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Perfect Sisters (2014)
Good acting, good story, amateurish direction & cinematography
I was looking for some gripping, even chilling story about dysfunctional teenagers. Like what we saw in "Thirteen", which was a great movie, but now with a - true - crime story. Nah.
The director has been a producer for over 30 years and got some famous people to act in it. The actresses (the three of them) are really good. However, the direction takes a completely wrong turn, trying to make it a "dark teen fantasy-comedy-thriller-drama" salad. For instance, you start to wonder how two young girl plan the murders and... you have four teenagers enacting fantasies about murder. That's so not the thing this film should portray.
All the intentions to connect with teenagers were completely flawed. Bad soundtrack, TERRIBLE montage effects, ludicrous mixture of genres, awful cinematography work. It's like parents using slang. All the attempts to highlight the medium -- divided screen, special lights, accelerated camera -- are pathetic and would not even work in an MTV show in 1997. It's not a film for teenagers -- and if it was supposed to be, it didn't work either.
There are scenes that people's faces are covered by SOMEONE'S HEAD -- and not intentionally! Unbelievable. If you are a director making a debut, be humble and let a competent cinematographer AND editor do their jobs. How beautiful this film would
On the top of that, a voice-over starts giving ANOTHER angle on the film -- those films about bitchy teenagers obsessed with fame, kind of like To Die For from Gus Van Sant -- only to forget about it minutes later and never coming back to that.
Anyways. I was interested in the story, and through all the amateur work I could grasp something from it. The two girls are great actresses, and Mira Sorvino portrays precisely the thin line between a likable weak person and a wreck that screws up their children.
Somewhere I heard this: some people don't have to work their way into the center of the stage. They can pull strings and buy themselves into it. Question is: are they ready for it?
They Come to America (2012)
Cannot be called a documentary
This is a classical example of exploitative use of the word "documentary". The pursuit of truth, subjectivity and dialectics is completely overruled to prove the opinions of the maker of it.
In simple words, it's conservative and biased gibberish. No wonder there is a Fox journalist appraisal in the trailer, even.
Exploitation starts from the poster and goes all along: this pretentiously "horror", or "scary" motifs, in a horrible old-fashioned way to deceive the audience. The time for this kind of production is due, pal -- with the internet people are way better informed.
Documentary film is an art form that gained broader audiences in the past ten years. True gems came in this new wave. This is NOT one of them.
Crime Fiction (2007)
Good narrative work
This movie was written by a skillful writer - later on I knew the actor is the writer and also a PhD literature student, and the most funny and contra-ironic thing is that the script is good, but the movie itself... well. Elliot might have to deal with the good and the bad luck that haunts the main character (the writer within and outside the plot).
You can tell the writer has some knowledge of structuralism, post-structuralism, Tzvetan Todorov's theories and this kind of text. It is a fun exercise on how a narrative is swollen by a wider one, and by a wider one and so on. The character development is a bit poor, however: James becomes the stereotypical successful writer, the older writer is a cliché himself all the time, and not in the most funny way.
There are some details that add up on the story. Billy: YES. That one was way cool, and the retro ambiance and music partially work, although they seem misplaced among a stir of aesthetic experimentations that absolutely don't blend: short cuts, then camera-on-the-shoulder, then flashes, then yellow light in old hotels... better stick to one language only. Actually, there are a couple of scenes where the cinematography was great (the hotel couch with telephone ringing). But it was spoiled by this absurd long-haired blond hotel bell boy. Whaat?! Although some dialogs were a bit cheesy ("the world is a box of sh**!!!!"), they might have worked on a better direction. The directing really wasn't good: the low budget makes it difficult, certainly. The scene were the girl pretends to be locked out of her room was so mechanically spoken and lacking of sensuality that was a turn-off, for example.
All in all, I'd recommend it as an exercise on narratives, even if it does not develop the potential that enclosing narratives may have (Italo Calvino, 1001 Nights, Jorge Luis Borges). But it's fun if you can imagine how the script was written and what the film s trying to say besides its flaws. I might think this theme might even be somewhat postmodern cinema.
Jogo de Cena (2007)
Life and Art: an interpretation
After an ad placed on the newspaper, Eduardo Coutinho, the director, listens to stories of ordinary women. Actresses play the same stories, alternatively.
With a simple premise, the public is invited to see more than meets the eye. The real-life women shows us such a richness of detalis, strong personalities and delicate ways of perceiving the world. The actresses find difficulty on containing the emotions that the real character didn't even show on the speech. And suddenly the audience is challenged to figure out what is reality and what is interpretation on a thin line between life and art - as no other work is usually able to show us.
When comparing real life and interpretation, we come to our senses that everything is, indeed, interpretation. No matter if as past experiences or a script offered by the director, emotions are always emotions and we find ourselves flowing on the realms of speech.
A surprising masterpiece on both art and life, that amazes, moves and puzzles us. Coutinho again shows us that a simple idea is able to bring us deep experiences - especially with the unseen beauty there is right in front of us.
All the Pretty Horses (2000)
Inspiring, beautiful and untamed
Beautiful, beautiful work of Billy Bob Thornton expressing the journey in life of a passionated, loyal and true young man. Thornton is obviously a man with wild stories and he chose a very pleasant scenario to tell this one. Matt Damon suits perfectly as John Cole: a young adventurous man, more of intelligent than a high-profile hero, who searches for honorable work and love in company of a trusted buddy. Not only the love story is captivating but difficulties and adversities found by the two buddies. The company of a boy that "possibly does not have feathers" that take them to a prison and then both friends having to deal with the shadow of being inside a prison is something that give density and some bitterness to the sweet characters - as well as happens in life. The good thing is that the characters overcome this shadows, they tame them, and life with dignity after those events. The final dialog, with the judge, crowns the hero and is inspiring for every young man who also seeks for his own way and, as in the movie, find love and shadows on it. Thank you Billy Bob, you're a very sensitive guy; thank you Columbia for contributing with such a constructive movie and thank you Matt, thank you Matt for representing John Cole and your other characters - they help me on the way. This movie really inspired me and it is a beautiful story of untamed spirits, courage and goals with the strong scent of the country side, horses and green acres. Thank you for that.