Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Heart of a Dog (2015)
it's an art movie, not a dog movie
Heart of a Dog, a movie by Laurie Anderson is one of the most nourishing movies I have seen in a long while. I loved her drawings, the abstract and nostalgic imagery and mostly her storytelling voice. The film content - love, memory and mostly loss - filled a personal need for intensity that only few other art works, books, and movies, have been able to do. At times my emotions could barely stand absorbing what I could only call its beauty. Laurie should have just been a story teller, all the other trickery she has used through time distract from the real source of her art. Of course if the viewer expect a story about dogs, this is not the movie for them, but I can list HoaD to very few other movies that seem to be about nothing and they are about everything.
This Is Martin Bonner (2013)
lovely characters, simple story
I decided to write this review in order to counterbalance the negative one posted by Farron34.
I liked this movie very much, because it showed real people and their simple lives. Because for Travis just out of prison, even a squalid motel room is a gift, and you perceive it without one word said in that regard. The way he walks out in the chilly air with a hot cup of coffee to look at the "outside" with a fantastic 360° pan around him showing real America: freeway, cars, asphalt, anonymous buildings, bright advertisement - nothing exceptional but the beautiful sunset light of the Nevada desert.
I liked the way it criticizes the Church of Christians, of the zealots, of those who live off the church and its charity but the observation is done gently and respectfully. There is more but you have to see it for yourself, the joy is in the details.
If you want spectacle and glitz this movie is not for you but if you want to observe a few human beings dealing with their banal, only life, filled with the little things that make it worth living, well, this is an excellent movie.
so different from any other TV girls, no wonder many do not like it
It took me a while before I "got" Girls but I think it's brilliant. I first saw Dunham's movie Tiny Furniture and then two episodes of Girls but was puzzled by it. The main character, Hannah, does not "behave" or look like any other sitcom girl, and the show seemed at first, well... too frank. It rubbed me a bit raw and now I understand it is because it brings to surface my painful memories of being 20. They say "Youth is wasted on the Young" but I think that "Only the Young can endure Youth and its maddening uncertainties"!
I expected that many young (and mostly female) viewers would not like Dunham's Hannah: she looks nothing like your typical TV character. With her thick waist and small breasts Hannah confronts us with the reality of bodies most of us have and dislike. But unlike her we do not decide to get naked on TV and that takes amazing courage. She proves to us "critics" that even, imperfect people (us) can be attractive, creative, successful, appreciated by good looking boyfriends and friends and not necessarily be -as in your average TV episode or movie- the butt of a joke. By showing us our own prejudices towards body type, Girls is revolutionary and I hope it will help women regain a bit the sense that beauty takes many forms colors and shapes.
I am also intrigued about the easiness and curiosity about sex that Hannah and her friends manifests, it is more honest than what is shown elsewhere on TV. These are girls that don't make love but f**k; girls who find being a virgin after college a hindrance; who have no problems with anal sex or with games of domination; but still manage to make it playful and a choice. I envy them that freedom.
At the end of the series Dunam's Hannah addresses the seldom explored insecurity young artists feel before they find their voice, a reflection that reverberates in the general work experience they lack. It made me think of how young age is a universal rite of passage and people go from uncertain tentativeness of youth to self confident expression of maturity, be that in art or in life, and how privileged adults are to know who they are and what they are good - or not- at.
As with Tiny Furniture, Girls draws from Dunham's personal experience, the life of a white girl who grew up among artists in a creative milieu. Forcing the show's atmosphere with a character of other ethnicity would have made it politically correct but not representative of the white, Jewish, waspish, artsy New York environment she is representing and comfortable with, so I am fine with the way the show is. Not all programs have to deal with all topics and issues at all times.
I look forward to watching many more seasons of this show and see how it will affect our culture. Dunham is definitely one artist to follow.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
The word is: Magic Realism
What is so difficult to understand? If we suspend belief for Spiderman, The Hulk and King Kong why can't we believe in this story?
