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Shall We Dance (2004)
A fun and light romantic comedy, with some script and cast flaws but a huge ammount of humor and music.
John Clark is a quiet, overworked lawyer with a stagnant marriage. Passing through a small dance school, she decides to come in and experiment, getting in touch with young Paulina, a professional Latin dancer who works there, along with the school's owner, Miss Mitzi. But it gets complicated as Clark's wife becomes more suspicious of her husband's routines.
This romantic comedy has charm and knows to be interesting but is based on a somewhat predictable script that constantly suggests the romantic interest between Clark and Paulina ... the sexual tension between the two characters is palpable but such a thing never really happens. It's just a gimmick to keep the audience alert until the end. Gere is a nice actor who really looks good on characters like what he did here. Jennifer Lopez is extraordinarily beautiful but extremely serious, and her performance here is somewhat hampered by her lack of joy, playfulness and strength of character. It even seems that the actress was making the movie unwillingly. Much better was the rendering of Susan Sarandon or Anita Gillette. A word of appreciation, too, to Stanley Tucci and Lisa Ann Walter, to whom we owe most of the film's comic moments.
With a good photo, well-made costumes (highlighting the dance costumes) and good scenery, the film excelled by the soundtrack, which is truly interesting, appealing, fun and eclectic.
Pretty Woman (1990)
A good romantic comedy that seems to me to have been undermined by some prejudice against the oldest profession in the world.
Vivan is a street prostitute. We know almost nothing of her life, nor the reasons why she has taken the path of prostitution, but she is notoriously beautiful and stands out among the other girls who, along with her, wait for anyone who wants them. By chance, his path intersects with that of Edward Lewis, a millionaire who made a fortune buying and dismantling failed companies. We are not sure why he decides to hire her, it seems like a decision made at the moment ... but the fact is that he changes her life in a way that reminds me of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" ...
This romantic comedy departs from rather unrealistic assumptions. Even millionaires who hire prostitutes do not usually go to the streets to look for or relate to them. On the other hand, a street prostitute would never look as clean and immaculate as Julia Roberts in this movie. Here are some flaws in realism that can compromise history, depending on how important each one gives them. But ultimately, it's a dream movie. "What's your dream? Everyone in Los Angeles has a dream." That's what a man on the streets says during the movie, and that can almost be the moral of the story: there are dreams that, with a touch of luck, can come true.
I loved Julia Roberts's performance ... this movie helped the actress jump to stardom, which was pretty fair. She has talent and presence, as we will see in later films (Notting Hill, Erin Brockovich, etc.). Richard Gere makes a good romantic pair with her and is credible in the role of a millionaire who has failed in love and seems in need of female attention. Both dominate the movie and bring the best moments to life, ranging from romantic and moving scenes to the hilarious ones we can see. Next to them, a capable but discreet secondary cast, where Hector Elizondo stands in the role of a rigid and professional hotel manager.
I think this movie has always been a risky gamble, if only because of the strong prejudice society still holds towards prostitution. And I believe some have written harsh criticism of this movie just for involving a prostitute in the story. But prostitutes are not vile, polluted and sick creatures who must live on the fringes of society. Often its women (and men) who have had no luck in life, or made the wrong choices, or immigrants who have been deceived and are trying to make money without harming anyone, often under the cruel dictatorship of pimps who only think about profits. Glamorizing prostitution is a mistake, but diabolizing is even worse. It is a sign of a small mind and lack of Christian values and empathy for those who have been less fortunate than us. Worse than living off making money with one's own body is killing or stealing, and there is no shortage of films that glamorize theft and murder without anyone caring about it.
The Bone Collector (1999)
A one-time thriller that is tiring and was clearly poorly done and poorly written. Only Angelina and Denzel's performance can be saved.
This film focuses on Lincoln Rhyme, a prestigious former forensic investigator who withdrew after an accident in service that left him quadriplegic. Sick but far from invalid, he remains a valuable ally of the New York Police, who seek him in more difficult cases. This happened when beat cop Amelia Donaghy found a body in an unusual crime scene, carefully staged to leave messages about a murder yet to be carried out. Unable to move, Rhyme will use Donaghy's eyes, ears and police skills to investigate the crime without leaving home.
Okay, we've seen a lot of similar things since there are literally a lot of movies focused on police investigating killers who want to be discovered and leave messages on their crimes. But the problem with this movie is not the lack of originality but the laziness, sloppiness and illogicality of the whole story. Never could a former police officer conduct an ongoing investigation, and even if that were possible he would never do so from home (to give an example of the illogic I referred to). The whole investigation, including Jolie's crime scenes, sounds fake and forced, with evidence coming out of sheer luck or because the character happened to recall a fact that later becomes relevant. But if we are able to ignore or lessen this the movie will roll all the way to the end... that's when things really get off track, for one of the worst endings I've ever seen in a thriller movie. Pure non-sense!
Ultimately, its the satisfying work of Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie that saves the movie from being truly bad. They are two lost pearls in this movie, never having space or material to reveal all their potential. The supporting cast gives them some strength but also has no space or material to substantially improve the film. Technically, its a regular movie, which does not stand out for the positive and even has badly filmed scenes so dark that they become unpleasant to look at.
In short, this movie is a poor and careless thriller, made without the care it should have had. I'm sure Angelina and Denzel won't have fond memories of him. It's a one-time movie, falling into oblivion after seeing how bad it is.
