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Southpaw (2015)
8/10
Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is a southpaw that goes straight to the heart
3 October 2015
We can always criticize Hollywood for bringing movies that are intended to toss some smoke to the viewer by presenting something new with repeated formulas and recycled plots we have seen somewhere else before. The same goes for "Southpaw"... apart from the fact that there's something more lying inside this story about a boxer's redemption. The answer to it is the trust it puts into the strength of its actors and the gripping emotions that come with it.

There's a little sparkle that starts to light up inside of us during the very first minutes of the movie. And even if we barely have the time to see Gyllenhaal and McAdams' characters, we didn't need more because we were instantly dragged towards an emotional charge that never abandons the plot and whose "legacy" is carried on the main actor's shoulders.

Gyllenhaal doesn't skip a beat and keeps his character's pain and rage constantly vivid in every detail - we feel it because we've somewhat experienced in our lives what it means to lose someone we love and feel lost afterward. We felt the struggle coming after the loss of a bond as strong as that one. That's why his performance is relentless and immaculate.

Truth is that the genuine side of "Southpaw"'s plot is based on the main character's fall and his irreproachable route to stand up again, reach the top once more. Only this time, the fight has completely changed and the goals are different, goals that make us question what we really fight for in our life.

You already know this story but not told under these terms. Hollywood has crafted good flicks about fighters/boxers in the last few years and "Southpaw" follows a line that is close to the more recent "Warrior", starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy due to its "underdog" screenplay. What makes this movie different from the rest is the ineluctable emotion that never departs and befalls us, stirring and stirring our inner feelings.

We don't always need to criticize a movie for its predictability. "Southpaw" is predictable but it's also honest in assuming itself as such because its purpose - and I believe, Antoine Fuqua's purpose - is to divert our attention towards something more meaningful. And when a movie pierces the bone to reach our heart and soul with this impact, then it deserves our respect and acknowledgment.

"Southpaw" is, quite simply, liberating.
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Focus (II) (2015)
7/10
Cool hand Will
15 June 2015
After making us laugh with the unconventional romantic comedy 'Crazy, Stupid, Love', the Ficarra/Requa pair switch the tape to a comedy-crime flick that keeps their game up as well.

It's your typical love story in not so typical romantic standards, as two thieves played by Will Smith and Margot Robbie fall in love after the first one teaches the latter how to make a criminal living.

The story has some very interesting twists that you didn't see coming and Will Smith fuels this big time as the cool and smooth Nicky.

'Focus' never stops pumping. It's pure entertainment with pace, rhythm and flair. Somewhere between Guy Ritchie's 'Snatch' and Matthew Vaughn's 'Layer Cake', less violent, sarcastic or crude. And with a touch of some Hollywood love.

Oh, and did I mention it features Margot Robbie?
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7/10
It's a ludicrous love tale. But we buy it nonetheless
15 June 2015
Maybe it's fair to say that Blake Lively steals the show. Not just only for her natural beauty that fits the role for reminding us of cinema's most iconic blonde actresses. No. She drives the movie forward with elegance and wit, just as a lead actress should do.

It's a strange tale this 'Age of Adaline'. Instead of a Benjamin Button aging backwards, we get a woman that stopped getting old - at least from the outside - for more than 50 years. And, afraid of becoming a 'curiosity', she never stops running away and changing her identity, leaving her daughter behind and putting love on the sidelines. Until she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman).

We know from the beginning of the movie we're being fooled by a plot that, when you think about it, seems ludicrous, narrowly shallow and sometimes bold. But we buy it and the secret is that it's purely, almost innocently, charming.

Moreover, having Harrison Ford's contribution of an old man still heart broken because of that 'one girl who got away', is a genuine performance which also makes this worth watching.

Your mind will make you skeptical to the plot line but your eyes won't leave the screen. So hey, what can you do? Sometimes movies are about that too.
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7/10
Nostalgia and modernity all-together. Powerful.
22 July 2013
There's a certain fragrance of change and singularity in this piece, that not only looks for the nostalgia of past times, but also tries to implement a vivid and modern style in its aesthetic effort and symbolism.

The poetry emerges in the long sequence-plans, in the editing's softness, in the conversations and dialogs, and the actor's expressions. But it's a kind of cinema that we learn to love as time passes by. Its effects are not immediate, its impact is not immediate. The appreciation comes later.