I wonder whether some viewers are so addicted to the rhythm of plot driven movies to render them unable to appreciate a story like this, a story that sees the world through the eyes of a child who knows nothing of what we know. If you are one of those, go read somewhere else. I am not going to give you a synapse but my humble opinion on its meaning and possibly its intent. Or more surely, what I got out of it.
The beauty of this movie lies in Hushpuppy, a child young enough to be nonjudgmental, and her vision of life and its inhabitants. She has her own wisdom and is, like all children, taking things quite literally.
At first the hand-held camera-work and insufficient light-fill to illuminate the deep shades gave me the impression that this was a documentary style movie, a story reporting the lives of a group of people living off the grid in some southern state of the United States. But when I understood that the "Beasts" of the title was not a judgment of the movie's humans and their poverty, their ignorance, their unsophistication- but only an alternate noun for "animals" which the protagonists calls both her pets and humans alike, I started seeing the movie for what it really is: A dream, a fantasy, an imaginary story that merged with the contemporary awareness of global warming, and so a low tech sci-fi prediction of how the world may soon become.
With that key I read most character's actions: the father figure who needs to train his child to survive, inciting her "to show her guns" and be self assured; the woman who teaches children the use of herbs to cure, the meaning of magic and mythology; the tolerance of the other adults for what, in a parallel reality, would definitively been child abuse. All this is righteously done to prepare the children to survive in a world that was(is?) going from merely hard to impossible.
Wink's seemingly unsentimental and insensitive behavior towards the little wee child makes then perfect sense and thus his letting go when she can keep at bay, the Aurochs (a metaphor for her still childlike imagination) and her ability to step out of that world and into that of an adult ("I've got to take care of mine now") is the proof that she had grown up enough to survive on her own.
Looking back to it, this movie is a miracle as improbable as that of La Vita é Bella, where Benigni infused humor in a story about the Holocaust without becoming offensive or demeaning. Beasts of a Southern Wild is able to merge a child's world with that of an adult; to make us see how the effects of global warming will challenge the lives of many; it is a comment and a reminder of Katrina, its victims and consequences; finally it is a poetic way of describing the world and its inhabitants, escaping the ugliness and despair of certain realities by converting it into hope, survival and beauty.
The Dish & the Spoon (2011)
a smooth pebble if not a gem.
I enjoyed this movie, as it does not feel constructed in the way most movies are. It makes you feel the way you would feel if you were in Rose's shoes, overwhelmed by emotions and with no idea what you are going to do next. Enslaved by pain and bored by the lulls in between when she does not know what to do and acts without thinking. For me this movie feels totally realistic and true. Of course some scenes make no logical sense, but we are all a bit illogical especially when hurting. Still they are interesting to watch as other lives not our own seem more interesting sometimes. There are moments of profound truth and emotional release that are very impressively acted and filmed and make the movie totally worth watching. Don't expect a masterpiece, a precious gem, but a nice round pebble smoothed by the sea.
Nice effort but disappointing
I did not know what the movie was about so when it started my first reaction was: "Oh no! not another movie on Jewish suffering!" I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this time the movie was about the Palestinian plight.
Kudos to that I say, nevertheless I found the story confusing. I am a fan of Julian Schnabel's work as director, but I expected more after The Bell-jar and the Butterfly which in my book was a masterpiece.
Miral (not an apt title for the subject matter) takes its time before getting to the main story and protagonist, telling first the tale of 3 other women: Her mother Nadia; Fatima the terrorist; and Hind the school master and surrogate mother to all orphans. Miral's arrival on the scene is almost an afterthought, hinted at by Nadia's vomit attack upon arriving in jail -if she is sickened by fear or by baby is not clear until much later on.
I wished the director let the people speak in Arabic and add subtitles -which were used only in the beginning- it would have made for a less Anglo-centric flavored film and the written text would have allowed the audience to catch important dialog that was otherwise drowned by the soundtrack. What Fatima says to the man who later becomes Nadia's husband, for example, would have explained later events. Same for what was exchanged between Miral and the Intifada member at the funeral, important words muffled in music.
