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Reviews

Tales of the City
(2019)

Not the same show I fell in love
I was curious about the new Tales Of The City.

I never read the books, but I do know Maupin's intentions with them, and how important the book series became to pop culture as a social registry about San Francisco since middle 70's, which also reflects much of other societies and LGBT communities around the world.

The very 1st season is simply amazing. The references of that time, the sexual liberation, and the shock of different cultures and sexualities were all within loveable characters. Really, what did cach my attention was that none of the characters was unpleasant. Yeah, except very specific antagonists, necessary for plot twists and mysteries solving.

The main character, Mary Ann, is just that kind of character that everyone feels related somehow, because she represents the conflicts between different social cultures and how maturity knocks at our doors in some point of our lives. You open it, or you keep it locked. Is totally up to you how you expect to face reality, and Mary Ann simply wide opened it beautifully. And beautifully is how Laura Liney developed the character as well.

Other Tales and Further Tales, both tried to keep the same pace of the original, and kind of did it nicely and respectfully even with recurring production problems about cast members and years that separate one season from another.

But I must tell that, after watching the first 3 seasons, the new Tales are very disappointing in a lot of ways.

First of all is that Mary Ann became a kind of character that I could never expect. After so many positive changes, pursuing real reasons to be a better person and dreaming about a meaningful life, she comes back to San Francisco after 20 years being everything she tried not to be for so long. Now everyone is bashing her selfishness, claiming all the time that she "runs away from everything, as always". That is awful. Seems that she's a completely different character, because it doesn't make any sense. The character's transition from the naive and conservative Cleveland girl to a brave open minded young woman was very authentic and believable through the years. And if there's something Mary Ann never was (at least in the show) was selfish or coward. She's now unpleasent, unfunny, yelling all the time, someone that no one is comfortable being around, when she was completely the opposite. Yeah, 20 years make a hell of change in someone's life, but the way writers did were unfair to the character. Maybe the books have a better development for that (I don't even know if they do), but in the show it makes no sense at all. From a loveable character that Mary Ann was, now she's there just to push the humor to cringe moments, or the drama to a constant and superficial self pity.

Characters in a whole have no more that sweet honesty, or that heartwarming presence. There are no enjoyable dialogs about life and ordinary things like past seasons did, and characters are thrown randomly to the scenes for the sake of representativeness more than their real relevance to the story. Also, the way the show changed the personality of some of them, as already mentioned, created lame conflicts to put it into a modern pattern. Also, it's not necessary show mobile apps all the time to the camera just to state that the story is happening in a modern and connected society. I never understand the relevance of that. We've been there from over a decade now, and when writers try to bring relevance to that, it just feels they are treating audience as primitive people that finally discovered the fire. Really?

Yeah, entire Tales TV show was like a soap opera, but this time looks like a very bad one, and all that enlightening humanity is gone.

The most annoying thing for me is Ellen Page. I read a lot of people claiming that her character in the books is completely the opposite of the performance she delivers. True or not, her performance is painful. I would not only blame the writing and direction, but mostly Page herself. As another one noticed, she is locked in a self character forever. Really, she's always making clear that she doesn't even try, as an actress, to deliver something slightly different from what she did before. Her presence is always unexpressive, like she is deceiving the audience all the time, making it clear that she doesn't care about the kind of performance people expect from her. Pick Umbrella Academy and Tales, she is exactly the same in both shows, even the shirts and caps. Maybe she filmed both in same days just to avoid changing clothes.

Wardrobe would never be a problem if her performance was different one from another, I must say. Which is not the case.

The original series is considered the first show to talk openly about social diversity in a decade when TV was affraid to approach those issues in a very positive and natural way as the show did. It was something new and controversial for that time, which is not today. Diversity is all over the place now, and Tales could feel a little outdated if they maintained the same structure of the past, but at the same time wouldn't be bad at all keep its roots. Showrunners lead the show to a different path to make it feel relevant and connected to new and younger audiences, while original characters feel misplaced, doing ordinary actions only to reinforce some strong ageisms. Yeah, Tales doesn't seem the same anymore. The name is there, but all the character and atmosphere is gone.

Dark Phoenix
(2019)

Wasted
I went to the theater expecting the worst. It's now public known that production had problems, and here are some of them: It all began with X-Men rights coming back to Marvel/Disney in the meantime production started, forcing the story to be rewritten as a closure to X-Men/Fox era before mutants migrate to Marvel Cinematic Universe, instead of making it the 1st part of a new series, as it respectfully should've be; then, Kimberg's debut as a director, a bad choice for for him and for the franchise; Also (rumor or fact) dailies were disastrous, as some insiders stated during filming. Reshots, postponed release, and actors reprising their roles for the sake of their long term contracts.

Every single thing was telling us what was to come since the beginning.

The result isn't that bad as I expected, but it's very far from good or, at least, acceptable. It's not the worst movie of the franchise (Apocalypse still holds that title, imo), but it trully makes The Last Stand respectful when compared, as someone stated.

So Dark Phoenix, in a whole, is an inert product. Disposable in essence, that lives in a limbo between disinterest and lack of commitment.

The main problem of the movie isn't the movie itself, but the consistent changes that entire X-Men universe suffered on each new installment since the 1st movie, coming to an unbearable situation where chronology mistakes and character misinterpretation stopped being incidents to become part of its self destruction. Days Of Future Past did a good job trying to correct some of those, but it was totally ignored after that, leading the franchise to a predicted dead end.

Storyline was OK until Jean takes that cosmic energy bath. Supposing it was Phoenix energy, what was Apocalypse ending all about? Phoenix already lived inside her, it's not a power that can be consumed or transfered. Also, when she loses herself and characters react like Jean Grey was only bad behaving was like throwing away entire X-Men existence as a unity. Turning themselves against each other without consistent purposes was an awful plot development.

In the comics the conflicts between mutants emerges beyond their own differences when Phoenix entity finally reveals itself and basically split them in two opposite groups: those ones that believe Phoenix must be stopped even at the cost of Jean's life, and those who believe that it can be contained/controlled. X-Men decides to stand for Jean's side until the end for the reason already mentioned, and that Kimberg forgets completely until the last 30 minutes: they are a unit. That's when The Last Stand get kuddos, because that conflict, as it is, was preserved.

The story development is poor, and the aliens are there just to give an easy twist on everyone's behavior.

Particularly I think that Sophie Turner did a better job now than Apocalypse, but Kimberg definitely was more worried about closed 3rd person shots and dollying than on what the cast could offer. For that reason, seems that Turner sometimes doesn't know what she is doing. Most of the cast has no order of appearance or importance at all, some simply disappearing throughout storyline, and Lawrence appearences are only to fill innocuous scenes in a monstrosity called make up. Really, her make up gets worse and worse each new movie. There's a moment that a girl is holding her doll. Both Lawrence and doll were the same, but in the worst way. Lawrence was like dressed as evil Polly for the Halloween. That's why we must thank Rebecca Romjin and make up artists of the original trilogy every single day of our lives.

What Jessica Chastain is doing there is also a mistery. What she did any other support could have done and would have make no difference at all.

A movie that steps to nowhere. Something that we surely could have lived without.

