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Paddington 2 (2017)
9/10
Great second part
7 November 2018
I was dreading this second movie as, in my experience, second parts aren't usually good. Yet, Paddington 2 is a great film on its own and a great follow up to the story. Honestly, I enjoyed this film more than the first one.

Paddington 2 has charm, magic, action, adventure, drama, and a great sense of humor. It has heart, compassion, fun, action, and great message for children and adults, as it promotes kindness, hard work, not to give up when things go wrong, and to trust yourself and your instinct because they are usually a great compass for life. In a world full of verbal attack and vitriol, where the lack of respect and verbal abuse are becoming too common and acceptable, Paddington comes to remind us that it's good to be kind and respectful, even in your worst moments.

All the cast does a terrific job in the film. However, Hugh Grant was the biggest nicest surprise to me, as he usually doesn't play this sort of hilarious character; Grant plays his character with flair and gusto, and some of his scenes in the film are among my fav, his conversations in the attic and the scene inserted in the end credits especially.

A very enjoyable film for both children and adults. Old stories never die, they become stronger, like Paddington.
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The Boxtrolls (2014)
7/10
Deserving of higher praise and ratings
13 May 2017
The undergrounds of Cheesebridge are the Boxtrolls' home. They are tiny odd gray beings with onomatopoeic language, who use grocery boxes as a dress, and live from collecting metal junk at night. They are considered baby snatchers, but they are very loving creatures; in fact, they've raised human baby 'Eggs'. Their life and future existence is threatened by the ugly, nasty, cheese-allergic, drag-queeny Archibald Snatcher and his two wicked assistants Mr Trout & Mr Pickles. Snatcher wants to exterminate the Boxtrolls ASAP to obtain a white hat and become part of the Town Council, as he dreams of respectability and of sharing the Council's cheese tasting sessions and discussions. Winnie, the Major Lord Portley-Rind's neglected daughter, meets Eggs by chance one night and, together, they start an adventure to try to rescue the fast-disappearing Boxtrolls and to expose Snatcher's wickedness and lies to the town.

The Boxtrolls is one of my favorite stop-motion animated films of the last years even though it is not that popular, or that well-known, or it wasn't that much of a hit when it first came out. It has everything to please both children and adults and entertain them both. Based upon Alan Snow's 'Here Be Monsters', the film feels like one of those old European tales we all love, mixed with some Burton-ish imagery and a cute sprinkle of the Minions.

The film has a great visual style, is utterly funny and entertaining, has a great tempo and, most importantly, has great anti-hero heroes and despicable villains. It is perfect for adults because it has great dialogues and is witty, but it has lots of adventure and charm, and is tender and sweet at times.

The production design is incredible, and the micro-expressions of some of the leading characters are amazing, especially Eggs', who feels real as real it can be.

The actors are really well cast for their roles, especially Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs, Ben Kingsley as Snatcher, Richard Ayoade as Mr Pickles, Nick Frost as Mr Trout, and Jared Harris as Lord Portley-Rind. I thought that they were all brilliant at voicing their characters. The rest of the cast were also very good.

Give the Boxtrolls a chance to entertain you.
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45 Years (2015)
8/10
You never get to know anyone
13 May 2017
45 Years is a almost a theatrical film, with not many characters and a slow-burning, subtle but powerful exploration of couple dynamics, the nature of love and trust, the weight of the past on the present, and who truly are those people with whom we share our lives. There is also a pointy finger to the social façade that many couples show to the world, which is not always as rosy or perfect when they are behind closed doors.

We get to know this apparently exemplary couple, Geoff and Kate Mercer, who have been married for 45 years and are approaching the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary, content with their lives, caring, and loving. Until some news related to Geoff's past arrive and open a Pandora's box filled of smells of another woman, a love story that was more powerful that initially seems, and the ramifications that the story had on Geoff's marrying Kate. After the box in open, we get to see the real nature and strength of their relationship.

One of the main virtues of the film is, paradoxically, one of its most bugging disappointments: the ambiguity of feelings the viewer experiences about the unfolding events.

We get to know the past story, and some of the ramifications on the Swiss love story on Geoff & Kate's love story. However, we don't know why a story that happened so long ago, before the couple met, is hitting Kate so harshly. We get to live, in a way, the same doubts and mixed feelings she feels about the sincerity and integrity of her husband's love, feelings, and openness in their relationship: was she a rebound or was he really in love with her when they married? Why did he hide everything? Why is he's still hiding things and laying about everything? Why is he so distressed about a person he met 40+ years ago? Can she really trust him?

On the other hand, we don't really know what is behind Geoff's secrecy and moodiness either: Did Geoff hide his past to Kate on purpose? Did he just want to put the past behind and move on afresh with her? Is his current behavior the result of his inability to deal with his emotions? Or is it a reminder of what life was and would have been like with the other woman? Does he really love Kate? Did he love Kate when he married her?