Because of this and the confusing ways of past and present scenes mixing without a clear way to distinguish between them, the storyline of the movie was unclear, and so was its perception similar to walking in the dark, intuiting the outline of things but not getting the full picture.
All actors were good but Hiam Abass who played Hind stood out. Freida Pinto does not look authentic, I read she is of Indian heritage, but her beauty made the distressing story more bearable, if distracting.
Aside from this, it was refreshing to see a movie on this subject matter, produced and directed by major names in the movie industry. To see the Israeli seen as "bad guys" was almost shocking, what with the Jewish propaganda we get out of Hollywood all the time. The world needs to see Palestinian heroes, if nothing else to balance the way Arabs in general are portrayed in the movies. A movie worth seeing if NOT the ultimate picture on the subject.
Albert Nobbs (2011)
I love Close's work and she can be such an excellent actress but I was disappointed by her woody performance, looking like a deer in the headlights for most of the movie! She was conveying nothing of what her character felt and it was not clear what was going on in her mind, if she understood the homosexual nature of the other couple's union, if she wanted a woman or just company as naive about sexuality of any sort. Since this confusion and its consequences were the pivoting point of the movie her acting should have made these points clear. The rest of the acting was good especially those of Wasikowska, Johnson and McTeer but Close could not find a way to shine like she has done in many parts, some as small as a piece of bravura of a one-way phone conversation in Things you can tell just by looking at her.
The Future (2011)
This movie made me think of the work of Godard, movies that are more about artistic expression and experimentation than about telling a story. There are a lot of elements in the movie, and July's way of expressing her ideas are so personal that I find difficult to say what the main story is about except that it shows the confusion we live our lives, a confusion that is emotional and existential. The characters act and reason unlike regular people (at least unlike people I know) but not so that weirdness takes center stage -as in David Lynch's movies for example. I have seen most of July's work and I would say she definitely has her own voice, and a very distinct one. The movie leaves you puzzling about for days, sign that it has made a dent in your subconscious and I find those are the best enough to want to see it over and over again, like all good movies and at should leave you.
Simon Schama's Power of Art (2006)
Could be half hour shorter
I saw 3 episodes of this series, the one on Bernini, Caravaggio and Rothko. The paintings are awesomely lit and Shama's observations are interesting and original but I could definitely go for less dramatization. The repeated shots of the Caravaggio's impersonator panting, sweating while fencing on his own are totally indulgent and don't add much to the story; the actor playing Rothko annoyingly trying to seem intense and interesting; these are unnecessary visuals that cheapen the content of the show. Do the producers think we need to see the artist's lives play-acted to engage us? Do they think their art is not enough for the viewer? I find that this approach is condescending and dumbs down the audience. The art, Shama's commentary and narration of the artist's history would have been excellent enough.
This is not Under the Tuscan Sun
Even though bitter and farcical this movie confirmed me that Italian movie making talent has not died with Fellini, Risi e De Sica.
The tone, a bit nostalgic, a bit desperate, a bit surreal reminded me of these masters, the stories are still the same, the characters more detailed, more contemporary but the exasperation and farcical tone are pushed further than was once allowed by the more of the times.
The actors are top notch, there are very few who can act like them in the movies produced in Italy now. They make the movie work more than anything. Villaggio is a pompous Metre D' who has bored everybody with his stories of a glorious past; Abatantuono is the romantic slacking waiter always trying a new scheme to get rich; Messeri is a hound-dog faced waiter who had to abandon his talented harmonium playing and now sleeps in the restaurant's kitchen homeless ; Salimbeni is a young man who idealizes the waiters' profession - he will come to age to the realities of the job: these and other stereotypical characters perfectly represent the chaotic events taking place in a beach restaurant (Fellini's reference is heavy handed here) on a day that is most important that all goes smoothly but you can foresee that it won't.
