Sunday, January 31, 2010

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert is perhaps the best international actress, her career spans several decades. With an extraordinary talent she has portrayed all kinds of women from very sweet, brave, innocent to some of the most powerful, complex and controversial roles I have ever seen, only an artist with her caliber has the experience and confidence to do these super complex characters in films like: The School of Flesh, Merci Pour Le Chocolat, The Piano Teacher and the most difficult one Ma mere. Some of my favorite films of hers are; Les Valseuses, Coup de Torchon, Story of Women, Amateur, La Ceremonie, and I Heart The Huckabees.

I just watched a film called “Les Destinees Sentimentales” with she in it, more like a miniserie, an epic story about a family through a series of decades starting in the 1890’s all the way to the 1930’s all surrounding a family that owned a ceramic factory in Limoges, France. Directed by the great Ollivier Assayas, the cast is great including the beautiful Emanuelle Beart. I certainly recommend this film.

Sundance 2010

Films to follow shown at Sundance this week.

Blue Valentine is an intimate, shattering portrait of a disintegrating marriage. On the far side of a once-passionate romance, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) are married with a young daughter. Hoping to save their marriage, they steal away to a theme hotel. We then encounter them years earlier, when they met and fell in love—full of life and hope.

 Buried promises “Promises” to be both a grueling study of terror and tension and a much-deserved vehicle for the underrated Ryan Reynolds, who has yet to find his proper place in Hollywood after a series of bad movies. He spends most of the film inside a coffin.

Holy Rollers uses the incredible story of Hasidic Jews smuggling Ecstasy in the late ’90s as a backdrop to examine the difference between faith and “blind” faith, inspired by actual events. In the lead role, Jesse Eisenberg, one of the best young actors of this generation, displays the internal moral struggle of a young man torn between polar-opposite cultures and ideologies. Director Kevin Asch fleshes out the disparate outer worlds of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community and the drug scene in Amsterdam, while revealing the complex interior lives of his characters and the taut dynamics among them.

Extraman This adaptation of an upscale novel by Jonathan Ames should undo the damage, starring Paul Dano, another great young actor, as a struggling writer who leaves his teaching job and moves to New York, where he falls for a co-worker played by one of the worst actresses Katie Holmes, and moves in with a crazy playwright (Kevin Klyne) who makes ends meet by working as an escort for rich women in the Upper East Side. A mentor-pupil relationship blossoms and the story unfolds.

Please Give Includes a cast of great actors; Kate (Catherine Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt), a married couple who run a successful business reselling estate-sale furniture, live in Manhattan with their teenage daughter, Abby.

Hesher  A Sundance veteran at the ripe young age of 28, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (my favorite young actor) follows last year's surprise hit with yet another change of style, a 20-something metal head stoner who befriends a young boy who's coming to terms with his mother's death. Natalie Portman, who also produced, co-stars as a supermarket worker who befriends the boy in the feature debut from Spenser Susser.

Howl James Franco, a great actor who recently made some weird career choices appearing in a daytime drama, plays Allen Ginsberg in this ambitious docudrama about the legal wrangles that faced the gay Beat writer when his landmark poem Howl was tried for obscenity in San Francisco in 1957. Franco's performance may be part of a reconstruction within a traditional documentary frame will focus on the younger Ginsberg and the ramifications of the trial, which raised serious questions about censorship, rather than his life story:

The Killer Inside Me  Filmed once before with Stacy Keach. The Killer Inside Me is perhaps Jim Thompson's best-known book, telling the story of a seemingly innocuous small town sheriff who hides a psychopathic secret, set in a shimmering 50s-style West Texas, starring Casey Affleck who plays the sadistic, two-faced sheriff and Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba play the female roles.

