jose-cruz53

IMDb member since September 2012
    Highlights
    2011 Oscars
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    IMDb Member
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Reviews

Bacurau
(2019)

Moronic and symptomatic of Brazil's artistic povery
Brazilian art is in terrible state and this movie consists in a nice summary of what is wrong with Brazilian art.

The level of intelligence of this movie's writing is of lower than most animated Disney movies: you have the poor "opressed" northeasterns, the evil Americans, and their southesterns dogs. Despite being opressed and poor the northeasterns reveal their inner strength when their lives are at stake and American heads roll (literary).

So what's wrong with the movie? Everything. The movie does not have "characters" but only actors standing in for cardboard cutouts that represents group identities (northeastern Brazilians, Americans, etc). This movie is an example of collectivist ideology where individuals do not exist but are one manifestations of groups, which are "good" or "evil" in nature. The plot is completely inane, but it would still work if the rest of the movie were not so poor ideologically, full of juvenile violence and nudity.

What this movie is, exactly? It is a statement of fascist ideology. Yes, this is a fascist movie. It is fascist becaude it assumes that ethnic identity determines individual behavior and that ethnic groups are fundamentally opposed to each other. This is Mussolini's ideology. It's ironic the movie calls the main villain a Nazi while it is itself in agreement with Nazi ideology: just change the names of the groups (the Germans are the northeastern Brazilians, the Jews are the Americans, the Russians and Americans are the Politicians and Southeastern Brazilians) and the relationships depicted in the movie are in full agreement with Hitler's ideology: "the poor Germans are oppressed by the Jews and their dogs, the Russians and Americans."

It is not unsurprising that Brazil's ("left leaning") artistic class considers themselves the antifacist resistance when they themselves deeply believe in a variant of fascist ideology. It's a fact the Brazilian "left" has always expressed admiration for fascist leaning Getulio Vargas dictator.

So, while this is a well directed and we'll acted movie, because it is drowning itself into a moronic ideology instead of being an actual work of art that consists of genuine individual expression, I cannot give it a rating higher than 3/10.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Detonation
(2018)

Beautiful display of pink magical beams
Imagine if you had something like The Avengers movies but removing all the inconsistencies such as picking up characters from very different fictional worlds, instead, you had a consistent integrated story that made perfect sense inside its universe of magic and technology. In fact, the use of terms such as nanotechnology in fiction is just another way of saying magic and this movie expresses this idea very well.

In terms of plot this movie is the second part of the story that began in Reflection. Every mystery of the first movie is explained and made clear. Torwards the end it gets very emotional, overall, I almost cried watching some scenes.

Yes, it has some issues, mostly relating to its very conventional direction and the transformation sequences go too long for their own good. Howerver, I am not cutting points for this because the movie never tried to be something experimental and indulgence in transformation sequences is Nanoha's franchise defining characteristic.

The Edge of Democracy
(2019)

Nice cinematography but suffers from a very immature understading of politics
The good: very nice cinematography on the sets and great panoramic takes of Brazilia, the capital city of Brazil. Gives an almost chronological overview of recent Brazilian political developments. I really liked the interviews of some nice people like Janaina and shows beautiful shoots of the people on the streets.

The bad: It is extremely biased politically, at the same level of Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda movies for the National Socialist German Workers Party in the 1930s. This documentary is a work of propaganda for Lula and his (heavily criminally charged) Workers Party. The movie explicitly defends the condemned criminal of Lula, while claims any opposition to his authoritarian government, which ruled with the iron first of institutionalized bribery to control the houses of Congress and keep opposing parties under his thumb, is an attack on "democracy". It reminds me of when Xi Jinping claims China is a democracy, and then he suffocates anything he sees as a threat to his power.

Lula has ruled Brazil for 14 years. During this period he destroyed the independence of most other competing political parties by buying then with institutionalized bribery programs, paid for with the money from state corporations such as petrobras as well as private contractors (in exchange for profitable contracts). Lula used the power of local strongmen in the poorest parts of Brazil to buy millions of votes to stay in power forever in the executive (himself or his puppets such as Dilma and Haddad) while the legislative was kept under control of the executive through bribery. The name of the situation where a certain organization takes control of a power of the State and suffocates other powers and institutions is dictatorship: Lula's government was as democratic as the military dictators that preceded him. His government was similar to Putin in its methods. But, unlike Putin's case, eventually the police found out this instituinalized system of political bribery (mainly because it became too big to hide while Brazil still had some institutions outside of Lula's control) and Lula's party was impeached from power, gradually yielding the power back to the Brazilian people, representing the return of democratic norms, which were consolidated in the elections of 2016 and 2018.

