Shop More Submit  Join Login
About Deviant Member Andrés RodríguezMale/Chile Recent Activity
Deviant for 7 Years
Needs Premium Membership
Statistics 307 Deviations 1,299 Comments 20,476 Pageviews

Newest Deviations

Favourites

Activity


deviantART Page 64 is available here at deviantArt! Click here!

New and PAGE 65 is already up at the official site! Check it out now!

OMG MOAR POEMS! ¡y el cómic 65 ya está disponible en español en yendoacasa.koolyfish.com!


As usual, sorry for the tardiness. I've been kinda busy lately, but trust me when I say that once December arrives, I'll be able to get back on track the intended way. That said, I still managed to find some time to see some movies, and with SANFIC -- the Santiago International Film Festival -- happening in-between updates, I had the chance to check out some much awaited avant premieres. We didn't get a share as generous as last year's, but I'm still happy with what I got. You'll soon find out why, if you keep reading. Let's dive in.

This may be a PRETTY HUGE READ, but that's because I tried something different this time around. I wrote a full page on each movie not too long after seeing it so I could write precisely what was on my mind regarding that movie while it was fresh. I hope you'll like how it turned out.

First up is David Dobkin's The Judge. Robert Downey Jr. plays a pretty successful, formidable lawyer with a reputation for getting not guilty verdicts for actually guilty people. However, his personal life's a bit of a mess compared to his professional accomplishments. He learns his mother died during a stormy divorce, forcing him to face again his father, played by Robert Duvall, a stubborn, commanding, long-time judge at his small town who's actually addressed as “judge” by his own family, surely said with a capital J, too. They've had a rough past and a distant present, and Downey just wishes he could leave right away, feeling alienated by his own family and the humble folk around. However, when the Judge gets involved in a deadly car accident, they'll reluctantly work together to prevent a deeper judicial trouble, but they'll be at each other's wit in every step of the way. Downey just wants a clean, no-trial procedure; whereas Duvall's more concerned about doing things his own way, away from his son's coldblooded tactics.

Also starring here are Vincent D'Onofrio, Billy Bob Thorton, Vera Farmiga, among others. The cast's a tremendously enviable one, but, you know. There's not a whole lot going on here. It's not a movie that stands out among the several other courtroom, fish-out-of-water dramas. And what's worse is that the acting here's fine. Downey starts on Tony Stark autopilot, but soon enough the situations around him will force him to shut down his natural punchline-y charisma. Duvall's a legend, and he's showing it off with a solid, physically courageous performance here. But the screenplay's the ultimate in vanilla flavors, even if tries to spice things by dipping its feet into the WTF through Vera Farmiga's character and her story arc. She plays an old girlfriend Downey had back in high school, currently owning a restaurant with a gorgeous vista to the local dam. She'll add a weird, misplaced love story with a child in the middle that'll go nowhere (at least, nowhere relevant), padding the movie to a needless 140 minutes. It even becomes more pointless when you realize we'll never follow on Downey's divorce – the first time we see his soon-to-become ex-wife it will be the last time. Why drop a storyline as personally crucial as that one? Especially considering the parallelism between him and Duvall – Downey's going through a divorce, Duvall's a widow. They lost wives around the same time. An aspect never touched.

But length aside, it honestly never reaches the emotional heights it craves so hard. Downey and Duvall are not precisely lovable characters – the former's a job-centric man, who's as an adult has become detached from his own family... but the latter, Duvall... he's just an asshole. He's an old man with his old ways, whatever. The way he behaves is nothing short of reprehensible. He'll openly neglect his own son for asinine, way-too-ancient reasons, and he'll straight-up bully his autistic son who's into film-making, always recording every daily event with his 8mm camera. He's got a clear favorite son in Vincent D'Onofrio, something kept not too secretly. And he's got a pointless, flimsy reputation to uphold, too. So when things go down, it all feels like the movie's yelling at us to cry for a mean old man, a seemingly perfect, honorable Judge – although the movie's never shown us any other facet to his character, he's always angry about something someone else did, … and we've only seen him perform his judge duties once, to a pretty nothing case. What kind of catharsis, emotional climax is the movie trying to reach here?

Despite its best efforts, it ends up as a run-of-the-mill movie you'll forget the day after. It's got good performances and score, and a decent Janusz Kaminski lensing (albeit one too enthusiastic with the outside bloom for indoor scenes), but the screenplay's simply too aggressively boring. It's always angry for no good reason, and it ultimately fails to entertain.

From Chile, we've got our bet for the Oscars coming up. It's Alejandro Fernandez's To Kill A Man (or Matar a un Hombre, in its original title). It tells the true story of a simple, quiet ranger living in the mid-southern forests of the Bio-Bío in Chile. One night he gets mugged by a gang led by Kalule, a man around his age, a bit older perhaps. But essentially, he's one of his neighbors from across the street. Things will lead to the ranger's son being shot (not fatally) by Kalule. He gets a two-year sentence.

When he's out, he devotes himself to make the ranger's life miserable by stalking and targeting his family members, waiting for them outside on the streets to make a move on them. The family asks the police to intervene, but they fail to see any solid evidence to suggest Kalule's a threat – although the very same action of soliciting intervention makes Kalule even angrier, prompting him to stone the ranger's home. Things will escalate until the ranger sees no other option than to take matters into his own account, just so his family can be safe from him once and for all.

Not too long ago I saw another chilean movie about revenge – Génesis Nirvana. I liked that movie alright. It had a deeply rooted performance by Mariana Loyola and a really engaging editing/photography combo, although overall I felt things were a bit shallow, bordering on pretension. Here in To Kill A Man, not so much. This is as raw and no-nonsense as it gets. This movie has the baggage and the context Génesis Nirvana was missing. Whereas Génesis was all about the pain of loss, plotting, and premeditation, To Kill A Man is about reaching those stages. There's no glam or fantasy involved. Vengeance is not an option reached by desire – it's the only option available. The evil won't stop, the cops and the prosecutors are binded by protocol. It's not going to stop until someone drops dead. To Kill A Man is a movie about cold, desperate fear.

And what makes it more chilling is that it's a real story. This is something that really happened. And it's not a uniquely odd, almost quirky story of crime and violence like, say, Michael Bay's Pain & Gain, or the Coen's Fargo. It's something mundane – lowly, even. And that's what makes this situation so scary. You almost feel like these sort of things are allowed to happen. Our trusted policemen and prosecutors they're either too busy to help or they lack concrete, bulletproof evidence to take action. I'm not pointing fingers at them, other than if these sort of situations happen is because of the inefficient burden of protocol.

But much like Lake Bell's In A World... (man, I'm dropping other, completely unrelated movies left and right here), the movie's smart enough to not step on a soapbox and shower us with a thesis on our slow police/legal system. The ranger does what he does only when he's out of options, and when things just go way out of hands. In other words, only when hope is lost. The performances here show just that so vividly. The ranger goes from a quiet resilience to a slow, lonely decay. Kalule's initially loud and aggressive, but against decisive action he'll quickly have his tail under his legs – always the same coward, only under different shades of light.

And speaking of shades of light, the photography by Inti Brione's sensational. Potent and sobering, with lots of hard-to-watch long sequences that'll have you on the edge of your seat. It's probably among my favorite lensings so far this year – there's at least a couple of shots here I wish I could just frame them and put on a wall at my home. It's a national masterpiece, no doubt. Will this movie get an Oscar though, I don't know. Maybe it's too dark and cold for that. But whatever the odds, it's a brutally fine film you must experience. Check it out ASAP.

And from Chile we now go to Mexico's selection for the Oscars with Sebastián del Amo's Cantinflas, a biopic on the comedy superstar, going from the small and muddy street circus to film-going audiences worldwide with unbelievable acclaim and legacy, all aided by Mike Todd's ambitious passion project: translating Jules Verne's “Around the World in 80 Days” to cinema. Todd's not going to be pleased with anything other than stellar and epic, especially considering he's after A-listers just for cameos – in fact, he's precisely selling the idea as an avalanche of international celebrities, one after the other, almost like a pageantry. However, out of all possible candidates, we'll be focusing on Mike trying to get Cantinflas on board. He's been unsuccessful in trying to get someone good enough for the film, so the mexican comedian's very much his last chance to get things going before the studio managers take the movie away from him.

If I had to focus on Mike Todd's sub-plot is because with there's not a whole lot going on with Cantinflas himself. It's a movie all about him, yet barely about him. Spaniard Óscar Jaenada's Cantinflas is, well, spot-on, but only at an entertainment level. His mannerisms, his accent, his movement, his physique, he's got all that in fun spades. But this movie, or rather, no serious biopic about anyone, can't survive on that alone. It'd be a terminally flat endeavor.

The film ends up becoming a series of Cantinflas bits and sketches tenuously tied together by the Mike Todd storyline, as things are little by little snowballing into Cantinflas getting involved with him. But until then, he'll endlessly show off his improvisation skills to audiences and co-workers alike. We never get any legitimate insight on what made Cantinflas so great, or even, his own origins. He was supposed to fight a boxing match one night, but the event was canceled. Stranded, he got a job at a local street circus. That's as early in his life as we're gonna go here. And such a context-less starting point only makes you wonder how did this guy come up with this quick-paced, yet always laid-back style of comedy. Maybe that's a mystery too personal to properly figure out, but the movie doesn't even try to fill any gaps by itself, rendering the whole plot boring and impersonal.

