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This Is 40 (2012)
It is 4o Indeed!
28 March 2013
After reading some negative comments on this title, I had to defend it. I laughed a lot! It is a parody, hyperbolic but very realistic portrait of a middle class couple entering their 40s, which is not to be taken literally. I am just there, and although I do not feel identified 100%, all the situations are somehow in my life, at least as a possibility. These are the issues our generation is facing, and that is how our generations is behaving and living. If part of the audience feels ashamed and disgusted (with all due respect) is because they feel so close. In all Apatow's works we see a hyperbolic parody of life: Girls, Knocked Up, The 40 year-old Virgin, etc. I think it is very healthy to watch this caricaturised reflection, laugh at it, and try to avoid it!
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A Sad Disappointment
10 March 2013
We have just been to watch the last Almodovar to the cinema, and what a major sad disappointment it has been! I did not expect very much of it, in spite of the fact that another choral comedy similar to "Mujeres" should have been appealing... Being an Almodovar fan for more than 20 years, I can say this is his worst movie of all times, only comparable to his first experimental ones, which at least were provocative and fresh. It is as naive, immature, badly narrated and acted, but on top of all that, its humor is so rancid and old fashioned it is embarrassing to watch. One can see the lack of money, but that is not excuse to make such a mediocre film. I cannot even imagine how he will manage to make the next one. Again, the director's obsessive frustration with sexuality is his enemy, but this time it becomes just pathetic. Only positive comment should go to the women dresses, beautiful as always. Sad, very sad...
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Good Thriller
11 September 2012
I liked Dictado! The story is very good (Sergi Belbel is one of the most talented writers/directors in Catalonia), the acting is too, specially Juan Diego Boto and the kid. I find it specially scary when the monster is a child, because they are capable of huge cruelty (in fiction?!) and pretend they are so innocent and harmless. I like how it dwells in the supernatural, and specially how it portrays the masculine fear to be robbed of their wife's love by a son/daughter. This is not a very common theme in cinema, maybe because it is not politically correct, but very realistic: father jealousy towards their own kids. How children are seen as strange intruders disrupting home harmony, transforming their mothers (wives) into obsessive, alienated monsters. The movie is well ploted, dialogs are crisp and realistic, and it got my attention from beginning to end. Good film.
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The Artist (I) (2011)
Goodbye to cinema
11 March 2012
I can not believe my eyes. An average 8.4 rating in IMDb? This? Really? I think the only answer to my bewilderment must be the marketing campaign behind this title, and the prestige the Oscar give to it. And how can this movie, with a commonplace script (so simple, predictable, and slow it makes you nervous), with a story so old fashioned and a staging so plain I was taking glimpses of my watch within 40 minutes into the movie, knowing already how the story would evolve, and what would be the ending, how can a film like this be nominated and win so many prizes???? My only answer is, ironically, the cinema era is finished, and we have produced nothing more valuable that this. I say ironically, because the The Artist dwells precisely in the same spot, the crisis cinema went through when it went from silent to sound. Now, I think we are living the end of the big cinema industry, and the emigration of every talent to TV. The aesthetics of The ARtist can be spared, though. Specially the protagonist dresses, really marvelous, the faces and smiles of both protagonists, really gorgeous, the black and white silent (with music) elements, and the 4:3 screen, to celebrate old times. But at the same time, it is an insult to those marvelous silent movies, to Chaplin, and Keaton for example, with stories so exciting and original they are still modern today, and of course, to Sunset Boulevard, the wonderful B. Wilder film about the decadence of golden era film stars. That was ART. This is only a (succesful) attempt to make money.
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Hung (2009–2011)
Vaginal vs. clitoral orgasm. Really???!!!
