Thursday, August 11, 2016

Zootopia (2016) or How Sad Happy Endings Really are

And, yes, this is the last film I've watched. It was couple of days ago in a poor neighbourhood in Thessaloniki, Greece. There's a lovely open air cinema over there, named after one of our 'national actresses', Tzeni Karezi (strangely enough, we have two of those, the first one being Aliki Vougiouklaki, you might have never heard them if you're not somehow related to Greece, but it's ok). Back to the screening: it had free entrance and it has sold out, meaning every single chair was taken and too many kids and families were sitting on the floor or on any random chair-shaped corner. I did the same and it was fun!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Force Majeure (2014) or How Fragile we Are

Turist, Force Majeure or Snow Therapy? Seems like each country translates film titles to something a tad more exotic than it's used to: English speaking countries promoted the film under the title Force Majeure, so that's how we know it and that's how the film got international acclaim in too many festivals. In the Golden Globes, too. In France, the blatantly ironic (and my favourite) given title was Snow Therapy. While in their native Sweden, artists remain practical: Turist was good enough.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Saving the world one film at a time: The True Cost & Co

You might wonder why, oh, why I am not posting films I love so often any more. Is it because I'm not watching any? Is it because I don't have the time to talk about them? And if the answer for the above is yes, you will still wonder: is it ever possible for a passionate cinephile to give up on his passion?

Well, the answer is yes and the answer is no at the same time. There has to be something that takes over. Something bigger. Something better.

To cut a long story short, no, I haven't stop watching films, but I watch much less than before, and, dear friends, it's true that I don't find the time to analyse them much, especially in written. Only because I am more concerned with other things, such as changing the world (sic).

So here it goes: lately I have been drawn to films describing or asking for a change. The environmentalist in me, the activist in me, grew stronger and stronger. I watch documentaries that inspire me, that make me part of a global movement for change. A movement that advocates love and respect for our planet, our fellow human beings and everything in between. You can call it the transition movement, or you can give it any other name, but it all boils down to one thing: the need for humanity to stop being reckless with natural resources, whether they are soil, woods, oceans or, why not, workers in the developing countries (this last one being human resources). 

So, here are the four films I've watched over the past months and touched me to the bone. Were they all inspiring? Because, inspiring documentaries are more convincing, you will say. And I will agree with you. Well, they were not all inspiring. I guess at least one of them left me in despair, if I'm allowed to admit that. With a feeling that things might or might not change, and the chances are with the latter. But, you know what? Even this feeling makes you wanna fight to change the unchangeable.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

I want to become a Lobster, he said

Hotel Manager: Have you thought of what animal you’d like to be if you end up alone?
David: Yes, a lobster.
Hotel Manager: A lobster is an excellent choice.

Once upon a time, there was a Man-Who-Wanted-to-Become-a-Lobster. Later on, he had to skip it and run away instead. That  happened when the Woman-With-No-Feelings killed his brother who had the form of a dog, because he could not find a partner in forty-five days. She killed him with endless kicks on the head, the belly, all over really. Her right shoe, white sock and leg was full of blood to the height of the knee when she announced him her cruel deed.

The Man-Who-Wanted-to-Become-a-Lobster decided to run away to the woods after the assassination of his brother, who was a dog, from the Woman-With-No-Feelings. He has lost his chance to become a lobster, an animal he so much liked, because of its blue, aristocratic blood. If found alive after lying about his own absence of feelings, he would be turned into the animal nobody wants to turn into (which animal is that, I cannot divulge). That's why the Man-Who-Wanted-to-Become-a-Lobster  run away from the perverse dating retreat.

Nevertheless, perversity followed him to the woods. Where the Man-Who-Wanted-to-Become-a-Lobster found more loners who did not want to turn into any animal at all. They only asked for the freedom to dance to electro music with trees as dancing partners, masturbate in solitude and hunt for their food, then eat it after killing it with their bare hands. The I-Wanna-Stay-Free people, were not so free after all, they were just mating-free. It's hard to explain, because they were not exactly mating-free either, they were actually not allowed to mate. And that's exactly when it happened.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Melina Merkouri Forever

Today, 95 years from Melina Merkouri's birth, pays tribute to the acclaimed Greek actress, singer and politician with a Google doodle. And we rejoice. 