These annoying doubts create a subtle emotional tension that bugs you inside, without any dramatic scene needed to be created. After all, things that destroy a relationship the most aren't always the fights or dramas, but the unsettling feelings of distrust, disrespect, lack of communication and lack of openness of those people with whom we share our lives. At the end of the film, I found that it was OK for us not to know anything for sure. The lack of knowledge produces an unsettling feeling in the viewer, and you get to say (or at least I did) you can never get to know anybody fully, no matter s/he is your partner, parent or offspring, there is always more to any person than meets the eye, and you should never ask people for their secrets as you might not be able to deal with their answer.

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are great in their respective roles, looking their age and playing being elderly with grace and verisimilitude.
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Sully (2016)
6/10
Great story, decent movie
13 May 2017
I was living in Australia when I watched this story, soon after it had happened. It was all over the news. I remember, still today, Sully's apparent calmness when talking about the event. This is one of those stories that one believes to be fiction and part of a feel-good Christmas film, but it was real, it was great, it warmed my heart, and it renewed my respect for pilots, who certainly are not just cool dudes in pretty uniforms.

Knowing the end of the story is a tricky thing for a film that is not documentary and intends to build tension and interest in the viewer. Eastwood achieved that in different ways: 1-by just playing a non-linear story that does go back and forward in time; 2-by making us see Sully behind doors (his personal background with aviation, his emotional self with PSD after the events on the Hudson unfolded, his worries about his family future); 3-by creating a set of villains (in this case the NTSB investigators), and 4-by creating a situation that builds tension (the investigation on whether Sully's act of heroism was on the contrary a lack of judgment.

To me, the main problem with the film is not what is in the film, but with what's not there. Sully is based on Captain Sullenberg's own memoir and, therefore, we see just one color. I would have loved knowing more about the co-pilot and his PDS, of which he also suffered, get to know some of the passengers flying on the film, seeing more about Sully's daughters' reaction to the events, seeing more details about the NTSB behind-doors investigation going on, and building a bit of more tension around that.

The acting is good overall, especially on Hanks' part, who is able to convey Sully's real mix of his usual external calmness and the inner turmoil that he experienced after the event. I also liked Eckhart as his co-pilot,and Linney as his wife.

I loved the special effects that reproduce the events on the Hudson as the landing on the river looks totally real not just special effects.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable feel-good movie and story. Yet, the events being so well-documented and internationally well known, and so close in time, it is difficult to get overly wowed by a story that was, indeed, wow.
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Finding Dory (2016)
7/10
Charming, funny with a great message
13 May 2017
Finding Dory is not only a gorgeous-looking animated film, but a really family fun adventure. It's cheeky, funny, cute, naughty, crazy and heart-warming. It is not specially simple or over the top, and settles in a happy medium that will please kids and a adults alike. Although this is a sequel to Finding Nemo, the story feels like a film on its own, and while some of the events and characters in the first film appear also here, Finding Dory would still be a great film even if the first movie had never been made.

Finding Dory is not a film about being lost, is a film a about finding who you are and finding home. It sends a message that your family is not always just your natural family, but those who include you in their family, help and love you when you don't have anybody else and you are most vulnerable.

The story also sends a very positive message to any kid who has a disability, learning problem, or is just different. Dory has a short memory span, yet that problem makes her take decisions rapidly and be fearless and resolute, lets her evaluate any situation rapidly and make the best of it; Dory needs of other people, but she is so devoted and caring, that anybody wants to help her when she's in need. The analogy for those kids who are different is wonderful -- those things that seem to be a shortcoming and make you different, might end being the source of your greatness, helping you develop great qualities, and make of you an unique lovable individual.

No animated movie can pass the adults' test without having great characters and great voices. This is the case here. The characters are varied, funny, have distinct personalities, and the actors lending their voices to them do a great job at infusing them with life and soul. I enjoyed Ellen being Dory. She did a great job at infusing Dory with that charm and soul the character needs. Besides, Ellen's natural voice has those things that are quintessential Dory: naughtiness, innocence, excitement and child-like tones. I found baby Dory absolutely adorable and wonderful. Once Dory becomes an adult and Ellen's voice is more fully there, I couldn't but hear Ellen, not always Dory. I would have liked her voice to be a bit more twinkled or morphed so as to allow Dory to take Ellen over, if you know what I mean.

My main criticism to the film is perhaps the fact that the story becomes inorganic when we see an octopus driving a van and a fish reading signs and driving signs. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but I thought that somewhat didn't glue well with the rest of the film.

The film comes together with the short film Pipper, which I reviewed elsewhere, and adorable addition to a great combo.

Most enjoyable.
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Calvary (2014)
9/10
A touching and thoughtful film
7 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Calvary = 2: an experience of usually intense mental suffering.

Calvary is one of those films that will stay with you long after you've watched, because of how it starts, how it develops, how it ends, and how it is performed. The title really fits the story, because the main character, Fr James, will live a sort of Christ's Calvary before being killed just for being a good man.

