billion_mucks

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Reviews

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
(2011)

Jiro would marry sushi
I love Jiro. He makes sushi and has the philosophy of a samurai sword master, doesn't bend but is flexible, is dry but has a quick wit, and controls his sons dominantly but loves them abundantly.

The movie is really not about sushi (which it really very much is) but more about being driven professionally into one thing and one thing only. To Jiro, it was sushi. In my case, it is compulsive stress eating.

We all are the best at something-

Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
(2001)

A psychiatric cocktail of lunacy
Please do not be fooled: Amelie is sick in the head. The titular character has very palpable schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive dissorder and I believe some autism too.

She behaves more like an alien in a flesh suit, than a person. The world she lives in is brightly overexposed, yellow, sacharine and tragically depressing.

She belongs in a nuthouse, and the movie should be a documentary about her lunacy. I know she is not a real person and a movie character, but someone please end her suffering.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(2017)

Renting Billboards to Bust Balls
What is so good about "3 billboards..:" you may ask?

I really don't know. It does have some whacky Coen-esque characters, some people shouting non sequiturs, dwarves and arsonists, but nothing compared to Woody Harrelson's chin, which really is the star of the movie.

If you like comedy you'll half like it. If you like serious drama you'll half like it. If you fully like it, it means you are similar to the characters in the movies: very weird. And not fully human.

The Visit
(2015)

Cash the pension funds, cause Grandpa's gone lunatic
Who doesn't love laughing at old people? This Shyamalong flick has it all: incontinency, early onset dementia, PTSD, and all of such comedic bits very subtly costumed into the very refreshing "found footage" genre.

Of course, you'll understand this may be the most predictible movie of Shyamalemasne carreer, but that doesn't change the fact that it has it's scary bits. But old people are scary per se, so it's not so much the director's virtue.

PD: There is a white kid rapping sometimes in the movie. It will go away eventually.

Green Room
(2015)

Nazies are kinda bad people
What starts like a tension filled plot driven thriller, located in a very small space and with a secluded cast, turns into a campy slasher type film where killers pursue and heros try to run. It begins to devour cliches from movies of the genre (expect the dog, the dog was a good touch) including the very classic "the hero turns as bad as the villains".

The real deal of the movie (besides the toxic, opressive atmosphere) is Patrick Stewart, because he plays a rock and roll germanophile negative nazi leader, and also wears a sweet hat.

Rabbit Hole
(2010)

Character piece driven formally
Tragic piece "Rabbit Hole" is a character piece which centers on a grieving couple, and leaves some room for outsider interactions which in turn, become the most interesting plot subjects.

No doubt both Echkart and Kidman pull the movie through: while the first is most passionate and fierce in his lamentations (and so more relatable) Kidman shines through little sickened gestures, boiling under the skin, irreparably broken. This performance is more subtle, and a little colder, so it may be harder to relate.

Even so, her maternal instincts are plastered onto the figure of young Jason (Miles Teller), who looks like no teenager I know but keeps the grief motion in check and does a good job of looking battered down.

In the end, the movie plays like an forced theatre piece that leaves little more than broken spirits, good performances and the always welcomed reminder that life sucks.

Triangle
(2009)

Mysterious Mysteriousness
It depends of course on you, but when a movie ends I like to ponder, not decipher. If you like unraveling puzzles, corkscrew narrative and suspenseful, creepy rhythm; you might like this. It starts promising, with many openings and possibilities.

When the weaving starts to stretch too much, the strains start to show. Some questions are unanswered. Some are not. Some metaphysical content is sneaked in order to contrast the apparently logical and soundproof plot. Filled with twists and turns.

Mystery is mysterious. You will have to decode it at the end, and start replaying all parts in your head trying to complete the puzzle, but beware if some puzzle pieces are missing.