What we can say is that Davies has conceived an intimate work, a powerful romantic drama. To be seen and seen again.

7/10
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5/10
When "Die Hard" meets North Koreans
18 July 2013
Even if the idea of taking the White House by storm is the most remote, unthinkable and impossible plan to make, the movie's pace is so quick that we end up swallowing the theory and forget the reality, deluded by explosions, gunshots, fights, blood, deaths and tons of expensive military vocabulary that tries to give that sense of credibility to the movie.

Antoine Fuqua's new piece of work is, however, more of the same of what we have seen before, only being audacious at suggesting a North Korean terrorist attack to the United States' political heart.

And along comes Gerard Butler, the iron Scottish playing the typical "one man army" role that wipes out an entire paratrooper battalion in a matter of seconds. It's almost as if we are witnessing a game of "Call of Duty" set in Washington, in legendary difficulty.

Resuming, "Olympus Has Fallen" is an impish action movie, that doesn't ask for permission to ignite the screen with a nearly apocalyptic Washington, D.C landscape. This cheesy but, nonetheless, watchable film, is what happens when you cross "Die Hard" with a North Korean invasion.

5/10
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Tabu (I) (2012)
8/10
A dream-like, poetic and triumphant "chef d'oeuvre".
22 January 2013
Young Portuguese director Miguel Gomes plunges us into two narratives that are nothing less than pure poetry.

The screenplay and refined narration, the delicate but still frenetic soundtrack that dances through Joana Sá's piano keyboards, the contrasting photography (not new, not old), as well as the roaming melancholy of Lisbon and Africa's landscapes, drive us to a distant, dream-like, almost abstracted dimension.

"Tabu" is truly a cinematic synesthesia, an artistic portrait that, inexplicably, grabs its viewers from the first minute. A genuine pearl that will endure in our thoughts for quite some time. A triumph.

8/10
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Looper (2012)
7/10
Rian Johnson's storytelling abilities proceed. A strong and refreshing sci-fi thriller.
9 November 2012
One of those examples of how the choice of a specific director is essential for a screenplay's success. Truth is, if "Looper" had gone to someone else's hands, it could have probably lost itself in the dust of the genre's usual clichés.

In a time where Christopher Nolan's "Inception" still slams its weight, Rian Johnson delivers us an alternative story, refreshing from what has been done lately. It's not just about the meticulous plot where all the pieces seem to fit almost naturally, it's the easiness of how it flows to the screen, in a way that immediately introduces the viewer into the movie's rhythm. Even if it's a piece of sci-fi action, Johnson prefers to focus himself on the storytelling instead of blasting around with visual effects. This is really clear in its style, specially in "Brick", his modern homage to the "cinéma noir", and where he collects all the points - that's why the film shines more than recent others.

Other good aspects: the beautiful photography and the numerous "slow-motion" plans, always without forcing too much. Joseph Gordon-Levitt show us once again why he is one of the most interesting actors around, as he can, quite so hauntingly, appropriate Bruce Willis' way of acting and put it into his own performance, in order to enhance the two of them's similarity.

Strange mixing between Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report". Possibly a subtle "clin d'oeil" to these masters in a delicious sci-fi essay - 8/10.
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7/10
A gripping, tense and devastating action thriller.
19 September 2012
It starts slowly, tensely, in a way to let the viewer digest the conclusion of a dark, cruel thematic: an organized battlefield between teenagers, in which only one survives.

Close to "Battle Royale", Gary Ross chooses to focus on a specific character: Katniss. This conveys a more humane approach than the cult Japanese flick. However, even if not abundantly graphic, violence reigns. Much is due to the beautiful photographic work, the consistency of the young actors and Ross' detailed directing; a true orchestration of action, drama and tension - the support to this movies' dynamic.

Here we have a thought on how natural violence lives with us everyday and the way we accept it, almost indifferently. As well as we accept it naturally while watching this film - 7/10.
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10/10
An epic conclusion to one of the most sensational trilogies in years.
3 August 2012
Christopher Nolan had the difficult task to overcome himself after 2008's unforgettable "The Dark Knight". And truth is that he doesn't let anyone down by delivering a final chapter, I dare saying, at the level of it's predecessor.