This is a sad story, that touched me deeply because it starts with a very thoughtful approach to pastoral care, the goodness of people, helping those in need, troubled souls who seek counsel and those who don't. Yet, the more the time passes the more despair and wickedness settle in. Fr James' flock is mostly of black sheep, who don't give a damn about the only man on whom they vomit their crap, hurt on purpose, use and abuse him. No matter how much he cares, no matter how much the good he does, he founds scorn, disrespect, passive aggression, and threats. We see this good character taking so much, and having nobody to care for him, to help him with the load. We go from hope to despair, and that is never easy to watch. The film also touches on very sensitive issues like child abuse by the Catholic church, and it does so in a very provoking way, the final dialogues in the film are really brilliant despite how horrendous the end is.

The dialogues are brilliant, meaningful and powerful. From death, the afterlife, happiness and euthanasia, family connections, the state of the soul, cheating, and so on.

This film relies heavily on the acting. No gimmicks. I thought all actors were great and believable in their respective roles, and they were very good together. However, the film heavily relies on we believing that Brendan Glesson is the good but tormented Fr James, and I did believe it. The impacting ending, to me, was mostly because I was watching Fr James's drama unfold, not an actor playing Fr James's drama. Gleeson deserved a nomination for his performance, really. I'm a fan of Chris O'Dowd; he has an amazing acting register from hilarious comedian to dramatic roles like the one he plays here.

The film is beautifully shot in a remote rural area of Western Ireland and has a lovely soundtrack and cinematography.

My only criticism to the film is that we don't get to understand why most of the villagers are so wicked, so cynic, so sarcastic, so rotten, arrogant, and careless. We witness the social dynamics of the group, but we don't understand most of the individuals. Yet, we do understand Fr James, and his faith, his innate goodness.

They don't make movies like this in Hollywood.
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Strange Magic (2015)
7/10
Quirky & fun, but not for children
6 May 2017
Strange Magic is a not an animated film for kids, more directed to teens and adults. This is an odd film, a mix of The Princes Bride meets Tim Burton's world and they sing Moulin Rouge style.

The main virtues of the film are, beyond the beautiful animation and character design, the quirkiness of it. To me, the most important thing in movies that are derivative an predictable like this one is the sense of humour and the message conveyed. Strange Magic was funny to me, and found myself laughing more than once. The message if is not new, but important to recall it, there is a lid for every pot, love comes in all colors and shapes, and love happens between people who are, a priori, very different and even opposite. The film is unpretentious, and the familiar soundtrack will keep you (or at least me) singing along.

The cast does a good job at providing the characters with their voice and songs. I especially liked Allan Cumming as Bog King and Elijah Kelly as Sunny.

There is strange magic in this film, because from the known and predictable we get something magic, perhaps just hocus-pocus, and a freaky love story. I think this is one of those movies you really like or dislike, nothing in between. I did find it very enjoyable, but I had no expectations about it, so that always helps.
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4/10
A total disappointment
6 May 2017
Mars needs Mums is a big disappointment of a movie. The main virtue of the film is the excellent visuals and animation. It looks like uber-wow next-generation rotoscopy, because some of the characters look like non-animated, especially Gribble. The film is full-on adventure and has an original story a priori.

Unfortunately, the movie is mostly fluff. The animation is fantastic for sure, but also overly-realistic; I thought they could have used real actors and wouldn't need to animate anything. The characters are simplistic, hollow, and some of them totally annoying. The movie has no tempo, is full-on action from minute five, so the characters aren't given the time to feel anything, to express anything, they are too busy running; viewers feel breathless as well. The Martian society created is all feminine, but depicts women as careless heartless btxes. All of this would have not mattered if the movie had had what I missed the most -- heart, a magic touch. If your mum is kidnapped and you want to rescue her, I want to see you expressing a full range of emotions and feeling something, not just becoming a mechanical super-hero that runs nonstop. The lack of heart could have been mitigated with more humour, with more lightness, but it wasn't funny enough either.

I felt bored and annoyed watching this film, got distracted every five minutes, and disliked most characters. I didn't hate the film. I thought that it was average or somewhat below. The direction and the script were too weak to make a feature film. A short might have sufficed.
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Idiocracy (2006)
7/10
Substance wrapped in confetti
1 May 2017
Idiocracy is a very funny movie, really hilarious at times, that depicts a near future where people and society have involved into a bunch of brainwashed illiterate idiots. The settings are a bit theatrical but it really works well to showcase the story. The dialogues, play of words, and the items of misspelling are really funny.

Despite the fun and the silliness, Idiocracy is a metaphor of our modern world, of where our modern world is heading to, and a very clever critique of the exaltation and institutionalisation of idiocy, money over education and skills, and the proliferation of rudeness and bad manners as the new normal way of being.

Luke Wilson is always great a playing ridiculous characters with conviction, and this is the case also here. Terry Crews makes a hilarious president, Dax Sheperd plays the perfect good-hearted idiot, and Maya Rudolf is very sweet as the naughty 'painter'. Overall, the cast is very good and they all contribute to the film being so enjoyable.

This movie is totally unpretentious and very funny, but with a very serious important embedded message if you bother to scratch underneath the silly surface.
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6/10
Good lessons for small children
30 April 2017
The Good Dinosaur is a feast for the eyes, really wonderfully animated with amazing almost real backgrounds and water. My favorite scenes were the night ones, when the fireflies and the starry sky, which are beautifully artistic.