Sympathy for Delicious  Starring Mark Ruffalo after a few years away in mainstream Hollywood whose last Sundance appearance was with 2004's. He returns with his directorial debut. Also starring Christopher Thornton as 'Delicious' Dean O'Dwyer, a LA DJ who is confined to a wheelchair after an accident that leaves him paralyzed. Delicious finds that he has the healing touch, a gift that only benefits others, but the DJ sees a way to fulfill his rock'n roll fantasies in a dark comedy that also marks the return of Orlando Bloom as the tattooed, buff rocker who helps him.

Splice The ingenious, high-tech corporate conspiracy thriller by director Vicenzo Natali, but the more explicitly horror-themed film. A cautionary tale set in the world of modern genetics. It stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as a pair of scientists who play dangerous games with human and animal DNA. But though it features state of the art effects, the film has been hailed as a return to the bizarre, intelligent psychological sci-fi style pioneered by Cronenberg.

Abel Directed by Diego Luna; Screenwriters: Diego Luna and Augusto Mendoza. A peculiar young boy, blurring reality and fantasy, assumes the responsibilities of a family man in his father’s absence. Cast: José María Yazpik, Karina Gidi, Carlos Aragon, Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Gerardo Ruiz-Esparza. I am curious about the film, his previous movies; Buffalo of the Night was awful and his documentary about Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez was decent.

Sources: Entertainment Weekly and


Good Dick

I try to order not so well known “indie” movies from Netflix, this time I was pleasantly surprise with “Good Dick” a movie presented at Sundance in 2008. This film is from first time writer/director Marianna Palka.  The film stars Palka, Jason Ritter, Martin Star and Tom Arnold. 

“Good Dick” is about an unnamed guy (Ritter) and girl (Palka) caught in an unconventional romance.  He is a recently homeless video store clerk, presumably recovering from an addiction problem, who is fascinated by the weird, withdrawn, aloof sexual mess of a girl. She frequents the video store in search of soft-core porn.  Her character develops slowly and you begin to realize what a mess and how emotionally wounded she really is. As he desperately tries to invade her world, he drifts farther away from his friends and fellow store clerks who want nothing but the best for him.

I think I understand his motivation to relentlessly pursue her in spite of her horrible insults to him. He is fucked up himself to consider that as his only option, however it makes him feel useful. I enjoyed the film.  It’s definitely a different kind of romantic movie, the characters are not attractive. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meryl Streep

This month I saw two Meryl Streep films. When she first started her career I was so impressed by her performances in films like "The Deerhunter", "Kramer vs. Kramer", "Manhattan" and "Sophie's Choice". Shortly after she became a real movie star, she made great films like "Silkwood" and "Out of Africa". I lost close track of her career although I saw a lot of her films throughout the years, some good, some not so good.
Some really good and internationally acclaimed began to act themselves in every single part like Denzel Washington , Daniel Day Lewis, Robert Deniro among others.
I was thinking at first that she was gearing in that direction, however I was surprised with her role in "Devil wears Prada", there were aspects of her persona but you will soon forget you were looking at her.
In these two films I just watched, especially in Julie & Julia, she has a transformation, without being cartoonish, you are looking at a Julia Childs and that is impressive, particularly today that most Hollywood young famous actors can't act for sure, it's bad. The movie is not great, especially the Julie part played by Amy Adams, she is one of those actresses that suck, she can only play one role the young innocent, sweet girl, just check her films and see.
Streep also lent her voice to the great film by Wes Anderson, "Fantastic Mr. Fox", she is doing cool projects too.
The other movie I saw was "It's complicated" , the movie is a well written American family comedy. Meryl is really good in this film, you begin to understand that she is 60 years old playing the role of an energetic, extremely emotional, sexually active divorcee and it is totally OK. You realize that is great that at her age she was able to break the age cliches in Hollywood including the need for plastic surgery. This proves that when you can act you don't need to have a doll face with "fish lips" to keep on playing the ingenue at 50, very sad. The film is a good Friday night sort of thing, watch it with your parents, everyone will enjoy it. The acting is really good, Alex Baldwin, as the ex husband that wants her back is great and Steve Martin as her architect and potential boyfriend is good as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Barbarella 1968