Set in a tense and anarchic landscape, Gotham City is the stage to a mesmerizing visual showdown, beautifully orchestrated by Hans Zimmer's accurate soundtrack. The plot itself unveils slowly but also precisely leaving no loose ends and where all the pieces keep fitting themselves like in a perfect puzzle.

Concerning the villain for this ultimate Batman disclosure, expectations where high due to Heat Ledger's mythic performance in the previous film. However, Tom Hardy's impersonation is a success, not superior to Ledger but equally special. The British actor is able to embody in perfection the character of a brutal and revolutionary Bane, with a way of expressing himself both scary and addictive, leaving the viewer long for his presence on screen. As for the rest of the luxurious cast, they deliver performances that underline a more human side that the English director has achieved to input throughout the series.

"The Dark Knight Rises" is a masterpiece that confirms the versatility of someone like Christopher Nolan, without a doubt, the most competent, talented and unquestionably remarkable filmmaker of our times. And it is time to give him credit for that.
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JCVD (2008)
7/10
Jean-Claude Van Damme Reborn
21 May 2012
I was kind of curious on seeing this movie, after reading about it. I thought it would be something different from the 'kick-ass-pointless-action' stereotypes performed by former Karate champion Jean-Claude Van Damme - and it really up-leveled my expectations.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is the main star in this film, delivering the best performance in his 'average' career. He does a very comfortable role, filled with some touching dramatic moments that stunningly convince the spectator. The monologue scene for example, not only reveals his skills as an actor as well as some dark details of what seems to be his personal life.

Mabrouk El-Mechri handles us a confident direction and writing, specially focusing on a personal side instead of JCVD as an actor, as well as approaching his charisma in Belgium.

This is Van Damme emotionally naked, reborn and suiting in a very powerful role. I just hope we have the chance of seeing more from him in this shape...
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7/10
Moral death and resurrection.
10 March 2012
After the successful "Quantum of Solace", a disrupt of the 007 concept, with a more believable James Bond, Marc Foster returns to explore the humanitarian side of life, previously done in movies such as "Finding Neverland" or even "The Kite Runner", with this tale about moral death and moral resurrection.

Gerard Butler delivers quite possibly, the performance of his career as the unstoppably ferocious but still human, reborn and tender Sam Childers.

The directing is confident, addicting, violent, realistic and hauntingly shocking. It somewhat reminds us, even with less action, Edward Zwick's vertiginous "Blood Diamond".

The outcome is a compelling life lesson, incredibly warm, touching, ending in a way that suggests something uncompleted: Sam Childer's accomplishments are a beginning of change. There's still a lot of work to do, certainly. However, there's room for hope.
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Submarine (2010)
8/10
Originally refreshing and thought-provoking ''coming of age'' dramatic comedy,
22 October 2011
This was a truly interesting British surprise and one of the most original and refreshing thought-provoking movies made on the ''coming of age'' subject.

With large indie touches and a comical-dramatic charge, accompanied by a dazzling photography and a delicious soundtrack, the result is an alternative piece of cinema that explores the teenage era, leaded by a hauntingly mature Craig Roberts.

It is like if we are attending a mixture between Wes Anderson's style and ''500 Days of Summer'' but in a juvenile context... and it works brilliantly. Kudos!
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8/10
Delicious, memorable and entertaining.
20 September 2011
This is one of those many gems that you can find in the classic cinema and one of the great pearls that musical seventh art has to offer.

Despite of obeying the genre's traditional conventions, it doesn't forbid itself of criticizing the universe behind the movie-making business and specially, Hollywood. As so, we are then introduced in a sort of ''metafilm'', a film inside a film.

The leading trio are a standing artistic supremacy and delivers us a simply magical show, served by a soundtrack.

These simple and entertaining elements are enough to make this an unique and memorable piece of work.

All hail king Kelly!
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Donnie Darko (2001)
8/10
A magnificent concussion.
19 September 2011
Reviewing religious concepts in a very turbulent Freudian analysis, Stephen Kelly's first movie is nothing more than a very agitated and somewhat dreamlike masterpiece, led by a startling and disturbing Jake Gyllenhaal.

The final twist demonstrates a skillfully written mastery and the reconstruction of the key elements denounce such an expertise from a director that doesn't disrupt the film's interest not even for a split second.

