Wednesday, December 31, 2014

1. Boyhood

Another great film by Richard Linklater. This movie was filmed over the last 12 years with the same cast. Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring one of my favorite actors of all time Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents. Boyhood records the difficulty of growing up like no other film has ever done before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
The final product is nothing short of sophistication and joy, teaching the viewer to notice and appreciate the little things in life as well as all the people who help you through the difficult times. With Arquette in the lead as the mother who seems to be guiding her children in the right the path through life as her own life spirals in different directions. Ethan Hawke, as the runaway father who learns the responsibility of fatherhood from family, one of the greatest strengths of this film lies in the acting talents of its superb cast. An excellent must see film.

2. Interstellar

3. Whiplash

4. Birdman

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

I took my entire class to see the film, because most of my students are Was Anderson’s fans. The film stars the wonderful Ralph Fiennes as dashing concierge M. Gustave. The character has both grandiose and antiquated monuments in a changing world, there are views to vanished luxury that provide the perfect setting for Anderson's unique brand of whimsy.
The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of M. Gustave, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune—all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent.
The movie has a great cinematography a combination of 2d paper sets with 3d old and new school animation. Story was well kept and captivating no matter how kooky it was. It is Wes Anderson’s finest.

6. Foxcatcher

The movie has some of the best performances of the year, but before you head to the theater, you might want to get the facts of the twisted case. It is based on a true story of two athletes and a murder case.

These days, though, Hollywood stars like to stretch “the brand”. Steve Carell, the grand master of goofy witlessness, I have never enjoyed his performances to be honest.  He is playing a wrestling-obsessed, multi-millionaire murderer. It’s based on the real-life case of John du Pont, who shot dead US Olympic wrestling coach Dave Schultz in 1996. Mark Ruffalo is great and even Chanim Tatum is good.

A compelling piece of work, the film is notable for the intensity of both performance and plot. For this is not just a story about wrestling and madness. This is a story about the need to belong, the corrupting and isolating power of wealth, the potency of a shared delusion and the inescapable weaknesses that make us all human. It is a story of love, loss and betrayal.

7. Under The Skin

Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi horror is loosely adapted from the novel from the novel by Michel Faber. The result is visually stunning and deeply disturbing: very freaky, very scary and very erotic. It also comes with a sense of the absurd.

The heroine is an alien predator in Scotland. Maybe you have to be a Scottish to appreciate Glazer's masterstroke in casting Scarlett Johansson as the exotic alien in humanoid form, with her soft accent, black wig and sexy fake fur, driving a beat up white van around the tough streets of Glasgow, picking up men. She winds down the passenger-side window, skillfully engages them in conversation, and takes them back to her place. Between encounters, she roams, gazing at streetscapes, and making them alien with that gaze. There is pure situation genius in the bizarre spectacle of sleek Johansson being placed in this context, with lots of hidden-camera shots of real passers-by in real Glasgow streets and real Glasgow shopping centers, It is a a bizarre film but it is totally worth seeing.

8. Inherent Vice

A film by Paul Thomas Anderson with a great cast including Joaquin Pheonix, James Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Inherent Viceis is a legal term, used in marine insurance, which acknowledges that everything contains its own seed of disaster and that what can go wrong probably will. Eggs break, glass shatters and 1960s hippie dreams eventually going on the rocks of Altamont and the Manson trial. Here is a film that is as shaggy and funky as Joaquin Phoenix’s stoner private eye, all but tripping over itself in its search for some clues. This confirm Joaquin Pheonix as perhaps the best actor today.

Perhaps the movie it’s an invitation to simply turn on and drop out. But, stick with it, because there is a logic to Anderson and Pynchon’s illogicality. Because if the director’s previous film. This film is about the fracturing counter-culture of southern California, where LAPD cops moonlight as B-movie actors. Inherent Vice is one of the most weird and pleasing American pictures of the year.

