Wednesday, November 26, 2014


"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.


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. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

May the best woman win!

Hi, folks!
Interesting prospects are happening 'over at the' Oscar Season (Awards Season, you call it).

"May the best woman win!" - Sasha Stone from Awards Daily wrote this article where she ponders the Angelina Jolie case, and her film Unbroken. It is a really peculiar situation to ponder upon. And one that will need a lot of help and conscious analysis from wonderful femininsts like Sasha Stone, which I believe is really one of the women's saviours of Hollywood town. God, if she is needed.
In this article titled "A Movie Star Crashes the Best Director Race", she writes about the current situation where a great part of the Oscar pundits are choosing Unbroken to be the Best Film of the Year, when no one actually saw it. The film premiered in Sydney, a couple of days ago, but no one is allowed to talk about it until the first day of December. The word of mouth from the premier in Sydney is that it was 'warmly' received. As Sasha Stone been remembering us throughout the season, is that it is really hard to live up to these kind of expectations, where the film needs to be almost perfect to live and not immediately drown.

Here is the Variety article.

Ava DuVernau on the set of her film Selma.

The other woman from this season is the inspiring Ava DuVernay.
Over at Indiewire, two articles just came out about her. Peter Knegt, covering awards season, writes about the history that can be made with the nomination of Ava DuVernay for Best Director. The nomination alone. Similar to what I wrote two posts ago, he lays out the 'correct' Oscar data and analysis of Ava DuVernay's possible history. If Sasha Stone is a saviour, then Melissa Silverstein, over at the Indiewire's Women and Hollywood, is the ultimate, relentless warrior. I'm a huge admirer. She also released an article today writing about Ava DuVernay. Melissa also writes about Oscar history and statistics, but she reminds us that the beauty  of what's happening to Ava DuVernay is that it is on a big scale, the Oscar scale, the world wide, everyone watches Oscars - scale.

Here's an interesting trivia from Selma she wrote-
And speaking of writing, the credits on Selma will say a man named Paul Webb wrote the film. He wrote the first draft. He wrote a movie that was more of a tete-a-tete between King and President Lyndon Johnson. He wrote about two guys. In the film business, it is usual for other writers to take passes and do polishes on scripts. Because of rules (some ridiculous and plainly unjust) and contracts, there are lots of instances where people whose words we hear onscreen don't get the credit. That is the case with Selma. While Paul Webb might get the credit for this film, he did not write what we are seeing up there. He knows it. The studio knows it. The producers know it. Everyone knows it. He could have given Ava a co-writing credit (which she was promised), but he has at all turns not been interested in acknowledging that this is a joint piece of work. Shameful.
So let's go over it again, because it really is an amazing history:

11 Films in 86 years, directed by women, were nominated for Best Picture.

In 86 years (423 nominations, 'chances'), only four women got nominations for Best Director, including the win for Katherine Bigelow. All of them were white.

The first woman ever to be nominated for Best Director was only in the seventies, 1977, for an Italian woman with a Foreign film, she was called Lina Wertmuller. Then more than a decade later, an Australian, Jane Campion for her film The Piano. This was 1993. Than ten years later, came young American woman, in the Twentieth First Century, the first American woman is nominated for Best Director. In 2009, the historic year when Katherine Bigelow won for her film The Hurt Locker.

Again, of these 423 chances, only FOUR WHITE WOMEN were nominated for Best Director, and now THREE BLACK MEN were nominated for Best Director. I don't even know which one is more shocking. The first Black Man ever to get nominated for Best Director was only in the nineties, 1991. As Peter Knegt writes, Woody Allen alone was nominated for as many times as the women and black men put together.

Well, it isn't that different with the other branches. No woman was ever nominated for Best Cinematography. The writers brunch must be pretty mediocre as well. Gillian Flynn is pretty much going solo this year.
Gillian Flynn makes history in the adapted screenplay race as she stands to become the first female nominee to ever adapt her own novel. 
It is the deadliest fact - America is a staggering racist country. And the way they 'treat' women has been downgrading, just getting worst to a ridiculous point. You can see that just by looking at the History of the American Cinema, with the statistics on Box Office, etc, etc, etc. Because again, it goes the same with the Black, Hispanic, Gay, all the minorities.

Think of the way many men and women have talked about David Fincher's Gone Girl. I'm in no way mentioning the people who didn't enjoyed the film on its own terms.