''Donnie Darko'' stands firm as a beautiful mental quake, forbidding us of breathing during it's entire content.
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Sucker Punch (2011)
5/10
Zack Snyder on autopilot.
19 September 2011
This is by far, Zack Snyder's worst movie until present time. However, it is still a ravishing visual spectacle, guided by a magnificent feminine bombshell cast and accompanied by an electrically dynamic soundtrack.

The problem is that these elements are unable to delete the sensation of a story sometimes told in a 'videoclip' manner and the ''300'' director on a autopilot mode, only concerned with the film's aesthetic outlook.

Despite that narrative ellipsis, this is a perfect Sunday afternoon popcorn flick, presenting itself as a delirium 'video game' crossing between ''The Matrix'' and ''Charlie's Angels''. Only without the intellectual quality than the first one, but with more and better action than the second.
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Blindness (2008)
7/10
Thought provoking, quite faithful to the book, but doesn't achieve to restore the beauty of Saramago's prose.
25 August 2011
This is one of the few movies that I've waited to see after I read the book and I'm glad i did it. It's the easiest way of understanding the director's perception but also to dig out the flaws. Overally, I was generally pleased with this piece of work, as it is one of the few movies that achieves to considerably be loyal to the book. Gripping, intense, thought provoking, a beautiful photography and solid performances by the cast make this an essential for those who like "brain-washing" films. However, Fernando Meirelles, was unable to give us a fragrance of Saramago's beautiful prose. I even ask myself if that is somewhat possible because there's so much poetry in what the Portuguese author writes that transposing it to the big screen isn't at all a guaranteed mission and an easy task - 7/10.
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7/10
An instant «One Flew Over the Cucoo's Nest» reminiscence.
12 August 2011
Modern and considerably softer, «It's Kind of a Funny Story» immediately reminds us of Milos Forman's masterpiece.

The plot takes us to the unbalanced and constantly under pressure universe of adolescence.

More than just a dramatic comedy, the luxurious and compelling cast (way to go, Zach Galifianakis!), alongside the deliciously consistent soundtrack, bring us a beautiful hymn to hope and a wonderful metaphor: the epiphany of living, which is the taste, the pleasure and the willing to exist, independently of all the troubles and problems that make life a very harsh journey to fulfill.
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7/10
An essential movie to understand our modern society,
17 July 2011
At a first glance, a movie that makes us have second thoughts due to its recent and fresh topic: the social network phenomenon «Facebook».

However, here lies an essential and determinant look to understand the wold in which we live in, paying a special attention to a society that is becoming more and more dependent of the technological progress and the new forms of communication.

That said, the man who gave us the remarkable «Fight Club», achieves to dynamically connect past and present, also helped by an electrically modern soundtrack. Amongst a truly luxurious cast that handles us really solid performances, the applause go to Jesse Eisenberg, the main actor that sublimely lets us take a peek at the instability behind the geniality of Marck Zuckeberg.
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The Dreamers (2003)
7/10
Bertolucci's personal look at the 1960 decade and Cinema itself
20 December 2010
An interesting piece of work from the Italian director, approaching the atmosphere in a 1968 France, during the movement and student protests that influenced that same year.

Here, the experienced cinematographer not only summarizes many movies that marked the birth of modern cinema, as well as maneuvers a contrast between the tensions of that decade and the journey of intimate discovery by three young persons, stirred by the events of their time.

Highlights for the leading trio, that skilfully dominate the 'spicy' moments, but specially Eva Green, embodying a dissimilar 'femme fatale'.

An outstanding movie with wide cinematographic influences and references, that are in a certain way, a bit of what Bernardo Bertolucci is as a film-maker.
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300 (2006)
7/10
A truly visual masterpiece that disrupts the epic genre
20 December 2010
Zack Snyder is becoming one of the most interesting American directors for the originality and aesthetic nature of his work.

Here, the author of the remake 'Dawn of the Dead', presents us a beautiful graphic spectacle, a truly visual masterpiece that narrates the story of Spartan king Leonidas facing Xerxes, the Persian emperor, and his vast army.

