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An ongoing list, randomly ordered.
My fav non animated films are listed in another list called I love them! Check them out!
Some movies that deal more with insanity and its limits with reality are not included here, or those focusing on the effects of hallucination.
An ongoing list.
An ongoing list.
+107.000 visits! You naughty people!
An ongoing list randomly ordered.
An ongoing list, randomly ordered.
No Pixar shorts. Mostly independent and young animators from schools of animation. A few conceptual pieces, too!
Most of them are silent, with no language spoken, others have English subtitles and a few are in their vernacular language. Different genres, styles and stories, mostly for adults.
If you find any broken link or anything out of the ordinary, please let me know! I hope you enjoy the shorts!
Who said that making people think about important subjects needs to be boring?
An ongoing, randomly ordered (at the moment), list
In short, movies for attentive watchers and movie lovers not for movie consumers.
A mix of weird, difficult, different, original, and fantastic movies, shorts, animation and documentaries.
An ongoing randomly ordered list
Mr. Nobody (2009)
Mr Nobody is the story of Nemo, whose possible two life lines and three love stories are alternatively presented.
The movie is well shot and the cast members convincing, especially Jared Leto (as adult Nemo), who is always perfect in this sort of odd films and roles. Also excellent are Toby Regbo (15y.o. Nemo), Juno Temple (15y.o. Anna) and Sarah Polley (depressive adult Elise). Diana Kruger (as adult Anna), Rhys Ifans (Nemo's father, Natasha Little (Nemo's mother), among many others, are OK in their respective roles.
The visual effects are wonderfully understated, very well blended with and at the service of the story. The theatrical movie sets, the rich colors, the different hues attached to each different life path, the wardrobe, and the lovely music -which mixes some old classic tunes with pieces specifically composed for the movie- create an ensemble that is very easy on the eye.
However, Mr Nobody is a great movie mostly because of its subtle but profound reflection on Human Nature, Human behavior, free will and the meaning of life. The movie reflects on questions like - what makes us what we are? Why we act the way we do? Is free choice a key element to be happier? How does other people's choices affect our choices in life? The philosophical, psychological, and metaphysical questions posed are sometimes explicitly mentioned, while others are hinted and expressed through the story as a whole, each different life line story in particular, and through Nemo and the other characters' behavior. Among others, some of the concepts presented here are: Butterfly effect, Principle of Entropy, Schrodinger's Cat Paradox, String Theory, The Pigeon's Superstition experiment, The Nature of the true self, Free will and fate, The linearity (or lack of) of Time, Quantum Physics and parallel universes.
There are other movies that reflect on the effect that personal choice and randomness, free will and determination, and the butterfly effect have in our lives. Just to mention three, just remember Sliding Doors, Run Lola Run, and Cloud Atlas. However, they do not have the clarity and depth that Mr Nobody does.
The ending of the movie is truly intriguing, and some of the discussions in IMDb are really fascinating. My interpretation of the ending, is that the whole movie is a prediction seen by unborn Nemo of what would happen if Nemo chose the parents he chooses, not what happens after choosing them. The choice starts at the beginning of the film, not when his parents separate. There are many elements that would support this, especially the fact that title of the movie is Mr. Nobody should be ringing some bells in your ears! Mr. Nobody is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking film I have watched in a long time. Perfect for Philosophy classes, and for oiling the creases of your brain in those days in which you feel them a bit rusty. Mr. Nobody is one of those movies that linger in the back seat of you mind for days, long after you have watched it. "No choice is still a choice" is one of the statements presented in the movie on which I have been pondering for days. Would knowing your fate help you to make a choice? Is one of those questions that made the same to me. The film is full of statements and questions that will keep you thinking, for good.
Beautiful Animation, Senseless script
Pixar lost a bit its essence and idiosyncrasy when it was engulfed by Disney. Since then, every second Pixar movie we get can be labeled Pixar's in conception, ideas and originality. The in-between years are for movies like Brave, which follow a ready-made template with structured predefined characters, values and jokes that are very much modern Disney. This is, moreover, Pixar's fist princess movie ever.
Brave's animation is amazing from a visual point of view: the colors, layouts, backgrounds, the rendering of the landscapes and characters movement, the camera angling, the 3D design and even the movement of the hair of Merida are spectacular. Still, a good animation movie, to be successful, needs of a good script with a sound story and narrative: what it tells and how it tells it are always more important than how it looks like.
