May 31, 2012

May recap

May was a pretty good month for me. I finally finished all my projects and essays for university and successfully turned them in, and now I just have to focus on my dissertation. After that stressful beginning of the month, I went back home for a week and a half and enjoyed spending time with my family and some close friends, while my mom spoiled me and fed me like there was no tomorrow :) Now I am back in London, ready to rumble, do my research and find a job. I need a job/work experience/internship/anything to do this summer, otherwise I will go crazy!
[Side note: lovely London people, what do I have to do to get into the press screenings? can I or is it too early to do it? help please?]

As for actual movies I saw this month, I am happy to check some important titles I've been meaning to see for months (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, City Lights and so on).

Here's the list for May:

Young Adult [2011]
City Lights [1931]
Some Like It Hot [1959]
Coco avant Chanel [2009] foreign film
Taxi Driver [1976]
Raging Bull[1980]
The Virgin Suicides [1999]
Le Scaphandre et le Papillon [2007] foreign film
Big Fish [2003]
Moonrise Kingdom [2012]
Brief Encounter [1945]

Books: 1

I also participated in some very cool blogathons
- Nostra's The Ten: Best actors of all time- my pick
- Duke&the movies' Representing Humanity- my choices

Next month:
- 2 concerts (Maccabees and BBC Hackney Weekend)
- Viewing of Frankestein, the Danny Boyle theater play that he directed, starting Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller, which also was broadcast live across the UK, and now it's being re-introduced to some select theaters. Just so there are no confusions: I am going to see it in the cinema theater, so no, unfortunately, I won't see Cumberbatch in person, but he will be on a huge screen in front of me, and I am fine with that :)
- Diamond Jubilee parties
- Tate Museum visit
...and hopefully, many more interesting things!

Have a great June everyone!

May 30, 2012

Big Fish [2003]

Big Fish is a magical story about life, directed by Tim Burton from a novel by Daniel Wallace and a script by John August. It follows a man (Billy Crudup) who comes back home to reconcile with his dying father, meanwhile trying to find out the true adventures of the man, as he always loved to tell stories and make up things.

The film shows us Edward Bloom's life, from early stages (Ewan McGregor), to late ones (Albert Finney), taking us through a magnificent journey that almost always puts a smile on your face. I loved the fact that every anecdote, every step the man took had a meaning, a morale to learn from it: the more difficult it gets, the more rewarding it will be (the forest), never settle or go with the easiest choice, keep trying and developing (when he decides to leave Spectre), work hard and never give up (the circus) or that fate can be sometimes cruel to you, even if you don't deserve it (Don Price and Sandra). It all felt like a fairy tale, where Ed Bloom was the hero trying to reach its goal, and on the way, he made friends (great cameos by Steve Buscemi and Danny de Vito), experienced crazy things and encountered the love of his life. Yes, maybe most of the stories weren't actually true, but that didn't keep him from living his life at the fullest and taking pride in what he has done.

I also liked, and somehow expected, the transformation of Will, his son. Raised up by the these adventures, he hardly connects or believes them, so now that he is growing older and he is getting ready to have a child, he is in desperate need of the truth. He starts off so cynical and logical and without any passion left, but ends tangled up in his father's memories and anecdotes, slowly taking on his spirit. One of the last scenes, where Will tries to imagine the way Ed dies, is lovely, bittersweet and heartbreaking- I started sobbing like a crazy person when they reached the river. Plus, the funeral, with all of his dear friends gathering to laugh and tell stories about him, Edward, the man with the wildest imagination, was moving. It was such a lovely ending to a wonderful story.

From a filmmaker's point of view, everything seemed perfect. The cinematography was stunning, the direction, perfect for the story and what it wanted to transmit, and the score helped it move forward and create a magical atmosphere (surprisingly enough, Big Fish was nominated for an Oscar just for best score- Danny Elfman).

The casting was fantastic and I loved and cared for each individual. Billy Crudup filled up the shoes of a rather simple character, Will, that could have be done by a dozen other actors, but he made it a little bit more special. Albert Finney gave a very good performance and I didn't understand how come he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor. The star of the movie is, of course, Ewan McGregor. The man gave so much passion, charm, naivety and love to his character, and his interaction with the rest of the cast and his infectious smile, moved everyone and made the film the classic it is.  I also have to mention two amazing women that I love: one is Jessica Lange, who is the embodiment of class, beauty and has a very calming presence, and the other is Helena Boham Carter, who, as Jennifer Till, manages to steal the show in just a few scenes (young HBC was very sweet and adorable, sometimes I wish she had stayed that way and didn't transform into the wacky character she is today).