“An angel doesn’t make love, an angel is love”


I have seen Barbarella several times in the past. However, every time I see it I read new things. This film version of the popular French comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest, directed by Roger Vadim. Jane Fonda who by the way looks amazing, plays a sexy yet innocent space-age heroine in the year 40,000 A.D. who gets herself into a series of situations presented as small adventures that take place in a series of different and fantastic atmospheres. Barbarella opens with the titular heroine stripping down to nothing in zero gravity among strategically placed credits. From there Barbarella embarks on a mission to find a peace-threatening young scientist named Duran Duran (Milo O'Shea) by order of the president of Earth. En route, falls in love with a blind angel named Pygar played by John Philip Law. Remaining true to its comic book origins, Barbarella's adventure unfolds in a series of dramatic difficulties and unlikely solutions, the movie moves very fast and gives way with sensation and excess for Mario Garbuglia's hallucinatory set design to dazzle us. David Hemmings (Antonioni’s Blow Up) is part of the cast, and featuring dialogue by novelist Terry Southern, among others, Barbarella is not only a comic sci-fi sex romp but also a sly, tongue-in-cheek portrait of the legendary debauchery of that era. With extraordinary costumes designed Jacques Fonteray, inspired on Paco Rabane, generally involving some plastic forms, hairy surfaces and sheerness. 

This movie can be understood as an experimentation of the idea of emotions and sensations produced by using classic and sometimes cliché film situations. Barbarella finds herself in a series of machinic contraptions that replace the idea of mundane sex, which even on earth is no longer a simple physical experience, considered a waste of time, the sensations must be enhanced by other devices; whether chemical, visual mechanical or ultimately atmospheric.  These are; the Excessive machine that gives her the ultimate orgasm while Beethoven’s 9th symphony is the soundtrack, the Hitchcockian biting bird cage, the chamber of dreams, the labyrinth of love, the deadly doll house and the palace of pleasure.

Visually rich in every way, the plot and the dialogue are sublimated for visual experiences and in order for Barbarella to find Duran Duran she must go through all of those sensations. The film is more contemporary than ever. 


This is another great movie by Canadian director Atom Egoyan. I have been following his career for a long time. He has directed some the films that really affected me as a young guy when I started to attend art houses regularly to enjoy good films. The first movie I saw from him was “Family viewing”, (1987) a story about family dysfunction, voyeurism and technology. The next film I saw was “Speaking parts” (1989) this film blew me away, it was the first film I saw that discussed the idea of communications and emerging technologies were going to change our lives, it could make us closer in a global way, even before the word global was used in our daily vocabulary.

After that I saw the “The adjuster” that I consider perhaps today his best film, which I highly recommend. Other titles like “Exotica”, “Ararat” and “Where the Truth Lies” are excellent films as well.

 “Adoration” in many ways continues the discussion of some premises presented in Speaking parts, (1987), the concern was; how technology produces severe impact on society as Atom describes it in the DVD interview, broadcasting technology was back then out of peoples’ control. Today is a completely different situation, people can broadcast anything they want using all the available formats and tools, youtube, facebook, blogs, with videocams and cellphones. The operation becomes trite and after our bedazzlement with technology now what? Where is our humanity?

The movie utilizes a complex narrative in which basically two stories become intertwine, both stories have a mixture of fiction and reality and they tend to operate in the realms of sensasionalism at least temporarily, this is while people still have an interest in them.

The main character, Simon, is about a teenager that becomes infatuated about a particular story that involves terrorism in its early manifestations at least the way we know it today and the extent of how a terrorist can destroy even his own family for the sake of that particular mission.