The Good Dinosaur is mostly a coming-of-age story, transitioning from child to boy. The movie teaches children great life lessons, and that is, to me, the main virtue of the film: > They have to find their own pace in life, and have to be patient if they move slower than others. The important thing is to get where you want to get, it doesn't matter how long it takes. > Being strong and being powerful are two different things. > The beauty and power of mateship. > Fear needs to be embraced, not feared, as embracing it will make them face any adversity and overcome any struggle. > They belongs with their family, no matter how much they love their friends. > Their parents will do anything to support and defend them, but part of growing up is just learning to be independent. > They are capable of more than they credit themselves for.

The story happens in an alternative past when the meteorite that caused the extinction of dinosaurs never fell on earth, allowing dinosaurs and humans to coexist. I thought that was a good start. The creative possibilities are endless, although The Pebbles sounds like a very credible alternative past. So the creators probably didn't want to go there, understandably. Unfortunately, the path they took is a road to Bananaland. It turns a herbivorous dinosaur with the brain of a chicken into a farmer. What the heck? Not even that, the kiddo who becomes dino Arlo's best friend behaves more like a dog than a primitive man, tongue hanging out and all.

There are some touching tender moments in the film, and some funny moments too, but the film is overly dramatic for small children, with tragedy after tragedy, violent scene after scary scene, and it's too much.

The characters were a mix bunch, overall funny (the tyrannosaurus), scary (the Pterosaurus), human (the brachiosaurus) and brute but domesticable (the human kiddo).

I especially loved the voice of Jeffrey Wright as Poppa and Frances McDormand as Momma. Very warm and charming.

A lovely family film, especially good for small children. Not the best Pixar's for sure.
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Pete's Dragon (2016)
6/10
Lacking magic
29 April 2017
I watched the original movie when I was kid, and my brothers and I still consider it one of our fav children movies ever. You can imagine my excitement and also my apprehension when I learned that this film was being filmed.

This is a very enjoyable family film that has lovely moments of tenderness, wonderful special effects (the design of Elliot, flying scenes, etc.), it has fun and plenty of action, and Redford and Howard are good in their roles and seem to believe in magic because I thought they were the best thing in the film.

However, the movie lack the most important thing to me -- magic. All the characters keep speaking about magic, but the actors playing them don't believe in magic, the film does not create magic, so it feels a lovely fantasy film not a magic children's film. I didn't feel it in my heart. And that being the case, the film is not memorable to me.
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Paddington (2014)
9/10
Magical
29 April 2017
One of the things I resent the most in modern children's film and stories and in modern animation is that they can be visually enthralling but have not magic, no soul or no charm. I also dislike the fact that too many fables and old-books stories are brought to the screen with no soul and respect for the original characters and stories.

To my delight, this is not Paddington's case.

Paddington is a brilliant exception to the dullness, soulless bunch of animated movies for kids out there. This is so mostly so because the original story is there, Paddington and the the Brown's family's souls and personalities are there, they feel modern and contemporary, but not too far removed from the original. Pablo Grillo's animation is fantastic per se, but there are many amazing animators out there; what sets this film animation apart is the magic infused into it, so we come to see Paddington as Paddington, not as a puppet, not as a CGI character, not as a fictional. Paddington feels real in this movie, as real as any of the actors.

The ambiance of the film is whimsical, it mixes elements that are very modern but also capturing a bit of the old London where the original story is set. The film has a great tempo, is full of fancy and fun, innocence and naughtiness, havoc and tenderness, action and stillness, happiness and sadness, adventure, laughter and family love.

The cast in this film is great, per se, but that not always guarantees a good movie in the end. However, all the actors are great and believable in this film. I especially liked Nicole Kidman in her evil sassy ruthless manipulative and sweet villain role.

The music is also fantastic with plenty of Latin rhythms throughout the film. Paddington is Peruvian, after all.

Paddington is not only a very sweet, fun an enjoyable film. It also has a great message about accepting those who are different and welcoming those who need of our care because have nowhere to go; two things that we should be reminded of in these troubled times when refugees are sometimes treated as an "it" not as Paddington. There should be more Brown families in the world.

I was expecting another dumb movie for kids. To my delight, Paddington is a a tender fun-filled magical film that made me feel a kid again.
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7/10
Great Message
29 April 2017
This is an odd Pixar film in a sense, because the focus is not on the cuteness or the fun, but on the story. Although the animation is good, it is not as good as other Pixar films. However, this is an excellent film mostly because it has substance and teaches a great lesson to

kids who belong to a culture that is very different from the Western World but adore the same TV shoes, heroes, and stories as any other kid in the world.

The focus in this film is on the Hindu culture, as Patel is narrating a semi-autobiographic episode. Hindu culture is full of myths, legends and heroes that are thousands of years old, are amazing, fun and as enthralling as any TV super-hero. This film is a reminder that sometimes the best stories are those behind the traditions one take for granted, that those traditions are based on powerful stories with powerful heroes.

