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Presunto culpable (2008)
A must see!
An excellent documentary that not only explores the predicament in which a young man finds himself in after he's accused of a crime he claims he did not commit; but a film which also explores the awkwardness of the Mexican judicial system.
Presumed Guilty explores the logic behind Mexico's core due process: All suspects are considered guilty until prove'n innocent. The main character in this film finds himself trapped in this principle. He's arrested by the police, immediately charge with murder and subsequently tried and found guilty for the crime.
The film doesn't really explore whether Toño (the defendant) is guilty or not, as we (the audience) are told from the beginning of the film that he is innocent- not only does he claim to be innocent but there is no credible evidence or witnesses proving "without a shadow of a doubt" that he committed the crime. The pro bono lawyers in charge of Toño's case find themselves in a web of irregularities as they analyze the details behind his arrest, trial and conviction. Upon carefully scrutinizing the who's and what's, they come upon the fact that the public defendant who took Toño's first trial did not have a real license to practice and because of this, they were able to request a new trial.
As they prepare for a new trial, we discover that there is a short window of opportunity for the defense to prepare their case, in fact, we further learn that the defense has really no case to prepare as there will be no trial in the broad sense and this is when the documentary takes its awful turn at exposing the absurdity of the Mexican trial system. As some may know, there is no case law in Mexico and no trial by jury, so to say, as we are used to in the United States. In fact, many Mexican viewers find American crime investigation and police procedural and legal dramas such as Law and Order so fascinating because of their nonexistent nature in Mexican criminal and legal culture- both in real life and fiction.
So as the documentary progresses, we learn that this new trial is simply a review of the previous trial. There will be no new witnesses, no new evidence, no new testimonies, or alibis, or the such. Based on the same witnesses, same testimonies, and same evidence that was used to convict Toño the first time, the same judge who presided the first trial will again decide whether to overturn Toño's conviction or sentence him to the same or more amount of years.
As the circus begins, we realize that first of all the courtroom is not a courtroom at all, it is a cramped office with desks, computers, and tons of paperwork with office employees going about their business. This office has a cage where the defendant remains locked in. The trial review begins with the arresting officers who took Toño into custody the day of the murder. They are questioned on several aspects of the events that took place that day including how they came upon to arresting Toño as the murder suspect, these men simply reply that these events took place a long time ago and cannot remember and therefore are quickly dismissed. Later on, the only accusing witness is brought in and he explains how he knows Toño is the murderer because he saw Toño with the murder weapon at an earlier time and when police described what weapon was used in the crime, he was able to pinpoint Toño as the shooting suspect, he nonetheless states that he never actually saw Toño shooting the victim.
An interesting turn that this "mock trial" takes is when they do what is called "el careo" or the face-off. "El careo" is when both the defendant who literally remains locked behind bars, faces off with the arresting officers and accusing witness. At this time he has an opportunity to only question what was recorded on the original trial such as "why did you state that I am the killer?" or he questions the arresting officer "what did you tell me when I asked you what I was being accused of?", the officer replies "I arrest people all the time and cannot remember every event that takes place." The defendant then proceeds to say "may I refresh your memory and remind you that what you said is 'we have YOU in custody and so you're f*cked'."
After the retrial, if we can call it so, Toño is told by some office clerk, that he was again found guilty of murder and sentenced again to 20-something years in prison, he is then given a paper copy of his sentence as to "keep this receipt in your records as proof that you have been found guilty of murder and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison."
There is a lot of loopholes in the system the film does not cover simply because it focuses on the main character's quest for justice, rather than what is wrong with the system; however, the film does give a good insight of how upside down the legal system is in Mexico. This documentary may not do a lot to fix what is wrong in Mexico but it is a start in bringing awareness to the Mexican people that they can have a better Mexico and hopefully a lot more films like this, exposing the different issues Mexico faces today, will surface and perhaps one day things will be different.
Watch the film, it is worth it.
Battle Los Angeles (2011)
Enough to entertain yet not there yet...
As soon as I heard that this movie was coming out, I wanted to go see it, simply because I'm fascinated by the post-apocalyptic and alien arrival/invasion type of film. However, as most seem to discover, this film isn't really about aliens, it's more about the Marines and their role in a time of war. It has all the elements expected in a war scenario: gunfire, explosions, loss of life, selfless acts, self- discovery and whatnot. However, because this movie has been billed as an alien film (because it does have aliens who came from another world) some will not like it because it doesn't really explore the idea of aliens arriving on our planet and brandishing their superiority.
Young audiences may like this movie because they won't sink deeply into the thought of how a real life invasion of extraterrestrials would unfold. They will appreciate the film on its simple terms: Lots of action, lots of shooting and blowing up, some scary and military pride moments.
