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La gente de la Universal (1991)
People Who Like People Are the Luckiest People in the World of the Dark Side!?!
........ .......... ........... ............ ......... ..from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA...and ORLANDO, FL
La Gente de la Universal 1991
Maria ...Full of Grace 2004
Ah-h-h-h-h .What a profound difference 13 Years Make!
Movies that continue to ricochet around in your brain long after having seen them are who I am. Despite having seen LA GENTE only twice in the 90's, many of its haunting, uber-disturbing images have been domiciled in my gray matter ever since! To quote Yoda "A Doctoral Dissertation of 30 or 40 pages, it deserves!" No Can Do Here! So, must find the wherewithal to overcome my "No Soy de Aquí, Ni Soy de Allá !" Bicultural, Quixotic Quest, Hard-Wired Schizophrenic Tendencies And Channel into some sort of Prioritized Logical Sequence!
So First Things First: La Gente de la Universal .A Critique
Director Felipe Aljure Salame committed a world class Mortal Sin against the First Commandment of Colombian Cinema Directors in the 90's "Thou Shalt Not Incorporate Narcotrafficking Urban Legends into Thy Films Intended for International Distribution!" Naughty Boy! On-Screen Fusion of Criminal & Religious Ritual Activities CATOLICAS!?!?! ..... Ay, DIOS MIO! Really can't go into any more detail, because that would, perhaps, be misconstrued as Spoilers!
How is it possible that Sr. Aljure, in his first Directorial At Bat in 1991, hits an Out-of-the -park, Neurotic/Nefarious, Anti-Formula, Dark Classic Masterpiece for the Ages Only to find himself Blackballed (?!?=My Educated Guess!) from film Directing for the next 11 or 12 years!?!?!? La GENTE must have really P*ssed Off the Colombian "Rosca" (Clique) with monopolist ties to international distribution channels! Just look at the IMDb title No English Translation! Wow! Talk about stifling distribution chances outside of Colombia! Certainly, GENTE also P*ssed Off Colombians guarding the gates of National Distribution, as well Despite being produced in 1991, GENTE was blocked from National Release until 1995!!! Go Figure!!!
If you can manage to get your hands on this intentionally swept-under-the- rug gem, do so, and watch it! You are in for a scrumptious Dark Treat! ENJOY / DISFRUTELA !
This Review is dedicated to Felipe Aljure Salame
If anyone who reads this can communicate with him, please send him a link to this review
SERENITY Is Everything But !
Movies inspired by TV shows have always inspired my mistrust. Worse still, if the genre of the film is Sci-Fi! Upon reviewing Serenity's stats on IMDb, before seeing it, I found myself looking at a rating of 8 out of 10 ... Incredibly high! Among the 100,000 titles contained therein, Serenity has to be among the 300 highest. However, as Sci-Fi movies frequently have legions of fans that rate it "10", sometimes there is quite a breach between the reality of the film and it's apparent rating!
Consequently, I went to see Serenity with relatively low expectations. Well, there are still surprises in life! Although I wouldn't quite give it an 8, SERENITY has much more going for it than against it. The cast, as is almost always the case in the genre, is composed of little known actors. (Except if you're a fan of the canceled Firefly series, which served as inspiration for the film.)
From the get-go, I noticed something that really caught my attention. The three main female roles are played by Gina Torres (Cuban-American), Morena Baccarin (Brazil) and Summer Glau (San Antonio, Texas, an American city whose population is nearly 50% Mexican-American). All three women have a very Latin look, yet, at no time, is there ever any mention of their ethnicity. Now, I don't know about you, but as far as I can remember, this is the first time that I've ever seen this! In fact, this is quite a cinematic event, because now Latinos can be assigned all sorts of roles, not just Hispanic ones!
There is absolutely NO serenity in Serenity! A tad violent, at times, but nothing really excessive, when taking into account its genre of "Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi / Thriller". The scenes where CGI us used are well executed. They combine good action scenes, a certain originality, outstanding visuals, and a script that never tries to overcome the context and tone of the story, as us the case in many other films.