Inside Out (2015)
Intellectual and intelligent, its perhaps the most adult animated film Pixar has ever released.
This animated film is undoubtedly one of the most original and creative I've seen in a long time, and all because of the script, portraying the way emotions (transformed into the characters Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear) influence the actions and behaviors of a young girl who has just moved with her parents to a new city. Intelligent, even intellectual, this film explains in a fun and light way how our emotions, memory and consciousness work, among other complex topics associated with our behavior and psyche, such as nightmares, dreams, traumas, etc.
Not much to say about voice actors, and I don't even know most of them. Amy Poehler, who gives voice to Joy, is the one that stands out but everyone did an excellent job. All the characters had their time to shine, but the focus of the film is on the five emotions (with a strong emphasis on Joy and Sadness) and Riley herself. There are truly moving moments throughout the film, which I don't think are intended for children, but rather for a teenage audience and young adults, able to understand what the movie is showing. Before finishing, I just want to leave a word for the well-written dialogues, with some humor in between.
From a technical point of view, the movie is flawless, as expected from a Pixar movie. Animated through advanced CGI features, it's the state of the art. Vibrant colors, good brightness, safe and realistic drawings ensure aesthetic and visual beauty, while attention to detail is visible, for example, in the way scenery and everyday objects are carefully designed. As sometimes happens in the movies of this studio, the soundtrack is not the strong dish here.
I was truly delighted with this movie because of the way it addresses complex and intellectual topics. But this film is not only that: it is, above all, a good story about how we deal with our dreams, longings and emotions and how they can shape, or even redefine, our character at key moments in our lives.
Riley's First Date? (2015)
A good short film.
This short animated film is a kind of mini-sequel to Pixar's Inside Out movie. Being a movie of this gigantic and creative studio, the quality is guaranteed.
This movie shows how often we pay more attention to feature films and totally ignore the pearls that may appear in the form of short films. In fact, taking the story shortly after where the feature ends, this movie gives an idea of how Riley's parents reacted to her first date.
Personally, I found the movie too short, had material for further development (at most about eight to ten minutes). The characters are already known to those who saw the movie in the cinema. Of all, the ones that get the most attention are Riley's dad and the boy she's going out with ... and what a boy! That boy really needs to get his ideas in order! It is a short story, but well made, well thought out and with very well imagined dialogues.
From a technical point of view, the film is impeccable, as expected from a Pixar movie: vibrant colors, good brightness, great attention to small details, beautifully done designs and a very realistic, smooth stroke. Although the soundtrack is not the strong dish here (as it had not been in the feature film), there is some attention here for this field.
A refined comedy, with a lot of British humor.
I saw this movie yesterday on television by chance. I was aware of it, but I had never seen it from the beginning. Directed by Michael Hoffman, the film has a screenplay signed by the Cohen Brothers... and I only think about how the film could have won if both had also secured the director's chair. Still, this comedy, a remake of an older movie from which it uses very little material, has value and is funny.
The plot revolves around a painting by Monet, and the animosity between Harry Deane, a sly art curator, and Lionel Shahbandar, his vain and arrogant boss. But to deceive him, he'll need the help of a young Texan who promises to shake things up with her intense personality.
Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz gave life to the three central characters. Firth is the archetype of the perfect English gentleman, restrained and formal, in contrast to the cheerful, cheery, jovial character played by Diaz. Together, they exude excellent chemistry and its evident the attraction they will both feel during the movie. Rickman is good in the role of a rich, cold, arrogant man, whose money has made self-centered and pompous. Nonetheless, I got the feeling that Diaz's character was too cartoonish, and the heavy Texan accent was constantly sounding fake.
With a good cinematography and an discreet soundtrack, the film stands out for its jokes and dialogues, where the good British humor, full of irony and critical sense, is guaranteed. It's not the kind of movie that makes us burst out laughing, but it will give some enjoyable moments to anyone who likes this kind of comedy.
The Notebook (2004)
Another ultra-romantic movie with a forbidden love story. The good acting make it interesting, but almost everything else is quite ordinary.
This is the typical dramatic novel that comes out of the mind of Nicholas Sparks, the young teen's favorite author. The story tells the romance between Noah, a young poor man, and Allie, the daughter of wealthy parents who do not approve of this dating and decide to marry her with someone with more money. Their love story began in 1940 and continued through time, coming to us through the mouth of an old man, who reads an old diary to an equally old lady, who is already suffering from dementia.
Usually, sugary and melodramatic novels are not to my liking but this movie has been reasonably digestible, largely due to the satisfactory performance of the main cast. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were able to create a good chemistry together, and that went into the scenes where they are together. There are some dialogues between them that are so sugary that they seem to have been taken from a Brazilian soap opera, but the actors commitment is genuine. Gena Rowlands gave life to an elderly Allie quite well, but it was even better to see the performance of charismatic James Garner as old Noah.
Nick Cassavetes has done a satisfactory job as director, keeping a good pace and achieving a serious, elegant and balanced end product. The soundtrack is quite good, taking good advantage of the rhythms in vogue in the Forties and Fifties. Photography and filming is regular, denoting careful post-production and editing work.