9. Nightcrawler

10. Men Women and Children

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Theory of Everything 2014

The story of physicist Stephen Hawking directed by James Marsh. The movie starts in the 1960's in Cambridge when the young genius, Stephen played by Eddie Redmayne meets his future wife Jane played by Felicity Jones. Stephen begin to notice strange symptoms and learns that he has a weird neurological problem known and Lou Gehrig disease.In spite of this disease they get married but his illness gets progressive worst. It is a story of survival, of never giving up, certainly inspirational. Eddie Redmayne does an amazing jog portraying this character, his physical progressive transformation is mind-blowing, for sure an Oscar contender for best actor.  

Only Lovers Left Alive 2013

A Goth story of vampires, released early in 2014 directed by Jim Jarmusch, this is his his latest project. It is the story of a couple of very sophisticated vampires, the guy played by Tom Hiddleston is a rockstar that lives in complete seclusion. Their names are Adam and Eve. Eve is Tangier a city that seems old in a traditional sense and Adam lives in Detroit a city of desolation, they communicate via iphone, she decides to visit him in Detroit and this is where you see their different points of view about life in general. A fantastic film, strange, sophisticated, romantic, if you are a Jarmusch fan and even if you are not, you will like it.

Nightcrawler 2014

A dark film directed by Dan Gilroy about a guy that stumbles into a new career as a videographer for crime stories in the city of LA. By doing this he meets a local channel news cast director played by Rene Russo. Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees the opportunity to become a regular contributor to the station. Louis is a weirs guy a night creature that is always at the verge of loosing it, or so it seems you have no idea what he is going to do. He does have psychopathic traces and is a skillful manipulator, to the point of sacrificing his own employee to get away with something. Jake's is great in this movie, go check it out!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Interstellar 2014

This film will be one of the strong contender for the big awards. Directed by the great Christopher Nolan. It is a complex narrative about a post apocalyptic world where the air is contaminated. Former NASA pilot Cooper played by Matthew McCounaghey, by accident discovers the research of Prof. Brand played by Michael Caine, where he wants to move human civilization to another planet via a wormhole. A lot of situations happen with the different characters. The movie plays a lot on the notion of String Theory, the idea of folding time, the relation of Quantum Mechanics and Gravity as well as the different dimensions, This idea of the fifth dimension plays an important part if the movies narrative. I liked the movie much more than Gravity.  

Locke 2014

It is one of the best and most intense films I have seen this year. It is a solo performance by Tom Hardy, perhaps the best young actor today. Over the space of 80 minutes, Ivan Locke's life has a complete change through a series of phone calls he receives while driving down the highway to London to face an important mistake he made. On the brink of the most important day of his career as an architect/engineer, he faces a personal decision that would cost him everything. A must see film directed by Steven Knight.

The Double 2014

In this movie Jesse Eisenberg plays two roles, one of a timid office worker, scorned by his mother, ignored by his co-workers as well as the woman of his dreams played by Mia Wasikowska. He also plays his arrogant double. It is an adaptation of Dostoyevky's tale. When the double arrives at the office everyone notices him but nobody comments of the fact that they look exactly the same. The movie is a great play on humanity and the way we view ourselves. The film is directed by Richard Ayoade. A must seen film for those Jesse Eisenberg fans.

Paper Chase 1973

 A gem of a film. directed by James Bridges. The story of a first year year student at Harvard Law School. When he attends the class of Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. played by John Houseman, he realizes it is going to be a challenge. At the same time he needs to demonstrate mainly to himself that he has what it takes like all the other students. He becomes obsessed with the professor's persona. In a twist of fate he becomes involved with Prof. Kingsfield daughter played by Lindsay Wagner.

