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Poetry as a movie
I was lucky to watch this movie at the Athens Film Festival last Saturday and, despite its occasional flaws, I loved it. Ginsberg is fairly known to Greece , though most people (myself included) got to know him through his connection with Dylan. In that sense, I wasn't familiar with HOWL or the obscenity trial. For me , the movie's main attraction is the fact that it is not a biopic but a study on the creation of poetry, the power and magic of the words, the creator's struggle for genuineness through a dark path of madness and sexual frustration. The film is an unusual blend of poetry recitation, psychedelic animation, a graphic dramatization of Ginsberg's interview and a straight-forward dramatization of the trial.Some of them work fine and some not. Franco catches the right spirit of a young poet striving to find his way of expression and he is magnetic both in the recitation and in the interview scenes.The trial scenes , though well acted, seemed a little flat to me as compared to the vibrant tone that the poem itself imposes to the film . The animation was a bit uneven , in cases great (the Moloch section was terrific) , in cases indifferent and sometimes, for me, annoying. Apart from those parts that didn't work for me to the extend that I expected , the film is a unique docudrama, a magnificent and courageous ode to the power of words and the freedom of speech and a great depiction of the personal struggle of an artist to be truthful to himself.
Poinless joke of a movie
I don't, as a rule, watch sequels because they are generally bad reproductions of an originally good story. I decided though to give "pirates" a chance, in order to spend two hours of harmless entertainment.I didn't anticipate anything special but I didn't expect to be so annoyed by this perfect example of pointless "joke of a movie". This movie tries hard to be spectacular and funny but it ends up boring and ridiculous. It's a shame that , due to its good marketing and the marquee name of Johnny Depp, it managed to attract big audiences all over the world. Maybe this is a sign of our times. Audiences, myself included, finally get what they deserve!!!
Ask the Dust (2006)
flawed but beautiful
Words do not come easy when I try to write about "ask the dust". Fante's book has been one of my favorites since I first read it a couple of years ago. Towne's film, which I saw yesterday, has grown slowly in me for almost different reasons. It reminds me of an old fashioned song, played in a battered gramophone. The stylus here, makes occasional jumps on the vinyl that are momentary annoying but cannot destroy the beauty of the music. Fante's book is a love story. Bandini loves and resents LA, the way he loves and resents Camilla. He thinks of LA as " a beautiful flower in the sand" while Camilla is his " Mayan princess". He wants to conquer this city by becoming a great writer and he wants to conquer Camilla by becoming a man. Fante's novel is an angry, bitter story. Bandini is not made to be the classic movie hero because he's painfully human. His contradictory attitude cannot be easily translated into movie words. Towne opted for voice-over narration which reveals some of Arturo's thoughts but doesn't always make clear his motivations. He has also made the Arturo-Camilla love story the backbone of his film. We watch these tragic figures spit at each other, struggling to communicate and overcome their racial problems, but we cannot always understand their choices. Arturo's love affair with the city of LA is mainly depicted through the magnificent work of the cinematographer, while Arturo himself seems sometimes stiff and awkward for no apparent reason. Many people have commented on the lack of chemistry between the two leads. I cannot put the blame on the actors. Trying to make a melodrama out of a character's journey to self- discovery is not the direct route to the book's heart . Here lies, IMO, Towne's failure. On the other hand, if we try to ignore the book and look at the movie with new eyes, we'll discover a lot of brilliant moments and a lingering melancholy that make this film memorable. The actors do a fine job. Colin Farrell goes through a wide range of emotions and he pulls it off brilliantly: he's awkward and woman-shy, arrogant and cruel, sensitive and vulnerable. In fact, I believe that he had all the elements to be Fante's Bandini, if only Towne's script had given him the chance. I didn't think much of Farrell as an actor, but his recent film choices since " Alexander" haven't stopped to amaze me. Camilla's character is more straightforward and much better developed by the script. Salma Hayek shines with her temperament and her fiery nature. Her obvious resentment at Americans' racial discrimination is portrayed here with heat and passion. Idina Menzel gives an outstanding performance and manages , in her restricted film time, to break our hearts. Donald Sutherland and Eileen Atkins make just brief cameos. As a whole, this is a "different", old fashioned movie, flawed but definitely worth the try.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
I must admit that I haven't read Dan Brown's book and so I wasn't looking forward to watching this film at the first place. Maybe all the fuss in the media and the excessive publicity that forwarded the opening of this film, worked negatively on me. Or, maybe, I've had enough of Hollywood mainstream, commercial movies. I'm not exactly a fan of Ron Howard's work. He makes decent movies that, unfortunately, fail to touch me. " The Da Vinci Code" wasn't an exception. From what I've read so far, it appears that the film was faithful to the book.That's a good sign for a start but IMO it's not enough. A good story offers a nice background for a movie, but it needs more than that for the story to work on the screen. It's the director's skill that sets the pace and the tone, and makes the story interesting to the viewer.That's what separates a great master like Hitchcock from a league of just adequate directors . All that said, I must admit that I wasn't bored while watching this film.There was enough mystery in the actual story to keep me interested.Interested but not thrilled.I enjoyed the takes in the Louvre's interior and the beautiful landscapes, as a tourist would have done. Not for once, though, did I find myself sitting at the edge of my seat , wondering what will happen next. The actors didn't help either.Maybe they weren't given a chance to do so. Tom Hanks, who managed to break my heart in "Philadelphia", was a pale reflection of himself. Audrey Tautou, the ever engaging Amelie, failed to offer more than a pretty face. The only bright exceptions were the always delightful Ian Mc Kellen along with Paul Bettany. That was not enough though to save this film from being a successful mediocrity.