And when things are looking up for Cantinflas, the movie's not going to let him ever go down – and if anything, he'll have a minor setback, but he'll keep on going. His co-workers don't like his improvised, always off-script way of doing things. They soon realize that's the way to do things now. He'll be too busy at work, making his wife's bitter by loneliness. But then they sort things out and they're fine now. He wants to make a brand new actors union, to get away from the old one's corruption. He gets it. I get Cantinflas's a major icon of modern Latin American culture – I mean, I just found out my cellphone's auto-correct dictionary came the word “Cantinflas” by default. He's a big deal. But for as big a deal he is, it rubs me the wrong way too see a movie that idolizes him so much that we're not even allowed to see in depth any true imperfection he had, as if everything happened to him nice and easy, just as planned. Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs's biopic was also a pretty bad movie, but he was smart enough to make his Jobs character flawed enough for the sake of character texture. Not so much here. Cantinflas's The One, deal with it.

And that Mike Todd sub-plot? The movie hypes a press conference about his movie, but he's struggling to get anyone worthwhile for it. He's got five days to get Cantinflas aboard, but the super invasive editing makes those five days feel like five months – it's like a movie-long training montage. And once his movie's released, the film will wrap up so quickly you can't believe they're concluding there, as if saying that was the highest point of Cantinflas's career. It's just a point too shallow to close on. But then again, from start to finish, the movie's just as shallow too.

From Mexico we now go to Poland with Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a black-and-white drama set in the 1960s Poland about a young Catholic nun named Anna, readying herself to take her vows. However, upon instruction from a superior since she had spent her entire life at her convent, she visits her aunt Wanda, her only living relative, before her commitment. Wanda wasn't interested in visiting her, and isn't too elated in seeing Anna arriving at her place. Her arrogant, indulgent behavior will clash with the quiet, indoctrinated Anna; but they have a common goal of sorts. Wanda tells Anna her real name is Ida, and that she's actually a Jew. Wanda's sister was Ida's mother, but she and the remainder of her family were killed during World War II, while they were hiding in a nearby Polish town. The two of them go on a road trip hoping to find their resting place, so they can reveal more about their final days and their deaths.

It may sound like a lot, but don't worry -- I'm not spoiling anything. What I just wrote must be about the first 20 minutes. And in reality, it's a rather short, easily digestible movie, clocking at around 80 minutes. But I don't know if it's time spent efficiently. Well, maybe it is – there's no filler going on here, and each shot is gorgeously composed in a very, very formalist, classical black-and-white, with the lens placed at a normal human height. It's rarely, if ever, in motion, but it compensates it with its detail and attention to background elements: it's a lensing never too shy to simply corner a character to show the void and darkness around her.

But the keyword in that paragraph was “void”. I felt the movie to be a bit of a challenge – it's not a film I'd recommend after a tiring, busy day. Look, by any means it's not complicated or overly dramatic, but while it's not silent, it borders on inexpressive – at least at a surface level. There's a very subtle score here, and the characters say the bare minimum they need to get things going, with a similar amount of feeling to make scenes emotionally readable, albeit minimally so. You're not going to find major struggles of life and death, but then again, this is a movie that never steps on theatrics or Drama with a capital D. It's as serious as they get. No jokes, no quips, no one-liners here.

Why would that make the movie challenging? Well, it's not a problem of silence. It's a problem of awkwardness. As a movie it feels like it's trying to break the ice for their own characters, and for you. The characters have very little to say to each other. Not only they do not know each other, but they wouldn't want to live the life of the other by any stretch of the imagination. Wanda will be more vocal about their differences, but she'll have her own thoughts about Ida bringing her down. Anna/Ida's more focused and patient, but she's trying to make sense of a world she doesn't belong to, but could've been – or maybe couldn't have been, had she been killed with her biological family. They keep to themselves for their individual reasons. Maybe a bit too much. It's not a movie with a chemistry you'll want to hold on to for too long.

However, if anything, the performances here are solid and convincing. They're molded, like a stone statue, to be cold and inexpressive, but they're stoic and firm, with deep, varying shades semi-enveloping them. Their face may never change, but they're read a handful of ways throughout their journey. But what keeps me from fully recommending this movie it's its vacuousness. Maybe I have a short attention span, but there's so much silence I can take before I drift off into other affairs in my head. Maybe this movie could've been shorter. Maybe this movie could've said something more. Still, no matter what, it's very proudly its own thing, delivering a different kind of cinema with its own brand of greatness in acting and lensing.

Warning: SANFIC MODE ENGAGED.

Up next is Yann Demange's '71. Gary Hook, a young British soldier played by Jack O'Connell, is sent to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with his troop in the midst of the Troubles – the political, religious, ethnic conflict that tore Northern Ireland in two in the late 60s. Children and women were heavily involved in conflict, fearlessly going up against enemy soldiers, but the situation was rooted by local extremist gangs. During a house raid, and surrounded by a neighborhood riot, Gary becomes separated from his fleeing troop. He manages to outrun his enemies, but on those streets, he's safe nowhere. It'll be a matter of time until he's found by either his mates or the enemy.

While it's a fantastic, supremely intense film, I wish I could talk a bit more about the times its portraying with a little more confidence. I don't know much about the struggles the Irish and that region overall had to deal with, at least not in proper depth. The origins, the causes, the sides, the protagonists, the reactions, not a whole lot going on here. And this movie doesn't spend any second teaching you about it either. It's a bit good guys vs. bad guys, at least the way the movie makes it look like. However...

I'm aware it was a dark, painful time for Northern Ireland and the vicinities, and this movie makes sure to show you just that. It may go somewhere near the Bourne Trilogy regarding its pace and action, but it's always, ALWAYS, heavy and powerful enough to not make the times any lighter. It shows you the worst, lowest level of humanity at civil war, where children and women are heavily, willingly involved, and riots feel like an everyday thing, for as violent and gruesome as they get. They showed a city living in an endless state of war – as if conflict was something to be normally lived with. Nothing wrong with having your kid toss piss and shit to gunned soldiers. Nothing wrong with hiding dozen guns at home, ready to use them against people of other beliefs living literally down the street. It's an unforgiving, unflinching film that makes every gunshot, every death, tremendously painful because it should have been avoided. Not by just “not going to war”, but... you know. Are things really this bad? Is this how we choose to live?

So despite a Hollywood style cavalcade of chases and shootouts, things go emotionally south so much in this movie with a hurting ease. Characters will run and sneak to get their target, but when the time comes to put an end to it, tough decisions will be made. It's a movie that keeps asking the question “is this all worth it?”. Is your life worth a cause, killing someone else, being in this mess? How would you value pride, nationalism... over your own life? The hectic motions will mute away the questions, but only for so long. The more you wait, the worse it'll be. And this is not a movie that'll shy away from showing a drip of blood, to say the least.

Nevertheless, if I'm saddened by anything from this film, that could weaken my already strong recommendation of it is that I didn't come out exactly knowing much about the Troubles or the legacy they had. I'm not asking for an exposition montage or anything, but remember how Argo explained its times and origins, describing the growing protests of the Iranians against the US, all very neatly and elegantly at the start of the film? Maybe something like that was missing here. But then again, Yann Demange's not trying to be as wide-appealing as Ben Affleck. He'll rather give you a mindset over a context – and that's perfect. But if you're ignorant about the context, a little bit of homework research won't hurt. But part of me wishes he gave me something to bring home about the Troubles other than... well, the troubles. Still, I strongly recommend this one.

Okay, real talk. 2014's not been a great year for the movies so far. I dunno, there's some movies I really, really adore, such as the X-Men movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Boyhood, to name a few... but honestly, at large things been very dull and flat. Uninspired, even. We've got these small sparks of genius spread very, very far from each other, and aside from that, it's nearly empty. Sorry.

But then... what's this? Damien Chazelle's Whiplash? Oh. OH. H-holy shit, son. W-where did this movie come from?

This movie is just what 2014 needed. A serious, bullshit-free kick to the balls. In a year as softly rounded and comfortable as this one, this is a violent spike. It's sensational.

Miles Teller plays Andrew... who plays drums at college. One day he captures the attention of Fletcher, a notoriously strict, no-nonsense jazz band leader, played by J.K. Simmons. Despite a lackluster introduction, Fletcher invites Andrew to his prestigious, career-launching band. But for as proud and joyous as he is for his achievement, things will turn bloody aggressive with Fletcher's methodologies. Through loud insults and belittling, he's polishes the band members's music skills to be nearly computer-precise. He will not be patient with lesser accomplishments. This makes the band an incredibly competitive environment, as any tiny, human mistake could make Fletcher go haywire and kick multiple parties out of the whole thing. And what's worse, the band's already at a local music competition themselves. Andrew, by far the youngest there, sharpens his skills as sharply as he can, but will it be enough to impress his master?

