Nine (2009)

A musical is a special kind of film. Some people like it. Others hate it. You’ll find me somewhere in between and certainly not a fan.

Nine, is not a pure musical. It uses the fabric of a musical to speak its own tale: the tale of a director which seeks its way through life, both blessed and cursed by his own gift.

There is a lot of truth in this film, distilled from life experience. Truth mirrored in the different characters of the film:

  • Lilli, the costume designer (by Judi Dench), a colleague, consultant, but most of all a director’s friend,  giving him the final word of advice,
  • Luisa Contini, the director’s wife (played by the amazing Marion Cotillard) – how may one live with a person that is constantly lying, no matter how much it is loved?
  • Carla, the director’s mistress (by a more-sexy-than-ever Penélope Cruz) – even a mistress needs time and emotional reassurance!
  • Claudia, the main actress in all the director’s films (by Nicole Kidman – breathtaking as always), finally speaking the truth about herself and the director…
  • the director’s mother (by Sophia Loren), “nobody can help you Guido but yourself”!
  • Finally Guido, the director, (by Daniel Day-Lewis, with whom one forgets – as in any other play – that he plays a role!), a person trying to devour everything around him, in order to fill his devastating emptiness, exposed to the mirror of his previous successes, that finally manages to find himself and reconcile the child inside him with the adult that he is.

When few things are spoken in a movie, they get another weight…

Rob Marshall made an amazing film (for me, it is his best so far) you should not miss, even if you are not musical’s fans. It reminds me of “Alll That Jazz“, another musical I really loved.

For all the above and some really magical moments:

My rating:  10 / 10

A Christmas Carol (2009)

So, it is Christmas and since the real Spirit of Christmas seems to have a leave of absence (this being a topic outside the scope of this blog will not be discussed), what is better than go and see “A Christmas Carol” of Robert Zemeckis, based on the novel of Charles Dickens.

The well known story, that was filmed back in 1951 as Scrooge, is filmed here with some amazing cartoon technology that brings another dimension to the story. Spectacular, breath taking at times conveys the spirit of the tale in an entirely new way.

My rating: 06 / 10

Soul Kitchen (2009)

There are movies that make you feel like home. Home is a different place for different people. Fatih Akin made such a movie … A proof that nationalities do not matter: souls do!

The story reminds us of the old saying “when  it rains, it pours” for the main character who tries to survive against all odds. An optimistic, funny film, full of the Greek spirit written and directed by a German of Turkish parentage. Life is full of surprises!

My rating: 08 / 10

Strella (2009)

Strella represents the Greek cinema at its best. Some things are extreme. The director of the movie, Panos Koutras,  gave an explicit request not to discuss or write the “film’s secret”. Its request is worth respecting 🙂 It is a film worth seeing.

My rating: 08 / 10

Avatar (2009)

James Cameron created an amazing film and there are a number of reasons for this.

To start with, we have the fact that it is a real 3D movie. There are scenes where one is motivated to reach out and grasp objects that float around! There were 3D movies in iMax, etc. but this technology is one step ahead.

The scenery is a dream-like environment, something that just its conception needs to be praised. On top of that, one has the several flights of the characters and creatures in Pandora, scenes that remind one’s favorite dream when under stress: the sensation of flight as a counterbalance for the missing ultimate freedom and happiness…

With the above mentioned technology and scenery, another director might be content and just put a thin story underneath. Cameron however has a very good story which does not insult the spectator. There is a point where the , plot could have a better twist, less “Hollywood” like, but, hey, it would not be as commercial as the one chosen!

It is one of the best Sci-Fi films produced and it is highly recommended to see it!

My rating: 09/10

The limits of control (2009)

Well, it is one of those symbolic films that you either love or hate! The limits of control one might think are those imposed by the main character to himself while doing his job. They are not, not the only ones at last. One has to “use your (his) imagination” – as one of the few tag-lines mentions in the play.

Discussions about music, films, art, science between people whose roads cross. Looks like strokes of bush with different colors on a white canvas…

I loved this film. It says so many things with so few dialogues! There are nice things but not something out of the ordinary. Jim Jarmusch talks about life, out daily transactions and their meaning, things that do give life a meaning as well as how well the control is kept and how it may be … broken!

Too much said 🙂

My rating: 08/10 … provided you like symbolic films!

Almost forgot: the poem of Arthur Rimbaud, “drunken boat” (le bateau ivre) mentioned at the beginning of the play, you may find here in English and here in French.

In the loop (2009)

A worth seeing movie, combining several characteristics. Like in software development (!) there are are several tiers: the first one, is the one of comedy. You’ re going to have quite some laughs there (I did at least!). The language used, the incidents that occur, the whole story is really hilarious. The second one relates to the characters of the people portrayed. They are for real, as in all British films. They will remind you of our politicians, employees, citizens. The third one, dealing with the fictitious (?) incidents of the story is the one that really hurts: how much might be true out of this?

My rating: 08 / 10

An education (2009)

A British film by Lone Scherfig which defines once more the word authenticity. Its characters are real, the problems and reactions to them are found in everyday life. It is located in the past, but if one talks with a teenager he/she will (surprisingly?) find that the same problems roam in its mind today.

It is an amazing film. There are scenes, like the one where the camera shows the student’s feet dancing in the rhythm of music, that are really wonderful. Other scenes which have their strength coming from the scenario, like the one where Carey Mulligan states her opinion about the “message” that school’s teachers pass to the students, with tears in her eyes that really swept me away.

It talks about choices one makes in the course of life, how one thing may lead to another, how even a brilliant mind, in the course of re-inventing the wheel may be led astray. Do not miss it!

My rating: 10 / 10

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

The movie begins by saying that “This is a story about a boy and a girl. Be warned though: it is NOT a love story!”. Indeed, it is not… There are things I liked about this movie and things I did not. It had style in the presentation of the story: going back and forth in time, around that time period of the 500 days that the guy was-wasn’t with Summer. There were times when it was really funny. Somehow, it was not “convincing”, it was like there were a couple of things missing to make it a real good movie. So, if you want to see a movie with style, to pass your time, to feel kind-of-romantic, to be with your partner watching it (or not!), then it is a good candidate. But there are much better movies out there 🙂

My rating: 06/10

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Well, Terry Gilliam is dreaming again 🙂 A variation tail of doctor Faustus where, instead of power and knowledge, doctor Parnassus (one of the main characters) asks initially for immortality from the devil, in exchange for something very dear to him…

It is a well told fairy tail, made as if from the mind of a child…both cruel, beautiful, interesting, ever changing, full of surprises, hidden messages in ludicrous sceneries made by the wildest imagination. A film with the flavor of Tideland.

My rating: 07/10