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About Deviant Member Andrés RodríguezMale/Chile Recent Activity
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deviantART Page 65 is available here at deviantArt! Click here!

New and PAGE 66 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!


Yeah, I've been away for over a month. I've been quite busy, but I've finished my (major) duties, so I suppose I'm free to update more consistently now. Let's make sure that happens! In any case, I still had the spare time to watch a movie every now and then, so how were they?

Let's start big, with one of my most anticipated movies all year: Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. He's the man behind my favorite film of all time, Memento, so every year he's got something new is a pretty special year for me. However, his last effort, The Dark Knight Rises, all things considered, left me somewhat cold. Enough to make me eager to check out something new from him wasn't related to Batman or superheroes. What do we got now? Caution: this may contain spoilers.

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a former engineer, currently a farmer. His experience and knowledge in technology and piloting are very well regarded, but they're not longer needed as the planet Earth is decaying with endless dust storms, and rapidly dwindling food sources. We don't know what's really causing all this, but Cooper found out something which will launch him into a do-or-die mission to save the world population by traveling through a nearby worm-hole towards a system in a galaxy far away, which houses a handful of planets humans could make their new home.

But it's not so easy. We're talking about a journey of immeasurable distance, one of warping times, meaning we'll see the Theory of Relativity in effect. In Cooper's eyes, he'll be gone for a while, but on Earth, years and decades will pass until his return – or they get to hear from him again. Cooper's kids will live an entire lifetime in the span of what he perceives is an hour. Upon this, and once in space, he'll feel conflicted by two rushes: the rush of finding a suitable planet before it's too late for us on Earth, and the rush of doing things as efficiently as possible so he can return to his kids while they're still around. A collective need against an individual need.

I think this movie, if anything, is a triumph of ambition. Nolan's not longer making character study movies about this one guy in a noir-style mission, like Following, Memento or Insomnia. They're about big ideas, minutely detailed and imposing landscapes, and characters always thinking three steps ahead, yet they're prone to critical missteps due to their own resolve. This is not a bad thing by any means, but I think his filmography has grown increasingly cold of emotions due to Nolan's escalating inclination to high-tech action. There's not a lot of room for emotional vulnerabilities in the middle of intense shootouts and cryptic conspiracies, is what I'm saying.

But then Interstellar came along. In Matthew McConaughey, he's found that emotional resonance that once seemed so distant. The man's great at showing regret, humility and fatherly love mixed with the trademark Nolan resolve. It's the first of his movies I can consider as being warm, with a beating, tearful heart, making me laugh and... yeah, cry at the spiritual cost of it. Yet at the same time Nolan tries something new, he improves on what he's already achieved: Interstellar's without a doubt his most visually singular film to date. It's leagues ahead of Inception, so much so that I felt at times that this is what that movie should've been conceptually. Musically is the same thing: Hans Zimmer deserves an standing ovation for his extremely in-the-face-of-God epic score, in which the organ stars with a chilling, awe-inspiring presence.

But that said, we've still got some rough edges, albeit minor ones. For a film as deep into science as this one, I felt this was a bit clumsy on exposition, especially when characters had to deal with the metaphysics of it all. It felt like if they were trying to make some scientific sense out of Tree of Life, paralleling to a needless length love and destiny with black holes and quantum data. It doesn't work very well, coming across as a bit ham-fisted, but that's the one thing that fails here. Everything else here is a success. Don't skip this voyage.

Up next is Rodrigo Sepúlveda's Aurora. Remember SANFIC from last time? They had a film competition going on, parallel to their many different showcases like world cinema, docs, shorts, classics, and the like. This year, Aurora turned out to be the winner, so let's check it out.

Amparo Noguera plays Sofía, a married woman who works as a teacher to small kids in a very small and cold industrial port town. She and her husband have been trying to adopt a child for a while, but they've been unsuccessful so far, and the frustration's kinda getting to them. The procedure's becoming too tasking and strict to see any chance develop... but they're not giving up. Especially Sofía, who gets immediately inspired after reading the newspaper one morning.

The headlines tell about a dead baby found at the local dumping ground. It's completely unidentifiable. She goes to the local autopsy facility, hoping to see the dead baby herself, but since she's unrelated to it, they send her to visit the judge overseeing the investigation to see if she could gain authorization to see it. Her goal is to adopt the dead baby – an ambition nearly everyone around her questions what's the point of it. She replies saying she feels that baby could've been her own adopted child, so she'll make sure that baby gets a decent, catholic burial so it's got own place in the world to be remembered and cared for. And she'll start her mission by insisting everyone to stop calling her “the body” or “it” in favor of “her” and “Aurora”.

When I saw the trailer I thought this would be a tough sell. Not that's it gruesome or gory (we never see the dead baby up close, thank God), but it never seemed to properly answer what's, well, the point in adopting a dead baby, while Sofía's resolve made it look like she was going on a quirky, comedic thing. The film turned out to be a different beast, however. Sofía was essentially shown as a broken human being, clinging on a fruitless ideal out of sheer desperation. The minute she learns about the dead baby she goes “she could be mine” and does everything she can to make sure that happens – at the cost of her own job and reputation, putting strains on her marriage. But for as likable and charming her ideal might be, Sofía's clearly not making her goal any less creepy herself. You may excuse (somehow) the way she lovingly frames a photo of an Aurora mid-eaten by scavenging birds, or how she very much dumpster-dives looking for other dead babies – while kids watched; but my biggest problem with her came from a less graphically morbid scene: one day, while traveling on a bus, she notices a young girl coming out of work. Sofía tells her husband she thinks that girl is Aurora's mother. And then proceeds to find her once again, … to who knows what ends. Indeed, … she can't pinpoint it, but just something in that girl's face screamed “I murdered my own child”. Get out of here.

And what's worse is that there is a solid basis for her mission here. The focus will gradually shift into how wrong a law system must be where a child's death can be easily forgotten only because she's anonymous. And what's more, there'll be a character that will easily relate to Sofía's goal because she honestly relates to it – not gonna spoil it, since her angle's a good one. Still, it might as well could've been about how tough adopting a live child is, yet why would it be harder to get a dead one no one's claiming. But it never goes there, and these characters are of a saint-like patience to deal with her stubbornness, giving in because they won't bother to say “no” or “why”. You can guess that with such an attitude, she'll get her way and Aurora will be hers, but the ending won't just make it all sappy with an spontaneous crowd to see her burial, but you'll get the unavoidable feeling this was all a bit of a meaningless endeavor. Not because she's done this all for a dead, unrelated baby, but because of Sofía herself. I'll leave it at that. I didn't like it.

Let's walk away from that into something far more easy to interpret, no matter if it's a silent film about bugs. From France/Belgium, we get Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo's Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants. Though silent in speech, it's not entirely mute, as characters express themselves through whistles and hums – yet I feel the biggest novelty factor in this movie is how it's built around real life scenery and props, mixing cartoony characters with live action environments. The end result is uniquely cute, but how did it turn out? What is it about?

We focus on a tiny ladybug from birth, who gets separated from its family after losing a wing, forcing it to crawl around for the time being. The ladybug stumbles on an abandoned picnic, crowded with bugs trying to seize every bit of food out of the tablecloth. The ladybug hides inside a tin box filled with sugar cubes, but becomes a stowaway when the black ants take the box for themselves. It doesn't take long until they realize they're bringing one more, but after a close call, they'll be cool with the ladybug, which will then tag along with them. But soon they'll meet the red ants – and they're up to no good. So “no good”, that things will escalate into a blown-out war between antkind.