I feel like shit writing about this movie's plot, because I could go on and on and on and just spoil you the whole damn thing, but at the same time, I want to recommend this to you so bad I feel like writing a single paragraph about it is too much of a spoiler. Experience this one as wide opened as possible. The sounds, the editing, the lensing, the performances... they're all chaotic, and clashing, but at the same time, it's harmonic, precisely detailed, and fluid like a rapid. It's a beautiful, exciting explosion.

Over the Internet, much has been said about J.K. Simmons's performance, and I've got nothing else to say about him. I just have to join that chorus. He's amazing. He's mesmerizing, every scene he's in goes by the tune he demands. But also I'd like to give an equal credit to Miles Teller: he gives an exceptionally physical performance, on a similar range as Natalie Portman in Black Swan. It's painful, it's furious, but always with a clear goal in mind. Also, he straight-up gives one of the hypest performances I've seen not just this year, but ever. There's this one scene that left me with uncontrollably with the jaw on the floor, no joke. Whereas Simmons steals every scene with his instructions, Teller gives you the chills with every jazz tune he drums.

But Teller's not just great on drums. His personal life also makes for a great reflection on motivations and ideals: one day's triumph's is tomorrow's defeat. Or what you perceive as greatness may come across as insubstantial to others. How do you live a life when there's no room for failure? How do you remove failure from the equation? Can you even remove failure?

I think I've gone off-rails here. What else is there to say. This one's the one. This one's the maddening, yet coherent chaos the cinema's been longing all year. Do not, DO NOT miss it.

And now, a breather from SANFIC.

Man, what's up with Mexico lately. First the absolute-nothing that was Cantinflas, now this?
Jorge Gutierrez's The Book of Life? That guy from El Tigre! Cool designs, yeah! But... welp.

This animated movie tells the story of three kids from a little town overseen by two deities: La Muerte (or rather, La Catrina if you're watching it in spanish), who rules the Land of the Remembered, where the spirits of the still-remember dead live in bliss and joy; and Xibalba, who rules the Land of the Forgotten, where... you get the idea. Xibalba wants to rule the more abundant Remembered Land for once, so he partakes on a bet with La Muerte. Those three kids I mentioned earlier, they're two boys and a girl. The boys are best friends, yet they're in love with her. Each deity will choose a boy, and whichever gets the girl in marriage, will mean victory for the deity behind him.

The boys, despite their friendship, are rather opposite. Manolo's a kind-hearted guitar player, although his father wants him to follow his footsteps and become the biggest matador there ever was. He's not into that. Joaquín, meanwhile, is an orphaned kid whose father was a local war hero, and he's eager to follow his footsteps and be as big and brave as he was. But then there's also María, the girl these two boys are in love with. She's free-spirited, rebellious kid, but one day she goes too far and her father sends her to an academy in Spain for several years so she can properly learn how to become a classy, civilized lady. But with the bet afoot, things are in motion for her return. The deities will choose a boy and grant him with the blessings they'll need to win María over when she returns – but even then, she's not going to fall for anyone that easily.

Where to even begin here. I mean, the premise I wrote over there seems good enough, right? Part of what made Book of Life so hyped (at least around here with my friends) was that it looked like something unique and vibrant, yet spiced with something as dark as death itself. It felt like it had something for everyone. Instead, this Reel FX production comes across as another Low Tier Dreamworks, or Mid Tier Blue Sky movie. Obnoxiously noisy, overly simplified, and ultimately uncompromising. No risks taken, no gains made. Only time and money lost.

It just doesn't try. At all. For instance, considering this is a movie so seemingly shoulders-deep into Mexican culture, what are we sonically treated with? Well, what about the classic mariachi and flamenco pioneers of... um, Mumford & Sons, Elvis Presley, … Biz Markie, and... you have to be kidding me, Radiohead!? Sure, they're heavily accented acoustic rearranges, but you know what's worse? If you see this movie dubbed in Latin American spanish (you know, it's about Mexico, so why wouldn't you want to get closer to the source)... they only dub the Biz Markie tune. Every other song is in English for no adequately explained reason.

The marriage arc is just as shallow, too. María screams of independence, yet she's treated as something to win by nearly everyone – so much so she ends up agreeing with them. Her father rushes her into marriage for no good reason other than the guy could leave, maybe. The guy never said a word of leaving, why would he leave if she doesn't marry him? Never addressed. Just put a ring on it. Then again, María is a character just as deep too. She should've been called María Sue. She comes back from Spain and she's impossibly perfect in every way.

And did you notice I didn't even mention what a Book of Life was? Would you be surprised if it was something barely stapled-on to the story? Ugh. This movie's a major disappointment.

Let's go back to SANFIC for one last time.


So we've seen contenders from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Poland... now it's Canada's turn with
Xavier Dolan's Mommy. It's about Diane (played – excellently, I feel like I should say – by Anne Dorval), a widow, and his troubled, hyperactive teenage son Steve (played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon). She picks him up from a juvenile detention facility and tries her best to raise him to very mixed, yet ultimately fruitless results. It's clear there's love between Diane and Steve, as they repeat to each other mantras like “we gotta stick together”, and “you help me and I'll help you”. But they do little to prevent the bursts of anger hurled at each other at a near daily basis – which Steve will easily let them escalate into violence.

But they'll find a helping hand – a solace – in their neighbor across the street. Kyla (played by Suzanne Clément), a woman suffering speech impediment, unable to comfortably form full sentences. She says she's on a sabbatical from teaching. Anne asks her if she could teach Steve school subjects. They all start with a terrible left foot, but soon they get things going well.

Clocking at more than two hours, I feel like that's as far as I can go regarding premise without tagging a spoiler alert. And that's something considering I must have described like 20%, or even less, of the movie there. I think the movie's a bit bloated, going into lengthy music montages, as long as music videos – but that's just part of the problem, since they only account for a handful of minutes (and they're rather well made bits, particularly the one that used “Colorblind” by Counting Crows). I think that the biggest problem regarding length here is that I feel there's nothing hiding away here. It wears its heart on its sleeve, making the story a bit too easily readable at a rather slow pace. And that's a problem, because...

if anything, this is a pretty experimental film. At least when it comes to lensing the capacity of expressing by purely framing. This movie starts at a pretty Instagram-ish 1:1 viewing proportion (yes, you look at a square of a movie), and then it eventually expands or retracts sideways as things begin to look more hopeful and bright, or grimmer and unluckier. When we reach the full expansion, it feels refreshing like opening a window in a room closed for too long. However, because the movie never keeps you guessing for too long, ultimately I felt I was simply waiting for the next time the proportions would change. For effect, they change on cue, not gradually.

Maybe if the movie was shorter this idea would've worked better. As it is, it feels like it's tacitly chaptering the movie, but there's not enough content in each chapter to warrant such a length. If we get any, it's when each chapter starts – we learn through the individual immediate context rather than a steady evolution. Still, you can make something by connecting the dots, granted you've got enough patience for these characters – Diane and Steve, mainly. They're not bad or annoying characters themselves (well, Steve is certainly trying at the latter), but they go on a very, very extreme roller-coaster of emotions. They'll go from the highest of highs, impossibly elated, to feeling hopeless and cornered, left only with violent options. I'm not sure most will stomach such a volatile, multi-polar tone.

But again, this movie is an experiment, as in it's something worth experimenting. Not too many movies simply dare the audience to find a firm grasp on them like this one: it's common to see directors and screenwriters try with hard-to-love characters, but it's just rare to see one defying conventions with a self-imposed narrow scope. It gives you a blind spot it takes a while to adjust. No matter its shortcomings, it's a commendable film. It could've used Annie Lennox's “Why”, tho.

And that was SANFIC. Not a terribly flashy year, but as always, good stuff was pretty easy to find.

Last but certainly not least, it's a movie I've been anxious to see all year: David Fincher's Gone Girl. He's one of my favorite filmmakers working today, no doubt. As successful as he is, I could never call him an honest-to-God director for mass consumption because his movies lean way too much into the darker shades of society, making them unpalatable, too morbid, to some. But I've grown with the guy's work. Movies about betrayal, obsession, pride, theft, conspiracy, death. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's the odd one in his catalog, but it still works truly lovely wonders with themes of fringe and loneliness. But that's that – what about his latest?

Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck) is a seemingly normal guy – not a stand-out. He's been married for five years to Amy (Rosamund Pike), but in reality, things aren't going well between them. Things will take a sudden, violent turn when Nick comes home one midday to find his wife missing, and an inexplicably messy living room. The detectives come in and investigate, but as they gather new clues, statements and leads, they'll gradually begin suspecting of Nick as the one behind this. Soon enough, Nick will find himself spiraling downwards a media maelstrom, as nearly every little thing he does chain-reactions against him, making him look guiltier to wide audiences by the second. What's going on here?

