Entries tagged with “Hollywood movies”.


The action thriller The Call which takes place in the Los Angeles area brings to the center of the action a category of people who seldom appear on screens in most of the movies dealing with police work – the emergency call responders. The opening scenes of the film do a fine job not only in describing the atmosphere and (2013 level) technology at the 911 LAPD response center, but also of defining the job, the responsibilities, the professional and human qualities that are required from the people whose voices one first hears when placing an emergency call. It’s a good start for an interesting action movie, that could have been quite special. Unfortunately, director  and his team did not succeed to make it one.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1911644

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1911644

 

The development of the story is rather interesting. Jordan Turner ( in the lead role) is an experienced emergency operator who had made one fatal mistake returning a call in a situation that allowed for the caller to be kidnapped and murdered. Many months later, she finds herself in a situation that seems similar to the incident that continues to track her day and night. It’s her opportunity to do things right, and to save lives. The dialog between the operator and the kidnapped teenage locked in the truck compartment of the car of the abductor is well built, has tension and catches the attention. The problem is that the script authors did not dare to build all or most of the film on the call itself. At some point in time they may have felt that the accumulated coincidences could not hold the story any longer, and they switched the call off. From that point farther the film became just one of these many action thrillers in which usual people become unexpectedly heroes. The issue is that in order to make these happen the script authors had to invent more coincidental situations, plus to build some reasoning for the motivation of the kidnapper. All these are just usual action stuff, and not very good one.

 

(video source Movieclips Coming Soon)

 

delivers good acting as she always does, but she seems to be in danger of accumulating roles that look too much one with the other. The rest is just another action film, especially in the last third of the screening time. It’s a pity for the film that promised so much at the start. The good thriller about the emergency responders is still to be made.

So we bought our tickets and our medium sized popcorn box (usually lasts about 15 minutes in the movie), grabbed the 3D spectacles and sat in the theater to watch Wonder Woman. That’s the way to do it. Each genre has its rules and one needs to know a minimum of them before entering the cinema theater or starting to see a movie on TV or on his/her preferred viewing device. When I chose to see a super-heroes comics inspired movie I do not expect a lot of realism or credibility from the story, and these are not the films where I am looking for lessons about life. On the other hand I am ready for fun entertainment, for action and special effects, I hope to see a coherent story with actors performances that make me care about the characters. I do not care about the laws of physics, but I hope there will be some humor and that the good guys will eventually prevail.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279/

 

Many of the super-heroes movies nowadays do actually carry some cultural background, it’s just a different type of culture, and it helps, although it is not mandatory, to know it. ‘Wonder Woman’ is a character that combines the mythology of comics stories with the other mythology, the ancient Greek one, the one we read about and maybe learned about in school. Invented during WWII, at a time when women were playing an increasing role in supporting the war effort, mostly by undertaking the roles played in economy by the men sent to fight, but not on the first line of the front, the character of princess Diana (yes, this is the name of the character) carries a strong feminist message. The authors of the script and director moved the origins of the story to the end of WWI, the war that was supposed to end all wars. By the way, hard to believe that this talented director is at her only second film, and that 14 years passed since her remarkable debut with Monster. They brought the princess from her isolated island somehow hidden in the mist of mythology, in a tentative to really end all wars. We all know that the tentative failed. In the process the hero will learn a few things about men and evils of mankind, will avoid and block a whole arsenal of bullets and bombs and will kick many bad guys to dust.

 

(video source Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

I enjoyed ‘Wonder Woman’ because of a few good reasons. The feminism of the message is never dogmatic and almost always impregnated with a dose of self-irony. who plays the lead role may not be a great actress, but she has the looks, is very well fit physically and typologically for the role. The film is very much the story of her coming to age while learning to understand mankind and fighting on the side of the good guys. She does it with the smile of a teenager on her face and radiates optimism and belief in truth which somehow becomes credible and succeeds to overcome the horrors of the carnage fields of the world war we see on screen. While playing well on the mythology grounds, the story has enough humor to avoid being dry or pathetic and lets us understand we are still in fantasy land. I also liked the special effects, especially in the opening scenes when the Amazons fight the uneven battle with the war machines created by men since they were lost in history. The color palette of the cinematography was well adapted to the different phases of the story, although the 3D spectacles made it (again) too dark – there is something that needs improvement in the technology here. I also liked two of the supporting actors – who succeeded to be the nice guy without being over-sweet (also because of the dose of humor invested in his role), and especially which I have seen previously in Fargo and who develops to be a formidable actor. I liked less the other characters, especially the bad guys, who were, well … cartoonish. The end of the story was a little disappointing. It looked like one of these epic superheroes endings, but the careful preparation and building that preceded prepared me for something better. It leaves however clearly the path open for the sequels and I will be making reservations when pre-sales tickets become available.