She eventually claims that Lula and his cronies were somehow corrupted by the evil system of Brazilian politics. As if she were completely unaware that Lula's party is a Marxist Leninist party, an ideology which believes in the idea of violent revolution, and the stablishment of a dictatorship of the "proletariat". They never were democrats! Which is proven by the fact that they do not recognize the legitimacy of any other political position.

As in the fact she, as a proper Marxist radical, paints the impeachment of Lula's puppet as an attack on "democracy". At the same time she demonizes all politicians from outside Lula's party because they disagree with her. Apparently she is not aware that democracy is based on the dialogue of different political positions.

For example, she demonizes Brazil's current president, Bolsonaro, who is perhaps the most popular politician in Brazilian history, who managed to earn 58 million votes without campaign money and any political support in his first presidential run, by portraying him as some sort of (poorly defined) virulent threat to "democracy". It is true that, so far, his government has not been the most competent, but it already achieved a quantum leap in democratic participation vis previous governments based on bribery and authoritarian ideologies.

But I understand where her point of view comes from: she, being a member of the elite, has suffered the political brainwash that is performed on most elite Brazilians at school. So she rationalizes everything into a simplistic narrative of "good" (Lula) versus "evil" (anybody who disagrees with Lula). This simplistic populism is in my opinion the biggest political problem confronting Brazil.

Liu lang di qiu
(2019)

Nice science fiction
Wandering Earth is based on a award winning science fiction novel. Yes the concept is outlandish to people who only know American science fiction, since this movie is about out of the box thinking.

Anyway, I found it interesting to see how a non-Western special effects based science fiction movie works out. I had some trouble identifying with the characters, in the sense that the movie did not give enough time to make the characters 3 dimensional (although it does better than most Hollywood disaster movies in that regard).

This movie feels like Deep Impact done right and it shows some elements of similarities from movies like Blade Runner (the perspective of futuristic underground cities without sunlight) and 2001 (the big space station with its own Hall 9000). I noticed a lot of hate for this movie in this thread. I wonder if they had any idea of what they were getting into because this is clearly a blockbuster science fiction movie which is more focused on science fiction concepts instead of a more comedic superhero Marvel movie about silly characters doing silly things.

Tokyo Idols
(2017)

This was disgusting
Do you want to watch the definition of bigotry? Try this "documentary", I mean, not the subject but the people who made the documentary. They are clearly bigots who are disgusted by the Japanese idol culture and so expose all their disgust for it in this documentary.

Japanese culture is diverse and rich, they have developed several different kinds of entertainment that do not exist in western culture. This kind of "documentary" is just an attempt to stereotype a subset of Japanese culture and it is an insult the people involved with it: it stereotypes people who happen to listen to Japanese pop bands as some kind of disgusting freaks, all of which are apparently heterosexual middle aged men. Of course, the documentary completely ignored the vast number of female idol fans, the massive numbers of male idols, the younger fanbase (middle aged men are a minority among all idol fans). Instead, it focus all interviews on two people: a single man who appears to suffer from mental illness, and on a singer who is not even an idol (Rio Hiiragi does not identify herself as an idol). As if that could be a decent portrait of the culture.

From an American perspective this documentary would be like doing a documentary on American LGBT culture called New York LGBT, featuring interviews with only two people: a gay guy who was once married but entered depression and abandoned his wife and kids and became a drug addict who paid 2,500 dollars a month for gay prostitute anal sex, and a tranny porn actress who attempted suicide multiple times. What kind of impression that documentary would give? This is the same type of "documentary".

Mahou shoujo ririkaru Nanoha the Movie 2nd A's
(2012)

Great entertainment, for otaku only
I love entertainment designed for otaku. Maybe because I am one. This is otaku targeted work par excellence. It contains all of otaku's obsessions and represents the current state of the art of the aesthetic ideals of this social class in contemporary Japanese society. In some ways the animation is not top notch, in others it shows it is not a high budget movie. Overall, though, the art style and the designs are those that tickles the particular receptors of the male Japanese otaku audience the most.

It contains the cuteness expected from a Japanese film, specially an animated one, but in a focused, "maximized cuteness" in a way that's uncommon. Which I find remarkable if perhaps a bit creepy but also interesting. Other elements of the film, such as the video game inspired plot, reminds me of my teenager years playing RPGs all day and all night.

