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My Blueberry Nights (2007)
A brainless beauty
My Blueberry Nights reminds me of a beautiful but brainless girl I went out with.
This was a 90-minute Norah Jones' music video saved only by Strathairn, Weisz and Portman's effort to do what's best for their petty roles. No screenplay, no direction, and no concept in a shallow movie where their performance and the visuals are the only thing worth the money paid, this movie is a big pretentious fake -not too surprising from this overrated director. Jude Law's name is in the movie credits but did absolutely nothing on screen to earn that.
Gotta love people who write grammar-school-homework summaries of movies...
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
An excellent Barcelona postcard
There's no sight of Woody Allen's gifted hand when stereotypes are squeezed into a script. I don't know about others but Bardem and Cruz are merely playing themselves -to perfection it has to be said.
Certainly one of WA's smallest efforts and despite Rebecca Hall's excellent performance, this movie could only be praised by undemanding audiences oblivious to any factual idea about Spain, Catalunya or Barcelona.
P.S.: La Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi church, is so full of cranes it looks more like a construction site. In the movie the beauty of this church is all due to Santo Loquasto's skill.
La teta asustada (2009)
Hollywood, Bollywood, Globbywood
A realistic portrayal of the impoverished suburbia of Lima, Peru is the frame-set for this fantastic story. Fausta, daughter of a woman raped by terrorists some 25 years ago, assists her mother's death and decides to take her remains back to her hometown, in the high Andes. But, apart from having to work hard to collect the money she needs for it, Fausta has a reason, deep inside, that prevents her from enjoying life or accepting her outstanding physical beauty as a normal girl.
Mastery at low-budget cinematic skill should be credited to Bollywood (the Mumbai-based Hindi language film industry) films, which may not be the most groundbreaking in technical or screen writing terms, but contain music in the form of song-and-dance numbers woven into the script in order to appeal to all segments of the audience and maximise box office receipts. Since Hollywood's multi-million budgets would never have helped shoot realistic and colourful, but rough Brazilian imagery, 'Central Station' (1998) and 'Cidade de Deus' (2002) garnered indisputable acclaim at renowned film festivals after being funded on their own. The example set by off-Hollywood movie makers' efforts have become heroic in countries where movie industry budgets are, to say the least, scarce.
This is the case for LTA. It could have been more on par to Danny Boyle's 'Slumdog Millionaire' if it wasn't for the Peruvian-Spanish meagre budget available to Peruvian young director Claudia Llosa. If you expect to see acting beaus or beautés, famous screenwriters and crew, expensive car explosions or CGI, go elsewhere. LTA is neat magic-realism, a territory where people may be poor but not disgusting, where their houses are mere recreation centres for fantasy and everyday life to play happily together. Only time will tell if the trend keeps up, spreads globally, and ends up being called Globbywood.
This is a well-told tale of hope where only two professional actors are involved. And this was as clear to Berlinale judges as it is for the general public -those with a thirst for veritable, honest, witty craftsmanship at film-making.
Ma mère (2004)
Cheap Exercise of Pretentiousness
This is a movie which I saw two years ago (I am a man) with a woman who suggested we'd watch it while in intimate circumstances. As I do not intend nor feel the need to give details, I will only say I did not see that French girl again. I hardly watched it; just remembered Isabelle Huppert was in the cast.
My curiosity -or boredom- was strong last night, and I rented it to see what I'd missed. As I don't understand French I could not even have a gist of what the plot was, but I could last night: a very poor attempt to glamorise perversion and diss catholicism. I am a little bit of a pervert and a feeble religious observant, so I may not be accused of being biased or discriminating European art films.
Now I know why I did not feel the need to call her again.
La môme (2007)
Not the worst biopic of history, but certainly not the best
I will rate La Môme 6 out of 10 if only by the outstanding -I mean OUTSTANDING- performances by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf and Emmanuelle Seigner as Titine. It is clear the rest of the cast members -including Gerard Depardieu's Louis Leplée- did so much of a good job alongside them that La Môme ends up as a credible narration by these merits; it is a most recommendable movie just because of its remarkable acting.