 

The opening sequences of director ‘s The Descendants include a short (maybe less than one second) image of a powerful and beautiful woman surfing on the waves around Hawaii. For most of the rest of the film the woman will lie in a comma on a hospital bed and she will eventually die. What happens when a dear and close family member is suddenly taken by fate (a surfing accident in this case) from among us? How does the husband, how do the kids cope? Do we ever end discovering who the closer human being to us is? The answer this film gives is no, even after accident and death do us apart, we may not end discovering who we live or lived with.

 

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

 

I am no big fan of this genre of movies. I can cope with death on screen in horror flicks, action movies or westerns because I know that they are fiction. It’s more difficult to deal with such subjects in a realistic contemporary story, and none of the ‘romantic’ comedy or melodrama genres films succeed to my taste unless they are really very good. Actually one of ‘s previous films, the 2002 About Schmidt was one of these due to the extraordinary performances of and . Here we have in the role of the real-estate owner and super-busy professional whose wife accident brings back to the earthly dealings of coping with his two daughters – one just our of the teen years, the other just before her teen years – and a complicated property heritage selling in which family interests conflict with the keeping of the Hawaiian tradition and attachment to the land. Clooney is better in my view in emanating authority than emotions, his sense of humor helps him overcome the limitations of his acting skills, but in this film I had the feeling his playing on the emotional cords did not completely succeed.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7OzS54hbo

(video source Fox Star India)

 

Yet, there are a few real good moments. I mentioned the opening scene which kind of opens the path to what follows. The performance of (as the younger daughter) when learning about her mother’s fate is simply amazing. is also acting well as the elder daughter. Moments of real truth surge here and there, when some of the supporting actors (like ) are left to express their emotions in the patterns dictated by the story. Hawaii gets its opportunity as the background of a real American story and I can just hope that more movie makers will come here for other reasons than filming beaches and waves. The good moments mix however with a too high dose of melodrama, expected turns of the story, sit-com like approach to dramatic situations. The Descendants promise much, deliver less, and its initial success seems to fade, like one of these beautiful color photos whose contrast fades in time blurring the persons and the landscape.

 

Here is a very strange combination. Actually let me formulate this as a question. Can a team of film makers take a completely ridiculous ‘kaiju’ (Japanese monster) story, combine it with a sweet and teary romantic story, and make out of the combination of the two an entertaining movie? The answer is yes, the name of the film is Colossal, written and directed by the Spaniard director at his second film in the American studios.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4680182

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4680182

 

Monster stories are usually laughable. This one is so unbelievable that I will not spend any time analyzing it. The script takes no pain in making it otherwise, and no efforts were made either for creating special effects that would be any better than the ones in the classical Japanese or American movies of the genre from the 60s or 70s. There is a romantic story here, about an alcoholic messy girl () returning twenty years or so later to her small, frozen in time childhood city, after breaking with her boyfriend in New York, meeting a former elementary school colleague, and trying to make sense of her life. And than, while she gets even messier and more drunk, strange things start to happen. None of these are bright and convincing, and yet the combination works.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

What is the secret? It may be in ‘s acting, or maybe in her eyes, the biggest on big screens since Goldie Hawn. Her counterpart – as the bar owner Oscar who ends in a very different place than where he starts – provides also a nice acting performance. It may be in the touch of humor that makes the unbelievable seem … well … reasonable? It may be in the fact that there is a touch of humanity and emotion that is being added to all the incredible events taking place on screen. It may be to the fact that the rules of the horror genre are never taken too much in serious and that they are so barely and rudely exposed that they invite the viewers to understand that this is just another story about monsters made of clothes or paper and cities made of wrapping boxes. It may be the combination of all these, or something else, but whatever it is, the film is very watchable, odd, and funny.