26 January 2012
I have been watching HUNG for a while. It was entertaining, alright, if we ignore the fact that sex is shown as it is always is: censored; which I tolerate generally speaking (This Film Is Not Yet Rated explains it all pretty clear), although when applied to a series about a gigolo... it is becoming far fetched, and seriously damages the credibility of the story. But still, I was watching the show. Today I decided to quit. I was just watching the second chapter of the third season, where Tanya (who is supposedly liberated and has technically impossible orgasms, as for example the one in the toilet, in that very chapter) explains to her sex students the two kinds of orgasm we women have: clitoral and vaginal. COME ON! In the 70s, maybe somebody believed it, but the fallacy has been perpetuated long enough, we are in the 21st century, and we know our bodies, and are not afraid any more of understanding and accepting our sexual organ: the clitoris. There is only one kind of orgasm: orgasm. It is usually obtained by means of stimulation of our sexual organ: the clitoris. Sometimes a man, with his penis, can stimulate the clitoris via penetration, but it is not the most efficient way to stimulate it, of course. By perpetuating the fallus fallacy, the system is making us women feel weird and strange, alone, and often unorgasmic. So, if you ignore a woman's sexuality, do not write a script about sex.
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Kidnapped (2010)
Terrible Thriller
19 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed every minute of the film, exciting, realistic, unexpected, thrilling, brutal... it has what it takes to keep us audiences of today griping our seats for the whole length of the movie, from the first to the last second of it. For me, that is entertainment pure and simple. The film achieves its main objectives in an excellent level: 1. Be realistic about a situation that happens (in Spain, at the time of the movie, very violent house burglary attacks by eastern people were everyday in the news), and 2. Be entertaining. I like and believe all the actors acting but one, the daughter's boyfriend. Now I wonder... why the negative or low ratings? I've been reading the reviews and discovered people does not like the movie mainly for two reasons: the beginning and the ending. Interesting. In my opinion, to complain about the ending is (sorry if it sounds disrespectful) childish. American movies have accustomed the audiences to the order restoring ending-and-everybody-goes-home-happy-and-reassured, but hey!, that is not realistic (these attacks quite often end with people dead or seriously injured) and not exciting (fictionally speaking, you see it coming!) any more. So, I love the violent ending, brutal and cruel. And I think I understand the beginning too. The guy in the first sequence is not the father of the protagonist family, but another, previous victim of the burglars who has managed somehow to escape only to hear that his family is being brutally murdered. The purpose of this? Maybe to portrait how these bands act, attacking one family after the other, killing if it comes to it, in the same way I get up and go to work every day. Accept it, society does produce such kind of putrid monsters.
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A wonderful story
12 October 2011
I still don't know if I am the odd one out for adoring Matsumoto's films like I do. In any case, I am not alone. We saw it at the Festival International de Cinema Fantastic de Sitges and the room was crowded, laughing and crying like kids. I think Matsumoto makes cinema in capital letters. With very sparse dialog, the story is told mainly through the visual. In his third movie, he is not acting, but the direction is wonderful. The premise of the story was very similar to children stories, although aimed at adults. The magic, the fantastic... was all there. Like with Symbol, the audience laughed and laughed for more than one hour. I totally loved it, because on top of being very well made, it made me feel absolutely happy. We patientlly wait for his next one.