However, beyond this point there is not much to mention. Had I not known a little about Piaf's biography, I would have never understood the time jolts and poor scene continuity. It seems that, in an effort to provide the film with a surreal tone, director Oliver Dahan has been sadly unable to conceal his music video background, polluting the feature with flashbacks that lie scattered in the movie's main timeframe, and unnecessarily making the viewer's attention jerk back and forth.
Another director like Roman Polanski would have done a better directing job; Emmanuelle could have called him in.
Ya lyublyu tebya (2004)
A cheap proclaim that's not even worth the rental
I have read on a previous post something like director-writers Olga Stolpovskaja and Dmitry Troitsky seemed more to be issuing a statement about a westbound, tolerant, more modern Russia than committing to a significant, if not merely credible storytelling. And that's just the tip of the iceberg; I saw it all in order to review it.
To make a long story short: the movie's unskilled actor direction, the ludicrous resolution of its plot, and clamorous potholes in screen writing, editing, photography, etc make this an excellent choice for undemanding audiences who, yes, believe its statement and pay for theatre tickets. Which in the end is, probably, what matters to some.
Kick Your Date In The Head And Get Her Anyway
That is the promise of the trailer I saw and by which I rented Hitch. Exactly, a serious film viewer shall not expect much further from this title but, surprisingly enough, Smith, Mendes, James and Valletta managed to reach a theatrical performance which could be metaphorically summarised on their rap dance-floor routine by the end of the film: their characters formed an effective combo which may prompt more than a good laugh with this Sunday afternoon DVD, providing your date is not an exquisite, french-swedish-directors-of-the-60's movie fan.
P.S.: The techniques to score are all TRUE, especially the "cocktail girl" routine!
Gaudi Afternoon (2001)
Make-believe for non-Spanish
In a farcical key, Gaudí Afternoons can be taken as a mediocre exercise. Marcia Gay Harden and Judy Davis pivoted a good cast (Juliette Lewis' new-age freaky character has been incredibly taken from reality, I know an American young lady who squawks like her!!) but GA does not show much beyond its overtoned plot.
Even though movie-making is all about make believe, there were certain noticeable screenplay inconsistencies. Two samples: you pay 14 euro to enter the chapel where Cassandra and Frankie met, NEVER at 7 am, and you cannot leave a terrace without paying the bill (they'll charge you on the spot if they don't know you) or get off a taxi THAT quickly (you Americans always tip cabbies even though they don't expect to, but the sequences portrayed in the movie were ridiculous). Don't believe me, reader: come over and see for yourself.
If you've never been here before you might not care about all this, but good movies should be believable disregarding of your origin. Nobody knows about GA here, and I will make sure that does not change in the future.
The School of Rock (2003)
The Devil's Advocate
OK, here's the low points:
- Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman have cruelly been separated from the importance they deserved in any movie, especially Cusack because I've got a timeless, hopeless crush on her. Period.
I'm 37 and a movie bum. I have an admiration for directors like Cronenberg, Lang, Hawks, Fellini, Truffaut and all the names that make you feel adequate at an intellectual conversation with people my age in one trendy design bar on a cool evening. How could I absolutely LOVE SofR? Because its musical references were too much to expect in the city where I live, which is more prone to Sonar's experimental electronica rather than to sustain my eternal allegation to rock music. That's a fact.
I saw the posters for the movie last December, I think. I immediately tried to see it in the original version, but... no f'ing way. No cinema had programmed it in English. You're in Spain, my friends said. I was determined to not laugh with dubbed, dumbed-up gags, so I decided to download it from the 'Net which I did. I saw it four times within the four days that followed, and then I was ready to pay my ticket to hear a sorry local singer unsuccessfully committing the crime to dub Jack Black's incomparable witticism. I had the same laughs at the cinema, but only by remembering Jables' voice!
Yesterday I rented the DVD version. I saw it once with a bunch of friends and once again with another, extras included. I don't think I'll ever stop watching it for a while, even though I've deleted the downloaded version from my PC a few minutes ago. Those magnificent artists don't deserve being downloaded; now I think I've paid for every laugh.
And yes: Freddie Jones does better than I do at the drums. I've bought some new sticks, and am playing the drums again.