Although this movie sometimes exaggerates in romance and sugar, and it pisses me off a little, its usually a satisfying movie, that gives us an interesting, though very common, love story, very similar to a million of forbidden love affairs already told in soap operas, leaflet novels, cheap literature and B-movies.
A badly appreciated and misunderstood movie that uses wry humor to convey a serious and dramatic message against drug use.
I confess that I began to see this movie with little expectation about it. I knew it was one of the most acclaimed movies in cinema for many. Even so, I was not enthusiastic about it. And I ended up enjoying the style of the movie.
The script follows the marginal trajectory of a group of young people from the Scottish suburbs. Everyone, in one way or another, is linked to heavy drug use and crime. And everyone, one way or another, pays for it. Thought of as a light film, it is more serious than it looks and addresses strong themes in an innovative and intelligent way. Contrary to popular belief, the film is not a comedy at all, nor is it a favorable view of the drug world. Quite the opposite. The movie is much more serious, there are truly tragic moments (such as the dying baby, almost symbolizing all innocents, suffering and indirect victims of the drug, by the hands of those who get involved and addicted to the drug) and a clear anti-drug message. drugs by showing how each young person suffers the consequences: years in prison, death ... Although drug use is clearly shown to be recreational in the movie, and the characters take pleasure in the drugs, the movie also shows how their lives (and those of people who love them) are ruined by addiction.
The characters are complex and intense. Each has its own characteristics and psychological profile. The dialogues are excellent and the use of a Scottish accent carried by Scottish actors gives it some authenticity and originality. Ewan McGregor got his springboard here for well-deserved stardom, and he might not have been the renowned actor he is today if he had not participated in this movie. With a controversial and unpleasant character, he is the star of the movie. Along with him, a number of actors who each had their own opportunity and talent to shine: Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald, Jonny Lee Miller ... there's room for each to stand out at the right times, and I believe that their careers have taken full advantage of this.
Technically, the movie is flawless. Without ever taking the focus off the storytelling or exaggerating putting style ahead of content, the film features groundbreaking features in photography, film angles and soundtrack, considered by many to be one of the most interesting in contemporary cinema with tracks. by Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, New Order and other rock names.
American Beauty (1999)
Controversial, bold, with a touch of unpleasant brilliance ... but I confess I was expecting something else.
I confess I expected more from this movie. Considered one of the 100 best films ever by more than one list written by more than one authority on the subject, he has won five Academy Awards from the Hollywood Academy (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Photography) and three Globes of Gold (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay). It's an enviable record for a movie that, when we look at it, doesn't seem to justify it ... In fact, just looking at the Oscar nominees for Best Movie in that far 2000s, I liked "The Insider" or "a lot more" The Green Mile "than this movie, which basically portrays the unfulfilled fantasies of a middle-aged, suburban middle-class man when
In fact, the American middle class is portrayed here in an almost dystopian way: a social group wrapped in huge paranoia about appearances and "looking good," obsessed with politically correct and socially acceptable, trying to keep secrets, taboos, prejudices and imperfections hidden through a beautiful house, a spotless lawn, a new car, a good tie. The patriarch of the family lives a crisis of middle age through the nostalgia of past and underused youth, to the point of feeling a sudden sexual attraction for a teenager. His wife, in turn, is the archetype of frivolity and emptiness, living a marriage of appearances and discounting everything through an extramarital affair. The daughter of this dysfunctional couple is the typical young rebel ... until she decides to plot with her boyfriend to kill her own father. And there is much more throughout the movie. Cartoon characters in a dystopian and uncomfortable portrait, especially for those who identify with the US suburban middle class (not my case at all).
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening and Thora Birch are the central trio of actors who bring life to a family that is beyond normal. Nevertheless, the three had excellent performances and in fact deserved to be awarded and recognized for that. Mena Suvari also looked good to me as the provocative nymphet. Sam Mendes ensured careful, bold and inspired driving. Having been the first film in which he participated as a director, it was certainly a milestone in his career and secured a future for him.
Provocative, bold, disturbing, is a movie where taboos are put in check and troublesome truths are exposed. It is not at all a family movie or to see with children and young people nearby.
Enemy of the State (1998)
A good movie, where man-hunting and conspiratorial paranoia take up most of the time and are the main course to serve the public.
This movie is a gigantic manhunt, where a liberal-minded lawyer is inadvertently caught in the middle of a conspiracy involving the murder of a congressman at a time when important secrecy laws were to be voted on. Unknowingly, these lawyer has strong evidences that compromises the killers and they will use every means to neutralize him.
That lawyer is probably the luckiest guy in the world, because he had people with him who had a lot more experience than him and who knew the danger he faced better than himself. In fact, the script is good, but the fact that the central character spends so much time in the dark about what's going on around him is hard to swallow. He spends half movie thinking that he is being targeted by a mob group because of a totally different situation. Also, 90% of the movie is pure cat and mouse game. Will Smith is good enough to appear credible in his character, but he can't compete with the charisma and strength of Gene Hackman, who shakes the movie from the moment he enters. Without him, this movie would not be so good. Jon Voight also did a good job, as a villain. The remaining cast is limited to what they have to do, which has not stopped many famous actors from agreeing to participate.
Technically, it's a regular movie. Tony Scott ensured a satisfactory direction, giving coherence and elegance to the film, ensuring a pleasant pace and no dead moments. Good photography, good sound and video effects (especially in action scenes), good special effects (when needed) and a discreet but decent soundtrack round out a movie full of qualities, though not particularly noticeable, or set apart from the panorama of movies involving persecution and state plots.
