Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best films of THIS YEAR!

The 2014 chapter ends, another one begins. Really hard to chose the best films of 2014. There are many pearls out there that we haven't seen still (in such case, let us know!). However we couldn't hold the impulse of sharing with you the greatest films of this year. We dare you to share with us your Top 10, let the camera roll! 

10) Guardians of the Galaxy
 Why? Because it became a surprise to everyone: a Marvel-product with unknown superheroes, whose story is privileged over the action sequences giving more strength to the story and personality to the characters. 
 9) Still the water

 Why? Because of its visual poetry, sensitivity and authenticity. A film that reminds us of the influence of Japanese Cinema even today in Western films.

8)What we do in the Shadows

Why? Because the concept is original (a documentary filming the daily lives of a vampire family), it is a very funny film and one of the rare pearls coming from New Zealand!

7) Pride
Why? Because it is the true story of an unlikely alliance between Miners and Gays and Lesbians against the Thatcher reforms in the 1980s.

6) The Congress
Why? Because of the huge talent of Ari Folman by using different cinematographic techniques (real actors and animation) to tell a dramatic story about an actress who discovers that the only way to succeed in this competitive world is to follow the most crazy dreams of people.

5)The Wolf of Wall Street 
 Why?  Because it is the return of Martin Scorsese with his provocative and daring touch. The grotesque and the limitless life of most successful people in Wall Street is both surreal and realist at the same time.

4) The Dallas Buyers Club
Why? Because McConaughey and Leto are incredible and they are both able to break your heart with this story of peole and their daily struggles with HIV.

3) Interstellar
Why? Because this is our "2001: The Space Odyssey" and enhanced so many philosophical and scientific analyses that gave this film a complexity forgotten in movies. 

2) Her
Why? Because it is a very touching film led by the great Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johanson. We live and feel intensively this bizarre love story. 

Why? Because it is, by far , one of the best movies of the last 10 years. An authentic story of a young man going through different obstacles to keep on doing what we all do: to live our lives.

The Interview (3/5, Regular)

If you like James Franco and Seth Rogen, you will like The Interview.The public controversy around the hacking of Sony (and the decision of Columbia Pictures for not releasing the movie) gave, probably, one of the best movie promotions ever in the cinema history.

Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a successful celebrity who hosts the talk show Skylark Tonight, supported by producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). They soon realise that North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) is a huge fan of Skylark's show and an eventual interview with him would be a smashing hit. Their wish is granted by Kim Jong-Un and a journey in the communist regime is coming. However, the CIA wants these showmen to do what the USA dreamed of doing since 1953: to bring down the regime. Will they ever be able to murder one of the most powerful man in the world? 

Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This is the end), the film adopts a satirical tone with a lot of parody to the espionage genre and a noticeable critique to the USA and North Korea. Everyone is stupid; everyone thinks about sex and drugs a life of grotesque grandeur where the overconsumption of nearly EVERYTHING is a must. If you accept the tone, you will laugh. If you are bored with easy jokes and a foreseeable script, forget this movie. 

We valued the concept of making fun of two political regimes which proclaims principles of freedom and the other one, of equality. Franco and Rogen by making fun of North Koreans, they make fun of themselves and what they represent. Each side has something to say but they are all affected by their ludicrous nature. Don't expect a masterpiece, we are far from it. 


Monday, 22 December 2014

Film composers: Charlie Clouser

Charlie Clouser is part of a generation of film composers who were influenced by industrial music (NIN) or alternatives to orchestral music ( composers such as Craig Armstrong). Clouser was actually part of the band NIN from 1994 to 2000 and the fans can still identify elements of their music in his compositions.

His music became an essential component of the horror films he was involved with. Many of these became hymns of modern horror movies (especially with the Saw saga). Even if disregarded by many, we consider it as a valuable film composer that knows how to target and bring up a wide range of emotions (tension, fear, sadness). 

1) A Message- Death Sentence Soundtrack
This incredibly powerful theme is embedded by the sound of sadness, rage and despair. Even if the film Death Sentence could be cataloged as a "Serie B" polar movie, the music by Clouser makes all the thrill. This is a remix of an original composition by Andy Kubiszewski but the heavy bass makes a whole difference. We suggest you to compare later.

2) Out of the Fire- The Collection soundtrack

The most valuable tribute to industrial music in a movie soundtrack.Guitars with strong delays and drums setting an increasing tension are another slick of Clouser's talent. This terrible (very bad) film had the privilege of having this guy as the film composer. Enjoy.

3) Hello Zep- Saw Soundtrack

This is his most famous theme. Everyone who has seen Saw will remember this chill and diabolic theme. It is about evil and violence winning over everything. A dark theme that made a difference in the twisted ending of the first Saw (the other ones were crap). Don't think too much, just listen to it!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Grandmaster (3/5, Regular)

The new film from Hong-Kong director Wong Kar-Wai is an energetic journey to the world of Kung-Fu set in the China of 1930s and 1940s. This is the tale of Ip Man, Bruce Lee's martial arts trainer. 

The films starts in China in the 1930s. Martial arts Grandmaster from northern China, Gong Yutian (Qingxian Wang) is retiring and he is looking for a new successor. Young and promising fighter Ip Man (Tony Leung) is the one chosen. In his way to become the Grandmaster, he meets Yutian's daughter Gong Er (the beautiful Zhang Ziyi) and they both fall in love.However this impossible love will be affected by the Japanese invasion and their fate will change forever. 

