Wednesday, 27 January 2016

In honor to the X-Files Revival

X-Files has been, for sure, one of the best TV series ever made. It had a mixture of science-fiction, horror, thriller and action. No one ever achieved to be such quality before the explosion of series by ending 2000s. It is worth remembering that it is the only series that was adapted twice for the big screen (in 1998 and in 2008). Eight years later after X-Files: I want to believe , a mini-series revival comes to life. 

The worldwide known theme of the series has been adapted for the two films. Both have a very different approach and very compelling. One privileges the drums, the other privileges electronic sounds. Go back to the world of X-Files! 

                                        X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)

                                      X-Files: I want to believe (2008)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Something to think about: women in films

We'll give you the link to a fantastic article about women in film. Why women, especially the latest action films, have to be strong? Why men are strong by "default" and women aren't, so that we have to be amazed when we see one? These questions are brought up in this fantastic article by Sophia McDougall in The New Statesman. 

Have a look, it is worth it. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Creed (4/5, Good)

A surprisingly solid sports drama film that brings old classics with a fresh air from the post-1980s generation. Who would have thought?
A new Rocky film in the saga! This is the seventh one after the acclaimed Rocky Balboa (2006). This time the big star is not Stallone but Michael B. Jordan's character: the son of Apollo Creed. Yes yes, Rocky's best friend who died in Rocky IV. We are not spoiling anything, don't worry. We were betting that this film would be uninteresting and soulless. However we were greatly surprised to see it was the opposite.

This film aligns in this "old-classics comeback" movement with Terminator, Mad Max and Star Wars. They all applied the same-formula which has proven to be successful: to take the viewer into a slow transition between what's the "old-school" characters and the new ones. This blend helps to keep references for the fans whilst discovering new and exciting characters. This is the same for this one. Nevertheless it stands out for its more intimate focus on the evolving relationship between Rocky and Creed. They become friends and then, family. What binds these two men is their determination to fight against adversity, to fight for what they dream and want to. The Rocky character has taught generations with those values: now it is time to actually live a legacy with Creed.       
This film, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens , has been done by a Rocky fan for Rocky fans. Anyone can enjoy it as it cares more for the soul of these two mens rather than boxing fights. They are the physical expression of something much more spiritual that links Rocky and Creed. It is important to highlight the incredible photography: it is done with great care and no one has ever seen boxing fights with those angles and with such dynamism. The acting by Stallone, for once, is very good and well-deserved winner for the Golden Globe. The new character Creed defies the stereotype of the black guy who has things to prove to himself and to the world. He is quite surprising and has a sensitivity that most of these characters generally lack. This gives him a complexity rarely seen in a sports drama. A great homage to Rocky and a good-spin off for a new generation of viewers!


Spotlight (5/5, Very Good)

One of the best movies of the year 2015. A true story about reporters who unveiled the complicity of the Church not only in the United States but also worldwide with sexual abuses of priests against children. 

Tom McCarthy (Game of Thrones) signs his third film with a solid and compelling story. It is the old fashioned story of reporters seeking for the truth. In the US pre-September 11, this concept still made sense. Journalism today kind of lost that old school view. This story is perhaps one of the last testimonies of investigative journalism and it had such an impact worldwide that it was made into a film. Just only for what we just said, it is worth watching it. 

In a city signed by great belief on Catholic values, comes the shocking news that the same representative of these values violated them. Completely appalled by it, most decide to take a vow of silence. Others fight to give light to the truth. However there are powerful interests to try to keep these secrets in the shadows.This film explores the fight of these journalists. It is very symbolic as today people fight for social justice against financial institutions and corporations which violate people's rights. In a system signed by the predominance of these corporations, what are our weapons as citizens? What do we have left?
Led by the magnificent Michael Keaton (who did an outstanding comeback last year with Birdman ), Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Liev Schreiber, this film stands out for its solid storytelling and great dramatic development. The outcome for these reporters is critical, not only for their professional future but also for what they stand for as people living in a supposedly-civilized society. Recommended film. 



Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Hateful Eight (4/5, Good)

The latest Tarantino film is exactly what every Tarantino fan waits for: violence, dark humor, insane dialogues and slow-tension increase scenes. Good film but far from being one of his bests.

After the masterpiece Django Unchained, Tarantino is back! Adopting the same narrative by dividing the story into chapters, the film is unintentionally (or is it?) a two-part film. The Part I is a slow film that takes time to introduce to 8 characters with a different background but who shares the appreciation for blood and death. These 8 scum, locked in a small-wooden house raved by a snow storm outside, discover a reflection of themselves. Each seems to reaffirm their superiority by past good deeds or present ones but they all fall into the same dark and savage side of the most primitive human being.  