Bottom line, you need to see Big Fish! Maybe you won't find it as magical as I did, but I think it has a little bit of everything and it will impress you, one way or another. It's the kind of movie I would show my children  because it's full of anecdotes, funny scenes and has a lot of learning points that they should get. It's definitely one of my favorite movies I have seen in a while!

I leave you with two wonderful quotes from the movie:
"We were like strangers who knew each other very well"
"A man tells the story so many times, that he becomes the story"

May 28, 2012

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon [2007]

"Le Scaphandre et le Papillon" is 2007 movie directed by Julian Schnabel and based on a novel by Jean-Dominique Bauby, with a script penned by Ronald Harwood. It tells the remarkable true story of a famous editor-in-chief of Elle who one day suffers a cerebrovascular accident and becomes complete paralyzed, developing the extremely rare syndrome called "locked in".

The movie mostly follows his life after the accident, with few flashbacks into the past to explain some things. The interesting, yet sad and chilling aspect of it comes up when he has to communicate- the speech trainer implements a unique way of him to transmit his thoughts. Because he can only blink with one eye, the woman (or whoever wants to ask him something) has to read him the alphabet and he blinks for each letter in order to form a word. It might seem hard to do, so you will be surprised to see that, not only did he succeed in doing it, but he wrote a book about his life and his thoughts- like I recently read somewhere, he blinked out a book, which I am sure you will find it fascinating, as I did.

The moment he starts dictating to the girl sent by the publisher, my tears started falling and I couldn't stop. It is so moving and touching to see a man who only has his imagination and memory to live by, speak so eloquently and beautiful about life and what surrounds him, patiently dictating the long, beautiful words to the women- I was shaken by this man's will and power- he should be an example for anyone who's ever thought life is tough or boring or who believes they have nothing to live for- if this man can do it, you certainly can, too. There were many other touching moments, as well: the visit from Pierre, his friend who was held hostage for years, who says to him "Cling to your humanity and you will survive", or the Father's Day visit from his children. The beauty lies not only in the story, but in the emotions transmitted to the audience through a remarkable way of filmmaking.

Speaking of which, one of the key aspects of what made this film so special was the distinctive way of shooting, as Julian Schnabel desperately tried to show us the world through the paralyzed man's point of view- the image is blurry, it moves erratically, it's not focused and you mostly see legs and bodies. By that, it's 1000 times more powerful, as you experience and understand what the man is going through. The cinematography was wonderful and the direction was in par with the moving script and sublime performance of Mathieu Amalric, the main actor. The suppporting cast was lovely: Max von Sydow (the father), Emmanuelle Seigner (the mother of the children), Anne Consigny (the girl who helped him write the book) and my favorite, Marie-Josee Croze (the speech trainer)- she has one of the sweetest, eye-catching, kind faces I have seen and she reminds me so much of Naomi Watts, it's just crazy.

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is a touching drama that you need to see whenever you think you're unlucky or your life sucks- yes, it is sad and tragic, but after all the crying, you will realize just how lucky you really are.

May 25, 2012

The Virgin Suicides [1999]

The Virgin Suicides is a 1999 film, written and directed by Sofia Coppola, which tells the story of the Lisbon sisters who are sheltered and isolated from the world by their strict, religious parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner).

I must say that I have never been a fan of Sofia- yes, her movies are visually beautiful and she always casts great actors, but often I am bored by her movies; some are too dreamy, some overly pretentious, some try to showcase real emotion, but leave me indifferent. "The Virgin Suicides", her first directorial effort, was the complete opposite and I was pleasantly surprised. She did a fantastic job of adapting an overlooked literature classic and turning it into a mesmerizing, moving film that in the end left me with goosebumps.

As I said before, the script follows a group of men recalling the tragic events from over 25 years ago that rocked the Lisbon house, a family that lived close to their home and with whom their were obsessed with. Among the 5 sisters, Cecilia, the youngest, was the first to go- her dreamy personality and her inability to interact with people her own age made her take her life. Her 4 remaining sisters (Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese), try to hold on and make new friends, all whilst their extremely restrictive parents still control every moment of their existence. This ultimately leads to a drastic punishment, as Lux comes home the morning after the prom- Mr and Mrs Lisbon are so frighten of might have happened, that they isolate the girls in their room, leading them, ultimately, to take the hardest, most dramatic ending.