Just another sports comedy...
This film is a slapstick-like comedy that brings us a little-known "sport": dodgeball, a game that, for us in Europe, is more connoted with childhood and school than with the world of professional and federated sports. Here in Portugal it is called "Queimada" or "Jogo do Mata".
The script is based on the boundless rivalry between Peter La Fleur, the owner of a small gym, and White Goodman, the owner of a gym corporation, who opens yet another establishment, right outside the door of La Fleur's gym. Things get worse when La Fleur is truly in danger of losing its small gym to its direct competitor. To pay what they owe, they decide to participate in the National Dodgeball Championship, where Goodman is already registered.
This movie is nothing new or original. The exposed plot is similar in everything to dozens of other sports-themed films, where the good ones try to beat the bad guys within four lines, while the bad guys try to use all means, including cheating, to win. It's a markedly humorous movie, with jokes all the time ... some of which are really funny while others not so much. It is a style of humor that does not appeal to everyone, but it will appeal to those who already like this genre.
Ben Stiller is an actor with a lot of experience in this type of comedy, where he fits perfectly, and he is responsible for most of the jokes, with a strongly cartoon character and with touches of social criticism. I liked the work of the actor, he really steals attention for himself and not always (almost never) had anyone to shoulder with him. Vince Vaughn was up to the character and gave him a touch of honesty and sincerity, but is too serious to make him laugh. Christine Taylor is the girl in the movie, but it doesn't do much more than be a presumed future romantic pair of Vaughn's character. The rest of the cast gives the essential support and is funny when it has to be. In addition, we have small cameos from Lance Armstrong (it was not yet known how he truly won the Tour), Chuck Norris, David Hasselhoff and other well-known names.
This movie is funny ... it doesn't make us laugh until it hurts, because many of the jokes used are not particularly elegant, but entertain the weather quite well and do not disappoint us.
Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
A beautiful work of cinema that deserves to continue to be seen and appreciated today.
The Cold War was marked, at the European level, by the "Iron Curtain", which included the division of Germany into two halves: the capitalist West Germany and East Germany, in line with USSR. The division existed until the fall of the Berlin Wall and divided families, cultures, mentalities and ways of life. In this movie, a young man decides to pretend that East Germany still exists, months after reunification, to spare his mother, a fierce socialist who has just woken up from a coma.
We are facing a true masterpiece of cinema. It's one of those fun and clever movies we've seen once and we want to see it again as soon as it's over. However, its not exactly a comedy, or at least not in its entirety. The film has some drama and the story of that family, especially that mother, is truly harsh, difficult and paradigmatic of a changing world. That mother represents well the past, and the pains of those who lived under a dictatorship, with difficulties and bitterness to which she had to turn around, while her emancipated, independent, creative and irreverent children manage to embody the aspirations of a generation that is eager for change, tired of decades of forced immobility. Another thing that strikes the eye is the speed with which everything changes, the almost dramatic and rough way in which the GDR falls and becomes Westernized.
The cast is made up of illustrious strangers to me, who am not a connoisseur of German cinema, but I think they were up to the challenge and did very well with what they were asked to do. The director, Wolfgang Becker, has achieved here his greatest work as a filmmaker. On a technical level, I especially highlight the careful photography, good camera angles, the way the movie played with color, light and shadow, the clever way it used scraps of television news and original archive material. Nor can I fail to highlight the extraordinary original soundtrack, by Yann Tiersen, who had been notable, two years earlier, with "Amelie" soundtrack.
Fairly nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film (which he lost to an Afghan film), its hard to believe as it was not even nominated for the Oscar in the same category. Who can explain Hollywood, do it! But who needs prizes anyway? This film has achieved immortality for its merit and quality, while many of those who receive awards end up forgotten a few years later.
Courage Under Fire (1996)
It is a satisfying film, but without shine or charm, and that does not justify seeing a second time.
In this movie, a US Army officer, still disturbed by a friendly fire episode that starred in the Gulf War, has to investigate the events of another war episode in order to find out if a military woman is entitled to the Medal of Honor. But there are incongruities in witness reports and the investigation may reveal the worst of the military involved.
I confess I expected more from this movie. Great actors, an appealing script, everything perfect... but it's not surprising, something is missing. The script is good, but could be much better. The Gulf War is never properly exploited and conflict is only a reason for the events that follow. The rest is based on a constant crossover of testimonials about a single isolated war incident, where one soldier says one thing and another says something else entirely. It's not a bad recipe, but it tires and easily wears out. The action scenes are good, but do not justify a second viewing.
The cast has a number of well known names. Firstly, Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan in the lead roles. He is good when the lead requires presence, personality and charisma; she does not look very well in this movie. I think the character would not be the most suitable for these actress, which was a casting mistake. Matt Damon and Lou Diamond Phillips were fine.
Technically, the movie doesn't stand out. Good sound and special effects, especially in combat scenes, interesting costumes, like what we were expecting. A very discreet soundtrack... nothing more.
Patriot Games (1992)
Just another forgettable action movie from the Nineties.
