The Skin I Live In (2011)

 It’s being two weeks since I’ve seen this film. It’s being almost two years since I started this blog because of another Almadovar film! Yet, there were so many things that were unanswered in my mind about it. Things that kept me from writing this post, till now.

This film may be considered as being … two films! The first one, is the obvious story unfolding before our eyes as the plot progresses. Pedro Almodóvar is a master in surprises, guaranteeing that beneath the surface that we see, there are things we hardly expect to find. Actually, by contemplating the totally unexpected, one may find himself close to the director’s vision! There is an excellent setup, justifying the motives and actions of the film’s heroes. Situations that one is totally unaware of, actions that have an enormous and unexpected impact in the lives of people involved, disproportional prices to be paid… Just seeing the first level of the film, is a rewarding experience. One may think that it is nothing more than a tale on vengeance. There are some questions emerging however… The end of the film is one of them.

The second film is an allegory, the true meaning building on the presented story. This is presented below. In my humble opinion, one must see the film first and contemplate on it for some time before proceeding with the post 🙂 The rating is at the end. Continue reading

The Ides of March (2011)

 Politics. Makes one wonder if there is something more dirty than this. The Ides of March is a story about the dirty tricks played, the hopes that most of us have about a person that may make a change, how things are not what they appear to be. The Ides of March as a title has more than one meaning. It is the 15th of March when an election in the film will take place. It also relates to the treason of Julius Caesar as in the film there are a series of treasons, both of people and ideals.

A story well conceived and presented with a fast pace that leaves enough time to be fully understood.

My rating: 07/10

A Separation (2011)

 A Separation is a lot more than a separation of a man and a woman with a child. The film and script by Asghar Farhadi does not differentiate between good and bad people. It would be so easy! It presents people like everyone we know. May be ever better than the people we know.  People that try to be right thing despite the harsh conditions they face in their lives. Yet, sometimes, things get very tough. In that case, for the ones they love, they may do something they would not have done if they were alone.

It is those people who fight each other, that may drive things to the limit, that sometimes make life unbearable. People which otherwise have good intentions.

At the end, the fight is paid by the ones that are the most innocent of them all: their own children.

A strong plot, realistic, truthful, full of humanity in every aspect, played by a unique cast where every man, woman and child provide a performance that pins the spectator to its seat. The start of the film, with a truly original idea is matched by a really amazing ending.

This is the kind of movie one sees every five years.

My rating: 10/10

Midnight in Paris (2011)

 Before reviewing the film, there are some feelings that I must share with you. Feelings that may have affected my point of view for this movie.

A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with a close friend of mine about Woody Allen. That friend of mine pointed out that the director’s physique is mainly responsible for his neurosis. A neurosis that he cleverly uses in most of his films, out of which he makes a lot of money. Films that present the same topics, i.e. love and death. A neurosis that he is sarcastic about, but the spectator cannot tolerate to see again and again.

There was a strong point that really got me thinking. It was so strong that for the first time, I could not enjoy one of his films that I had not seen for a long time. How much truth was in what was said? What makes a real artist? If there an artist that created a masterpiece, while he (or she) had a peace of mind and everything solved? For sure we are not talking about masterpieces here, but the concept remains: we create because we need to transform the pain we feel in life. Whether we like or not the work of an artist is subjective for sure and everybody is entitled of his own opinion. Somehow however I feel that we should not be criticizing the conditions that led to the creation.

Even if I did rationalize, the effect remained. It is said that a dress hides a body’s defects. The memory however of a body with defects does not vanish when the body is dressed up again. Midnight in Paris was out in the theaters for two weeks and I was not in the mood to see it! Until tonight!

The film is not one of his best. There are some neat things about it though. A look of Paris from a person that is in love with the city, excellent photography, the idealization we make for another era (or situation) because we are disappointed from what we currently have, the need to fall in love (yes, again!), the fear of death (yes, I know!), a smart script plus others…We do not want spoilers, now, do we?

My rating: 06/10

PS. The post has changed since its original publication. Needless to say there are no grudges against the friend mentioned above for ‘removing the dress’. We must be in touch with Reality after all. It is just that sometimes, we cherish our small illusions and feel sad when we are deprived of them :). This post was the trigger to have a look in Friendship is a two-way street which I really liked and you might want to have a look at.

Get Shorty (1995)

 Get Shorty  is relatively good movie in the category of detective-story /  comedy. A descent plot, fast pace, with a nice cast. Nothing like MIB of the same director. It is nice to spend two hours though.

My rating: 06/10

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

 Some films, no matter how old they are, are as contemporary as if they were shot now. The man who would be King is one of them. It is based on a novel by Rudyard Kipling and of course here we may have the usual argument: is the film as good as the book? Well, I have not read the book, so in this case, I really did enjoy the movie!

It is a tale about the adventurous spirit, the courage, greed, vanity and arrogance of the human soul which despite the pass of the centuries does remain unchanged, haunting with its shortcomings all of us, whether we are leaders or followers.

It is one more of John Huston’s classic films with two actors I always enjoy seeing on the screen: Sean Connery and Michael Caine. If you want to see a really good movie, you should look for it.

My rating: 09/10

Babette’s Feast (1987)

 One should develop a habit: when the story of a film is too original, too surprising, too … nice, chances are it is based on a book! In this case it is the book with the same title of Karen BlixenBabette’s Feast has become famous for the French dinner prepared by Babette, one of the film’s characters. The movie however is much more than the fabulous dishes presented.

It speaks about the small world of habits and experiences humans have and how they usually see everything different as a threat.

There is the sincere religious attitude in the characters of the film. On the other hand, there are quarrels between them, dispersing the peace that arises from that religious attitude. Quarrels that vanish when they taste the delicious plates served during the dinner. Is there a subtle irony? Is there a question about the ability of the spirit to reach the much-needed elevation, without being adequately supported by the fulfilment of the needs of the body? What else could mean the General’s phrase:

the head chef, had the ability to transform a dinner into a kind of love affair, a love affair that made no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite

Apart from that, it also speaks about the need of the human being to create, to leave its trace. That is also true for cooking, an art with masterpieces that vanish once they are eaten, leaving only memories in those that tasted the food. So:

Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me the chance to do my very best.

My rating: 08/10

PS. A different, lengthier review of the film may be found here.