As for dialog, there is usually a true skill and deft coolness in the use of language that is not heard and in many dramatic films. In the opening scenes, the acting seems somewhat under par, but the as SERENITY progresses, you see that the performances achieved, usually are in good agreement with the characters. At the end of the day, Serenity achieves a good dose of action and suspense...ENJOY / DISFRUTELA !
Any comments, questions or observations, in English o ESPAÑOL, are most welcome!........................................ KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
King Kong (2005)
King Kong ...... Long Live the KING!
WARNING: Contain what might be considered as a couple minor spoilers!
In 1956, when I was 8, I saw the original version (1933) of King Kong for the first time. It impacted me very much! .... Although the film tripled me in age, its special effects were the best I had ever seen, without a doubt. The director of King Kong (2005), Peter Jackson (Trilogy: Lord of the Rings), says he saw the original version at age nine and that was what inspired him to become a film-maker. This new version is perhaps one of the best cinema remakes of recent years!
BUT ... (and it is a very BIG "BUT"!) The simple fact that it is not an original story involves many limitations, at least, in my opinion! However, for a few minutes, I'll try to continue this review taking into account that the vast majority of you have never seen the 1933 original. King Kong (2005) has many things going for it and against it! Despite this, any film, and King Kong in particular, is much more than a summary and analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. It is, basically, an indictment of just how the modern world destroys everything that is good and innocent for its insatiable appetite for massive and rampant commercialization. Of course, if one so wishes to interpret it that way.
For many, King Kong will probably seem like a surreal time machine ... first, leading you to the City of New York, at the beginning of the 30s. It is worth commenting that Jackson' recreation was nothing short of absolutely spectacular. Perhaps the best recreation and atmosphere of someplace in the past, without a doubt. Then, when they get to "Skull Island", we are in a prehistoric world, forgotten millions of years ago. I would say it also qualifies as the best cinematic representation of its type that has appeared in films until 2005, however, not by much, but rather, just barely.
The real charm of the film is its very believable emotional relationship developed between Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and the digital image rendering of KING KONG himself. The strangest thing about this relationship is the apparent peculiar inversion of roles between Ms. Darrow and King Kong. A very special relationship between a dog and its master is very common, where a number of qualities are seen clearly, like love, affection, friendship, mutual respect, platonic love, loyalty, and being able to spend time together sharing activities. In addition, a master offers his pet special care and affection. What happens here is that King Kong is the master and Ann Darrow, by her own volition, assumes the role of pet. Of course, both these terms are used here in the best possible sense!
Another great achievement of King Kong is the awesome reality represented in its title character. Previously, I think Lord of the Rings' Gollum, also directed by Peter Jackson, was the most realistic CGI character image. But King Kong, you can say, is the first digital character that seems real in almost every scene of the film. Above all, the depth of emotion expressed in the eyes has no equal. If for no other reason than this, it makes it all really worth it!
There are some other negatives that caught my attention. Jack Black is a comedian of great merit. I was somewhat disappointed with his portrayal of Carl Denham, the eccentric and very egocentric producer responsible for organizing the expedition film. He should learn, as did Jim Carrey, to leave his mugging faces for comedy. Also, I this kind of film probably appeals to many children 9, or under. King Kong, unfortunately for them, has a couple wildly violent moments that you may not find suitable for them. Too bad, because 95% of KONG is great for kids.
This film lasts three full hours. The last two are full of action, but in the first hour, there are some lethargic moments. Perhaps Mr. Jackson could have cut some 15 or 20 minutes, no problem. My last complaint has to do with the famous phrase: "Suspension of Belief". In 2 or 3 scenes, digital images maintain a level of frenetic action so exaggerated, so long-lasting, it's a little hard not to drop the famous phrase as in, "Oops! There goes my .!"
But all in all, I think kudos are in order for Peter Jackson and the vision that he has shown with his version of King Kong. For three decades, Steven Spielberg was the king of Hollywood. There seems to be a new king. Long live the king! Long live Peter Jackson! Long Live King Kong! ENJOY / DISFRUTELA !