It all starts with a vacation in London. A quiet US citizen, who happens to be a former CIA agent, is in the right place at the right time, successfully preventing the assassination of a British Queen's cousin by agents of an ultra-radical faction of the IRA. Wonderful, isn't it? But one of the terrorists who died in the failed attack is the brother of another one, who has been arrested but is released by his fellows, embarking on a revengeful journey against the American he holds responsible for the death of his little brother. To defend himself, and to defend his own family, the former CIA agent decides to leave his retirement, knocking on his former organization's door and asking to return to work.
Well, if this script summary sounds weird, that's because it is. And that is the biggest problem of this movie that even satisfies those who look for some action scenes. The film is not entirely bad but, in fact, screenwriters were not careful when writing and the details, when they're analyzed in detail, get to the point of absurdity. Since when can you, after ceasing to be a spy, simply ask to return and be immediately readmitted to service? Things are not that simple! And how could an US agent receive a decoration reserved for British citizens in an informal ceremony, in his own living room, from the hands of a sovereign's cousin? Absurd, a total protocol break! Then, there was a deliberate attempt to excuse the IRA and give a neutral, even sympathetic, picture of this organization that, in the past, was responsible for so many dead in real life.
Harrison Ford is the man in the movie. He is there at the right time, brilliantly foresees the dangers, avoids death by a close call and still gives the bad guys a hard punch. Nothing special. It's always been the kind of character Ford has done well and there are dozens of movies where this actor is essentially doing this. The same goes for Sean Bean, who is the antagonist, the crazy terrorist who becomes a loose cannon on the deck of the IRA. Even so, this actor is good and deserved to have received better material to work with. Anne Archer is the permanent damsel in distress and Thora Birch tried to make her character a woman-at-arms, but could not shine with such a poorly developed character and almost no visibility in the plot. James Fox does not seem to know exactly what he is doing in this movie, Samuel L. Jackson remained almost invisible and James Earl Jones almost merely played himself.
Technically, the movie is regular, with nothing to be said for the visual, sound or special effects used. It's within what we might expect in 1992. The soundtrack doesn't shine or stand out either. The focus was, entirely, on the action and fight scenes, shootings and the final sequence. The problem is that it's all so similar to other action movies that this movie, while entertaining and not disappointing who wants action, turns out to be totally forgettable, having virtually nothing to make it stand out in the amorphous immensity of action movies.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
A good Denzel, an acceptable Travolta, some action and a mediocre script.
It was with little expectation that I saw this movie, since I already guessed that, being a pure action movie, it would not be particularly remarkable. I didn't know it was a remake of an older movie, nor did I bother to see that movie because I didn't even find it.
The movie basically talks about a hostage situation inside a New York subway carriage. Nothing original, we've seen better things in other movies. There are dead, there are innocent victims, there are good doses of action for those looking for it, but there is no firm plot behind it. What we have are basic premises that lead to the situation that is happening. There are two characters who stand out (the cynical and ruthless kidnapper leader and the innocent subway traffic technician he insists on negotiating) who dominate the film, and everything else boils down to action, an attempt of permanent tension where everyone's lives are at stake. But the tension is so artificial that I never truly felt it because it was already guessed that all, or almost all, would save themselves in the end.
Denzel Washington and John Travolta bring the film's central characters to life, and their relationship is truly strong and can keep audiences interested in what's going on. Proof of this are the careful and interesting dialogues between both characters. Travolta, nonetheless, is an actor who does not work hard, leaving the hard work to Denzel. The rest of the actors are doing what they can, but the material given to them is small and bad. James Gandolfini, John Turturro and others are strongly affected and I doubt they have fond memories of this movie.
Technically, the movie is regular, not to say rather mediocre. From this negative scenario, however, there is a very decent soundtrack that goes against what we expect in an action movie, and an interesting cinematography, with good light and shadow, the faded colors at the expense of greater camera movement. Effects that would have accentuated the audience's sense of discomfort ... if they had not already fallen asleep with the boring, predictable and slow script that is presented.
Gossip Girl (2007)
Despite the good work of the actors and the crew, it is a futile series aimed primarily at what money can buy.
I saw this series when I was about twenty years old. At the time, it didn't catch my attention, but I was kind of pushed by a girlfriend I had at the time, who really liked this series. To be honest, even today it is not a series that catches my eye. It has too futile to do so: the life, the loves and the scandals of rich New York youth. Cross loves, petty hatreds fueled by absurdly futile matters, stylish clothes and luxurious surroundings... this series is not to be taken seriously.
The characters are underdeveloped, as if they were made of cardboard. The script essentially focuses on superfluous issues, which are so blistered that they seem like existential dramas, much to the taste of a well-heeled youth who has never struggled for anything in this life. Those kind of young people with money but no culture, and who lack the cradle, that is, a family where to receive the education and culture that money cannot yet afford. For the show's audience, the expensive, rattling dresses, limousines and high-rise coverages are enough. This is the portrait of the successful American elite.
The cast is mostly made up of young actors, and is led by Blake Livelly, Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick. Despite the youth and the futility of the series itself, I think the cast was up to it and we have promising actors here, who can be used in the future on more serious and deep roles.
Call me an elitist, but I haven't seen an elite in this series. For me, there is no money to replace culture, the cradle of a traditional family, even without great wealth. So this series is not much to my liking. It is geared toward a value system I don't share. Nevertheless, I recognize in this series the good work of the actors and production, although I find the series as a whole extremely futile.
