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Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα film reviews. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τετάρτη, 9 Ιουλίου 2014

Castaway on the Moon (2009)

Director: Hae-jun Lee
Writer: Hae-jun Lee (screenplay)
Stars: Min-heui Hong, So-yeon Jang, Jae-yeong Jeong
Production: South Korea
Duration: 116 min
Imdb score: 8,2

I found out about this film from some friends and from the moment they described the story, I have to tell you I was hooked. I wanted to watch it very badly. Based in South Korea, the first scene introduces us to a heavy atmosphere. A man is on a bridge calling with his bank. They inform him that he ows a great amount of money and that reassures him about his decision to commit suicide. But the story doesn't end here, it has actually just begun.

Some hours later, he will find himself in an island into the city itself, a deserted place, where all his attempts to find help go futile. Soon, he will discover the beauty of it all; he is a castaway on a place where nobody can find him and suddenly all this sounds very appealing. His daily attempts and struggles to find shelter and food give him exactly what he needed, hope. 

Min-hee Hong appears to be weak and vulnerable in the beginning of this story, but experiencing this intense and unique trip through loneliness and survival, he proves to be more than persistent. During his struggles he will get a strange message from an even stranger observer. Of course somebody would see him, he is after all castaway in his own city. The mystery person will follow his every step and will want to help him after all. But the stubbornness he has developed and the need for hope are stronger than any kind of external help. Soon he will realize how necessary the procedure of survival is to him, but also the communication with this strange person. 

The mystery person is being introduced to us in the beginning as something different. You keep wonder what has this girl have to do with our story, but soon you realize how roughly connected she is to our castaway. A young girl trapped in a virtual world, locked into her own universe, suddenly sees some light in her dark room when the image of this weird "alien" - as she calls him - enters her extra macro lens from her tall window. 

Through the direction of Hae-jun Lee that lingers between deep drama and light comedy, the film's atmosphere is being intensified with sorrow and grief by the long, slow face shots of the two characters. Hope and salvation though, are intelligently hiding behind every dialog or scene, only to re-appear in times when most needed. This unique story speaks truthfully, enslaving anyone that decides to walk in its path. Mesmerizing and incomparable!

Strong and soft, this movie touches your heart unexpectedly via its emphasis on human relations. How we have become ignorant of our need to be around people and to live free of society conventions. How this internet-based, information-bombarded and careless world has made us into human-machines who need to work all day, be on their computers and ignore everything else. How have we become like that? Loneliness is our constant friend and we are afraid to be ourselves around people, sheltered from our own insecurities, blocked by our cyber-addicted brains. 

But wait, there is more. There is freedom even when you walk in darker paths, there is salvation from yourself and there is, purely and truthfully, Hope in its best form. This is what this movie is all about. A reminder that we people are tightly linked with each other and that we can change the course of our future by taking our own lives into our hands. Love is, after all, the answer to everything. 

You never really know where Hope will be hiding, the only thing you need to do is find and grab it!

Δευτέρα, 24 Μαρτίου 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch (screenplay)
With: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
Production: UK, Germany, France, Cyprus, USA
Duration: 123'

And here lies a vampire world so much different than the one we are used to. Two lonely creatures, drifting through the years, through the centuries. They share a deep love for each other and a deep respect for the world they live in. Their names? Adam and Eve, in an ironic reference in religion, one of the few that follow. 

They are in this world for centuries, they have met historic personalities, they have influenced some of them, they are no random souls. They are maybe the last - or the first - of their kind, lost and drifted in a world where everywhere is constant danger. Through many references in literature, science, history, music and film those creatures make a meaning out of themselves. 

It is such a poetically beautiful movie. The harmony that flows within, the deep and unspoken love it vibrates. Those melancholic creatures face the same - almost - problems with any other human being. She is a unique optimist with features 'out of this world'(how beautiful Tilda is) and He is a talented creature, tired of his own self and solitude and blessed with a deep view for the world of music. 