What I liked the most about the film is that the story approaches both worlds, the old and new, the modern and antique, the lay and the divine as complementary, they are both cool, there is space in our lives for both. Kids can enjoy our modern myths (playful TV characters, animated heroes, superheroes) but also need to learn to respect and appreciate the value of their own culture, the meaning of their rituals, and the powerful stories they convey.

Finally, this short film is also a charming ode to the power of the divine, prayer, meditation and tradition in our modern hectic lives.

It is refreshing seeing animators going beyond the cute to focus on such an important message.
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Oblivion (I) (2013)
6/10
Amazing visuals, OK film
28 April 2017
I love Tom Cruise in action + science fiction movies. He is one of the few actors who seem to believe those futuristic roles and is usually great in this sort of films. That being the case, I was looking forward to watching this film.

From the production and design point of view, this is a fantastic film, spectacular scenery and camera takes, very sleek futuristic design and a great atmosphere. Unlike your usual galactic out space story, this is not dark or cold, but very light, airy, bright and beautiful.

The story starts very promisingly, but soon deflates because the script starts to wander unnecessarily and is not organically presented to viewers, who will feel in a constant state of What the Heck? once the action starts. The plot, albeit intriguing and original, is not well developed for the big screen, and it is not clear enough, does not have a good tempo, it does not build up properly for the ending, and the editing contributes to the narrative confusion, when, in fact, the script is not that complex.

Personally, I think Andrea Riseborough is the best of the bunch in this film; she carries most of the intrigue, drama and confusion of the story with her acting. Cruise is good in his role, although not as convincing an brilliant as in the film he would shot the following year, Edge of Tomorrow. Olga Kurylenko is really sweet as Julia, and Morgan Freeman OK as the scavenger Bleech.

This is an enjoyable film with amazing visuals and, a priori, intriguing and original script, but the story is poorly told, the dialogues not especially inspired and the acting just all right. It could have been super-duper, but it is not because amazing visuals rarely make an amazing movie by themselves.
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Hamster Hell (2012)
6/10
Great animation, but horrific story
26 April 2017
I grew up with hamsters, and hamsters have always my fav family pet. We have them mating and breeding, and enjoyed every singularity of their personality and cute behavior.

This is a stop motion Plasticine film and, from the technical point of view, it's really fantastic, and the film and the story are cohesively narrated. Hamsters' behavior is accurately depicted, from their cuteness to their cannibalism when they procreate and don't have the space or the proper place to rear their offspring. I have seen this in real life, that's nature, but something really sad and shocking, and fits perfectly with the horror story being told here.

The film starts very cutely, and becomes more and more disturbing by the second. A guy buy a couple of hamsters and hides them from his mother underneath the bed. Then, he forgets the animals, doesn't care about them, don't feed them, mistreat them. Cruelty against animals in its full splendor. There are people like the character in the real world, for sure, so if this film was a denunciation of cruel behavior, I would have been OK with the harshness of the film. But this is a horror film per se, so there is an unintended glorification of that behavior. I find horror and horrific to be two different things, but it might be just me.

I couldn't see the funny side of this film. I found it difficult to stomach, and it might be the same for some viewers.
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Hereafter (2010)
7/10
Lovely touching story
26 April 2017
Hereafter is a film that I would have never thought would be directed by Eastwood, not because he's not interested in great stories, but because of the nature of the story itself.

Hereafter is a three-way approach to death and focuses on how three different characters experience it. The first is the French journalist Marie Lelay, who survives a tsunami, but hast a near death experience and sees the other side, an experience that leads to a career path. The second is an English boy who loses his eldest twin in a accident, shuts down and tries to find a medium to speak to him. Finally, the American worker recently made redundant George Lonegan is a serious medium since childhood; however, he considers his gift a curse because he connects with dead people every time he touches a person, something that impedes her having a normal relationship. Their stories are presented separately until the three characters end connecting and their stories intersecting and becoming one.

Hereafter is a film that does not dwell on controversy, or perhaps it does by departing from the existence of the afterlife. However, it is not dogmatic about what the afterlife is, it focuses mostly on how different people experience, see, imagine or think death and what lies beyond.

The acting is solid and convincing, subtle but believable. Viewers come to empathize with the three characters, get to know them well, and develop a relationship with them.

The narrative is certainly not innovative or original, but it works well because the character's stories and experiences are quite different. Certainly, the first 40 minutes are painfully slow because, until a certain point, the stories seem not to be leading anywhere. That is what I liked the least in the film. On the positive side, those minutes are the foundation of our understanding of the three characters. Yet, because the story spent so much time there, the last part of the movie, which is the most interesting, are hurried.

I loved the music, most of it composed by Eastwood himself.

I really enjoyed this emotive and touching story. And the ending was really sweet.
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Day 40 (2014)
6/10
Freak of a short
25 April 2017
When I watched of this film, the first film I thought of was "Sausage Party" because, in essence, both films are quite gross and irreverent and, let's be honest, both are exercises of mental onanism. You know, the directors got drunk, got wild about an idea and situation, and created a crazy film that kept them lol.