The movie paints the Italian society without mercy, as composed of people with money and no class; people without money and no conscience; people without future and no fear of losing their dignity. Affluence allows the guests to sadistically abuse the workers, but it is not better in the kitchen between coworkers. The movie is about revenge from the ills of reality , the injustices and disappointments of life. From society's (relatively speaking) higher rungs to the bottom, it's dog eats dog, each abusing the other to protest or react to previous abuses. The movie scrapes under the many layers of varnish that is coating the Italian society (but it can be applied to others) exposing a cruel bitter reality, despite the ending.
Io sono l'amore (2009)
Pretentious, disjointed, cliché ridden - in brief a laughable farce
OK I get it, it's the Italian version of Gosford Park, a not often seen slice into high society but so badly executed that despite the title here, it's not even funny.
The camera work is annoying, jumping here and there trying to look interesting and new, shooting from behind a chandelier, from under the chair, in focus, out of focus in such way it's more distracting than anything. What is the point of the close up on Emma's shoe in the final dinner scene? We know by now she is elegantly dressed, it's just breaking the flow of the story (unless the director means to say something like : she is the "sole" of the movie...:-) The whole first part of the film is seen from far away, then the director decides it's time for closeups and we get to see some facial expressions. But if this is a movie where there is little dialogue so meaning should be inferred or expressed by the actors, the acting does not clarify a thing, you often can't figure out what is going on, what has happened as if a critical part has been chopped off by a crazy editor. At least the actors are not as self conscious as in most Italian productions I have seen (Ozpetek's movies are one example and instead of the "soap opera" lighting we have good cinematography softly caressing the elegance and sensuousness of the settings.
After the opening Padrino style scene make you think this is going to be an intimate movie about the interactions of the high class, the movie shifts its focus on food and it's Like Water for Chocolate allover and we are supposed to get excited about the food-is-life metaphor. But at this point the movie mutates into a thriller when Emma is following the cook Antonio in Liguria and all you can think of is: did she steal that book from the store before bumping into Antonio?(the 2+ hours drive from her home in the Milano area to their love nest in Liguria seems a few miles away by car - one minute she is shagging him in the grass, the next she runs into the house to dress for the next meal). Finally the story goes where most Italian movies like to meet - high charge melodrama, the stuff of swelling emotions.
The sex scene that is supposed to represent their love is really not sexy at all: they cavort in the sun, sweaty, itchy for lying on grasses and bugs; sun blasted, white fleshed, pimply and bitten. And really, are we so unsophisticated in the director's mind to make the repeated takes off bugs-in-flowers drive the fact home that "he is getting down on her?" It's sex, it's messy and really unappealing to look unless you are the one having it, but where is love in all this? In the tears of the daughter in the final scene who is supposed to show that she approves her mother's choice having herself abandoned a conventional life by playing for the other team? And what with her wearing the stupid sweatshirt she wore at the hospital 3 days before for the brother's funeral, when everybody is wearing their dark Brionis and Channels? Is that supposed to mean she is opposing funeral elegance? That gay people protest conventionality at all costs even when totally superfluous? We have the good son wanting to save the workers to protect the grandfather's memory; the bad family wanting to sell out to make quick money, we have (Joe Bob Briggs where are you? I am channeling your style), faithful servants foo, the gratuitous Russian spoken in mother and son confrontation foo (my movie version did not have subtitles so no idea what the exchange was about) not to speak of the abstract colored soup they are served which SOMEHOW proved to the son that his mom was shagging the cook - what? I could go on and on on this but the point is that this movie is not what the critics make it out to be - profound and artistic. It's a failed attempt to be even a decent movie, It's a film that clumsy direction and lack of sensitivity turned into a laughable farce. And as Joe Bob Briggs would say - don't check it out!
predictable and superficial for a play-like movie
well not the worst movie I have seen but certainly a disappointing one given the cast and the director.
The movie had the structure and intimacy of a play which would have been alright if it had explored deeper into the characters' intentions and the meaning of their actions.