Some X-Men sagas and vilains cannot be adapted for 2 hours. Dark Phoenix saga and Apocalipse are examples. Apocalypse was supposed to be for X-Men franchise what Thanos is for The Avengers. And Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Saga is not a problem to be solved by half dozen mutants. Phoenix is an entity observed by different civilizations across the universe. Make it so small and unimportant as Kimberg and Fox did is disrespectful for entire Marvel and Stan Lee legacy.

At least the 90's animated series did a fantastic adaptation of Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Saga. An adaptation that was so perfect that was pretty much ready to be live adapted, and seems that they never gave it a glance.

A shame.

Hanna
(2019)

Great potentials...
When I watched Hanna (2011), the first thing I thought was: I would love to see her again 10 years later.

There was something about its brutality that was somehow comforting, maybe because director Joe Wright did dare to mix elements from childhood and adulthood perfectly to develop a story that lives in a complex between. He balanced things in a way to make audience feel like the character, confused about someone so young having to be cruel to survive amongst the cruelty of others. Wright did an incredible job that most people forgot, or did not care about at that time.

Now I somehow see my wishes come true. I'm not seeing Hanna 10 years older, but I will be able to see more.

Yeah, we can make some fair comparisons to the movie. First about the cast. The cast here do an amazing job the same way Ronan, Blanchett and Bana did in the movie. Sometimes I think that Mireille Enos explores Marissa deeper than Blanchett did, and sometimes Esme Creed-Miles brings to the surface a sweetness that Ronan could not explore in the movie too much because the pace of the story was different and its development was darker. Of course that I prefer Eric Bana, but Altered Carbon's Joel Kinnaman does a fair job to the character too.

There's drama, there's action. Sometimes a spy thriller, sometimes a heist-ish atmosphere. The pace is good, intense and able to maintain audience interested and expecting more.

The first problem I see is that they rushed some themes and subplots that wasn't that necessary too early, like when Hanna meets a girl and suddenly both are like long time BFFs. That should have happened in a similar way as happened with the first boy she meets, one step at time, carefully and slowly till both girls finally trust each other. In an eight episode show, that could have been possible.

Also, it's hard to believe that in a 21st century show an elite squad using heavy weaponry and submachine guns let their main target escape in a car without a scratch or a bullet hole, and just one person backing up and facing the entire squad with a pistol. I mean... Really?!

These small things makes all the efforts to make the show a top notch drama fails to an outrageous absurd at times. And the storyline, as some has already said, waste too much time on redundant and superficial drama, when the plot has much more to offer.

Kudos for the cast, but not so much for the writing that sometimes seems corny and below the avarage, trying to offer impact dialogs all the time, but not always achieving the objective.

The way they tried to develop the past of Erik and Hanna's mother wasn't as good as it should, but instead looked like an ordinary soap opera that doesn't justify too much either. The episode that Johanna asks Erik to undo what she's done was a complete disaster, very bad directed and acted.

But the show, in a whole, has a lot to offer in the future, but the production should push it more to the limits as the characters and the main plot deserves, and as the original 2 hour movie does brilliantly.

Peppermint
(2018)

Awful
I'm going to pop a simple question: why would someone keep off of the spot for 5 years and suddenly breaks into a gun shop bare faced?

Really, when that happens, all the possibilities for a good movie went down the drain for me.

Jennifer Garner really deserved something better than that. I'm overwhelmed why she did not complained about so many plot holes during production, because I'm sure they would be there in the screenplay the same way they are in the movie.

The plot is not original, and we have been there with Jodie Foster and her vigilante role in a near past with The Brave (2007). Uma Thurman also came back from a coma and got justice by her own ways in Kill Bill (2003), and The Punisher did lost his entire family the same way Riley did.

There's no problem about recurring plots, but there's no forgiveness for bad developed ones. And Peppermint is just a bunch of bad developed recurring plots and old ideas that never means anything in a whole.

From start to finish, nothing in the movie is convincing despite Garner's acting. How did the character disappeared like magic for 5 years? How did she got trained? Who helped her? Did she learn everything by herself just watching YouTube tutorials? And, really... the "plot twist" (if I might call it that way), is one of the lamest things I've ever seen in recent years. I think that I was so disappointed by that "plot twist" as I was when I watched Along Came A Spider (2001). If in 2001 that kind of plot twist wasn't surprising anymore, what about 2018/19?

I feel sorry and sad for Jennifer Garner, because she put so much energy to the character the same way she did for Elektra (2003), but again, nothing here helps her to succeed. The plot, as stated, is a mess. The direction has so many problems that words aren't enough to describe. Edition is efficient as TV movies from the 90's. The soundtrack is the worst thing I've ever heard in a movie.

Feels like everything was made on purpose to be a faillure. Yeah, believe it or not, sometimes studios do that to stop some trends.

I had hopes for this one, but everything here fails badly. I'm surprised about its ratings though. What are people watching lately to actually consider this movie something good?

Bird Box
(2018)

Effective but not consistent enough
Bird Box isn't that amazing as its trailer and premise appeared to be. Don't know the book, never heard of it in fact, but I guess that, like all book adaptations, it may be more coherent on its narrative when the movie is not.

Sandra's acting is flawless, an Oscar performance for sure if the movie was better developed and with a wider theater release. It's amazing how she's getting better and better on each new movie. So, about that, no complains. She holds the movie entirely by her own, the same way she did with The Blind Side and Gravity. She's compelling since the first minutes, when the camera captures her minor mixed emotions while she prepares the kids for their blindfolded journey.

Surely the movie starts strong. It's shocking how things happen, in a very impressive way as in World War Z. I mean, it's believable in its fiction. The crazyness afflicting people on the streets were terrifying. The beginning of the movie have some resemblances to the beginning of The Last Of Us game too, plus all the emotional rollercoaster of fear it provides.

But when the story clearly divides itself between present and past, seems to me that the flashbacks doesn't do what it really should. Instead, flashbacks are there because the story couldn't hold itself only in the present and the difficulties to cross miles in the woods blindfolded with 2 kids.

It's so that way that the present time is always boring, lacking of hard obstacles and unpredictable enemies as people may expect. The direction isn't all that good too. The camera never delivers a desperate or claustrophobic feeling of the unseen. Director Susanne Bier opens the camera too much to show every step taken by the characters didactically, instead of doing the contrary, because most of the movie should be developed around senses, which is not, and very frustrating in that aspect. The sound could do so much more like it does in The Blair Witch, for example. A movie where characters are not blindfolded, but have no vision in the dark, making audience experience with them the terror of listening things, but never seeing them.

The supporting characters are all one dimensional, and their fate in the story is predictable as hell. Even when they could have been better played over the aspects of doubt, if that character should or shouldn't be trusted, the screenplay fails terribly and shamefully.

Plot holes are all around because the writers explain nothing about anything. There's just this imagination surrounding what's happening all the time. Malorie, for example... We can imagine that she has some social difficulties, some traumas or relationship problems with others, but we never know exactly why. Why is she going further with an unpleasant pregnancy? Why is she isolated in her home? Does she have been thru a sexual violence in the past? Only questions... Never answers.

The same about the unseen enemy. What is it in fact? An alien? A disease? Or just an unexplainable collective madness? Why some people can adapt to it and some cannot? Why was Jessica affected and Malorie was not?

Ok, I hate movies that explains everything, but here they never do it even with the basics necessary to immerse audience into the story.