Brave's script -by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi- is, a priory, a winner, as it mixes many European folk legends and human archetypes (like the ones we see in Anderson or the Grimm Brothers' tales) with modern attitudes and sensibilities. Moreover, Merida is in a way, a combination of all the successful past Disney's heroines. Thus, Merida is a redhead tomboy princess, opinionated and rebel, super-woman at every level, living in a Medieval Scottish male dominated kingdom that is brought up to be a queen.
The film is entertaining and beautiful to watch, and some of the characters are very funny. There are many funny moments especially those involving the witch, Merida's triplet brothers, and the lady bear.
All the cast of actors do a good job at dubbing their respective characters: Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Billy Connolly as Merida's father, Emma Thompson as her mother, and Julie Walters as the Witch. To be completely honest, Billy Connolly's dubbing always sounds like himself not as the character he plays.
Still, Brave does not deliver beyond the artistic qualities of the animation, because the story sends contradictory and senseless messages to the children it targets. It feels as if the writing team had done bit and pieces separately, and then stitched them together without further adjustment and polishing. Being so, the movie can be labeled, depending on the moment, of feminist, sexist, retrograde, modern, advanced or conservative. "Obey your mother" can be a revolutionary message in a world in which children are spoiled rotten and disrespect their parents, but going from there to deciding that everything mammy says is good for your future and that the tradition has to be respected no matter how senseless it is, it is a bit reactionary. On the other hand, the story tells us that you can be brave and daring, but until certain point - bravery is subversive, and subversion is not good. What?! Be brave and make your own fate, free will do exist, but fate is fateful and will crash you if you subvert the status-quo. What! What? What?!
Too much is always too much. Brave is a beautiful senseless sermon that gets lost in its own wordiness and senseless preaching. It is perfect for small children, as it has lots of action and some funny moments that the little ones (and your inner child) will enjoy. More sounded boys and girl, our just your sound self, could get a bit puzzled at the moral of the story and the wordy ending.
Prometheus wants to be a prequel (or at least connect) to the "Alien" saga, including the stories narrated in the two "Alien vs Predator" movies, so the story, in a way, has to fit the bill.
Prometheus also wants to move away and go beyond those movies to create a saga and mythological world in which all the stories are included and embedded, but it has its own autonomy.
Prometheus also wants to pose some philosophical, theological and ethical queries about human nature, the soul of androids, and the origin of life, very much in connection with many of the themes explored in "Blade Runner".
Prometheus wants to provide the viewer with a science-fiction teleological mythology infused with philosophical and metaphysical queries... it sounds pretentious. Well, it is pretentious.
I love action movies, but if you want to mix action with metaphysics, you better work hard on putting together a story that links well all the elements, create engaging characters that have an emotional background, are well connected, and have a purpose within the story. Most importantly, show respect to the viewer who is willing to believe anything if it has inner logic and makes sense.
The film is very sleek, and some of the scenes are wonderful and unforgettable, grandiose and spectacular, as well as the special effects, especially those filmed inside the departure chamber, utterly gorgeously, if that can be said. The blue, golden brown and white-ish tones of the film are perfect for the story and create the right mood, from warmth to cold, both physical and emotional. The photography, mostly shot in Iceland and Spain, is beautiful, and the landscapes chosen really look out-this-world. On the contrary, I did not find Marc Streitenfeld's original soundtrack especially inspired, and it sounds like hundred other science fiction movies soundtracks.
The male and female characters are unevenly treated by the story and the result is that the actors who play them, shine or not depending on it. Naomi Rapace is completely wasted as Elizabeth Shaw. She does her best at doing what is requested of her naive passionate and a-scientific scientist character - no acting would have saved it. The same can be said of Charlize Theron, whose talent is wasted in her role of Meredith Vickers, the intriguing ice-cold beautiful manager of the expedition; not much is demanded of her, beyond wearing styling super-tight clothes and moving like a supermodel on a catwalk.
On the contrary, Michael Fassbender is brilliant as the quirky witty android David. David is the best drawn character in the movie because it has a sense of purpose, a background, an inner logic, and a well-defined "psyche" and a soul that is missing from the human characters. Fassbender really brings his character to life, and gives him both mechanical and human color in movement, facial expression and performance. What a great actor he is.
Guy Pearce is good and almost unrecognizable in his role as Peter Weylan, the patron and sponsor of the expedition. The rest of the supporting actors are just OK in their respective roles. They do what is requested from their roles, which is not much at times.
