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District 9 (2009)
A South African Futuristic Greek Tragedy
After "District 9" was over, I had to run from the theater to the hotel and take a long, long shower. "District 9" is a first. We've never seen anything quite like it. A metaphor for a world that's becoming faster and faster a huge melting pot where nothing truly melts. The have and the have not. New ghettos, new forms of life and we have to learn to live with it or, or what? Neill Blomkamp, the 30 year old director, is someone who's exploded into the film scene and I'm sure he'll stay for a long time to come. A commercial director with a refined artistic mind. Accessible without being condescending a real find and who found him? Peter Jackson. A man that I suspect is creating a Hollywood overseas, a Hollywood for the thinking man. I urge you to see "District 9" and get used to those aliens, they stand for something that is already here.
United 93 (2006)
United We Could
Frozen, speechless, devastated. That's how I was at the end of the film and judging by the silence in the auditorium the whole audience felt the same. A remarkable achievement. Not a single cheap shot. Knowing, as we all know, what happened on that fatal September 11th. The time lapse between the first plane hitting the World Trade center and the second seemed interminable. The faces of the passengers, without even knowing their names, are still vivid in my mind. Extraordinary. Not to mention the terrorist's faces. So real, so human. Tears were running down my face as a chill run down my spine witnessing the terrorists as well as the passengers praying. God, seen through a different optical at different times for exactly the same reasons. The brave decision of the passengers to die trying to protect all of us is something that we in the ground we seem to have forgotten. We could all stand together as well in everybody's name for everybody's good. You see, here I am, inspired and aspiring to inspire.
Apartment Zero (1988)
Humans in the Dark
Buenos Aires, Argentina 1988. I was there for the whole of 88, a time in which everything seem about to change. A turbulent past, a population licking their wounds and adopting denial as a way of life. Except for some people. For the people touched by the horrors of the 70's, the "desaparecidos" the death squads, the lies and betrayals was bound to remain and dominate their present and their future. "Apartment Zero" uses that confusing past in a European like Country -- Argentina is just that -- to tell a story of repression and fear. Sexual repression and self fear. I was reminded of it today because I went to look for the film everywhere and is nowhere available. How can it be? I played my used and abused VHS copy - I hadn't seen it in 5 or 6 years - and there it was. Stronger, more relevant than ever. Colin Firth, what a performance! He travels the gamut of emotions without giving away anything. He is the poster boy for repression. To see him fall into Hart Bochner's web is as frightening as it is entertaining. "What are you?" Adrian asks Jack "An optical illusion?" Yes, he is and he's as real as anything he's ever seen. He's in love and in lust but he doesn't know it or, like everything else, he'll never admit it to himself or to others. Nothing in the film is told in uncertain terms. It takes you and leaves you there, in the middle of nowhere, just like Adrian, Colin Firth's character. A stranger in his own country. This film is enormous. I don't think it ever got the recognition it deserves.
Dreams Of "Il Duce"
Maggie Smith is mesmerizing. She paints the blind monstrosity of Miss Jean Brodie in the most recognizable human tones. Robin William's character in "Dead Poet Society" is as irresponsible but doesn't go near as far as this repressed masterpiece of a creature. Her romantic slant towards "Il Duce" and what he represents is at the core of the simple complexity of the character. Maggie's mannerism, now a precious trade mark, belong to Miss Brodie, totally. Her arms, her chin, the turning of her face. Pamela Franlklin is also superb. What a powerful young actress -- Where is she now? -- and Celia Johnson's performance is the icing on the cake of this feast of a movie.