We have no need to see or know what the enemy is, but we should had a moment in a victim's eyes to at least know why the despair takes them so deeply. What is that they see? Their worst fears? Their worst version of themselves? The horrors of the past or future? Why some of them claim it to be be beautiful?

So, for me, the movie is only interesting because of Sandra's acting, and because most of the time it delivers what it promisses, even if superficially, but it does. There are thrilling and impressive scenes that will make audience so desperate and affraid as the charcaters are, but that's all. Effective, but not consistent as it should.

Sometimes seems a waste of great ideas because the experience could be much more explored, but entertaining if you don't take it that seriously, even if the ending is too simple for all the post apocalyptical circus that was promoted.

Homecoming
(2018)

Incredible
Homecoming is the proof of what's been said for a long time, that streaming services is the niche that people from enterteiment industry was needing to expand their ambitions in a way that cinema or ordinary TV channels cannot offer frequently.

New directors and writers are coming out of shadows with it, and important ones are also migrating to it. The same about renown A list actors.

TV is no longer a place to cast actors that Hollywood forgot like it used to be in the 90's and 00's (remember when Alicia Silverstone got the role on Miss Match, or Gleen Close in The Shield?), neither a place where big names were attatched to increase productions values as happened on tv shows like Friends or ER, for example.

Instead, actors did find on streaming services an important ally to enrich a career that now have reached a comfort zone, or feel that daring projects became rare or scarce after some point. That's why names like Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock, and now Julia Robers, just to name a few, are so excited with it because they now have space and opportunity to explore new roles and projects that wouldn't be possible - or extremely difficult - to greenlight by ordinary means.

Sam Esmail's TV adaptation of fictional Gimlet's homonym podcast is brilliant in a lot of ways. At first, it gets some episodes for viewers to fully understand what's going on there, but that is the screenplay process to raise brick by brick a thrilling atmosphere of unknown dark events surrounding Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts), a social service counselor working in a private facility owned by Geist, a giant enterprise leaded by Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale).

It's fair to keep the plot that way, as saying anything more specific about it can destroy any experience over 10 episodes of 25 minutes each.

The atmosphere here is built over every single detail: from the minimalist and progressive soundtrack to the odd cinematography symmetry; from the nailed performances to the artificial perfection of the production design. The way cameras are leaded (or dolly-ed) to mystify a near future, the effective edition that never overshadows the story pace, or even the changes between frame sizes that, much more than just show the different narratives and time sets, also creates an effective impression of limited consciousness and limited space of the present. Simple elements that are effective in every single unique way. All this amazing perception is felt entirely as audience reaches its final episodes. Like the series own premise: the good intentions are spread everywhere, but the more you get into it, the more creepy it feels.

For those ones who watched Netflix's Maniac, Homecoming cannot feel that original as it seems, but definitely more down to earth and an amazing critical point of view of how America is always searching for ways to economically exploits itself and those ones unaware of that mischievous intentions and behavior, even if the cost of it means reinvent slavery for their own purposes, neglecting human life on behalf of that invisible/unseen/unfelt so-called "greater good". And by "slavery" I mean obligating people to do things against their will, and not the historical white/black people relationship.

Esmail makes it all uncomfortable someway since its very first episode. At first watch, viewers will not find anything strange or menacing, instead they gonna feel like this is all about an ordinary analisys drama like In Therapy, but now between a counselour and former soldiers and their difficult transition from battlefield to the normal civil life. But the unconfortableness is felt and heard, and there's more within than what's expected.

Caught myself breathless frequently because the tricky production plays with every single aspect able to move emotions and feelings in the most synaesthetic way. Suddenly you get yourself dazzled, confused, oddly tense and sometimes nervous without exactly knowing the real reasons why. The answer for that is: Esmail uses visual and sound elements to make it all happen without audience even notice. That's brilliant and amazing, because are different techniques in favor of plot intentions, and when all the elements of the story are finally revealed we are struggling to keep pieces of our sanity together.

Take your time to enjoy this amazing production. It may not have the most original story, but it's developed in a way that very few productions are. It's delicate and at the same time dense, enlightening but also obscure. Perfect doses of each, and perfect doses of methodical perfectionism.

Covert Affairs
(2010)

Sydney meets Veronica
It's been 4 years since the series finale, and seems like yesterday that I used to watch its TV teasers and give a damm to it.

Except the spy theme and Piper Perabo, a charismatic petit mix of Julia Roberts, Amanda Peet, Jennifer Garner and brazilian actress Alinne Moraes, nothing about the show really caught my attention at that time. But now, after watching it on Amazon's stream service, I realized how wrong I was.

As a huge fan of Alias that I am, of course that comparisons are inevitable thru the episodes, but there's no room here for that glossy spy fetish sci-fi that somehow corrupted J.J. Abrams's show thru the seasons. Covert Affairs instead tries to be more down to earth like Veronica Mars.

As an episode themed series that it is, we cannot expect much plot development more than some action sequences that follows the main character's "weekly missions" and some lazy twists and cliched conflicts of the genre here and there. But anyway, the show makes its point as a light entertainment for those who just want to sit and watch it without the need to think too much. It has its charms though, like the main cast. Piper does a great job as the CIA recruit Annie Walker, and Keri Matchett as her CIA commander Joan Campbell is definitely an empowering role. Supporting actors like Christopher Gorham and Sendil Ramamurthy grows a lot throughout the seasons, and the chemistry between all of them is what makes viewers give it a fair try.

The best of the show is that Annie Walker is really well developed at the moment viewers realize that she gets stronger as her experience grows thru episodes and missions complexities expands. She gets smarter, more tactical and mature in a natural pace. That's why first 2 seasons looks a little clumsy and generic, like a derivative product of those aforementioned shows and then it gets better and some kind solid after that, finding its own personality from that on.

Interesting how a simple show as it is can turn out to be satisfactory and never pretentious. And five seasons were the necessary to make it not remarkable, but enjoyable in the exact amount.

Give it a try, you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Special Correspondents
(2016)

No good
Netflix seems going to the wrong way. Their last original productions lack of the quality the first ones had. I think that they are right to give space and to believe on productions that not necessarily need to be commercial. But what happened to be an interesting thing now seems that everything that is trashy and no one wants to produce is actually landing on their desks. If no one wants to produce, Netflix will... And what I mean by that is what's not commercial doesn't need to be trashy, but they are not paying attention to that.

This movie could be good, but is a completely waste of time instead. The very first minute is everything you could expect: Is predictable, cliché, unfunny, pointless. Gervais and Bana have no chemistry at all, and supporting characters deliberately have no plot purposes, like the Mexican couple. Their dumbness is so over the top to the unbearable and barely unwatchable because their ingenuity excess gets offensive sometimes. Farmiga's character also have no plot purposes. So, to be honest, all characters are developed to be funny and deliver witty dialogs or cringe moments all the time, but none of them does it effectively.

Seems that Gervais tried to play with all this hostage situations and be ironic about the media sensationalism over it, making media becomes what they they are supposed to be all the time, the main character, while the victims become the supporting ones of a huge spectacle.

But the fact is that none of that works, maybe because the commitment of it all was to take things to the limit, getting lost on its own purposes.

Watch it was like running in the desert. At the end I was tired, thirsty, with no objectives ahead and my brain was like fried eggs.