You will not see many characters in this story. Adam and Eve meet with one of their mentors, Marlowe, an old figure (based on the true Christopher Marlowe who is considered to have written some of Shakespeare works according to historian James S. Shapiro) who eventually will drift away. Eve's younger sister, Ava, will disturb their peace by invading in their world, something that is obvious she does once in a century (which is often). Their relationship will be tested as Adam in not a big fan of Ava, while Eve loves and appreciates her little sister, even if she is over the top. 

The truth is that this story doesn't have a beginning or an end. It catches a part of those creatures' lives into this world. They are both a bit retired from life and don't have so much contact with humans as they used to. Adam has given up hope on the human race and his suicidal attitude worries Eve deeply. 

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, the talented independent American filmmaker who has a devoted cinephile audience whatever he does, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a poetic story of two vampires. The melodic, psychedelic music in the scenes and the slow sequences reveal an auteur with artistic depth and a will to create everything ritually. From how they drink blood (never violently taken anymore), how they make love, how they walk and behave, how they see the world. The time he gives to its characters to evolve, to express their true feelings, works soothingly in the course of the story. 

"Only Lovers Left Alive" is a genuine art film that shows us where the true meaning of life is, even if you are immortal. This movie has created a constant discussion about the melancholic nature of every human walking in this world, having already a truthful attitude towards everything it deals with. In its fiction is utterly genuine

Παρασκευή, 31 Ιανουαρίου 2014

My week in movies #2

And after a long January and a tiring week, I present to you, my beloved readers, some of the latest movies I have watched this past week. Most of them are quite new, compared to my last list, where some oldies were there. So, read these small reviews and enjoy your weekend with some more cinema.

(You can find detailed plots through each title linking to Imdb)

Strong performances for a movie I thought was boring in the beginning. Then it got my attention and I watched it till the end. Reese Witherspoon is astonishing as June Carter and along with Joaquin Phoenix they created a burning couple trying to get through life's difficulties. The music and the drugs, the fall and the rise of a great musician and this wonderful woman's integrity, with which she managed to save him. Amazing. They loved each other till the end.

So lyrical and magnetic direction from this extremely intelligent woman, named Sarah Polley. The story of one family unravels so effortlessly, their feelings and sides of the same story are so different, but at the same time so alike. Very very very good documentary. So honest. Polley isn't afraid of the exposure it gives to her personal life and family, but instead she pushes everything to the limit, like a constant need to get it all out there. Maybe that way all of these people, among the director, can find peace with their past.

Extended film critique coming up soon.

As a traveler myself or at least one who is on “travel break” now, I deeply fell in love with this movie and the story of this guy. The freedom he felt, the rebel he deeply was and the kindness he offered where elements that make everyone envy this man. Even though he got defeated by what he loved deeply, he still teaches us great life lessons. Is officially in my favorite's list. Truthful cinema doesn't deserve anything less.

Unfortunately, it fails in every attempt to reveal the Butler's story in a decent way. The narration has gaps, the scenes change abruptly. There is no proper flow. The direction doesn't allow its characters to unfold properly. They are suffocated in a long and boring story. Except for the admiration one can feel for the real butler's integrity, there is not much that the character can tell us. A much more fascinating figure is his son and his actions, leaving the mother (a decent acting by Oprah) drift through fuzziness. Quite disappointing.

This true story of rivalry is so righteously presented that you cannot do anything but admire. Its essence is so strong and powerful. The direction is so intense that lets the story unfolds easily. Except some fast editing in the beginning this movie deserves more attention and acclaim. What a figure Niki Lauda is. What an athlete. 

Τρίτη, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Captain Phillips (2013)

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (based upon the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" by)
With: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Duration: 134'
Country: USA

One of the movies that claim the title “Movie of the Year” has already six Oscar nominations for this year, along with Best Achievement in Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Barkhad Abdi. Having almost 70 nominations, the movie has already claimed a position in the “favorites” list.

The screenplay (Billy Ray) of “Captain Phillips” is based on the the book “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” (2010) by the real Richard Phillips who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean as part of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.

The US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years as IMDB informs us on the movie's page, where it has scored 8, 1 so far. With most of the nominations gained for the performance of Tom Hanks and his co-star Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips” has become everyone's favorite action thriller of the year.