And that's about it. While it's a pretty easy-to-take film at 89 minutes... this could've been a short – or at least, a shorter feature film. Or I don't know, maybe something could've been rewritten to make a more optimal use of time? Because for a large chunk of the film you're not sure what you're actually watching, in more ways than one. Narratively, the ladybug's barely needed. Through and through, this is a story about the black ants vs. the red ants, and once the ladybug meets the black ants, it'll be a long, long while until the ladybug's ever needed again. I mean, the subtitle of the film is “Valley of the Lost Ants”. Ants, not ladybugs. And while we're at it, nothing really made me feel they were actually lost, either. I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't because the film begins and ends with the ladybug – and it's the only character that gets some sort of development, personal challenges, and even, its own side-stories. It's a lead that doesn't feel like one.

And visually, I've already mentioned how unique it is, like an animation project made with augmented reality. But being honest, it's a hit-or-miss. The bugs all look cute and distinct enough so you can clearly tell which kind of insect is which, but look at the movie's title again. “Minuscule”. They're tiny. So, so very tiny. Unless the camera's really up close, or there's a bunch of bugs on-screen, it's hard to tell they're actually animated. You're looking at waving, hovering dots. Not helping either is the fact that for as nicely made these bugs are, they still look like CGI. Shots in motion and/or with lots of background movement will look kinda awful because the styles will never blend: the character designs are too simplistic to allow a realistic interaction with nature.

But both ends will find some improvement around act three, as the black ants face off a massive red ant attack. If you thought the movie was a bit too hard to read because it's silent and it's got characters too tiny for readable body expressions, everything will become crystal clear thanks to the universal language of violence. It's an all-out raid, like if Peter Jackson had a terrarium when he was 10 years old, complete with their own version of weapons of mass destruction. It comes across as a bit of a dark jolt that gets you out of nowhere, but it'll bee a good change of pace, regardless. Anyways, I could easily recommend this movie to parents of young kids because of its pure, unpolluted charm... but other audiences might be looking for something more polished.

It's finally time for me to complete 2013's Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language film with Rithy Panh's The Missing Picture from Cambodia. It was the one movie I couldn't see in time earlier this year.

This movie marks the second time in at least a decade (I really don't have the time to research the subject, sorry) an experimental documentary gets nominated at the Oscars after Ari Folman's Israel hopeful Waltz with Bashir. This time around, Rithy Panh dives deep into his memories as a kid growing up on the hell on Earth known as the Democratic Kampuchea, when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia to then control the people into forced labour so the country could become an agrarian utopia; which led to widespread famine, disease, and death.

But as the title implies, there's a missing picture about all this. Communists regimes like the Khmer Rouge are all about propaganda, both to control the masses and to convince the foreigners. The party made a handful of films depicting the factory line-like working conditions of the Cambodian citizens, aiming to show them productive and hopeful; yet the truth, as mentioned, was quite the opposite, so they wouldn't record or document any of that so their image would be as pristine as possible, and they wouldn't tolerate anyone trying that, too.

So, how would you make a documentary out of the undocumented?

Panh staged several dioramas, finely and supremely detailed all of them, and placed clay figures representing him, his family, and all the Cambodians involved. He'd compensate a visual void with his craftsmanship and his own words, recreating scenes from his own teenage years in the midst of it all, seeing his beloved ones slowly but painfully wither to death. But as mentioned, with this, he would only compensate. He's not trying to fill or replace the void, as he still urges for pieces of documented truth to be found.

Just like Waltz with Bashir, I felt I couldn't properly label this film as simply a documentary. It simply strays too far away from convention. That's a great thing, nevertheless, especially considering the severe absence of everything of its themes. It allows Panh to be extremely personal with a collective subject matter. Not only it's his own testimony, but it's his own artistry, his own visuals and prose at work. He'd be as honest as he must be.

Panh's models and narration will show it all in its desperation and powerlessness. The clay figurines may come across as an odd choice to tell a story, but it doesn't take much for them to settle and be convincing. Panh's characters sculpted with a haunting attention – they're not overly, realistically detailed like the sets, but they have the precise dents and shapes to get their emotions across in a haunting fashion, without ever feeling like a cartoony euphemism. The end result will be a solemnly fiery one, especially thanks to Panh's choice to not animate a single character and to keep a soft-spoken tone of voice throughout the film: through a total composure he's able to show his take without letting emotions cloud his judgement – without leaving him stuck to devote in just the worst, most graphics pieces of his youth. He'll show it all, from whatever escapisms he had, to the sheer, unforgiving reality around him, without ever getting stuck too much in one aspect. It's a sensational, challenging and rewarding piece of cinema you should experience – no matter if you don't know anything about Cambodia, or even sculpting.

It's finally here, kids. Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. The new “it” franchise for young adults, one particularly starry from top to bottom, is giving the first step of its final two. You know the drill: there may be some spoilers going on here, so tread in carefully if you don't want to know.

The movie starts a while later after the ending of Catching Fire. The Quarter Quell Games were abruptly ended when Katniss shut down the coliseum's force field, leaving everything in chaos ever since. She was rescued from the collapsing mess by the District 12 resistance movement, but ultimately she was separated from her teammate Peeta – a fact she's not taking well. While hidden in what used to be District 13, her superiors want her to be the face of the revolt, so she can inspire the masses to fight against the Capitol, and put an end to their reign (and with that, the Games) once and for all. I'll leave it at that.

So, what's my story with the Hunger Games so far? I thought the first one was pretty decent. It took some serious chances everywhere: the décors and fabrics were sensationally outrageous, the action and violence were unflinchingly dark, and the performances were, for the most part, deep in the thick of it all. Catching Fire... I still think it's got A+ craftsmanship and B+ performances. But I thought it was a tiring, long-winded letdown. A slow pace, a forcefully imposed love triangle, and too many plot holes to count. But you know, Hunger Games, man! When will we ever get something like this again, something that's this popular being this dystopian? Gotta love the effort, no matter what. That said, Mockingjay – Part 1 is without a doubt the worst one so far.

Hear me out. I still love the performances – well, love may be a bit too much this time around. I thought they were fine. Competent. It's just that nobody, not even Katniss, does much in this movie. There are next to no action scenes, and she doesn't have any goals to personally see through. She just sits this one out and lets her bosses – and the people of Panem – do the work.

Not only the action's gone, but so are the costume designs and the intricate set decoration. District 13's a cold, grey complex with nothing but uniforms. Long gone are her cool hunting jackets and her Girl on Fire dresses – but still, I'm not saying that they should've been here in the first place. If this story mustn't include them, so be it, but you know, unless you can find creative ways to make up for it, it's gonna be a bland, boring movie to watch. Nothing here is as iconic as whatever the first two movies had in store – except, maybe, a small tune Katniss sings that soon becomes a sort of “Do You Hear The People Sing?” for the people of Panem. That's probably the one thing that audiences will salvage from here.

So. I don't have much else to say about it. But still, what's up with these “Part 1” movies being supreme non-starters? Harry Potter... they were just camping it out. The Hobbit... they were “getting there”, at a snail's pace. Didn't see Twilight, but I don't expect that one to be the savior of the Parts 1. Shortly after I saw Mockingjay, I spoke with a friend who had read the book and wanted to know where the movie ended. According to his estimations, the film doesn't even reach half of it. I don't think I'll ever pick up the book, but I can certainly imagine that, because not a whole lot goes on here. This movie should be the last nail on the coffin to final movies Parts 1 & 2, as the inactivity here is simply blatant and inexcusable when faced against everything that happened before – especially for something as vibrant yet as intensely dark as Hunger Games.