All Is Lost
(2013)

Old Man Leaves it to the Sea
I believe the Old Man, or "Our Man", decides to go into the sea, wholly unprepared, to let nature decide his fate. He cannot. Overcome by tragedy not explained directly, he flips his life knowingly into the abyss of water. Chandor bangs the spectator with the aggressive climate and sounds of the open seas and an insidious, melancholic score that sets the mood easily.

Redford is grinding; serious and laconic, somewhat in the vein of martyrdom. He acts like his car has died; but at the same time his demeanor speaks of his own braking down. Framed perfectly into the minimalism of Poseidon's Kingdom.

The ending may or may no be taken literally. It's in each own's interpretation. I believe this movie is not about the will to live, but quite the contrary. A quiet, poetic suicide that may or may not work.

Relatos salvajes
(2014)

¿Main Course or Six Appetizers?
There is much to praise about "Relatos Salvajes", and some in less extent to criticize. The positive in this episodic weaving of tales has most likely been said and repeated: stories are engrossing, ultimately effective in their message and of brutal pace and delivery. But what subtracts the movie of it's peak is the format. Granted, the format IS the movie; but we've seen coral stories work much better with the thematic cord weaving it into one common paste without abrupt cuts (Crash, Pulp Fiction). The division of short stories can be as rewarding as it is conflicting: some stories are better than others (which ones are subjective to the viewer, you). This results in a roller coaster in which one cannot settle comfortably. The better stories need more time and the worst ones have too much of it.

In my case, I thought the wedding one was too much, and the airplane too little. Almost certainly this unevenness will compute to other viewers with their own particular tastes, who will prefer the whole over the parts if they adore it and divide the parts from the whole if they didn't. Although there is a common subject, and it is quite evident; I felt displaced when a story ended and another began. Unfilled. They weren't all in the same quality league (acting, pace, themes) and as such it felt like puzzle pieces some too big and some too small.

The whole is approved, no doubt. It all depends if you want the main course or six appetizers to go. I felt a little hungry after leaving, but I could go back to the restaurant again.

The Crazies
(2010)

Characters should be self-aware by now
In most horror movies, there is an underlying code to it's creation that states characters must interact carelessly with their surroundings. They must be fearless, unaware of the context, even blatantly stupid. Nowadays movies parody this, with the black guy dying first no matter what and the girl trying thousand keys to ignite the engine before the killer grasps her. They laugh at themselves. "The Crazies" should.

Seeing "The Crazies" reminded me of this. Even though the situation is abominably terrifying, they enter houses and check on places assuming it's safe. Rotating camera angles later reveal, to our surprise, they aren't. They walk the highway even if it is where they will most likely be seen. They reactions elicit the situations; and we all understand it would be boring otherwise; but when there is no fear in the characters it's hard to identify.

Of course, every time they are in danger a miracle bullet saves the day at the last second. The characters die in the order one who has seen at least a movie of the genre would expect, and in the fashion you'd imagine. There is an everlasting seduction in seeing apocalyptic America, in the "what if" of the end of the world (or the town in this case), sure. But Breck Eisner could only go that far; considering the characters he received. They should start being more conscious by now, or at least blame screenwriters who keep on putting them on those spots.

Looper
(2012)

Looper Spider
"Looper" cashes in some aspects that are really well executed: Gordon Levitt is touched with a very nuanced make up to make him look like a young Willis. Somehow the portrayal of a "asphalt jungle" future has the condiments of other dystopian films, but fails to explain and deploy the background of it and has only the immediate effect. And the action moments are curiously lacking in intensity, in correlating with the characters.

Though it does play by the rules it pronounces; "Looper" seems to avoid answering or even clearing the webs that form around plot holes. Time travel is a bitch to treat, and the decision to let go of some key questions seems like less of artistic merit and more of development comfort. Why did Sara know that Joe was a Looper? Why did young Joe convince himself on killing Old Joe while he could simply take the gold that was already packed and safeguard his future by sparing himself? It feels more like we do not care for the questions, than need to know the answers.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
(2010)

The Allen Alibi
It is no surprise that Allen has changed from his oeuvre, last one of his great movies was "Manhattan Murder Mystery". Now on, he has become a bit more cynical on his characters, deploying all misery available as a plot point and creating a miasma of common cause and effect over his characters to give some sense to his movies. In "You will meet a Tall, Dark Stranger" he implies love is only working for those with naive expectations, that fall in love like childs in play. The comedy is relegated to ennunciations of the pathos of characters forged only to bend into the necessity of the script. The message is first, the characters later, the human comedy last.