Simon starts to connect the terrorist story that he heard in his French class with his own personal tragedy due to the lost of his parents in a car accident. He begins to question certain facts after his grandfather, in his dying bed, while Simon records the scene with his cellphone, gives Simon his version of his parents’ demise. Simon begins to tell the terrorist story as a monologue part of a drama class exercise. This by the way, is encouraged by his teacher, who happens to play a really important and catalytic role in the film. He also equates the terrorist act of a man sending a bomb inside his pregnant girlfriend’s carry on luggage, unbeknown to her of course. Simon relates the fatherly roles and thinks his father killed his mother on purpose. It is a complex story beautiful told, greatly edited that exposes the fact that even after all the sensationalism that technology and media can produce, there is still the human factor that we need to contend with and there are still objects in the world that their physicality means a lot. People and objects are causes for adoration. 

Great acting from the kid who plays Simon (Devon Bostick), the teacher played by one of Egoyan’s favorite actresses, Arsinée Khanjian. The brother that takes care of Simon after his parents death is played by Scott Speedman, a hard and somber character, remember Ben In the TV show “Felicity”? I think he is working his way to become a really good solid actor in the more serious world of the so called “independent cinema”.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My One and Only

I was curious about this film but I didn't get a chance to see when it was playing at the theater. I just saw and I liked it. The film has a really good cast, Renee Zellweger, I am glad she took a break she was overexposed. She plays sort a not so dumb blonde that decides to leave her unfaithful husband played by Kevin Bacon.It is a small role, he does a great job, well he is a great actor anyways. There is a main character, a kid Logan Lerman that came out a WB TV show called "Jack and Bobby", I think this kid has a great future as a serious actor.
The film takes place in the 50's but the story is a contemporary problem it can take place in any time period. It is kind of a comedy meets a road movie.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Young Victoria

A good simple movie, a love story basically. Emily Blunt does a good job, she was nominated for a Golden Globe however, Rupert Friend does a better job in my opinion.
What I liked about the film is the mise-en-scene, I am a sucker for all those opulent and ornamented interiors, it is a good date movie.

Six in Paris 1965

A film made up of original short films by different directors, Douchet, Rouche, Paulet, Rohmer, Godard and Chabrol, organized by a theme or a place – flowered in the sixties, especially in Europe, where directors of international repute were gathered to contribute short films on a variety of themes.

The inspiration for Six in Paris came from Barbet Schroeder acting as producer, who hit upon the omnibus format as a way to work with most exciting young filmmakers in France and to explore the possibilities of shooting with new lightweight 16mm cameras. “It was the beginning of 16mm with direct sound, and he hoped that the new technology would offer the young filmmakers the freedom of shooting quickly and spontaneously, on location and in the streets. Schroeder approached six directors he wanted to work with and offered them the challenge of making a short film in this new filmmaking paradigm. They had freedom to develop their own stories, so long as it all took place within a single neighborhood of Paris. It was something of a revolutionary idea, as even the low-budget productions of the French New Wave had all been shot on 35mm. The idea of mixing documentary and fiction techniques was primary in his Schroeder’s mind, and each director took up the challenge with essentially the tools but his own distinctive approach. The experiment did not work as intended, the film projector technology could not enlarge as easily the 16mm. format.

All the stories and interesting my favorite one is Rohmer’s, the funny, little plot of a man’s clothing store clerk is brilliant. Chabrol's short has his definite feel. I highly recommend the film to the cinephiles.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Made in USA. 1966

I have just watched this Jean-Luc Godard film, released last year by the Criterion Collection. This happens to be a very important film in Godard's career. On a sentimental level this is the last film he made with his muse and wife, Ana Karina, they were already divorced by then.

On a professional level this film marks the end of the so called New Wave movement in Godard's career. This film is full of personal references, film references, literary references as well as political. This is to become the film that will lead the way of his future films full of political discourse.

The film goes hand in hand with another film that was filmed right after called "2 or 3 things I know about her", the story behind this film is as interesting.

A kind of thriller with a complex but loose narrative, indicative of Godard's dilemma as far as where to go next? In the last scene a very strong Ana Karina's character, Paula Nelson kills a character named David Goodis, some critics believe he is Godard's alter-ego, encouraged by the fact that the character's his last line is "you stole my youth". This of course can be interpreted in all kinds of different ways. Watch it and make your own conclusions.

Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer 1920 – 2010

One of my favorite French directors died this week. If you are not acquainted with his work these are some of my choices. I love the beautiful and human French country stories named after the seasons.

He was a French Film director , film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and teacher. A really important figure in the post-war New Wave , he was a former editor of influential French film journal Cahiers du Cinema

Rohmer was the last of the first Nouvelle Vague directors to get established. He worked as the editor of the Cahiers du Cinema periodical from 1957 to 1963, while most of his Cahiers colleagues, among them Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut were beginning their careers and gaining international attention.

The Bakery Girl of Monceau 1963

My Night at Maud's 1969

Claire’s Knee 1970

Chloe in the Afternoon 1972

Full Moon in Paris 1984

Boyfriends and Girlfriends 1987

Tale of Springtime 1990

A Tale of Winter 1992

Rendezvous in Paris 1995

A Summer's Tale 1996

Autumn Tale 1998

Last film was:

Romance of Astree and Celadon in 2007

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I saw this film when I was in Mexico City, I was interested in the film because the cast included one of m favorite French actors, Romain Duris, maybe you don’t think you know him but if you have seen movies like; “Le Divorce”, “L'auberge espagnole”, “Moliere” or “The Beat that my heart skipped", you would remember him. The story is written and directed by Cedric Klapsich. The plot is kind of cliché; While waiting for a heart transplant that could save his life, Pierre (Duris) has his world invaded by his sister Elise played by Juliet Binoche, and her three children. Her performance is no way near her memorable ones in Kievlovski’s “Blue” or Minghella’s “The English Patient”. The awareness of his possible mortality, makes him get closer to his sister and kids, She also develops a kind of badly written affair with a butcher. The film doesn’t hold its promise, besides his cool apartment there are no great shots of Paris even. Is a film to watch at home or on a cold winter night with a good friend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Me and Orson Welles

I was hesitant in going to see this film simply because of the bad connotation of having the High School Musical Star in this movie. However, it is directed by Richard Linklater, which I happen to really enjoy most of his films. It also has one of my favorite American actresses, Claire Danes, which I haven't seen in a long time. 
The film is entertaining, I was surprised by Zac Efron, he is not a good actor yet but he definitely could be a big Hollywood star if he doesn't derail like most Disney stars do.
The film is entertaining and has some really good actors in it. I recommend it as a good time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It is hard to tell whether I liked the movie or not. I really liked the way the movie looks. I am a sucker for Mastroiani's sense of style those early 1960's looks are amazing. Based on a Broadway play based on "8 1/2" by Fellini. A favorite film of mine as it is for many as well.

Twice removed from the original, the movie sort of follows the story. The problem for me is that the main character played by Daniel Day Lewis, who lately plays himself, he sort of does it once again. Anyway, the character seems completely helpless and lacks any guts, I hated that, it got boring after a while to stress his dismay about life.

It is not a traditional American musical, has more of a European feel to it, certainly abstract. The female characters looked spectacular which was cool. My favorite number by far was Kate Hudson's that is worth going to see the film.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

A really intense movie based on a Michael Chabon novel. A great cast Jon Foster, Peter Saasgard Sienna Miller, Mena Suvari and Nick Nolte, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. The story is a complicated love triangle. The story of a tormented guy with a dominating father that belongs to the mafia, played by Nolte. The main caharacter Art, meets this couple and quickly befriends them under unusual circumstances. He develops a strong attraction to both of them, which complicates the issues even more. Definitely worth watching, great acting job from Peter Saarggard as usual.

"Intimidades entre Shakespeare y Victor Hugo"

I saw this movie at the cinemateque in Mexico city which is always a great experience, especially when the cost for all these national and international films is 3 dollars.

