marți, 30 aprilie 2019

Mary Poppins Returns, based on the stories by PL Travers - Eight out of 10

Mary Poppins Returns, based on the stories by PL Travers
Eight out of 10

On many levels, this is an accomplished motion picture.

After all, it has been nominated for no less than four Oscars, albeit the Academy has often been wrong.
However, if we add Golden Globes, BAFTA and so many other respectable nominations and awards, then we arrive at the conclusion that this is well worth watching.

Unless, of course, you do not enjoy this kind of children fantasy movie, which for the undersigned seems similar to a cartoon…or an Avengers feature.
The acting is flawless and that is a sure thing, undebatable.

To what purpose?
Well, it could be argued that it is not for adults…even if again, if we look at how people who are of age vote – Trump, Salvini and the like – we could think that this film is too complicated for them anyway.

There is a tragic side to it all, apart from the dazzling choreography, the music, the flying and the charming Mary Poppins.
The Banks family are about to be evacuated, for they have not paid the mortgage to their house.

The contract stipulates that after a period, the bank would repossess the house and they have to abandon it.
Only they know that they have shares in the bank and they can present them and thus save the day.

The vicious Wilkins aka the Academy Award Winner – for the much more serious the King’s Speech – Colin Firth is the head of the bank ever since the kinder manager – aka Dustin Hoffman had retired.

The villain can check in the register and see that the family does have rights, but he denies them.
Cutting the page from the register annihilates any proof and therefore we have tension and conflict in the feature.

There is for most critics a wonderful alternation between dancing, music and the drama of the eviction unfolding.
Facing destitution and poverty is terrible, even when Michael Banks appears to be clam and in control.

We know that good will win in the end…there is no need for a spoiler alert here, is it?
Thus, it all depends on the old Milton statement:

‘The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven’

Therefore, you either appreciate the film – The Telegraph rated it 100 out of 100, The Hollywood Reporter 90 out of 100, Chicago Sun-Times with 88 out of 100, USA Today 75 – or think it rather silly.
There is an old admiral with a cannon, firing it to let you know the time of day…

luni, 29 aprilie 2019

Living in Oblivion, written and directed by Tom DiCillo - 9.8 out of 10

Living in Oblivion, written and directed by Tom DiCillo
9.8 out of 10

Living in Oblivion will not be forgotten.
We find it on The New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list

It is a film about filmmaking.
If Robert Altman's The Player looked behind the scenes, at the producers, the Players that 'tell you what is' to use the language of Chili Palmer from Get Shorty, Living in Oblivion centers on those who work on the set.
The main character is Nick Reve, portrayed by the fabulous Steve Buscemi, the director of an independent, low budget film.

He is so anxious, often overwhelmed by production costs and problems that he has nightmares, the one in the beginning having hilarious, if often sad, undertones.
Everything goes wrong on the set, for when a light bulb does not explode, a group of rap loving people arrive near the crew and their music blasts so loud that it spoils the sound recording.

If the lens of the camera is not out of focus, then the microphone has a malfunction, when this does not happen, one of the actresses forgets her line.
She is older and her replica has 'I have no memory of that whatsoever' included and this makes one of the staff joke on the fact that the artist went blank.

Which makes sense, for they are forced to repeat the same words over and over again.
The star of the low budget motion picture is Nicole Springer, played by the marvelous Catherine Keener,  a performer who has had a shower scene in a Richard Gere film.

The fictional character, not the real artist.
Some of the crew appreciate her former appearance, while others choose to dismiss and criticize it, alas, at one moment within her hearing.

Interwoven in the plot we have the feelings of the director for his star, which he has never brought into the open, because he ' has not wanted his love to interfere with their professional relationship'.
As the director is also the writer of the film, he had inserted that line into his movie.

Meanwhile, he has a rehearsal in the...bathroom.
He talks to himself in front of the mirror, repeating the invitation for a date aka meal he would eventually make.