This is a movie only for Allen fans and for those of a quiet break of Hollywood love stories, it is clear Allen creates a snickering mockery to those. But, being Allen, I'd expect more on the development and was left with the feeling of wanting more, even if it was the intention of the movie.

Nine
(2009)

Sing for your Ego, Maestro.
First things first, I do not like musicals. I've been pushed to see this by the infatuation over a lady. But trust me I was surprised to how much I liked it, even when I had negative expectations to it.

The film hands down is a wonderful homage to Federico Fellini, in his visual style, the women chosen represent Fellini's size of aesthetic view just like Kidman reminds you of young Anita Ekberg, Cotillard has the same diva material as Anouuk Aimee and Kate Hudson the figure and pallet of American stars that pleased Il Maestro Fellini. If you are familiar with this wonderful director, you'll enjoy "Nine" the better.

Then, I believe music helps to boost the theme and moral of the story. Generally outlined the whole musical is an ego-fest, all around Guido, Guido, Guido, his mess, his women, himself over himself. His ego being put into the light, with each song sprouting in the exact moment with "joie de vivre" and vitality, the women from Kidman to Dench showcasing enormous femininity and composure.

"Les Folies Bèrgere" piece says it clearly. What you need is the laughter, the lights, the color. The music, the "pleasure of living". Nine has it, it has it all while at the same time plays the keys that Maestro Fellini would have liked to hear if he was still with us.

The Reader
(2008)

Exit Material.
It had been awhile since I've been this disappointed, but I left the movie's credits profoundly disgusted. The material is not only weak, but practically void. It stands non-chalant, sourcing it's story as it has a bigger message, but the mix poured with unaesthetic, cold, unimportant flows of sex scenes that can't even pull reactions other than boredom, Winslet snugged on make up without feeling the character, delivering her speech without a change in her blank expression; with tears that seem to mechanical and looks that seem to disgusting.

It has the disadvantage of also being talked in English, set upon Nazi Germany, a completely detachment between Michael Berg grown and youth, and lines and subplots too predictable to be accounted as realistic or even entertaining.

Many movies were, are and will be made about the Second War World. It has lots of material: "Letters of Iwo Jima" did beautifully in telling hell over the Japanese side. "The Pianist" cut crude into a fight for survival keeping morals. Even "Judgement at Nuremberg" did a perfect examination of the disgusting wheels of Nazi officers in trial.

But "The Reader" has nothing to give to this big names. It is big, it is boasted enormously, it has colours and environment, but lacks depth as rarely seen in films with this subject.

Up in the Air
(2009)

The Clooney Clash
Clooney is without a doubt in my mind one of the best actors of his generation. He may be undermined for the fact he chooses (or chose) roles molded exactly for his limitations: a man of easy virtue normally, thoughtful, aware and unaware of his environment in a complex- puzzled looking face, without explosive furious needs, or crying parts, or anger blasts.

Since "Michael Clayton" he flipped degrees with his performance. He has a very noticeable emotional undercurrent. We know that at the time he is acting he is internally lubricating every inch of his voice, his stare, and his posture. To watch him is to watch a real person, and he lets the character do "osmosis" through his persona. "Up in the Air" is basically about a man that we can relate to, given in perfect accordance to George Clooney. He is trailed by a beautiful and shivering Anna Kendrick and correct stars, obviously pushed with a masterful script that knocks well on today's crisis time.

