Reviews written by registered user
|12 reviews in total|
City of God is not only a true eye-opener to the horrors of criminal life in the "favelas" of Brazil, but the cinematography alone is enough to leave you on the edge of your seat, begging for more. Fernando Meirelles' use of lightening and shadows and filmed snapshots is incredible and augments the symbolism of the camera in Buscapé's life journey. I enjoyed how the film progressed in a novel-like fashion, imitating the book that it portrayed with various "chapters," each of which described a particular character's story. Likewise, the development of a large number of characters is sometimes too daunting to attempt in a 2-hour film, but I thought it was well accomplished in City of God. Finally, the plot itself was simply an amazing and stark depiction of the violent reality that exists in the Brazilian ghetto, to the point that murder became even a normal part of daily life for young children. That's certainly a thought to chew on for some time.
21 Grams is a tremendous feat, an emotive film that explores the depths of life and death and everything in between. Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro, and Naomi Watts give outstanding performances and truly reveal the measures we are willing to take in the name of love, revenge, forgiveness, and death. The way Alejandro González Iñárritu connects the lives of these three characters is mind-blowing, as he challenges the viewer to piece together the narrative as the film continuously flashes from the past to the future to the present. Although I found this fragmented style confusing at first, it slowly begins to unravel and make sense, and I believe it is the only way these tragic stories can effectively and artistically be told. The characters in the film, and in turn the viewer, wrestle with a deep variety of emotions and issues that have the potential to change their lives forever. At least it certainly had a profound impact on myself.
Alejandro González Iñárritu has successfully produced yet another heart wrenching and provocative film that will stay with me for a long time to come. I still do not think I understand the film from a thematic standpoint, because it brings so many different themes together along an emotional roller coaster. Javier Bardem is stunning in his portrayal of Uxbal, a man not only fighting a terminal illness, but also struggling to keep his dysfunctional family afloat and aid the migrant workers that provide him with a shady income. However, despite all of the violence, desperation, and grim this film present us with, it reveals to us that life truly can be "beautiful" if we decide to look at it as such. Moreover, the intertwining of cultures and languages in the film is very well done and gives a very realistic perspective to the difficulties of living a poor, migrant life. I also found the film to reach a very humanistic level, as the situations and dialogs were very naturally portrayed. Although I was far from uplifted after watching Biutiful, in fact quite the opposite, it effectively grasped all of my attention and forced me to ponder about its intensely emotional consequences and the stark reality it presents.
Al Pacino stars in this film based on the set of historical events that took place in Brooklyn, New York during the early seventies. Dog Day Afternoon retells the story of these events when Sonny and Sal decide to rob a bank in Brooklyn, but their efforts seem to have failed when they realize most of the money has already been collected for the day and soon the police have the entire bank surrounded. The remainder of the film reveals Sonny's interactions with his hostages, the large media crowd that has gathered, and Detective Moretti who attempts to negotiate with Sonny. I think Al Pacino is exquisite in his role, revealing the truly human personality of someone who decided to disobey the law. I found it impossible to not feel sorry for Sonny's character, as he brought realness and a true New York feel to his role. This film also showed how the media can take something and create an enormous spectacle of it, to the point that even the people in danger are caught in the televised web and forget their potential danger. If you want to see Al Pacino at his prime acting career, Dog Day Afternoon should be on your list.
Walter Salles reveals a dramatic and sentimental journey with Central do Brasil, sure to capture the attention and sympathy of any fortunate viewer. The film tells the story of two characters, Dora, a retired schoolteacher who writes letters for the illiterate public in the train station, and Josué, a young boy in search of his estranged father. When their paths cross following the accidental death of Josué's mother, they are forced to form an unlikely bond as they travel across Brasil in search of Josué's father. The cinematography is breathtaking, revealing the true beauty and wonder that resides within the Brazilian borders. Likewise, I believe the relationship that develops between Dora and Josué to be just as beautiful, portraying two people who want nothing to do with one another, yet, who need each other in order to discover the truths of life's journey. Moreover, the various people and situations they encounter on their search for Jesús, Josué's father, add a rich eclecticism to the film. There is a deep symbolism present as well, which upon recognition causes the viewer to truly ponder its implications. However, even without the realization of deep allegory, I still believe this film can be considered a gem among others.