As it were they were predictable and cliché-y: the superficial billionaire, the jealousy ridden transvestite; the vulnerable baby faced model; the over the top "artiste" designer; the cold critic; the body guard (who had too much time to talk to the camera to be doing his job) etc. The story is unclear on what really happens to the two models though we know we should mourn but over what? Suicide, murder accident? We see repeated shots of the characters with cliché gestures of sorrow but we cannot share in the tragedy as we don't know what happened. We are led to believe that the blogger has incited a mayhem of protest but would people -young people we are told- protest so vehemently against some stupid fashion's show? Which gets rerun after the first corpse is not even buried? I don't buy that.
The format should have yielded amazing performances as in THINGS YOU CAN TELL JUST BY LOOKING AT HER by Rodrigo Garcia where the actors are stripped bare in front of a close up camera, but in RAGE they chose to follow preset tracks giving little more than prefab personae and that flatness is what kills the movie. Save for Dame Dench who is always superb; Dianne Weist's smile and voice as sweet as honey and Adriana Barraza who steals the movie as Anita de Los Angeles, the only believable and truly sympathetic character in the story. I was disappointed by Buscemi and Leguizamo who can do better acting (Buscemi is excellent as a grieving father in The Messenger) and by Izzard whose straight acting does not convince me - I love his cross dressing comedy routines and he should stick to them. Law is well hidden under wigs and make up and though I was reminded of him (his amazing eyes, beautifully enhanced by make up) mid movie I did not realize it was actually him. Still his Minx was just a caricature of a shallow diva who wants to grab and hold our attention, nothing more.
The vivid color backgrounds made for interesting optical tricks when complementary colors clashed and glowed almost hurt the eye, but were insufficient to keep one interested. It's a pity that Potter's failed to go beyond color and costumes for I loved Orlando, her aesthetic was formidable in that movie and Virginia Woolf's story well adapted to her eye for rich costume imagery.
Nothing But the Truth (2008)
should have stuck to being a biopic
I found this movie confusing and disappointing as it could not decide whether to be a biopic or a piece of fiction. It was obviously based on the Plame/Miller story so what was wrong about the real facts?
The story line was cloying and over-dramatizing, wasting a good cast: Dillon stole the show even playing an overbearing prosecutor/true patriot; Farmiga was excellent as usual in the limited role of the outed CIA agent and Alda is always enjoyable even when going through the moves of benevolent and sensible lawyer (yawn). Beckinsale flatly played the stoic mother and journalist willing to sacrifice it all for truth and ethics. However, while we know that Miller stayed in jail only a few weeks (if that much), the movie wants the protagonist to go back to prison after a jailing period of 1 year (!) not before you are submitted to a tearjerker meeting with her son's so the parting will be even more poignant - give me a break!
Several gratuitous shots (mostly the two mothers dealing with her children) did nothing to move the story forward or add significance while alerting the viewer of the looseness of a script typical of a "made for TV " flick .
Additional poor decisions spoiled the viewing for any intelligent viewer looking for a story line closer to the real events; like the killing of the "Plame" character - what for? To prove that the C.I.A. has no scruples? (as if anyone had any doubts considering the practice of Extraordinary Rendition). Or the protagonist idiotic fight with a roommate who consequently provides to thrashing her ("to an inch of her life" as lamely defined by Alda) after she has been as cool as a cucumber for most of her detention...OK I get it she is at the end of her rope, but why depict her as perfectly coping with jail before?
To turn a story about journalism ethics and political dirty tricks into one of martyrdom and fascistic abuse of power is a cowardly approach for anyone wanting to criticize the political maneuvers of the Bush administration... I am one voting for an honest critique of the methods used by such administration but show the hand that throw the stone please!
By the time we get to the revelation of who was her actual source what could have been a true surprise falls flat as no one cares anymore.
I would save a rating of 7.5 points for the much better movies out there, this scarcely reaches a 5 for me.
Stephanie Daley (2006)
HOW ABOUT THE Camera-work AND SOUND?