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Visual banquet
11 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I am Spanish and a long time fan of Almodovar's oeuvre. Both things are important, I think, to understand his cinema and perceive it not as weird (like many other audiences from anywhere else) and bizarre, but as a clear portrait of the author's and his country's psyche. La piel que habito is much more of the first -dwelving in Almodovar's most recurrent wishdream- than the second- like most of his latest movies, this is not about our collective psyche, and I miss that Spanish flavor we found last in Volver, because it is wonderful to see your own world portrayed in such beautiful and deep way. We liked La piel que habito,mostly because of Alcaine's wonderful cinematography and Almodovar cinematic sense. The film is mostly a wonderful collection of fetishist images that the plot struggles to justify. I will mention just one small example: one of Vera's dresses, designed to protect her skin, has zippers under her breasts. To begin with, Vera's new skin is strong and flawlessly finished, but the tight jersey jumpsuit is beautiful, disturbing and sexy... but why the zippers? why does Vera needs zippers under her breasts? she doesn't, but the film does, for Zeca to open them, expose and suck Vera's breast through the zippers, thus creating a wonderful visual fetish. Zeca's character in disguise is another example, and all the film is, in my opinion, of Almodovar wanting to give us these wonderful visual moments. And we thank him for that. Most films nowadays are centered in the plot and dialogs, forgetting that cinema should be mostly about images. Almodovar's psyche, on the other hand, is in such powerful need of analysis and exploration that sometimes he gets carried away. The perfect transformation of gender, without any traces of its masculine side, to become the most perfect and feminine being, is the dream he seems to explore here. And he looses it, not minding that the two actors have nothing in common, not even their eyes, their teeth, the bony structure, nothing! -and that totally breaks suspension of disbelieve, and you really have to love Almodovar to bear with him and pretend you believe the story- but you don't, because it is unbelievable. In the same way, it is not plausible that Vicente becomes the most feminine woman in every sense (the way she moves, the voice!, how she behaves, etc) when he is psychologically masculine. Both these problems could have been easily solved (modest opinion!). The first, by using the same actress to play both parts,masculine and feminine (but of course this would not be the total, perfect transformation dreamed by Almodovoar). The second, by trying to justify it psychologically, through, for example, the Stocolm syndrome. But again, when Vera goes to his/her mother and tells her "Soy Vicente" (I am Vicente)is the perfect moment. And he wouldn't spoil that for anything. It is sad, when I've just watched one of my favorite's new films, because that means we'll have to wait again two years for his next one, specially when you realize it is good, but it is not perfect as many of his films are... so we will wait... for Mina.
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Bridesmaids (I) (2011)
Good satire... but the ending
25 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Good, very good piece of comedy. The leading actress was splendid, as the rest of the actors, the story was engaging, and over all, VERY funny. What I liked most was the film's poignancy at criticizing the wedding ritual in American (occidental) society. Oh yes, so funny! Exactly what I feel about weddings and all the stupid traditions around it, based mostly in one feeling: ENVY. The comic situations are very extreme and funny. But the ending... after such a strong and saucy social satire, why has it to end as any romantic comedy does??? the vulgarity! the girl overcomes herself, gets to grasp her life, and the blue prince appears (OK; the gag of the car, with her trying to get his forgiveness is funny, but still...) and the friends, after showing each other their most ugly faces, they all became super really good friends again and... PUAG!!! It does not match the first part of the movie, which confronted social traditions so wonderfully, and it totally spoils the movie. And it is not realistic. Too bad. Do the audience still need a good ending to go back home in peace, thinking that everything is gonna be OK??? I feel like a five year old when they patronize me like that!!!
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Biutiful (2010)
Some thoughts about Biutiful's social portrait
13 May 2011
I loved Biutiful, even if it is a dark experience, depressing and sad. It feels bad, but somehow it is worth it, because to feel is to live. Well, it is a drama, but Biutiful also offers a point of view about Barcelona, Catalan society and its social services, and I would like to comment on that, because I live here, and as a public servant I know them quite well. Of course anybody can have a bad experience living in the poorest social layers (socioeconomically speaking) in any European country, but the film presents brutal police forces that either beat people to death, or accept bribes and then betray them; a health system that does not even look a patient in the eye to take some tests or to give bad news, and also nonexistent (or unreliable?) social services to help minors in difficult situations. I think anybody can have bad experiences with any of these parts of the administration or social welfare, but with all of them, and with such brutality, it is not realistic. The system that takes care of kids in difficult family situations is effective and efficient (I know first hand, I work with them), saving and rescuing hundreds of children that have been abandoned or mistreated by their parents, and giving them proper care and education; the police sometimes are hard and unfair, and sometimes corrupt (thare has been a case just now about a corrupt mosso) but it is not what characterize them, rather the opposite, and the public health care system is having now financial problems with the international crisis, but it is one of the best in the world, attending patients from anywhere without discrimination. Again, you can have a bad experience in any of theses fields, but in general, the portrayal of the Catalan social system in Biutiful in untrue an unfair. We receive a high number of European citizens who come to live or to receive medical treatment in Catalonia every day, to put but an example. The film is well informed regarding popular culture like for example football, or social problems like improper contracts in construction or housing precariousness in some areas of the city, but regarding the public system, sorry to say, the film is not correct, and in that sense looses some of its value. Bardem, as usual, magnifico.