Let’s talk about Gone Girl. Some people felt really disappointed because they weren’t able to fully enjoy the film because of their high standards on David Fincher. I think it is a solid storytelling, pretty solid on pretty much everything. It’s a pity one isn’t able to enjoy the film as much as one wants because of such perspective. I don’t think they have to worry about disappointing their friends because the film is pure entertainment (also masterful). Talking from the American Cinema history, it is a relevant film. To me, it was pure entertainment. Who cares if it is one of the best films of the past decade or so? I don’t think saying Gone Girl isn’t a brilliant masterpiece or that it isn’t David Fincher best film is an excuse to downgrade Gone Girl. The film is really good. It isn’t much of an argument. It’s a pity people don’t enjoy this film because of these reasons, but these are somehow the least offensive. Some other excuses get to do with the story content, meaning, the feminism. This one is pretty ridiculous. To say the film, I mean the story, the one adapted from the novel, is anti-feminism because it portrays a negative portrait of a woman is plain wrong.  This is where Sasha Stone comes in and is the Women's saviour. We all know, what this is a representation of a human being. Period. Forget gender sweethearts. I think we all know that representing an unsettling woman doesn’t mean women are all unsettling. We shouldn’t even be discussing such argument. It’s just so archaic. But anyway, one has to make sure to emphasize on the obvious. “I wish I could stoop to the womanly art of communication.” This sentence was written by a woman, from a men’s perspective, private thought, and one I utterly relate to, being a female myself. As I relate so often with Nick.
Sasha Stone brilliantly summs up in this article of hers, I think, the Gone Girl and the woman 'issue'. It's a great read.

Finally, in addition to this current theme, once again, Sasha just released an article titled "Women Take in This Year's Oscar Race' where not only she mentions these women and other Film statistics, but she also mentions other sections, like Documentary. Click here
Sasha Stone about Ava:
But hey, no pressure. It’s only a black woman who made a career change over the age of 40, started her own releasing company to bring more black ticket-buyers to the arthouse, whose indie career has been ticking along steadily, who won Best Director at Sundance in 2012 but was overlooked in the original screenplay category. This auteur steps into the Oscar race and the film industry as an original – there has never been anyone like Ava DuVernay. That makes it quite possible she has the ability to change the Oscar race as we’ve known it for a while.

So this is where we stand, dear men and women from this century, about Film History and Oscar History and American Film History. Isn't it a cool interesting history? Some same is pathetic, some say ridiculous, I wouls say it is a tragic comedy. Have a good rest of the week.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Keira ten years ago.
My dad actually texted me. He said, “apparently you’re having a renaissance at 29!” Fantastic! I mean, yeah, sure, I’ll take it. I didn’t realize I’d gone away, though. I didn’t realize I needed a renaissance. Fuck! Nobody told me.

Keira Knightley, my love, loved you then, love you now, love you always. It's a pleasure, always a pleasure to see you in anything, acting, being in the screen, it is worth every second.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


America (as in US), do you want a Hero? As you love Heros so much - give an (the) Oscar to this woman called Ava DuVernay. In this case, it is a Heroine, crucial difference, obviously.

Clearly, it will already be a huge deal (and in itself a huge film) IF she gets that Oscar nomination for Best Director for her film Selma. Let alone win the award. A woman, a black woman, between directors - as in a men's world for decades and decades. To remember that only three women were nominated for Best Director, I think, and only one won...over quite the unsettlling controversy, and the fact that they pretty much wanted to get away with the "give it to her so that the Women's barrier is broken". Because the women's state stayed the same.

Sometimes I get amazed how broken the country of United States of America is. So full of unsettling battles for equality, deep ignorance from gender to health to human rights, abuse of power, abuse of money, unrationally and hateful appropriation of the American people, when all at the same time it ends up being this fascinating country so rich in unlikely possiblities. So, as you might accept, dichotomies, or you know, binary approches aren't that healthy, the black and white is a tricky situation to be in.

For me, Ava DuVernay already is a Heroine. She's the example of a wonderful inspiring role model, she's a forward thinking woman, and it is the kind of example that even if she wasn't outspoken, her actions are everything. The right kind of 'show it, don't tell.'
Not only she tells, she shows it with great effect.
So there you go.

It is a beautiful inspiring trailer, it looks so good.
And now premiering at AFI Fest with a wonderful reception, the hopes are high.