Wow, what a movie! As most of the comments before, acting was superb, the story was well laid out, intelligently and without patronizing explanations. What I was really aware of this time- I am not one very sensitive to technique in general- was the way the film was shot and the resulting realistic feel. None of the "look at me I am using a hand held camera so people would think it's a documentary" but I had the constant feeling this was real. The scene where the two Cranes are at the party, the unselective sound made the scene fell like it was a real party, one where you have a hard time sorting out voices and conversation from the general din. The camera was slightly swaying sometimes and the light not perfectly chosen so you felt like you do in real life: not always in the best spot to witness life unraveling, which is a characteristic of most movies, where any viewer is sitting in first row. That gave the performances extra boost, extra credibility and made the viewer absorb the movie's content even more deeply.
The scene in the bathroom at the ski trip is devastating, you can almost feel her physical and emotional pain and her conflicting emotions about the abortion, there for you to witness out of that sliver of space between door and doorjamb. Unforgettable. Too bad she is not getting an Oscar for it, but seldom Oscars are given to best actors, just best actors on the main circuit who made the movies at the right time to get the prize etc etc...
If this is not worth a 10 what is? But definitely not for anyone, not for those who need special effects or to be blasted from the chair by action or violence... for a mature audience even though the message is about the kids the movie is for their parents, to change how sex is taught in school...
Hank Williams First Nation (2005)
Intimate, wise, realistic in setting
Just loved the movie. It's people are so real, it was almost like a documentary. I loved the dignity of the old Indians especially the grandfather. He was kind and wise and well-placed in his time and reality. I would have like to see more of the trip to Hank William's grave but anticipating the trip was fun enough. The dialogue was good but the little details made the movie: the old man trying to beep open the car doors from inside the house; the woman cooking unfamiliar (to me)food; the nature shots to place you in context with the landscape, the loggers trucks passing, the morning radio with its mundane yet so endearing chatter: little details of everyday's life that is not your life. So little can become interesting without the need for special effects or a weird story. These are the movies I like, turn a banal story into a bewitching one and make you want to see more of these people's lives...
predictable, violent and ridiculous
This was the worst movie I have seen in a long time. It was pointless, pretentious and did not make much sense. It contained sex scenes that were more graphic than you'd expect with such a cast. The sex (including a full view of a penis with condom)leads me to consider it a mix of porn and B-movie. What Mirren and Gooding were doing in this half baked movie I don't know, they probably needed the cash but this performance stains their fame as serious actors. Gratuitous violence; gratuitous nudity; a preference for naked jiggly butts. A cornucopia of stereotypes -bad guys without nuances; the obviousness of redemption through motherhood; all amounting to a series of boring and predictable scenes. The only saving grace was Macy Gray's wacko character but she disappeared too soon. Cuba Gooding is expressionless in lieu of looking tough (he probably hated the film and barely acted). Helen Mirren attempts to portray an amoral American killer and fails ,she should stick to the British tight-ass female characters she portrays best. Finally I found Vanessa Ferlito's looks quite creepy - she seems to have been a victim of Michael Jackson's surgeon -check the nostril reduction/lips engorgement weirdness in the scene when she talks to Macy Gray on the phone!) All and all a movie to watch for laughs...
is it an art movie? is it satire? it's all of that and more
This is a classic. July's voice is captivating, mesmerizing, and funny in a very personal way. The music\is perfect background to the visuals, and the idea of the movie pure genius. The concept manages to balance between satire on art and the demonstration that art can be found in many small unintentional things. Some of the visuals in the split frame are too distant and unclear and their meaning -the reason for those shots- is not clear like the rest of the picture: but those are small flaws. The filmmaker looks at the moon when the sage points at it, not at the finger like most of us do. It could be a weekly view for me, a ritual to keep me oiled for more intelligent observations on life and art. And it is a warm up to Miranda July's feature film "Me and You and Everyone We Know" which rightly won the Camera D'Or at the last Cannes Film Festival.