 

 

 

I was quite curious to see Manchester by the Sea which was considered one of the best movies of the year and received two Academy Awards. Overall I was quite disappointed (relative to the expectations and the fuzz) and I believe that the success of this film is due merely to the dry season that was 2016 for the American film industry, with a selection missing movies that were both ambitions and well made, and with criteria for promotion and selection as nominees dominated by non-cinematographic arguments.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4034228/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4034228/

 

There are certainly many reasons for the film to be interesting. The script is well written (director has authored several smart scripts beyond the ones of his own movies) and builds carefully the characters while gradually dissipating the fog around their past and the reasons they behave as they do with a mix of the progressing story and flash-back scenes interleaved in a clever manner. The atmosphere of the small town by the sea not far from Boston is well described, the characters that populate it are credible, and the cinematography is so poignant that it makes us feel the cold, the wind, the proximity of the sea. All these cannot however hide the thin content of the story – a mix of a tutoring story of a teenage boy orphaned by his father and of guilt caused by the responsibility of a terrible tragedy in the past of the uncle assuming the parenting. One way or another all characters in the story are marked bu grief – how they cope with it and what are the consequences of the disappearance and absence of the dear ones differs. The problem is that the story is thinner than the materials it is built from, and the characters are less interesting from the moment we understand their stories. I happened to see this film three days after 20th Century Women which was also bringing to screen a piece of life including the story of coming of age of a teen boy. What a difference between the characters in the two movies, between the rich and interesting universe of ‘ film and the dry and empty world of the world described by  !

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

What about acting? A lot was written and said about ‘s performance which earned him the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award. I appreciate his acting of a man who hardly survives the grief, but there is nothing unexpected or interesting in the character. He is under shock, he has accesses of violence, he tries to do best to help his nephew, but is and will be forever marked by the tragedy of his life. All these are obvious. Are these worth an Academy Award? I doubt. Young provides actually a good counterpoint with some unexpected but well placed humor for a teenager who sometimes acts as the adult in the difficult relationship with his uncle. The rest of the cast does well, with being wasted talent in a film that is not bad, but is certainly overrated and in many moments simply boring.

Îmi place sezonul cinematografic de primăvară, în special cel american. Mă refer în mod special la piaţă cinematografică americană, deoarece această este influenţată foarte vizibil de Premiile Oscar, care în ultimii ani sunt decernate la sfârşitul lunii februarie. Din această cauză, multe dintre filmele lansate în lunile premergătoare festivităţilor de la Dolby Theater din Hollywood (şi perioada se extinde până la şase luni!) ochesc premiile, îşi modelează temele, jocurile actoriceşti, viziunile regizorale, chiar şi atitudinile politice după gusturile membrilor Academiei. După sfârşitul lui februarie apar filmele mai eliberate de aceste constrângeri, cele pe care producătorii îşi iau riscul să le lanseze într-o perioadă în care ştiu că pot fi ‘uitate’ de cei care vor propune listele de candidaţi la râvnitele statuete. Trei dintre filmele văzute de mine în ultimele săptămâni (sau poate doar două dintre ele, primul fiind ceva mai ‘convenţional’) aparţin acestei categorii de filme care nu ţintesc şi nu aspiră la vreun Premiu Oscar. În schimb ele sunt toate legate de temele ştiinţifice şi implicaţiile lor pentru viaţa noastră de azi şi pentru viitorul nostru care sunt subiectele principale ale rubricii CHANGE.WORLD.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340

 

Foarte puţine filme s-au ocupat până în prezent de începuturile programului spaţial american, şi mă întreb de ce. Avem de-a face cu o adevărată saga americană aşa cum îi place Hollywood-ului, care a avut loc la un moment istoric despre care încă ne amintim mulţi dintre noi. Este o poveste cu eroi celebri şi anonimi, o poveste care începe cu disperarea şi teama provocate de sovieticii care luaseră avans în cursa pentru spaţiu (cu lansarea satelitului Sputnik şi cu trimiterea primului om în spaţiu) şi se termină în triumf cu aselenizările din programul Apollo. Şi totuşi, Hollywood-ul încă nu s-a prea ocupat de această perioadă şi nu a făcut filme despre această poveste şi oamenii care au făcut-o posibilă. Filmul ‘Hidden Figures’ (‘Cifre – dar şi figuri – ascunse’) umple doar parţial o parte din acest decalaj, ocupându-se de un aspect puţin cunoscut al primelor programe spaţiale, dintr-o perspectivă specifică, cu accent pe un episod neaşteptat şi necunoscut – prejudecăţile rasiale cu care se confruntau şi pe care au trebuit să le depăşească primii contribuitori afro-americani la programul spaţial. El spune povestea (până acum) puţin cunoscută a unor eroi, care nu numai că erau „de culoare“, dar, de asemenea, se întâmpla să fie femei.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/mediaviewer/rm1049245184