Downton Abbey (2010)
It will be dificult to do better than this.
What can i say? Since I saw the first season I've been an unconditional fan of Downton Abbey. I think it's one of the most historically accurate and refined series of recent years.
Over the course of six seasons, we have been following the life and adventures of the Crawley family, which has lived in Downton Abbey for generations. We also follow the lives of house servants, with all their quarrels, ambitions to rise in life, and leave behind service in the big house. And it is rare to find a series with as much respect and appreciation for historical rigor as it has shown over the six seasons. An enormous effort has been made to make real the historical period in which everything happens, which does not exceed fifteen years (1912-1926). A short time span between the six to seven years the show aired, which allowed the cast's natural aging to dispense with make-up gimmicks to forge the characters' aging.
The script, created and written by Julian Fellowes, is interesting and covers well hot topics from that historical period: the sinking of the Titanic, the First World War, the political turn of Russia, the rise of Nazism, the emancipation of women, the loss of influence of aristocratic families etc. We can really see how all this has changed society, political life, mentality. We felt transported to that time to see how this noble family had a way of life threatened with extinction by the rapid advancement of time. Serious themes, in fact, but lightly approached and with room for moments of perfectly British humor, in charge of strong characters like Violet, who is against everything modern, and Mrs. Pattmore, always with a sharp tongue. There are no villains here ... despite some classic antagonists appearing in certain seasons (such as Bates's ex-wife) the one who comes closest to a villain is first footman Thomas Barrow, although last season be a true redemption for the character. In addition to it, we have some situations where generally good or neutral characters antagonize each other. This is the case of the Crawley sisters, where rivalry and mutual grudge prevail, while blood ties unite them, or Violet and Isobel, who cherish mutual love and hatred.
The cast is excellent and congratulations. Maggie Smith, a veteran, never disappoints us by impersonating the perfect Victorian lady. Hugh Bonneville was perfect in the role of Robert. Laura Carmichael and Michelle Dockery are amazing in the roles of the Crawley sisters. Jim Carter is the perfect butler and makes a great pair with Phyllis Logan. A word of appreciation, too, for Elizabeth McGovern, Jessica Findlay, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Robert James-Collier, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Penelope Wilton, Kevin Doyle, Siobhan Finneran, Dan Stevens, Lily James, Jeremy Swift, Sue Johnston and Zoe Boyle.
With sleek production and smooth photography, magnificent scenery (Highclere Castle's choice was very wise and made the house an additional character to the plot, which proves that I am right when advocating location shooting rather than abusive use of the green screen Downton Abbey is a true time machine. Grand, magnificent, it is certainly one of the best period television series of this decade.
The Pelican Brief (1993)
A regular conspiracy in a movie where the script's logic flaws are all too obvious.
This is yet another movie involving the US government and far-fetched conspiracy theories. This time, everything revolves around an environmental issue.
The plot is simple, but far-fetched enough to confuse the most inattentive audience: After two US Supreme Court judges are mysteriously murdered, Darbie Shaw, a law student, realizes that there should be some connection between the two judges and that they should both have been killed because of a lawsuit in which both participated. From then on, she goes ahead with a theory in a file that will eventually reach the CIA, leading to a series of murders and putting Shaw herself in danger of life. To prevent everything from being drowned out by the government, she contacts Gray Grantham, a journalist investigating the case.
Personally, I think one of the biggest shortcomings of this movie is its script: Based on a book I've never read, the movie takes too long to develop and only halfway through we find out what mysterious theory Shaw wrote and why so many people seem to be willing to kill her. That is, we spend the initial half of the movie watching people die or flee so they don't die without us knowing why. The next half of the movie is, however, much less interesting. In addition, there are issues of lack of logic in some details, which the film deftly ignores, but our mind unveils as we begin to think about it.
Julia Roberts is a good actress, but I don't know if she will have fond memories of this movie, where she played a damsel in distress and in need of salvation by a Denzel Washington always ready to face the danger. Nonetheless, the two actors worked well enough and established good chemistry in front of the camera. The rest of the cast doesn't stand out much ... except maybe Tony Goldwyn and Sam Shepard, who were great additions to the cast.
Doctor Dolittle (1998)
If you forget some good jokes, it's a pretty poor movie.
There are some movies that may have a poor history but make up for being fun and making us laugh. This is one of them. It tells the story of John Dolittle, a doctor who has been talking to animals since he was a child. But thanks to his parents' efforts, he has forgotten this gift as he grows up ... until suddenly, for no apparent reason, he begins to hear animals talk and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown over it.
Sound improbable? In fact, it is ... if I had such a gift, I certainly would not suddenly discover it after years and years without using it. The movie does not explain how Dolittle managed to go years without hearing animals and suddenly begin to hear them so clearly. It is a sudden and unbelievable change. However, the whole plot of the movie is weak. There is truly no story to tell ... what we have here is a basic script skeleton that only serves as the basis for a succession of jokes presented to us by Eddie Murphy and all the animals with whom he plays. The humor is based on dialogues, speech and situations involving animals, to the point that they become the real protagonists and Murphy loses relevance in the film. But trying to see this movie from the logical side means taking all the fun out of it. In fact, we enjoy the movie better if we tolerate the faults of the poor and poor script and simply get carried away by what we are seeing and enjoying the jokes.
