orca whale kept in captivity for SeaWorld Marine Park at Orlando, Florida. Very clear in its purposes, this film uncovers shocking aspects regarding whales' treatment and highlights the lack of respect for the workers who are mislead to believe in a bunch of lies. The interviews made with former SeaWorld trainers are quite explanatory for you to start hating this greedy company. SeaWorld opened doors in 1964 and the violations started in the early 70’s when they attempted to capture several killer whales by using powerboats, airplanes, and explosives. Another incident that occurred in Loro Parque, Tenerife, was also covered, leading to the same shameful conclusions. Everyone should see this documentary and help to denounce all the atrocities that these wild animals are subjected to. It’s not by chance that wild orcas are not considered a threat to humans, but only those held in captivity, driven by constant frustration and sufferings. The whales’ crying and agony when their babies were taken away from them is harrowing and revolting. “Blackfish” is a high-valued, powerful achievement that kept me immersed in its fantastic images and stories, eventually breaking my heart with the offensive and sad truths revealed.

September 11, 2013

Still Mine (2012)

Still Mine (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Michael McGowan
Country: Canada

Movie Review: Considering that “Still Mine” is a drama based on true events, I was afraid that it could fall into the usual dramatic tricks, but fortunately and for my surprise, Michael McGowan managed this aspect very well, avoiding that type of risky situations. The story is much more meaningful than it would seem at first,  addressing old age, sickness, and death, with a strong determination. But do not be mistaken, because the approach here nothing has to do with anger, revolt, or despair. On the contrary, it uses a relaxing pace with warm tones of intimacy and affection to show how to face difficulties with temperance, and not giving up so easily at the first adversity that may come. The plot basically consists in the struggle of 87-year-old Craig Morrison (James Cromwell) with the bureaucratic authorities of New Brunswick, after he decided to build a new house in his own terrain that was more functional for his wife Irene (Geneviève Bujold) who suffered from a degenerative disease. What I liked most in “Still Mine” was the honest way chosen to deal with the subject matter. McGowan just took time for what was really important to tell the story, appealing to our feelings in a natural way, and addressing it with objectivity, sensibility, and simplicity. That is what makes it better than other similar films like “Unfinished Song” or the Norwegian “Chasing The Wind”, which use the same old grumpy characters who inevitably change along the way without much surprise.

September 10, 2013

You're Next (2011)

You're Next (2011) - Movie Review
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Country: USA

Movie Review: “You’re Next” is a fierce horror movie that exhibits sufficient gore and terrifying scenes to please the genre fans. The story is centered in the dysfunctional Davidson family whose gathering in their country house, ends up in a bloody old-fashioned mayhem. Every member of the family starts to be victimized one by one, falling at the hands of a merciless psychopath whose identity is hidden behind a sheep mask. The film uses tension with wisdom, with the family's screams and adequate score serving as a booster to the thrilling cat and mouse games. There is no time to be sad here, because the killer seems to be lurking at every corner. The plot reserves good surprises and sometimes a sinister humor, unraveling abominable dark secrets that will leave you occasionally breathless. As the only setback, I can point the extreme violent scenes near the final, which didn’t add anything relevant to the inventive story. In a general way, the performances were not bad at all, and Wingard’s direction was attentive enough to all the important factors that could shake your senses. It’s true that nothing seems new in this picture, but if you don’t mind excruciating violence and are willing for a good dose of adrenaline, “You’re Next” can be a good solution. Screenwriter Simon Barrett, also co-produced and played one of the murderers, in a film that was shot in 2011 at an old mansion in Columbia, Missouri.

September 09, 2013

Jobs (2013)

Jobs (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Joshua Michael Stern
Country: USA

Movie Review: One of the worst biopics I’ve seen recently, “Jobs” is a wretched, savorless portrait of Steve Jobs, for many years the brain behind the Apple computers. The film, directed by the heavy-handed Joshua Michael Stern, follows Jobs’s career from his earlier years in Palo Alto, California, where he founded the company in his garage when still a college student, until the golden years when he was recognized as one of the most creative and visionary entrepreneurs in the technological field. Obviously, Steve Jobs and Apple cannot be dissociated, but the story was written (by Matt Whiteley) in such way that became boring, in all its technical aspects, business stratagems, and broken partnerships. I felt that its creators were more concerned in painting the character in its own way and elucidate us about Apple’s history than really construct a good, interesting biography. Many scenes were close to ridiculousness and the bad taste on the soundtrack just increased my discontentment. Ashton Kutcher did what he could (at least Job’s way of walking was there), but was dragged by the almost commercial vision set up here, and ultimately ended up unnoticed. Contrived in every way and never gratifying, I have nothing more to say about the wearisome “Jobs”, a film that gave me little to enjoy.

