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American Sniper (2014)
Only technically good
Of course Clint Eastwood is a great film director and this movie is technically very good. The fighting and shooting scenes are particularly well filmed. But in what concerns contents it is just only passable. This is based on the true story of Chris Kyle an American that decides to enroll himself in a special army corps after he sees on TV the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in New York. He becomes a special shot of exceptionally good aim who kills lots of enemies in Iraq as a sniper which makes him a legend. He can shoot them at such long distances that might make it a bit unlikely in the view of anyone who has served in the army even if he uses always a telescopic sight. He goes there in four tours leaving wife and two kids at home something that his wife doesn't particularly appreciate. The story in itself is not more dramatic than in most war movies. It has nothing special to be marked.
Le petit soldat (1963)
Dull and lukewarm
It's the time of the Algerian war for independence. In Geneva Switzerland there are French secret agents (or are they just only right wing militants?) who occupy themselves at killing those who support the Algerian nationalists.There are also Algerians who fight for their cause. There is also a French army deserter that surprisingly collaborates with the secret agents (or right wingers?) and falls in love with a Danish-Russian girl that supports the Algerian cause. The deserter is charged with killing a Swiss man who is an Algerian supporter but is reluctant in doing it so from a certain moment on he attracts the animosity of both French and Algerians. He becomes kidnapped by the Algerians who torture him till he manages to escape the place by jumping off a window. Then the French kidnap the girl and torture and kill her. This is what we understand by watching the images all along the movie because in the usual Godard's style there is no palpable narrative thread. The images are worth what they are by themselves and this makes a very dull and lukewarm course with meaningless dialogues and monotone scenes. The scenes of the torture are particularly unconvincing. And the movie ends up abruptly with no meaningful conclusion. Once more I must say I don't know what so many critics see in Godard's movies to say that he is one of the greatest movie directors.
Pierrot le fou (1965)
Not only Pierrot (Ferdinand) but the whole movie is crazy. A married man returning home from a boring party meets there with a girl with whom he had a case five years before and is supposedly there to babysit his child (or children). He had not seen her since then. They decide then to leave at once and start a car run through the country getting involved in a series of meaningless peripeteia like stealing cars and money, filling the car tank and running without paying, setting a car on fire, entering with another in the sea on a beach and other minor events no less without an apparent reason and cooked through half-sentimental foolish dialogues during which he girl calls the man Pierrot though he keeps telling her that his name is Ferdinand without any reaction from her. We feel there is some story of arms traffic behind all this which is never clearly told or explained. At a certain point she is kidnapped by traffic rogues, kills one of them with a pair of scissors and runs away. Then it's the man who gets caught by the traffic rogues that torture him in order to know where the girl is. Then he is free again (did he escape or was set free by his captors after revealing where the girl is?). Then we see an old Lebanese countess proposing him to go with her on a boat but then the girl meets him again but suddenly escapes with another man that we don't know who he is and they kiss passionately each other. Our Pierrot Ferdinand chases them to the island where they went by boat and shoots and kills them both. The story(?) ends with Pierrot Ferdinand committing suicide in a way that would be funny if it wasn't tragic. He put 2 or 3 dynamite belts around his head but at a certain point he tried unsuccessfully to put off the fuse and we see the explosion in the horizon in the last scene. I have understood that Godard's movies don't have a sense, a clear story or a message. They are worth for what they are worth and their scenes and images are worth for what we see and nothing more which means very little for me. However since he is considered a great movie director by critics probably this is my fault.
The Boxtrolls (2014)
Ugly can be beautiful
Many people say that animation movies are for children and not for grownups. This movie is one more that denies this. Animation movies have the visual effects and the images that can be charming, besides the story and very much appreciated by adults. The story in this movie is not very strong or original but the images, visual effects and the several characters impersonation and expressions are superb. Most characters are rather ugly but this is aesthetically very impressive and we can almost say beautiful. And the monsters are morally the good ones the evil one being a human being. And maybe the best part of the film in terms of images, voices and music are the scenes that go on with the full cast and crew credits in the end.
A Perfect World (1993)
Not so perfect indeed
This movie denies the simplistic idea of good and bad that presents bad characters as totally evil and good characters as totally good. Kevin Costner performs here the role of someone who is a delinquent killer, an escaped convict who kidnaps a small boy as an hostage to feel protected in his escape but shows very good feelings and sentiments in the course of events that follows. His relationship with the boy develops itself as deeply sentimental on both sides since the boy becomes very friendly with his captor also because he is getting an earnest education from his mother who is a Jehovah's Witness and deprives him and her other children of much of the fun that children use to enjoy and now he begins to feel more free in the company of his captor than at home. In terms of action the movie is a bit lukewarm in the beginning and till its middle but in the last third it develops itself in rather dramatic and moving scenes which make it worth to be seen. In conclusion: not a very good movie but a good enough one.
Is this serious?