Prometheus is a super-production that does not deliver what it promises. This is an action movie with amazing visuals and interesting premises that gets lost in itself. It is hedonistic at times, superficial and preposterous most of the times. The movie feels like a blockbuster made to utter wows; yet, the wows are never uttered because there was no previous thinking, the story and characters are just sketched, and the viewer is expected to disregard ridiculous events, completely unscientific behavior by scientists, and even the laws of Physics. Furthermore, Prometheus seems anchored in old philosophical queries that, despite still being valid. are presented as if the world had not changed much since the 1980s, science and technology were far less developed, and their impact on Society were less profound, and new queries were needed to be present for the film feel contemporary in that regard. There is a lack of focus in the project, and the result is a chaotic film, that is enjoyable at times, ridiculous and stupid others. Visuals and style are never enough to make of a movie a good one.
The movie ends with unanswered questions, on purpose, as a sequel has to follow. Oh dear.
The Imposter (2012)
The less you know about the story, the more you'll enjoy it
This is the documentary, of the many I saw during the Perth Revelation Film Festival 2012, that has stuck to my memory, and the one that fascinated me the most.
The documentary revolves about the vanishing of a 13y.o boy, Nicholas Barclay, for his home in Texas in 1993, to be found in Spain with an apparent amnesia six years later. What happens after the young man call the Spanish Police is the core of the film.
The movie mixes interviews with the protagonist Frédéric Bourdin, Nicholas' family, American FBI and Consular officials, and has very atmospheric re-enactments done with Spanish actors and settings narrating the events occurred in Spain. The story is build up like in a thriller, and it will keep you glued to the screen, wanting to know what is going to happen next.
Layton has given the documentary the tone of a mystery movie in the re-enactments, but also in the interviews through the use of the chiaroscuro, camera positioning, hues of the film, and the tempo and way the events are presented - everything serves to build up suspense and mystery, and make you doubt and question yourself. Is this a real documentary or a mockumentary? Are we being fooled? The story is fascinating and amazing per se, but the way it is presented, is marvelous from a cinematic point of view as lets the viewer munch on a few philosophical themes: self-identity, reality and perception of reality, the connection between emotion and perception, and the use of cinematic narratives in documentaries based on real events, among other things.
One of the main downs of the movie is that Nicholas' family is somewhat ridiculed and vilified for the sake of the storyline. After all, we need of good, bad, stupid and clever characters in a story to create an interesting film. In the first place they are portrayed as ignoramuses; however, they are a suburban family living in a poor area of the USA, with little or none education; you cannot expect much of any person grown in this social environment anywhere in the world. In the second place, they are ridiculed for failing to detach themselves from their emotions and see something really obvious for the spectator; however its a characteristic of human nature and behavior to attach emotion to our thoughts and to interpret what we see according to our own personal individual viewfinder. We do so, all of us, every single day, in our daily lives, so you cannot expect traumatized and emotional people to see things as clearly as we see them from our seat in the cinema. In the third place, the movie implicitly blames the family, by letting some of the characters doing so, for the vanishing of Nicholas, without providing any evidence for it.
Still, this is a terrific documentary. The less you know about the whole story at the beginning, the more you will enjoy it. This is a documentary that attracts people to the genre because reinvents it. A proof that a documentary can be amazing, intriguing, entertaining, and thought provoking.
Mongolian Bling (2012)
Mesmerising view of Modern Mongolia through Hip Hop
Mongolian Bling is an Australian documentary on the Hip-Hop scene in Mongolia directed by newcomer Benj Binks. I was lucky enough to be at the World Premiere in Perth during the Revelation Film Festival 2012.
Mongolian Bling is one of those documentaries that succeeds because it goes where nobody else has gone before, has lots of passion and hard work behind it, and talks about its subject with rigor, humor, vigor and grace, still being entertaining and unpretentious. Most importantly, Mongolian Blink let Mongolians tell their story with their own voice.
Mongolian Bling does not do what you expect from a documentary of this sort to do - a straight forward narration from an outsider point of view of a given subject. Like serious boring history of Mongolia, or linear narrative and talking about the social problems of the Mongolians or the Hip-Hop movement there.
