Entries tagged with “Brad Pitt”.

I had this film recorded on my cable TV memory device for quite a while. I was quite curious now to see it with my own eyes, after the dust of the extreme reception it enjoyed settled. Some of the critics I mostly admire declared it no less than a masterpiece. Among them the late Roger Ebert, although I must say his review deals a lot with similitude of the story and heroes with his personal experience. The film was also decorated with awards. Yet, many other reviews seem to incline of the other side. Mine included.


source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tree_of_Life_%28film%29

source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tree_of_Life_%28film%29


The story in ‘The Tree of Life’ is about the childhood and coming of age of a young boy in the Mid or South of the United States in the 50s or 60s. It is a little strange to say ‘the story’ as director  seems very little interested in story telling. What we see developing is a very Oedipal relation between a strict father (), and the elder of three brother kids, with the mother () becoming the moderating and caring member of the family, and an object of interest in the growing pains of a rebel teenager. I have no problem with story telling in different than chronological order, I have seen them all in movies – personal perspective, reversed chronologies – but in this case the logic was hard to grasp, and some details remained obscure to me. Did both younger brothers die? One drowning as a kid, the other at the age of 19 (his death is announced in the starting segment). If so, why does the first dead brother appear again and again after his death on screen? Are these supposed to be events that happened before his death? Or does the director intent to say that his presence continue to be with his family even after his death? All this is left in fog, and I am not sure what higher purpose this ambiguity serves.

There are two more plans in the film. One of them shows the elder brother many years later, remembering his young years, still in guilt and in an uneasy relation with his father (not clear if still alive either). ‘s  character seems somehow disconnected from the rest of the film, and from his young incarnation (huge performance by ). The most talked segment is the one that shows the origins of the Universe – it’s beautiful video art on Gregorian songs music, but I failed to be very impressed for two reasons. First, it’s not extremely original, the association with Kubrick‘s ‘2001, A Space Odyssey’ that was often made shows this, but what made sense in a space saga is less fit to a mid-America family drama. The disconnect of the three plans, or four plans if I count the after-days final is the principal problem of this film. Its length, the story telling style, the lack of logic made the experience quite boring to me, despite of the beauty of the cinematography.


(video source Clevver Movies)


On the positive side I need to mention the good acting. Brad Pitt is at his best in the role of the tough but caring father, mirrored in his son with the same failure to communicate beyond the strict rules of American fathering. Jessica Chastain provides a strong emotional counterpart, with delicacy and  femininity. None of the two talk much, but they are real and alive characters in a dead (but colored) setting.

I read that at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the screening of ‘The Tree of Life’ was met with both boos and applause. The film ended by winning the Palme D’Or. I am afraid that if I were in the audiences, I would have been among the protesters.


Was Karl Marx right with his critics and analysis about the capitalist system, its crisis, and inequalities? The question must have crossed the minds of many people faced with the periodic failures of the world economy and financial systems in the last couple of decades, which seem to have made the poor poorer, ruined into poverty millions of people who were part of the middle class, while making many of the rich richer. The question is asked indirectly also by the makers of ‘The Big Short’ directed by , probably the best film made until now about the crush of the real-estate market followed by the financial system which started in 2007, and to some extent continues until today.


source http://trilbee.com/reviews/the-big-short-2016-movie-review

source http://trilbee.com/reviews/the-big-short-2016-movie-review


The housing market in the United States was expanding and seemed to be rocky solid in the 1990s and the early 2000s. It was supported by a banking system which did not only provided the credits that allowed all the strata of the population reach the house of their dreams, but also created new money from money and profits from profits for the investors. This kind of bubble BTW persists until today and endangers all the capitalist economy. The film describes how a few people involved with the investment funds and banking systems had foreseen the fall (‘The Big Short’) and made a profit out of it investing in credit default swaps, kind of insurance policies against the deficit of a system which was supposed never to fail. If you want this was like buying insurance policies against earthquakes  with the confidence that an earthquake will happen in the next two years in one of the most stable areas in the world.


(video source Paramount Pictures)


Director McKay took a documentary book (Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,”) and turned it into docu-fiction of the best quality. In order to explain how the system worked he used the narrator who is also one of the heroes (played by ) and a few real life celebrities to explain the dry financial terms. I certainly did not become an expert in economics after seeing this film, but I can understand what chef Antoine Bourdelle means with taking lower quality (‘B rated’) sea-food and putting it in his bouillabaisse, package with his ‘AAA rated’ prestige. The smart heroes take life each on screen thanks to well written dialogues and fine performances of such actors as Gosling, , , or .

