Monday, December 27, 2010

Vengeance is Mine, by Shoei Imamura (1979)

   A japanese man runs away swindling and killing people. His days of running away until incarceration and execution are presented in this excelent movie by the super-original Shoei Imamura.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nuts in May, by Mike Leigh (1976)

   Life can be simple. Or can't it?

   Keith picks up Candice-Marie and they go camping. They have most of what's necessary for bucolic happiness: a tent, vegetarian food, musical instruments, guides. And they have planned everything, from the sightseeing trips to the proper shoes for each hiking situation.

   The problems are always with the others, though. When a neighbor camper turns on his radio, or a couple arives in a motorcycle, Keith and Candice-Marie's peace is disturbed, to funny consequences.

Viva Cuba, by Juan Carlos Malberti (2005)

   A beautiful love and friendship story between a young boy and girl in Cuba. The boy's parents and girl's mother don't go along.

   Her mother wants to move with her abroad and sends a lettler to request permission to the father, who lives in the farthest point on this special island, employed as caretaker for the lighthouse.

   Facing the prospects of separation, they decide to packs their school backpacks and reach her father before the letter arives. This gives the audience the possibility to follow their adventures and admire the ladscape.

   Their beautiful cuban accent is delightful to hear. And it's great to see that even a movie for a wider audience as this one, don't fall into the trap of a simplistic ending.

Monday, December 20, 2010

All my Good Countrymen

Rashomon, by Akira Kurosawa

   Rashomon is one of these films that are worth by itself and for the movies that it inspired. The idea of the same story told by different people and the truth for each person beeing so different is really influential in cinema.

   Kurosawa based this movies' story in two short stories by Akutagawa, 'In the Grove' and 'Rashomon'.

Singularidades de uma rapariga loira, by Manoel de Oliveira (2009)

   Amazing adaptation of a story with the same name, by Eça de Queiroz. The movie's story was addapted to the current times, but as the dialogues didn't change much and the style of filming makes it even more interesting than the original story.

   Taken in these days of economic meltdown, and loose ethics, the story acquires a different broader meaning.

   The image is simple, but amazing. Almost every frame looks like a paiting. Returning to a broad take of Lisbon, at different times of the day is so beautiful!


Tron: Legacy, by Joseph Kosinski (2010)

   The sequence to the first Tron, a science fiction movie from the 80's. I dont recolled the details of the first one, that I saw at the movie theater.

   Very entertaining. I don't see this genre of movies much these days, but I found the movie entertaining. It's not only for the aging old fans, the aesthetics will probably attract the young movie going audicence.

   I wonder how much Ducati paid to have their motorcycles as part of the movie...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Taste of Cherry, by Abbas Kiarostami (1997)

   Kiarostami won the Cannes prize with 'Taste of Cherry'. I have seen it at theaters when it was relased first. And some other times afterwards.

    A man, drives his Range Rover on Tehram, talking to people on the streets, looking for someone to cover his body with sand in case he succeeds to kill himself at a specified point in the outskirts of the city.

   He talks to a young kurdish recruit, to an afghan watcher at a cement factory, to an afghan seminarist, and to a turkish taxidermist that finnaly accepts his request.

   He then returns home and at night is driven by a taxi to the place where his 'accomplice' should find him.

   A storm is forming above the man, while he enters the hole, supposedly after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. His eyes look tired, flashes of the storm lighten his face and this is the last we will see in this context.

   [image is cut to a more granular camera image]
   On the same region, we see soldiers training, and hanging out. We see the director and his crew. We see the main actor.

   What does it mean? Obviously, you will need to make it up by yourself.

   One option: Mr. Badii died and he met God, or the director of the movie...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walkabout, by Nicholas Roeg (1971)

   Here I find Nick Roeg again. My first was 'The man who fell to Earth'. I was a teenager, and the movie completelly changed my idea of what can be done in a science fiction story. The feeling of isolation of Bowie in this strange planet was as harrowing as can be. Second was 'Bad Timing', with this blast of an ending, with no words beeing said, but so much information.

   On Walkabout, Roeg does it again. Here he stretched the reach of cinema language. The images of Autralian nature, the harship of life in the wild and the relationship between city life and natural life is shown as it is - complicated and destructive. The cuts between hunting scenes and a butcher cutting meat, or the girl and boy playing in the tree with the aborigine while an aborigine family was playing around the remains of the car. 

Pigs and battleships, by Shohei Imamura (1961)

Intentions of Murder, by Shohei Imamura (1964)


Monday, December 6, 2010

Salvatore Giuliano, by Francesco Rosi

   In Sicily, after the second war, separatist movements used the help of criminals against the central italian forces.

   The leader of one of the separatist groups, Salvatore Giuliano, was particularly difficult to track. The movie starts with presenting his dead body shot in a street in Sicily, and back to the motivations for the murder, and who commited.

   The way this movie was made is very special. The director uses a jornalistic style, or documentary, but he doesn't present a final version of truth. Some pieces of the story are obscure, and he leaves these pieces that way.

   The scenes for the judgment are very original. The movie looks fresh even though it was released on 1961. It has set the tone for subsequent political movies, like Z, by Costa-Gavras, or The battle of Algiers, by Gilo Pontecorvo.

Stranger than Paradise, by Jim Jarmusch

   The movie is divided in three pieces:

[the new world]
   A young man of hungarian descent recives his cousin straight from Hungary in his tiny New York apartment. Their communication is hard and she's stranded there for ten days before she can go to Ohio.

   Her discovery of America is very far from meeting a dream land. her cousin is not very receptive and their attempts to communicate are hard. At some point she asks where does the meet in his TV dinner comes from, to answer something like: Well, this is America, we don't know where food comes from.

[one year later]
    The two boys get some money with their card tricks and borrow a car to drive to Ohio and visit the girl. Their aunt, at whose house the girl is staying, is a relly funny character, mumbling in Hungarian.

    They run away from the cold Ohio and drive to Florida. Florida is not very different from New York or Ohio. The boys lose on dog fight and win on horse races. She is not allowed to follow them, but money comes miraculously if you're using the right hat!

    She runs to the airport to get a ticket back. They all end up going to different places.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wanda, by Barbara Loden (1970)

   Loden directed only this movie, where she also acted the major role.

   A woman leaves her husband and two kids and we first meet her crashing at her sister's couch. The arives late at the audience to wield the guard of her children to her husband and we follow her to bars and quick adrift encounters with people that would pay for her beer and for a roof where to sleep after some quick sex.

   She arives at a bar after a thief has stollen the place. She hangs out with him and they eventually get to work together. He plans a bigger crime than the ones he had been making and this looks like some possibility of her to progress somehow. To prove she's more than a 'good for nothing'.

   The plans don't go that well, he's not competent or lucky enough to succeed. He's shot at the bank. And she's left back adrift, running away and taking help from strangers.

   I like the final scene, where she had to run away and runs into a bar and she's back to the old trap of drinking and dissipation. And we look at her through a granulated image, and conclude that no transcendence is possible here.

Grand Ilusion, by Jean Renoir (1937)

   The Camaraderie among POWs in the first war concentration camps. The movie takes the french prisoner's standpoint. It shows a sort of idealized camaraderie among the frenchmen and the ruling Germans.

   The camp is run by a character player by Eric von Stromhein. Jean Gabin plays the good guy, and very well at that.

   The movies' mood looks too good to be true, or accurate. But the amazing long shots and camera sweeps, are the work of a master. OK, it's all  a big lie, but it looks really nice and fun...