Hagane no renkinjutsushi
(2009)

One of the masterpieces among TV series
I would rate this TV series as easily one of the best ever made. Period. Character development is unsurpassed and rivaled by few. Given the size of the series, clocking at 64 episodes, it's a great achievement. The artistic quality is also way above average with very good animation and moderate level of detail.

This series is also more entertaining and easier to understand than other masterpieces of serial animation (such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei), hence I recommend this series to a wider spectrum than the specialists in Japanese animation. A must watch for everybody.

Gekijouban Mahou shojo Madoka magika Shinpen: Hangyaku no monogatari
(2013)

Signficantly weaker than the original
The first two PMMM movies are, at the time I was writing this review, the most powerful emotional experience I ever had while looking at a screen. The third one is much weaker than the masterpiece that the original duology is (which is made up of the TV series edited with a few cosmetic improvements and a few scenes cut there and here). This sequel was only made as a cash grab to capture the money of the fans of the original duology/TV series, nothing less and nothing more. Still, given it's a cash grab sequel it is actually excellent if compared to other ones, Urobuchi is a very talented writer, able to come up with very creative and unexpected plot developments that one would never get in a conventional Hollywood movie.

Hidamari Suketchi x Hanikamu
(2012)

Nice Seinfeld style anime comedy
It's a very nice, well executed, thanks to the efforts of the great director Shinbo (who directed the classic Puella Magi Madoka Magica) and the writing of Ume Aoki, who is also the character designer. Like other slice of life anime series, this is an adult series were all the main characters are moe girls (moe means "cute" and "adorable") because Japanese adults love cuteness. Notice also that even American sitcoms like Seinfeld are a bit similar and have such adorable feelings from time to time, but not in such focus and concentration. If you liked stuff like K- on, however, you will love this series. Superior to the first one.

Gekijou-ban Mahou Shoujo Madoka*Magica: [Kouhen] Eien no monogatari
(2012)

A new classic
Combined with the first one this duology consists of a 4 hour film that synthesizes the plot of thre TV series and cuts out the fat, making it into an ever more powerful experience. So while some people may be disappointed that it isn't very different from the series in my opinion it does what it should since it only improves it without detracting elements that would make the series weaker.

Well, about the film: It begins in a quite unsuspecting way and builds to an enormously powerful conclusion by creating some of the most impressive character development ever in film or TV. And by contrasting extreme cuteness with extreme aggression is what makes this of of the most powerful film I ever watched up to now.

Serial Experiments Lain
(1998)

Great experimental TV
Japanese television, specially animation, appears to allow for its artists much greater degree of artistic freedom compared to Western television. Such highly experimental TV series like Lain would never be made in the west which is a shame since it remains one of the best TV series I ever watched.

The plot is very obtuse and doesn't make complete sense and the emotions of the characters are rather distant (which remembers me of the French new wave movies), which lends the series a very eerie and experimental tone. This series also scared the hell out of me. Remains a must watch for anybody interested in the artistic possibilities of animation and television series.

Mahô shôjo Madoka magika: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
(2011)

The Greatest TV Series of All Time
It begins very cheesy, as Urobuchi described as a healing series, however, what occurs in the first two episodes has the only purpose to manipulate your expectations. After the third episode the shows true nature begins to creep through and only in episodes nine and ten that the full nature of the whole fictional universe is revealed. Truly a marvelous piece of entertainment and also a work of art. Its a very rare accomplishment, a TV series combining artistic value and entertainment value.

I never cried watching TV, I never felt so affected that I was unable to sleep, but Madoka managed to affect me on a very deep level that no other TV series (including Evangelion) has ever managed to match. It set a new standard for what I came to expect from television: brilliant writing, memorable characterization, over the top visual style.

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
(2011)

They don't get it, recommended only for specialists
This is extremely heavy stuff, made for specialists in comedy. Most people will not get Tarkovsky's The Mirror and in the same way most people will not get Bucky Larson. There are few that get The Mirror and a few that get Bucky Larson and these two groups of people do not intersect easily. I rated The Mirror, 10/10, and Bucky Larson, I rate it 9/10, the same ratings I gave for Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Rear Window, Fanny and Alexander and Vertigo.