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Funride into the unknown
26 July 2009
Kusturika made it again. Another masterpiece. A coral comedy full of his own landmarks, with a frenetic rhythm and many glorious moments, we laughed and laughed, what a party! The music is everywhere, and also the shooting, the animals, the crazy bastards, sex and amazing gadgets and inventions, everything colorfully visual to entertain only. Pure cinema in essence. A wonderful experience to watch. And one is specially grateful since good comedies are so rare, and so wonderful. Well, this is one, and if you enjoyed Kusturica's previous films, you'll love this, although, as in all comedies, it is about a chemical reaction, and you have to be in the mood for it.
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ugly world
21 September 2008
In a similar approach to Begnini's 'Life is beautiful', or John Boyne's 'The Boy in the Stripped Pijamas' (now becoming a film), the director shows our own ugliness as seen through the innocent and clever eyes of kids. The whole story happens in their world, and we only see adults from waist down, as seen by kids, although the reflection of the evil they cause affects children in a shameful way, as the title suggests. It is a very sad story not only because,as always, the innocent have to pay for the crimes of the powerful, but also because in their eyes, the politics of power, domination and war is bare, without excuses, in all its monstrosity. Although the story is set in Afghanistan, a country that has been suffering all kind of conflicts, these are problems happening all around the world, because very few are the areas which have not inflicted and suffered, in some time of their history the abuses of power the film points to: racism (pashtun attacking hazara kids, considered inferior), sexism (segregated schools, girl insulted and attacked for being 'a woman'), fundamentalism (kids playing the taliban torturing and mock killing hazaras and/or girls), international abusive and interested invasions (kids playing the American spy, and the American soldiers attacking and bombing other kids)and poverty suffered mainly by children, living in caves and with no access to school, having to take care of small brothers as their mothers have to works, fathers being nowhere.

The girl protagonist is wonderful, and the photography of the film very beautiful. A simple, funny, entertaining and beautiful story which, mirrors our evil through the innocent and beautiful eyes of a kid.
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Rendition (2007)
The American hero, again
14 August 2008
Entertaining thriller, i must reckon. The falsely accused man, Hitchcock's most horrid nightmare and his favorite leitmotiv, is one of the axis of the movie, together with some victims of brainwashing fundamentalism-terrorism, and the classic American hero, fighting against a corrupt system, for the sake of truth and justice, like Lucky Lucke, riding alone against towards the sunset. Nice plot, with a(n also) classic McGuffin, the secret ingredients to make bombs. All in all enjoyable, as i said, but a little bit sweaty already. It is much nicer when somebody breaks the formula, even if slightly. Still, the film is modern in its setting and also in some points, such as the interracial relationship. Meryl Strip, amazing, as usual.
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12 August 2008
The film sadly does not get that magic to entertain and make you laugh. There are some very good points that make the movie worthwhile, specially if you, like me, have grown up reading the most popular comic book in Spain, Narciso Ibañez's Mortadelo y Filemon. The actors, the tone, and the plot make the trick to transport you to sweet childhood years. The movie is very rich in photography and color, and as i said, the actors are great, but it still does not catch the spectator, and somehow Suspension of disbelief is not easy, although there are some good gags. All in all, i would only recommend it to the comic book fans.
