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Absolute Giganten (1999)
End of times...
After reading the raving reviews on this board, I was expecting to see I worthy piece of film-making. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near it. In fact, it was one of the drabbest, most worthless piece of junk I've seen for a long time. The director introduces us to three close friends, and the commotion the departure of one of them causes in the other two. To celebrate their last night, they find nothing better to do than to mess with an Elvis stunt group and play foosball. And that is the whole film, believe me. First of all, it should be a film from the heart, but where is the heart? We don't see it, or feel it... We don't care about these people, because, in fact, we don't know them. The director doesn't allow our knowledge. All we know is that they are a group of white trash, wandering about Hamburg. The reason and background for their deep friendship? We aren't allowed to have a glimpse of it, neither... For a simple comparison, see Fellini's I Vitelloni. See how the master manages to introduce his characters to us, and in the end we almost become friends with them. Seeing a movie like this, I think of the hungry children in Africa... The money spent on this trash would certainly serve them well... In short: don't waste your time. Time is the most precious thing on Earth. Do you want to see some 20 minutes of foosball playing on screen? Go and play foosball for real! It's more fun, I assure you! Why the summary "End of times...". I can't help it... When such a large group of people thinks this film is a masterpiece, it must be the end of time, when pure trash is taken for great art. Shame!
Cha no aji (2004)
A Movie for our times?
Warning: it may contain a very minor spoiler.
In some ways, "The Taste of Tea" is the perfect movie for our times. Emptiness disguised as true meaning. Gimmicks instead of true art. Lack of mastery of cinematographic language, among many other peccadillos, make this movie, in my eyes, nearly unbearable to see.
To begin with, why spend so much money to express so little? Why not give that money away to needy populations in Africa, Pakistan? My belief is that art is dead and buried in our times. This movie is living proof of that. How I miss the true artists of the form, such as Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Chaplin, Godard, Agnès Varda (for her "Le Bonheur"), Reiner Werner Fassbinder (When is Berlin Alexanderplatz going to be out on DVD?), Bergman!! The few exceptions you find from times to times are there only to reinforce the rule...
Just to give a small example of how clumsy the director is: there is a lyrical scene, the only worth something in the whole film, when the family discovers some books drawn by the patriarch. A good director wouldn't show the content of the first books, but instead construct an emotional crescendo only with the actors' faces and small details, and finally reveal the content of the last book, where the audience would be startled by the revelation, while, at the same time, would be left wondering about the previous ones.
But the director shows all the books in detail. Some of them two times... For God's sake! Even sensitivity has to be spelled-out these days! Much like American movies when they turn up the music when they want an emotional effect! Using the same technique, I'll explain further: the director shows us a scene with an emotional impact, a book, with a trick. Got moved by it? Got it? No? Here he goes again, showing a second book... Not yet? Here's a third... And a fourth!! Frankly!!
OK, maybe it's just me... Many people raved about this film, right here... I may be wrong. But if I could offer the director a little piece of advice, I would say: you have potential, man. Now go see Berlin Alexanderplatz and learn.
Forgotten masterpiece - beautiful portrait of desperation
The enigmatic title "Um Clássico Dois em Casa Nenhum Jogo Fora" (something like "A Classic Soccer Game - Two at home, No Game Outdoors", having in addition the soccer jargon meaning of two teams playing in their own towns) also stands for an enigmatic short film.
The film was made when a military dictatorship ruled Brazilian politics. Artists were censored, and used metaphors to bypass lack of free-speech. In this case, a soccer game is the grand metaphor representing the bond uniting the male Brazilian society, the average Brazilian guy. A teenager walks the streets in São Paulo, and finds his soul mate. It happens that his other half is the same sex. They make love and, without any oral communication, come to a conclusion that is startling, and couldn't be mentioned here without spoiling the film. The game is only heard randomly though radios on the street. Anyway, those two know for sure that they don't belong to that society. They're outsiders, they're lonely (the two at home) and, for them, there's no game outside. What makes the short so special, is the absence of explanations, or character development, and an atmosphere of impending doom. In the situation Brazil was in, no explanations were required. Either you played the major game or... One of most beautiful portraits of desperation put to celluloid, ever.
Viagem aos Seios de Duília (1965)
Powerful meditation about old age.
This is one of the most beautiful films about old age. It tells the story of a man who, after many working years, finally retires. He thinks he'll enjoy life from now on, but the opposite proves to be the truth. He feels he has no place in a world of youth any longer. So he chases the only thing that's very much alive: his memory of his first love in his hometown. He travels to the town where he was born, trying to find the woman he once loved so much, without even knowing she's still alive. The result is... See the film, if you can. (Although it must be very hard to find outside Brazil).
Ecce bombo (1978)
Completely pointless film. At best, too regional for the rest of the world to understand. Nothing becomes clear, the director's intentions, whatever they may be (if any) don't come out. And worst of all: it pretends to be intelligent. What amazes me most is that this being his first film, Moretti was allowed to make a second one. Don't waste your time with this totally obscure film, life is too short!
The Man Next Door (1997)
So Bad It's Funny
I can't believe somebody can give this film a 10! It's atrociously bad, although sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it seems a Mexican soap-opera... The first scenes at the parade are brilliant, though. See it for laughs, at your own risk!
What a waste of time and money!! I'm truly sorry I've seen this film instead of doing something else. Four utterly uninteresting characters, living uninteresting lives, gambling all day long... That's what the film is about. Sexist, shallow, a bit racist, you name it... I really can't believe someone would vote 10 for this film. They must be out of their minds or be friends of the director/cast (more probable). Avoid like the plague... You've been warned.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The King is naked...
Speaking of royalty, in this case the king is definitely naked. After seeing this film, one question wanders in my mind: why was it done? Why spend some thousand dollars making a movie that means absolutely nothing, is neither fun or intelligent, full of horrid characters, with whom nobody can sympathize? The world must be upside down for a movie like this reach the 250 best films in IMDB and a masterpiece like Alain Resnais's "Je T'Aime Je T'Aime" don't even get a last place. Sure, it's quite well-done, but it doesn't mean anything, doesn't say anything. It's just a perfect example of hollowness.
Le bonheur (1965)
Sheer beauty and subversion
At first sight, Le Bonheur seems just a conventional film, with everything being too perfect. Each single frame is a beautiful picture in composition and color. We see a happily married couple, with charming and beautiful children, nice family picnics in the country, the sublime music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in two of his most beautiful pieces (Adagio and Fugue in C minor and the Clarinet Quintet). Happiness (Bonheur) and harmony is everywhere.
But then the husband meets another woman, very different from his wife, falls in love with her, and proposes a thesis: for him, happiness is not a subtractive affair - it all adds up. After being in love with his new lover, he manages to love his wife and children even more. Love, happiness, harmony should never be too much, Agnès Varda seems to say. But is it possible? Or, better: do people make it possible? Shouldn't it be possible?
That's why this apparently bourgeois film is, in fact, revolutionary. It proposes a new vision on certain matters that is, ultimately, extremely subversive. And it does so in a most contrasting environment.
That said, it has some of the most gorgeous images in film to look at. The use of colour is amazing. And, exactly for being so beautiful, the conclusion is so shocking.
In short: one of the most important films in History, one of the most subversive, and certainly one of the most beautiful. We can only say: thank you, Agnès Varda, for making it. Hope people will understand it better, in the future, and grasp the challenge you have cast.
Otra historia de amor (1986)
A positive gay relationship
Although cliche ridden, this film offers a rare chance to focus upon a gay relationship in which the people involved are free from any feelings of guilt, and offer us a positive outlook for the two lovers. It's a pity it is so hard to find on video...