So, you thought Interstellar was gonna be the only Oscar hopeful to talk about black holes? Not while James Marsh's The Theory of Everything is around! Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, it tells the biographical account of Stephen and Jane Hawking, from their Oxford years and his turn for the medical worse, to basically today. But don't think it's a movie heavy on theories and equations (you know, like Interstellar): it's more about the romantic wavelengths between them through the years, as his scientific advances are becoming increasingly more far-reaching and revolutionary while his body keeps making the simplest actions more and more challenging to himself and his family. They go through shades of admiration, affection, necessity, determination, and truth.

And there's not much else to say about its plot, honestly. I mean, it's not bad by any means, but it's not deep or enlightening. Theories are breezed through, and key chapters are skimmed. It's a movie in a bit of a hurry – but looking it from a bright side, it at least means it's not boring. It keeps a decent pace, never staying for too long in one dull place. But... you know. It's Stephen Hawking. All his musings, all those studies – I just wanted to see where did they come from, and how he came to his conclusions. If you're a fan of his and want to get some sort of mind-blowing Neil DeGrasse Tyson-like experience out of this movie, you'll be largely out of luck. Some science is explained here, but nothing like, say, Interstellar's explanation of worm holes.

But that's not what this movie is about, and that's fine. It's about Stephen and Jane Hawking. How they met, how they lived together, how they view each other – a story of a married couple. Then again, the movie's a bit too much of a Greatest Hits film. They meet, they're in love. She finds out about his disease and life expectancy. They marry. Then the kids come around and so on. It focuses more on the cute side of their relationship than the impact of its complications. It's not a movie of subtleties – I mean, in the first act the lensing and the art direction felt almost devoted to spotlighting the random normal things that screamed “science!” while Hawking was around: that one inverted tile in a glass wall at a bar, refracting light, showing things upside-down. The milk added to a cup of coffee, spiraling while it's getting mixed. Some circular stairs, going upwards, resembling a golden ratio. It would be like if someone in The Social Network approached Zuck while he was making Facebook and told him “I like it” with a thumbs-up. It just takes you out of the picture.

However, for as vanilla as the movie is... it's legitimately inspired in some areas. The music by Jóhann Jóhannsson is a serene mixture of precision and emotion. It's rousing and moving without ever coming across as excessive or intrusive – or even, repetitive. It's a great listen.

And then there's Eddie. There was Eddie, indeed. He is simply amazing as Stephen Hawking. His performance is akin to a ballet in difficulty, because, even if it's not as visually gracious, it's still quite a feat of muscle tension, movement, posture, and voice, all to match his physical state. Redmayne simply vanishes from the film and becomes him, adjusting and mastering the motions of each stage of his condition. He's perfect. He's so perfect that, for as much crap I said about this movie and its problems, I'm more than willing to admit I'd recommend it on his performance alone. He's equally captivating and mesmerizing. Give it a watch and see for yourself.

But that said, Redmayne's a single piece of greatness in an okay film. I've got plenty of other films to see, but as of now, he'd be my first choice for the Best Actor Oscar. Time will tell, though.

From a scientific genius, we now go to a different kind of genius. A genious of opinion. It's Steve James's Life Itself, a documentary detailing the life and career of famed film critic Roger Ebert. Rather than spending a couple of hours examining his prose, it's, as the title suggests, a film about a life. From his humble origins to his Pulitzer-winning fame, and then his time as a TV personality with Gene Siskel, to his very last days alive in 2013.

Movies about the movies tend to be a bit indulgent with the meta side of things. They'll play with format and framings in order for you to be more aware of the film's presentation, or they'll shower you with references and cameos and name-drops (and to some, the obscurer they are, the better). Something like a movie about Roger Ebert – a movie about someone who's seen a dozen's libraries's worth of films – could've easily fallen into that in careless or uncaring hands. Like, making endless jokes about “two thumbs up!” or something like that, cue to a Top 10 best Siskel & Ebert moments, and, I dunno, talk about the Brown Bunny incident or something. Not here, though. Not by a mile.

It's actually kind of conventional overall. It starts with a collage of photos from his childhood, his teenage years and his work place, all looking like a wedding video. I'm not gonna lie, it's a bit on the boring side of things, but that's actually hiding the actual tone the movie will get, because it's not going to remain nostalgic for long. It won't bother with the pretension of cross-reference, but it'll be as honest as it can be about the man and his work. It'll show the pains of his vices, his solitude, his pride, his losses, and his medical condition at the later stages of his life. It's all a side of Ebert I don't think most of us have ever seen – let alone, in some instances, guess he could've ever been involved.

But all that darkness will be put against the undeniable passion he had for writing and expressing his view on things. View on things overall – not just film, but also a number of other subjects, like social affairs, art, cooking, travel, a whole spectrum of thoughts. And with this in mind, the movie will also show Ebert's reach, highlighting some instances where Ebert's opinion on a little-seen film got an unexpected, positive outcome for its author. Like a critic itself, the movie will always be as honest as it can be, but it'll be so out of passion and devotion to the matter at hand. Just like Ebert was highly emotional, taking things really personal when it came to film, Steve James does the same when it comes to making a movie about Ebert himself.

He won't bother with fancy techniques or showing what Ebert thought of every movie he ever saw. He'll simply show things the way they were. It won't make for a challenging, unique documentary like The Missing Picture, sure, but man, the way it'll get you it's something else. Slowly but surely I found myself tearing up at the end of it, in awe of his unyielding passion despite the odds, which at times were simply punishing. But it's for that same reason that the fruits of his passion are all the more worthwhile – and I'm not talking about physical accolades like a Pulitzer Prize.

At this point, the movie will also deal on certain offbeat bits in Ebert's work and life, but it's all mostly as if they were minor facts. His stint as a screenwriter, his Pulitzer, his first time on TV – things you would think should be major milestones. But that's not the sort of movie it's trying to be. It's as if it's telling you that if you want that sort of movie, you're better off reading Ebert's Wikipedia entry, because this something from the bottom of someone's heart. Check it out.

James Galdofini's final film arrived: it's Michaël R. Roskam's The Drop, a NY crime drama starring Tom Hardy as Bob, a simple, generous bartender at the bar run by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini), although his working place's actually a spot used by the local mafia gangs to launder money. One night, a couple of masked thieves rob them the money they were safekeeping, leaving them doubly vulnerable. The cops could find out about the true nature of his bar, and the gangsters that actually own Marv's bar – a Chechen mafia, precisely – just want their money back without alerting the police. Both Bob and Marv are just trying to get by all of this, without making too much of a fuzz... but...

Yeah, there's a bit of a conspiracy going on here. Sadly, it doesn't feel like it was exploited enough. It's a movie too quiet for its own sake, bordering on generic and the boringly inactive. I don't know if it's because the money they're talking about isn't really a whole lot (they seem to procure it just fine), but you know, something could've been done about that fact. About it being over not a whole lot of money, and the lengths they're willing to go to see themselves just a bit richer. Fargo was masterful at that. This movie, however, feels uninspired.

There's a sub-plot going on here about Bob finding a beaten puppy in a trash can. He soon befriends Noomi Rapace's character, Nadia, as she helps him taking care of the little thing – a responsibility Bob keeps throwing out of proportion. It'll spice things a bit, suggesting a possible love affair between them, but before any of that happens, the past returns to haunt them. After all, someone must've left that pup in such a state, and as they say, a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.