For a first effort, both in writing and directing, The Virgin Suicides was remarkable. The script was interesting, showcasing the sisters, but making us understand what they were like from the others points of view, therefore still keeping a touch of mystery over their situation. Visually, it was beautiful- the way it was shot, the cinematography, the editing, the random dreamy sequences, all fit together wonderfully. The score and the soundtrack are also standouts that help the movie move forward and create tension.

That last scene, when Lux looks over her shoulder to the young men waiting outside her door and the chilling discovery of the girls and retelling of facts about that last night was incredibly moving and it gave me goosebumps.

Casting wise, as always, Coppola gets it right (I am sure it doesn't hurt that her father is named Francis Ford, either, especially for a first feature film). Kirsten Dunst is amazing as Lux, portraying a not so perfect, but oh so sensual and crazy-mysterious girl who seems to be the most outspoken and relaxed of all the girls. Josh Hartnett, as the young man who falls in love with her, creates good chemistry with Dunst, having a very palpable, sensual, yet naive interaction with her. The other 4 girls, all blonde and with similar build, are easy to distinguish physically, but hard to understand on a personal level, as they don't get the same amount of attention from the script or the director. A little mention goes to AJ Cook, playing Mary, as I know her from Criminal Minds, a great TV show that I sometimes watch.

The Virgin Suicides is a fantastic movie, that will definitely go into my list of shocking, moving, chilling features, right up there with Hard Candy or We need to talk about Kevin. It was particularly sad and unnerving to see those girls take such a difficult way out of the situation they were in and I saw myself wondering, for a while after it finished, why did they do that? The first logical answer, for me at least, was the fault of the parents- their strict, isolated way of protecting the young women made them feel "choked" and in need of escaping, but I think it's more than that. I would like to think there is more than that because if there wasn't, than the idea of having kids is even more scary now. To think that Mrs Lisbon has to carry on her shoulder the deaths of all her 5 children is something I don't wish for anyone.

May 23, 2012

Raging Bull [1980]

After seeing Taxi Driver, I couldn't resist the temptation of yet another Scorsese-de Niro collaboration and of course, Raging Bull was next in line. Directed by Martin Scorsese, and written for screen by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin, the story follows the self-destructive life of Jake La Motta. I must say that overall, I wasn't that impressed with it and I won't see it again, but there are wonderful things to be said about it.

The opening sequence, in true Scorsese style and proving, yet again, his genius nature, is a fantastic mixture of orchestral music and slow motion shots of the boxer. Actually, the whole movie was perfectly directed- if on Taxi Driver, Marty used a lot of close-ups, this time around he went for the slow motion and it worked perfectly. I especially loved the scene in which Jake watches Vickie at the first dance, but also the seduction part- he sure knows how to show sexuality and sensuality and the women he chooses are just right for it. Another favorite is the final round of his last game with Sugar Ray- the shots of the two in slow motion and the lighting/framing/music/etc was beautiful.

From a film-making point of view, as usual, almost everything was great. The music score, the cinematography, the costumes, the use of Black&White and more. The thing that bugged me, although it wasn't very important, was the continuity problem in some of the scenes- there were some errors, some radical changes of De Niro's face and blood spatter in certain scenes, plus the fights were obviously choreographed and in some points you could see they weren't actually touching. Maybe it was just me, but it bother me in some points. As for the pace of the movie, I felt it was rather robotic and went from one scene to another another in a very straight forward way- it didn't create a pleasant or appealing transition between scenes, which is weird, since it did win an Oscar. [again, maybe it is just me]

Acting wise, you really can't go wrong with Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro. The first one was quite a revelation, as he portrayed the younger, more caring and protective brother of Jake La Motta, and earned mine and, probably most of the viewers, sympathy and admiration. De Niro's character, on the other hand, was insufferable. If I were to compare him to Travis Bickle, the taxi driver would win hands down in every category. Whilst Travis was wild, dangerous, intense, even deranged, Jake was just a hard headed, insecure asshole (pardon the expression). Maybe that's why I much prefer his 1976 performance to this one, although I agree with Robert's Oscar win for Raging Bull just for the "Why" scene in prison, which has to be one of the most painful moments I have ever seen. I also have to mention the transformation after the last Sugar Ray Robinson match- I almost didn't recognize him.

Raging Bull deserves his title of classic, but it isn't as good as Taxi Driver. I, for one, am not interested in seeing it again anytime soon and I will probably forget most of it in a month!