I personally think that Bucky Larson is vastly superior to most comedies. Take another random comedy, House Bunny, that was a plain bad movie but this is much more than that, if you are able to get it, of course. One needs to be able to fully master the art of watching crappy comedies before trying this kind of stuff which was made for the specialists. I have already watched hundreds of bad comedies and about 20 Adam Sandler movies and this operates on another league of greatness.

I would say that I got a lot of fun from watching this impressive work of art that defies convention and goes where no other movie has gone before. It was a "bad movie" done entirely on purpose by the director and writers. Just like the porn movies Bucky made in the movie, this is innovation and film critics, people who were brainwashed in film school to like 1940's stuff, cannot simply understand the genius of this film, as did the people on the porn business which were shown Bucky film's.

My ratings would be:

9/10 - Specialists 0/10 - Most people

I wouldn't recommend this movie for regular people. They will not understand it.

Babylon 5
(1993)

One of the greatest TV series
This is perhaps the best American TV series of the 1990's and, since I haven't yet watched The Wire at the time of this review, I would place it as the single best US TV series I ever watched. It truly feels like something beyond a mere TV series but much more like a novel. Written exactly like a novel, with a beginning, a middle and an ending, Babylon 5 is truly something unique in US television.

Easily the best science fiction US TV series ever made (I would rate Battlestar Galactica as the second best, Star Trek works on a lower level): its level of complexity and emotional depth is easily superior to anything else. Truly a work of art, but flawed, of course, as the low budgets and the huge number of episodes produce more flawed art than films.

Ginga tetsudô Three-Nine
(1979)

Flawed but still excellent
This is a sort of Star Wars in Japan, made for 12 year old boys, like Star Wars, but very different in many ways as well. It has some very strange stuff and the plot doesn't make any sense sometimes (note: this is different from not making sense in an art film, such as Tarvovsky's, where it is supposed to not make sense, here we have a traditional linear narrative). The is perhaps the product of the compression of a very complex story into only 128 minutes of film, which forces the movie to use many deux ex machina in several occasions.

Also, there are something I find disturbing in the concept exposed in the movie of people having disposable bodies. The character designs also look a bit strange for me, who is not used to 1970's anime.

Despite these flaws, however, the movie remains powerful enough to earn a 8/10, a rate score for me to give.

Le roi et l'oiseau
(1980)

Very good for its time
The little 80 minutes film is a very good animated film. It, however, is not a masterpiece in any way shape or form. There are several problems: in terms of plot it is too simplistic as it is a film made for small children and thus can easily bore most adults. I gave it 7/10 mostly because this film inspirited Miyazaki and Takahata to make true masterpieces out of this art form.

The quality of the animation, while good for the 1950's, is not remotely comparable to more recent films, such as Princess Mononoke, which have much more realistic physics. Visually this film is quite mediocre as well: the backgrounds lack the details from modern animated features (such as the already mentioned Princess Mononoke). The soundtrack is decent, however. For me it is hard to understand that someone which has watched and understood most Ghibli films would think that this is a masterpiece.

Also, finally, there is no such thing as "liking" animation, as there isn't such thing as "liking" live action. Animation is not a genre. Period. It encompasses a huge variety of genres and thus someone who doesn't like this could like Princess Mononoke, for instance, which is a completely different film. Their only similarity is the fact that they are animated and that they have talking animals.

Seppuku
(1962)

Powerful period drama
This is a very powerful film, one that I will never forget indeed. Made by one of Japan's finest directors, Harakiri is a near-masterpiece of film. It has a few flaws in my mind, such as a rather poor/unrealistic characterization and stiff acting, that somewhat reduces the overall quality of this work of art. Still, despite those problems, the overall experience remained very powerful and memorable. Indeed, this is one of those movies that I will never forget.

One thing that I love about Japanese movies is the fact that they are slow paced and allow the film to really breathe though. Unlike Hollywood movies, which tend to be too fast paced and therefore do not allow the viewer to fully immerse himself into the film.

Tropa de Elite
(2007)

Solid thriller
Elite Squad is one of the few really good Brazilian movies (over the past 15 years there have been around 4-5 truly good Brazilian movies and only one truly great, City of God).

This film is a highly brutal portrayal of the proxy war existing in the crime infested districts of Rio de Janeiro and depicts a deconstruction of the main character, an elite police officer who has to deal with the heavy psychological burden of directing an elite police squad in operations against the heavily armed gangsters and also depicts the process in which the captain Nascimento chooses his successor for this low paid/high risk job among two candidates who reflect differing qualities which he values and which these characters are living embodiment.

