January 16, 2020No Comments

Lonely Are the Brave, David Miller, 1962

Lonely are the Brave has an interesting piece of trivia on imdb. 

It reads: 

Kirk Douglas intended to call the film “The Last Cowboy” but was overruled by the studio. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo gave his final version of the screenplay the title “The Last Hero”.

The film has a most beautiful end of the world feeling surrounding it. It reads like the last western story that ever happened. It’s centred around the same old archetype: the drifter. Only it’s the drifter’s last days. We meet him riding a horse he loves - named Whiskey, and soon enough, in the film’s first few minutes we’re presented with the most touching inciting incident. We’re in the 1960, and our cowboy must cross a highway, on horseback. Later, the narrative evolves into the film’s main story - Douglas’s character escapes from jail (where he got in just on purpose, just to meet and convince an old buddy to run away with him) and he’s being hunted by the cops, making use of helicopters, along the ridge of a rocky mountain. He escapes, only to…

Boy, I love this film.

March 23, 2017No Comments

The Matrix, Wachowski bros, 1999

Almost 20 years since The Matrix screened for the first time, one thing’s clear. 

It holds up.

Even more so, it’s more relevant today than 20 years ago. Just listen to what this schmuck has to say.

So premise wise it holds. Casting wise it’s a match in heaven. My fangs are showing up whenever I see Joe Pantoliano. Special effects still work. Proof that strong concept is timeless. Keanu is this still this Dorian Grey/Peter Pan sad prince in his public life. 

There’s something special about this film. The choices it makes are simply otherworldly good. Getting cheesy alert! Singing out.

March 23, 2017No Comments

Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-Ho, 2016

Best thing about zombie movies is that they get away with murder. Nothing is out of place, out of the realm of possibility. Want 300 zombies hooked and dragged on a running train and almost stopping it? Done. Zombies have no rules of functioning and no rules to follow. They just follow you. 

The only variations inside established genre films following genre conventions come with the touch of their point of origin. Just take a look at the brilliant 2008 Swedish vampire-movie Let the Right One In

So when I heard of Train to Busan, a South Korean Cannes selected zombie extravaganza, expectations rose, popcorn’s been bought. Plus, every plot set on a train ads a simple layer of nice intensity. 

The bad part about expectations is that they actually work against us. With no South Korean particularity to linger on (what did I expect actually? Teenagers with facial aesthetic surgery and k-pop hystericals? Maybe.) I soon found myself daydreaming about whatnot. On the screen, the zombies did their job of following, outside it I didn’t do mine that well. 

There are highlights. The film doesn’t push towards finding a cure for the madness, its origins are almost completely ignored, and (almost) all characters are rightfully and enjoyably killed. The tone is not melodramatic and there’s a fair share of enjoyable violence. 

March 19, 2017No Comments

Food Coop, Tom Boothe, 2016

Food Coop is a place selling food in Brooklyn, NY. But is also a place that leaves you feeling that you’ve discovered the hideout of everybody who took the red pill in Matrix and have woken up from their corporate dream and now share a different life paradigm.

Psychologists, teachers, designers, social workers, film-makers, 16000 of them, own and work the store, each for 2 hours and 45 minutes a week. The profits don’t go into private jets - as they say, but back into the quality of the food, making it inexpensive. And if you think it won’t last, let me just tell you it’s there since 1973. 

March 13, 2017No Comments

"INTERVIEWER
You took Godard’s famous quotation and changed it around—film means lying twenty-four times a second.
HANEKE
Although no one ever bothers to quote me to the end. Film means lying twenty-four times a second—in the service of truth. 
Film, of course, is always a lie. It never tells the truth. But film, more so than any other form of art, conveys the impression that we are beholding something real."

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6354/michael-haneke-the-art-of-screenwriting-no-5-michael-haneke

March 13, 2017No Comments

13th, Ava DuVernay, 2016

In an interview for The Paris Review, Austrian director Michael Haneke, says that he despises films that have a political agenda. “Their intent is always to manipulate, to convince the viewer of their respective ideologies.” There’s no telling if Haneke refers to fiction or docs.

Are there any non-political docs? Feels as if Herzog’s ecstatic truth is a quest for the deepest political core of things. 

13th is more painful to watch then I’m Not Your Negro because of its plain & direct argumentation. Starts off with a quote from Obama: The USA is home of 5% of the world’s population. And 25% of the world’s prisoners.

And keeps going. USA had 300.000 inmates in 1972. 2.3 million nowadays. Mass incarceration, private prison system. 

