Entries tagged with “Penelope Cruz”.


Watching any film by  is an enriching experience, an experience that teaches the viewers some new things about cinema and some new things about life. Live Flesh (“Carne tremula” in Spanish) is not exception. It is a film about passion and desire, it is a melodrama that makes more sense than life itself, it presents five characters whom we get to know by the end of the film better than our own family.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118819

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118819

 

The story has one prologue, one first chapter taking place twenty years later, more chapters in the contemporaneity (meaning 1997) and a prologue a few months later. A young woman (only appearance in this movie as a live person by ) gives birth, it’s the sleepy Madrid at the end of the Franco era, still a policy state, still hard to catch a taxi even if the streets at night are empty, so the birth takes place in a semi-hijacked bus. Twenty years later in bustling democratic Madrid two cops are called to a place where a young 20 years old pizza delivery boy (yes, that boy) has an altercation with a beautiful young prostitute. Shots are being fired, and one of the policemen is hurt and becomes crippled, not before drawing the attention of the young woman. A few years later the boy gets out of jail and plans to revenge the policeman who stole his youth. His revenge involves not only the woman but also the wife of the other cop. We are in full Almodovar melodrama, everybody is in love or makes sex with everybody else, it’s not a romantic triangle but a love and passion pentagon. All funny and sexy, violent and endearing

 

(video source Vhs Archives)

 

The songs of Chavela Valdez inspired part of the story and the approach of . As in many other of his films he makes no moral judgment about the actions of his characters, but we feel that he cares about them all, and would like to make us care too. Although it’s a mix of comedy and melodrama  ‘Live Flesh‘ never goes where we expect, because the director and story teller does not run away from mixing the beautiful and tend with the ugly and cruel aspects of life. performs here in one of the best roles of his early career, and the rest of the team including , , and define each their characters, each of them with his or her own passion and aspiration to love. Although it is hazard that seems to trigger many of the events, the ending provides a fulfilling sensation. The divinity (I mean, of course, the film director) takes care of everything.

 

It’s not easy to adapt Agatha Christie to screen in 2017, and it is even more difficult to take upon ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ which already had a fabulous and stars-blessed version made in 1974 by . The queen of the detective novel created superb mysteries, but there are challenges in bringing them to screen, as her characters are quite theatrical, always hide and seem to be something else that they really are, and the confined enclosure where most of her stories take place does not fit the requirements of dynamics in modern action cinema. It’s a challenge to turn the bright mental exercises in her novels into screen action, especially as most of the viewers would know the ending. A challenge that can be compared with bringing to the cinema screens the text and characters of Shakespeare. So, maybe it takes a director and an actor that already brought to screen the plays of Shakespeare to assume the challenge and the risks. The name of this director is, of course, .

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3402236/mediaviewer/rm274931968

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3402236/mediaviewer/rm274931968

 

The approach chosen by the director for this version of Murder on the Orient Express does not try to ‘actualize’ the intrigue into the present time, but does the contrary – it is very specific about the exact year of the plot, 1934, exactly the year when Agatha Christie’s book was published. While keeping the structure of the intrigue and the format of the ‘train story’ it invests much of the writing and acting efforts into developing the characters. First of all it’s Hercule Poirot’s life itself which is enhanced with the memory of a lost love, although more details may have been left for the following episodes. himself assumes the role of Poirot, with , , , , and a wonderful supporting cast providing color and personality to each one of the characters, whatever time they catch on the screen.

 

(video source 20th Century Fox)

 

I enjoyed the experience of watching this version of the classical murder story, even if the solution of the mystery was known to me from the beginning. I believe that succeeded to find the right balance between the old good way of making films with a good story combined with nuanced acting, and the modern visual techniques that place the action in a spectacular landscape adding an aura of fairy tale. The ending alludes to the next episode in what may become a series, and I am looking forward to it.

This time the translation in Hebrew got it right, following the original Italian title which says ‘Come to the world’ rather than the English title ‘Twice Born’. The film is indeed about bringing children to the a world in conflict, and it’s a powerful love story taking place during one of the most tragic and absurd war in Europe in the 20th century (but what war is not absurd?), a war that placed one against the other neighbors and friends who were the same blood and spoke the same language, the differences being buried back in history, mostly of religious origins. ‘The best stories are sometimes the weird ones’ tells one of the characters, and this is indeed a strange and a complicated, but also a very emotional love story taking place in tragic circumstances.