‘The Big Short’  proves that the financial and banking system that is supposed to support the capitalist economy is ill. It also proves that Hollywood at its best can make relevant movies that touch real life, while being good entertainment for smart viewers. In what concerns the question ‘was Karl Marx right?’ the answer is in my opinion that he was right in part of the analysis of the capitalist system, but was completely wrong in what concerns the cure. If a cure exists for the capitalist system, its name is certainly not communism.

Sometimes you see a film which has great premises and it disappoints. Some other times however a film which according to the subject and taking into account previous experiences in the genre is doomed for failure succeeds to surprise in a good way. This is exactly the case with World War Z directed by starring The .


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816711/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816711/


The human race is in danger and the enemy is inside. It is actually us and our neglect to the environment that causes a destructive virus to take over and spread by means of the global airlines network. In a few days or weeks, the danger cannot be hidden, as the virus turns almost on the spot human beings into zombies with enhanced powers and infinite hunger to bite and infect other human beings, and cities and countries fall one after the other into Z dementia. Only tiny Israel (one of a few movies my country comes with some kind of a positive face) succeeds to delay the fate by isolating itself and building a wall separating healthy people from the world-wide infection, but no wall is high enough to stop such an invasion (hear! hear!).



(video source JoBlo Movie Trailers)  


The resulting film is pretty entertaining, although the story is not much different that the one told at least ten if not one hundred times. Director seems to try something else with each of the films he makes, and here his rehabilitation of a genre compromised by too may bad B-series movies succeeds, as he can tell a story and creates a few memorable images like the one of the hysterical zombies pyramids, beings that may have lost humanity but gained social grouping instincts,  which had a ‘Lord of the Rings’ quality. Brad Pitt may seem to be a little bit regressing in his acting career, but as he approaches the mid-age roles time he must have felt happy to act again as the sexy savior of mankind, blessed with both muscles and brains.

The word is saved again. The only bad news may be that WWZ 2 is in preparation :-)

Here is one action movie that succeeds in a very original manner to say more about the America of today (or of a few years ago) than many other ‘serious’, ‘social’, ‘politically-engaged’ film. It does it so in a very Tarantinesque manner, but it’s Tarantino violent and milieu films with a twist. Or more than a twist.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1764234/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1764234/


Apparently director Andrew Dominik made just another gangster story. We can locate exactly when it takes place, as the soundtrack mixes music with speeches from the final weeks of the 2008 presidential campaign. A couple of low level losers gangsters rob an illegal poker house, which is owned by the mob. The reprisals will not be late into showing up because crime is a business and there are several levels this business is operated. One of the greatest qualities of this film is to catch the characters that populate the different layers of the crime industry and bring them to screen (with the help of a well selected and directed cast) in a very credible manner – from the drug-addicted burglars in rags to the smooth business-like manipulators at the higher levels who do not look too different from the corporate America managers, certainly not when they sip their Martinis.


(video source joblomovienetwork)


This is maybe the last great role of James Gandolfini (I did not see yet ‘Zero Dark Thirty’) and he has a couple of poignant scenes with Brad Pitt, fighting overweight, bad health and a feeling of mid-life lack of achievement which may stay as one of the last memories we are left from him. We will also be left with the memory of the final replica which puts the story in the context of a country which is run as a violent and uncompromising business. Certainly just one of the meanings of America today.



I believe that there is such a genre called ‘the Tarantino movies’. They have a story which is usually a gangster story, but not necessarily. Men in the story are teenagers or they all have teenagers minds, they are addicted to comics and pulp fiction, they love cinema if cinema was invented when the action takes place, there must be a scene in a cinema theater or at least in front of a TV set in these films. Girls are gorgeous and hookers. Morality plays an important role, but is of a special kind. There is a lot of violence in this films, so well filmed that viewers know it’s not true and they have fun watching it. Martial arts are the real art.


source www.imdb.com/title/tt0108399/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0108399/


Some of the Tarantino films are made by Quentin Tarantino. Some other not. ‘True Romance’ is not, but it’s written by Tarantino, it was made 20 years ago but looks as fresh as if it was made yesterday, which shows that the genre beyond other qualities also has the one of aging nicely. It’s a gangster story, it’s a love story, it’s a crime comedy about a young couple semi-willingly becoming murderers and unwillingly becoming drug dealers, it’s a road movie, it’s a movie about Hollywood. And it’s fun to watch.