This is not a masterpiece from Wong Kar-Wai. The incredible beauty from the film comes from the cinematography: every shot is a painting waiting to be admired. Instead on focusing on this sad love story, Wai decided to put forward the filming of combat scenes, body movements (choreographed by veteran Yuen Woo-Ping) and the sets. It is an homage to Kung-Fu but also to Asian Kung-Fu movies and Wai does it brilliantly. 
A shame that the emotional power of the story is dismissed. We are not affected by the fate of the main characters even if their acting is worth to be praised for. We suspect that the Western Version (100 min. length vs 130 min. length from the Chinese version ) has cut many parts of the story. Why? It is a mystery.
We know that Wong Kar-Wai can do masterpieces (2046, In the Mood for Love) so we are surprised to see that we are indifferent to the story. Nevertheless we cannot only but applause the beauty of the images. There is so much dedication that the film is worth watching for it. You will never see Kung-Fu fights like these filmed like a dance, you will never see slow motions like Wai knows to do. 



Monday, 8 December 2014

Sold (5/5, Very Good)

Dramatic, provocative, heart-breaking. Many words came up to our minds when we saw this film. It doesn't aim to entertain: it aims to ends something. To end sex trafficking. 
The story's about 10 years old Lakshmi (Niyar Saikia), living in poor rural Nepal who wants to build opportunities for herself and for her family. She will go to the city seeking for work. However the dark streets of the urban world made her fall into the trap of sex slavery. Trapped and alone, Lakshmi would risk everything to escape. Meanwhile, a Canadian journalist (Gillian Anderson) is writing an article about sex trafficking in the same city. The path of both women will cross to seek what everyone wishes for: a way out. 

The movie from Academy Award Jeffrey D. Brown is honest. It doesn't want to use metaphors or euphemisms: sex trafficking is a reality. Sometimes it is hiding behind a beautiful façade, sometimes it is explicit. We recognize the courage of talking about a topic which is largely ignored by the media or even the cinema. That is why "Sold" is like a dagger: it shines by its elegance but can cut deep.  

Based on the novel of the same name by Patricia McCormick, the script contemplates the complexity of the matter. However it incorporates humour to alleviate the pain we feel as we explore the terrifying destinies of innocent women. The actors in the film are stunning: not only truly committed to the cause, they are to their characters.They contribute both in intensity and realism.We are laughing, suffering and crying with them.

"Sold" is a great film which tries to talk to everyone: sex trafficking is an universal issue.It is not only a 120 minutes length film: it is also a shout to the sky to start a global movement. Jeffrey D. Brown do not hesitate: he wants us to feel outraged. The only element we criticise is that it tries to adapt this story to Hollywood standards making it kind of predictable. However we value the initiative and we kindly welcome more films like this.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

White Bird in a Blizzard (5/5, Very Good)

The new film from independent filmmaker Gregg Araki is a sensitive and dreamy tale of dark events happening in the life of a teenage girl. Once more, he proves why his name is well regarded in the independent cinema network. 

This is the end of the 1980s. It is the story of Kat (Shailene Woodley) who is leading a monotone life in a typical American suburb. She has a sexy boyfriend (Shiloh Fernandez), good friends and parents that take care of her. One day, her mother (Eva Green) simply vanishes. Police leads an investigation and there are no tracks of her. Kat tries to keep on with her life but many questions arise regarding her mother. Why isn't she there anymore? 
The script , adapted from a novel of the same name by Laura Kasischke, tells a classic dramatic story. However the originality resides in the ability of writer/director Gregg Araki to tell a dark story with a dreamy tone. It almost feels we are perpetually in a dream. Dreams can be beautiful but can also turn to be a nightmare. Araki pays special attention  to show us the world of Kat without the (classic) thriller tone but with love and sensitivity. He wants us to be there with her and understand her profound conflicts.One of the highlights as well is the ending: we weren't expecting that.

Both Shailene Woodley and Eva Green are very convincing. This latter is able, at her limited appearances on the screen, to create a character with deeply rooted conflicts and a complexity that is not very common to see in cinema. We think this is one of the best roles Eva Green have ever had. The cinematography, recognizable with high colors predominating in Araki's movies, is poetic and takes you far away from your seat. Also the soundtrack is composed with great care. 

This is the 'softest' film from Gregg Araki though. We think it is not a bad thing. People can start to see his films with this one and then enter to his world, which is one of the greatest in contemporary cinema. 


Wild Tales (5/5, Very Good)

Different short stories, all related with one topic: violence. Dramatic stories with a great touch of black humor, "Wild Tales" shows that the Argentine cinema industry is solid and powerful.

Seven different stories, different endings but the same tone: director Damian Szifrón privileges black humor and sometimes the burlesque. These collection of stories are representative of an Argentine society marked by social, political and even economic violence. Corruption, individualism, greed and  discrimination are among the elements which defines the characters. We could think that Argentina is a lost country. However, aren't most of these characteristics common to our modern society?

That is one of the most powerful aspects of this movie: it brings down the boundaries of culture and speaks to all. This is not an Argentine film, it is a global one. Violence is everywhere flowing around us: in our thoughts, in our words, in our physical moves. Nevertheless, director Szifrón decides to approach it with humour: instead of crying, laugh about it. A controversial approach? No doubt, but we enjoyed it so much! 

This is another demonstration of the Argentine cinema: it is intense, it is powerful and is not scared of taking risks. The music, composed by oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, fits perfectly to the delicious and scary collection of stories. Discrete at times, strong at others. The cinematography manages to represent the diverse landscapes of Argentina (urban and rural) and to put it forward into the stories. Landscapes acquires a strong presence : either it is a story happening in a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, either it is in the city where the wild rhythm of life possesses the people. 

It is one of the best films of this year 2015 and we don't hesitate to say, a clear candidate for the Oscar of Best Foreign Film in 2015! 


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