May 21, 2012

Taxi Driver [1976]

Up until last week, I hadn't seen Taxi Driver- I know, I know- "blasphemy", "you call yourself a film blogger", "I can't believe it" etc etc. I had it planned to watch it for a long time, so suddenly, one night, I said "Why Not?" and I put it on. I had rather high expectations, but I am happy to say even those were overcome.

Taxi Driver is a 1976 classic written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese, which tells the story of a Vietnam war veteran, who struggles with insomnia and dangerous thoughts and drives a taxi to keep himself busy. Clearly mentally unstable, he goes from one obsession to another, trying to right a wrong or revenge a nonexistent problem.

As I said before, I was blown away by the movie. The first and most important thing I loved and I will remember about Taxi Driver is Martin Scorsese's direction- the man is one of the best directors out there; I could easily describe at least 5 amazing scenes to showcase his genius: the opening scene, the random close-ups of the car and the city, the fantastic discussion in the cafe house and the change of camera shots between Travis and the afro-americans, and my favorite/s, the shooting scene at the end (the aerial view of the room after the cops arrived, the exchange of gun fire, that iconic close-up of the bloody Travis after it- everything was masterfully directed).

The small, but exemplary cast that they assembled is great and they work together very well, each bringing their own flavor and style to the table. The young Jodie Foster, as Iris, shines in a scandalous role, showcasing her talent as a young hooker who is used to the street life. Cybill Sheperd, playing Betsy, the campaign worker Travis falls for, offers the right amount of mystery and sensuality and works well with de Niro (I especially liked their first meeting at the cafe). Of course, I have to mention the funny looking Albert Brooks, who I didn't recognized at first.

The main character, the Taxi Driver, is played by the fantastic Robert de Niro. It truly is a defining moment in his career and one of his best roles ever. He perfectly portrays the part of the deranged men who is looking for a purpose in life after his retirement from the Marines. The deterioration of his mental state begins with the sudden obsession he develops for Palantine after his previous fixation with Betsy (Cybill Sheperd) ends up unsuccessfully. After his fail attempt towards the politician's ife, Travis redirects his vigilante spirit to the pimp controlling Iris and decides to end things dramatically.

The last scenes are violent and bloody. That and actually the whole movie, well, at least in some parts, were very reminiscent of Drive- well actually, Drive was reminiscent of Taxi Driver. From the way it was shot, to some of the music, to the The Driver/The Taxi's not an obvious resemblance, but it just gave me the feeling I've have seen it before somehow.

If you get angry every award season that some of your favorites don't make the cut, let me just tell you the situation for Taxi Driver: it didn't win any Oscars, it only got 4 nominations and they didn't even consider Scorsese for best Director, which is unbelievable.

All in all, as much as I try to analyse it, I feel I can't really do it justice, so I am just going to say this. It is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The story is very interesting, it features character development, something which I look for and love in a movie, the direction, production and music score are all amazing and blend it beautifully, creating a chilling, slightly mad atmosphere. I especially loved the first half of the movie, I was constantly being surprised by everything happening. The cast does its job to the T and Robert de Niro nails the Taxi Driver part, but the real star is Martin Scorsese's direction. Please see this film, if you haven't already!

May 17, 2012

The Ten: Best Actors of All Time Relay

Nostra from the very entertaining blog started a great series/blogathon called "The Ten: Best Actors of All Time Relay". The idea is

 I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. The blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that each blogger gets a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors.

The Previous Entries:
The actors

Humphrey Bogart

Marlon Brando

Daniel-Day Lewis

Robert De Niro

Ralph Fiennes

Paul Newman

Jack Nicholson

Richard Burton

Peter Sellers

Jeff Bridges

After mulling over the top ten, I have decided to remove Peter Sellers just for the slightly embarrassing reason of not seeing a lot of his work. 


When I was asked to add my pick, I had 4 or 5 choices that stuck into my head for a couple of days: Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Viggo Mortensen. I settled on one- I may change my mind and decide I was wrong, but it would be too late by then. So I have decided to go with 


Gary Oldman is my choice for one simple reason: DIVERSITY. The man has been everything from Sid Vicious (Sid and Nancy-1986), to an Irish American Gangster (State of Grace- 1990), Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991), to Dracula (1992) and had the part of the dreaded villain more than once in his lifetime (Leon, The Fifth Element, Air Force One). Now he is known and loved for portraying universally loved characters such as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter film series, James Gordon in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Only one Oscar nomination under his belt, but I think you all agree that it is too little for this man. Diversity for me is one of the crucial things that an actor should have in order to survive and stand out from the rest of the film world and I believe Gary Oldman proves it in the roles he chooses. Oh, and he is damn fine at what he does. If he weren't, he wouldn't be here, right? 

