Wednesday, November 26, 2014

K-Stew


"Lez b honest" K-Stew.


Camp X-Ray

On a serious note, I feel like nominating Kristen Stewart the Breakout Star of the Year. Along with Keira Knightley, for instance, they both bring three good films that are challenging from a creative and accomplishing perspective.
I really enjoyed Kristen Stewart’s performance in Camp X-Ray, I really liked this film. It feels like a flawed film but it is also so well constructed visually and consistent and the performances are spot on. There’s a lot of talent exuding in this film and the filmmaker Peter Sattler will go far. It is not at all an easy subject to approach, to write a conventional three part storyline about the soldiers working in Guantanamo Bay and so it becomes an interesting meditation on the American war and its history and how both sides from the equation are perceived.
Clouds of Sils Maria premiered at Cannes with rave reviews for her. I haven’t seen this one, but I can hardly wait. I will be very interested in seeing her here because I know this role was really important to her and she got really connected to it, even having a permanent tattoo of her character, and it is certainly a role that is the closest to Kristen Stewart’s self and one we haven’t seen probably in quite a long time.  And finally Still Alice, another supporting role that I’m sure will be interesting to see. Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart sounds great to me.


It is a “wonderfully challenging” prospect the idea that she’s now thinking and will eventually pause on the ‘acting’ and will be spending more time doing other creative endeavors. This doesn’t sound that bad because I’m looking forward to take a look at her work other than acting. She has written poems and she’s also mentioning short films. That’s what we need, female voices and art from their perspective. I’m sorry I sound so boring.


I obviously haven’t come to realize that we are almost at the end of the year and in no time I will be actually looking over the films I’ve seen throughout the year and picking the ones who I believe have stood out and make me want to mention, and others that make me want to mention for intriguing reasons! In my brain, it is like middle of the year. The other day I mentioned December like I was in May. I’ve seen over one hundred and twenty or thirty films this year, give or take. It is nothing, isn’t it? 

Knowing Martin Luther King Jr story, knowing the history of the United States of America and following today's events around 'Ferguson', it makes for a reasonaly poignant point to makes way more films like Selma, to have and value artists like Ava DuVernay.
Think about it.



Begin Again - Ambivalences


Written and Directed by John Carney.

These days it is harder and harder for me to create empathy with films, especially with stories and I hate it. This is the thing I’m supposed to be good at doing, or rather, what I enjoy the most. My perspective watching Once and now Begin Again, has to be completely different. Am I this ugly cynic who just watches and enjoys painful dramas?
Once takes place in Ireland, a European country, similar to my own. It is easy to create empathy with our protagonists, an Irish lad and a young Eastern immigrant, young talented musicians working with something they absolutely love even though they don’t have necessarily the greatest means to achieve a certain success. Their journey becomes quite intimate, quite personal and with an inspiring hope necessarily based on love. They don’t really have much, but they’re just being themselves really.
Begin Again brings a mixture of success and failure, in certain ways. It takes place in New York, an utterly rich place in diversity, culture, let alone people from all over the world. Some have the greatest means, for example, the owner of the Record Label, played by Mark Ruffalo. Then you also have a musician who had a tremendous success with its previous work, the soundtrack to a film, and his girlfriend, also a musician, but simply not known, they’re Gretta and Dave. She does not go public, so to speak. You immediately think they could be the young couple from Once.


Like so often in life, you have someone looking for something and someone who has that something, but they just don’t know each other, can’t reach each other or so often don’t have the means to reach for that middle term. Dan, the owner of the Record Label is the one searching; he searches for something to fulfill his soul, musically. Gretta, the young musician who isn’t interesting in going public with her music, and just broke up with his musician beau, is the one having that something to fulfill someone else’s heart. In this film, they happen to meet. Dan is able to convince Gretta of producing an album recorded literally in the streets of New York. And just like that, they record an album. It’s the American dream! The thing I have a hard time with because the American dream is a lie. And the music isn’t that special, but that’s another story.

Once and Begin Again, however, gives us something recognizable and relatable that it is inherently artistic and that’s an artist’s unrelentlessness to not give value, in a way, to a determined level of success, and in some cases, even actually being heard. It just doesn’t matter to them. The notoriety, the money, etc., they will do what they love anyway, they will not change their ways. They are quite ready to be poor. This is how Gretta is, to a certain extent (clearly without the poor part). She does decide to record the unusual album, but at the end she also doesn’t care if no one pays her, or better, she has the ability and power really to not give in to a label, no matter how independent and open to his artists it might be.