Tropa de Elite 2: O Inimigo Agora é Outro
(2010)

Not as good as the first
Like almost every sequel ever made, besides Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back, this one is inferior to the original. Though, it is only slightly inferior and not wholly inferior like, for example, The Hangover 2, which was a total failure. This one did very well indeed, though it still was a bit simplistic and used/recycled many typical Hollywood tropes (even though it was a Brazilian movie, it was made in a very hollywoodish way). Overall, a very good buddy cop movie that tries to depict the social problems in the country and has a heavy handed moral message that in the end claims that all the problems in the country are fundamentally the product of the political leadership.

Tengoku to jigoku
(1963)

Kurosawa does class struggle
Akira Kurosawa can do no wrong, this is the 12th film I have watched that he made and he truly mastered almost every genre, much like Stanley Kubrick. Here he made a crime thriller set in Japan in the early 1960's. At the time Japan was a very fast growing economy that was in transition from a rather poor economy in the first years following WW2 to an economic superpower by the 1970's and 1980's. As a result of its transitional phase, in the early 1960's there were lots of poor people in Japan living side by side with wealthy and this film is partly a study of class conflict/relations.

It is also divided into two parts, similar to Kubrick's films post-2001.

Argo
(2012)

Very good thriller
Ben Affleck, the celebrity film star who I though was bald but apparently has a loot of hair in this film, has directed a very good film. Indeed, he has talent for directing and writing flicks. This is a good example of a very solid thriller film based on real events. I will not talk about the plot here because I don't think that plot matters for most movies: the premise is basically this: the CIA has to deal with a situation where you have to evacuate a bunch of people from a hostile country. And this film shows how they done it, adding a bit of melodramatic touches to increase tension (specially the ending!).

However, this film is not art and it doesn't pretend to be art. It is good escapist entertainment and it will keep you always entertained during its nearly two hours duration.

Winter's Bone
(2010)

Very solid drama
I found it a very solid drama that appeals to a wide variety of age groups. The main character is played by a quite attractive girl as well, which adds to the enjoyment of the film. Overall, highly recommended but don't expect it a life altering masterpiece.

The plot is very simple: it is about a girl who needs to prove that her dad is unable to pay his debs so that she can remain in her home with her two younger brother and sister.

I found interesting the depiction of poverty in the United States. As a Brazilian I didn't know that such extreme poverty also existed in the United States.

Werckmeister harmóniák
(2000)

Very good artsy stuff
This is a different kind of film. Some say that it is more like Tarkovsky in that the plot is not the driving force of the film, which is correct. Though, I would rather watch Stalker (I rated it 10/10) or The Mirror (rated it 10/10) any day over this black and white film.

I don't know why make a black and white film in the year 2000? There is no artistic value in depriving a visual media such as film from color. In the same way that painting is generally not done in black and white, film shouldn't be generally done in black and white: color improves the expressiveness. I liked Tarkovsky's employment of black and white and color in different sections of the film, but make a film of over 2 hours of black and white in the year 2000? Please, artistic pretension doesn't equal artistic achievement.

Another problem I had with the film were the slightly overlong takes of 3-4 minutes. I like slower paced films, such as Ozu's, but this is simply too much for me.

Overall, the film was rewarding but costly and thus represents a work of serious art that deserves respect but I didn't find is the greatest film ever made.

J. Edgar
(2011)

Very good
Clint Eastwood was one of the greatest actors of all time and is also showing that he is among the very best directors. J Edgar is another very worthy addition to Eastwood's career and I found it a very touching movie, even though it is a quite pedestrian take on the live of FBI's chief during the critical decades of the formation and consolidation of such an important police force for the United States.

J Edgar's story is also mysterious: we still don't know his sexual orientation, or even if he knew his own sexuality or was too afraid to touch it. Anyway, this is a very delicate matter for this film to handle and it handles it quite well indeed.

The Iron Lady
(2011)

Quite pedestrian
This is not a bad film but it is not excellent either. It was a flat film that felt quite decent but never attained true greatness and failed to impact me in any significant way. It was a good fun, though, just not a great piece of cinema, instead only one of the thousands of good/decent films produced over the last years.

I would rate this film on about the same level as Tower Heist, for instance, two quite mediocre films. This one, however, is slightly more memorable but still quite forgettable: I only remembered watching this film when I was browsing the IMDb and found it there, so I decided to review it. It wasn't as good to be memorable but not as bad (such as Battleship) to be also memorable for its badness.

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