Eddie Murphy, with this movie and others that followed, probably lived his golden age as an actor. He got money, fame, popularity, good deals ... but in fact he never shows value as an actor. Not because he doesn't have it - he showed it in other movies - but because he had so little to do in this movie! Murphy does little while he is Dolittle (curious!). Of the rest of the cast it is better not to speak. The voice actors (notably Norm MacDonald and Chris Rock) shone more brightly than the entire human cast.
Technically, the movie is quite regular. Not excellent and having very poor visual and sound effects. The soundtrack is virtually non-existent and even the opening and ending themes are uninteresting.
A good movie, colorful and very cheerful.
I don't really like to see the sequels before I saw the movie that gave rise to them, but this movie aired on television today and I decided to see it. To write this review I first had to read something about the first movie, which I haven't seen yet but will see. So I won't say if this movie fits in well with the movie that precedes it ... maybe later I have a clearer idea. I will look only at this movie.
The script is interesting: In the first movie, after an accident, a weird machine starts making live food to the point where the city needs to be evacuated. Its inventor, Flint Lockwood, eventually destroys the machine, saves the world, and is eventually called to work with Chester V, a world famous scientist he idolizes. In this movie, however, everyone finds that the island is still populated with animals made of food, the machine is still active and needs to be turned off. However, as Flint gets closer to his idol, he becomes detached from his friends and unknowingly enters a sinister and mysterious scheme set up by Chester V, which is not quite as innocent as it seems.
Okay ... I confess this movie sounds surrealistic. Animals made from food and live food is something we don't see every day and it sounds pretty childish and boring for adults. It was one of the reasons why the movie didn't catch my eye when it circulated in theaters. I think I made a mistake. The film is not childish, and has a lot of material that will please or at least entertain a more adult audience that accompanies children to the cinema. The plot involves some more adult themes, such as betrayal and falsehood, the importance of friendships and the role of parents in the lives of their children, even suggests a romance between the protagonist and his best friend. There is also an environmental message implicit in the film. The characters are interesting and appealing, the villain oscillates between the sinister and the hilarious ...
Technically, there is little to say. The work of the voice actors is impeccable, as expected, and the quality of the animation is superb, the state of the art today. Vivid, colorful, vibrant and imaginative, this film is a visual spectacle. Of course, there are strong appeals to sentimentality and the construction of animals has been designed for it. The soundtrack also sounds pretty good, with one or two songs that can be easily heard.
Far from perfect or remarkable, this is a good animated movie. Not being too childish, it has enough material to please children, adults and teenagers. I don't waste the time watching this movie, even though I've seen it a lot better.
Child of God (2013)
This movie is definitely not for me.
This is a movie that was hard to see. In fact, James Franco, the director, was certainly aware that the film is unpleasant and would be the target of harsh criticism. In fact, the movie can truly shock the most sensitive viewer and is totally inadvisable for those under 18 (in fact, even some more easily impressionable adults should avoid this movie).
Ok, I recognize: this movie is sick. Far from being a movie for everyone, it is a movie for very few. The script goes something like this: a rude lumberjack from rural America, whose father committed suicide and whose mother disappeared, has just seen his house auctioned off and his rude character and inability to discern right from wrong make him a outlawed, hated by all and avoided by all. Violence and primitive instincts arise in a man who has left society and will devote himself wholly to his most basic desires, including necrophilia, the unhealthy sexual activity he will engage in to the point of killing.
Firstly, we should congratulate Franco and Scott Haze, who are the director / screenwriter and the lead actor. Haze played a nasty and brutal character very intensely and earnestly. Franco was able to direct his actors and give them the material needed for their work. The film has an intense and lively soundtrack, but a very slow pace. Technically, I appreciated the use of handheld cameras for filming to give the movie an even more disturbing tone. But despite the positive features (central actor performance, good soundtrack, good technical aspects, etc.), this movie is not really for me. I hated it.
Fight Club (1999)
David Fincher's masterpiece (so far): Not being perfect and having credibility issues, it entertains and surprises the audience.
This is one of those movies that promises a lot less than it offers, making it a pleasant surprise. Personally, I had low expectations when I saw this movie, but in fact I had read virtually nothing about it before I saw it.
The ingenious script is based on the strange and somewhat masochistic friendship between two very different men. One is very shy and the other very rebellious and iconoclastic. Both create a discreet, strict-rule fight club that evolves into a sort of secret society of anarchist contours. The story has a lot of twists and turns, surprising us, catching our attention. However, its not a perfect movie and there are really logical gaps and credibility issues in the story, not to mention that, at some point, the audience no longer really knows what is true in everything they saw. I believe this is intentional, and I recognize that its a feature that has its charm, but it may disappoint some people (personally I dealt with it reasonably well).
A decidedly good point in this movie is the gigantic performances of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Both are great actors, when they have space and material to evolve, and that's what happened here. Both actors were brilliant and developed throughout the film a bizarrely perfect partnership, with a touch of sadism, repressed homosexuality and predatory instinct. David Fincher, the director, also deserves congratulations, as he's the hand that guides everything and manages, with this film, to present to the world what (so far) is the masterpiece of his career as a film director.