I hope you agree! I'm always rooting for the underdog, so here is one for your list :)

I now officially pass the torch to the lovely Ruth from "...let's be splendid about this"

May 16, 2012

Coco avant Chanel [2009]

The 2009 French movie, starring Audrey Tatou and directed by Anne Fontaine, follows the story of the famous designer before Chanel; it documents her stay at the Balsan mansion and her affair with the two men that played an important part in her life, each loving her as best they could.

One was the owner of the fabulous mansion in which she lived for a while, doing nothing more than entertain his guests; not a mistress, but not quite a wife, either. The other, the one who eventually captured her heart, was Boy, an English businessman she met during her stay with Balsan. Etienne offered her a place to stay, companionship and kindness, whilst Boy was the love she never believed could exist. It was a rather bittersweet story and certainly not a happy or inspiring one, but it had its wonderful moments and it portrayed Coco Chanel in a different way, by focusing on her earlier life and her journey to the woman we all know now.

From a filmmakers point of view, the film was visually beautiful and nicely directed, although I would have liked more color and a more artistic approach to the cinematography. I liked how they showed that Coco was always paying attention to details and shapes and accessories, and it was interesting to find out that she first started in the business by making hats. The costumes were fantastic and I instantly fell in love with her black dress from her first trip with Boy to the casino; her runway show at the end was also stunning and I love the style and the transformation from the poor girl in the orphanage to the successful Parisian designer. In a world of corsets, pastels and overly accessorized attires, she stood out with dark colors, masculine style and stripes. She knew exactly what she wanted and she was lucky enough to have both Balsan and Boy close to her to help her achieve it.

Casting-wise, I thought all 3 were perfectly chosen for their respective parts. Tatou's performance in this movie was beautiful. I like to think of her as a modern Audrey Hepburn, but French and only slightly less charismatic. She knowingly surrenders herself to the somber, strict and straight forward character of Gabrielle and shows a wide range of layers and subtleties to a rather enigmatic person. Although she was thought to be an introspective, elegant and cold woman, she did have her moments of happiness and childish behavior, but only Boy and sometimes, her sister, were the ones fortunate enough to witness it. Benoit Poelvoorde, as Etienne, the older, but always entertaining man, went from portraying an interested boy, to a naughty lover, to a jealous man in just a couple of months spent with Coco, and gave a wonderful performance. Alessandro Nivola played Boy with a natural charm and sensuality that would conquer almost every woman...I admit it, I fell for his act, and I do find it believable that Gabrielle did, too.

All in all, Coco avant Chanel was an interesting movie and an enjoyable way of spending an evening. If you are interested in fashion or if you love Audrey Tatou, I recommend it.

May 14, 2012

Some like it hot [1959]

After viewing my first Chaplin movie a few days ago, I decided to have another introduction into the filmography of a famous actor, and this time, I chose Marilyn Monroe, with Some Like It Hot, also starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

It's an entertaining story about two musicians caught in the middle of a mob hit, who decide to run for their lives and join an all female band disguised as women. More complications set in as Sugar Kane (Monroe), the lead singer, a sweet, naive, gorgeous woman, comes into their lives and makes their hidden identity that much harder to maintain. 

Written and directed by Billy Wilder, "Some like it hot" is a very funny, interesting and appealing movie that has the deserved title of a classic: from the surprisingly good direction and action scenes, to the costumes (which won an Oscar), the well-paced script, up until the amazing performances of all three main actors, everything is perfectly timed and executed. The black and white was appropriate for that era and helped give the film an even bigger touch of glamour, if possible, and the score maintained the rhythm and feel of the story. 

The performances were wonderful. Although Jack Lemmon, as Jerry/Daphne, got the most love during awards season, I leaned more towards Tony Curtis, playing Joe/Josephine (quite a revelation for me in this movie), and the wonderful Marilyn Monroe. Both men had palpable chemistry and added more layers of humor and humanity to their characters, especially Curtis, and worked great together with the famous starlet. 