Maybe the movie could've been about Bob, Nadia, and the dog (that's not a bad name for a movie, now that I think about it), disregarding completely the bar story. The film begins with a brief explanation on how “drop bars” work: how they're a thing that just happen and you just don't know when they'll happen and between whom. How all they know is that it's something illicit. The “drop bar” aspect here isn't really taken much advantage: there's only one bar in this entire movie, and that's Marv's – and by act two, the movie's focus's shifts to the dog and his previous owner. And honestly, the stakes and risks of the dog situation seemed way higher than those of Marv's bars and his Chechen higher-ups – and people died in that story!

I dunno. Probably it was because Hardy seemed to care way more about his dog than he did care over some money. And that's fine and appropiate to his character. But Gandolfini's somewhere else: he's not looking at the conspiracy from the same point of view as Hardy. That said, his input here is individual and, once it's all said and done, minimal. Everything seems too out of reach for him, and that's not a defect on his acting: that's his character, and he's slowly accepting that. That said, and just like in Killing Them Softly, his participation's minimized by his own sense of defeat. But I'll say that he's far more involved here than he was in Dominik's film.

Still, the acting here is fine: Hardy delivers an unusual performance from him, far removed from what Nolan's visions, being very shy and thoughtful, but with an unwavering determination, and above all, sincerity. Gandolfini's alright too, but I don't think he's given too much room to flex with this character – a bit of a shame considering it's his final film, but at least he leaves us gracefully, all things considered. John Ortiz's character, a detective, comes across as being supremely tactless though. He'd be the weakest link here, but overall, this movie's not a terribly sturdy one.

Then it's Jon Michael McDonagh's Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson, who also starred in his debut, The Guard, back in 2011.

His second feature tells the story of Father James, a good-natured and trustworthy priest giving service in a small Irish town. He's a man of diligence and integrity, but also, in Catholic terms, a quite unorthodox shepherd. He's confrontational but not conflictive: he'll tackle matters head on, very much aware of how things really are, calling a spade a spade, proudly dodging any stereotypes anyone has on clergy men – he's even a parent himself, no less, having been married, fathered a kid, and become a widow before choosing devoting to God.

But none of that matters. One day, he's at a confessional. A man tells him he was endlessly raped by a priest when he was a kid. As a revenge to the Catholic Church (since his rapist was already dead), he'll kill a good priest – he's gonna kill Father James. In his own words, it'd be way more painful for the Church to have a good priest killed than a bad one who's actually deserving of punishment. But he'll kill him the next Sunday... so... yeah. Do your things, make your peaces. See you then, take care. Bye.

And the movie is a day-by-day account on Father James's life, as Sunday approaches and he's unsure of what to make of this man's threat, and his own community isn't making his week any easier.

I think it's a fantastic premise. So much has been said about the Church and its stance on pederasty, and this is a nice flip of the table on the subject. A conspiracy purely, nearly strictly so, of revenge. Doesn't matter who it is, something must be done to set things right – even if the act itself is just as wrong. “Who would want to kill a priest on a Sunday?”, the movie's poster asked, and the opening scene furiously repeats that question, and once you get to know the man, the intensity it only gets louder.

Brendan Gleeson is great as Father James – he may very well be even better than he was in The Guard. He's an legitimately good man, a man you'd be happy to have around. He also comes across as the perfect man to be a priest, having felt the joys of parenthood and the horrors of vices, he's not one who'll be condescending to those in need, nor he'll have any patience to those who openly mock and trivialize his duties, or even common decency. He's kind, but not to mess with. The film's serves as a great character study, jumping from conversation point to conversation point, giving Gleeson a wide array of persons and themes to tackle, and he's flexible enough to not treat them all like they're all the same. He acts very contextually, knowing each of his interviewees by name and procedence.

However, the screenplay isn't helping much, leaving Gleeson to drive the movie very much by himself. Much like The Guard, this is a movie that feels somewhat overwritten by someone with a clear affinity for, you know, writing. It feels too verbose, nearly unrealistically so, and the week will feel like a bit of a slog after you realize it's only Tuesday. It never reaches the easy naturalism of a Linklater film, but it doesn't feel like it's trying to: it's constantly putting Father James against a cruel, immoral world – a world where humility and reservation are the only words missing in everyone's vocabulary. I'd like the movie better had it toned it down a bit with the verbiage, but as it is, it's worth a watch if only for Gleeson. He's great.

I kinda feel bad when thinking about this one. The first time I saw anything of it I was with a friend and it was a trailer placed ahead of Book of Life. It wasn't a great trailer – it made it look like something loud and, lacking better words, scatological. Inclined to gross humor. That movie was Paul King's Paddington. We threw nearly every smarmy joke we could've think of. And then we saw Book of Life – a movie we were both looking for, and... it was disappointing.

A couple of months later, this movie arrives. And it's the biggest shut-the-fuck-up I've had in years. This movie is an endless source of charm, sincerity, and joy. It's lovely and heartfelt. It feels old and classical, yet in reality, it's ageless. But what's it about?

Based on the books by Michael Bond, it tells the story of a young bear from Peru. A long time ago, his family met – or rather, were discovered by – an English explorer. He was fascinated with his intelligence and civility, and by the fact they could talk. He told them that whenever they visited London, he would make them feel like they right were at home. Many years pass since then, and a sudden event forces the young bear to travel to London by himself to find himself a home and a family who'll take care of him, always following the advice and promise the explorer gave them all those years ago. He's found – and named Paddington – by the Browns, a family that's very much all over the place. However, the father doesn't like the idea of having a bear at home; while Paddington himself is doing his best to adapt to these new human customs, rules, and tools. Still, things won't get any easier when we learn someone's actually after Paddington for nefarious reasons.

I gotta say something, beforehand: I didn't read the books. The first thing I thought upon seeing this trailer is that all this could've been more terrible if Paddington actually spoke, making it all like some sort of Alvin & the Chipmunks kind of movie. “I'm a bear but I'm on Facebook!”, that sort of thing. When I saw them talking – and talking very human-like -- I thought... “oh no”.

But this movie's far from that. It keeps loyal to the audience by not falling into pandering, and loyal to itself by keeping a tone and sentiment consistent throughout the film. I love how nonchalant everyone is here: no one is really surprised or shocked over the fact that there's a bear walking around London, talking to them, asking for directions and such. The scene he meets the Browns left me giggling for a good while just because of that. They very casually pass by him, with Hugh Bonneville's choice of words accentuating the natural oddity of it all so well.

And that's something so great about the characters themselves, too: there are no two characters alike in this movie and all of them clash and friction so well against each other. They're all going somewhere, they're all after something. The characters are simple on paper but they're so devoted to their own little worlds that whenever they see they're at risk, they go all out about it. It's hilarious, and all performed more sweetly elegant than you'd think. It's a great cast.

Such explosive simplicity also translates to the production design and the editing, acting as extensions of the characters themselves. They're straight-forward to the point of feeling one-dimensional, yet they win you with richness and liveliness. Each room and shot is made specifically – nearly exclusively -- to the service of the character inhabiting them, resulting in all of them having a signature to themselves. Same can be said about the music, a charming arrangement of curiosity and wonder. Doesn't matter if you're a parent or not: just give it a watch.

:#1: That's it for now! Stay healthy, guys!

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.

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Yeah, I've been away for over a month. I've been quite busy, but I've finished my (major) duties, so I suppose I'm free to update more consistently now. Let's make sure that happens! In any case, I still had the spare time to watch a movie every now and then, so how were they?