Chelsea Does
(2016)

Netflix and Chelsea, great partnership...
Chelsea Does is a completely standout escape from what she is known to do. When compared to Uganda Be Kidding Me (2014), also produced by Netflix, Chelsea Does is a major breakthrough in a career of someone who now states to be more mature and aware of her position in the world than before, someone who is now "thinking globally and acting globally".

She takes some issues to discuss them using informality and also self analysis with a great "in between" development. That's why every episode begins in a dinner table with friends and goes thru a more introspective feeling with her personal therapist.

In fact, Chelsea herself does not have much to say. She takes those issues for self-knowledge also clarifying the audience about them by different point of views. Who actually have things to say are the people she invites to debate those themes using the democratic principle, which is: they are free to promote their own ideas or counteract her openly. That principle avoids her from personal judgments most of the times, giving people opportunity to state their opinions the same way she is able to do, confronting them healthily and respectfully even when sometimes seems impossible.

When developing the marriage theme - the first episode - she makes clear to have never cared for it and find difficulty understanding why is it so important in our modern society. At the same time she cannot hide her frustration to be single at her 40's because we have this strong cultural pressure around making us conditioned to accept marriage and fidelity as a goal and a true commitment even when sometimes it's not. It doesn't mean that every marriage is faded to fail and she does not analyze it that way. She knows that there are difficulties in the process and that they can do work, as it did with her parents. What she wants to know is why people are so obsessed by it.

The same tone is approached about technology, wondering all the time how is the relationship between a generation born with few resources and those ones who are born within electronic gadgets.

But undoubtedly the highlights are the last two episodes, which manages the difficult task of balancing both themes between seriousness and humor without turning them into tools for clichéd jokes, as it usually happens.

Chelsea confronts some disgusting individuals about racist matters respectfully. What she does do with those people is let them state their thoughts because their position neglecting any human rights existence becomes a huge rope around their own necks.

She realizes that the more they say the worse it gets and more embarrassing is for no one but themselves. The man who supports the barrier between United States and Mexico, comparing Mexicans to burglars and thieves (especially after claiming to have Mexican people in his family), or listening another one comparing black people to tractors, or a woman stating that there were good consequences with slavery, it's atrocious. At these moments Chelsea uses her sarcasm like knives cutting their throats and they don't even notice that. That's subtle, and that's what she does best.

When talking about drugs, that may sound apologetic, but on the contrary, she proves to be a person who is fully aware of what they are and how her body reacts to them. Her intention is to enlighten its use in the matter of recreational or experimental purposes. That's what she does when undergoing a spiritual session with ayahuaska, or when mixing some other drugs under professional supervision. She wants her reactions to be recorded so we can witness that the indiscriminate and uninformed use of drugs is extremely dangerous.

The episodes have an interesting progression. At first seems that she is just a self centered celebrity who likes to talk about her achievements to preserve the identity of a wealthy influential successful woman who suddenly decided to take herself seriously.

The series starts with themes that seems unimportant but suddenly it proves to be completely the opposite when socio-cultural complexities comes to surface. It becomes obvious how her consciousness about things and herself also changes and improves during the process, like when she is with a group of social representatives in the third episode, and one states that her jokes can be racist even when she believes it's not. Their point makes her finally understand how unaware she was about it and that those jokes actually can still hurt people, races and cultures when analyzed through a wider scope. That is truly the turning point of the series, because from that on Chelsea goes away from her celebrity persona and approaches herself closer to an ordinary human being that lives in a culture so absorbed by racism and prejudice that cannot even notice when it happens. And that's when her perception about things change. That's when our first impression of the show becomes an incredible part of her whole maturity process.

And with the last episode she ends this important modifying path with perfection, finally expressing her fragility, undressing herself emotionally in a way she has never done before and never allowed herself to. For several moments we laugh a lot, but we also feel extremely moved. Chelsea knew how to choose the right people to talk about important issues by the easiest and most affordable way as possible. Either with humor or without it, above all with balance and focus.

It's not a documentary per excellence because it's clear that it is divided between situations created to help an entertainment development at the same it uses real situations to clearly justify the proposed themes. Regardless, it's an important show, especially in a time when instead of moving forward, we are going backwards on ideas and collective thoughts. Chelsea actually becomes a projection of ourselves, of those ones who need to analyze their relationship with the world.

How to Get Away with Murder
(2014)

How to get away with so awful elements...
Really? This is not a good show.

Some people may like it, may enjoy it... it can be entertaining sometimes, but it's far away from being a good show.

It all starts from the fact that it is a very bad copy of Damages (2007- 2012) which its first and last season were amazing. Except quality, Murder has all the elements that made Damages a very interesting thing at that time. Put Annalise in Patty's role, divide Ellen Parsons into peaces then you have Annalise's five protégées. Maintain a main crime as a background element on the story, put some personal dramas and... boom. Even the flashback and flashfoward storytelling is the same.

But in Murder the quality is very poor. A classic ABC pattern to attract as much audience as they can. It's a very adult story, but constructed to attract young adults around the globe when filling the show with young actors, superficial story, dynamic edition, sex and modern pop music. By the way, the soundtrack is very invasive, playing all the time to distract people of flaws.

Annalise is a very interesting character, and Viola knows how to do it perfectly, but the actress is bigger than the show and sometimes seems that she is misplaced there because everything else does not have the same level of quality. Also, the character development may seems frustrating and sometimes you cannot believe that she is crying in the corner/bed/table/dark again. And it gets boring because every time she turns, her eyes are red and teared and then you think "HERE SHE GOES AGAIN". Get over it, Annalise!

Then you have the story itself, which is one of the worst things.

A bunch of future criminal lawyers face a self defense crime scene. 5 people that would have problems to testify that but they could surely prove their innocence during 13 episodes. But instead, they prefer burn the body, rip it into peaces and trash it, and from a self defense crime, it comes to be a nonsense premeditated murder scene. That is insanely awful. Then you have Annalise that freaks out when she discovers that her husband was having an affair. She judges his moral attitudes forgetting that in the very first episode she was having an affair too. Then she suffers with the loss of her husband, but she also decides to help the five students.

The entire development is so poor and confusing that it's hard to believe that people are claiming it an amazing show. If you watch Damages you can check that even its worst seasons can be better than Murder.

Sensitive Skin
(2014)

Interesting, but lost in its own ideas
The show is based on an original British series of the same name that Kim Cattrall had interest in producing an American remake since a long time. Seems that while in agreements with HBO to perform Samantha Jones in Sex And The City movies, one of Cattrall's requirements was HBO to help her produce the show. HBO found the show unviable to their American schedule, but could make it thru its Canadian subsidiary.

The 6 episodes series is about a former model and actress in a middle age crisis that works in a art gallery and is married to a writer. She is always putting herself under constantly physical self analysis when she faces that time is passing thru her eyes. That's kinda ironic because Kim Cattrall is an actress and former ex-model in her 50's and also considered one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation.