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Slipstream (2007)
work of art
16 March 2008
At the end, it is only a matter of taste, of chemistry between the work of art and the individual receiving, experiencing it. For me, it was a great experience, one of the few that leaves you awestruck, dumb, full of admiration for this director who, understanding absolutely what cinema is about, offers us this symphony, this difficult mastered composition of image and sound bound together in a crazy rhythm. It happens, from time to time, but not very often, that a director uses the media in all its possibilities, and if you are really willing to go with it, it becomes a powerful ride. I don't think this is intended to mass audiences, though, because it requires an active audience, and again, you have to feel fit for it. There are movies to entertain us, to relax us, to makes us empathize with the characters, this is a movie to put all your senses to the test. Imagine you set yourself inside the head of a very creative person loosing the grip of reality, contemplating what is not very plausible to be real, immerse at the same time in the process of creation of a fiction story, with interferences of both worlds, along with the feelings that situation arouses in us. Very coherent with the story it tells, the movie puts you there, and makes you experience the same puzzlement and confusion the main character feels. That , and the complete master of the resources cinema offers, ends up in a very brave and modern piece. Mr Hopkins, waiting for your next one.
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REC (2007)
another turn of the screw
9 December 2007
WOW! I'm so proud of you Jaume!!! By some weird psychological mechanism: Balagueró being from my area in Spain, and i being a fan of terror movies, it feels so good to witness the next turn of the screw in the history of this genre! It's hard to comment on this movie without spoiling it, but i'll try. It's very difficult, after 40 years of terror movies, to make something new or special anymore. Balagueró manages to master the false documentary style to create a really scary atmosphere and the movie beats all resistance to destroy the suspension of disbelieve. The jumps in your seat are guaranteed, and the adrenaline flow is sure, so good a medicine for us lovers of terror cinema. In the process, the film has certain social issues, a message against racism, a portrayal of more than 10 characters, and the sweet drops of necessary humor. We saw a interview in the Spanish TV last week, and the directors explained that most of the "actors" didn't know what was gonna happen to them and the camera never stopped recording whatever were their reactions to horrible surprises. Only one actor knows what to do, where to go, and he is the one leading the action from one place to the other of the house. The effect is a rushed and hysteric spontaneity, pure madness... WOW! Try to watch it in a good theatre, with a good sound quality and a good screen. I hope our fellow Americans will be able to watch this before watching the Hollywood replica (Quarantined). Our small cinema industry deserves it.
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an insult
10 July 2007
I'm really sorry to say (i'm a big S. Segura fan) that the movie completely (i would save 1 gag) fails to...everything. Acting is poor, the story is so commonplace, but mostly, it is an insult to hard rock, as if explained from my grandpa's point of view. Shame... Nothing to do with Segura's work as a director, which i really recommend everybody, the Spanish grotesque at its very best. But in this case I think the director, full of stereotyped poses about the rock scene in his own country, caricatures what he does not even know, or that is what it seems. Plus, the movie cannot find the rhythm or the tone. We know is possible to make fun of a human tribe and respect it, (Detroit Rock City, This is Spinal Tap), but this... oops, deeply sorry to be so negative.
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The Baby's Room (2006 TV Movie)
disturbing and believable
29 October 2006
Alex de la Iglesia's contribution for the "Peliculas para no dormir" TV series is disturbing and, for a movie that dwells in the supernatural, well-explained and structured. The rhythm goes in crescendo and the end is really worth it. You're gonna discharge certain doses of adrenaline here, a lovable exercise for us, lovers of terror, in cinema, of course. The two main actors are not at their best, although the masculine one does nicely when in panic. Sancho Gracia, as usual, makes a very good performance, but old lady in the home is not convincing either. In spite of this regretful actors direction, I absolutely recommend its view, because, in addition to the entertainment, like good terror movies, reminds you of your own deep old fears. Good for you, Àlex!!
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