 

source www.comingsoon.it

source www.comingsoon.it

 

The story alternates between the time today, the period back 30 years ago when Communist Yugoslavia still existed and Sarajevo was known to the world as the location of the 1984 Winter Olympics, and the city 10 years later when it became the battle place in one of the most bloody episodes of the ethnic wars in the Balkans. It tells about the obsessive falling in love of two young and idealistic ‘western’ professionals Gemma and Diego (Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch) who happen to meet in Bosnia, then part of Yugoslavia, attracted there mostly by the original culture of the Balkans and by its people. They soon meet a group of mostly young and idealistic artists of the same kind who seem to live happily, aiming to create and make their world better. For much of the first half the story focuses on the love story of the couple, and the hurdles they meet on the road (they cannot have a child of their own). And then war breaks in this area which was not only the crossroad of the empires, but also their battlefield. The empires are gone, but the conflicts continues perpetuated by religion and by politicians. The world of the heroes blows apart.

 

(video source Play4movie)

 

The story is structured on alternate scenes from the trip taken in present in Bosnia by Gemma and her son and flashbacks from the two time periods (of the first encounter and the war). I liked the way director Sergio Castellitto kept perfect balance between the love story, the descriptions of the falling of Bosnia into war and the war itself, and the coming to age of the son (the directors own son Pietro Castellitto acting) – all three threads are clear, articulate, and conclude in a way that makes sense. To the excellent acting of Cruz and Hirsch I need to add the name of the Bosnian actor Adnan Haskovic who is playing the colorful and passionate Gojco, their friend of blood.

The conflict in Bosnia, and the wars in the former Yugoslavia already generated many films, some of them good, including the ones produced by artists from the area themselves. ‘Venuto al mondo’ is a co-production, mostly made in Italy, with local participation. It will probably stay as one of the solid and sensible films made about those mad years. This is a film which will also stay with all these who will have the chance to see it.

 

There are many ways one can dislike Nine . For example trying to compare it with the films of Frederico Fellini, on whose figure the main character in the movie is based on. Or trying to compare it with Broadway musicals, as the one from the 80s on which the film is based upon. Fellini’s films are unique, and by the time the great Italian director was making 8 1/2 Rob Marshall, the director of Nine was just born. Broadway musicals have their own laws of casting, of staging, of telling the story. The screen adaptation of a musical about the making of a film by Fellini is not a film of Fellini and not a Broadway musical. I liked Nine the movie, and here are my arguments.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0875034/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0875034/

 

Nine is a musical about a film in a film. We are from the start introduced in the atmosphere with an opening song where the theme and the stars of the show are paraded on the kind of music that builds the entertaining score of the show. The sets are the ones in the Cinecita studios where the famous director Guido Contini prepares his next film. It is just that his film is not at all ready as the producer expects. The director’s style of life is as chaotic as his manner of making movies. The personal history is a series of relations with women – from his mother (Sophia Loren, back on the big screens after many years of absence, still glamorous) to his wife, his lover, his inspiring actress, admirers, etc. Can he put all these relations together and make sense of his private life in order to focus on his art? Or maybe he is just destroying himself, and the people around him, especially the women he is involved with? I will just say that the result is entertaining and in my opinion does not make a bad service at all to the image of Fellini.

 

(video source HQTrailers1)

 

I started by listing the reasons one can dislike Nine, but there are many reasons to like it as well. These include the presence on screen of stars like Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judy Dench. They all look beautiful, they all act, sing, dance and create characters that are distinct and expressive and find their right places in the story. But before all we have Daniel Day-Lewis. Let me say that Day-Lewis is an actor I admire but I do not necessarily love. Well, I may be starting the process of falling for him – as I absolutely adored his performance here. He is passionate, he is troubled, he fights with his past and Catholic upraising, he loves and sins, he is credible. However, my ultimate criteria of liking or disliking a film is whether it succeeds to create emotion. And yes, Nine succeeded to make me care for its heroes, made me remember Fellini and wish to see again his films, and it entertained me. On the IMDB scale it’s a NINE.