Any comments, questions or observations, in English, o en Español, are most welcome! ........................................ ... KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
War of the Worlds (2005)
WAR of the WORLDS - A World Where E.T. is Transformed into Darth Vader
WARNING: May contain a few SPOILERS!
In a perfect world, any film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, Taken, I Am Sam), would be a marvel. But, alas!...As we all know, live in a perfect world, we do not! The sad reality is this: War of the Worlds is, undoubtedly, a visual stunner...and absolutely NOTHING else.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the young filmmaker who gave the world cinematic master-works as JAWS, Indiana Jones (along with George Lucas), ET, The Color Purple and Schindler's List, has become a film-industry magnate (co-owner of Dreamworks studio) and where the principal goal is not making great movies, but making great money!
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the "Seventh Art" has been relinquished to nerdy CGI techs. That WAR abounds in visually high-impact, jaw-dropping, disturbing and Uber-unsettling scenes, which, at times, may even border on the artistic, is undeniable. But WAR is soulless cinema. It has more of the feel and look of a large- scale, passive video game, where there is no real character development, because everything is completely subordinated to the frenetic and incessant visuals.
It is possible, or perhaps likely, that most video game-lovers will adore this film. Also, if you fancy the release of adrenaline akin to that you get during most theme park rides, WAR just might turn out to be one of your favorites! But this type of activity almost always leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, as does this film.
Barely 10 minutes in, WAR is already busy depicting the arrival, or rather the emergence, in this case, of alien invaders. From the moment of their rise to the surface, the "aliens" are relentless in their campaign of extermination of the human race.
Rachel (Dakota Fanning) appears throughout the entire movie screaming, crying and whining, incessantly, to the point of becoming utterly unbearable. Tom Cruise (Rachel's father) makes a superhuman effort to save his role from disaster, and almost succeeds! But the dialog is so forced, so contrived and its characters so superficial, so two-dimensional, it ends up being one big 'Mission Impossible' for Mr. Cruise!
There is a small respite from the on-screen images of genocide, some half an hour before its abrupt and unceremonious "FIN" When survivalist, Tim Robbins' (Mystic River, The Shawshank Redemption) character, offers his home as shelter to little Rachel and her dad. But the scene does not really fit all that well into the film. It's as if Spielberg and his inner circle made the decision to put some scene, or other, there, and simply failed to find anything better.
Then, in the blink of an eye, all the aliens just up and die, and, in the most surreal, Deus Ex Machina, of ways....they ALL lived happily ever after!!!!! .The only thing missing was: "The END", plastered all over the screen.....50's style!
As video games are ubiquitous in today's society, WAR, will surely have its audience, but I would really think twice before watching this sterile vision of a dark, creepy and soulless world with anyone under age 10! Be that as it may, for what it's worth.......ENJOY / DISFRUTELA!!!!
Any comments, questions, observations, in English o en ESPAÑOL, are most welcome!......................................... KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
Lord of War (2005)
LORD of WAR A Window Into Humanity's Dark Side
Here is a film that presents a portrait of some of our least favorable attributes. Things that, in some dark recess of our consciousness, we know very well exist, but somehow make us feel uneasy to contemplate in the light of day. Also, I think LORD appeals to fans of films that require the use of gray matter and applied consciousness.
Based on a true story, it is clearly a striking example that reality is often far stranger than fiction. Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) is a Ukrainian-American who walks aimlessly through life. When he witnesses a failed kidnapping attempt at a Ukrainian restaurant in Little Odessa, resulting in the death of the two murderers, Orlov has a kind of demonic epiphany: People simply cannot live without weapons to kill their neighbors!
Andrew Niccol (The Terminal, The Truman Show, Gattaca) in addition to serving as director, has written and produced "LORD" ... quite a versatile man, most definitely! Like his compatriot, Peter Jackson, Niccol is an example of the growing influence of New-Zealanders in Hollywood. And here, he shows us a film that is in no way easy to catalog! Protagonist Orlov is a man whose entire life is a lie, and like many who lead a double life, Yuri Orlov ends up believing totally the myth in which he has enveloped himself!