Let's start big, with one of my most anticipated movies all year: Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. He's the man behind my favorite film of all time, Memento, so every year he's got something new is a pretty special year for me. However, his last effort, The Dark Knight Rises, all things considered, left me somewhat cold. Enough to make me eager to check out something new from him wasn't related to Batman or superheroes. What do we got now? Caution: this may contain spoilers.

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a former engineer, currently a farmer. His experience and knowledge in technology and piloting are very well regarded, but they're not longer needed as the planet Earth is decaying with endless dust storms, and rapidly dwindling food sources. We don't know what's really causing all this, but Cooper found out something which will launch him into a do-or-die mission to save the world population by traveling through a nearby worm-hole towards a system in a galaxy far away, which houses a handful of planets humans could make their new home.

But it's not so easy. We're talking about a journey of immeasurable distance, one of warping times, meaning we'll see the Theory of Relativity in effect. In Cooper's eyes, he'll be gone for a while, but on Earth, years and decades will pass until his return – or they get to hear from him again. Cooper's kids will live an entire lifetime in the span of what he perceives is an hour. Upon this, and once in space, he'll feel conflicted by two rushes: the rush of finding a suitable planet before it's too late for us on Earth, and the rush of doing things as efficiently as possible so he can return to his kids while they're still around. A collective need against an individual need.

I think this movie, if anything, is a triumph of ambition. Nolan's not longer making character study movies about this one guy in a noir-style mission, like Following, Memento or Insomnia. They're about big ideas, minutely detailed and imposing landscapes, and characters always thinking three steps ahead, yet they're prone to critical missteps due to their own resolve. This is not a bad thing by any means, but I think his filmography has grown increasingly cold of emotions due to Nolan's escalating inclination to high-tech action. There's not a lot of room for emotional vulnerabilities in the middle of intense shootouts and cryptic conspiracies, is what I'm saying.

But then Interstellar came along. In Matthew McConaughey, he's found that emotional resonance that once seemed so distant. The man's great at showing regret, humility and fatherly love mixed with the trademark Nolan resolve. It's the first of his movies I can consider as being warm, with a beating, tearful heart, making me laugh and... yeah, cry at the spiritual cost of it. Yet at the same time Nolan tries something new, he improves on what he's already achieved: Interstellar's without a doubt his most visually singular film to date. It's leagues ahead of Inception, so much so that I felt at times that this is what that movie should've been conceptually. Musically is the same thing: Hans Zimmer deserves an standing ovation for his extremely in-the-face-of-God epic score, in which the organ stars with a chilling, awe-inspiring presence.

But that said, we've still got some rough edges, albeit minor ones. For a film as deep into science as this one, I felt this was a bit clumsy on exposition, especially when characters had to deal with the metaphysics of it all. It felt like if they were trying to make some scientific sense out of Tree of Life, paralleling to a needless length love and destiny with black holes and quantum data. It doesn't work very well, coming across as a bit ham-fisted, but that's the one thing that fails here. Everything else here is a success. Don't skip this voyage.

Up next is Rodrigo Sepúlveda's Aurora. Remember SANFIC from last time? They had a film competition going on, parallel to their many different showcases like world cinema, docs, shorts, classics, and the like. This year, Aurora turned out to be the winner, so let's check it out.

Amparo Noguera plays Sofía, a married woman who works as a teacher to small kids in a very small and cold industrial port town. She and her husband have been trying to adopt a child for a while, but they've been unsuccessful so far, and the frustration's kinda getting to them. The procedure's becoming too tasking and strict to see any chance develop... but they're not giving up. Especially Sofía, who gets immediately inspired after reading the newspaper one morning.

The headlines tell about a dead baby found at the local dumping ground. It's completely unidentifiable. She goes to the local autopsy facility, hoping to see the dead baby herself, but since she's unrelated to it, they send her to visit the judge overseeing the investigation to see if she could gain authorization to see it. Her goal is to adopt the dead baby – an ambition nearly everyone around her questions what's the point of it. She replies saying she feels that baby could've been her own adopted child, so she'll make sure that baby gets a decent, catholic burial so it's got own place in the world to be remembered and cared for. And she'll start her mission by insisting everyone to stop calling her “the body” or “it” in favor of “her” and “Aurora”.

When I saw the trailer I thought this would be a tough sell. Not that's it gruesome or gory (we never see the dead baby up close, thank God), but it never seemed to properly answer what's, well, the point in adopting a dead baby, while Sofía's resolve made it look like she was going on a quirky, comedic thing. The film turned out to be a different beast, however. Sofía was essentially shown as a broken human being, clinging on a fruitless ideal out of sheer desperation. The minute she learns about the dead baby she goes “she could be mine” and does everything she can to make sure that happens – at the cost of her own job and reputation, putting strains on her marriage. But for as likable and charming her ideal might be, Sofía's clearly not making her goal any less creepy herself. You may excuse (somehow) the way she lovingly frames a photo of an Aurora mid-eaten by scavenging birds, or how she very much dumpster-dives looking for other dead babies – while kids watched; but my biggest problem with her came from a less graphically morbid scene: one day, while traveling on a bus, she notices a young girl coming out of work. Sofía tells her husband she thinks that girl is Aurora's mother. And then proceeds to find her once again, … to who knows what ends. Indeed, … she can't pinpoint it, but just something in that girl's face screamed “I murdered my own child”. Get out of here.

And what's worse is that there is a solid basis for her mission here. The focus will gradually shift into how wrong a law system must be where a child's death can be easily forgotten only because she's anonymous. And what's more, there'll be a character that will easily relate to Sofía's goal because she honestly relates to it – not gonna spoil it, since her angle's a good one. Still, it might as well could've been about how tough adopting a live child is, yet why would it be harder to get a dead one no one's claiming. But it never goes there, and these characters are of a saint-like patience to deal with her stubbornness, giving in because they won't bother to say “no” or “why”. You can guess that with such an attitude, she'll get her way and Aurora will be hers, but the ending won't just make it all sappy with an spontaneous crowd to see her burial, but you'll get the unavoidable feeling this was all a bit of a meaningless endeavor. Not because she's done this all for a dead, unrelated baby, but because of Sofía herself. I'll leave it at that. I didn't like it.

Let's walk away from that into something far more easy to interpret, no matter if it's a silent film about bugs. From France/Belgium, we get Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo's Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants. Though silent in speech, it's not entirely mute, as characters express themselves through whistles and hums – yet I feel the biggest novelty factor in this movie is how it's built around real life scenery and props, mixing cartoony characters with live action environments. The end result is uniquely cute, but how did it turn out? What is it about?

We focus on a tiny ladybug from birth, who gets separated from its family after losing a wing, forcing it to crawl around for the time being. The ladybug stumbles on an abandoned picnic, crowded with bugs trying to seize every bit of food out of the tablecloth. The ladybug hides inside a tin box filled with sugar cubes, but becomes a stowaway when the black ants take the box for themselves. It doesn't take long until they realize they're bringing one more, but after a close call, they'll be cool with the ladybug, which will then tag along with them. But soon they'll meet the red ants – and they're up to no good. So “no good”, that things will escalate into a blown-out war between antkind.