As for Marilyn Monroe herself, I have to say I now completely understand the fascination with this woman. Interestingly enough, she was not perfect physically: her face had no particular features, her breast were big, and sometimes with an unflattering shape, and she wasn't, by no means, skinny: actually, she was quite plum in all places. But still, I haven't seen an actress yet with her charm and level of appeal: she is like a magnet for the eyes- it's like the screen lights up when she is on it, it loves her.  Her sweet, naive, rather dumb personality, paired with an attractive siluette and undeniable sensuality and appeal made her stand out in every frame, scene, situation or picture. She is a beautifull woman, despite her rather insignificant flaws (she looks stunning in the scene of the night on the train, when she goes to talk to Daphne). 

I should know or be used to the fact that pre 90s movies can be funny and entertaining, but I still like the surprise of acknowledging it after every viewing of an old movie. This one was no exception; speaking of which, I think this world perfectly describes classic movies for me, and it is harder and harder to find this quality these days: "entertaining". They make you relax, enjoy the film, not over think or feel extreme emotions- they are just there to offer the possibility of dreaming, of going into an alternative universe where things are fun, dynamic, interesting and worth trying. It has some memorable scenes: the train station, "I wanna be loved by you" performance, the escape from the hotel, the revelation of Joe/Josephine at the end and my favorite, the "seducing" scene on the yacht (his smart plan, her naiveness, the kissing- it was a great one to showcase Marilyn's talent and appeal). 

In conclusion, "Some like it hot" is a light comedy that should be viewed for many reasons: Monroe, two great male performances (Lemmon and Curtis), good script, funny scenes and lines and so on. Try it!

P.S. Favorite quotes:
- "Look how she moves...she's like jello on springs"

- "I am Fielding the III"
- "I am Cinderella the II"

- "Have you ever tried American Girls?"

- "You don't understand, I'm a man"
- "Nobody's perfect"

May 13, 2012

Representing Humanity Blogathon

Sam from Duke & The Movies recently started a very cool blogathon, and the big question we need to answer is:

Extraterrestrial forces land on Earth. Unknowing of our planet and society, you can pick five films from the history of cinema that represent humanity. What titles would you choose and why?

It's very hard to choose, but I would probably try to show the world as an extremely diverse, creative, yet complicated place to be in, also showing realistic movies, as they need to know what is Planet Earth! I will try to make it chronologically, because I think it might help them to better understand Earth and its inhabitants. 

1. A historical movie showcasing Ancient times, just so they can see the early stages of the planet and how it all started- it could be Ben-Hur, The Ten commandments, The Gladiator, name it! I will choose The Ten Commandments, although I haven't seen it, so I may be wrong, but I think is what I am looking for to show them!

2. A period drama- for their costumes, the story, their manners and the conservative, yet passionate natures of people in those days. My pick: Pride&Prejudice (2005?)

3. A movie from or about the 20s-30s. Since we also need a musical to make them happy after all the previous dramas, I will go with Chicago

4. A movie about life, its trial and tribulations and with a normal, rather realistic scrip. I can't think of anything better than Paris, Je t'aime: multiple stories, great actors, amazing directors, and with believable storylines. 

5. The final one would be an action packed, entertaining type of movie that is currently topping the box office. This was pretty hard to decide, since there are big choices like Harry Potter, James Bond, The Dark knight, Lord of the Rings and so on, but I will stick with the current king of the world, as it has a great mix of drama, action, love, comedy and superheroes: Avengers

Not the most original choices, but I think these will help give a basic image of the world they are stuck in! Hope you like it and thank you Sam for the great idea!

May 11, 2012

City Lights [1931]

I must admit, I am not entirely familiar with pre-50s movies- I can literally count on my fingers how many from those decades I have seen. But yesterday I decided to broaden my view and try something nice, light and classic: "City Lights", written and directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

It tells the story of a vagabond who falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers on the street. The movie takes us through his journey of trying to know and help the poor girl, all in a hilarious and dynamic way. 

Since it is a silent movie, the focus was more on the comedic side of Chaplin, which is exceptionally interesting and entertaining. He is, without a doubt, a fantastic actor and deserves all the credit he gets- his quirky movements, his extremely expressive face and his lovable character made the movie what it is. I am now looking forward to seeing more of him, but also trying out some Buster Keaton features.

I was a little bit surprised by the fact that I found myself laughing from the beginning, in the first scene with the statue, to the party scenes and more- I wasn't expecting it to be so funny. It had a lot of great moments, and you cannot not smile at most of them (some were a bit too much, in the sense that the same joke was done more than once and that made it lose its charm, but it didn't make such a difference). 