One of the finest movies I' ve seen recently
This is one of the finest movies I' ve seen recently. I' ve always considered Tommy Lee Jones to be a decent actor but I could never imagine that he could actually direct, and what is more, a movie that would touch me so deeply. This is a "road movie". The two main characters travel in order to fulfill a dead man's wish. The one of them is determined to do it no matter what, the other is literally dragged by the neck. Issues like racism, humanism, friendship, loneliness are but a few that this movie touches. It doesn't preach loudly, like many American movies tend to do. Instead it lets small truths slowly grow inside you in a magical way. Apart from T.L. Jones who was amazing on the main role I was very impressed by Barry Pepper's acting.I'd never seen him before in a movie but I believe that he gave one of the best performances of the last movie season.
The New World (2005)
A feast for the senses
I finally saw "The New World" yesterday. It was quite an experience.This film is miles away from any other that I've ever seen before. It's a feast for the senses. Senses are the key to this movie. You either let them guide you or you've missed the whole point. I cannot blame anyone who has complained about how slow, boring or even irritating this picture was. This is not the kind of movie that can be appreciated by intelligent reading. Neither does it belong to the category of highbrow artistic films that aim to an intellectual elite of an audience and shut out the rest of us, poor lesser mortals. You don't have to "understand" this film, you have to "feel" it. Just open up your heart and let the emotions carry you away and elevate you. The plot is simple and far from original. Adam and Eve, paradise lost, human greed and personal ambition coming face to face with the beauty of nature and the joy of pure living. Clash between illusion and reality, dream and fact. The originality of this film lies in the way that these themes are depicted. Muted glances, forbidden touches, light and darkness mingle with the murmur of the river and the rustle of the wind the breath of mother nature. Dialogs are scarce. Mainly voice overs run through the whole picture. I found them neither irritating nor useless. They are uttered in the form of inner thoughts, secret longings, muted prayers and they add to the dreamlike effect of this movie. Acting was actually very good. That was an extra bonus for a film like this, where actors are meant more to help the story and the images unfold, than astound us with their memorable performances. The actors' success in this movie lies in their ability to express their feelings through minor gestures, glances and body language. Q'Orianka Kilcher is a magnificent creature that embodies the essence of nature and beauty. She bends, she submits to the inevitability of assimilation but she never loses her freedom of spirit. Farrell's sad eyes speak volumes of emotion that could never be expressed in spoken words and Bale's kind-hearted demeanor is just perfect. "The New World" is like a poem. What I got out of it was a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth, a swirl of images and sounds in my mind and a wealth of emotion in my heart
a little respect for a sincere film
Having seen this film almost a month ago i wouldn't have bothered to add my comments here if i weren't extremely offended by the continuing critics'(filthy?) attack on it.I was naive enough to believe that the really nasty criticism should be kept for the film rubbish.Awfully bad or silly films have been treated mildly by the critics whereas in "Alexander"'s case we have a definitely serious piece of work torn to pieces with inexplicable rage.
I don't claim that "Alexander" is a masterpiece of cinematography or that Oliver Stone is Eisenstein's reincarnation but i feel that there was a peculiar rush to condemn this film and ridicule its intentions.
In Greece, where i come from, Alexander the Great is a part of our tradition,an everlasting legend,a symbol.Having grown with this legend,almost from the cradle, i have searched for him for many years through the primary historical sources and the most recent historical biographies.My conclusion is that ATG is one of the most elusive personalities in history.So i believe that there is enough space for any serious artist (or thinking person for that matter) to approach ATG from many different angles.Oliver Stone chose to look for the man behind the legend.To ponder on his dreams and his fears,his demons and his "divine" madness.O.S.'s Alexander isn't the mighty conqueror or the invincible son of Zeus not because his leading actor fails to fill the shoes of such a hero but because Stone isn't interested in making another epic about an ancient superman.
This film was made with a lot of love and respect towards its subject.It is passionate and strange and difficult to understand as Alexander himself is.It has many flaws that actually originate from its creator's obsession with Alexander the Great.Nevertheless it is an honest attempt to tell ATG's story with a lot of poetry and a lot of madness.
For my part i have to thank Oliver Stone for his descent approach on Alexander the Great and Colin Farrell for his passionate and extremely human personalization of my hero.
I believe that the critics have already lavished their praises on the next mediocre product of the film history that came along.As for "Alexander"? DREAMERS EXHAUST US.WE MUST KILL THEM!!!