And that's about it. While it's a pretty easy-to-take film at 89 minutes... this could've been a short – or at least, a shorter feature film. Or I don't know, maybe something could've been rewritten to make a more optimal use of time? Because for a large chunk of the film you're not sure what you're actually watching, in more ways than one. Narratively, the ladybug's barely needed. Through and through, this is a story about the black ants vs. the red ants, and once the ladybug meets the black ants, it'll be a long, long while until the ladybug's ever needed again. I mean, the subtitle of the film is “Valley of the Lost Ants”. Ants, not ladybugs. And while we're at it, nothing really made me feel they were actually lost, either. I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't because the film begins and ends with the ladybug – and it's the only character that gets some sort of development, personal challenges, and even, its own side-stories. It's a lead that doesn't feel like one.

And visually, I've already mentioned how unique it is, like an animation project made with augmented reality. But being honest, it's a hit-or-miss. The bugs all look cute and distinct enough so you can clearly tell which kind of insect is which, but look at the movie's title again. “Minuscule”. They're tiny. So, so very tiny. Unless the camera's really up close, or there's a bunch of bugs on-screen, it's hard to tell they're actually animated. You're looking at waving, hovering dots. Not helping either is the fact that for as nicely made these bugs are, they still look like CGI. Shots in motion and/or with lots of background movement will look kinda awful because the styles will never blend: the character designs are too simplistic to allow a realistic interaction with nature.

But both ends will find some improvement around act three, as the black ants face off a massive red ant attack. If you thought the movie was a bit too hard to read because it's silent and it's got characters too tiny for readable body expressions, everything will become crystal clear thanks to the universal language of violence. It's an all-out raid, like if Peter Jackson had a terrarium when he was 10 years old, complete with their own version of weapons of mass destruction. It comes across as a bit of a dark jolt that gets you out of nowhere, but it'll bee a good change of pace, regardless. Anyways, I could easily recommend this movie to parents of young kids because of its pure, unpolluted charm... but other audiences might be looking for something more polished.

It's finally time for me to complete 2013's Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language film with Rithy Panh's The Missing Picture from Cambodia. It was the one movie I couldn't see in time earlier this year.

This movie marks the second time in at least a decade (I really don't have the time to research the subject, sorry) an experimental documentary gets nominated at the Oscars after Ari Folman's Israel hopeful Waltz with Bashir. This time around, Rithy Panh dives deep into his memories as a kid growing up on the hell on Earth known as the Democratic Kampuchea, when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia to then control the people into forced labour so the country could become an agrarian utopia; which led to widespread famine, disease, and death.

But as the title implies, there's a missing picture about all this. Communists regimes like the Khmer Rouge are all about propaganda, both to control the masses and to convince the foreigners. The party made a handful of films depicting the factory line-like working conditions of the Cambodian citizens, aiming to show them productive and hopeful; yet the truth, as mentioned, was quite the opposite, so they wouldn't record or document any of that so their image would be as pristine as possible, and they wouldn't tolerate anyone trying that, too.

So, how would you make a documentary out of the undocumented?

Panh staged several dioramas, finely and supremely detailed all of them, and placed clay figures representing him, his family, and all the Cambodians involved. He'd compensate a visual void with his craftsmanship and his own words, recreating scenes from his own teenage years in the midst of it all, seeing his beloved ones slowly but painfully wither to death. But as mentioned, with this, he would only compensate. He's not trying to fill or replace the void, as he still urges for pieces of documented truth to be found.

Just like Waltz with Bashir, I felt I couldn't properly label this film as simply a documentary. It simply strays too far away from convention. That's a great thing, nevertheless, especially considering the severe absence of everything of its themes. It allows Panh to be extremely personal with a collective subject matter. Not only it's his own testimony, but it's his own artistry, his own visuals and prose at work. He'd be as honest as he must be.

Panh's models and narration will show it all in its desperation and powerlessness. The clay figurines may come across as an odd choice to tell a story, but it doesn't take much for them to settle and be convincing. Panh's characters sculpted with a haunting attention – they're not overly, realistically detailed like the sets, but they have the precise dents and shapes to get their emotions across in a haunting fashion, without ever feeling like a cartoony euphemism. The end result will be a solemnly fiery one, especially thanks to Panh's choice to not animate a single character and to keep a soft-spoken tone of voice throughout the film: through a total composure he's able to show his take without letting emotions cloud his judgement – without leaving him stuck to devote in just the worst, most graphics pieces of his youth. He'll show it all, from whatever escapisms he had, to the sheer, unforgiving reality around him, without ever getting stuck too much in one aspect. It's a sensational, challenging and rewarding piece of cinema you should experience – no matter if you don't know anything about Cambodia, or even sculpting.

It's finally here, kids. Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. The new “it” franchise for young adults, one particularly starry from top to bottom, is giving the first step of its final two. You know the drill: there may be some spoilers going on here, so tread in carefully if you don't want to know.

The movie starts a while later after the ending of Catching Fire. The Quarter Quell Games were abruptly ended when Katniss shut down the coliseum's force field, leaving everything in chaos ever since. She was rescued from the collapsing mess by the District 12 resistance movement, but ultimately she was separated from her teammate Peeta – a fact she's not taking well. While hidden in what used to be District 13, her superiors want her to be the face of the revolt, so she can inspire the masses to fight against the Capitol, and put an end to their reign (and with that, the Games) once and for all. I'll leave it at that.

So, what's my story with the Hunger Games so far? I thought the first one was pretty decent. It took some serious chances everywhere: the décors and fabrics were sensationally outrageous, the action and violence were unflinchingly dark, and the performances were, for the most part, deep in the thick of it all. Catching Fire... I still think it's got A+ craftsmanship and B+ performances. But I thought it was a tiring, long-winded letdown. A slow pace, a forcefully imposed love triangle, and too many plot holes to count. But you know, Hunger Games, man! When will we ever get something like this again, something that's this popular being this dystopian? Gotta love the effort, no matter what. That said, Mockingjay – Part 1 is without a doubt the worst one so far.

Hear me out. I still love the performances – well, love may be a bit too much this time around. I thought they were fine. Competent. It's just that nobody, not even Katniss, does much in this movie. There are next to no action scenes, and she doesn't have any goals to personally see through. She just sits this one out and lets her bosses – and the people of Panem – do the work.

Not only the action's gone, but so are the costume designs and the intricate set decoration. District 13's a cold, grey complex with nothing but uniforms. Long gone are her cool hunting jackets and her Girl on Fire dresses – but still, I'm not saying that they should've been here in the first place. If this story mustn't include them, so be it, but you know, unless you can find creative ways to make up for it, it's gonna be a bland, boring movie to watch. Nothing here is as iconic as whatever the first two movies had in store – except, maybe, a small tune Katniss sings that soon becomes a sort of “Do You Hear The People Sing?” for the people of Panem. That's probably the one thing that audiences will salvage from here.

So. I don't have much else to say about it. But still, what's up with these “Part 1” movies being supreme non-starters? Harry Potter... they were just camping it out. The Hobbit... they were “getting there”, at a snail's pace. Didn't see Twilight, but I don't expect that one to be the savior of the Parts 1. Shortly after I saw Mockingjay, I spoke with a friend who had read the book and wanted to know where the movie ended. According to his estimations, the film doesn't even reach half of it. I don't think I'll ever pick up the book, but I can certainly imagine that, because not a whole lot goes on here. This movie should be the last nail on the coffin to final movies Parts 1 & 2, as the inactivity here is simply blatant and inexcusable when faced against everything that happened before – especially for something as vibrant yet as intensely dark as Hunger Games.