Greeks remember Melina very much as an independent woman: she became the perfect embodiment of the emancipated Stella (1955) the protagonist of the film by the same name directed by Michael Cacogiannis.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Charlie Countryman goes to Bucharest

Film critics are not as mean as we think. Film critics watch a shit load of mediocre films. And, film critics get tired of watching those mediocre new releases day after day. They do feel the desperate need to get it out of their system. And, that's why they are being mean -I do understand, and I sympathise.

"This is a movie with a chalk-outline around it", Peter Bradshaw wrote on The Guardian. And it gets worse: "this catastrophe of a movie zigzags drunkenly between action-adventure and surreal comedy with some magical realism slopped over it like ketchup", states with no mercy Stephen Holden on New York Times. Yet, this far from the worse film either of us has seen, and we all know it deep down. It is a film with Shia LaBeouf though, and reviewers do not like him quite as much as teenage girls do. Well, I do not like him either, but the film was ok, leaving its cliches behind. No matter the bitter reviews, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013), as the film is also known, got a Golden Bear nomination at the Berlinale and is the first feature by talented director Frendrik Bond who was into music videos and ads before.

Interesting visually, how could it not be, as it was set in Bucharest, such a vibrant and not as mundanely central European -not like the cities we're used to roam around, so to say. So, the backdrop is inspiring, the lovely quasi-Romanian and destructive female lead is inspiring, too, even if she is plain American and in fact under her skin hides a short-haired Evan Rachel Wood. Mads Mikkelsen is not doing much with his role, but we still like him. Music is good (featuring Moby in the soundtrack), whereas rhythm sometimes not particularly so.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Merry Widow at MET

Does Merry Widow HD qualify as a cinematic show? It hardly does, and to say the truth the camera work was not exactly great -demanding as the deed was. A lot of dance and movement that required a lot of focus pulling and the like, there have been some shaky, dizzying moments, mind me. Overall satisfactory direction for the screen though, and we're all very thankful (us, the overseas audiences), that MET is opening its doors in such a generous way to opera lovers all around the world.

Friday, January 16, 2015

All the lonely people

After eating a box of chocolate truffles dipped in glitter in an effort to cure my not-feeling-well mood, and after remembering that last night I practically devoured 3 doughnuts with cream filling inside the super-market, cause there was no way I could wait to pay for them first, Eleanor Rigby came on my mind. Not specifically her, but all the lonely people who walk in the city and pretend to be too busy even to smile to the person they just crossed, while in reality they would love to drink a coffee or a beer with someone. But, not just anyone, and that's where the problem (if you can call it a problem) lies. 

Lonely people are in fact a bit too selective. They are fond of their memories, and they are sentimental. They find it hard to attach, and even harder to detach. They cherish imaginary friends and relationships, and keep a place in their heart for those who are no longer around. They are maybe introverts or just highly sensitive or just deeply hurt. Or nothing from all the above -I won't pretend I have the key to human psyche. 

I know that in this particular case, Eleanor Rigby is deeply hurt indeed. Profoundly sad and lonely she is, only because she felt the ultimate bliss, only because she knew how it is to be in love with the one. Until things went sour. Jessica Chastain is the redhead in the poster and the disappearing girl in the title. Her other half on screen for this set of films is James McAvoy. They are both brilliant -some of those actors whose performance is rarely questioned, just because they seem so natural in everyone's shoes. Why did I say "set of films"? If you're wondering, you probably haven't heard that newcomer Ned Benson had the poignant idea to shoot two films with the same title, and the exact same story, only different. One is from the point of view of the guy, the other is from the point of the view of the lady, that's why we have The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (2013) and  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (2013). 