This short takes a Biblical episode, the Flood and Noah's Ark, and reinvents it by asking implicit questions that you might have asked your mum, your friends or yourself when you were really young, had had some drinks over your limit, and were very-hormonal and thought that sex was the highlight of your life on Planet Earth. Questions like how is possible for all the animals not to procreate on the Arc? How was possible for the hierarchy of species not to take over the ship? Did the hyper-carnivores eat every other animal? What happened when the animals got in heat? Imagine the most absurd response, mix it with your fav zombie apocalyptic ending, use a pinch of "Animal Farm" with all the political allegory extracted and removed, make fun of something sacred and, voila, you have this hyper-feral, hyper-sexual zombie post apocalyptic biblical flood episode turned into a mutant.

Day 40 is irreverent and not for sensitive spirits, but it has some good gigs an will get a laugh, or two, out of you. Round, not really, but a good exercise in alternative animation.

This film has a target public, and if you aren't one of the targets, you won't like it or might get offended. Of course, if you are a very religious person, don't watch it! If you find the poster of the film shocking, well, stop there!
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The Immigrant (2013)
6/10
A flat ride
25 April 2017
The Immigrant has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster and an excellent movie: great actors, fantastic production, great atmosphere, historical settings, and a touching story about the harshness of immigration in the USA after the WW1 without sugar-coated BS. Yet, for whatever reason, the movie felt flat most of the time to me, and not touching despite the story being a priori very touching.

Phoenix is always great in whatever he does, and he's the only actor whose character I felt and believed to be real in this film. Marion Cotillard is really sweet but, despite the role being written for her, the dramatic coloratura of the script, speaking in Polish, and shedding the perfect tear, her acting feels flat, as if she had taken a muscular relaxant during the film; unfortunately, I didn't think her acting was coming from the heart and it didn't touch mine. I found Jeremy Renner miscast in his role, he has no chemistry with Cotillard on camera and he was never meant to be a rival of the always powerful Phoenix.

The script has no tempo, unfortunately, so it dragged me alone on a two-hour flat ride. You know, the movie is really sad and emotional, but it rarely moved me, intrigued me, or kept me waiting for what was coming next. The movie felt, depending of the times, clichéd, phony, overly melodramatic, a bit frigid, but mostly unfocused and confused, and that's always the director's fault.

Overall, this is a nice film to watch, but it deflates before it gets fully inflated. There are many things I liked about this film, truly, but nothing I really loved, unfortunately.
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9/10
Excellent film
24 April 2017
The Intouchables, despite the title, really touches viewers' heart without being corny, pitiful or tearful. This a comedy that does keep your mouth on the silly-smile mode from beginning to end, because it's funny, it makes you laugh, but is not vulgar, cheesy or cookie-cutter made. The directors and scriptwriters juggled all the dramatic and comedic elements beautifully, and nothing is too much, too less, or so-so. The dialogues and situations are brilliant at times, very candid frequently, and really genuine at times. I found myself totally absorbed by the story and by the interaction of the two main characters.

This movie would have been different if the cast was not as good and credible as they are, from the supporting roles of the troubled kids, to the upper-nose relatives of Philippe. Yet, François Cluzet & Omar Sy carry the weight of the story, and they are brilliant. Not even for a second I saw them as actors playing a role, but as Philippe and Driss. Besides, they have an amazing chemistry on camera and on this resides, for the most part, the charm of the film.

The movie is beautifully filmed, with lovely indoors and outdoors scenes, and a wonderful lighting. It captures well the real Paris: the wonderful elegant areas of central Paris where the bourgeoisie lives, but also the very poor and marginalized banlieus of the periphery where most immigrants live. However, the aim of the film is not that of showing those dramatic differences but, on the contrary, to show how human connection is possible no matter your origin, it can be possible and magical despite, a priori, thinking that would never happen. It does not matter your social class, your gender, your past, your culture, your family or your ethnic background.

The score is beautifully poetic and quintessential Ludovico Einaudi. If you have ever listened to any of his musical pieces, you will immediately recognize the music in those progressive repetitive a-la-Philip Glass soft wanderings of the piano. Just wonderful.

My only criticism to the film is that we get to know Phillipe's character quite well by the end of the film, but not so much or as much that of Driss. We know that he comes from a troubled impoverished immigrant family living in a poor suburb, but we don't know much about him, the person, the man, what his dreams, fears, longings are, or what he was doing before the story began.

The Intouchables is a mesmerizing, heart-warming and very funny film. The fact that is based on a real story, and not just a feel-good script, gives it a layer of depth that would otherwise not have.
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Afterlife (1978)
10/10
Modern and relevant, 35 years later
22 April 2017
Afterlife is a remarkable short film in any possible way. It was produced in 1978, but it feels modern, daring and fresh. It is wonderfully animated and has a great psychedelic soundtrack, this being the most noticeable element that associates it to the 1970s.