So, you thought Interstellar was gonna be the only Oscar hopeful to talk about black holes? Not while James Marsh's The Theory of Everything is around! Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, it tells the biographical account of Stephen and Jane Hawking, from their Oxford years and his turn for the medical worse, to basically today. But don't think it's a movie heavy on theories and equations (you know, like Interstellar): it's more about the romantic wavelengths between them through the years, as his scientific advances are becoming increasingly more far-reaching and revolutionary while his body keeps making the simplest actions more and more challenging to himself and his family. They go through shades of admiration, affection, necessity, determination, and truth.

And there's not much else to say about its plot, honestly. I mean, it's not bad by any means, but it's not deep or enlightening. Theories are breezed through, and key chapters are skimmed. It's a movie in a bit of a hurry – but looking it from a bright side, it at least means it's not boring. It keeps a decent pace, never staying for too long in one dull place. But... you know. It's Stephen Hawking. All his musings, all those studies – I just wanted to see where did they come from, and how he came to his conclusions. If you're a fan of his and want to get some sort of mind-blowing Neil DeGrasse Tyson-like experience out of this movie, you'll be largely out of luck. Some science is explained here, but nothing like, say, Interstellar's explanation of worm holes.

But that's not what this movie is about, and that's fine. It's about Stephen and Jane Hawking. How they met, how they lived together, how they view each other – a story of a married couple. Then again, the movie's a bit too much of a Greatest Hits film. They meet, they're in love. She finds out about his disease and life expectancy. They marry. Then the kids come around and so on. It focuses more on the cute side of their relationship than the impact of its complications. It's not a movie of subtleties – I mean, in the first act the lensing and the art direction felt almost devoted to spotlighting the random normal things that screamed “science!” while Hawking was around: that one inverted tile in a glass wall at a bar, refracting light, showing things upside-down. The milk added to a cup of coffee, spiraling while it's getting mixed. Some circular stairs, going upwards, resembling a golden ratio. It would be like if someone in The Social Network approached Zuck while he was making Facebook and told him “I like it” with a thumbs-up. It just takes you out of the picture.

However, for as vanilla as the movie is... it's legitimately inspired in some areas. The music by Jóhann Jóhannsson is a serene mixture of precision and emotion. It's rousing and moving without ever coming across as excessive or intrusive – or even, repetitive. It's a great listen.

And then there's Eddie. There was Eddie, indeed. He is simply amazing as Stephen Hawking. His performance is akin to a ballet in difficulty, because, even if it's not as visually gracious, it's still quite a feat of muscle tension, movement, posture, and voice, all to match his physical state. Redmayne simply vanishes from the film and becomes him, adjusting and mastering the motions of each stage of his condition. He's perfect. He's so perfect that, for as much crap I said about this movie and its problems, I'm more than willing to admit I'd recommend it on his performance alone. He's equally captivating and mesmerizing. Give it a watch and see for yourself.

But that said, Redmayne's a single piece of greatness in an okay film. I've got plenty of other films to see, but as of now, he'd be my first choice for the Best Actor Oscar. Time will tell, though.

From a scientific genius, we now go to a different kind of genius. A genious of opinion. It's Steve James's Life Itself, a documentary detailing the life and career of famed film critic Roger Ebert. Rather than spending a couple of hours examining his prose, it's, as the title suggests, a film about a life. From his humble origins to his Pulitzer-winning fame, and then his time as a TV personality with Gene Siskel, to his very last days alive in 2013.

Movies about the movies tend to be a bit indulgent with the meta side of things. They'll play with format and framings in order for you to be more aware of the film's presentation, or they'll shower you with references and cameos and name-drops (and to some, the obscurer they are, the better). Something like a movie about Roger Ebert – a movie about someone who's seen a dozen's libraries's worth of films – could've easily fallen into that in careless or uncaring hands. Like, making endless jokes about “two thumbs up!” or something like that, cue to a Top 10 best Siskel & Ebert moments, and, I dunno, talk about the Brown Bunny incident or something. Not here, though. Not by a mile.

It's actually kind of conventional overall. It starts with a collage of photos from his childhood, his teenage years and his work place, all looking like a wedding video. I'm not gonna lie, it's a bit on the boring side of things, but that's actually hiding the actual tone the movie will get, because it's not going to remain nostalgic for long. It won't bother with the pretension of cross-reference, but it'll be as honest as it can be about the man and his work. It'll show the pains of his vices, his solitude, his pride, his losses, and his medical condition at the later stages of his life. It's all a side of Ebert I don't think most of us have ever seen – let alone, in some instances, guess he could've ever been involved.

But all that darkness will be put against the undeniable passion he had for writing and expressing his view on things. View on things overall – not just film, but also a number of other subjects, like social affairs, art, cooking, travel, a whole spectrum of thoughts. And with this in mind, the movie will also show Ebert's reach, highlighting some instances where Ebert's opinion on a little-seen film got an unexpected, positive outcome for its author. Like a critic itself, the movie will always be as honest as it can be, but it'll be so out of passion and devotion to the matter at hand. Just like Ebert was highly emotional, taking things really personal when it came to film, Steve James does the same when it comes to making a movie about Ebert himself.

He won't bother with fancy techniques or showing what Ebert thought of every movie he ever saw. He'll simply show things the way they were. It won't make for a challenging, unique documentary like The Missing Picture, sure, but man, the way it'll get you it's something else. Slowly but surely I found myself tearing up at the end of it, in awe of his unyielding passion despite the odds, which at times were simply punishing. But it's for that same reason that the fruits of his passion are all the more worthwhile – and I'm not talking about physical accolades like a Pulitzer Prize.

At this point, the movie will also deal on certain offbeat bits in Ebert's work and life, but it's all mostly as if they were minor facts. His stint as a screenwriter, his Pulitzer, his first time on TV – things you would think should be major milestones. But that's not the sort of movie it's trying to be. It's as if it's telling you that if you want that sort of movie, you're better off reading Ebert's Wikipedia entry, because this something from the bottom of someone's heart. Check it out.

James Galdofini's final film arrived: it's Michaël R. Roskam's The Drop, a NY crime drama starring Tom Hardy as Bob, a simple, generous bartender at the bar run by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini), although his working place's actually a spot used by the local mafia gangs to launder money. One night, a couple of masked thieves rob them the money they were safekeeping, leaving them doubly vulnerable. The cops could find out about the true nature of his bar, and the gangsters that actually own Marv's bar – a Chechen mafia, precisely – just want their money back without alerting the police. Both Bob and Marv are just trying to get by all of this, without making too much of a fuzz... but...

Yeah, there's a bit of a conspiracy going on here. Sadly, it doesn't feel like it was exploited enough. It's a movie too quiet for its own sake, bordering on generic and the boringly inactive. I don't know if it's because the money they're talking about isn't really a whole lot (they seem to procure it just fine), but you know, something could've been done about that fact. About it being over not a whole lot of money, and the lengths they're willing to go to see themselves just a bit richer. Fargo was masterful at that. This movie, however, feels uninspired.

There's a sub-plot going on here about Bob finding a beaten puppy in a trash can. He soon befriends Noomi Rapace's character, Nadia, as she helps him taking care of the little thing – a responsibility Bob keeps throwing out of proportion. It'll spice things a bit, suggesting a possible love affair between them, but before any of that happens, the past returns to haunt them. After all, someone must've left that pup in such a state, and as they say, a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.