So as to reveal no more than necessary, suffice to say that in its last half hour, there are some interesting surprises. Nicolas Cage deserves special recognition, not only for his excellent work here, but for the maturity he has shown recently in his choice of subject matter and tone! After several years of appearing predominately in action-flavored movies, it seems Cage has opted to change course a little. With LORD of WAR, he has made a very wise choice. ENJOY / DISFRUTELA!
Any comments, questions or observations, in English
.o ESPAÑOL, are welcome!.............................................. KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
The Constant Gardener (2005)
CONSTANCY Inevitably Unearths the Truth!
The Constant Gardener shines with great intensity, but in a way that is rather subtle, somewhat occult, just beneath the surface. It's the kind of "Thriller" where more often than not, a silent expression or a nervous pause communicates more than a hundred words of dialog! Directed with panache, intrigue and passion in both scope and focus by Brazilian Fernando Meirelles (City of God), has created a tale of international dimensions.
Based on the work of John le Carré, Gardener shows us the sinister side of pharmaceutical multinationals, where human life in Third World countries serves to supply perverse drug trials, in pursuit of even bigger record profits. Rachel Weisz (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Constantine) has been awarded a much-deserved Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role as activist and wife. Also, Ms. Weisz most certainly deserved her Oscar win! The subtlety, complexity, originality and freshness of her portrayal are nothing short of amazing.
Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Maid in Manhattan), despite giving one of the best performances of his life, curiously, did not even receive a Golden Globe nomination! Gardener demonstrates to us that often the reality of things is not what it seems at first glance. Justin Quayle (Fiennes) is a mid-level diplomat, who is tormented by persistent rumors and some strong indications of frequent infidelities by his activist wife.
When she becomes the victim of a violent and gruesome murder, perhaps at the hands of her alleged African lover, Qualye senses something is askance and begins a methodical and patient investigation. To the extent that he gradually inches closer to the truth, threats and pressures to desist his inquiry increase exponentially!
But as secrets of his late wife's life continue to be revealed, her image is vindicated completely; Mr. Quayle has become obsessed with arriving at the truth, regardless of the consequences. Also, Quayle, now quite repentant for having doubted his wife to the extent he did, now comes to realize that the most suitable place for him would have been beside the woman who loved him so much.
Thusly, Gardener combines several diverse elements like suspense, political intrigue, romance, action, research and international outreach with masterful skill and powerful intensity ENJOY / DISFRUTELA!
Any comments, questions or suggestions, in English o Español are most welcome!........................................................ KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
Syriana ..A Serious and Searing Vision of the World!
Syriana, certainly supremely somber and dark, both in focus and in execution, with a cast replete with A-Listers like George Clooney (also listed as one of the executive producers), Matt Damon, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer and Amanda Peet, had a budget of 50 million dollars....All for the purpose of presenting a striking vision of the troubled state of the world in which we live.
To dig a little deeper regarding Syriana, a film nominated for several Oscars (which were quite well deserved, in my opinion) is the kind of psychological-political thriller where you, the spectator, is forced to put your brain into hyper drive in every scene, every line from the movie, from start to its final seconds....If you do not want to end up with gaps in the arc of the story, you'd best not let down your mental guard, even for the briefest of moments!
So, if you prefer your films "Light & Breezy", Syriana may not be the most appropriate option. The story development is not linear. Constantly changing location, focus, characters and, especially, chronology! Syriana is akin to taking a cinematic rocket ride .Beginning its journey slowly, deliberately, but with a huge explosion from the ignition of its engines. Then, there is rapid and constant acceleration throughout its entire trajectory! Gradually, one begins to feel a constantly building imminent danger.
To the extent that Syriana approaches its climax, there is a pervasive sense of impotence that is transmitted to the viewer and to each character and each entity in the story. It is as if each and every one involved were all cells in some Gestalt organism with a separate life all its own, yet, unable to change course and detain the inevitable. Syriana is a most convincing portrait of a coolly calculating, complicated and Machiavellian world ..ENJOY/DISFRUTELA!