Slumdog Millionaire
(2008)

Bollywood/ Hollywood weak morph.
Basically, Slumdog Millionaire is the transposition of clichéd American cinema into the den of Bollywood. All of the layers and sub-layers are so repeated and overly done that it causes no effect on the viewer. It's the same applied to third world countries, it's a simple deceptive notion.

The love story, with the man running desperately to defend his loved one, with his impositions, maybe a criminal undercurrent with already seen and done mafia innuendos, classical tension moments in which time plays a cruel role already examined. Even the moments that seem to "bring glow" from the cramped, poor slums just seem overly edited and manipulative. In story terms, nothing is actually new in the movie. Thus, nothing is truly exciting, except for those who are relatively new to Hollywood, who are tricked into believing that "glamour" was actually strained from the sets and that India (or at least Indian cinema) is close to whatever Boyle tried to create.

You've seen this thousand times, just in other countries and other cultures. Cool trick, uh?

El secreto de sus ojos
(2009)

Speaking Eyes
"El Secreto de sus Ojos" hit me with unspeakable strength. I didn't expect to like it so much, so I owe a review to those in analysis measures before seeing it or those interested in some opinion.

First off, Campanella works with flawless effort all of the technical aspects of the film. It even starts with a double exposure effect, mixed with some sad shots of a beautiful Buenos Aires that hints the spectacle ahead of us. One shot especially, from a chopper in a soccer field edited with a crane shot is breathtaking. Nothing to envy from Hollywood upper class.

But the main strength of the movie comes from the powerful narrative dominion Director Campanella has over characters, spaces and silences. Many moments are coldly tense, scary and very, very intense. This crossover from genres by Campanella couldn't have been better. Crime stories often fall in common places, this one relies on the fragile psychological state of the audience to draw all of it's intense dialog, acting and scenes.

I cannot stop recommending it, Argentina can open it's market with movies such as this. It has many, many memorable moments, it interwines comedy perfectly and it is doubtful you will instantly forget it, as it is so well constructed. See it if you can!

Naked Lunch
(1991)

Insects informing about reality.
Cronemberg is a certain ace. This particular tale of his, taking into inspiration the life and work of William Burroughs is a fractured tale of the mind of a writer. In it, there is not much logic, but billions of impulses that guide the development of the action. Crammed in between bug powder sniffing, bug-like typing machines, homosexuality and conspiracies, we can see Weller personifying a man who is trapped into his sense of lunacy, reality, fiction and despair. The trip down to his own, crooked imagination and desires is bizarre, attractive and unapologetic.

If you ever wrote, if you ever went crazy, or thought you were about to, if you cannot understand or find your way through troubles, if you see bugs everywhere, see this. You won't regret it.

Revolutionary Road
(2008)

Far from Heaven and Far From Hell
Since the quiet triumph of Haynes' "Far from Heaven" among the most delicate critic circles films have been trying to recompose the elegant justice of Sirk's urban dramas proper from the 50's. Revolutionary Road is a clean, obvious attempt at that.

From the ornate composition of interiors to the double-standard acting myriad everything is a blatant attempt to reconstruct the epoca of the 1950 and the movies characteristics of it. The wrong turn is taken with the unattractive story, the common and stamped characters and the very weak development. Di Caprio, though, is phenomenal. On my part, Winslet was overly dramatic and boring.

Decide yourself, the movie relies on the objective of being a time machine, a reconstruction, but it's not worth an instant viewing.

Blindness
(2008)

Light where we don't need it.
"Blindness" is the perfect example of the limitations of cinema in comparison to the literary area. In "Essay of Blindness" Saramago opened to the basics of writing and reading: as in every book we couldn't see, visualize and examine the characters. We are left to imagine them, to compose them on the talent of him/her who writes. The premise is basically ideal for book.

The only thing Meirelles does is bring faces, places, actors and light to the story. We are not "blind" in the movie; which causes the primary effect on the book. You won't be able to be intellectually moved by the chaos depicted in the film, you won't be able to shake Mark Ruffalo out of the character, Julianne Moore out of the character. You'll only see the familiar faces. Plus, they act in a weak note.