Those of us seeking profound story telling on what is likely to happen if hostile out-of-this-world forces came down on us, may find the film tasteless, as did not live to expectations, did not deliver, and what many have refer to as "Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day but no originality". Without question, if aliens did find our planet in this infinite universe and did become hostile, they would put up one hell of a fight as we always see on screen because while we may always end up defeating them by the power of screenplay writers, their advanced weaponry and vicious minds tend to level our cities to rubble before we can figure out their weaknesses, however, we can't help to ask "what chance do soldiers with standard-issue assault rifles have against hyper tech weaponry from across the galaxy?", probably none, the same theory is always argue: intelligent life form capable of light speed travel cannot be beaten with national pride alone. In other words, we stand no chance and therefore the display of brave soldiers firing hundreds of rounds while shouting one-liners is redundant.
When you go see this movie, don't go in hoping to see how our society, our governments, and our greatest minds would come together in the greatest task of all to figure out how to repel this invading force and assure our prevalence. Sure, we see a display of conventional warfare- a group of Marines engaging the enemy, withstanding and returning heavy fire, in the end retreating realizing conventional combat tactics are inefficient against this foreign enemy (something to expect from galaxy travelers, right?). In the end, it's good old American and military pride, while not necessarily defeating the enemy, our boys manage to put some damage on the advanced race, but frankly, I did see a better display of our military capabilities in the Transformer films, perhaps these aliens took our entire arsenal out before we had a chance to put a good show for them, or if such show did occurred, it happened outside L.A., as the film takes place in L.A.
Again, an advanced race capable of traveling across the galaxy with superior firepower capable of sending a race of almost 7 billion into extinction. Would we stand a chance? Maybe. It all depends on who writes the script.
Go and enjoy this film, take your kids, have a good time at the movies or at home if you wait for Netflix. Don't take it too seriously, it's not a mind-blowing epic about the end of civilization and how far mankind is willing to go to assure our survival. Bottom line: ID4 remains a classic this one cannot match, despite its massive display of gunfire.
The Cell (2000)
Another 'computer-simulated vitual-reality world' film- yet entertaining.
The idea of entering a killer's mind to find out where he keeps his trapped victim is interesting yet not totally original. The movie in some ways makes you think of The Matrix or The Thirteen Floor. Their plots are different but their main idea is similar- a computer-simulated virtual-reality world that is not real. The Cell shows an interesting point: The audience feels the killer must be punished for his crimes yet as we explore the killer's childhood we begin to understand his motive to the things he had committed. The movie shows us that even though the man is a killer in his manhood he was not necessary bad when he was a kid. Conducted by the pain and suffering he went through his childhood he became the man he is. But, since the kid and the man are the same person, when the man is being hurt, the kid will also be hurt. I cannot say Jennifer Lopez gives an outstanding performance but she does give a decent one. Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio are well-admired actors by myself and I enjoyed their performances. I hope everyone else enjoyed or will enjoy the movie as much as I did.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Legend Continues......
I saw Sleepy Hollow just after watching the new 007. Sleepy Hollow is a really good movie. The scenes when people get their heads cut off are really good. We're tired of violent scenes where we can't see the actual action but instead see the shadow or people screaming. This movie actually shows the "nasty" scenes and when it doesn't show it, it is for a good reason.
Evaluation: 9 out of 10.
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
"A very danger weapon, but not too lethal."
I had the opportunity of watching Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) on theaters. When a movie is watched in the big screen with a great surround sound equipment and a big audience the experience is different than watching the movie on video at home and alone.
The movie has an opening with action and comedy. A semi trailer explodes and goes sky-high- really cool. Then the movie moves to a different setting, always keeping the comedy. Suddenly action starts again. But after that thrilling sequence at Los Angeles Harbor, the movie plot goes down. For more than 30 minutes, the story is just talking with some funny moments. After that, the plot goes high again; of course, it's not a big plot: Chinese people making fake Chinese money. However, the movie has great action sequences, like the car chasing, and good kung-fu fighting performed by Jet Li. The fighting could have been more, I mean, what Jet Li showed on Lethal 4 was not all he knew, but maybe the kung-fu wasn't that much because Gibson and Glover don't know anything about martial arts. Jet Li couldn't perform big moves against men like Mel and Danny, so the director keep the fighting cool but not that cool. Joe Pesci and Chris Rock gave the movie a funny touch, like when they both start chatting about cell phones- really annoying but funny at the same time. Rene Russo did good too, specially for a pregnant woman. Fighting Chinese people while pregnant is not an easy task.
EVALUATION: 8 out of 10. **1/2 out of ****.
The General's Daughter (1999)
"What is worse than rape?" "Betrayal."
ABOUT THE MOVIE:
I just saw The General's Daughter (1999) yesterday. A really good movie, with an excellent cast, and a really thrilling plot.
The movie starts with Paul Brenner (John Travolta) who talks with a sort of "Texarino" accent. Later the story gives introduction to Elizabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson) who seems to be a nice woman with order and discipline. As the story goes on, we discover the nice woman gets raped and killed, and as the investigation about her murder starts, we start knowing that that woman is not as nice as she looked but she sure had a dominant personality and a dark past. The investigation given by Brenner (Travolta) and Sarah Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe) starts somehow confusing and as it keeps going it keeps getting less confusing. By when the plot is getting to its culminating moment we start getting behind the truth and discovering what really happened to/with the general's daughter.