No dialogue also meant more time to observe other things; for me, the score/soundtrack was vital, as it must help and guide the viewer into the scriptwriter's wanted direction - I learned to appreciate it and the orchestra much more than I did in the past. [it also reminded me a lot of The Artist, but I guess that is normal..] 

The final scenes is one of the most romantic, sweet and incredibly endearing moments I have ever seen on screen. The way he looks at the girl after he finally notices her, the love in his eyes and the relief and happiness- all was so wonderful and touching, it felt real and it almost brought tears to my eyes. I will forever remember it!

If you haven't watched a Chaplin movie yet, I suggest you do it soon! It is magical and it helps you relax and smile! City Lights is a wonderful film that I highly recommend!

May 9, 2012

Sense&Sensibility [1995]

I've watched quite a few historical/costume/19th century English dramas in my life, I must admit. I was always attracted either to the actors in it, or to the story (adaptation of a classic novel), the accents, the costumes, the shy and prude behavior of women or their inexplicable attraction to drama and suffering.

Sense&Sensibility perfectly envisions everything said above. Directed by the diverse Ang Lee, and adapted to the screen by Emma Thompson, it tells the story of two sisters, Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), who fight to survive, all whilst love just can't seem to stick to their bones, as men leave them one by one when they most need it.

I have not read the novel, although I planned to, so I don't know if Emma Thompson did a faithful adaptation of the Jane Austen book, but the script overall was very good. Oscar-worthy? In the amazing year that was 1995? I don't know, but I give her credit for not only being an amazing actress, but also proving herself to be a talented scriptwriter, too.

Sense&Sensibility is a wonderful movie and you should see it, if only for the cast. Kate Winslet delivers as a young, impulsive woman who craves for romantic, poetic men; Hugh Laurie somehow manages to shine, in a grumpy, yet very funny role and I though Hugh Grant was underused, like he was there just for his looks (yes, I know, that's how it is in the book, but still...I felt he needed more time on screen). But the man, for me at least, who deserves all the credit and a special mention, is ALAN RICKMAN (yes, the Caps Lock is necessary)- oh my, what a gentleman, what an accent, what a VOICE- his voice is so special, and dark and elegant, I just love it. I could listen to him talk all day.

Although, like I said, this is a very good, entertaining, visually beautiful movie, I didn't connect to it like I would have imagined. Yes, it's nice, it's sweet, but still...something wasn't there, I don't know what. If I were to compare it to other similar adaptations, I like Pride&Prejudice (with Knightley and McFadden) and Jane Eyre (with Wasikowska and Fassbender) more.

Surprisingly enough, at least to me, this movie got a lot of love from the awards season that year- Baftas, Oscar for adapted screenplay, Golden Bear at Berlin Festival, Golden Globes (best movie? in 1995? with Usual Suspects and Seven in the mix? why?). Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it for everything it has delivered, but I just didn't think it was worthy of such acclaim.

All in all, yes, you should see this movie, but you don't need to make it your top priority.

May 7, 2012

Young Adult [2011]

*SPOILER alert*

Young Adult is a 2011 film, directed by Jason Reitman, from a script penned by Diablo Cody, who also wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay of Juno. It tells the story of a late 30s woman who comes back to her hometown and tries to win back her now-married high school sweetheart.

Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gray, a Young Adult books writer, who is currently trying to write the final part of a rather unsuccessful series. She is lazy, careless, miserable and goes through a boring routine everyday, until she finds out that Buddy Slade, her first love, just had a baby. Immediately, she gets the idea that he is unhappy with his marriage and child and goes back home to save him. Although it is obvious to everyone around her that the man is fine and content with his life, Mavis does not see it and desperately tries to show him that they belong together. Along the way, she meets and forms a somehow interesting friendship with Matt, who was known back in the day as the "hate crime guy" (he was beaten because everyone thought he was gay). He tries to help her, to stir her in the right direction, but she just wouldn't listen. The end point is not good, as imagined, but the journey to it is revealing and bittersweet.

Charlize Theron is a force of nature in Young Adult. She perfectly portrays the obsessed woman who is, after all, just a sad girl who hasn't grown emotionally since she left high school- at heart, she is the cheerleader/prom queen bitch. She still feels and acts like a teenager, despite her age and experiences, and although she is smart, her passion for Buddy stands between her and reality- Mavis cannot comprehend the idea that he might not want her. She is delusional and she only realizes the truth when Beth (his wife) openly tells her that they feel sorry for her and consider her to be mental ill or with a depression. That moment was probably one of the saddest, heartbroken scenes I have seen lately- not because of the way it was shot or because of the atmosphere or the dialogue-no. In that moment, when she finally understands, it hits her so hard, that you can't help to feel sorry for her; it makes you scream to the screen "I told you, it was so obvious Mavis, why didn't you see this coming?". 