Any comments, questions or observations, in English o Español, are most welcome!............................ KissEnglishPasto@Yahoo.com
TROY...An Outstanding Cinematic Time Machine
More than just a movie, TROY is a species of cinematic time machine. In a most compelling and exciting way, it will transport you to a time and place far away, to the Greek islands of over three millennium ago, to be precise!
For those of you with a good "Home Theater", this film will provide two hours of historical battles, conducted in a very realistic and impressive way, spectacular vistas of both land and sea, seamless digital effects that are difficult to distinguish from reality, and for women, a well- oiled Brad Pitt projecting a multifaceted and enigmatic Achilles, whose performance was highly underrated by critics.
In contrast, Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings , Pirates of the Caribbean) as Paris was somewhat indecipherable, leaving one with the question of whether the lack of character in his portrayal of Paris, was intentional or due to an under-par performance . The rest of the cast appears to be generally well chosen (with the exception of Diane Kruger in the role of Elena, who looked like a mechanical porcelain figurine) and bestows a resonance and a dimension to this historical drama rarely seen in a movie of this genre.
As announced in the end credits, TROY was "inspired" by Homer's Iliad, authored some 2,500 years ago. It's hard to understand the logic of "purists", who have cried "foul!" because Troy's plot often differs notably from Homer's original work. They complain that the movie is neither faithful to the Iliad nor to history. Well, the fact that the thousands of gods and demigods present in the book are absent from the movie is, perhaps, not necessarily a bad thing!.
As for historical events themselves, nobody really knows for sure what happened in Troy three thousand two hundred years ago! Practically everything is purely conjecture! So consider that TROY is a completely separate film version , with a different name , of the written work, the Iliad.
It is worth making a few comments on some technical aspects of the production : costume design , sets & scenery , weapons, boats and other elements of war demonstrate a work done taking his time, with enough love and an almost obsessive attention to an endless number of details , almost impossible to see and perceive well the first time you've seen the movie, but that clearly stand out during a second viewing.
There have been many works where the Seventh Art has spent a fortune, and the result ends up being anything but artistic! In the case of Troy, at least, it seems that the budget of $200 million has presented us with a very harmonious and aesthetic result . Even the sound, for those who are set on these things, is some of the best that has been produced so far for DVD! We must recognize the director, Wolfgang Peterson ( Das Boot, Air Force One , The Perfect Storm) which reached orchestrate an intense, clear and consistent cinematic vision of Troy .
A final recommendation....Despite the fact that Troy, really lacks any scenes of graphic violence, much less any sexually charged ones, because of the amoral, indecisive and unfocused tone of some of its protagonists, it would probably be a good idea to do a pre-screening with family and friends over 12, and then decide if you deem it suitable for younger people in your family!.
Hoping you really enjoy your two and a half hours in the city of Troy, in the second millennium before Christ ... and do not forget to pump up the volume !
Any Comments, or Questions, In English or Español, are most welcome
Alternate TITLE: "Girls Just Wanna Have FUNDS!"
Now, if you're thinking to yourself "What the H*LL kind of alternate Title is that!?!?" Then, how about this one: "My Guess is as Good as Yours!" Because if you're OBSESSED with well written, logical and solid story lines, the second title option fits the bill like an 80's style Madonna glove! (You know, the ones with holes for your fingers! OBSESSED has more plot holes than an Iraqi minefield!)
My motivation for Watching this? A Friend's Review...Go ahead and a second (or 3rd) opinion that differs notably from mine! And it's not like I didn't TRY to really enjoy this film. Convinced that if I put my Suspension of Disbelief into overdrive, I might reach the credits with a 7 or 8 Star rating. But my intentions were overwhelmed by a totally deficient storyline, and at times, anemic dialog, coupled with a good number of story thread loose ends.
Don't get me wrong, OBSESSED obviously had some positive qualities going for it, or it never would have received 5.5* from the Id of Dr. Morbius. Ali Larter turns in a fine performance as the delusional mistress wannabe. If the scripting had provided her with a more developed, fleshed-in character, I dare say her performance might have been Oscar nomination caliber.