This film has a really intriguing plot. It's amazing to know what a father would chose to do to her daughter in order to keep the good reputation of an organization. And it's amazing to know what a daughter would do to teach her father that some things can't just be forgotten. And it's also amazing to know how many people can be involved in one simple but really serious crime. We can just think that it's only about knowing who the victim is and finding out who the criminal is, but it's not just that.
In this movie we see how much many people know and how many are blamed. The General says, "Just find the son of a bitch." Brenner answers, "I will, sir." The story ends telling that just because you did not physically commit the crime, it does not mean you are not the son of a bitch.
The General's Daughter is a must-see film. It teaches, it blames, it makes you think, it entertains you. But more importantly, it shows you what's worse than rape. Elizabeth, the general's daughter, could forget that she was raped, could put aside that she was rape... but she couldn't forget and put aside that she was betrayed by her own father.
FILM EVALUATION: 9 out of 10. ***3/4 out of ****.
ABOUT THE MAIN CHARACTER:
John Travolta is one of my favorite actors. I love the strong personality he gives to his characters. Face/Off (1997) is my favorite film from him, then Pulp Fiction (199?), The General's Daughter (1999), and Broken Arrow (199?). Some other films from him I like too, like Look Who's Talkin' (199?).
EVALUATION FOR TRAVOLTA'S PERFORMANCE IN THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER (1999): 10 OUT OF 10. **** out ****.
The Simpsons (1989)
"The best TV show ever in the history of my-- I mean, yours-- No, his--D-och!"
The Simpsons is definitely the best cartoon in the history of television in the United States. No other show has caught my attention as much as The Simpsons have. I just love The Simpsons. It cracks me up!! I first started watching The Simpsons at the age of seven in my native country, Honduras. We used to have cable where I lived so I was able to watch The Simpsons through a Mexican channel, in Spanish, of course. Since the first time I stated watching it, I keep watching it till today. I've been watching a lot of cartoons since I was a little boy. I used to watch The Flinstones, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Tiny Toons, and Looney Tunes cartoons. I loved those cartoons once... but they start not being that entertaining so I stop watching them. Sometimes I watch those cartoons but just... sometimes, while surfing the channels. The only cartoon that has never look boring for me, not even through the years, is The Simpsons. I still watch other cartoons, like Pinky and the Brain, but The Simpsons has no competition. The Simpsons is so funny that even grown-ups love it. Homer J. Simpson is my favorite character. I always say something about Homer: many people think he's dumb, but he can't be. Otherwise, how in the heaven's sake would he be able to learn his lines. Homer's IQ is 190. I just love Homer for his jokes, attitude, personality, and for being the funniest man alive. Bart has to be my second favorite character. Then Lisa because of her intelligence. And of course, the rest of the characters are super funny, too. Chief Wiggun, Moe, Pricipal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Krusty the Clown are favorites too. The gaynest of Mr. Smithers and the evilness of Mr. Burns are good supporting actors. Every character in The Simpsons has a story to tell. The show wouldn't be better if one character is remove. One of my favorite voices is Phil Hartman's for Leo Huntz and Troy McClure. I don't really have a favorite episode because most of them are excellent and all of them are good. However, I have favorite parts from the episodes. Like when Homer sold his soul to Flanders the devil for a doughnut and the court decided that Homer's soul belongs to Marge so the devil didn't have other option then letting Homer's soul free, but not before saying that Homer would live with that doughnut in his head forever. In the next scene Homer is eating his headed-doughnut and Marge says, "Homer! Stop eating yourself." "But I taste so good, Marge," he answers. I hope to see The Simpsons around for more years. And I hope The Simpsons is getting prepared to bring up a good episode to welcome the new millennium. It will have to do with Y2K. The Simpsons cannot be cancelled before they reach their 300th episode. AMERICA DEPENDS ON THE SIMPSONS!!! Matt Groening created the best show so although his hands must hurt he must keep drawing. I have seen Futurama. It's somehow Simpsons-copied, but it's not as good as The Simpsons. THE SIMPSONS RULES! "THE SIMPSONS ON TV FOREVER!!"
THE BEST SHOW EVER!!!
"The Human Instinct will become what it is... an Animal Instinct."
I saw INSTINCT two days later after its premiere. I must say that this film is an outstanding drama. This film shows you that the human behavior is according to the environment you live in, not according to what you do or what someone tells you to act like. It also tells you that the human behavior is according to what you are force to act like. I totally recommend this film. Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. made an Oscar performance. In a scale from 1 through 10 this film gets 9.999999999999... The film is not getting 10 because it lacks about something. I can't tell if it is lacking on dramatic scenes or suspense scenes.