Meanwhile, the leading lady has a one night stand with the rather pompous, infatuated - perhaps the paradigm of the male star- Chad Palomino aka the very good James Le Gros.
The now famous and acclaimed Peter Dinklage has a small role as Tito - the star keeps calling him Toto, with probable reference to the Wizard of Oz, while the director makes a mistake speaking of 'short' fuse - a short man who enters a dream.
The actor would not laugh at the indication of the director and would reveal that he is furious and has no idea why a midget has to be in this dream.

For Tito says:
'Nobody dreams about a midget! Not even midgets have a midget in their dream! So tell me, why do you need one in yours? You know what?
I quit'

And then he walks off the set.
At this point, it seems All Is Lost - like in that Robert Redford movie.

For the director has his own breakdown.
There had just been a terrible row, when the leading actress overheard the discussion between Nick and the malevolent, vicious Chad.
The latter not only tells the secret of the night before, which his sex partner had asked him to keep, but in Trump-like manner, he boasts about him being the one who had to explain it is just for this one time and so on...

Arrogant, self absorbed, narcissistic, just like the idiot in the White House, but many degrees less loathsome.
Nicole, once back on the set, suggests that they should improvise.

Anyway, before this moment, Chad had acted with obnoxious disregard for all th crew.
He has kept changing angles, positions, to the desperation of all concerned.

We can read in Adventures in the Screen Trade, by the late, now divine William Goldman, that real actors can be just as terrible.
Two examples: Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.

When they improvise, the actress changes her lines and instead of expressing the admiration and love from the text - which the writer-director feels for her in real life - tells about her hatred and disgust.

Living in Oblivion is a spectacular film that will be remembered for ever.

A Dark Place aka Steel Country by Brendan Higgins - 8.3 out of 10

A Dark Place aka Steel Country by Brendan Higgins
8.3 out of 10

Although not coming to a theater near you soon, A Dark Place is worth watching.
And it might be in the HBO program.

We had it on Cinemax, part of HBO, last night.
From the opening scenes, the setting of the motion picture is disturbing.

Even if we are so far from America that we do not join the exaggerated caravans on the border, the idea of Trump still affects us.
We once dreamed of the American model.

The ideal that the best system in the world represented brought solace.
To know that there is a place where everything works, if not perfectly, at least so much better, can bring comfort.

With Trump, that dream is shattered.
Even the American democracy can put a clown in the highest office.

What can we except then?
How aggravated can we be at the gangster that leads our land, changing laws to escape jail?

When the film starts we see quite a few Trump- Pence banners.
This explains to this cinephile what happens, notwithstanding the fact that there are monsters out of MAGA territory.

Andrew Scott is impressive in the leading role, that of Donald Devlin.
He works at the sanitation department and is what we still call here a garbage man, despite of the insulting undertone.

It would change and very soon, we would progress and reach the American level.
Electing our own 'Orange Sphincter' in the words of Bill Maher.

When a child dies, the sheriff, the doctor declare that he had drowned.
But the hero thinks otherwise.

Although in simple, traditional intelligence terms he is not superbly gifted, the protagonist is still a Super Hero.
Indeed, this film is remarkable at least at this level:

It demonstrates that far from being condescending, even treating people with a challenge as our equals and feeling generous about it is most often wrong.
For they very often are much more gifted.

Emotional Intelligence is much more important than old fashioned IQ.
And by the way, women are prone to have much higher EQ than men.

This is not sexist,it is the reverse...recognizing the superiority of the sex that has been and still is discriminated in most places around the world.

Donald has to face the sheriff, who would abuse him.
He looks into the garbage of the suspect for clues.

There are mistakes, that is sine qua non.
And the amateur detective has to suffer for his investigation.

He nearly dies and is helped at the last moment by Donna, his colleague.But he would prove just as good as any of the more famous private eyes t have adorned the big or small screen, Hercules Poirot, Holmes & Watson.

Speaking of the last two, A Dark Place is a much brighter prospect as a film to watch than the failed super production that has had so many stars and possibly one hundred times more money dedicated to it.

duminică, 28 aprilie 2019

The Age of Adaline - 8 out of 10

The Age of Adaline
8 out of 10

The idea of eternal youth is not new.
It is also fascinating.