Still, Benj Binks and his international crew offer us with a colorful tapestry of modern Mongolia images, and we learn about the challenges of daily life in Ulaanbaatar, the aspirations and frustrations of the youth, the religious differences that the country has, generation gaps, gender attitudes, marginality, and musical creativity. Binks is able to explain why Hip-Hop is so ingrained in modern Mongolia, and how ancestral musical traditions and attitudes served to anchor the genre in the country. We also see the multicolor facets of the Hip-Hop scene, which is far from being monochrome or a block. All of this is told though three main hip-hop singers: Guiza, Gee and Gennie (who could not be more different), although Hip-Hop aficionados and wannabes, and even children are featured in the doco.
The editing by Davide Michielin and Bieks is great, as creates a tempo and mood that keeps you engaged and entertained. The cinematography by Nacho Pende is great, because goes beyond the obvious and is able to capture the beauty of the ugly districts, the lyricism of chaos, and the shining lights of the darkest places. The live sound by Steven Bond is also great, and the viewer feels is right there listening to these people rap just for you.
The film has been bought by ABC Australia, which will show it on TV in a 56-minute format not in its original 86 minutes, which, however, will be complete in the DVD. I you have the opportunity, go and see it on the big screen. It is completely worth it.
Gorgonas is an Argentinean animated horror short film produced by the Centro Cultural del Cine and directed by Comics artist Salvador Sanz. The film is a retake on the Greek Myth of the Medusa and the Gorgons brought forward to the current times and turned in a fascinating horror film.
The story is just fantastic. The way the Greek Myth of the Gorgons has been revamped, still being recognizable and horrific is incredible - Brilliant! The drawing, in color and BW, but especially the latter, is just fantastic, very powerful, and detailed, with a great use of the chiaroscuro and ink use. The work of a virtuoso drawer. The movie is mostly a sequence of still drawings with some animated parts, the colored ones. There must be reason why the director did not made the whole movie in motion animation (economic reasons? lack of background in animation? an artistic reason?), but the film still works and left me in awe.
I love non-linear stories, but I think the director has chosen the wrong narrative for this story, as the movie starts in the present and tells most of it in a flashback. The story is so good and powerful that a linear story from the past to the present would have been much more surprising, horrific, shocking and mysterious. Starting from the end does not improve the result of the story at all. Perhaps it works on paper, but not as much on film. At least to me. It is excusable, though, as Sanz is a Comics artist not a proper animator. Still his work is impressive, as well as the story, tempo and suspense of this film, which are great, as well as the ending.
One of the best short films I have seen this year.
Dnevnoy dozor (2006)
Anton Gorodetsky is in the night watch working with his lover Svetlana. He finds himself in the middle of an approaching conflict between the forces of the Light and the Dark due to his trying to destroy evidences against his son Yegor, who is in the dark side. His actions are a breech of the weak truce that keeps both the Day and Night Forces at peace.
This is the sequel to Night Watch, a movie that I haven't watched and, after watching this film, I will never do.
Day Watch is a moronic senseless and pretentious film, with mediocre and pedestrian acting, and good special effects. The movie is boring since the beginning, a long agony to watch through til the end. It is badly edited, with a poor direction of actors, a stupid script, and clichéd images. Day Watch is a collection of film sins that cannot be ignored, and that should be used in film schools to demonstrate what not to do when directing.
The movie, and the director, could be excused if the movie was a low budget film with amateur actors but this is, instead, a Russian super-production with some good actors. Some bad movies really make you laugh, or at least they are entertaining, so at least you get something out of them. But this is not the case here, as the movie is pretentious and serious beyond belief even in those scenes that are supposed to be funny.
One of the worse films I have seen for a long time. It is difficult to understand why such a stupid bad film has a rating of 6.5.
The best thing about the film? The poster and the special effects.
One of those docos that will keep you talking for a long time
Catfish is a documentary that follows the Facebook-born Internet relationship between Nev Schulman (one of the directors' brother) and Melody, her mother Angela and the rest of her family. The title refers to the catfish, a fish used in the transportation of live cod to keep the latter moving and agile, and, by derivation, to define those people who keep others on their toes by giving them emotional or intellectual stimulus.
Although the documentary has been accused of being a mockumentary, or at least a staged story, the directors continue to deny it. To me, the important fact is that, disregarding whether this is a real doco, a re-enactment or a mockumentary, the film poses the viewer poignant questions on our modern culture, the Internet, our online persona, social networks and human communication. Catfish poses many interesting questions about self-perception and identity through the Internet: Is the image we present to our Internet buddies our real self? In which way? In which degree? Is our edited life profile a real representation of who really are deep down inside? Is it necessary to present our real self to the world through the Internet to communicate with others? Does the way we present in real life and the virtual life differ and in which degree? It also shows the need of modern society to hide to connect, and to connect using a enhanced beautified portrait of ourselves. It also portrays the ugly face of many online dating experiences, those that dating sites forget to mention, or the people involved forget forever.