The approach to the story is very New-Age, if you want. We witness the departure of an astral being or soul from the realm of the living and the journey that takes him to the next realm. The imagery is mesmerizing, hypnotic and intriguing. We witness this soul's past experiences, personal attachments and love moments, which are presented in a very touching way. This soulful trip is depicted in an ever-changing series of golden-and-black images that morph into others organically. One of the most intriguing aspects of the film is all the presence of mythical and mythological elements associated to Eastern cultures that intersect with the human experiences that the soul is retrieving, processing an discarding. There is a constant flow of images, but this is a journey of getting rid of the old to evolve and go through the next level, and it is masterfully presented.

My main criticism is that the film might have been as good with 1-2 minutes less of footage.

Afterlife has put Ishu Patel in my radar.
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7/10
Sound advice in an odd format
22 April 2017
The idea behind this short is great, getting a group of International reputed artists to give their advice to young people starting their artistic careers. It sounds obvious, but I haven't seen anything of the sort done by recently-graduated animators and visual artists. The fact that the young director was able to gather all of those testimonials is an achievement in itself. I don't really know if the director did archival work to find the material, or just contacted the artists and got their advice. Whatever the case is, it is sound advice.

I love the animation style. It's as if a young child had taken his pencils and started to draw things wildly, and the director had animated those drawings. The images look childish but are far from being suitable for children, as there is strong violence, gory images, nudity and adult moments overall. The images visually reproduce what the artists are saying, a;ways with a great dose of humour, dark humour, more or less literally. At times, though, the connection wasn't there at all, or was there but perhaps not fully functional to me.

This is an odd original graduation short film that tackles the pressing questions artists face in life right at the beginning, when they matter the most, not when things go wrong and they have already morphed into something that they are not, or have abandoned the creative path or put it to the service of a company. Probably not what I expected a priori, or what I would done if I was an artist. Yet, this is the director's style and approach, her true artistic self, so one has to respect that.

I think young artists would love this. The general public, perhaps.
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9/10
Most entertaining movie in years
12 April 2017
The Guardians of the Galaxy is just pure entertainment. The film mixes science-fiction, adventure and comedy in the right dose and concentration. It has great tempo, unforgettable well-developed characters you like or hate immediately and great music. The production is amazing: the special effects, architectural designs, ambiance, dresses, makeup, sound, and overall design are fantastic. However, that would be irrelevant if the script, the dialogues and the acting weren't good, but they are excellent.

One of the things that contributes to the success of the film is how well the actors are cast for their respective characters, and how good he actors are in their roles. I loved Pratt as Peter Quill (a witty mix of Indiana Jones and Han Solo with whom I fell in love immediately) Diesel as the magical Groot (I would have never thought that I would like Diesel on anything), and Lee Pace as the super-villain Ronan (truly the best acting in the film). However, Cooper does one of his best jobs as an actor dubbing the very funny sarcastic grumpy but loyal Rocket, Saldana shines as the kick-ass sexy fighter Gamora, and Bautista is really charming as the word-literal sensitive brute Drax. To be fair, all actors, even the supporting ones, do a great job. This is a chorus movie in which everyone sings well and does what is supposed to do at the right time the right way.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most entertaining amusing unpretentious enjoyable films I've seen in the last years. Of course the movie is light, there is not philosophical approach to anything, there is not subtext, but the movie does to perfection what intends to do -- it does entertain you for over two hours and makes you forget that you are human and live in the real world. We are all the Guardians of the Galaxy. That is priceless.

I had a ball watching this film. I hope you too.
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Deadpool (2016)
8/10
Fast, fun, furious and original
9 April 2017
Fast funny and furious, summarizes well the three elements that combined in the right dose make this movie such a success. Fast -- action packed at the right pace. Fun- Humour all over, witty humour, gross humour, cheeky humour, white humour, sexy humour, intellectual humour, smart-ass humour, you name it, it is in there. Furious - violent to the extreme, no concessions to the sensitive stomach, but funny violent if that can be said. The movie also has a great script, great characters, awesome dialogues, spectacular action scenes, amazing staging and production, great tempo, crazy fun credits, a good ending, awesome music (just when it is needed) and the right length. The result is one of those super-hero movies that will delight both super-hero movie fans and people who, like me, aren't usually into the genre or into super-violent movies.

Reynolds really shines in his role of Deadpool, because, in a way, his personal humour is that of Deadpool, and the character fits him like a glove. I honestly think that all actors are perfect in their respective roles, really well cast.

It is really refreshing finding a super-hero movie that doesn't feel cookie-cuttered, that addresses adults with respect, a movie that feels fresh and modern, that is not only entertaining but well filmed, well acted and well-rounded overall -- a super-hero movie that is actually very good.

I'm looking forward to seeing the second installment. If it's as good as this, I am buying a ticket to see it in a theater, not on DVD.
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6/10
Interesting and disappointing at the same time
9 April 2017
Visiting El Bulli was in my bucket list until they closed their doors in 2011 and became a food lab. As you can imagine, I was looking forward to seeing this documentary. Unfortunately, after watching, I got a bitter-sweet after-taste in my mouth.