In the very beginning of the first episode, Davina is being advised about the consequences of the use of hormones. The camera angle and the character's position makes Davina looks quite fragile, very different from what we usually see about Cattrall's natural exuberance. Her last lines before the show uses its own scenes for the opening sequence is quite interesting, giving the one and only resemblance of what we so used to see about Samantha Jones, a character that is far away from any references in this show after that. At first the aspects of the show would lead us to understand it as a drama, but in fact it has a very slight dark and cringe humor, but few of them are delivered by Davina. Most of its humor is delivered by Don Mackellar's instead and other supporting ones that make some guest appearances during the episodes. Mackellar's presence makes the show itself get lost in its primary idea, and the story about a middle age woman then becomes about her and also her husband instead. The story wastes much of its time with parallel situations reducing its potentials and overshadowing Cattrall's character. Seems that Davina does not have strength to lead the show, but that's not because she is uninteresting, but because writers couldn't make her life and personal crisis interesting enough.

Takes some time to get caught by the show. In 6 episodes, more than half of it makes its supporting characters stronger than its main character, giving the impression that we are watching 2 different shows in one: one about Davina and the other one about her pathetic husband's misadventures, which is a shame, because Davina has an incredible underused depth.

It is beautifully filmed. Kim Cattrall is amazing as always, but as I said, she is overshadowed by elements that definitely should not be used to fade her, but to support. Unfortunately the show does not deliver what it promises in the very beginning of its first episode, which is the opportunity to make Kim Cattrall shines and make her character the center of a very interesting discussion about the difficulties of dealing with the pressures of society and the media about aging.

Interesting show, but lost in its own ideas.

Gone Girl
(2014)

Not that effective...
The problem lies in the fact that Gillian Flynn tried to be extremely faithful to her own book, giving much attention to the facts and the story development rather than the layered personality of the main characters. Ben Affleck was never praised by his acting skills, and his natural apathy fits well to the character because in the book Nick is described as a guy unable to express his feelings and emotions. The movie doesn't make his personality clear enough as in the book, giving the feeling that Affleck is just delivering a bad performance, which he is not. Only those who did read the book will understand that no matter how low skilled Ben Affleck is as an actor, the character is exactly like that.

Rosamund Pike does an incredible job mainly in the moments when those ones who did read the book will understand the real meanings of her looks and actions. In other words, the actress knew well the original material and exactly what she was doing, but the movie doesn't succeed or matters to explain her magnificent intelligence as described in the book. When Flynn and Fincher finally try to come to terms with it, it is too late and ineffective.

The film editing never achieves the same magnificence of some of Fincher's latest movies. The dialogs and the conflicts between characters aren't fluid as in the book. Fincher cuts it all the time like a soap opera discussion, making a table tennis with the cameras for meaningless and unnatural reasons. The same about the music. Although Reznor and Ross composed an amazing score that sounds naive, relaxing and at the same time creepy, for sure it is used effectively to distinguish the different times set, but it doesn't quite intensifies some dreadful moments, sometimes sounding more invasive rather than an important scene composition.

I did like the story development, which is the same as in the book, and the other characters are pretty interesting. Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Margo (Carrie Con) steal most of the scenes. The amazing thing for me is that the actors chosen, the scenography and locations are mostly exactly as I imagined when reading the book and that makes clear how rich is Flynn's description even being a 1st person narrative.

It's a fair adaptation, but far away to be one of Fincher's best movies. For me he is so desperate to make another huge thriller that he is not making movies for fun and pleasure anymore. He did not find yet a material to make him passionate to work on like he did with Se7en or Fight Club. He is obvious unfocused, shooting everywhere to eventually hit the target and accomplish his mission. All the acclaimed reception are mainly because Fincher is always overestimated. They did the same with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and people later discovered that his adaptation wasn't that good at all when compared to the Swedish version. Even being well developed Gone Girl lacks of important subtle details that make the main characters so rich and full of tricky personalities (they also forgot, for example, Nick's sarcasm and self depreciation). A book so rich in words and description that were underused in the movie. When compared to Fight Club and the impressive way Fincher reveals what was obviously clear but we could not see, we know that he could have used different and more elaborated ways to reveal important facts. That doesn't happen even in the most important turning moment of the story, a moment that in the book is shocking because it is unexpected and the movie delivers it in the most ordinary and unsurprising way.

Maybe all the few things that keeps the movie away from its glory is about Flynn's inexperience as a movie writer since this is her first movie writing work, but also feels like Fincher wasn't passionate for it anyway and he just delivered an ordinary hired work.

Stalker
(2014)

Scream disguised
Few years ago rumors popped everywhere stating that Scream franchise would have its own TV show. The pilot episode would be written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The pilot in fact was announced but it never came true.

Now we have a new TV show also created by Kevin Williamson and the pilot episode starts as a classic Scream movie. Pretty girl arriving home, phone rings for the first time, phone rings for the second time. Some scares here and there and then the criminal shows itself masked and then pretty girl is brutally killed. Yeah... a classic horror moment that Williamson reinvented in the 90's, but it doesn't work anymore.

As another reviewer said, the show mistakes stalkers with serial killers in another regular crime scene drama show that never delivers something fresh or special. Bringing Dylan McDermont to an unsympathetic character that all the time makes awful jokes wasn't quite what I was expecting and Maggie Q gives a performance as average as entire show. Also, the pilot episode makes clear that each episode will have an individual story and that is boring as hell because most of the shows are like that.

Stalker is a Scream series disguised. If the show was called Scream, at least we would know exactly what to expect. Awful.

The Last Ship
(2014)

Caught by surprise
I can assure you that I'm the last person on earth to watch a Michael Bay movie and for that I don't need to go any further about how much I love him. So, when I saw his name in the first minutes of the pilot credits I almost turned it off. I gave it a try because he is the producer, and not the director.

I was caught by surprise. I just watched the show because I'm a huge fan of Rhona Mitra and I've been following her career since when she was an official Lara Croft model back in the 90's. I was again surprised when after watching a few episodes I discovered that the show became a summer hit for TNT channel. Rhona deserves that and also the show.

Even being considered by all specialized media one of the worst directors alive (and I totally agree) we can't deny Bay's experiences with massive audiences, and of course that as a producer he would know when to reuse the same formula he's been using for decades to conquer his audience. All his famous elements are there: heroic attitudes, empowering characters, overstated patriotism, abuse of emotional score during dramatic/patriotic/heroic scenes, great explosions/chasing/fighting and huge threats that can extinguish an entire place/city/continent/humanity.

Putting aside all the Michal-Bay-factor, the show is very good by itself. The acting is average, but that is not a problem because they are very well developed, and the way that each one of them relates to the others is very interesting and believable. The great thing about the show lays on its technical qualities like production design, sound mixing, editing and writing. Every single episode has at least two thrilling moments and the story only grows as it unfolds. The writers did a nice job making the facts happen at the right times without rolling too long. But for me, the best thing was its grand finale, revealing the real villains and heroes out there and that the disease itself means nothing when compared to human interests. And I'm not spoiling anything by that.

For sure the show was able to captivate a huge audience that is now excited about its future and eager for the second season that promises (and I hope) to be better than the first.

The Two Faces of January
(2014)

Poorly developed
Hossein is the same writer of amazing films such as "Wings Of The Dove" (1999) and "Drive" (2011), but at the same time he contributed to some not so amazing ones like "Snow White and The Huntsman" (2012) and the weak "47 Ronin" (2013). So chances were quite good that the production qualities would be somewhat uncertain, even being based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, the same author of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), amazingly adapted by Anthony Minghella and one of the finest movies of his career.