September 08, 2013

A Teacher (2013)

A Teacher (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Hannah Fidell
Country: USA

Movie Review: “A Teacher” depicts another teacher/student relationship, created by director, producer, and screenwriter Hannah Fidell. Diana (Lindsay Burdge) is a High-School teacher in Austin, Texas, who is widely immersed in a relationship with her student Eric Tull (Will Brittain). With some rumors in School about other similar cases of infringement, Diana lives with a constant dread that her secret may be uncovered. Eric, in turn, seems carefree and decided to enjoy every moment with her. After a certain episode when they were spending a weekend in a ranch, Diana starts to show signs of discomfort, and her fear soon falls in mistrust and anxiety. The relation starts to deteriorate, but the dependence on Eric makes her too exposed, putting her profession in jeopardy. The story plays with Diana’s emotional instability, placing face-to-face desire and moral concerns. It’s also evident that Diana has pending problems with her family (we just aren’t told which ones), acting like traumatized when facing them; this point just serves to reinforce her loneliness and dependency on this new love. Not being particularly new and lacking the surprise factor, “A Teacher” was nicely shot and addressed with sobriety within a correct pace, though I believe that Fidell could have developed her characters and story in more depth, so they don't seem so vague in particular aspects. Special mention to Lindsay Burdge who was convincing as the depressive teacher.

September 07, 2013

Adore (2013)

Adore (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Country: Australia / France

Movie Review: Based on a novel by Doris Lessing entitled “The Grandmothers”, “Adore” was turned into a cheesy exercise by Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Channel”, “The Girl From Monaco”). Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) are childhood best friends and neighbors in a secluded, small coastal town of Australia. While Lil is a recent widow, Roz is married with Harold, who feels excluded and is about to move to Sidney where he has a better job opportunity. These women’s lives will be shaken when both of them start an affair with each other’s son. The plot lives from the successive changes in these complex relationships, with all the morality concerns associated, and by confronting two different generations that have distinct perceptions of the reality. All quite messy and melodramatic, “Adore” presents so many twists along the way that, at certain point, I felt disconnected from what was happening. Any possible interest that the story might have roused, vanished all of a sudden, diluted in the layers of multiple complexities that arise when the two boys decide to marry with younger women, turning Lil and Roz into despaired grandmothers hungry for love. The lousy climax reserved for the end, was presented in a sequence of ridicule scenes that reminded a cheap soap opera rather than a real drama. Ladies’ performances eventually became the valuable aspect of this film.

September 06, 2013

Populaire (2012)

Populaire (2013) - New Movie Review
Directed by: Régis Roinsard
Country: France

Movie Review: “Populaire”, the directorial debut by Régis Roinsard gains in ambition in the same proportion as lacks in creativity. It’s a kitsch recreation of the American romantic comedies from the 50’s, set up with frenetic boogie rhythms and jazz standards in the background. The last thing Rose (Déborah François) wants is to live in her small hometown, working for her father and marry the son of the local gas station's owner. Feeling pressured, Rose decides to go to Paris and become a secretary, a dream that will come true after being hired by Louis Echard (Romain Duris), an eternal bachelor who doesn’t sees her as an efficient employee but recognizes her ability to typewrite with an unusual speed. The duo will become successful in speed typewriting contests, and love arrives without surprise, but not everything will be so easy for the couple, since Louis shows decision problems regarding their relationship and tends to restrain his inner feelings. The interest of the film came more from the energy of the contests than the romance itself whose development left me with a sense of déja-vu. Though, its ending statement: ‘Americans for business, and French for love’, doesn’t apply so much as a truth here. With obvious outcomes and far-fetched tones, “Populaire” accomplished its role of crowd-pleaser and entertainer with some charms, most of them coming from the reliable performances.