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/mediaviewer/rm1049245184

 

„Hidden Figures“ este un film de ficţiune bazat pe cartea documentară ‘ Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race ‘, scrisă de Margot Lee Shetterly. Autorii scenariului şi regizorul Theodore Melfi au fost extrem de atenţi la detalii, situaţii şi dialoguri cu scopul ca acestea să fie cât mai aproapiate de ceea ce s-a întâmplat în realitate. Reuşita lor în acest sens a fost confirmată de eroii care au trăit perioada (inclusiv, se pare o scenă care arată foarte a la Hollywood, dar se pare că s-a întâmplat în realitate, cu astronautul John Glenn pe rampa de lansare a primul zbor solicitând calculele de traiectorie care urmează să fie verificate de „fata“ pe care o întâlnise în sala de şedinţe de pregătire). Au fost reconstituite în detalii clădirile, coridoarele, camere de lucru, toaletele (!), locurile de parcare de la sediul NASA din Virginia acelor ani. Ceea ce este şocant astăzi mai ales dintr-o perspectiva ne-americană este măsura în care segregarea şi discriminarea rasială era incă o parte a vieţii şi a sistemului legal cu puţin mai mult de o jumătate de secol în urmă, în ţara care era liderul de blocul democrat în lupta împotriva comunismului, şi care concura cu Uniunea Sovietică pentru a trimite primii oameni în spaţiu.

Tonul „de inspiraţie“ domină filmul, iar privitorul are senzaţia că aproape fiecare cadru, atitudine a personajelor sau dialog este în conformitate cu concluzia pe care filmul îşi propune să o transmită. O abordare mai realistă sau mai neutră ar fi făcut în opinia mea ca mesajul să fie mai convingător. Mi-a plăcut în schimb cum au fost construite personajele, faptul că cele trei femei care sunt eroinele filmului au fiecare propria ei personalitate, talentele şi căile proprii de confruntare şi depăşire a prejudecăţilor. Cele trei actriţe – merită să le menţionez numele – sunt Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer şi Janelle Monáe şi sper să le văd în mai multe filme (bune) în viitor. Actori cunoscuţi cum sunt Kevin Costner şi Kirsten Dunst apar în roluri secundare şi fac o treaba bună. ‘Hidden Figures’ este un film solid şi în unele locuri emoţionant, dar nu se poate desprinde de convenţiile de gen şi stil pe care se pare că autorii înşişi şi le-au impus.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5442430/

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5442430/

 

Dacă în ‘Hidden Figures’ totul merge până la urmă bine şi se termină cu bine, nu la fel stau lucrurile în drama spaţială ‘Life’ (în România titlul sub care este difuzat filmul este ‘Semne de viaţă’). Va amintiţi faimoasa lege a lui Murphy? „Orice lucru care poate merge prost, va merge prost.“ Aplicarea ei cinematografică în genul filmelor ‘horror’ spaţiale pare a fi filmul regizoruluiorului Daniel Espinosa. Ce se întâmplă dacă cele mai rele presupuneri şi cele mai profunde temeri legate de contactul lung căutat şi aşteptat cu viaţa extraterestră vor deveni realitate? Această pare a fi premiza filmului, subliniată de o execuţie care face reverenţe unor predecesori renumiţi ca ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ a lui Stanley Kubrick şi ‘Alien’ a lui Ridley Scott, dar o face cu o altă dozare a componentelor, adăugând câteva ingrediente proprii care fac filmul interesant şi palpitant.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5442430/mediaviewer/rm3097821440

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5442430/mediaviewer/rm3097821440

 

Regulile de ficţiune fantastică sunt bine respectate aici. Acţiunea începe în atmosfera familiară şi confortabilă a unei staţii în spaţiu la întoarcerea din Marte. Expediţia a fost un succes, în bagaj se află şi prima dovadă a vieţii extraterestre. Ştirile sunt primite cu entuziasm pe Pământ. Times Square se umple cu spectatorii entuziaşti ai transmisiilor în direct de pe staţia spaţială internaţională. Reportajele amestecă ştiinţa cu trivia despre introducerea şi eliminarea de alimente din corpul uman, în condiţii de imponderabilitate, iar copiii de şcoală sunt cei care dau un nume familiar („Kevin“) noii formă de viaţă adusă de pe Marte. Se întâmplă însă că această celulă vie foarte inteligentă are puterea de a se transforma în câteva minute de timp pe ecran într-o maşină de ucis, care va începe prin a devora unul după altul pe membrii echipajului a căror misiune de a asigura o protecţie a Pământului şi a vieţii de pe planetă este în pericol. Dintr-o dată consecinţele par mult mai grave.