After Minghella's adaptation, which was praised by everyone for its outstanding visual and technical qualities, and his skills to develop the story as a captivating and progressive dramatic thriller, also including a character that does not exist in the book that instead of negatively change the course of the story only increased the hitchcockian tone he gave to the plot, Hollywood didn't produced anything like that since then.

When people watch the trailer of "The Two Faces of January" some honorable resemblances to Minghella's adaptation of Highsmith's Ripley will pop, and strong comparisons will be inevitable. That's what I felt, so my expectations were high. The attempts to repeat the same successful formula were so evident that one of the executive producers is Max Minghella, son of the late director.

Really, the comparisons cannot be avoided, but rather to become nostalgic references or even an excellent opportunity to honor Minghella and his merits achieved by one of his greatest works, "Two Faces Of January" becomes a very frustrating experience in many aspects.

The condensed narrative, the thrilling moments involving the unknown past of each one of the characters and some key events that occur within the first half hour conducted by Alberto Iglesias music (with great references to Bernard Herrmann's in Psycho) clearly lead and prepare the viewer to a thrilling expected atmosphere. But unfortunately the robustness presented loses strength when the story achieves a shallow plateau that forgets to explore the past of each one of the characters as well as never taking truly advantage of their personal psychological conflicts as happen in the book, especially Rydal, the main character.

The title is a reference to Janus, a roman god with two faces, guardian of the transitions, doors, decisions and the beginning. One face looks to the past and the other to the future. This mythical figure represents the reckoning that Rydal is about to face and the dangerous decisions he will have to take. Also, the story take place in early January, which also means a new beginning in popular culture. In the book Highsmith makes clear those associations with the title when Rydal feels a strange and painful resemblance between Chester and his late father, and between Colette and a girl he was madly in love when a teenager. The transference he makes of these two strong figures of his life to Chester and Colette is what leads Rydal keeps himself close to them in the unconscious quest to solve his traumatic relationship with his hateful father and also try to continue an interrupted love interest he had in the past.

But in the movie, none of this fundamental matters are explored the way it should. There are only brief moments that loosely make clear Chester's resemblances to Rydal's late father but no major developments about that is given to clarify the reasons why the love-hate relationship grows so strong between them. Hossein makes it feels like all the love-hate relationship is because they share the same love interest: Colette. On the contrary of the psychological thriller that the book is, the movie makes it all a common passion crime flick, with silly police chasings, love triangle in the simplest possible way exploiting a naive Colette that does not exist, since the book makes reference to her recurring infidelity. The result is an empty movie with a trite ending that makes entire plot feels redundant rather than being Rydal's final journey in search for absolution over his most inner conflicts.

Even developing an excellent job, Viggo Mortensen has his talent wasted here because of the forgettable film that it strikingly is. Kirsten Dunst seems to not yet have learned how to be sophisticated without always look like a college student, and as always, her best moments are when her character is under pressure. Wasted are also the locations in Greece and Turkey instead of doing the same thing Minghella did when making all the exuberance within the Italian landscapes an extra mix of beauty and soft cruelty in "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Oscar Isaac has impressive moments, perhaps because he did know the original work and also that his character is much more complex than the script provided, but for the viewer that is poorly cleared thru the 96 minutes, the attitudes of his character will feel just like an empty and romantically misplaced fixation without any coherent foundation.

O Rebu
(2014)

A turning point in Brazilian soap operas
"Rebu" is a jargon in Brazilian Portuguese language that defines a popular commotion, a confusion within a bunch of people that may happen at indoor or outdoor places. This is a remake based on a successful original soap opera of the same name originally aired and produced in 1974 by Globo channel, the major television company in Brazil. Although called a remake, this is a completely different production updated to our present time.

The story is about a crime committed in a private party hosted by Angela Mahler, one of the richest and most important women of the country (in the original production the host was a man, Conrad Mahler) and it takes place in her isolated mansion in Rio de Janeiro city. The body is found floating in the pool at dawn and everybody in the party is a suspect because everyone knew the murdered and each of them had personal reasons and interests to be the murderer.

The original story development was a revolution and also an evolution in soap operas because it happens in a 24 hour time set that is now divided into 36 episodes (the original production had 112 episodes). It was a daring project because the main question was how to keep the audience alive for months without losing interest during a story set in a so short time with characters always in the same place and wearing the same outfits. Though a recurring format in foreign TV shows nowadays, the plot was innovative at that time and it never happened to be redone in further Brazilian soap operas since then. The story unfolds gradually, giving time to audience get to know each one of the characters and their personal stories. The tension grows as the clues lead to unveil other crimes, lies and the real nature of each one, making the title a meaningful word throughout the plot development.

For sure the remake is one of the most refined soap operas produced by Globo channel. The top notch ensemble cast and the mesmerizing production are the highlights and also a welcome breath of fresh air to the current and mature audience tired of lame stories and average productions. The entire production has been filmed with 4k technology and the director was not afraid to abuse of wide angles and long tracking shots, a bold cinematography method used by the most perfectionist directors in the world, but never used before to improve the cheap look of Brazilian ordinary soap operas. Despite the 25 minutes episodes and some clichéd acting, there are a lot of unusual great qualities that makes it a turning point to the Brazilian television dramaturgy and elevates it to a cinematic level.

Patricia Pillar (as Angela Mahler), Cassia Kis Magro (as Gilda Rezende, Angela's best friend and confident) and some of the supporting cast like Tony Ramos (as Carlos Braga, the main antagonist ), Jose de Abreu (as Bernardo Rezende, Gilda's husband), Vera Holtz (as socialite Vic Garcez), Camila Morgado (as Maria Angelica, Vic's daughter) and Mariana Lima (as Roberta Camargo, the party promoter) are the wheels of the entire plot and the most experienced actors. Unfortunately there are those ones who pull the quality back like Dira Paes (as police officer Rosa Nolasco), who is a good actress but unfortunately lacks of an effective direction, surprisingly giving a lame performance full of clichéd mannerisms to appear tough and reasonable, but never achieving the excellence of the already mentioned great cast.

Anyway, as said before, for so many great qualities, this makes "O Rebu" one of the most noticeable soap operas to date and also a turning point in Brazilian television dramaturgy that needs to be taken as primary example in further productions by Globo channel.

Looking
(2014)

Another relevant HBO original
Most of the shows that tell stories about gay men usually are abusive with the clichés. Of course that HBO's "Looking" couldn't be different, but what saves the entire show is that it isn't appellative at any moment like the ostentatious and unrealistic porn-ish Queer As Folk, a show that unfortunately dictated somehow the gay culture because they used stereotyped characters as examples of what an utopian gay world should be in the future... and that future for the show is: countless friends with benefits, party at Babylon every night, drugs, riped muscles and six pack abs. All of that became reality when audience itself did start acting and pretending to be as those awful under constructed characters and their surreal fantasies. And if you are claiming right now that I am wrong, look around you for yourself.

HBO takes its philosophy serious again taking real interests, facts and situations and placing them properly into a show. So even Looking be dealing with clichéd situations so far, the acting is real as well as the situations and the interests. You are not forced to believe on what is happening, you just take it as believable because the tone is coherent to what the characters are living at that moment and place.