Part II is actually the most "Tarantinean" of the two. He built a whole set and gave each character a strong label so that you could identify each of them easily. We can criticize he made this first Part too long and too slow making it almost uninteresting at one point. Where he achieve to make long and solid dialogues in Django Unchained, Tarantino fails to reproduce the same structure here. That is why the second part, bloody as Kill Bill and with a nostalgic touch of Reservoir Dogs, is the best. We actually enjoy the violence and we laugh. It is so grotesque that it cannot be taken seriously. 

What else can be said? All the actors are fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. We see old collaborators such as Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Samuel L. Jackson. We see new ones such as Jennifer Leigh and Kurt Russell. All are fantastic with a special mention to Leigh: she stands strong against a group of men and shows her powerful acting to make her being the center of the story. 

Despite a slow beginning and quite boring at some points, the film achieves what any Tarantino fan asks for. It is a good film and we can see Tarantino's ability to establish long and slow character building whilst keeping an increasing tension in the atmosphere. Only great directors can do that. Good one Tarantino! 


Joy (3/5, Regular)

It is a downward spiral for a woman whose dream is to embrace the American Dream. It achieves to blend a melodramatic environment with a strong sarcastic tone.

Does the new film from American Hustle's director convinced us? Pretty much yes but looses its solidness as the film gets to its end. The film is about Joy, woman over-demanded by her family and a macho-system. She rebels and decides to launch her own business with a new kind of mop. Obstacles lie ahead and grotesquely accumulate over time to leave Joy on the edge of madness.

In this third collaboration between director Russell and Jennifer Lawrence, it is probably better than American Hustle. The script comes out with a fast-pace story and sometimes enervating: Joy cannot come out of her cave and a whole society (including her own family) is decided to against her dream of entrepreneurship. In the quest to reach the top of the American Dream, she cannot but only get hard hits. Of course the exasperation felt throughout the film is good for the viewers to keep up and be curious about Joy's future whereabouts. Nevertheless this is also one of the main weaknesses of the film.

It is hard for us to understand whether the film wants to set a dramatic tone or either be satirical about the American Dream. The ending of the film makes it all blurry and confusing. Too bad because if it was not for that development, the film would have been much greater. Bradley Cooper acts great as the successful businessman and Lawrence is impeccable as this "wannabe" business woman. The support of De Niro is essential to embody the satirical tone, being both a father and the voice of a conservative society based merely on consumption. The film does not stop and keeps shouting, such as an hysterical person until the end where everything goes in silence. We did not enjoy the silence, we actually enjoyed the previous madness. 


Friday, 15 January 2016

The Danish Girl (5/5, Very Good)

An outstanding and powerful film about a person who decided to swim against the tide of its time and become the first transgender in modern history. A remarkable film.

Watching this film is an experience in itself. Eddie Redmayne once more gives the performance of a lifetime: he is much better than in The Theory of Everything. He would deserve an Oscar for sure in this film. The transformation of Geinar into Lili, this woman whom we always aspired to be, is simple so subtle and so natural. This change in the main character, accompanied with his very (very) open-minded wife, does not strike us. It is almost as we saw Lili in Geinar since the beginning of the film. But who made this outstanding change? Eddie Redmayne. 

The photography is delicate and composed with great care so that the feminine traits of Redmayne shine on the screen. Beautiful colors as both main characters are painters and every shot is done with a painting. Alicia Vikander is a great actress but however her talent is shaded by the grandeur of Redmayne. We do acknowledge that her role is particularly difficult and the chemistry between the two actors is very good. The music from Max Richter is beautiful and very sensitive: a quiet and melodic piano transcribes the emotional journey of Lili to become a real woman.

These films are rare and should be seen more often. Transgenders are part of our society and as any human being has such a beautiful complexity to be explored. This true story is worth to understand the courage of a human being that decides along with her companion against social norms. Every dream is full of obstacles to reach it but necessary as we become more confident of our choices. A beautiful film. 


Thursday, 14 January 2016

#RIPAlanRickman. Another great artist gone.

People will definitely remember him as the evil character of Die Hard. Or, of course , as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter saga. But not only he did other cult films such as Galaxy Quest (2000), he also showed his talent in theatre and even directed films  such as The Winter Guest (1997) and A Little Chaos (2015). He passed away today, 14th of January 2016 only four days after David Bowie. He was 69 years old. 

Here is a glimpse of this incredible actor in the great film Galaxy Quest and in Harry Potter and the Orisoner of Azkaban. Thank you Alan Rickman. 

                                                        Galaxy Quest

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

David Bowie #RIP. An outstanding artist but also a giant in cinema.

One of the greatest artists of all-time passed just passed away. The great David Bowie was everywhere: in fashion, in art, in music and in the cinema! His influence is so vast that his music has been used in many films. Without David Bowie's music, these scenes would have lacked the emotional power they needed. David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, they are all fan! We made a selection of a few scenes where Bowie is saying: I am here! 