People don't seem to be giving Idris Elba the credit he deserves. His performance as the responsible executive/unwaveringly loyal husband was utterly credible, absolutely spot on. Considering he's from London, his rendering of an American accent was flawless, and I can offer that up as an Expert, Professional opinion. Beyonce, it should be noted, is making a supreme effort to improve as an actor. Maybe she's trying too hard, because in spite of her energy and focus, her performance barely registers an "OK". Well, at least she seems to be headed in the right direction!
OBSESSED seemingly has borrowed elements from a slew of different movies. Several films are mentioned repeatedly in other reviews. Here are other examples: The War of the Roses; specifics here would amount to a Spoiler, so sorry! And the foreboding music, which itself amounted to a spoiler in some early scenes, seemed to be lifted directly from "Basic Instinct"! 5.5 Stars....ENJOY/DISFRUTELA! (As Much As Possible!)
Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Español, are most welcome!
The Butler (2013)
"Those Who Ignore History Are Doomed to Repeat It!"
..............................................................from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA...and ORLANDO, FL
******** POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILERS *********
There are, undoubtedly, scenes in Lee Daniel's The Butler that made me feel quite uncomfortable. Most certainly, many other viewers will echo similar discomfort experienced while watching this near great movie. Unfortunately, the existence of atrocities and flagrant injustices in our not too distant past doesn't mean that they should be whitewashed or airbrushed out of our collective memories! (Absolutely no pun intended here)
Don't let me give you the wrong impression about The BUTLER. In just over 2 hours until end credits, there are but a scant few minutes of images that some of us would, perhaps, just as soon forget. At the heart of this remarkable film, is a tale of a great generational divide between estranged father and first-born son; redemption, change, forgiveness, repentance and catharsis are also pivotal elements in this "Inspired by a True Story" drama painted on a historical backdrop canvass.
Although The BUTLER does highlight the tremendous progress our society has made in the past century toward fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Dream", obviously, there is an undercurrent underscoring the fact that this area is one that involves constant self-reinvention to ensure continued improvement.
There are multiple noteworthy elements here. First, Oprah Winfrey's triumphant return to an on-screen leading role. Despite having done numerous voice-overs in recent years, BUTLER represents the end of a 15 year hiatus, when she participated in the ill-fated BELOVED. Her performance, although not quite Oscar nomination caliber, would win, without a doubt, an Academy Award for best "Billionaire Female Actor on the Planet", if such a prize existed! Accepting this role surely resulted in reduced income for Oprah in 2013. If that doesn't make her participation in this project a "Labor of Love", what would?
BUTLER is my pick for 2013 Best Ensemble Performance Golden Globe. Cast Credits give the impression of a page lifted directly from a Who's Who in Acting & Entertainment! Cuba Gooding, Jr.; Robin Williams, in a refreshing, but brief, appearance as a pensive and soft-spoken President Eisenhower; Vanessa Redgrave; Clarence Williams III; James Marsden as President Kennedy; John Cusack, as an ever brooding and duplicitous President Nixon; David Oyelowo, as the rebellious prodigal son; Terence Howard; Lenny Kravitz; Mariah Carey; Jane Fonda, who sparkled as Nancy Reagan and Alan Rickman as her careful-not-to-step-on-her-toes husband, Ronald! The only weak link, in my opinion, was Liev Schreiber as President Lyndon B. Johnson. His portrayal just did not resonate with me.
Quite frankly, despite analyzing carefully for any historical missteps, there were only a couple rather minor ones that were noticeable. About three-quarters into BUTLER, the storyline, focus and viewer interest level seemed to sputter a bit, but got right back on track rather quickly.
The film did attempt to provide moments of comic relief from the oftentimes somber on-screen events, most of them evoking healthy laughter but a handful of them kind of fell flat. If it weren't for these few mentioned flaws, BUTLER most definitely would have been rewarded with a 10*Star* rating! When released on DVD, rest assured it will be added to my 800+ collection! .ENJOY!
Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Español, are most welcome!