Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sólo con tu pareja, by Alfonso Cuarón

   Hillarious first movie by mexican director Alfonso Cuarón.

   A Don Juanesque character gets in love with his gorgeous new neighbor, a stewardess. She is already engaged, to a pilot, obviously. Through a plot set by one of his affairs, a nurse, he believes erroneously he has HIV and wants to kill himself. Great timing, as the stewardess, after catching her beau flying in other company, has the same plans for herself...

   This movie's color palette is amazing. And the timing and composition of the story remind me of old comedies from the time comedies where fun (like Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, ...). On the extras the director and his brother (author of the screeenplay) mention Blake Edwards and Lubitsch, other masters of the genre.

   The same pair worked in Y tu mama también, a movie with more exposure than their first. But not as successful in my humble opinion.

A serious man, by the Coen Brothers

   Amazing movie where the life of an university Physics professor starts taking more turns than he can cope with.

   His wife is meeting Al Silberman and asks for divorce. His daughter just cares about washing her hair, and going to 'The Hole'. His son's bar-mitzvah is around the corner. He's waiting for a tenured position. His brother depends on him, and so on.

   There are 'quantum connections' between his actions and other events. Like his simultaneous car accident and death of Silberman.

    The story finishes when he takes the action of accepting a bribe and changing a student's grades from 'F' to 'C-'. While he marks the minus sign, his doctor calls to report the results of his recent X-ray exam. Are the brothers insinuating this is another 'quantum connection'?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Raising Arizona, by the Coen Brothers

   Raising Hell, Raising Arizona

   A seven-eleven thief - Hi - falls in love with the policewoman - Ed - that takes his pictures in the many times he's been taken to jail. They marry. They strugle with little money and maried lifestyle. They desire to have a baby. She can't have babies. Why not stealing one of the recently born quintuplets from the wealthy Arizona family?

   This is what gets this beautiful movie going...

   And after lessons are learnt, Hi has this dream foretelling great possibilities of maturing and building a family.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homicide, by David Mamet

   Joe Mantegna plays a detective trying to catch an important drug dealer, while beeing assigned to another case, the assasination of an old Jewish woman.

   This last crime leads him to pay more attention to his jewish ascendence and will build up the conflict of this movie. Actually, the scene when he needs to face his identity as a jew is worth the whole movie. Something only cinema can show, not any other art form...

   I liked the way the question of cultural identity is presented on this movie. Blacks, Jews, Irish are in the same NY trying to come up with ways to survive. And all of them will be playing dirty tricks to accomplish that.

Make 'em laugh: the funny business of America (documentary)

   This is a PBS documentary in six parts of one hour or so about humor in America. Focus is on TV and early movies.

   There are some interesting comments on W. C. Fields, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Buster Keaton, Mel Brooks, Richard Prior, Charlie Chaplin, ...
   The interviews with Seinfeld and Larry David don't bring much new information on Seinfeld series.

   More recent developments are not covered.

   Overall, and interesting, but not great, documentary.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

... And the pursuit of happiness, by Louis Malle

   This is one of Malle's five documentaries released by the Criterion Collection.

   The director patches short sketches of lives of foreign immigrants in America. He, himself, an immigrant at the country, Malle speaks interviews or narrates in voice over with his strong french accent.

   As these stories unfold, the immigrant experience in the 80's America is shown as more and more complex. The film finishes with an american-born black women très à l'aise singing russian-jew music.
   How to call that?

   Reimmigration? Malle asks...

The White Ribbon, by Michael Haneke

   Space: A village in Austria;

   Time: before the events that precipitated into World War I.

   Strange events happen where people is hurt or die, and the children in the village seen to be involved somehow. Evil is around everywhere. Intollerance is one of its signs.

   The viewer won't know that really happened. But this won't block him to try to understand, Haneke-trapped once again...

   The movie's B&W image is amazing. The rigid camera angles reflect the contrived life of these characters in a beautiful way. And gives the story the look of a fable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Piano Teacher, by Michael Haneke

    The movie is based on a novel by Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek. Haneke adapted the screenplay and, based on his interviews, has changed the behavior of some characters.

   There is some judgment of value in this movie's title. By calling the pianist a piano player, the author seems to be referring to the frustrated career of the teacher as a piano soloist.

   A Piano teacher gets involved in destructive sexual games with one of her students. She takes special pleasure in torturing him and on trying to force him into a masochistic relationship. The origins of the teacher's behavior relate to her very destructive relationship with her mother. And the story can, in some sense, be considered a love triangle. The interaction with the teacher makes the student more and more frustrated, and at some point, he beats and sexually violates her.

   As she has already been shown mutilating herself, it might be that the relation with the student has just precipitated in her something that was innevitable. The final scene, where she quietly stabs her heart, and is shown leaving the building where she would play the piano and out of the picture is of extreme beauty. The story can't be resolved, the viewer is left with questions hanging. Some of my questions are:

   "Could anything have saved this woman?"
   "Given our life histories and different expectations on relationships, can love be possible?"