Technically, the movie is quite good. The shadowy cinematography and the use of high contrast between light and dark were well used features, and the shooting and framing angles are very clever. The soundtrack, discreetly, also helped to accentuate the film's surrealism at the right times. Of course, its an action movie about an underground fighting club, so there are plenty of scenes of gratuitous violence, some of them quite brutal, as well as nudity and dialogues loaded with insults and profanity. So, I leave my warning to parents: its not a children's movie at all, and even teenagers should only watch it with great caution as its really a violent movie.
Paradigmatic, entertains well but has several weaknesses.
This is the typical disaster movie, where something tragic happens and a group of people, led by an occasional hero, try to save their lives. This time, the disaster strikes inside one of several road tunnels that provide Manhattan's mainland connections. When a serious collision happens, the ends give way, trapping anyone in the middle. There are toxic substances, fire and smoke, and air is scarce for survivors. It is under these circumstances that former firefighter Kit Latura decides to intervene and save the survivors.
The movie takes advantage of the danger to capture our attention. As with any disaster movie (I am remembering "Poseidon", for example), the small group of survivors, who early catches our sympathy, dwindles as obstacles push them to their deaths or heroic sacrifices. This is good, but predictable, like the whole plot. The characters are sketches and were never, in fact, developed. The dramatic moments are clearly rehearsed and the actors do not work hard, except for Sylvester Stallone and Amy Brenneman, who gave us good performances in their respective characters. I especially enjoyed feeling that Stallone sought to humanize and make his character more vulnerable. Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya and Jay O. Sanders also performed well, on supporting characters.
Overall, this movie has two strengths. The first is its ability to entertain the public and not fall into the doldrums, avoiding dead moments and giving action and danger to those who see it. The second is the good deal of visual, special and sound effects that give us an audiovisual show. That's right, though a lot has evolved, but the fact is that this movie has aged well compared to others from the same era.
Dante's Peak (1997)
One of the best disaster movies of the late Nineties.
Disaster movies can be a fun way to spend some time idle, although most are not particularly cinematically remarkable. This movie fits that description well. The action takes place in a small rural village that has just been considered a great place to live in the US, but lives in the shadow of a sleeping volcano. What no one knows is that this volcano appears to be in full swing and threatens to explode.
The movie quickly creates tension among the audience, and it serves well to grab our attention. I am not the best person to judge the script's ability to be true to the scientific facts underlying a volcanic eruption, I just accept what I saw tacitly, but I admit the possibility the film is not very true to science. The initial half is slower and the action is concentrated on the final half, which is basically a race to escape the volcano. There are some loose ends and inconsistent details, like that scene where a girl, who doesn't even reach the car's pedals, can drive off in a 4-4 jeep.
Pierce Brosnan was convincing in his starring role, while Linda Hamilton made an effort but is always in his shadow. Either way, they are the ones who leverage the movie. The volcano, as it happens in such cases, is almost a character in its own right. Technically, the film was entitled to the best sound and special effects that existed in 1997... but the quick advances in film make it look old-fashioned to many today. Personally, I liked what I saw.
It's not an excellent movie and it's far from being the life movie of anyone involved, it has a dubious script and unbelievable scenes where (as always happens in these movies) some characters escapes from death by a hair. But it's still one of the best disaster movies of the late 1990s, it's fun and entertains the public well.
7 Pecados Rurais (2013)
It's a bad movie, but we already knew what we were going to see.
What can I say about this movie? For an ordinary movie fan, its surely a movie to forget. Its tailored to the humorous taste of João Paulo Rodrigues and Pedro Alves, and is the mirror of Portuguese popular comedy, full of profanity and implied sexual allusions.
João Paulo Rodrigues and Pedro Alves are comedians who have made their way in the Portuguese comedy scene through "stand-up" and improv joke. Its a kind of humor that pleases the ordinary people but has no refinement whatsoever and is, therefore, subject to criticism from the most demanding and educated audiences. Television consecrated them through several shows and ultimately gave them their own TV show, the "Telerural", where the two humorists already presented the universe that this film develops: a small village in the rural North of Portugal called Curral de Moinas, where Quim and Zé live. Its a universe where all the stereotypes about the Portuguese countryside are carried to an extreme, mixing a lot of allusions to sexuality, religion, sport, political criticism and others.
From the very beginning, the movie makes clear what kind of humor is going to be presented, and anyone who has seen an episode of Telerural knows it in advance. In fact, this movie has already been made with their audience in mind. Of course it was a success! Both comedians were very popular thanks to his TV show and a large legion of admirers joined this film, making it the most viewed Portuguese film of year 2013. There was no way to be otherwise. It was not thanks to its quality that this movie was seen, but thanks to the popularity of the two actors involved.
In fact, the movie has no quality. Its virtually a very large version of a Telerural episode, and has television movie features. The poor script is only a basis for an unbroken succession of dubious jokes. The audience that went to see this movie wants to laugh, wants to see what they saw on TV, and that's what the movie is concerned with. There is no concern in presenting a compelling or appealing plot. Everything in this movie smells amateurish, including the extras and sets.
The only thing that stands out for the positive is the performance of the two actors: João Paulo Rodrigues and Pedro Alves are chameleons, capable of incorporating several characters. In this movie, they didn't show their full potential (in some episodes of Telerural they did better than in this movie), but their ability to represent several distinct characters in the same movie is nonetheless positive. Even if we hate the kind of comedy they do.