Marathon Man 1976

An amazing thriller, that I had seen before but it was good to see again. The story of Tom Levy, a graduate student and a runner played by the great Dustin Hoffman, Tom has no idea what his brother does for a living, played by Roy Schreider. When his brother dies in his apartment the nightmare begins when all sorts of dark characters appear to find out when Tom knew, specially the former Nazi played by Sir Lawrence Olivier, other bad guys like William Devane and his girlfriend played by Marthe Keller.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Laggies 2014

The story of a life in crisis as this woman played by Keira Knightly finds herself with no direction about her life. She goes into this weird life turn and meets this teenager that he befriends and through this relationship begins to find herself. She meets and begins to fall for the teenager's father played by Sam Rockwell, they began and affair that makes her realize she needs to break the engagement with her fiance played by one of my favorite actors; Mark Webber. A strange and funny story that is worth seeing.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion 1970

An absolute masterpiece by Italian director Elio Petri. A political thriller that denounces the power driven class in Italy in the late 60's. The film is the story of the chief police officer that sees himself above the law, He murdered his lover played by the the stunning Florinda Bolkan. He plays this game about leaving cues for the investigators about the fact that he committed the murder, however the investigators are oblivious to this and refuse to believe he is even suspicious.  The officer has a fascist discourse that he communicates to his subordinates in a great scene when he is giving them a speech, reminding us of a young Mussolini. The great thing about the film is that within a few exceptions the film is still fresh and unfortunately the problems of the ruling class in power is still the same no matter where you go. Actor Jean Marie Volonte that plays the police chief gives an amazing performance.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Birdman 2014

Another great film by Mexican Director Alejandro González Iñárritu. The plot is a complex combining fantasy with realism, sort a new magic realism. Terrific performances by Michael Keaton and Edward Norton. A sort black comedy about a has been actor trying to comeback by producing, directing and acting in his Broadway play.

Pride 2014

A fun film directed by Matthew Warchus based on a true story. In the summer of 1984, the National Union of Mine workers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers' families. Great 80's music from Bronski Beat and many others.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whiplash. 2014

Well, what can I tell you about this film without sounding completely biased. I basically loved this movie. Everything about it. Both actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are amazing. All the emotions within their relationship are intense. I can relate to both characters, having been on both sides. The music is amazing. It is all about about passion. Highly recommended.

St. Vincent. 2014

Another amazing performance by Bill Murray about a neurotic guy disappointed at life and people. He meets a young boy , a next door neighbor that changes his life. The movie is emotional but not sappy.  Great cast including Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy. Definitely a high recommendation for those Bill Murray fans like me.

Men, Women and Children 2014

 An amazing film about of our contemporary social regimes based on digital technology and social media. Four stories run parallel about couples, single parents, teenagers. The film is about human relations and parenting. A moving story that leaves you questioning and thinking about the society we live in.Directed by Jason Reitman. A must see film.

As Cool As I Am 2013

A cool coming of age movie with Claire Danes and James Mardsen. Directed by Max Mayer. Good Film, great role played by Sarah Bolger  and Claire Danes.

Petulia 1968

Excellent sort of psychodelic film with the breathtaking Julie Christie and Richard Chamberlain. Directed By Richard Lester,

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gloria 2014

A Chilean film directed by Sebastian Leilo about a middle age woman and her quest to combat her solitude and find a mature relationship. It is a film that vividly describes the difficulties of dating and survaving when a woman reaches her 50's and 60's. Highly recommended.

Mademoiselle 1966

Mademoiselle is a French - British drama film directed by Tony Richardson. The dark drama won a BAFTA award and nomination. The cast includes the beautiful and talented Jean Moreau who plays a teacher with pyromaniac inclinations. The story is a dark comedy about deranged love with fatal results.

This is Where I Leave You 2014

 Great Comedy with a fantastic cast including Jane Fonda that looks amazing. Funny and entertaining.

Mademoiselle C 2013

A great documentary about the great stylist and editor Carine Roitfeld, cameos from Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford. Totally cool.

Simon and The Oaks 2011

Great Swedish Drama about growing up in Sweden during Second World War and being Jewish. Highly recommend.