Song: Heroes from the album "Heroes".

                                                  The perks of being a wallflower (2012)

A romantic scene where the lead character sees, with the magic spell of Bowie, the beauty of this woman kissing the wind.

Song: "Cat People"  from the album "Let's dance"                 
                                                        Inglourious basterds (2008)

In this fantastic scene from Quentin Tarantino's film, this character is preparing for a massive killing in the cinema she manages. The thirst for blood and vengeance can be felt in all the length of the scene. David Bowie's music adds a layer of beauty to it. 

SongLife on Mars from the album "Ziggy Stardust..."

                                                   The life aquatic with Steve Zizzou (2004)

Interesting transition from a quiet Bossa Nova version of this song to then the original one. Very powerful.                   

Song: Starman from the album "Ziggy Stardust..."

                                                 The life aquatic with Steve Zizzou (2004)

From the same film, comes an outsanding version of Brazilian singer Seu Jorge. Even if this scene was not used in the final footage, it is a great adaptation deserved to be used in a future film. 

Song: Space Oddity from the album "Space Oddity" 

                                               The secret life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Music with a nostalgic touch. The music from David Bowie fits perfectly to the dreamy and sad tone of the scene. Of course, we recommend you watch the film to fully understand this scene. 

Song: I'm deranged from the album Outside

                                                        The Lost Highway

The beginning of a cult film by David Lynch. The lyrics of this song are related to this film's story but also at the fast speed of the car. Look at how fast this lost highway goes. Heading to a total darkness, Lynch along with Bowie invite us to a session of madness. 

Song: Golden Years from the album "Station to Station" 

                                                                  A Knight's tale (2001)

    Challenged to show his dancing skills, Heath Ledger's character demonstrates some good moves in this fantastic scene. David Bowie even fits in medieval times. 

Song: Modern Love from the album "Let's Dance"          

                                                            Frances Ha (2012)
 Scene in which the main character runs freely and joyfully in the streets of New York. This unadulterated joy is simply magnified by this great song of David Bowie. Short, simple but remind us that happiness is about moments. Gorgeous scene. 

David Bowie, thank you.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Philip Glass: one of the best composers ever

We share with you this beauty. Composed by the great Philip Glass, it is a wonderful track from the film Mishima by Paul Schrader.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (4/5, Good)

An epic comeback from one of the most successful sci-fi saga with the daunting challenge to blend the old school characters with new ones whilst relaunching a new trilogy. The Force is strong with this film. 

There is something inexplicable about Star Wars. Why does it enhance so much fuss? It is magical. Those epic blue-colored words "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." were a timer before an explosion of joy when the "Star Wars" logo invades the screen accompanied by the cult score of John Williams. Almost three years of patience with the biggest marketing deployment ever made suddenly redeemed in one instant. 
                                              New score composed by John Williams 

A new story, a new trilogy. Director J. J. Abrams said: "This film is made by a Star Wars fan for Star Wars fans". We believe this sentence resumes the spirit of this new Star Wars' episode. There are thousand of references to previous films (especially Star Wars: A New Hope) and other discrete winks (such as with the score of Williams). We will not tell you the story but what we can say is that we are fully back with a good Star Wars atmosphere, supported by a good story. After the disappointment of Episode I (1999) and II (2002) we were skeptical. We were surprised by the solid plot, the good script and the stunning action scenes. That is what you ask for when you watch a film like this one. 

The introduction of new characters- Finn and Rey and a complex evil as Kylo Ren (portrayed by the brilliant Adam Driver) give this saga a new approach. The presence of a color character (outrageously criticized by a few) and a woman as the leading ones are a rupture into the classic scheme of action films. This is 2015, not 1977 anymore. Having to combine the classics with the new ones, the story meticulously make path to stretch this bond and make it solid enough so we can enjoy the view. J.J. applies something learned by horror-film Wes Craven: "You never screw with the originals". The script is thus a success: it is funny, dramatic and hugely entertaining. Of course, the action scenes are incredible and anyone can enjoy them. The comeback of John Williams at the score is simply perfect: quite discrete at the beginning but if we pay attention, there is also an incredible complexity in its melodies and tones. 

We won't tell you any more as we have read so many reviews full of spoilers. This is simply a huge film, perhaps one of the most expected in the last decade reminding us that we all have inside a grasp for adventure. This new episode starts really well a new trilogy whilst adopting a cautious approach: not taking a full step into a new generation but slowly going ahead. They don't want us to forget the characters from the previous Star Wars so the similar dramatic development to New Hope can also be criticized. Nevertheless this was a film with tremendous expectations: try to bare with that. Therefore what is our verdict: even if you are not a Star Wars fan, you should go and see it. Rarely are such films who gather people from such different cultures to make it one of the greatest sagas of all time. 


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