The least I say about the plot, the better. This one's a plot that you could easily spill something without noticing – just a small detail – and things would snowball into an avalanche of deductions. But I'll just say this plot's a finely tuned one. It's cold and branching like a programming code. If Character_A Does [Action] Then Do [Answer] While Day=3 – it's as if there's a condition and thousand of subroutines for nearly every tiny action one character does. But code's not perfect. Like every human aspect, it's flawed, and once you see every motion and procedure take place, spotting logical failures will be a pretty easy thing to do. But even so, and no matter how distracting they may get, the mechanical, labyrinthine mentality here's a supremely engaging one. It's something you feel like it's always ten steps ahead of you, yet you can always understand why it's so far away. It's leading you without letting you see it.

But also, just because I used computer analogies I don't want you to believe these are robots or data-obsessed characters like the ones from The Social Network. If they have any sort of connection to them it's that they even surpass their own levels of hateability. Yes, these characters are more despicable than the entire Facebook Frat House. I'm not kidding when I say that at most 1.5 characters here are worth giving a damn here – the vast majority in this movie have at least one major bullshit point against them that makes them total, complete assholes. But that doesn't make the movie unwatchable and/or uninteresting by any means. The intrigue's so good and compelling you'll not only accept their worthlessness, but depending on the situation, you'll find yourself aligning with some of them.

And that's also something to commend from the casting: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry... all of these familiar faces – and those who you don't know, they all look like someone you know. But these actors are more than just great at portraying random faces from a random society – they're also fantastic at showcasing a shift in mindset, going from the “I believe” to the “I know” with a scary bluntness. It's also that bluntness what makes this movie darkly funny at times, when it escapes for a bit to show you just how crazy this whole thing has gotten – Are we really doing this? Is this a thing now? -- Anyways, Gone Girl's very much worth your money and time (… but schedule it well, as it's over 150 minutes). Check it out.

:#1: And... that's it for now! See you in a while. Take care.

Bullet; Blue Facebook Bullet; Red Twitter Bullet; Red Tumblr Bullet; Red Google+ Bullet; Red Tapastic Bullet; Blue   

deviantART Page 63 is available here at deviantArt! Click here!

New and PAGE 64 is already up at the official site! Check it out now!

OMG MOAR POEMS! ¡y el cómic 63 ya está disponible en español en yendoacasa.koolyfish.com!


:pencil: So Super Smash Bros. For 3DS was released in the meantime without comics. Yeah, that’ll do as an off-topic intro to this week’s movie log. I got it in digital form, played it a good while, unlocked all the available characters. What do I think about it? Well…

:pencil: The game itself is pretty tight. Controls well, it’s got a hectic but manageable pace. I’m maining Pac-Man, but I’m also leaning towards Bowser every now and then. What else is there to say about it? It’s Smash – a game series that not only came up a new genre, but it’s the only good, worthwhile game in that genre. There’s Smash and then there’s the rest.

:pencil: However, just a week and a half later, I feel like I’m done with the game right now. I’ve still got some things to unlock – stages, costumes, … bonus modifiers, I think… but I feel like I’m done enough mileage with the game. I don’t know, I feel like it’s something like Mario Kart. Not a bad game by any means, but one that makes itself abundantly clear when you’re done with it. You’ve mastered your tracks, you constantly get the first place, there’s nothing more to gain from it other than competition with friends. I’m not saying I’ve mastered all the characters here – let alone Pac-Man, or hell, even finished the game with every single character at the highest difficulty setting –, but I feel like that was fun, and from now on playing it by myself it’s gonna be a bit of rinse and repeat with different characters.

:pencil: Part of this problem comes from the content found in the game. It feels kinda lacking. I don’t know, maybe something like a Subspace Emissary (a.k.a. a story mode) would’ve been fine here. SmashRun sort of serves a similar purpose, but it never feels like a experience weighty enough to be satisfying. It’s something you play once or twice and you move on. It feels anonymous.

:pencil: But other fighting games don’t even bother with a story mode or extra content like Smash, so what’s wrong here? Well, I like other fighting games better. I’m a traditionalist, I like my big-ass sprites with the lifebars and occasional super-meters. Still, the mechanics here are excellent – it just works. But it should work better, with far more content on the Wii U.

:pencil: I liked it, but I’m not in love with it. It was a fling that I’ll cherish and revisit every now and then. Alright, so what do we got this time?

:bulletyellow: First up is Kei’ichi Sato’s Seint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary. A reimagening of the original anime series by Masami Kurumada, it tells the stories and struggles of “Saint” warriors who fight dressed in armor based on constellation mythologies, all to protect or kill Saori Kido, the current incarnation of Athena. Seiya’s the leader of the good guys here, and he’s donning the Pegasus Bronze Cloth. And I don’t know what I’m telling you all this, if you’re coming from either Tumblr or deviantArt, you already know what’s going on here.

:bulletyellow: I grew up with this series as a kid. It was pretty violent, and that’s all I needed to like it. But now that I think about it, the series was respectfully literal and solemn in its treatment of Greek mythology. The heroes must save Athena from a cursed arrow, and they have only until midnight to get to the top of the mountain and cast a moonlight reflection with a mirror on her to save her, but they’ll have to deal with 12 golden saints, all of them immensely strong – some of them are even godlike, no less, if they’re not gods themselves like Ares, Ades and Poseidon. Sounds like the adventures of Hercules, no less.

:bulletyellow: I don’t think that mighty and heroic status is ever reached here. I could go on for ages about what’s changed and what’s preserved from the source, but I’m not that big of a fan nowadays. I can’t get angry about adaption and reinterpretation. But speaking as a Chilean – or rather, as someone who lives in Chile, where Saint Seiya hasn’t been a thing for over a decade now, I just wonder what’s the point of having this movie at our local cinemas. The tone and the looks are clearly for a younger generation, looking like a bishie hybrid of Iron Man and the more recent Final Fantasy videogames, yet the only audience this movie could ever get are grown-ups like me that saw the original series when they were young. From a Chilean perspective, this movie was a non-starter. The intended audience was non-existing, and the real audience had nothing going on here.

:bulletyellow: Yes there is a musical number, and yeah, some characters and actions are changed to the point of nonsense. Some of them literally only appear to die, while others are shoved under the rug, only mentioned so fans could check them off their list. But no matter if it’s a Saint Seiya film or a brand new idea, it’s an incompetent, nonsense movie. It’ll make you mad if you’re a fan of the series, and it’ll leave you far, far behind if you’re not, with its penchant for references and quips.

:bulletyellow: It’s a waste of decent CGI. Don’t.

:bulletred: Up next is James Gray’s The Immigrant, a movie I should’ve seen WAY earlier in the year. One of my favorite film critics gave it a glowing review back in Cannes 2013 and later he mentioned it as one of his favorite films of the year. And now I’m just checking out how great is, nearly a year and a half later. So what is it about?

:bulletred: Escaping from the horrors of WWI, Ewa and her sister Magda arrive in New York hoping to start anew with their already-residing-there aunt and uncle. However, they get separated from each other because Magda has polio and she can’t leave Ellis Island. Hoping to buy her sister medication and a quick recovery, Ewa agrees to work for a local pimp who got her out charmed by her looks. A relationship already complicated between them will turn physical when his magician, romantic cousin arrives and fancies her too.

:bulletred: On the surface, this looks like like a run-of-the-mill period film, but what the plot hides is the tremendous sense of individuality and motivation behind each character. Ewa, a fantastic Marion Cotillard, will try everything she can to get her sister back – there’s no return for them, it’s here or nothing. Her pimp Bruno, played by Joaquin Phoenix, will keep a tight leash on her but he’ll let her roam around protected and cared for. She’s something special to him – but money must come from somewhere. And his cousin Emil, played by Jeremy Renner, is pleasant and entertaining, but he’s willing to go the extra mile to get her – he’ll declare his love to her whereas Bruno won’t.

:bulletred: It’s a fantastic film with deep, passionate performances, but what I like the most from here is that for a romance, this movie feels heartless. I’m not talking about it being cruel or hateful. I’m talking about every character saying what they have to say, doing what they have to do, in order to get by and see their goals met. There are no victims here, only ambitions. Even if the words hurt, they’ll say them not to cheat or steal from someone, but to tell an unavoidable truth. It’s never too heavy with the period framing to feel isolating, and it’s never too dark to let violence and explicitness take the wheel. It’s a maturely balanced film I can’t believe I didn’t check out earlier. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

:bulletgreen: Wes Ball’s The Maze Runner! A bunch of kids find themselves for no discernible reason in the middle of a gigantic, deadly maze. They don’t remember anything but their names. Still, though they’ve lost a handful, they’ve grown into a small, tight society with roles and protocols. Nevertheless, Thomas, the latest kid to arrive, will stir things up, leading up to a plan that will hopefully let them out of the maze, and/or answer why were they sent there in the first place.

:bulletgreen: Didn’t like this one. It’s LOST for kids. It’s a mystery inside an enigma covered by riddles. It’s exasperatingly inconclusive. Nothing leads anywhere – and spoiler alert: not even the ending will do much for you here. It’s all setting up for, get this: phase two. Everything you’ll see here is a prologue for something else, and I wonder why couldn’t give us something here? What is there to gain from being this diffuse and aimless? What if there is no Maze Runner 2 for whatever reason – why would you need a Maze Runner 2 to justify your first movie in the first place?