We follow the extraordinary story of a captain who, while on duty in the Indian Ocean, his cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. We watch with extreme precision how the captain realized the menace and how he managed to prevent the hijacking by using all means from his crew, the ship and his own head.

While proving to be prepared with solutions for preventing the incident, he is unaware of what will follow next. The horror and fear he will face in the hands of these “fishermen”, who are nothing more than poor men in need for money for the boss who rules their lives.

Muse, the leader of this mission thinks that he got lucky choosing an American cargo ship. He believes its crew and captain will obey his orders and hand him the ship's money. But he miscalculates and soon realizes nothing is going to be easy with this captain.

The story unravels slow revealing its characters feelings. While we observe the growing tension we cannot help but notice this peculiar relationship created between Captain Phillips and the leader of the hijackers, Muse. 

Looking at each other deep in the eye, they are trying to show who is in control. Muse wants to impose his domination over his own crew, but mostly over the captain. Captain Phillips though, wants to preserve his own authority and is trying to maintain a neutral attitude towards the pirates. And he also tries the same thing: to show his own crew that he still has control.

After some serious incidents, everyone realizes that things have changed into worse. The pirates act recklessly doing the unthinkable. They kidnap Captain Phillips for at least two days, while the American coast guard along with trained marines await the appropriate moment to attack and disarm or better, eliminate them.

The negotiations fail to come to a desirable result and the USA justs wants to get rid of the targets. The morality that is hidden behind all these, the power America shows over anything named as terrorism or pirates is overwhelming. If you stand in front of the Americans as an obstacle, they will do anything to take you down in the name of national security. The movie tries hard to remind us this.

All this tension unraveling throughout the movie, bursts out at the last sequence, where Captain Phillips collapses. And here is where the sublime performance by Tom Hanks takes place. Weak and confused he gives up, he falls apart, he loses the control he fought for. His vulnerability is magnificent on screen. 

DiCaprio managed to steal the 'Best Actor in a Leading Role' nomination from Hanks, and me being a fan of both of them, cannot help but think this: Hanks has already proven his value, while DiCaprio still fights for a position in the Oscar Hall of Fame. Well, maybe Leo will get it this time.

One thing I admire in Paul Greengrass's direction is that he managed without any Hollywood tricks and effects to exhibit this slow growing tension and succeed in giving us a thrilling action movie with great performances (don't forget Barkhad Abdi's nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role).

One of the feelings I cannot hide for this movie, is my deep sadness over those poor Somali people who had no choice but to hijack, threaten, kidnap just to survive. They live in a world so different, where they grow up under war conditions. Even though this movie focuses on a more American way of dealing with things, it still makes us wonder why these people have no choice but turn to crime.

Τρίτη, 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Frances Ha (2012)

Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (screenplay)
With Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
USA, 86 min

In noisy and busy New York a lot of young people are struggling for a better life. One of them is Frances. She doesn’t really have an apartment since her temporary job in a dance firm is not really offering her a decent salary and as she declares being a dancer, she is actually a struggling one trying to stand out.

“Frances Ha” is the silent surprise of last year. An independent American production with a pretty black & white photography, young actors and most of all a freshly point of view of how young people are these days. Even if it is based on New York with its neuroticism borrowed by Woody Allen’s remarks and movies, the film speaks for everyone. For all the struggles every person, who experiences the western society’s “diseases”, deals with.

The film of Noah Baumbach is inspired by the French Nouvelle Vague and the characteristic Woody Allen vibe of “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall”. In its content, the awkwardly designed character of Frances always has a talent of bringing unintended questions and blurred (but truthful), life and love, statements.

She lives with her best friend, Sophie, who she considers as her soul mate. They share an apartment together and a wonderful life – almost in a childish way - but when Sophie decides to move elsewhere with someone else, the deep disappointment in Frances’s face is more than evident in herself and her own life. It somehow makes her realize and think over her own life purpose and how she would be able to survive in hectic New York.

The later crisis between them will almost force her to face this big blank wall of self reflection. This eventually will result into reinventing her own goals and plans, to actually confront her own self.

Life for Frances is something she needs to endure, but her own existence and well – being depends mostly on other people. She is social and quite extrovert, but she shares a quite rare intimacy only with the people she chooses, or better to say, with the people who really don’t bother judging her bold and nervy social behavior.