This 1992 Mexican film is full of both symbolism and cultural significance, and it helped me to appreciate the fantasy and mysticism reflected within the narrative. Tita is the youngest of three daughters, held captive by the traditions of her tenacious mother, which dictate that she is not allowed to marry, as she must care for her mother until her death. Yet, Pedro has already announced his passionate love for Tita, and in hopes of being near her, marries her older sister. Tita soon discovers she is able to communicate and share her emotions through her cooking, which she makes for Pedro to demonstrate her love for him. I found the film to be very intriguing in a symbolic sense, and would be interested to read the original book. I enjoyed viewing the early twentieth century culture richly interwoven into the storyline, and the eroticism was very prevalent, but portrayed in an artistic and reflective manner; however, it's not a film I would choose to watch again.
This short film is a beautiful breath of fresh air amidst the current popular cinema. Pedro González-Rubio reveals the daily life of a young Italian boy, Natan, who has gone to visit his father and grandfather in Mexico, where they live at sea as fishermen. The film is more of a documentary, not following any intense plot, but rather, reflecting on the beauty of nature and the loving relationship between father and son. The cinematography is breathtaking, and I found myself wishing I could live at sea along the Banco Chinchorro as well. The absence of any music or soundtrack throughout the film is both interesting and compelling, because it forces the viewer to focus on the natural sounds of water, wildlife, and simple human interaction and conversation. There is a deep tranquility to this film, a sensation that washes over the audience as well, and one that I particularly enjoyed.
Luis Mandoki writes and directs a very real and suspenseful film, which follows the difficult daily life of a young boy and his family amidst the civil war in El Salvador during the 1980s. Chava is an adventurous young lad who, along with all his friends, is attempting to escape the awaited recruitment by the Salvadorean army upon the arrival of his twelfth birthday. The film is strikingly authentic in its depiction of the atrocities that poor and innocent families underwent during the horrific civil war that was taking place. As a spectator, I was completely drawn into the story and the characters, truly feeling the moments of love and contentment, or pain, fear, and utter desperation. This production should be applauded for its authenticity and candid portrayal of what reality meant for the everyday people of El Salvador and how the civil war undeniably affected their lives in appalling and unforgettable ways. Furthermore, the cast was superb, particularly Carlos Padilla as young Chava and Leanor Varela as his mother. I will carry the images and stories from this film with me for a long time to come.
The Mexican film "Temporada de patos", or "Duck Season," written and directed by Fernando Eimbcke struck me as strange, but humorous, from the very beginning. The plot itself was oddly creative, taking the mundane lives of four people on an ordinary Sunday and transforming them into a quirky coming-of-age story that speaks measures, again in a very peculiar manner. I was intrigued as to why the movie was produced in black and white, even though it is a modern film, and I still do not really understand what the director or producer's intent was behind that depiction. While I myself did not particularly enjoy the film, I can appreciate its intent to portray complicated themes through eccentric and comical means.
Claudia Llosa writes a peculiar, but captivating story of a young
Peruvian girl living in a constant world of fear on the outskirts of
Lima. Fausta is believed to be suffering from a rare disease, "La teta
asustada," or the "Milk of Sorrow," which was transmitted from her
mother's breast milk after she was raped by terrorists during the time
of Sendero Luminoso. Facing her mother's death, Fausta is forced to
overcome her fear and work in the Big House of a limeña musician. While
both the music and filming are stunning, I feel that the film lacks
much action or thick plot. I found it to be more of a journey, one that
led Fausta from her fear to a glimpse of her freedom. Furthermore, as a
viewer who has lived in Peru, the film was very nostalgic for me and I
felt that it portrayed Lima and the "pueblos" with a profound
If you are looking for a poetic and beautiful journey of a story, this film is exactly that.
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