Moreover, it seems to be...feasible!
Not just in this fiction.

Multiple recent studies and the ever increasing life expectancy reveal that we can live longer and in much better shape.
We have the inhabitants of Okinawa and some other blessed places to follow.

Ikigai is one of the rules.
The diet, eating less is another secret.

On the island of Okinawa, they rise from the table when they are just 70% full or thereabouts.
No junk food either.

In short, there are many demonstrated solutions to this issue and in the future, if there is a planet left, people will live longer and longer.
Assuming they will not perpetuate the same massive mistakes, pollute and ignore th signs.

In The Age of Adaline, the protagonist finds Eternal Youth through different means.
After an accident, her car plunges into the river.

The temperature drops to the extreme point needed to make the audience believe this scenario.
Then it just happens that a thunder delivers the outstanding, necessary jolt that would work just like an emergency rescue operation.

After this, the story is interesting and sometimes amusing.
Adaline is recognized in a hotel by a friend who cannot believe her looks...

Oh, I take care of myself 
You look amazing ...your face!
It is just this Brazilian cream I am using

Probably words to that effect.

Then she is stopped by a traffic policeman.
When he looks at the age written in the driving license, he has questions...

The year when you were born..
I will have to keep this and you can come an pick it up...
Tomorrow morning?
With your birth certificate.

Obviously, the officer could not believe she was the person mentioned in the document.
Judging from the way she looks.

There are other rewards in the film.
However, the undersigned was not too happy with the actress in the leading role.

Evidently, on top of the preposterous premise that an accident, then the thunderbolt would create a new type of Frankenstein, albeit a charming, attractive one who not just follows the Queen lyrics...

" Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?"

The Age of Adaline is watchable, although not phenomenal.

sâmbătă, 27 aprilie 2019

Los Olvidados aka The Young and the Damned, written and directed by Luis Bunuel - 8.8 out of 10

Los Olvidados aka The Young and the Damned, written and directed by Luis Bunuel
8.8 out of 10

You can find this classic motion picture on The New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies

The film has been nominated and won many important trophies, including one at the most relevant cinematic  competion, at The Cannes Film Festival of 1951", where Luis Bunuel has won The Best Director award.

The group of youngsters that are at the center of this black and white feature are indeed The Yound and The Damned.
They live in poverty, or arguably worse, in destitution.

Forced to find a way to survive, some of them resort to crime.
Even violence is used, when there is no other way.

Getting used with aggression, the ringleader even uses force gratuitously.
Or perhaps to signal that he is the top dog and all the others need to be aware and respectful.

The gang has no qualms about stealing, attacking if need be, a blind old man.
Granted, in this adverse, hostile environment, in a slum of Mexico City, the old man is not exactly a saint either.

Indeed, he is so aggressive, vicious and abusive to his protégé that instead of feeling sorry for him, the audience gradually learns to loath the man.
At one moment, the blind seems to be so perverted that he tries to take advantage of a girl who might not even be ten years old.

There is some hope in this quagmire.
One of the boys is wrongfully sent to a farm, where the facility operates as a correction center.

He is enraged by the injustice and spoils some eggs which are collected on the premises.
When the other juvenile delinquents protest and call the supervisor, he takes a bat and kills two poor chicken.

The manager of the facility is however a skilled operator, Emotionally Intelligent and deals with calm, kindness and extreme efficiency with the boy.
He asks if he feels locked and furious with the rest and without the means to take out his vengeance on the people, he has decided to kill the hens.
Surprised to find the adult has such access to the workings of his mind, the boy is impressed.

When the man gives him fifty pesos to buy cigarettes, the boy is proud and feels appreciated and loves the fact that he is trusted to get outside the gates.
Alas, out there, he meets with the killer who is very worried that his murder would be punished.

The older, vicious young man threatens the boy and then takes the fifty pesos and runs away.
Alas, violence, oppression and torment are the order of the day.

The characters have little hope of escaping from squalor.
Adults use children to operate machines at the fair and they generally abuse the younger ones.

The Young and the Damned is a very sad,  often depressing movie.