The clean and abrupt – almost tidy – editing of the movie gives away Baumbach’s random direction attitude. It feels like he put together all his frames and shots somehow unintended. This procedure’s honesty is an element missing from other contemporary Americans. It is marvelous and so beautiful to see how his direction’s simplicity, even though is not completely new or innovative, helps him recreate through his own perspective.

Frances drifts around New York, she imposes herself into other people’s lives, she tells exactly what she thinks and is so genuine that you cannot do anything but admire and secretly envy her freedom of character. But she is also sensitive and talented, maybe not made for the big lights and major dance performances, but her style and life values are there permanently to remind her – and us – that we need to keep up and promote our own dreams any way possible.

Nothing that others – or society and the media – enforces us to do should happen. Success is an overestimated situation that can destroy as easy as it can build human lives. The point is to live and experience through feelings. But the other, more valuable hidden point is what you produce in this world to actually have a meaning for some people, even if you can count them in one hand.

This is what “Frances Ha” is about. It is for the small, not of great significance, lives of people who are actually very important, even more important than the already seemingly important ones.

The essence of this film is completed through these lines:
"I want this one moment. It’s what I want in a relationship…It’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them, and they know it, and they love you and you know it but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes, but not because you’re possessive or it’s precisely sexual, but because that is your person in this life."

Τρίτη, 19 Νοεμβρίου 2013

My week in movies #1

Last week I decided, since time is a precious thing in my life and I don’t have much of it, to write down small reviews of all the movies I have watched - instead of detailed film critiques - in a period of like 10 days. These are some of the movies I watched and, as you can see, are from various genres, times and directors. 

This list can also be used as a small guide if you are wondering what to watch every night!

The small reviews below are from my Letterbox profile 

In the first movie minions were the true revelation. With their characteristic non-language they return in "Despicable Me 2" claiming more time and spotlight. “Despicable Me 2” is spreading jokes that are not so childish but actually extremely funny for everyone.

With love as the main theme in this sequel, Gru finds himself trapped between his girls and this new undercover job that he was offered. Finally, after a lot of thought he will accept and he will try to discover which villain stole this powerful mutation liquid that turns everyone into monsters.

Smart, sweet and still hilarious, "Despicable Me 2" is quite a delight to watch. It's perfect for a relaxing night; a night which with some minions on your side can prove more than amazing. 

This movie reveals with great way how some youngsters want to define themselves through their parents’ non action. They are bold and gorgeous, but their beauty contradicts their greedy lust for life. Their reckless behavior results to destructive results.

A big social statement for teenage behavior, especially in the 50s-60s era. It is rebellious like its own protagonists, who carelessly cannot realize the importance of their actions and who are constantly being neglected and left in their fate by their own parents. 

Iconic James Dean you will live forever. 

Such a masterpiece of horror and mystery. As in all Hitchcock's movies we - the audience - are one step ahead in the plot, but here we walk into the dark secrets of Uncle Charlie's past, almost along with Charlotte 'Charlie' Newton, his young niece. So intense. You cannot miss a shot. I want to watch it again and again. 

What a magnificent performance given by Denzel Washington. This story of corruption and control, so violently given, shows some of our basic instincts. Yes, the strongest survives, but also the smartest. In a world full of drugs and cruelty, blood and guns in the streets, does police have a role of maintaining order or a role of taking everything under control no matter the outcome? In this cruel world we need to consider if we are going to fight against this brutality with our hearts, our ethics and morals or with our own violent, nasty instincts. 

A movie I have never heard of before came and surprised me completely. Through amazing performances by its cast (Oh yes, including Harvey) and the leading extraordinary James Stewart, "Harvey" tells the story of a man and its imaginary (?) 6 feet tall rabbit friend and how together they change people one by one.

His politeness affects everyone around him, even though his older sister is trying to lock him up in a mental institution. Through his odd behavior, the insanity of others comes slowly to the surface, proving that he is the sanest of them all. Touching and truthful, 'Harvey' has a lot of meanings, letting each viewer to discover and decode them in their own way.