:bulletgreen: But hey. If you liked LOST, maybe you’ll find something to enjoy here. If I’m honest, I think the idea’s quite intriguing – yeah, I got myself caught on it despite everything. However, it’s the lack of any solid, tangible conclusion here what’s a serious turn off here. Just give me one thing I can look forward to. One answer that’ll be my north star when I get to the other side. Alas, nothing. This might as well be called “To Be Continued: The Movie, Part I”.

:bulletgreen: Anyways…

:bulletorange: Stop motion masters Laika are back with Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi’s The Boxtrolls. This time around they’re telling the story of a city where boxtrolls (trolls wearing boxes) roam at night and under the streets, panicking the human population. But they’re far nicer than what they give them credit for, as they’ve adopted, raised and cared for a human boy with love. But a long gestating plan will put the Boxtrolls in trouble, and it’ll be up to this one kid to not just save them, but redeem them.

:bulletorange: Whereas Coraline and Paranorman got dark and nightmare-inducing with relative quickness and ease, this one’s more lighthearted and jovial. Nothing wrong there, especially considering all the rich ideas at work here: a kid raised by a tribe of monsters, only labeled as such by society. A city in which fine cheese and white top hats are major social symbols. Monsters wearing boxes, for crying out loud.

:bulletorange: What kind of troubles the movie is that it doesn’t really take full advantage of any of these ideas. There are too many things going on here – a forbidden friendship, a fish-out-of-the-water, a tribe of monsters, men hungry for cheese and power, conspiracies, murders, huntings, a master plan, a secret identity… so many things going on here and all they all clash against each other, stepping on each other toes so hard they’re not allowed to go far. This is a movie you could’ve taken out a couple of ideas, whichever they may be – even the Boxtrolls themselves – and it’d be better if only because of the optimization. This is not a bad story or a bad concept. It’s just a story too busy for its own good.

:bulletorange: If you’re into stop motion, you gotta check it out though, no question about it. But in any case, it’s their first misstep.

:bulletblack: From Chile, we’ve got debuting director Alejandro Lagos’s Génesis Nirvana. A mother devastated by the death of her young child Génesis gets even more devastated when she learns the murderer won’t even spend time in jail – they let him go right away. With the justice system failing her, she’ll make sure he gets what’s due for him. And she’ll record the whole process, too.

:bulletblack: I mean, if you’re calling your kid “Génesis Nirvana” – as in, “the origin of absolute bliss” —, least you could say there’s something undeniably pretentious going on here. The movie never dives into the metaphysical, but through music-video like editing and photography it aims for depth and resonance when it only comes across as largely context-free.

:bulletblack: But then, the absolute, nearly innocent seriousness going on here works wonders. Mariana Loyola gives a shattered, nervous, timid, desperate performance – she’s just fantastic. Props should also go to the editing here, shifting from long, tense takes to quick-paced, cut-happy montages – that’s not a choice most would take, but here it works great, making you itchy and nervous with how quickly things escalate, to then give you a time to decompress and reflect with a very state-of-mind sequence.

:bulletblack: The movie’s a bit short, though, clocking at about 80 minutes, if I’m not mistaken. I previously mentioned I’m glad the French animation industry were making their movies condensed yet rich, never staying for too long yet always giving you a warm, very positive impression. Here… I can’t say it’s time badly spent, but all in all, you’ll feel a bit dry. You’ll want something more from it. Check it out to find out what I mean, but still, it’s a unique, emotionally engrossing genre-flick.

:bulletred: And… oh boy. Our neighbors across the Andes have come up with something. Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales (or Relatos Salvajes, as it’s originally called). Different, non-crossing stories of rage, tragedy and payback. The violent, unforgiving payback. They’re stories about the assholes who make our lives miserably each and every day with their tiny details and hidden bullshit – but one day, it’ll be the day. The Day.

:bulletred: What can I say about this movie? It’s just sensational. It’s terrifyingly funny, pushing buttons with such a bluntness you can’t help getting on these people’s side, trying to find a way you’d get away with murder in the scenarios they’ve made for themselves. Or even, how would you justify murder under these conditions. These stories are about broken minds, who were pushed so abruptly to the edge without any warning they’re willing to send everything to the everloving fucking shit.

:bulletred: The performances are all… just top notch. They all convey anger and frustration in their own ways. One case in particular will shine through complete absence! They’ll be explosive, blind, unforgiving… which makes the end result all the more surprising. When the dust settles in each of these little scenarios, all of them will make a different sort of silence. Awkward silence. Total silence. Unintended silence. Satisfied silence.

:bulletred: It’s a fantastic, thrilling film. Maybe these stories by themselves would’ve worked even better, but who knows. Who cares, even. The pace throughout the movie is a rollercoaster – it’s cyclical, but damn it’s a rush. If you’re having a shitty day, by all means, see this one. It’ll spiritually kick those motherfuckers who ruined your shit in the face. Even when our characters fail, you’ll feel pleased they didn’t go down alone.

:#1: That's it for now! It took me an extra day to get the log here because I couldn't access deviantArt for some reason. Anyways, best of luck!

Bullet; Blue Facebook Bullet; Red Twitter Bullet; Red Tumblr Bullet; Red Google+ Bullet; Red Tapastic Bullet; Blue   

deviantART Page 64 is available here at deviantArt! Click here!

New and PAGE 65 is already up at the official site! Check it out now!

OMG MOAR POEMS! ¡y el cómic 65 ya está disponible en español en yendoacasa.koolyfish.com!


As usual, sorry for the tardiness. I've been kinda busy lately, but trust me when I say that once December arrives, I'll be able to get back on track the intended way. That said, I still managed to find some time to see some movies, and with SANFIC -- the Santiago International Film Festival -- happening in-between updates, I had the chance to check out some much awaited avant premieres. We didn't get a share as generous as last year's, but I'm still happy with what I got. You'll soon find out why, if you keep reading. Let's dive in.

This may be a PRETTY HUGE READ, but that's because I tried something different this time around. I wrote a full page on each movie not too long after seeing it so I could write precisely what was on my mind regarding that movie while it was fresh. I hope you'll like how it turned out.

First up is David Dobkin's The Judge. Robert Downey Jr. plays a pretty successful, formidable lawyer with a reputation for getting not guilty verdicts for actually guilty people. However, his personal life's a bit of a mess compared to his professional accomplishments. He learns his mother died during a stormy divorce, forcing him to face again his father, played by Robert Duvall, a stubborn, commanding, long-time judge at his small town who's actually addressed as “judge” by his own family, surely said with a capital J, too. They've had a rough past and a distant present, and Downey just wishes he could leave right away, feeling alienated by his own family and the humble folk around. However, when the Judge gets involved in a deadly car accident, they'll reluctantly work together to prevent a deeper judicial trouble, but they'll be at each other's wit in every step of the way. Downey just wants a clean, no-trial procedure; whereas Duvall's more concerned about doing things his own way, away from his son's coldblooded tactics.

Also starring here are Vincent D'Onofrio, Billy Bob Thorton, Vera Farmiga, among others. The cast's a tremendously enviable one, but, you know. There's not a whole lot going on here. It's not a movie that stands out among the several other courtroom, fish-out-of-water dramas. And what's worse is that the acting here's fine. Downey starts on Tony Stark autopilot, but soon enough the situations around him will force him to shut down his natural punchline-y charisma. Duvall's a legend, and he's showing it off with a solid, physically courageous performance here. But the screenplay's the ultimate in vanilla flavors, even if tries to spice things by dipping its feet into the WTF through Vera Farmiga's character and her story arc. She plays an old girlfriend Downey had back in high school, currently owning a restaurant with a gorgeous vista to the local dam. She'll add a weird, misplaced love story with a child in the middle that'll go nowhere (at least, nowhere relevant), padding the movie to a needless 140 minutes. It even becomes more pointless when you realize we'll never follow on Downey's divorce – the first time we see his soon-to-become ex-wife it will be the last time. Why drop a storyline as personally crucial as that one? Especially considering the parallelism between him and Duvall – Downey's going through a divorce, Duvall's a widow. They lost wives around the same time. An aspect never touched.

But length aside, it honestly never reaches the emotional heights it craves so hard. Downey and Duvall are not precisely lovable characters – the former's a job-centric man, who's as an adult has become detached from his own family... but the latter, Duvall... he's just an asshole. He's an old man with his old ways, whatever. The way he behaves is nothing short of reprehensible. He'll openly neglect his own son for asinine, way-too-ancient reasons, and he'll straight-up bully his autistic son who's into film-making, always recording every daily event with his 8mm camera. He's got a clear favorite son in Vincent D'Onofrio, something kept not too secretly. And he's got a pointless, flimsy reputation to uphold, too. So when things go down, it all feels like the movie's yelling at us to cry for a mean old man, a seemingly perfect, honorable Judge – although the movie's never shown us any other facet to his character, he's always angry about something someone else did, … and we've only seen him perform his judge duties once, to a pretty nothing case. What kind of catharsis, emotional climax is the movie trying to reach here?