"Blindness" is not recommendable, basically in any spectrum.

Jungfrukällan
(1960)

Another Grim Search for God
Bergman's close, narrow theatrical style lit by shy candles and outer sources and with reciprocal conflicts in between alike characters is one of the strongest trademarks in movie history. His stage production is austere and his conflicts sharp and powerful. It reminds a lot of the "kammerspielfilm".

He did amazing jobs of people dealing with their mortality with "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries". While the first was abstract and leaning to the artistic side, the latter was a more emotional, personal journey. With "The Virgin Spring" though, Bergman repeats the search for a Higher Entity in the context of a revenge tale, exacted by two parents looking to avenge their daughter's death. Is there a God watching us? Should we be careful in each step we take? Should we trust that in Death, all our actions will be balanced? This questions, though, have no possible answers but are only told to make characters react in a hopeless way. Plus, it lacks the moral grandiose that characterizes Bergman's films: here, nothing is learned, ambivalence is powerless, nobody triumphs. In this nihilist mold, it's hard for the audience to grasp something of value.

Shadow of a Doubt
(1943)

Doubts, Suspicion and Repetition
Take Hitchcock. Get his list of movies in which he directed. You will notice that most of his movies have very similar premises, and characters dangle in similar situations in his movies. To plan the perfect murder, to get away with it, a man escaping from his past, the sentimental and ideological obstacles in the planning of a crime.

Now, if you strip "Shadow of a Doubt" from the Hitchcockian themes, the story will be that of a TV novella with a hint of suspense. The admiration of young Theresa Wright to his uncle is anti-climatic and burns too slow. It lacks dynamics, red herrings, climaxes. It denies the power of possible shockers, endings, dialogs. To cope with one emotionally charming Hitch, with good character development, try "Rope".

The Fountain
(2006)

Abiding after Death
After watching Arrenofsky's head cracker, I had mixed feelings. First, it's love story was uneven, it meandered around pretentiousness, and it lacked light and colors.

Then, there are the scenes in which Hugh Jackman is alone in his space bubble, forward to the Nirvana, remembering Lizzie, contemplating the stars, alone. And I figured, this is a good approach at death: having to cope alone in the afterlife, along a Tree that represents the object of the search, remembering love as he felt it. Along him, supernovas and stars collide crafted by a good graphic design.

Very hard, with few moments to suck on. But those moments...

Burn After Reading
(2008)

We Laugh, at You, In Our Thrones.
If this movie wasn't directed by the fine eye of the Coens, one would qualify it as a stupid movie by stupid people. Yet the Coens have showcased their comical range, from "The Big Lebowski" to "Intolerable Cruelty" and with "Burn After Reading" they choose to a silent wink into audiences of humor movies of today.

In the film, people know that a disk of the CIA should be important, should bring money, but they cannot fathom to understand how or where to use it. They are scabbards of a society that teaches what is good and bad without explaining. Thus, we are converted into stupid people with stupid plans. The laughing parts are dry, mainly because of the lack of empathy to the common viewer, but this is what creates it's unique style: not to laugh at them, but to laugh at ourselves, and our suppressed modern Neanderthal.

Righteous Kill
(2008)

Bob and Al Giveth, Avnet Taketh
I had big expectations for this film. Mainly, because what I would have in front of me would be a big confrontation in between two acting currents: Pacino outcasting a passionate expressionism that vindicates spontaneity and De Niro with a hard-grinding method acting that digs deeper into the emotional roots of the character. But what Bob and Al giveth, Avnet takes away.

If they chose another director entirely, and if they stroke in a less flashy way, with less MTV rampaging editing and focusing more on the feedback between Al and Bob and their grim past, I am more than certain that we would be talking about an Oscar contender.

Yet. I hope to see those two big boys again in the big screen, not to wait other 13 long years.

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