Premise: if you’re white, you are the product of the history that your ancestors chose. If you’re black, you’re the product of the history that your ancestors most likely didn’t choose. 

Title derives from the 13th amendment of the American constitution, one that states that slavery is illegal, except for the purpose of punishment for a crime. The space between slave to criminal becomes a battleground of interpretation.

World is spinning faster with every day.

March 9, 2017No Comments

I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck, 2016

I’m in New York. Some good people recommended that I go see I Am Not Your Negro. A documentary on the African-American rights struggle of the ‘60s, featuring the thoughts of James Baldwin, a most eloquent play-writer and witness of the events. 

Word goes that the film is breathtaking even if your American and “used to” the history. As an outsider and freshman to the phenomena, keeping some level of proportion, it feels as if learning history by watching The Act of Killing. We don’t know shit about the world we live in, and the goddamn worldwide acceleration we’re caught in won’t help a bit.

One thing stuck. Baldwin called out the nation for living in a state for “moral apathy”. 

February 28, 2017No Comments

no reviews for this lot

Since this blog is all about fresh reactions, and I’m a month and a half behind my see it / blurt it strategy, I’ll catch up in one go. Here it is:

  • Doctor Strange - Scott Derrickson - 2016: super hero movies can find redemption in humor. 3 stars
  • The Accountant - Gavin O’Connor - 2016: a promising premise can’t save a wreak of a script. 1 (black) star
  • Nocturnal Animals - Tom Ford - 2016: supposedly sexy dangerous story turned to drab detective story. 2 stars and 1 half
  • Hacksaw Ridge - Mel Gibson - 2016: greasy glorification of war bravery. Real story has no fault. 1 star
  • Moonlight - Barry Jenkins - 2016: good use of pace, rhythm (editing) and score. Good focus of the story.  4 stars
  • It’s Only the End of the World - Xavier Dolan - 2016: Second viewing made this grown-up shed tears. 5 stars
  • Where to Invade Next - Michael Moore - 2016: Moore’s up-beat film. 3 stars.
  • The Beheaded Rooster - Radu Gabrea - 2007: the Saxon minority in Romania before and during the second world war. Classic filmmaking. 2 stars and 1 half
  • Merci Patron! - François Ruffin - 2016: crusader-style socialist justice handheld doc. Oui! - 3 stars, 1 half
  • The Act of Killing - Joshua Oppenheimer - 2012: second viewing brought better understanding, less shock - 5 stars
  • The Edge of Heaven - Fatih Akin - 2007: human beings doing their human dance - 3 stars, 1 half
  • La La Land - Damien Chazelle - 2016: a tourist trap for the heart - 3 stars, 1 half
  • Toni Erdman - Maren Ade - 2016: super heavy characters doing a scary rope balancing act - 4 stars, 1 half
  • Port of Shadows - Marcel Carné - 1938: superbe histoire d’amour ending with death, French style - 5 stars
  • Profils paysans Ch 1 & 2 - Raymond Depardon - 2001/2005: superb real life observation of rural France - 3 stars, 1 half
  • The Commune - Thomas Vinterberg - 2016: Vinterberg can do whatever the F he wants, he did Festen. - 2 stars, 1 half
  • I Wish - Hirokazu Koreeda - 2011: delicate story following kids dreaming of magic. Japan style. 3 stars and 1 half

February 17, 2017No Comments

India Song, Marguerite Duras, 1975

Marguerite Duras was a prolific French writer of the XXth century, whose influences drew on her upbringing in the defunct Indochina, prior to the Second World War. And me, as someone who lived in the neighbourhood (India) for just 5 months, I can testify on the effect that Asia can have on the Westerner’s views and sensibility. Given the right circumstances, Asia is devastatingly rapturous. This being said, although India Song, a film that Duras directed, is by no means connected to Indian nor Asian culture, it is connected indirectly to its effects.

The film is almost unwatchable, if you naively approach it - with no prior proper documentation. Because it’s an experimental film. It offers a sensual universe where immobile members of a lost bourgeoisie interact and talk to each other, in post-modernistic fashion, without their lips moving. 

Besides this, Duras is also the scriptwriter of a classical masterpiece, Hiroshima, mon amour, directed by Alain Resnais. 

February 14, 2017No Comments

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson, 2014

There ain’t much left to say. 

Except… honestly, is there another film in the history of cinema that packs this much “star power”? I mean, who’s missing besides Meryl Streep and DeNiro?

That and maybe the feeling that the evoked world meltdown might just happen again and again.

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