Begin Again means way more than it actually looks, I think. It not only portrays artists, their own unrelentlessness to discredit success, but it also portrays the Music industry and the recording issues of the moment. It is quite sober. Then finally, it really does the unthinkable.
Let’s all take a moment now. Let’s all take a moment, because Begin Again is a film where there’s a female protagonist, or you can also say that is a co-lead with Mark Rufallo. Even so, Gretta, played by the worth every second on screen Keira Knigthley, a female, who comes to New York with her solid boyfriend who dumps her after a cute Asian assistant, is incredibly talented, doesn’t give a fuck about labels and actually recording for them, who then leaves her boyfriend and records an album, and at the end of the film, does not choose either of her male co-protagonists, her boyfriend Adam Levine, nor the record owner Mark Rufallo. Utterly unprecedented. You seriously cannot believe it and it feels wonderful. Keira Knightley’s smile at the end is everything. Great end.
I don’t know why and how, but this film looks like nothing special, a minor Hollywood product but at the same time, it brings solid insight because it actually tells something and it is honest. So I had a hard time throughout the film, convincing myself a young musician playing in the streets and bars is able to live in New York, even though where he actually lives could probably be the size of my bedroom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Under the Skin


Under the Skin both made me feel numb, as I barely made it, barely touched my conscious surface, as at the same time, it made for an interesting experience. It is not a common film, and it seems, especially in the first half, or probably throughout the majority of the film, that nothing really happens. A woman takes an odd alien transformation, and then travels around Glasgow streets meeting random men and taking them out…of space. Why go over that number of subjects, as in humans, when we already know the outcome, we already know what’s happening? Or maybe we don’t really know what happens, we only know what the woman will do. The thing is, that’s probably the point, and the point has to be to show this number of different ordinary people that come towards this young woman, for a number of indifferent reasons. And how this pleasantly and warm and good looking woman can be someone and something completely harmful, just utterly unpredictable and capable of anything. Human or non human, the truth is such outcome rings real for us in here on earth on every given situation. It is an unusual experience and sometimes hard to go through, like the scene where you have a young couple with a baby on a beach, where we can see the man gradually drowning, the woman being taken by these unknown people and the baby staying alone in this cold windy beach crying his lungs out. It challenges you.


The film is consistently composed, to the detail and it’s beautiful. And I would think it is not necessarily bad to stare at Scarlett Johansson and pretty and often blank canvas for what it seems to be infinite hours…until you come to the conclusion that basically life is fucked up for humans as it is, imagine for aliens…
It is surely a unique piece of filmmaking and storytelling, but this film is definitely a solo show for Johansson.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Way He Looks


Brazillian coming of age tale, where teenagers will be teenagers, classic on the edges, 
with a queer touch that elevates it to something braver and cheerful.

Interstellar


All I know is that things happen for a reason. But do they really? I don’t have a clue actually. As I don’t have a clue of the world’s possibilities, though I might have an idea they are quite vast. But don’t come talking about time travel…I’m kidding! When I say things happen for a reason then time travel probably fits in this sentence.
I’m not a space science engineer kind of person. Needless to say, I’m not a science fiction kind of person. My current science fiction fandom stretches as far as Orphan Black, I don’t know if you heard about this little Canadian show about a clones’ conspiracy.

I think with Interstellar, the Nolans’ go beyond the science…if I could say such a thing. Or better, he makes for a pleasantly admirable attempt at connecting science and human emotion and reason, and future and choices into one story with minimal identity and identification. First of all, Interstellar gives you plenty to chew on. Even if you don’t have a clue about space and what the hell means warmwhole and gravity, even if the few dimensions you know are the psychological, physical and emotional. It makes you ponder on a few perhaps basic human conditions on earth. Like our future, but first of present. And this is where Christopher Nolan comes in and makes a difference, especially when the previous version, the Spielberg one, included aliens and other different story driven ideas.


I remember when I was a kid, in a science class, ask the teacher how does the earth is round and we’re able to stand in two feet. I remember her uncomfortably replying something short and leave the question for some other time or something. Gravity must have been some of the words used. I’m actually remembering those classes when we were learning the solar system and all that wasted time. I’m a believer I never really learned much in school or maybe because I was never a good student. Anyway, even if you’re maybe one of my failing cases, I believe there are a few things you can spend some time meditating on. I give credit to the older brother Nolan for transforming this story to a whole new meaning and props to these actors for making it feel real. However how much the soundtrack sucks!


Now I’m going to deviate from the subject matter a little bit. Believe it or not, I was having parallel thoughts as I was watching Matthew McConaughey Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain trying to save the human race. Talking from a European point of view, I need to remember you folks out there that it has to be a little awkward for us to watch a film where the American Citizen is the ultimate hero, the pretty much only source of human kind able to save the world. It’s interesting how I don’t read anything about this. They mention the Russians, it’s interesting how they didn’t brought Russians to space or encountered Russians in Space or even Chinese, as we all know how China is becoming and will certainly be the world’s biggest…deal breaker. Anyhow, if it wasn’t for the mention of Russians and the suggestion that the moon travel was fiction and propaganda made by the US, you could almost believe that there were only Americans living on Planet Earth. Think about it.