Of course that the three main characters are stereotypes of what we usually see in gay culture: the nerd and naive one that is single and looking hopelessly for someone; the beard one that has an open relationship and is looking for a true meaning in life; and the narcissistic metrosexual that is worried about his 40's and looking to be a successful chief... Which means that, unlike most people might think, this show isn't about people looking for encounters, this is all about looking for something in a very competitive place as San Francisco, from encounters to epiphanies.

We never know how this three different characters became long time friends, as well as we never knew how Carrie Bradshaw became friends with her gals in the original Sex And The City series, but we stop caring about that when the show starts to get its way, growing gradually among the episodes. Once again the best thing of the show is that it never forces the audience to accept their friendship because they are not inseparable, and what holds the episodes is their lives individually.

Eight episodes isn't enough to give a fair review about the show, but what is fair to say is that its few episodes gave it opportunity to conquer its place and become a high level one promising more relevant and interesting issues for next season more than casual sex and workout tips that we use to see everywhere. The ensemble cast calls its audience's attention because they know exactly what they are doing and they clearly are doing it to make it right.

Lola Versus
(2012)

No need to run, Lola
I may understand why Lola Versus is being so underrated, because it's an atypical romantic comedy. A simple, subtle and sometimes naive one when showing a character struggling to repair herself after a traumatic breakup 3 weeks before her wedding with the man she planned to build her entire life with.

So it's completely normal go thru hard times after a situation like that, and always find ourselves in between moments of euphoria and distress, typical symptoms of the dysthymia suffered by any one after the end of a relationship. Her friends, Alice (Zoe Lister Jones) and Henry (Hammish Linklater), will do anything to support her and show other perspectives about the new situation, but every single help seems not enough and will be going thru all the pain that she will finally get self redemption.

After the subtlety of (500) Days Of Summer (2009), people rediscovered what a good romantic comedy means. Lola Versus does not have the same warm appeal or a character that arouses so much compassion like Marc Webb's movie, but it follows the same style when showing human suffering in its purest way, and also the mistakes and flaws attached when overcoming a great disappointment in life. We all had Lola's days and have already been versus the world too at least once in our lives, and this movie couldn't be any more sincere when simply showing all those mixed feelings when you have been caught by surprise like she has. It's easy fall for sympathy for the character and all her anxiety, anguish, confusion and that constant heart pain that is never physically felt but is there somewhere.

It's an uncommon movie and completely different from what we usually see, that's why it may seems uninspired or out of the line, but only who knows what it takes to get the pieces together may understand all the process Lola is going thru, her recovering, her back and forth, and griefs drowned into alcohol and meaningless sex.

A motivating, heartwarming and inspiring movie that develops itself together with the character's step by step progress, with an amazing soundtrack, great dialogs and charismatic characters that are unintentionally funny. For sure is not a movie that will make people talk a lot about or fully understand it at first, but certainly a faithful reproduction of the inner pain, confusion and how people can be so foolish wasting energy trying to repair something that only time heals.

Better appreciated by those who someday were against the world too and exactly know how Lola feels.

360
(2011)

Forgettable
360 is a movie about a huge international cast (and wasted as well) playing characters that are connected by a fact in common: the difficulties to decide which may be the right decision to take.

I guess that this is the worst movie by Fernando Meirelles and also the worst one to use this kind of 'hyperlinked' narrative. It is exactly as the title says, a turn for nothing. The movie ends the way it starts, and this is not even a spoiler because you will guess it in the very first minute, the same way that you will find out the premise of entire movie when is said that if you find a bifurcation in life, you do get it, but you will have to find out the right direction to take. But the movie doesn't use this idea so well and instead of being a very reliable and confident point of view about life and decisions, it's just another movie most about love and betrayal and some times (a very few times) about other difficulties.

It's not a thriller as it may seems, it's just a drama and a tedious one for sure. The acting is fine, the edition is quite good, and Meirelles's direction is effective, but ordinary. The best thing about Meirelles is the way he uses the camera angles to pick up right moments and that is always a great thing to observe, but the movie lacks of depth and soul. One thing that is very interesting is the fact that seems that all characters are faded and used to their conditions in a ordinary simple and miserable life, but you never get close enough to any of them because every story is told like a chronicle and not as relevant example. Everything is superficial and the movie never involves and brings you into it. Maybe that was the intention, but that distance doesn't work here.

It follows and uses the same characteristics of movies like Magnolia (1999), Crash (2004) and Heights (2005), just some examples as the list of Short Cuts-alike is huge and a now a sad cliché.

Maybe the main problem of entire movie is its huge number of characters and their bad developed stories which makes you never get an entire one or a whole idea.

A forgettable one.

La piel que habito
(2011)

Patiently impressive
The Skin I Live In is a mix of horror, thriller and drama. The ride thru these genres is done masterfully. The movie starts strangely. Audience is presented to the main characters without any solid concerns to their connections. With that in mind, Almodóvar hides from the audience all the plot keys till the moment the audience can't hold it anymore, and then you're surprised when you discover the hole thing. Gets a great time till that happen. For several times I thought the movie was boring and I was almost giving up watching. But that is Almodóvar, he likes to create an entire atmosphere before take the best cards of his sleeves.

I really don't think if this is one of his best movies, but surely one of his most bizarre and well directed, for the fact that, as he stated, the main idea was an horror movie, but without scares and screams. To create a horror movie without those elements the director needs to know how to deal with bizarre themes and our native fears. Almodóvar does that, but his concept of bizarre still being graceful and subtle instead of being gross and gory, and our native fears are moved by the fantasy he forces the audience to create thru things he haven't revealed yet. I think that, comparing to his last movies that drank a lot from thriller genres - and as I said before - he guides you masterfully thru it in this one, developing the plot entirely with no red herrings, only showing the necessary in the right dosed moments.

For sure this is a psychotic, obsessive, perverse and ambitious movie, everything well explained by the Pygmalion Effect, explored extensively throughout the movie, which is amazing. As another one said: "this sits beautifully on the line between Cronenberg at his best and a crazy soap opera".

Mirror Mirror
(2012)

Another visually delightful thing by Tarsem
Mirror, Mirror does not deserve so bad ratings. I've seen worse movies last year with so bad direction, bad screenplay, or bad acting, and people gone mad as they were watching the best movies ever. I really can't understand people's taste.

But, yes, I can understand why Tarsem is so underrated, maybe because few understand his concepts and artistic views. I am following his career since he was just a video music director, which was a truly school in his film making process. He brought to the movies a lot of what make video music so fascinating, like the using of high colors and impressive structures, making a scene more than just a scene, but a piece of art in movement, a real dream.

The Cell (2000), The Fall (2006), Immortals (2011) and Mirror, Mirror (2012) are his examples of such visually daring movies that few directors are able to do. Even his movies suffering from the lack of a great screenplay (like The Cell, Immortals or Mirror, Mirror itself), watch his movies is always a delightful thing thankfully to another very important artist, costume designer Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012), responsible for bringing to reality all his imaginary since his first work.

Of course that after Shrek, a fairy tale wouldn't be the same, and that's why the story suffered some changes, but none of them in a disrespectful way, just some different point of views that really added something to the plot development and also for some few thrilling moments. I think that the movie must be seen by a child point of view, because I'm sure that kids would love this one. It has a funny and naive humor, but at the same time Julia Roberts provides the most interesting and sarcastic dialogs and acting, which can be pleasant for the adults. Even with all that huge costume, it's possible to note that her Pretty Woman hump prevails and she is really just having some fun in a completely natural and unpretentious good acting.