Definitively I and Jean-Luc Godard don't get along with each other in what concerns films and filming. I didn't like any of his films I have seen previously and didn't like this one either. What does it mean and what does he want to communicate or say to us in all his films? Is he serious or is he just kidding with crime or science-fi or even love stories? Does he want to pass on any message to us? Which is it? I am not so stupid but if he is considered one of the best movie directors of our times by most responsible critics maybe the fault is mine. This movie takes place in Alphaville, a supposed extraterrestrial town in some exterior galaxy but that looks like any current town or city in this world like New York or Paris for instance, peopled by apparently normal people normally dressed. Some scenes are quite ordinary, some dialogues too but some others show very odd behaviours and incoherent talking. You travel out of the galaxy by car and by road for instance. Which codes and symbols is Godard recurring to? He once said: To make a movie we only need a gun and a woman. Is this the answer maybe?
Gone Girl (2014)
A complicated story
Complicated but well told. Nick and Amy started a love marriage between themselves which lasts 2 years before becoming disharmonious. On the day of the marriage 5th anniversary Amy disappears leaving behind her a scene that suggested she could have been violently kidnapped. This is object of a criminal investigation by the police during which several odd aspects of their marriage are revealed including Nick's infidelity with a young girl. The investigation leads to a murder suspicion falling upon Nick. But from a certain moment on the movie unfolds itself in two alternate sequences in a vivid rhythm: one around Nick and the investigation and the other one around Emy that is alive and running away to disappear and revenge herself by creating a scenery that would lead to Nick's conviction for her supposed murder. This is well told in images and dialogues and has good dramatic scenes and ends up more or less suddenly with a real murder committed by Amy on a former lover which she misrepresents as legitimate defence of a sexual assault. This changes her revenge course and the movie ends with them back together though not in a very harmonious mood. Not a very good ending according to normal moral patterns but this is a movie and not a moral lesson. Not a masterpiece but a movie worth to be seen anyway.
A poetic work
A good movie but not exactly my favourite kind of movie therefore I rated it 7/10 which I consider a compromise rate. A poetic movie both in terms of words and images. Inclusive some poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (the director's father) are told now and then in a voice off. This movie gives us after all images of the childhood of Ignat, the chief character and it's somewhat autobiographic of its director Andrei Tarkovsly according to the critics. It develops itself in a succession of image contrasts: colour / black and white, flashbacks / flashforwards, fair weather / stormy weather, interiors / exteriors with beautiful landscapes, action scenes / still and motionless scenes exploring facial expressions very meaningful in poetic terms. It gives us also some images of life in USSR around WWII times And last but not least it has a soundtrack very rich with pieces by Bach and Purcell totally adequate. We don't have here a coherent story through a conducting thread in terms of space and time but only a succession of scenes portraying reminiscences of the main character. It draws our attention and is sometimes almost moving but has no properly coherent plot. This is not a criticism just only a perception.
Fancy one million dollars?
A very good film on every aspect and every detail: the story, the plot, the acting, the scenes, the landscape, the real sceneries of interiors and exteriors and the image framings. An old ailing man, addicted to booze convinces himself that he has won one million dollars in some lottery and he must collect it in Lincoln, Nebraska, about two thousand miles away (he lives in Montana). He doesn't listen to his sons and wife that keep telling him he hasn't won anything because this is only a trick to lead him to buy some stuff like magazines. But he is so stubborn about getting on his way even alone that his youngest son agrees to take him there. On their way they stop at the small town in Nebraska where they have lived many years before and they still have relatives and old friends. These become convinced that the old man had effectively won such a fortune and from then on we watch a few incidents of greed natural to human nature which are very well acted and depicted in the movie. But in parallel we also see the strong affective relationship between father and son, restrained on the former and much more patent in the latter. All this is shown with great realism and psychological veracity in what concerns good and bad sentiments. One last word to stress the excellent performance of Bruce Dern as the old man in a very difficult role indeed.
The Untouchables (1987)
Good though not particularly brilliant
Once more the story of the Untouchables led by the federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) that defeated the gang lord Al Capone (Robert De Niro) at Chicago in 1930. Capone ruled most of the city through violations of the Prohibition law, smuggling, bootlegging and the bribery of policemen and authorities. These are the two characters who stand out in this movie leading the plot to a struggle which becomes personal between them. Besides these two another character stands out too: the honest policeman (Sean Connery) that joined the Untouchables and ends up murdered by the gang. Without being especially brilliant this is undoubtedly a good movie for it tells with enough visual realism the story of the gangster whom it was never possible to convict for his countless crimes and ended up convicted for tax evasion (a serious crime in USA) in eleven years in jail. Good history sequence, realistic violence scenes and good job of the acting performers. And nothing else except perhaps an anthology scene almost in the end: a baby pram rolling down a staircase at the railway station in the middle of a fusillade reminding us of the famous scene of the movie The Battleship Potemkin at the Odessa steps.