My favorite scenes comes after the tragic show at the Blades house, when she goes to see Matt- miserable, heartbroken and feeling undesired, she says "I'm crazy and no one wants me", seeking consolation in the arms of an equally sad man who tries to comfort her the best way he can. The naked awkwardness is so real and touching, that you understand and relate to her, in some way, and you feel her pain- that is something that any scriptwriter and actor aim to do, and Cody and Theron manage to transmit so much just through that one scene. 

If that is not enough, another great one follows, as Mavis wakes up the next day and goes into the kitchen for coffee, where she meets Sandra, the man's sister. Her short conversation with the woman tells us so much about her personality and her motivation ("He knew me when I was at my best"), but also helps her realize some things about her life. She doesn't want to settle for less, to live a normal, boring life in Mercury, where people are fulfilled with so little. 

Seeing her pack her bags and leave the hotel makes you think "I'm glad she finally understood it, but is it too late? Has she missed too much?". I, for one, would have loved to see more in the end, maybe a glimpse into her future, where would she be now, but I guess I can see why Diablo Cody decided to stop there. 

I loved this movie so much because it is a character development story- it doesn't have too much action and maybe some of the characters are one dimensional, but it feels real. Mavis Gray is brought to life by Charlize Theron in such an honest, despicable, sad, yet pitiful way, that you can't not acknowledge her acting craft and conviction- she is truly a wonderful actress. You should really see "Young Adult"!

May 5, 2012

Musical Saturday: An American in Paris[1951]

I saw An American in Paris at the British Film Institute on a cold end-of-October day and it brighten up my day! It was such a pleasure seeing it, after endless dramas at the London Film Festival before (which I enjoyed also, but in a different way).

The movie tells the story of Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter in Paris and his relationship with two wonderful women: Lisa(played by Leslie Caron) and Lilo(played by Nina Foch).

There were many beautiful aspects that I loved about this movie. The first scene, introducing the characters, which is rather atipical and simple; the description of Lisa by Henri, featuring the amazing Leslie Caron dancing in all of her splendor- she is very graceful; all of the costumes and the sets; the piano scene of Oscar Levant, showing us his talent in a dream sequence and many others.

Gene Kelly is probably one of the most charming men I have ever seen on screen. That, plus his dancing skills and the way he makes it seem so easy and enjoyable, you've got yourself an A start actor. He has believeable chemistry with both Leslie and Nina and smoothly switches from actor to dancer in each scene. The musical numbers were sweet, but not very memorable (like the ones in West Side Story, for example), and the final dancing scene stretches a bit too long, but all is forgiven just for that shot of him and Leslie on the yellow, glowing background and the intro/outro editing. Beautiful!

I found myself smiling my way through the movie and it was, like I said, very enjoyable! It's a classic and you should see it!

May 1, 2012

April recap

If I had to choose one word to describe this month, it would probably be LAZY or maybe PROCRASTINATION. I started April with an intense 3 days of projects and then proceeded to be in a 3 weeks Spring Break which led to me doing almost nothing, except listen to music (mostly Maccabees, my current obsession) and, from time to time, read books and magazines.

I feel like I wasted a perfectly good month, and so, I hope May will be better (although I don't have high hopes for it, either, as I will be travelling back home for 2 weeks).

Anyway, here's my too short list of things I've done this month:

Once [2006]
Usual Suspects [1995]
The Godfather 1 [1972]
The Godfather 2 [1974]
Fish Tank [2009]
Taking Woodstock [2009]
Avengers Assemble [2012]
Sense&Sensibility [1995]

Books: 4

Opera: 1 (Rigoletto at the Royal Opera Covent Garden)

Event: Sundance London Future Filmmakers

I couldn't end this April recap without a little...
Blogger (and Twitter) love
I could link you to a specific post of each of these following blogs, but they are too talented, nice and funny to resume to only one- I love them all!
Ruth at
Nikhat at
Stevee at
Anna at
Alex at
Sati at

Love for the people who always take the time to comment on my blog- you always brighten up my day (the ones above are of course included): Pete, SDG, Steven, Chip, Ruth, Dan O and many more. Sorry if I missed anyone!

Have a great May, lovely readers!