March 29, 2018No Comments

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – James Gunn – 2017

There isn’t a single film that I can think of that delivers the kind of punch as Guardians of the Galaxy does. Its extravagant and rich beyond measure visual language, its heavy humour, its relentless engine of small and irrelevant conflicts that don’t have the stupid gravitas of other family genre films, delivers me the Perfect 10 in terms of entertainment satisfaction.  

March 26, 2018No Comments

Annihilation – Alex Garland – 2018

Annihilation succeeded in creating a wonderful mystery and, to my opinion, like so many times before it in the history of storytelling, crash-landed as it felt compelled to solve it. Pace, tone, character design, a little bit of side stories (smart use of cheating-story to add dread and guilt), beautiful camera and fresh production design ideas lifted the expectation to wonderful heights. The Tarkovskian quotes brought a nice touch, visiting an American Zone was funny to say the least, plus the Solaris-type metamorphosis & love story. 

The CGI showers of the end killed the imagined by bringing solid form. The silly eye flickering of the end felt like a producer imposed choice. 

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Later edit and shout-out to the awesome gruesomeness of the animal talking help me scene. Should never forget that a film is a sum of parts, some inspired, some less so.

March 26, 2018No Comments

Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease – Krzysztof Zanussi – 2000

I will remember that the main actor of this picture is named Zbigniew Zapasiewicz. I saw him some twenty years younger in Camouflage and loved his cunning ability to project different personas. Here, in the bombastically titled  Life As a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease, he plays a dying doctor’s last months. Given that this is Poland, death is intertwined with questions regarding God. Direct and therefore less subtle, the film looks from the point of view of a character who went through three historic life changes, the war, the totalitarian communist regime and the post ‘89 period. I overheard Radu Muntean saying once that directors are either consumed by their subject or, if they can rise above it, manage to consume the subject themselves. In this case it feels as if Zanussi was in the first category. 

As a sidenote, a quote from Murakami - 1Q84, highlighted by 1524 readers on Kindle: “That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.

March 24, 2018No Comments

Wonder Woman – Patty Jenkins – 2017

I probably have one or two action hero films left to take. I can’t bear this anymore, they’re getting worse by the year. Had hopes for this woman centred, woman directed, Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins did Monster, by the way, a great one. 

March 23, 2018No Comments

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig – 2017

I didn’t click to Lady Bird’s tune. It seemed to me to be oversimplifying a period in a person’s life which is supposed to be filled with issues at the same time flimsy and yet intensely complex. The “What now?” question has a lot of depth, especially as it’s put on the shoulders of an 18 year old. Think only of the subtextual meanings wandering in the 1967 Graduate

Still, probably Gerwig wanted to do something that feels close to what she felt during that period and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s in the balance of the served morals that I lost interest, the “my name is Christine” moment towards the end, which I can bet 5 bucks that the director regrets post-factum. It’s not the end of the world, neither the beginning of a new one. 

March 22, 2018No Comments

Whores’ Glory – Michael Glawogger – 2011

Unusual choice of Western music accompanies images of everyday life in brothels from the far east, Thailand, Bangladesh or Mexico. The effect probably feels close to what it feels being there. Setup situations abound in the brilliantly unapologetic way in which this filmmaker worked and charmed.

March 20, 2018No Comments

Megacities – Michael Glawogger – 1998

Glawogger, as hard as it is to remember this surname, as easily to recall his films. Megacities is a constructed documentary, focusing on poverty in some of the world’s largest cities (of the ‘90s): Mumbai, New York, Ciudad de Mexico, Moscow. Surreal images are intertwined with some of the most brilliant and hard worked editing seen in a documentary. The opening scene revolving around a packed train running through the Mumbai slums is masterful. Glawogger made no secret of the fact that he directed and even payed participants of his documentaries. I don’t think it chips from the deep truth of all these people and situations. I will remember the long shot of the barrel filled with dying chicken fighting for the last breaths, painting with bloodred the wall around it. I’ll try to learn something from the hillarious scene in Moscow, where drunks are picked by the police and confined for the night, while in paralel, a song sang by an old lady begins. It tells the story of a young girl, counting down all her pretenders and their faults. A fantastic sequence ensues, in the fashion of musical editing/Wes Anderson frontal framing, taking us inside numerous different aparments, where the song is picked by a new old lady each time. What a filmmaker!

March 12, 2018No Comments

The Challenge – Yuri Ancarani – 2016

This one’s a knocker. Witty, ironic, exposition free, glamorous. A film about the opulent richness of Qatar sheiks made by an Italian. The combination is delightful. One more time, as with the previous film I wrote about, the images here would make papa Herzog happy.

March 11, 2018No Comments

I, Tonya – Craig Gillespie – 2017

Driven by nonlinear editing and out of story slips of House of Cards fame ( ol’ Kevin Spacey doing his fourth wall breaking), I, Tonya is a tonic flurry of events, delivered in the new American way of delivering a human portrait with tools borrowed from other genres (action) or medium (tv series). It strongly reminded me of the David O. Russell form, yet without the precision.
With little artistic intent, the film limits itself to serve its moral lesson to the vicarious public hunting for an escape dose. 

March 10, 2018No Comments

Camouflage – Krzysztof Zanussi – 1977

When assessing what provokes pleasure in my brain when watching a film there’s two ways to go about it. There’s the quantifiable, factual, observable. The form, the style, the colour scheme, the acting, the character design, the subtext. And then there’s the ineffable gut sensation, the twitch, the hunch, the subconscious wave of relentlessness, that connects your mind to watch you see based on its measure of truthfulness. 

It’s the only way to deeply relate to a Polish character study drama, from 1977, called Camouflage. It tells the story of a group of students out on a retreat, led by an older cynical teacher and a younger idealistic one. The film then follows the clash of their world-views, with one cunningly navigating the authoritarian system, bending and surviving, while the other coming in direct conflict, speaking out and suffering. A parable is a truth carrying machine.

Krzysztof Zanussi. Never heard of him, will follow. 

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