Applauses to the emergence of a different and very developed style, loyal to Frank Miller's comic book, with memorable scenes of combat and a ferocious Gerard Butler, in a instant cult phenomenon action movie that disrupts the epic genre.
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Time to Leave (2005)
7/10
A look at the time that remains
20 December 2010
This is the story about an homosexual fashion photographer facing death soon, after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer and which makes him being cruel towards his close ones.

A clever directing, a strange but effective plot and a serious performance by the leading Melvil Poupaud in a decaying process, gives this little movie an enormous impact and dimension.

A dark but elusive look at life and the very short time we have to fulfill it. It's a solid piece of work, heavy and intense, genuine and precise in creating strong emotions towards the viewer, as well as waking him up to the ephemeral and unpredictable nature of life.
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5/10
A no-brain action packed movie reminding the old days
14 October 2010
What can a luxurious cast filled with old and contemporary action stars can bring?

Well, what you expect actually. There's nothing much to say about this movie. A nice effort by renouncing computerized action and it assembles some of the action genre's biggest names. The plot is what you expect, a 'no-brain action-packed' movie, a perfect blockbuster for a Summer afternoon where you can turn out your brain for a bit.

Nothing more than a tribute to the old cheesy action films from the eighties with a top-notch Stallone, that keeps justifying his envious form for a sixty year-old as well as his longevity. That's it - 5/10.
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Heartbreaker (2010)
6/10
An enjoyably dynamic romantic comedy
14 October 2010
I had the chance of attending this film's premiere in Lisbon, that counted with the director's presence. He was pleased that his main goal of entertaining the audience was fulfilled. And that's just it.

Chaumeil hands us a smooth and enjoyable work, perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Nothing more than a funny and cool romantic comedy with subtle slashes of a different action because of the 'breaking relationships' plot, always in a soft touch. I point out the chemistry between the two main actors, one of the film's main qualities, and specially Romain Duris that is becoming an essential actor of french contemporary cinema, commercial as independent.

A 'feel-good' movie destined to amuse the public and that achieves well his mission in a dynamic and pleasuring way - 6/10.
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8/10
A genius parody
7 July 2010
Knowing Godard's instant classic 'Breathless', a revolution in cinematic technique in its time, I was reluctant to discover this one. Turns out to be that 'Crazy Pierrot', is undoubtedly one of the french director's best but also an interesting piece of work of the 'Nouvelle Vague's era.

It seems to me that here, Godard achieves to produce something very approximate to some sort of a cinematic miracle. He is able to synthesize his movie into a parody of almost everything possible, folding and unfolding, destroying and rebuilding topics and clichés renowned in his time. From french and international literature (much in the line of the french 'new novel'), to cinema itself (notice that almost every genre is present), but also political subjects like the war in Vietnam, this film is filled with passed as well as contemporary references. During its 110 minutes of content, the director creates an absurd universe very influenced by the leading characters themselves. However, this is a just a tool to distract the viewer. Whenever in the movie Marianne starts singing, for example, it's a technique for Godard to criticize and meditate on the absurdity of everything. Behind all this very burlesque world, don't be fooled, a plot still exists.

This movie is a perfect contradiction. Even if there's a story during the entire movie, since we follow Ferdinand and Marianne's delinquent route to the South, I would approach this movie to the genre of the Theatre of the Absurd, developed by Ionesco and Beckett. Something close to an essay of absurdity itself - 8/10.
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Walk the Line (2005)
10/10
More than just a biopic
3 July 2010
'Walk the Line' was definitely one of 2005's most precious movies and for me one of my favorites made in the last years, since I have watched it several times now. But more than a biopic, it's the tale of Johnny Cash and June Carter's true love. All of this much due to the leading performances. Concerning Joaquin Phoenix, he proves one more time why he is one of America's most talented actors with this absolutely complete (because he SINGS all by himself) interpretation of the legendary country singer, that deservedly got him the Academy Award nomination. As for Reese Whiterspoon, she achieves to make me smile every time I watch her as June Carter with this stunning and lovely performance, worthy of her Oscar winning. The rest is brilliantly well-crafted as James Mangold succeeds to mix the musical and the dramatical side of Cash's story.

I have to say I find this movie magical thanks to the two actors wonderful and strong connection. I love it for what it is labeled, a loyal biopic of a true musical pioneer, but also for what it really portraits, an unconditional love story. A masterpiece - 10/10.
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