Despite its best efforts, it ends up as a run-of-the-mill movie you'll forget the day after. It's got good performances and score, and a decent Janusz Kaminski lensing (albeit one too enthusiastic with the outside bloom for indoor scenes), but the screenplay's simply too aggressively boring. It's always angry for no good reason, and it ultimately fails to entertain.

From Chile, we've got our bet for the Oscars coming up. It's Alejandro Fernandez's To Kill A Man (or Matar a un Hombre, in its original title). It tells the true story of a simple, quiet ranger living in the mid-southern forests of the Bio-Bío in Chile. One night he gets mugged by a gang led by Kalule, a man around his age, a bit older perhaps. But essentially, he's one of his neighbors from across the street. Things will lead to the ranger's son being shot (not fatally) by Kalule. He gets a two-year sentence.

When he's out, he devotes himself to make the ranger's life miserable by stalking and targeting his family members, waiting for them outside on the streets to make a move on them. The family asks the police to intervene, but they fail to see any solid evidence to suggest Kalule's a threat – although the very same action of soliciting intervention makes Kalule even angrier, prompting him to stone the ranger's home. Things will escalate until the ranger sees no other option than to take matters into his own account, just so his family can be safe from him once and for all.

Not too long ago I saw another chilean movie about revenge – Génesis Nirvana. I liked that movie alright. It had a deeply rooted performance by Mariana Loyola and a really engaging editing/photography combo, although overall I felt things were a bit shallow, bordering on pretension. Here in To Kill A Man, not so much. This is as raw and no-nonsense as it gets. This movie has the baggage and the context Génesis Nirvana was missing. Whereas Génesis was all about the pain of loss, plotting, and premeditation, To Kill A Man is about reaching those stages. There's no glam or fantasy involved. Vengeance is not an option reached by desire – it's the only option available. The evil won't stop, the cops and the prosecutors are binded by protocol. It's not going to stop until someone drops dead. To Kill A Man is a movie about cold, desperate fear.

And what makes it more chilling is that it's a real story. This is something that really happened. And it's not a uniquely odd, almost quirky story of crime and violence like, say, Michael Bay's Pain & Gain, or the Coen's Fargo. It's something mundane – lowly, even. And that's what makes this situation so scary. You almost feel like these sort of things are allowed to happen. Our trusted policemen and prosecutors they're either too busy to help or they lack concrete, bulletproof evidence to take action. I'm not pointing fingers at them, other than if these sort of situations happen is because of the inefficient burden of protocol.

But much like Lake Bell's In A World... (man, I'm dropping other, completely unrelated movies left and right here), the movie's smart enough to not step on a soapbox and shower us with a thesis on our slow police/legal system. The ranger does what he does only when he's out of options, and when things just go way out of hands. In other words, only when hope is lost. The performances here show just that so vividly. The ranger goes from a quiet resilience to a slow, lonely decay. Kalule's initially loud and aggressive, but against decisive action he'll quickly have his tail under his legs – always the same coward, only under different shades of light.

And speaking of shades of light, the photography by Inti Brione's sensational. Potent and sobering, with lots of hard-to-watch long sequences that'll have you on the edge of your seat. It's probably among my favorite lensings so far this year – there's at least a couple of shots here I wish I could just frame them and put on a wall at my home. It's a national masterpiece, no doubt. Will this movie get an Oscar though, I don't know. Maybe it's too dark and cold for that. But whatever the odds, it's a brutally fine film you must experience. Check it out ASAP.

And from Chile we now go to Mexico's selection for the Oscars with Sebastián del Amo's Cantinflas, a biopic on the comedy superstar, going from the small and muddy street circus to film-going audiences worldwide with unbelievable acclaim and legacy, all aided by Mike Todd's ambitious passion project: translating Jules Verne's “Around the World in 80 Days” to cinema. Todd's not going to be pleased with anything other than stellar and epic, especially considering he's after A-listers just for cameos – in fact, he's precisely selling the idea as an avalanche of international celebrities, one after the other, almost like a pageantry. However, out of all possible candidates, we'll be focusing on Mike trying to get Cantinflas on board. He's been unsuccessful in trying to get someone good enough for the film, so the mexican comedian's very much his last chance to get things going before the studio managers take the movie away from him.

If I had to focus on Mike Todd's sub-plot is because with there's not a whole lot going on with Cantinflas himself. It's a movie all about him, yet barely about him. Spaniard Óscar Jaenada's Cantinflas is, well, spot-on, but only at an entertainment level. His mannerisms, his accent, his movement, his physique, he's got all that in fun spades. But this movie, or rather, no serious biopic about anyone, can't survive on that alone. It'd be a terminally flat endeavor.

The film ends up becoming a series of Cantinflas bits and sketches tenuously tied together by the Mike Todd storyline, as things are little by little snowballing into Cantinflas getting involved with him. But until then, he'll endlessly show off his improvisation skills to audiences and co-workers alike. We never get any legitimate insight on what made Cantinflas so great, or even, his own origins. He was supposed to fight a boxing match one night, but the event was canceled. Stranded, he got a job at a local street circus. That's as early in his life as we're gonna go here. And such a context-less starting point only makes you wonder how did this guy come up with this quick-paced, yet always laid-back style of comedy. Maybe that's a mystery too personal to properly figure out, but the movie doesn't even try to fill any gaps by itself, rendering the whole plot boring and impersonal.

And when things are looking up for Cantinflas, the movie's not going to let him ever go down – and if anything, he'll have a minor setback, but he'll keep on going. His co-workers don't like his improvised, always off-script way of doing things. They soon realize that's the way to do things now. He'll be too busy at work, making his wife's bitter by loneliness. But then they sort things out and they're fine now. He wants to make a brand new actors union, to get away from the old one's corruption. He gets it. I get Cantinflas's a major icon of modern Latin American culture – I mean, I just found out my cellphone's auto-correct dictionary came the word “Cantinflas” by default. He's a big deal. But for as big a deal he is, it rubs me the wrong way too see a movie that idolizes him so much that we're not even allowed to see in depth any true imperfection he had, as if everything happened to him nice and easy, just as planned. Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs's biopic was also a pretty bad movie, but he was smart enough to make his Jobs character flawed enough for the sake of character texture. Not so much here. Cantinflas's The One, deal with it.

And that Mike Todd sub-plot? The movie hypes a press conference about his movie, but he's struggling to get anyone worthwhile for it. He's got five days to get Cantinflas aboard, but the super invasive editing makes those five days feel like five months – it's like a movie-long training montage. And once his movie's released, the film will wrap up so quickly you can't believe they're concluding there, as if saying that was the highest point of Cantinflas's career. It's just a point too shallow to close on. But then again, from start to finish, the movie's just as shallow too.

From Mexico we now go to Poland with Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a black-and-white drama set in the 1960s Poland about a young Catholic nun named Anna, readying herself to take her vows. However, upon instruction from a superior since she had spent her entire life at her convent, she visits her aunt Wanda, her only living relative, before her commitment. Wanda wasn't interested in visiting her, and isn't too elated in seeing Anna arriving at her place. Her arrogant, indulgent behavior will clash with the quiet, indoctrinated Anna; but they have a common goal of sorts. Wanda tells Anna her real name is Ida, and that she's actually a Jew. Wanda's sister was Ida's mother, but she and the remainder of her family were killed during World War II, while they were hiding in a nearby Polish town. The two of them go on a road trip hoping to find their resting place, so they can reveal more about their final days and their deaths.

It may sound like a lot, but don't worry -- I'm not spoiling anything. What I just wrote must be about the first 20 minutes. And in reality, it's a rather short, easily digestible movie, clocking at around 80 minutes. But I don't know if it's time spent efficiently. Well, maybe it is – there's no filler going on here, and each shot is gorgeously composed in a very, very formalist, classical black-and-white, with the lens placed at a normal human height. It's rarely, if ever, in motion, but it compensates it with its detail and attention to background elements: it's a lensing never too shy to simply corner a character to show the void and darkness around her.

But the keyword in that paragraph was “void”. I felt the movie to be a bit of a challenge – it's not a film I'd recommend after a tiring, busy day. Look, by any means it's not complicated or overly dramatic, but while it's not silent, it borders on inexpressive – at least at a surface level. There's a very subtle score here, and the characters say the bare minimum they need to get things going, with a similar amount of feeling to make scenes emotionally readable, albeit minimally so. You're not going to find major struggles of life and death, but then again, this is a movie that never steps on theatrics or Drama with a capital D. It's as serious as they get. No jokes, no quips, no one-liners here.

Why would that make the movie challenging? Well, it's not a problem of silence. It's a problem of awkwardness. As a movie it feels like it's trying to break the ice for their own characters, and for you. The characters have very little to say to each other. Not only they do not know each other, but they wouldn't want to live the life of the other by any stretch of the imagination. Wanda will be more vocal about their differences, but she'll have her own thoughts about Ida bringing her down. Anna/Ida's more focused and patient, but she's trying to make sense of a world she doesn't belong to, but could've been – or maybe couldn't have been, had she been killed with her biological family. They keep to themselves for their individual reasons. Maybe a bit too much. It's not a movie with a chemistry you'll want to hold on to for too long.