Pentru un film serios de science-fiction scenariulul are găuri uriaşe şi abundă în gafe ştiinţifice, dar acest lucru devine secundar din cauza dezvoltării bune a personajelor. Destul de neobişnuit în filmele genului, vom ajunge să-i cunoaştem pe cei şase astronauţi, iar atunci când încep să moară decese eroice dar oribile, deja ne pasă de ei. Jocul excelent al actorilor contribuie la reuşita filmului, cu Jake Gyllenhaal excelând în tipologia ‘băiatului-de-care-ne-pasă’ . Decorurile încearcă, de asemenea ceva special, această staţie spaţială are o mulţime de coridoare tubulare care da o senzaţie de labirint claustrofobic, imponderabilitatea este sugerată spectatorilor prin utilizarea poziţiilor în unghi ale aparatului de filmat, şi atmosfera este dominată de o paletă de culori care par negativul sumbru al non-culorilor reci din filmul lui Kubrick. Nu voi spune mai multe despre cum se termină filmul decât că acesta a fost unul dintre cele mai neaşteptate şi tulburătoare finaluri pe care l-am văzut în ultima vreme. Încă un motiv bun să nu pierdeţi acest film, mai ales dacă va plac genurile science-fiction şi de groază.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827

 

Nu am văzut filmul original, un anime / manga japonez cu acelaşi nume, care stă la baza producţiei ‘Ghost în the Shell’ (‘Fantoma din Carcasă’) şi acest lucru poate fi un avantaj sau un dezavantaj. Am citit unele articole care compară cele două filme, şi care de asemenea, se referă la seria de benzi desenate creată ulterior, precum şi la seria de mare succes „Matrix“, care a preluat aparent multe idei de la ea. Mi se pare că mă pot bucura şi aprecia filmul regizorul Rupert Sanders chiar mai bine fără această comparaţie, deşi poate îmi lipsesc unele dintre nuanţele sau diferitele direcţii din lucrarea originală.

Ceea ce poate s-a schimbat în cele două decenii de când lucrările japoneze originale au fost create este faptul că o mare parte din tehnologia care este descrisă în film a devenit realitate, iar pentru restul, fezabilitatea este un fapt confirmat. Organele artificiale sunt acum tot mai pe larg folosite în înlocuirea ţesuturilor afectate de boli sau accidente. Ştim mai multe despre modul în care funcţionează creierului, modul în care informaţiile circulă între creier şi corp, precum şi modul în care acţiunile mecanice ale corpului uman sau ale protezelor artificiale sunt controlate. Transplanturile de creier nu a fost încă executate pe oameni, dar sunt considerate realizabile, şi la fel, în viitor, implantarea creerului într-un organism complet artificial. Ca şi în film, mulţi dintre oamenii sunt sau vor deveni hibrizi cu un procent mai mare sau şi mai mare de piese de schimb înlocuite.


sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/mediaviewer/rm1181746688

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/mediaviewer/rm1181746688

 

Filmul se ocupă de un viitor în care primul implant cerebral este făcut într-un corp artificial. Acest lucru face din eroina principală (Scarlett Johansson), un fel de super-erou, o armă vie pentru a lupta împotriva teroriştilor. Doar că fosta ei identitate („fantomă“) apare în ‘flash’-uri din ce în ce mai dese şi mai consistente, şi în timp ce ea îşi recapătă treptat identitatea umană, realitatea din jurul ei devine mai puţin conectată la adevăr. Ceea ce urmează este o combinaţie de film de acţiune (sau chiar de acţiune cu super-eroi) şi genul de science-fiction inteligent, care are loc într-o lume în care oamenii coexistă cu hibrizi, sau poate mai bine spus aproape orice om a devenit, de asemenea, un hibrid. Este un film care reuşeşte atât să distreze cât şi să pună întrebări dificile despre evoluţia viitoare a omenirii şi relaţiile cu maşinile gânditoare create de oameni. Ca şi explorarea spaţială, acestea sunt teme pe care le abordăm şi le discutăm des în rubrica CHANGE.WORLD.