This is is one of the best documentaries I have seen in the last 12 months. It is very entertaining, very real, in the sense that is a sort of visual video-diary, and the experiences and feelings that Nev shows are naive and raw, as flawed as ours could be, very human and believable. Moreover, the editing is fantastic as well as the tempo of the story. It is thanks to those, not just the story, that the viewer gets hooked on a film that is visually not very pretty looking or interesting a priori.
A very engaging, warm, fresh and intriguing documentary.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Entertaining and thought-provoking
A lonely tax officer, Harold Crick, starts hearing a female voice that tells in a literary way what he is thinking and going to do. Trying to give himself a rational explanation, he visits a psychiatrist and then a professor in Literature What is happening to him and who is writing, literally, his life? Stranger than fiction is a modern fable about predestination and free will, about life as a our personal creation, and a reflection on the process of artistic creation. It is a retake a la reverse on Pirandello's "Six characters in search of an author", but using just one character. The film is directed by Swiss golden boy Marc Foster and written by the screenwriter and film director Zach Helm.
The movie has a terrific script and dialogs, characters very well drawn, and great acting. Will Ferrell will surprise you as Harold; we are used to his crazy over-the-top performances, but here he offers a very controlled and sensitive performance and completely transforms himself into Harold. The always believable Maggie Gyllenhaal is perfect as the lawyer turned into anarchist baker Ana Pascal. Emma Thompson is great as the neurotic insecure and perfectionist writer Karen Eiffel. Dustin Hoffman is also terrific as Professor of Literature Jules Hilber, who intrigued by Harold turns into a Literary detective and Harold's counselor. Queen Latifah is correct as Eiffel's PA Penny Escher; I found her character a bit unnecessary, but she does plays well what she is asked for.
The movie is not only entertaining, but it is embedded with multiple ethical dilemmas and philosophical questions, that turn the mystery and the romance into something else. Some of the questions that came to my mind were: If your life was written like in a novel, and therefore you knew that you were predestined, would you still try to fight this? And if you did, would that make your life better and more meaningful? If it was in your hand, what would you prefer, dying young but having a memorable death or dying old but nobody knowing that you ever existed? Would knowing that your death is poetic, give more meaning to it? Would you rather know when you are going die or how? The look of the movie, is very clean, minimalist and stylish. The superimposing graphics and vectorial images help to make clear to the viewer what is happening in Harold's head and the sort of analytical and mathematical mind and approach to reality he has. They are terrific, very stylish, explicative and not invasive at all, just at the service of the story.
Don't be fooled, this is not the sort of gag comedy you watch to have a big laugh. Is a witty comedy, not a LOL one.
A terrific film, entertaining and thought-provoking.
Éclosion is a French Animated film directed, written and animated by French conceptual artist Jérôme Boulbès, that transports us to an indefinite place in time and space where there is a matting gathering of stone "beings".
This is one of the most incredible short animated films I have seen lately. It is difficult to explain why such an abstract clip is so engaging and thought-provoking, so full of energy and mystery. It's not only well drawn and spectacularly animated, but it has a very enigmatic atmosphere and energy. At watching it, I thought of those energies that create and keep together different elements in a conglomerated rock, the way some geological elements bond and conglomerate forming almost unbreakable rocks. However, this is not a lesson in Geology, it is a minimalist piece in which cubical animated stones gather and mate following indescribable energies that attract or reject a stone cube to each other. It is a courtship dance, in a way. It doesn't matter if the events happen in a sci-fi planet or in a fantasy world, in the present of the past. One wonders, why this is happening and what brings the different elements together. What are those energies that we see in the story and what is coming.
I found amazing that Boulbès was able to create so much with so little elements because, the story not having a main character, cute or hate-able, to which pin the viewer's attention, this has to have a specific powerful visual narrative, sound, music and magic to keep us watching.
The film is elegantly minimalist, energetic and powerful and the interpretation options are wide. Therefore, it will satisfy any inquisitive mind and animation lover looking for something new.
A mesmerizing conceptual short film from the point of view of conception, realization and cinematic narrative. Not for everybody, as it is very abstract.