Read Sasha Stone's essay here.
Shadow and Act reviews here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Writers Roundtable

I look at the release of this Writers Roundtable as unexpected, because I don’t even realize that it is November, and in no time Awards and nominations and critics choices will begin hitting the season hard. I know it already started but this year, I come in a different state. I still follow the season, but not as thoroughly as I used to over the past few years and so when I suddenly see these Oscar Roundtables I’m hit with the season’s choices…But the truth is that some things never change, and in this case, another solo woman between dudes.

Gillian owning it between the dudes.

I find this Roundtable a little bit uninspiring, personally, because they start to ramble a little too much about insecurities, and being in the business, the Hollywood business, and maybe a little too much men’s egos and insecurities involved and at the same time I can understand the truth and honest in it and I get that politics and money issues and how hard it is to make a film wherever you are in the world, but also I’m not really into the Nolan’s insights about “Oh, I didn’t choose to be a writer’ blahblahblah, I’m a Nolan, I’m a white dude so I do whatever the fuck I want…and I can hear Gillian not giving a fuck about what these guys are saying sometimes…

“It’s paralyzingly difficult. It’s one of the things, you know, there are writers who like writing and there are writers who don’t, I fucking hate writing but I haven’t came up with anything else to do for a living.” – This is the uninspiring part of Nolan talking but then this is good – “I find it difficult because I’m always aware when it is not good and most of it is not good and then you keep working and you keep working, you know, your work day is six hours, everyone’s process is a little different but you know five and half of it is garbage and you have to go back and do it all over again…”

I liked the part about a film not being perfect and the unhappy endings.

"I love unhappy endings. I’m all about the unhappy ending, like I will not give you what you want. It's not the most satisfying, it's the most correct and true. I remember being 5 years old, seeing that movie in theaters and first they lose, and you think, 'What's happening now? They lost.' And then the team comes over and apologizes, and you expect the Bad News Bears to gracefully accept their apology, and instead the kid's like, 'Take your trophy and stick it up your ass!' And I was like, 'This movie is great!'”.

There’s always things you can take from these roundtables, even though they’re not ‘inspiring’.

KK, the Feminist

Always. Keira Knightley, the all around down to earth awesome conscious and unpretentious that just won't take any bullshit Keira Kngithely. As she always was.

"I've had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it's paparazzi photographers or for film posters…That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: 'OK, I'm fine doing the topless shot so long as you don't make them any bigger or retouch. Because it does feel important to say it really doesn't matter what shape you are. I think women's bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame. Our society is so photographic now, it becomes more difficult to see all of those different varieties of shape."

Also, she took her best friend Emily to prom, and the director  or professor didn't liked it.
“We both turned up an hour late, and I’d been filming Bend It Like Beckham, and I turned up in leather pants and a crop top, and she was a model for a while, and she’d been in Paris shooting something, and she turned up as the boy, so she had a black tie with ripped jeans on, and everybody else was completely dressed up, obviously, in that kind of finery, and then we had our picture taken underneath the thing, and she’s kissing me, and we were told that that was disgusting.
“And one of the teachers took us both aside and said we were never going to come to anything if we didn’t know how to dress appropriately for events like that. So that was my prom. We had a great time!”

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Or, teenagers will be teenagers!

It was what I was hoping to be. I appreciate this documentary tremendously because through the journey of this singular young woman, a fifteen year old Dutch traveler, the youngest person to sail around the world alone in two years, called Laura Dekker, tells us a lot about ourselves, about our society, it tells a lot about me and you.
Maidentrip takes us through her journey, through her young life, from being born in New Zealand, when their parents were on a seven year trip, and later on, after the divorce of her parents, the media and political situation that she went through because of her age and the traveling consent and so on and then finally the trip itself and her facing her obstacles both in the sea but also in the heart.
It is revealing of many things and I like that. The way she rebels against her parents, the way she gets annoyed, like all teenagers do, when parents are around, of even being a little ungrateful about some things in life. But as the time passes, and all the time she spends by herself, she starts paying more attention and being more grateful about her journey, her life. With this film, we watch a young woman growing up, maturing, and facing her identity issues. We all go through what we see here, except we are not in the sea, by ourselves, at night, with huge waves to face!
Overall, through Laura Dekker’s journey, we can see all these things we take for granted, things we share in common, no matter where we are in the world, as well as the circumstances…and also shows us that a teenager will always be a teenager!
It is a truly lovely trip.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

20,000 Days on Earth

The artist and the art. It's all so consciously and perfectly blended.