 

(articolul a aparut in revista culturala Literatura de Azi – http://www.literaturadeazi.ro/ )

The most unusual and violent scene in director 20th Century Women is the opening scene. A car suddenly bursts in flames in the parking of a supermarket. The year is 1979. Is this a violent act (not unusual for a period when racial and political clashes often turned so) or some mafia coup? It turns that it’s just an old car overheating. That’s the most extreme scene, the rest, even some fist-fight between teenagers, is just life. Real life, brought to screen with talent and emotion in one of the best films I have seen lately.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4385888

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4385888

 

It could be the story of the coming to age of a 15 years boy with a rather intrusive and dominant single mother. It could be a film about a period of confusion in history, or better said the beginning of many consecutive periods of confusion, when values were eroding and the old generation of leaders were having too many doubts to be able to continue to lead. It may be the story of a single mother, born after WWI, raised during the Big Depression, who dreamed to become a fight pilot but WWII ended to early for her to fulfill this dream, who fell in love, gave birth to a child, got divorced, and raises her child as well as she understands, in the friendly and tolerant atmosphere of California ten years after the Flower Power era. It may be the story of three women at three different ages of their lives coping with loneliness and failed relations. It may be all these and more.

 

(video source A24)

 

The characters in 20th Century Women are weird because they are true. They are actually weird as in real life, weird as each one of us is. Fabulous acting helps to make these characters live persons which remain with you as viewer long after the screening ends. as the aging mother gives a performance which reminded me some of ‘s finest. acts literally since she was a toddler, and grows into becoming a formidable actress – this may be the role we shall remember years later of her as a growing and mature teens (but are not teen girls more mature than teen boys as a rule?). is a real revelation, she enters her messy character and makes it true. succeeds to be real, complex, and likeable – with him Hollywood has a new teenager idol, I hope it will not break but rather lunch his career. I do not know where director hid until now, but before I applaud his work I would like to praise script author  who wrote a story that lives on screen, moves the viewers and brings back the time when things started to go wrong but the emotions and kindness of the people prevailed which is always a reason to hope. The only objection I would have is related to the exaggerated use of quotes, this may have tried to convey a feeling of what the characters were reading and were influenced by, this seemed a little precious and verbose – too little shade however for a shining film experience.

 

I did not see the original Japanese anime film with the same name which triggered the idea of Ghost in the Shell and this may be an advantage or a disadvantage. I have read some articles that compare the two works, and also refer to the comics series, as well as to ‘Matrix’ which took apparently many ideas from it. It seems to me that I can enjoy and appreciate director ‘ film even better without that comparison, although I may be missing some of the nuances or different directions the original work was taking the theme to.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/

 

What may have changed in the two decades since the Japanese original works were created is the fact that much of the technology that is described in the film became reality, and for the rest the feasibility is a confirmed fact. Artificial organs are now more and more replacing organs and tissues damaged by diseases or accidents. We know much more about how brain functions, how information circulates between brain and body, and how mechanical actions of the human body or artificial prosthesis are controlled. Brain transplant was not achieved, but it’s considered feasible, as well as a future implant in a completely artificial body. As in the film, many of the humans are or will become hybrids with a higher and higher percentage of replaced parts.

The film deals with a future in which the first brain implant is made in an artificial body. This makes of the lead heroine () kind of a super-hero, a living weapon to fight terrorists. It’s just that her former identity (her ‘ghost’) comes to haunt her, and while she slowly recovers her human identity the reality around becomes less connected to the truth. What follows is a combination of action (or even super-heroes action) and smart science-fiction genres, which takes place in a world where men coexist with hybrids, or maybe better said almost any man also became a hybrid. It’s a film which succeeds both to entertain as well as to ask difficult questions about the future evolution of mankind and it’s relation with the thinking machines created by men.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

Some exceptional work was performed in order to create on screen the possible world of the future described in Ghost in the Shell. The visual concept makes reference to previous art like the one in Metropolis or Blade Runner, but develops those into new directions starting from the images and shapes that define today’s Asian big cities. There are a lot of computerized effects but they all have logic and are backing the story line, and so do the action scenes. The film succeeds to satisfy both action fans as well as viewers who are looking for meaningful science-fiction.  is very good in the lead role, she continues her daring undertaking of roles in science-fiction movies, but each one of the roles is different and this should help her avoid automatic casting in a new stereotype which replaces the older beautiful-fragile girl one in the first years of her career. It’s a pleasure to see huge actors as and also involved in this project.

 

As John Wick: Chapter 2 is on screens and gets unexpected good reviews and not only from fans, I thought that it’s a good opportunity to see the first and original John Wick which also received some positive echos, much above what is typically delivered for a film in its genre. It’s certainly a matter of setting expectations, but I personally was not disappointed. If violent action movies are one of the genres that entertain you, good chances that you will not be disappointed either.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

 

Rule #1 to enjoy such a film is to accept the conventions of the genre. The story takes place in the parallel universe of the crime underworld. Although bodies start to accumulate in piles pretty soon, there is no policeman in view with the exception of one cop showing up at one point, looking at the scene of the carnage and wishing good evening to the hero who happens to be a professional killer. This parallel universe is not lawless, it’s just that the laws or better said the rules are different. There is a code of honor, there are territories of neutrality, and there is only one punishment – death – for breaking rules or trespassing borders. At the roots of the story stands a failed tentative by the main hero to break the cycle of violence of his profession and jump in the universe of normal people. All this is just memories when the action starts. This film is for what ‘Jack Reacher’ is for Tom Cruise and I suspect that at some point even taking the name of the hero as a title is not a coincidence. It’s the start of a series and the second installment was not too late to come.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

Assuming you bought into the story and the convention, there is some good stuff to enjoy. Stuntman is sitting for the first time on the film director chair and he delivers exactly what is expected – a coherent story telling and perfect choreography of the many action scenes that occupy more than half of the duration of the movie. delivers what is expected, and a few other fine actors show up in small and even smaller supporting roles. Cinematography is just beautiful, with combinations of dark colors that fit well the violent dark universe that they populate. If you can just forget how sketchy the whole story (or pretext) of the film is, you have good reasons to enjoy it.

 

I have somehow avoided seeing There Will Be Blood for ten years despite its success, and despite having as lead actor who got his second Academy Award for this role. The reason is that I was under the impression that this is one of those Big American Sagas which make great impression at the Oscars but seldom have convinced me to jump on their ship of emotions. This is true to some extent, as the film deals with the period of the beginning of oil drilling in the United States, the very important difference being that this saga has not an American Hero but and American Anti-Hero as main character. Which probably makes the film even more interesting.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

 

The story takes starts before the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and ends in the late 1920s, following the raising of an oil magnate from his first discovery of one oil pit to his taking over a small empire of oil fields and the building of the pipes that ensure the transportation. Daniel Plainview, the character played by Day-Lewis seems to come from nowhere and grows from being nothing to the status of a millionaire. Achieving this takes not only luck and a complete lack of any scruples in dealing with competitors, friends or his very close ones – it also takes his soul. The story is kind of Faustian, it’s just that Satan never shows up, or maybe he is there during the whole story under the form of the black gold. The script is loosely based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, with the difference that while in the Socialist writer novel the emphasis is on the social aspects with a critical view of the Capitalist system, in this adaptation it’s the moral aspects that prevail, with Planview’s character finding a counterpart and nemesis in preacher Eli Sunday (). It’s the material world faced with the possible spiritual salvation, another Faustian theme if you wish, but the preacher character eventually proves to be as corrupt and empty in substance as its arch-rival, which makes it unable to fulfill its goal. The destinies of the two are interleaved and they both end in damnation. Director opens here a theme which he will continue in his next great picture The Master which offered the opportunity of incarnating one of his last greatest roles.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailer Vault)

 

At the end of the day, telling the story of an American hero or of an American anti-hero does not look that different. It is still one of these sagas starting in the days of the rush for gold and ending when the rush for the black gold – the oil – stabilizes into the big corporations consolidations. The lead hero does not seem to have real roots in history or a specific place, and he needs none as most of the attention is focused on its deeds, mostly evil, with the exception of the personal survival story that is being told in the first 15 minutes. As any saga that respects itself it’s long, which in cinema today means more that two and a half hours, which according to tastes and attention pass more or less easy. ‘s performance is superb, he fills the screen with his personality to the point that the balance between his character and the one played by is broken in his favor. Dano acts well but he just cannot raise to the height and intensity of Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is one of those movies which cannot be really placed in a specific box, or in more than one – they just build to themselves a category and a name of their own.