Tuesday, 10 November 2020

What to watch? The ''Great 20s Film list'' in COVID-19 times - 1) Winter's Bone

 Hello everyone! Thank you all for your personal messages asking us to get back onto Red Curtain Cinema. It is humbling and beautiful to see that after all these years, we still get messages of support around our blog. Even if we wished to write every single day, it has been definitely difficult - we do work besides watching films-  but here we are now! 

 As the world is still stuck with COVID-19 and we are being asked to stay at home, films are more important than ever. Not only can they be incredible vehicles to take us to far away lands and magical worlds but they can reveal brutal social realities and help us understand better the world we are living in. 

The power of Cinema lies in creating these emotional connections with characters - fictitious or not - going through a journey at a certain time and quite often, acting as mirrors of ourselves. Sometimes we feel so related to the characters that they could be representing us or a fantasy of what we want to be or achieve. Cinema is an emotional journey and certainly a powerful one. 

With that in mind, in honour of this pitiful and awful 2020, we pulled together a list of fantastic films worth watching while at home - ''The Great 20s Film List''. This is the first one on our list and it is brilliant:

          I) WINTER'S BONE (2010) by Debra Granik

This was the film that brought Jennifer Lawrence under the Hollywood spotlight with this gripping independent feature brilliantly directed by Debra Granik. She portrays a fatherless young woman living in low-income rural Missouri with caring responsibilities over her two young siblings. As her family faces eviction, she needs to find her father who was released from prison to find a solution to their dramatic situation. 

Not only we haven't heard of this film before but we were also surprised that this film doesn't appear in many 'Best Films of the 2010s' list. Filmed with natural light and quite a raw photography in most daylight scenes, it is a brutal testimony of the reality of many low-income families in rural America. With a documentary touch, Debra Granik takes us to Ree's (a fantastic Jennifer Lawrence) tough reality but whose inner strenght and determination for a better future for her family brings light into so much darkness. 

As it is quite difficult finding mainstream films directed by Women artists,  this one is a must on your list. We need to put great Women directors as Debra Granik under the spotlight as they deserve recognition as other great male directors. Interestingly, most of the lead characters in this film are women and they are the ones who keep chaotic homes in order. They are the ones who decide who their junkie or criminal husbands should speak to, they take care of the children, they take care of their rural gardens and animals. They are the ones who are the key to Ree's final resolution. A brilliant film!  




Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Motherless Brooklyn (4/5)

A solid comeback from Edward Norton both as lead Actor and Director in a 1950s neo-noir film in a conflicted New York where corruption and racism dominates the streets.

Edward Norton's great comeback after being far away from the big screen for a few years is a delightful homage to the 'film noir' genre where mystery and crime are at the heart of the story. Supported by a fantastic cinematography, the 1950s New York shows its dark soul with black alleys, dark corners and threatening figures that walk around like ghosts ready to attack the few sparks of resistance against its embedded racism and corruption. 

The key pillar which makes this film unusual is the complexity of its screenplay: mixing real-events where New York City was looking to eradicate poor black community neighborhoods and the following local resistance (with the legendary Jane Jacobs at its head), and a classic crime mystery which will lead Edward Norton's character into the dark corridors of power where political decisions have only the face of power and greed. Amidst all this, a quite unusual lead character who suffers a condition that brings a comical but also a dramatic tone to the overall portrait. 
The fantastic cast along with the very good soundtrack (led by the magistral Jazz musician Wynson Marsalis) makes the complex script shine, even if the length of the film and the different clues of the mystery plot do not seem to intertwine quite clearly. Overall, a good watch. 


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Joker (4/5)

A dark and thought-provoking story-telling on the origins of one of DC's darkest supervillains. Get ready, you are going for an unsettling ride that will caress your darkest thoughts.

Joaquin Phoenix is the Joker. The physical and mental metamorphosis of this character starts immediately in the first scene of a film that will constantly flirt between a politically incorrect morale and a liberal apologetic analysis of someone's transformation into a popular anarchist symbol. The heart of this film is this 44 year old actor, clearly the performance of a lifetime, who is able to lead a quite weak script but whose performance makes this major flaw go unnoticed. He makes us explore a plethora of feelings with great intensity, from feeling pity to be afraid of him, that we cannot remember last time we were so blown away by a performance of this level. 

 Todd Philips takes us into the darkest streets of Gotham City even though this could be in any large city where individualism, selfishness and anger is at its paroxysm. Gotham City becomes a reflection of the turbulent times of the 21st century (particularly in the US) with Government budget cuts, high-homicide rates, strong social inequalities and especially, an angry society. Despite quite cliche scenes and predictable outcomes,  the wonderful score by Icelandic Hildur Ingveldar Guðnadóttir as well as the fantastic photography privileging faded colours and shaky shots make the film an actual bumpy ride! 

This original re-imagination of how the Joker became who he is will set a new benchmark for Marvel and DC studios. Maybe the time will come for Supervillains taking the throne from Marvel superheroes denouncing a capitalist, egocentric and individualist society that prefers to ignore people asking for help helping to generate monsters that do not only feel self-pit but also who wants to watch the whole world burn. 

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