Maybe the movie could've been about Bob, Nadia, and the dog (that's not a bad name for a movie, now that I think about it), disregarding completely the bar story. The film begins with a brief explanation on how “drop bars” work: how they're a thing that just happen and you just don't know when they'll happen and between whom. How all they know is that it's something illicit. The “drop bar” aspect here isn't really taken much advantage: there's only one bar in this entire movie, and that's Marv's – and by act two, the movie's focus's shifts to the dog and his previous owner. And honestly, the stakes and risks of the dog situation seemed way higher than those of Marv's bars and his Chechen higher-ups – and people died in that story!

I dunno. Probably it was because Hardy seemed to care way more about his dog than he did care over some money. And that's fine and appropiate to his character. But Gandolfini's somewhere else: he's not looking at the conspiracy from the same point of view as Hardy. That said, his input here is individual and, once it's all said and done, minimal. Everything seems too out of reach for him, and that's not a defect on his acting: that's his character, and he's slowly accepting that. That said, and just like in Killing Them Softly, his participation's minimized by his own sense of defeat. But I'll say that he's far more involved here than he was in Dominik's film.

Still, the acting here is fine: Hardy delivers an unusual performance from him, far removed from what Nolan's visions, being very shy and thoughtful, but with an unwavering determination, and above all, sincerity. Gandolfini's alright too, but I don't think he's given too much room to flex with this character – a bit of a shame considering it's his final film, but at least he leaves us gracefully, all things considered. John Ortiz's character, a detective, comes across as being supremely tactless though. He'd be the weakest link here, but overall, this movie's not a terribly sturdy one.

Then it's Jon Michael McDonagh's Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson, who also starred in his debut, The Guard, back in 2011.

His second feature tells the story of Father James, a good-natured and trustworthy priest giving service in a small Irish town. He's a man of diligence and integrity, but also, in Catholic terms, a quite unorthodox shepherd. He's confrontational but not conflictive: he'll tackle matters head on, very much aware of how things really are, calling a spade a spade, proudly dodging any stereotypes anyone has on clergy men – he's even a parent himself, no less, having been married, fathered a kid, and become a widow before choosing devoting to God.

But none of that matters. One day, he's at a confessional. A man tells him he was endlessly raped by a priest when he was a kid. As a revenge to the Catholic Church (since his rapist was already dead), he'll kill a good priest – he's gonna kill Father James. In his own words, it'd be way more painful for the Church to have a good priest killed than a bad one who's actually deserving of punishment. But he'll kill him the next Sunday... so... yeah. Do your things, make your peaces. See you then, take care. Bye.

And the movie is a day-by-day account on Father James's life, as Sunday approaches and he's unsure of what to make of this man's threat, and his own community isn't making his week any easier.

I think it's a fantastic premise. So much has been said about the Church and its stance on pederasty, and this is a nice flip of the table on the subject. A conspiracy purely, nearly strictly so, of revenge. Doesn't matter who it is, something must be done to set things right – even if the act itself is just as wrong. “Who would want to kill a priest on a Sunday?”, the movie's poster asked, and the opening scene furiously repeats that question, and once you get to know the man, the intensity it only gets louder.

Brendan Gleeson is great as Father James – he may very well be even better than he was in The Guard. He's an legitimately good man, a man you'd be happy to have around. He also comes across as the perfect man to be a priest, having felt the joys of parenthood and the horrors of vices, he's not one who'll be condescending to those in need, nor he'll have any patience to those who openly mock and trivialize his duties, or even common decency. He's kind, but not to mess with. The film's serves as a great character study, jumping from conversation point to conversation point, giving Gleeson a wide array of persons and themes to tackle, and he's flexible enough to not treat them all like they're all the same. He acts very contextually, knowing each of his interviewees by name and procedence.

However, the screenplay isn't helping much, leaving Gleeson to drive the movie very much by himself. Much like The Guard, this is a movie that feels somewhat overwritten by someone with a clear affinity for, you know, writing. It feels too verbose, nearly unrealistically so, and the week will feel like a bit of a slog after you realize it's only Tuesday. It never reaches the easy naturalism of a Linklater film, but it doesn't feel like it's trying to: it's constantly putting Father James against a cruel, immoral world – a world where humility and reservation are the only words missing in everyone's vocabulary. I'd like the movie better had it toned it down a bit with the verbiage, but as it is, it's worth a watch if only for Gleeson. He's great.

I kinda feel bad when thinking about this one. The first time I saw anything of it I was with a friend and it was a trailer placed ahead of Book of Life. It wasn't a great trailer – it made it look like something loud and, lacking better words, scatological. Inclined to gross humor. That movie was Paul King's Paddington. We threw nearly every smarmy joke we could've think of. And then we saw Book of Life – a movie we were both looking for, and... it was disappointing.

A couple of months later, this movie arrives. And it's the biggest shut-the-fuck-up I've had in years. This movie is an endless source of charm, sincerity, and joy. It's lovely and heartfelt. It feels old and classical, yet in reality, it's ageless. But what's it about?

Based on the books by Michael Bond, it tells the story of a young bear from Peru. A long time ago, his family met – or rather, were discovered by – an English explorer. He was fascinated with his intelligence and civility, and by the fact they could talk. He told them that whenever they visited London, he would make them feel like they right were at home. Many years pass since then, and a sudden event forces the young bear to travel to London by himself to find himself a home and a family who'll take care of him, always following the advice and promise the explorer gave them all those years ago. He's found – and named Paddington – by the Browns, a family that's very much all over the place. However, the father doesn't like the idea of having a bear at home; while Paddington himself is doing his best to adapt to these new human customs, rules, and tools. Still, things won't get any easier when we learn someone's actually after Paddington for nefarious reasons.

I gotta say something, beforehand: I didn't read the books. The first thing I thought upon seeing this trailer is that all this could've been more terrible if Paddington actually spoke, making it all like some sort of Alvin & the Chipmunks kind of movie. “I'm a bear but I'm on Facebook!”, that sort of thing. When I saw them talking – and talking very human-like -- I thought... “oh no”.

But this movie's far from that. It keeps loyal to the audience by not falling into pandering, and loyal to itself by keeping a tone and sentiment consistent throughout the film. I love how nonchalant everyone is here: no one is really surprised or shocked over the fact that there's a bear walking around London, talking to them, asking for directions and such. The scene he meets the Browns left me giggling for a good while just because of that. They very casually pass by him, with Hugh Bonneville's choice of words accentuating the natural oddity of it all so well.

And that's something so great about the characters themselves, too: there are no two characters alike in this movie and all of them clash and friction so well against each other. They're all going somewhere, they're all after something. The characters are simple on paper but they're so devoted to their own little worlds that whenever they see they're at risk, they go all out about it. It's hilarious, and all performed more sweetly elegant than you'd think. It's a great cast.

Such explosive simplicity also translates to the production design and the editing, acting as extensions of the characters themselves. They're straight-forward to the point of feeling one-dimensional, yet they win you with richness and liveliness. Each room and shot is made specifically – nearly exclusively -- to the service of the character inhabiting them, resulting in all of them having a signature to themselves. Same can be said about the music, a charming arrangement of curiosity and wonder. Doesn't matter if you're a parent or not: just give it a watch.

:#1: That's it for now! Stay healthy, guys!

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OhNoAndrej
Andrés Rodríguez
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: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?
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: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.
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: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.
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:iconartemisiadark:
ArtemisiaDark Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
Thank you for the fav ! :thanks:
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:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
You're welcome! :#1: Best of luck!
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: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!
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: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.
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:iconwebcomicunderdogs:
WebcomicUnderdogs Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Hola, Underdog!
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:iconohnoandrej:
OhNoAndrej Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Hey! A big hola for all of you underdogs, too :D :#1:
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: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!
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