The Way Back (2010)

The Way back is an excellent adventure movie. A plot with suspense, real characters, moving at times. It will keep you with undiminished interest on your seat and you’ll spend more than two hours watching the ‘long walk’ of the prisoners till they reach freedom.

The story may or may not be true, but the movie is worth seeing.

My rating: 08/10

Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (2010)

One should be open to different cultures, ways of presenting things, alternative points of view. One has the ability to see the truth in all alternative expressions of art, provided there is one in the first place.

Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives” is a film well praised by several critics and won the best foreign film award by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

It is a real surprise to find out that a film of such ideological mess , falling short of anything we might call art, whether it has to do with photography, direction, or any kind of aesthetics was able to find the path to film festivals, let alone the fact it was received in such a way by film critics.

My rating: 02/10

Winter’s Bone (2010)

The fact that “Winter’s Bone” was selected as the best film for the 2010 Sundance film festival is a good indication. Seeing however Debra Granik‘s film, is a surprise. There is an original story, with suspense building as the story unveils, excellent acting with Jennifer Lawrence being really amazing. Most of all one has the chance to see a totally different face of America, where people live in another world with its own rules, customs and codes.

My rating: 09/10

Veronika Decides to Die (2009)

Veronika Decides to Die: a depressing title to start with. A question whether it should be rejected just by its title. Ok, life is a gift and the title is provocative but that would be too much…Director: Emily Young. I have not seen another of her movies, they are not so many anyway. Decision: let’s give it a shot …

In the first five minutes of the movie one hears so many truths about life, relationships, the social framework…The decision was to definitely see it!

The film is unexpectedly good. It is based on a book by Paulo Coelho with the same title. Having such a young director come up with such a wonderful scenario would be a miracle on its own. But the direction is very good, balanced, emotional to the appropriate degree (if there is such a thing!) and rewarding. It really makes you feel human. Not so many films are able to do that.

Acting is excellent and the music is outstanding too: there is a piano piece (among others) which is reminds me of the New Age masterpieces written ages ago.

One should definitely see it.

My rating: 08/10

PS. Now, I can hear someone saying: you flatten all movies to the ground! Why did you put an eight to that one also? Answer: because it is worth it!

Blue Valentine (2010)

It is amazing, isn’t it? I mean, you meet someone, you’re thrilled with its personality, you become from interested to crazy about him/her. And after a while, aq time period which may be months, years (hopefully not days!), the glimmer goes gradually away, while other things, start to emerge, making you wonder what attracted you in the first place to that individual you once adored. Well, that is the case if there is no re-evaluation of what is happening and why in your own  life…In that case the question always remains the same 🙂

The impression one gets by seeing Blue Valentine is that it conveys in an excellent manner that exact feeling, by mixing snapshots of a couple’s lives from the period they are happy with the period they feel their relationship to break apart.

Real life true characters and an excellent direction.

My rating: 06 / 10

Black Swan (2010)

The idea of using a well-known story, to weave on top of it a parallel, contemporary one, is not new in cinema. An excellent film doing this is Red Shoes based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale.

In Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky does almost the same: a ballet dancer is granted the role of the princess of swans, required to play both the White and the Black swan in Swan Lake ballet. The similarities between her life and the ballet’ story are depicted in a frustrating, breath-taking manner where every scene prepares things for the tragic ending.

As every other film of Darren Aronofsky, this is a master piece. Acting is superb, direction is excellent. However, it is more obscure than the previous ones. In the rest of the post, a detail analysis of the film will follow, so, I would suggest to skip it if you intend to see the film.

The film opens with a dream of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), the ballet dancer which desperately pursues the role of her life: to dance as the princes of swans.

The above opening dream bears the entire meaning of the whole film along with the short story provided by the artistic director of the ballet, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel): “Virgin girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan, she desires freedom but only love can break the spell. Her wish is granted in the form of a prince … But the lustful twin, the Black Swan tricks and seduces him … The White Swan jumps off a cliff and in death finds freedom.”

Nina Sayers, is still a child in the body of a virgin woman. She is trying to fulfil the dream of a mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), that once was a ballet dancer herself. A mother that never managed to have the career she was dreaming because she was not good enough, but had a daughter as an excuse for her failure (as she sees it). A mother which tries everything in her power to train her daughter to succeed but at the same time subconsciously makes everything possible to make her fail, in order to have her close her for ever.

The lack of personal life, the suffocating control of her mother, the pressure of the her need for perfection, the time which passing by, acts against her (as for every ballet dancer), force her inner self, to reflect its injuries to her own body in a variety of ways. That inner self, is expressing its anger for the mutilation it is experiencing for the lack of a normal life, for a lack of erotic life. The irony is that the artistic director sees through her and instructs her to .l.i.v.e. , to make love in order to be able to play the Black Swan, in order to be able to seduce: how is it possible for an actor to generate a feeling he/she has never experienced? And in order to show her the way, he seduces her, makes her dream of him and at a certain point, he also makes her feel betrayed as she sees him make love with her fellow dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis).

The turning point is at the opening night when the time comes to play the Black Swan. That moment, she must convey an experience she has never lived before in her life, to the audience. And in order to do that, her inner self takes control, becomes the Black Swan and claims what is rightfully hers: the role she was struggling for her entire life, by taking the life of her competitor that threatens to take that role away.

That gives her the strength and exhilaration to be as seductive and magnificent as the role demands, to provide an outstanding performance, to claim her real own prince (Thomas Leroy) by passionately kissing him  in public. But returning to her dressing room, to prepare for the final act, she finds out that the killing was an illusion. It her desperate attempt to be for the first time in her life a Black Swan, she had turned against her White part that was in the way …

Darren Aronofsky not only manages to draw in parallel the ballet story with the story of the movie, but also succeeds to use both, in order to vividly display  the conflict between the different sides each and every one of us carries within. Sides which may be far apart and for which domination of one means the death of the other.

My rating: 09/10

The Mechanic (2011)

YAR, i.e.: Yet Another Remake. You may steal the acronym, there is no patent pending :)).  The Mechanic was initially filmed in 1972 movie with Charles Bronson. Ok, this is an action movie, that one would be happy if it had a better plot. The original script written, Lewis John Carlino, is also in the script writers of the recent movie.  There are some good moments, a lot of action of course but there are a number of things missing … Which leaves you with an air of unsatisfaction. Am I expecting too much? The ending is not so bad though …

My rating: 04/10

Echelon Conspiracy (2009)

Echelon Conspiracy: An initially intriguing plot, some good ideas, but otherwise naive with some really stupid points that invalidate the whole movie. Too bad: it had potential….

My rating: 03/10

Donnie Darko (2001)

It is hard to believe that such a film was written and directed by an American, i.e. Richard Kelly. But we need to take things from the beginning.

Donnie Darko is a movie where Science Fiction is used as a pretext to tackle a number of issues that one faces in a western society. Fear for anything which is different, hypocrisy, an attempt to oversimply the human nature in order to have a digestible model for psychological survival, are some of the diseases that plague that society…

A weird story that has different viewing angles, the one of the main hero, i.e. Donnie Darko (from the word dark?), his therapist, his parents, his friends, each angle revealing a portion of the truth about the role of the new generation, their needs and the impact of the lack of fulfilment in their lives.

A surreal movie that one should see with an open mind and if so, for sure will enjoy.

My rating: 08/10