THE GOOD

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this restaurant is seeing all the process of experimentation that leads top restaurants and world-class chefs to create a new menu every year, and the hard work and endless hours behind both the experimentation and the work in the restaurant.

In the era of the MasterChef cooking shows, where food and cooking appear as a colorful, beautiful, creative and unrealistically flamboyant, the reality and every-day of a restaurant in general, and of a world-top restaurant in particular, is far from that bubble of flashy glamour that we see on TV. There is a lot of preparation, a lot of strenuous and hierarchical work, of endless working hours, of constant trial-error and improvement, exhausting and far from everything that is really unflashy. You need a passion for food and for restoration to devote your life to that profession, especially because in top restaurants failure is not an option, tempo is a mathematical thing, bad service is unthinkable, top quality preparation and presentation the norm. In that regard, this documentary captures that perfectly, and I think one gets to understand better and respect even more the work that any top chef does, in this case Adria.

THE BAD

The documentary is filmed with a Germanic eye, lacking passion or interest in the figure of Adria. Who is this guy? Where does he come from? What sort of cooking was he cooking before he became El Bulli head chef? Who does he consider his masters? Who are his sous-chefs? Also, there is a bunch of local and international workers arriving to work at El Bulli, why not asking them what drove them there? What is what they find intriguing or admirable in Adria and his restaurant? On the other hand, we don't see the human side of any of these people. Do they have families? Do they cook at home? What do they eat at home? Do they have foodie trips? Are they best pals with this and that top chef? These and other questions seem not to interest the director, which is a pity because they are the sort of things that interest viewers in general, especially those who aren't familiar with one of the master genius of modern cuisine.

I'm not saying that the documentary is not interesting, because it is, but it lacks background, it lacks depth and color, and it lacks the passion that drives Adria in anything he does. Really, they could have filmed this in any medium-range restaurant and that would have been interesting the same. Yet, why bother going to El Bulli and focusing on the purely observational?

Now that El Bulli doesn't exist any more, this documentary appears to be even more lacking and imperfect as it does not honor the genius, it does not help viewers understand why Adria is one of the genius of Western cuisine or who this person really is.

I will personally be looking for other documentaries for TV and the cinema produced about Adria in 2011.
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The Avengers (2012)
6/10
Boring 1st half, great 2nd half
1 April 2017
I'm not a traditional comic turned into movie watcher. I do have a tendency to watch those films that seem to catch my attention in the trailers, are recommended by friends, like the Avengers, or have high ratings. Not being a super-hero comic film devotee, for a super-hero movie to work for me has to be basically entertaining, engaging and fun. And, if possible to have a good combination of at least a few of the following elements: > Good script. > Great action scenes. > Fantastic production. > Good actors. > Good acting. > Great sense of humor. > A great music score. This movie ticked off a good deal of this boxes, and that happened mostly in the final hour of the film.

THE GOOD.

> The production of the Avengers is top notch. Great settings, suits, spaceship design, and alien images. > The last half of the movie is what I expect from a super-hero action movie to be and it has a great tempo, awesome action scenes, spectacular fights and alien creatures, and is full-on fun and engaging. > Jackson, Hiddlestone and Evans are good in their performances, but I personally liked the freshness and natural acting of Paltrow and Gregg in their very secondary supporting roles. I love seeing kick-ass female characters, and Johannson seems really fit for that sort of roles, and she nails her character in that super-tight suit. > Some of the dialogues and scenes were witty.

THE BAD.

> Painful tempo and too long. I felt bored to the core during the first half of the movie, which goes for over an hour, with boring pretentious dialogues not much happening, and scenes that don't add anything to the film. I stopped the DVD frequently because I was struggling to keep my attention focused. > Hemsworth was a pain to watch when he had to deliver his lines no matter how hot, and Downey Jr always plays the same role no matter his character, something I find very annoying. > Thor had a quite heavy Australian accent but his brother in the film Loki had a very British accent, although, of course, they are from planet whatever. Shouldn't they have had at least a neutral unified accent? > The film is set in a sort of near future, with flying ships and very developed technology, but we see the Police and some of the characters using simple shotguns; this incongruity rests credibility to the settings of the film.

THE LOL.

The only thing I found hilarious in the film is Ruffalo's transformation into Hulk and some of the scenes related to the Hulk. Seeing the Hulk with Ruffalo's face was like seeing Hulk with Micky Mouse's face. Ruffalo has very sweet facial features, seems to be a very sweet guy, and usually plays tranquil man roles. This was a fluffy huggable Hulk. I was really LOL. The dialogue between him and the old man when he falls into a warehouse are hilarious, but that was intended.

OVERALL.

If you are fan of Super-hero comic books and films, you are going to enjoy and love this film no matter what I say; that's great and totally respectable. If you are a lover of good films, no matter the subject, this film is entertaining overall, has a great second half, but you will struggle to get there without feeling uninterested due to the unfocused direction, the poor dialogues and the extra-long unnecessary footage.If you overcome the first half, congratulations, you have made it to the Avengers' red carpet of action galore.
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