The movie is directed by Yulene Olaizola. The movie is a documentary about the director's grandmother who runs a boarding house. The tiltle of the film has to do with the name of the streets the house is located at; Shakespeare and Victor Hugo. The grandmother is a great woman, larger than life. The story actually focuses and the dramatic life ofa very particular guest a young gay guy, Jorge Riosse that became the grandmother's great friend. A painter, a singer, and perhaps a murderer whose life had a tragic end.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parque Via

This is one of those modest jewels that you can find in cinema. It is a small film with a chilling end, Enrique Rivero's "Parque Via” is a film about a man that has worked for a family for 30 years and has taken care of an empty house for 10 years. A study of self-imposed solitude that's not boring, and an exploration of repressed emotions that's not alienating to the viewer, tale of a longtime caretaker of a vacant house whose self-contained existence is suddenly threatened plays almost like a low-key psychodrama or cerebral thriller. The man lives a lonely, but great life in a fantastic modern house located in Lomas, one of the best neighborhoods in Mexico City.

Beto, the main character, is an aging man that probably came from a rural town.  Apart from the rest of the world by high walls, and settled into a routine, cleaning and watching violent news reports on TV, he seems an island unto himself. A kind of ideal life, he has developed a fear of going to any kind of public place. He will start sweating and having anxiety attacks. 

The house after all those years is finally sold and Beto has no longer any use for the family. He will need to leave his peaceful island. His patrona (boss), La Senora, tries to do her best for Beto, who will soon be homeless and jobless, but events take a sudden, surprising turn. 

Though it's clear from their looks and demeanor, the social divide between the upper-class La Senora and working-class Beto is never put directly into words. He seems happy with the status quo and respectful of his employer, there is a kind of hidden affection, and she, in her own cool way, is attached to her loyal servant. The film’s power comes in the final act, though seemingly out of left field, in retrospect makes sense based on tiny nuances in the performances. Beautifully and masterfully directed, the actors are not professional, it has won some art house film festival like Locarno.

Limits of Control

“I always wanted to make an action film with no action, or a film with suspense but no drama.”

Jim Jarmusch


I saw Jim Jarmusch’s new film the Limits of Control the last day 0f 2009. I was blow away how cool literally the films is. it is minimalist and beautiful, a kind thriller, a bit James Bondish, about a cool intense man, “Lone Man” played by Isaach De Bankolé, sent from Madrid to Andalusia to do a task and all of the strange people he meets on the way. 

Many scenes reminded me of Antonioni’s beautiful and desolate takes; specially in L’Avventura. The main character stoic, elegant (he wears really cool suits) and handsome a kind of Marcello Mastroiani but for 2010, revealing great depth and sensation. The films uses these premises in a way practically new.

I grew fond of Jarmusch’s films after Coffee and Cigarettes, and Broken Flowers.  The narrative is cut and complex, at times but it reminds us of great eras of cinema like the 60’s. The film is hypnotic by using a classic cinematic language.  It reverses the typical formula; instead of jumping around for your attention it allows you the privilege of watching.  It’s the film’s time and movement and motivations that matter, and given the chance they will freeze you into a different understanding of things. 

I loved the premise of the film taken from Jose Alfredo Jimenez’s quote “La Vida No vale nada” (Life is worth nothing). A statement deeply rooted in the Mexican folk, curious choice, indeed. Many audiences in the world perhaps wouldn't not get the direct reference, which is reinforced by the “Mexican”, a character played by Gael Garcia Bernal.  

In many ways, Limits of Control is a lot like Dead Man, though maybe a little more of a diagram.  Like Dead Man the hero is on a journey, he meets a string of characters who make curious pronouncements about life, the inspiration is taken from ideas the main character takes from looking at the paintings at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Whether the film is about reality or dreams is irrelevant. The trip is rendered like a lush dream saturated in the light of southern Spain and guitar feedback, the hero says virtually nothing but inhabits a space of enormous gravity and knowledge and calm.  A must see for those who enjoy great films.