(video source C64b)


There are so many good things in this film that I have a hard time picking which one to list. Dialogs and the musical score (Hans Zimmer – see the list of the films he composed for at IMDb and you will understand why you loved even more some of the best films in Hollywood in the last 30 years) are exquisite. Acting is stellar with the lead exception of Christian Slater which I simply cannot force myself to like. Lucky me, he is paired in the film with Patricia Arquette, and then we have Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman … wow … each of them in supporting roles hard to forget.

The director of this film is Tony Scott, who died last year. He was among these directors who would never get an Oscar because he just made the films that pleased the crowds. ‘True Romance’ is however much more than a crowd-pleaser, it may be T.Scott’s best and one of the best Tarantino films ever made.

I think that it is a mistake to judge a film as what it is not.’Inglorious Basterds’ is not (just) a war film. It is not a historical film. It is not a film about the Holocaust either. It is a film by Quentin Tarantino. A genre by itself.

Tarantino makes entertainment using as starting point different subjects, and develops them his way. One can of course ask whether world war II and the Holocaust can or should be dealt with by films in any genre. I believe that the answer is yes and that this answer was given already many decades ago. The French made I think some of the first comedies about the war (Babette s’en va-t-en guerre with Brigitte Bardot was made in 1960) and later in the past century the Holocaust started to be dealt in various registers, including the comic one, the best example being of course the fabulous La vita e bella by Roberto Begnini.


(video by hitfixcom)

I liked this ‘Tarantino goes to war’ exercise although I do not think it is his best film. Relative to the the ‘Kill Bill’ two volumes ‘Inglorious Basterds’ seems a little bit too simple and too direct. Yet it figures a triangle of characters that are all acted wonderfully – Brad Pitt as the commander of the Jewish avengers squad is almost hard to recognize in voice and appearance, Christoph Waltz is one of the best villains seen on screen in recent times, and Melanie Laurent provides an exotic mix of revenge, ingenuity and femme fatale. The other point of attraction is the use o a cinema hall as the set for an alternate end to the world war – here Tarantino is at his best and the result is unforgettable. This is enough stuff to make of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ one of the contenders to the Best Film Oscar race especially now that the number of finalists in the category was raised to nine. It will not get the trophy, but it will give a good fight.

The IMDB entry with more information, reviews, viewer comments can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361748/

There is one mis-perception that this film fixed in my mind – there are not really funny films about stupid people. Stupid people are … well … stupid, their behavior is by definition subject of easy jokes, so for smart and educated audiences laughing at stupid people comes together with a feeling of guilt. No fun.

What makes ‘Burn After Reading’ different then? I think that one of the reasons is that this is not only a comedy about stupid people, but more about a stupid people in a stupid system. The Coens attack, catch, and dissect a lot of holy cows of the American political system (the CIA, the government secrecy), morality (matrimonial fidelity), social habits (Internet dating, the gym) and national obsessions (the shrink, the divorce lawyer, the plastic surgery). Almost nothing that is a cliche in the average American behavior escapes becoming a victim of their cynical look.

While the script has certainly its role in the success of the comic experience, the story by itself does not try to be more than a funny chain of coincidences that hit a bunch of characters that act according to their immediate instincts and bad planning, something that brings us back to the time of the great comedies in the 30s and 40s of the past century. It would have been of no special effect without the master story telling skills of the Coen brothers, which pace their gags and laughs in the 96 minutes of screening (low figures well below recent Hollywood average).

Overall however the film succeeds through the perfect casting, and the brilliant manner by which the Coens succeed to bring the best out of their actors. John Malkovitch is an actor of all seasons, one of those that brings his personality in any role he does. Not here, where he melds into the alcoholic spy clerk, who loses his useless job and wife, hates the whole world and nobody cares about him, his life, or even about him losing the secrets he was supposed to have learned during his career. Frances McDormand who was the Coen’s unexpected heroine in ‘Fargo’ is back in the role of a gym clerk who does not hesitate to betray her country to finance plastic surgery, but worries even more being in time at her workplace after leaving the Russian embassy. Brad Pitt is her gym trainer companion, looking flat-minded and younger than in the teen years of his role as Benjamin Button.

And then George Clooney. I feel every time that I write about Clooney in the last few years that I need to apologize (to myself of course, as he does not read me or care) for having underestimated his talent and having considered him yet another TV actor and beautiful face. His work as a director and his last performances as an actor are better and better. Here he is superb, the happy husband who cheats his wife with Internet dates without knowing the reason, the involuntary and hysterical killer who associates with other stupid people in senseless actions.

Yes, it’s a cynical view of the world – but hey, this is entertainment, these are the Coen brothers. I am only worried a bit as I heard that the subject of their last film are the Jews!

More information about the film and reviews can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887883/.