I have watched both films back to back, which is the right thing to do, after all, to notice similarities and differences.  Giving credit to popular belief that men and women have a totally different point of view  and react in a different way to the same situations (or else Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus), Benson decided not only to include new, unknown parts of each characters' story in each film, but also to have the actors give a slightly different performance in the same scene from one film to the other, whether it is for the tone of voice, facial expression or even the words they decided to use. How does it feel when each party feels that it's the other one to blame?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Most Wanted Man (2014) or Beautiful Spies

He was drinking his whisky anxiously. He needed to calm down. Other spies, mightier and with more efficient networking qualities (what other people call ass-licking qualities) were way ahead him. With a fiasco in his pocket -defeated by the Americans, can you imagine?- he had to do it right this time around. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Two days, One night (2013)

My inability to construct a decent written flow these days (but, I will still try). Out of impatience to say it all without taking too long. Hinders the potentially elegant style of a journalistic text and promotes the fragmented, goal-oriented style of business plans. Bullet points, short descriptions, absence of rhetoric devices. Words are just the means of conveying meaning these days. Beauty in the words is a luxury. And luxury costs money.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Sin City 2: Where Blood is Coloured White

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) is a sequel some were impatiently waiting for, for almost a decade. Did it worth the anticipation/hype? More or less. Did it catch us by surprise?  It certainly didn't, as it's hard for a sequel to bring new elements in the game, but we loved it anyways. Sin City brings back nearly forgotten heroes and monsters from an era long gone.

Performances & Characterisation

Ex Dark Angel Jessica Alba is more stunning than ever. And oh-so-innocent. Contrapuntal Eva Green is the archetype of femme fatale, trying to beat her predecessors in classic film noirs. No matter how impressive the looks, she doesn't win the competition with the likes of Lana Turner and Barbara Stanwyck. She ends up an amusing caricature though, a devouring sex goddess with such a harsh/ exaggerated outline that makes thinking men unable to fall/kill for her (at least in real life). Same goes for the whole gang: their traits, whether physical or character ones are seen through the magnifying glass -something which accommodates us. It accommodates our politically-correct selves -we find it hard to identify with them, thanks God. But, one cannot expect subtlety in the adaptation of a graphic novel, right?

Shock Tactics 

Beware: this is R rated material. Banned in Iran, while in fast-forward Canada 14 year olds are allowed in screenings, the film is not a valid choice when in chill out mood. Highly sensitive souls will have to cover their eyes for the biggest part of the movie (sic) and they will still be agitated nevertheless. Of course, it's not the "sexual content, nudity or short drug" use we disapprove of.  It is the "strong brutal stylised violence throughout". Those sequences must have been a pain to shoot and I appreciate cast and crew and extraordinary stuntmen for their contribution, but, guys, that was so intense an experience that I was unable to sleep until four thirty in the morning.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013)

"Could anything be more brain tingling than the man behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep animating his afternoon spent with the great Noam Chomsky?" This is how the Penguin Think Smarter Newsletter presents the experimental documentary by Michel Gondry, but let me tell you one thing: experiments are always interesting, but not  always successful. 

Is the Man who is Tall Happy? (2013), the film which screens imminently in Edinburgh Film Festival, has already -lucky us- screened in Luxembourg Film Festival end of February; it was the only one that made me leave my cosy room and make my way to the cinema which was, after all, less than fifteen-minutes walk away. I cannot say I didn't enjoy seeing it. An extremely self-conscious conversation (and, yes, I love that) between Gondry, who was commenting between bits of dialogue on his French accent which was apparently hard to get, the phrasing of a question which was not clearly understood by the other party and so on so forth, and one of the greatest thinkers of our times, Noam Chomsky

Hand-made animation, funny and colourful intertwined with philosophical concepts on their way to their simplified version (sic). You know what? As much as I enjoyed watching this delirium of words and images, I couldn't help coming out of the cinema feeling confused to a certain extent. Why? Because it is humanly impossible to grasp 100% of what is going on on screen. You will get most of it, if you manage to stay focused -that becomes harder at times, exactly because of the "distracting" animation, but you won't have the feeling you fully "got it", except if you've studied Chomsky beforehand, I guess. Image and words are fighting one against the other for the viewers' attention, I'm afraid, and I'm not sure who wins in the end.