However, if anything, the performances here are solid and convincing. They're molded, like a stone statue, to be cold and inexpressive, but they're stoic and firm, with deep, varying shades semi-enveloping them. Their face may never change, but they're read a handful of ways throughout their journey. But what keeps me from fully recommending this movie it's its vacuousness. Maybe I have a short attention span, but there's so much silence I can take before I drift off into other affairs in my head. Maybe this movie could've been shorter. Maybe this movie could've said something more. Still, no matter what, it's very proudly its own thing, delivering a different kind of cinema with its own brand of greatness in acting and lensing.

Warning: SANFIC MODE ENGAGED.

Up next is Yann Demange's '71. Gary Hook, a young British soldier played by Jack O'Connell, is sent to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with his troop in the midst of the Troubles – the political, religious, ethnic conflict that tore Northern Ireland in two in the late 60s. Children and women were heavily involved in conflict, fearlessly going up against enemy soldiers, but the situation was rooted by local extremist gangs. During a house raid, and surrounded by a neighborhood riot, Gary becomes separated from his fleeing troop. He manages to outrun his enemies, but on those streets, he's safe nowhere. It'll be a matter of time until he's found by either his mates or the enemy.

While it's a fantastic, supremely intense film, I wish I could talk a bit more about the times its portraying with a little more confidence. I don't know much about the struggles the Irish and that region overall had to deal with, at least not in proper depth. The origins, the causes, the sides, the protagonists, the reactions, not a whole lot going on here. And this movie doesn't spend any second teaching you about it either. It's a bit good guys vs. bad guys, at least the way the movie makes it look like. However...

I'm aware it was a dark, painful time for Northern Ireland and the vicinities, and this movie makes sure to show you just that. It may go somewhere near the Bourne Trilogy regarding its pace and action, but it's always, ALWAYS, heavy and powerful enough to not make the times any lighter. It shows you the worst, lowest level of humanity at civil war, where children and women are heavily, willingly involved, and riots feel like an everyday thing, for as violent and gruesome as they get. They showed a city living in an endless state of war – as if conflict was something to be normally lived with. Nothing wrong with having your kid toss piss and shit to gunned soldiers. Nothing wrong with hiding dozen guns at home, ready to use them against people of other beliefs living literally down the street. It's an unforgiving, unflinching film that makes every gunshot, every death, tremendously painful because it should have been avoided. Not by just “not going to war”, but... you know. Are things really this bad? Is this how we choose to live?

So despite a Hollywood style cavalcade of chases and shootouts, things go emotionally south so much in this movie with a hurting ease. Characters will run and sneak to get their target, but when the time comes to put an end to it, tough decisions will be made. It's a movie that keeps asking the question “is this all worth it?”. Is your life worth a cause, killing someone else, being in this mess? How would you value pride, nationalism... over your own life? The hectic motions will mute away the questions, but only for so long. The more you wait, the worse it'll be. And this is not a movie that'll shy away from showing a drip of blood, to say the least.

Nevertheless, if I'm saddened by anything from this film, that could weaken my already strong recommendation of it is that I didn't come out exactly knowing much about the Troubles or the legacy they had. I'm not asking for an exposition montage or anything, but remember how Argo explained its times and origins, describing the growing protests of the Iranians against the US, all very neatly and elegantly at the start of the film? Maybe something like that was missing here. But then again, Yann Demange's not trying to be as wide-appealing as Ben Affleck. He'll rather give you a mindset over a context – and that's perfect. But if you're ignorant about the context, a little bit of homework research won't hurt. But part of me wishes he gave me something to bring home about the Troubles other than... well, the troubles. Still, I strongly recommend this one.

Okay, real talk. 2014's not been a great year for the movies so far. I dunno, there's some movies I really, really adore, such as the X-Men movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Boyhood, to name a few... but honestly, at large things been very dull and flat. Uninspired, even. We've got these small sparks of genius spread very, very far from each other, and aside from that, it's nearly empty. Sorry.

But then... what's this? Damien Chazelle's Whiplash? Oh. OH. H-holy shit, son. W-where did this movie come from?

This movie is just what 2014 needed. A serious, bullshit-free kick to the balls. In a year as softly rounded and comfortable as this one, this is a violent spike. It's sensational.

Miles Teller plays Andrew... who plays drums at college. One day he captures the attention of Fletcher, a notoriously strict, no-nonsense jazz band leader, played by J.K. Simmons. Despite a lackluster introduction, Fletcher invites Andrew to his prestigious, career-launching band. But for as proud and joyous as he is for his achievement, things will turn bloody aggressive with Fletcher's methodologies. Through loud insults and belittling, he's polishes the band members's music skills to be nearly computer-precise. He will not be patient with lesser accomplishments. This makes the band an incredibly competitive environment, as any tiny, human mistake could make Fletcher go haywire and kick multiple parties out of the whole thing. And what's worse, the band's already at a local music competition themselves. Andrew, by far the youngest there, sharpens his skills as sharply as he can, but will it be enough to impress his master?

I feel like shit writing about this movie's plot, because I could go on and on and on and just spoil you the whole damn thing, but at the same time, I want to recommend this to you so bad I feel like writing a single paragraph about it is too much of a spoiler. Experience this one as wide opened as possible. The sounds, the editing, the lensing, the performances... they're all chaotic, and clashing, but at the same time, it's harmonic, precisely detailed, and fluid like a rapid. It's a beautiful, exciting explosion.

Over the Internet, much has been said about J.K. Simmons's performance, and I've got nothing else to say about him. I just have to join that chorus. He's amazing. He's mesmerizing, every scene he's in goes by the tune he demands. But also I'd like to give an equal credit to Miles Teller: he gives an exceptionally physical performance, on a similar range as Natalie Portman in Black Swan. It's painful, it's furious, but always with a clear goal in mind. Also, he straight-up gives one of the hypest performances I've seen not just this year, but ever. There's this one scene that left me with uncontrollably with the jaw on the floor, no joke. Whereas Simmons steals every scene with his instructions, Teller gives you the chills with every jazz tune he drums.

But Teller's not just great on drums. His personal life also makes for a great reflection on motivations and ideals: one day's triumph's is tomorrow's defeat. Or what you perceive as greatness may come across as insubstantial to others. How do you live a life when there's no room for failure? How do you remove failure from the equation? Can you even remove failure?

I think I've gone off-rails here. What else is there to say. This one's the one. This one's the maddening, yet coherent chaos the cinema's been longing all year. Do not, DO NOT miss it.

And now, a breather from SANFIC.

Man, what's up with Mexico lately. First the absolute-nothing that was Cantinflas, now this?
Jorge Gutierrez's The Book of Life? That guy from El Tigre! Cool designs, yeah! But... welp.

This animated movie tells the story of three kids from a little town overseen by two deities: La Muerte (or rather, La Catrina if you're watching it in spanish), who rules the Land of the Remembered, where the spirits of the still-remember dead live in bliss and joy; and Xibalba, who rules the Land of the Forgotten, where... you get the idea. Xibalba wants to rule the more abundant Remembered Land for once, so he partakes on a bet with La Muerte. Those three kids I mentioned earlier, they're two boys and a girl. The boys are best friends, yet they're in love with her. Each deity will choose a boy, and whichever gets the girl in marriage, will mean victory for the deity behind him.

The boys, despite their friendship, are rather opposite. Manolo's a kind-hearted guitar player, although his father wants him to follow his footsteps and become the biggest matador there ever was. He's not into that. Joaquín, meanwhile, is an orphaned kid whose father was a local war hero, and he's eager to follow his footsteps and be as big and brave as he was. But then there's also María, the girl these two boys are in love with. She's free-spirited, rebellious kid, but one day she goes too far and her father sends her to an academy in Spain for several years so she can properly learn how to become a classy, civilized lady. But with the bet afoot, things are in motion for her return. The deities will choose a boy and grant him with the blessings they'll need to win María over when she returns – but even then, she's not going to fall for anyone that easily.

Where to even begin here. I mean, the premise I wrote over there seems good enough, right? Part of what made Book of Life so hyped (at least around here with my friends) was that it looked like something unique and vibrant, yet spiced with something as dark as death itself. It felt like it had something for everyone. Instead, this Reel FX production comes across as another Low Tier Dreamworks, or Mid Tier Blue Sky movie. Obnoxiously noisy, overly simplified, and ultimately uncompromising. No risks taken, no gains made. Only time and money lost.

It just doesn't try. At all. For instance, considering this is a movie so seemingly shoulders-deep into Mexican culture, what are we sonically treated with? Well, what about the classic mariachi and flamenco pioneers of... um, Mumford & Sons, Elvis Presley, … Biz Markie, and... you have to be kidding me, Radiohead!? Sure, they're heavily accented acoustic rearranges, but you know what's worse? If you see this movie dubbed in Latin American spanish (you know, it's about Mexico, so why wouldn't you want to get closer to the source)... they only dub the Biz Markie tune. Every other song is in English for no adequately explained reason.