The final sequence is not that out of context as some has said, first of all because since the beginning is told that "the kingdom was a happy place where people danced and sang day and night", and everything came back to normal when the king arrived again. OK, that Bollywood thing feels out of context and surreal, but Tarsem is an Indian director, and his movies are surreal, and that's the fun of watching them.

The Hunger Games
(2012)

Far better than the book
The Hunger Games is a surprise. For the first time I've watched a movie that is better than the original material. In a era that every channel has a new kind of reality TV program, like those ones that Truman Show (1998) and EdTV (1999) predicted a lot in a brief past, Suzanne Collins' idea sounds, by its own merits, interesting. And although her mix and parallels between reality shows and Roman Empire "panem et circenses" are by far the most interesting idea that came back to pop culture in the last couple years, I didn't like the book for a lot of reasons.

The success of the book trilogy is completely understandable. Until 10 yrs back book series wasn't exactly a product of consumption until The Lord Of The Rings become more popular than it was. Then Harry Potter followed the success of its major source of inspiration, becoming the first young adult series to become a world wide hit. When the series was close to its end people was crazy for a new stuff, searching for a new book series that could replace it. Then Twilight saga was discovered and later, The Hunger Games.

Unlikely Twilight saga, which entire movie series was made for young people that loved it without reasons because it is incredibly bad, this one is for a totally different audience. First of all because there is a real actress there, second because Gary Ross (director and writer) did a good work taking the essence of the book and amplifying it, never hiding from the audience that everything is a TV show, even the cheesy romance. But the good thing about Collins' saga is that it always was more interesting as a material to be used in the future than as literature. All three books of the brief saga are short, with a lack of description and poor narrative that would only satisfy those ones looking for a new subject. So, the best achievements of the screenwriters (including Collins herself) were taking all these flaws and transform them into a movie that does what the book fails: dive you into it.

The 1st person narrative that Collins uses is an extremely old technique for those ones who does not succeeds a lot into other different perspectives, cutting a lot of what could be a great experience if a much more described narration was used instead. And that is what the movie does, it shows you the different and wider perspectives that the book does not.

Gary Roos, who directed that sweet movie called Pleasentville (1998) and the great Seabiscuit (2003) had the same gentle hands here and the supporting actors give to the movie another high level. Elizabeth Banks performed Effie Trinket exactly as she is in the books. Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci (and his prosthetic teeth) were far better than the way Collins describe them.

But at the same time that the movie feels better than the book, sometimes it also fails. It cuts some important facts of the book wasting time on Katniss hiding, crying and running or other uninteresting facts that if doesn't bore us, dumbs us. There are so much open space for close shots too, and also plenty of 1st person shots, which sometimes are interesting, connecting the audience to what the character is experiencing, but there is a time that it stops being interesting to become dull. For a movie rated PG 13, I think that more should have been shown like the fighting between other tributes which would have given us the feeling of what a true hunger game is. Instead, the tributes are shown as a bunch of teenagers in high school bullying each others.

Its success is fair because it's not bad when compared to other low quality movies made for this age group. It has bad moments, but as a whole it deserves attention and Jennifer Lawrence deserves this success.

50/50
(2011)

50/50 completely
Well, 50/50 is the way I felt after watching it. Not bad, but not good. Not amazing, but not frustrating. Half comedy, half drama.

Written by Will Reiser and based on his life, I think that the movie fails badly first of all because this attempt to mix drama and comedy using a so difficult illness as cancer is something that naturally takes it to inevitable cliché moments.

Then you have all the main cast performing the same again. Joseph being that suffering personification as in (500) Days Of Summer (2009); Seth Rogen being that boring and over the top "funny" character that tries to make people laugh and forget that it's a drama; Bryce Dallas acting as the same selfish girl; Anna Kendrick the same insecure and enthusiast as in Up In The Air (2009); Angelica Houston the same old mother. And none of them giving a truly and brilliant performance.

And the result is the same movie about cancer and its difficulties of surviving. Javier Barden did it. Meryl Streep did it. Susan Sarandon did it. Michael Keaton, Emma Thompson, Debra Winger... and the list goes on. This is just another one. It seems honest, but it's cheesy instead, trying hard to be something. There are a few funny moments, but none of them for Seth Rogen's hard efforts. And a few tear moments for the right using of impacting scenes and score.

That's it and only, a movie to be watched on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Haywire
(2011)

Not ordinary, but also not far away from the usual
For the number of movies Soderbergh already made (and most of them really good), he proved to be an eclectic director, traveling thru all kind of genres effortless, delivering alternative approaches without getting so much away of the mainstream. He makes American movies but for a different American audience, and sometimes Hollywood movies but for those who want something a little different from the obvious. And that way Soderbergh proved to be one of the top directors of his time, but that is also his main problem because people usually overrate his movies a lot.

He made a huge campaign about Haywire, stating that his decision to make this action movie is for the fact that great action movies wasn't being produced anymore. And "great action movies" for him is those Chuck Norris-ish ones with a real bad ass action star able to make an entire scene without stunts or so many edition tricks. So he met MMA fighter Gina Carano, and so he decided to make a movie specially for her. He also stated that he wanted to make a kick ass movie with a female leading different from the others while most of action movies use their sexuality more than their fighting skills. He succeeds. Gina Carano's expertise really dismiss stunts and the results are intense and realistic scenes.

Being an MMA fighter, Gina Carano delivers a fair performance, but of course that she is better fighting than acting.

The movie gives what it promises and Soderbergh tries to keep the actions scenes focused entirely on the fighting performances and chasing sequences never using soundtracks or gun shots more than the necessary to not overshadow all the technical attention he so wanted to experience. And it works, but not entirely. For ordinary audience the movie may not be what they seek and that may be frustrating.

The plot is extremely predictable and common: an agent that has been betrayed and now has to clean up all the mess to get back a normal life she so desperately want. And we know Soderbergh a lot, and we know that he makes huge twists and turns over a simple plot just to give the false impression that his movies aren't brainless.

Anyway... I admire his efforts to bring back old technical visions into his movies, but Haywire doesn't get off so much of the line as he so hardly stated. Still being a great action movie, and like Hanna (2011), it is not an action movie for ordinary audience and ordinary action lovers.

ATM
(2012)

The most stupid and dumb movie ever
As someone said, ATM means A TERRIBLE MOVIE. For sure this is the most silly, stupid and ridiculous dumb movie ever. I could name it worse, but you probably don't need that.

The idea of 3 people trapped into an ATM is kinda interesting, but that's it and only. The movie is full of goofs, holes, bad acting, extremely predictable and full of absurd situations. I could point them all, but I will not waste my time as other reviews already did that better.

The killer and his Jason-esque walk is hilarious, they could probably run 3 times around the block before he gets to the corner. But the most hilarious and maybe outrageous thing was the fact that the movie is so full of goofs to a shameful level.

How could a movie like this possibly be accepted by a producing company. How could someone accept direct this kind of thing? Fill up an ATM cabin with water? Are you kidding me??? Really, people who like this kind of crap never watched a movie before. And believe me, there are reviews calling it amazing. These people are sick!

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