The marriage arc is just as shallow, too. María screams of independence, yet she's treated as something to win by nearly everyone – so much so she ends up agreeing with them. Her father rushes her into marriage for no good reason other than the guy could leave, maybe. The guy never said a word of leaving, why would he leave if she doesn't marry him? Never addressed. Just put a ring on it. Then again, María is a character just as deep too. She should've been called María Sue. She comes back from Spain and she's impossibly perfect in every way.

And did you notice I didn't even mention what a Book of Life was? Would you be surprised if it was something barely stapled-on to the story? Ugh. This movie's a major disappointment.

Let's go back to SANFIC for one last time.


So we've seen contenders from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Poland... now it's Canada's turn with
Xavier Dolan's Mommy. It's about Diane (played – excellently, I feel like I should say – by Anne Dorval), a widow, and his troubled, hyperactive teenage son Steve (played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon). She picks him up from a juvenile detention facility and tries her best to raise him to very mixed, yet ultimately fruitless results. It's clear there's love between Diane and Steve, as they repeat to each other mantras like “we gotta stick together”, and “you help me and I'll help you”. But they do little to prevent the bursts of anger hurled at each other at a near daily basis – which Steve will easily let them escalate into violence.

But they'll find a helping hand – a solace – in their neighbor across the street. Kyla (played by Suzanne Clément), a woman suffering speech impediment, unable to comfortably form full sentences. She says she's on a sabbatical from teaching. Anne asks her if she could teach Steve school subjects. They all start with a terrible left foot, but soon they get things going well.

Clocking at more than two hours, I feel like that's as far as I can go regarding premise without tagging a spoiler alert. And that's something considering I must have described like 20%, or even less, of the movie there. I think the movie's a bit bloated, going into lengthy music montages, as long as music videos – but that's just part of the problem, since they only account for a handful of minutes (and they're rather well made bits, particularly the one that used “Colorblind” by Counting Crows). I think that the biggest problem regarding length here is that I feel there's nothing hiding away here. It wears its heart on its sleeve, making the story a bit too easily readable at a rather slow pace. And that's a problem, because...

if anything, this is a pretty experimental film. At least when it comes to lensing the capacity of expressing by purely framing. This movie starts at a pretty Instagram-ish 1:1 viewing proportion (yes, you look at a square of a movie), and then it eventually expands or retracts sideways as things begin to look more hopeful and bright, or grimmer and unluckier. When we reach the full expansion, it feels refreshing like opening a window in a room closed for too long. However, because the movie never keeps you guessing for too long, ultimately I felt I was simply waiting for the next time the proportions would change. For effect, they change on cue, not gradually.

Maybe if the movie was shorter this idea would've worked better. As it is, it feels like it's tacitly chaptering the movie, but there's not enough content in each chapter to warrant such a length. If we get any, it's when each chapter starts – we learn through the individual immediate context rather than a steady evolution. Still, you can make something by connecting the dots, granted you've got enough patience for these characters – Diane and Steve, mainly. They're not bad or annoying characters themselves (well, Steve is certainly trying at the latter), but they go on a very, very extreme roller-coaster of emotions. They'll go from the highest of highs, impossibly elated, to feeling hopeless and cornered, left only with violent options. I'm not sure most will stomach such a volatile, multi-polar tone.

But again, this movie is an experiment, as in it's something worth experimenting. Not too many movies simply dare the audience to find a firm grasp on them like this one: it's common to see directors and screenwriters try with hard-to-love characters, but it's just rare to see one defying conventions with a self-imposed narrow scope. It gives you a blind spot it takes a while to adjust. No matter its shortcomings, it's a commendable film. It could've used Annie Lennox's “Why”, tho.

And that was SANFIC. Not a terribly flashy year, but as always, good stuff was pretty easy to find.

Last but certainly not least, it's a movie I've been anxious to see all year: David Fincher's Gone Girl. He's one of my favorite filmmakers working today, no doubt. As successful as he is, I could never call him an honest-to-God director for mass consumption because his movies lean way too much into the darker shades of society, making them unpalatable, too morbid, to some. But I've grown with the guy's work. Movies about betrayal, obsession, pride, theft, conspiracy, death. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's the odd one in his catalog, but it still works truly lovely wonders with themes of fringe and loneliness. But that's that – what about his latest?

Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck) is a seemingly normal guy – not a stand-out. He's been married for five years to Amy (Rosamund Pike), but in reality, things aren't going well between them. Things will take a sudden, violent turn when Nick comes home one midday to find his wife missing, and an inexplicably messy living room. The detectives come in and investigate, but as they gather new clues, statements and leads, they'll gradually begin suspecting of Nick as the one behind this. Soon enough, Nick will find himself spiraling downwards a media maelstrom, as nearly every little thing he does chain-reactions against him, making him look guiltier to wide audiences by the second. What's going on here?

The least I say about the plot, the better. This one's a plot that you could easily spill something without noticing – just a small detail – and things would snowball into an avalanche of deductions. But I'll just say this plot's a finely tuned one. It's cold and branching like a programming code. If Character_A Does [Action] Then Do [Answer] While Day=3 – it's as if there's a condition and thousand of subroutines for nearly every tiny action one character does. But code's not perfect. Like every human aspect, it's flawed, and once you see every motion and procedure take place, spotting logical failures will be a pretty easy thing to do. But even so, and no matter how distracting they may get, the mechanical, labyrinthine mentality here's a supremely engaging one. It's something you feel like it's always ten steps ahead of you, yet you can always understand why it's so far away. It's leading you without letting you see it.

But also, just because I used computer analogies I don't want you to believe these are robots or data-obsessed characters like the ones from The Social Network. If they have any sort of connection to them it's that they even surpass their own levels of hateability. Yes, these characters are more despicable than the entire Facebook Frat House. I'm not kidding when I say that at most 1.5 characters here are worth giving a damn here – the vast majority in this movie have at least one major bullshit point against them that makes them total, complete assholes. But that doesn't make the movie unwatchable and/or uninteresting by any means. The intrigue's so good and compelling you'll not only accept their worthlessness, but depending on the situation, you'll find yourself aligning with some of them.

And that's also something to commend from the casting: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry... all of these familiar faces – and those who you don't know, they all look like someone you know. But these actors are more than just great at portraying random faces from a random society – they're also fantastic at showcasing a shift in mindset, going from the “I believe” to the “I know” with a scary bluntness. It's also that bluntness what makes this movie darkly funny at times, when it escapes for a bit to show you just how crazy this whole thing has gotten – Are we really doing this? Is this a thing now? -- Anyways, Gone Girl's very much worth your money and time (… but schedule it well, as it's over 150 minutes). Check it out.

:#1: And... that's it for now! See you in a while. Take care.

Bullet; Blue Facebook Bullet; Red Twitter Bullet; Red Tumblr Bullet; Red Google+ Bullet; Red Tapastic Bullet; Blue   

Journal History

deviantID

OhNoAndrej's Profile Picture
OhNoAndrej
Andrés Rodríguez
Chile
I make some webcomics, I check out some movies.

homeward.koolyfish.com
bijoureviews.blogspot.com
Interests

AdCast - Ads from the Community

×

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconsunao17:
Sunao17 Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
holaaa! estoy haciendo una encuesta para mi tesis de grado, y me preguntaba si podrias responderla  n.n me ayudarías mucho! es sobre contenido artistico en redes sociales. aqui esta el link (puse los ptos entre parntesis para que pa page no me lea el msje como spam)  www().onlineencuesta(.)com/s/0d73a2a


otra cosa, como aprendiste ingles?
Reply
:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
Por cierto, en la pregunta de: "En estas redes sociales, ¿qué tipos de técnicas artísticas ves? (Puede ser 1 o más de las indicadas en las opciones; si la red social en cuestión no la visitas, dejar la fila de opciones sin marcas)", no pude dejar las redes sociales que no visito en blanco. :( Le marqué que no las visito para cosas artísticas, nomás.
Reply
:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
Ahí te respondí la encuesta ;) Y aprendí inglés desde chico. En tercero básico mis viejos me metieron a un taller de como tres meses en el Berlitz y desde ahí me fui por mi cuenta.
Reply
:iconartemisiadark:
ArtemisiaDark Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
Thank you for the fav ! :thanks:
Reply
:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
You're welcome! :#1: Best of luck!
Reply
:icondanae141:
Danae141 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for mentioning my Pussy Riot doodle :) it's nice to know the word is getting out!
Reply
:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014
You're welcome! Their HBO documentary is pretty good! :D And also, yeah, glad to hear they're all free at last.
Reply
:iconwebcomicunderdogs:
WebcomicUnderdogs Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Hola, Underdog!
Reply
:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Hey! A big hola for all of you underdogs, too :D :#1:
Reply
:iconnkloud:
nkloud Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Hola, pasaba a saludar para que no digas que solo me acuerdo para pedirte favores! Éxitos!
Reply
Add a Comment: