Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tomorrowland (2015)




I was telling last time that I had low expectations for "Mad Max". Well, it was the complete opposite for "Tomorrowland". Huge expectations. Of course, unfulfilled ... fortunately, not completely ...

Subject: Somewhere there exists "Tomorrowland" = a world created by enlightened minds, as a refuge from the world including the less enlightened minds ... although, at some point, there's a cohabitation plan for all minds ... anyway, complicated. In the end the thing are going bad and we get to the point where we need to "save the world(s)" ( finally, managed a spoiler free description ... hopefully :) )

What's nice in this movie (besides the parallel universe topic, which as time travel has a soft spot in my heart), is that the story has some depth. There's a developing metaphor throughout the movie with two wolves: dark & light, the one living being the one you feed. Unfortunately, the way this is introduced in the story comes from nowhere = contributes to the serious eye-rolling potential the movie has. However, if you're capable (or at least in the mood) to be less acid for two hours you can probably digest all the cliches. There's still left the problem with the target age, which doesn't really get along with the philosophical reflections the movie tries to induce. When you're about to think that something was "deep", you're hit with a cartoonish sequence. Stuff like robots with ultra-ironic or hyper-benevolent grimaces (among other examples). It's clear that we have the same director who did "The Incredibles" distributed by the same "Disney Pictures" ...

Despite all issues (did I mention the introduction that's longer than half the movie or the final that candidates to the tear jerking sequence of the year? ... seems I dropped the "spoiler free" tag :P), somehow the story itself is catchy enough, and even the wolves metaphor fits quite well ... Too bad though for the full result. It could've been much, much better ...

Rating: 3 out of 5



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)



I went with low expectations to the new "Mad Max". Because long long ago, when I've seen the other 3 I found them way too chaotic and boring (and that considering that I was at an age when movies with excess gunpowder were much more impressive for my eyes than they are now). The final thoughts now, after watching "Fury Road" are completely different ...

The trailer gives just a hint on the subject, and that's good, so I won't say more. Trust me, there is a story behind the explosions, dust, blood & gore. A simple one, but it's there, and it's decent enough to keep together what surrounds it. Actually even more than that, if I would get into the symbolism of some sequences. Anyway, I don't have much time to write, so I'll move to something that I normally leave more towards the end: the visuals. As many say, the movie looks indeed stunning, and I have to subjectively appreciate some particular changes between warm and cold camera filters. The 3D looks good (which I'm rarely noticing) and the effects are probably the best I've seen since the last "Planet of the Apes".

To give a bit more than a technical appreciation let me talk about the characters, where the leading actor didn't seem convincing for a leading actor. The truth is that this comes from the script, where Mad Max is rather a secondary character in the story. On the other hand I have to give credit to ... Immortal Joe aka "new addition in top 10 villains of all time" (if I would make such a top). Absolutely "hateable" :) That's pretty much all for today. Conclusion: If you like dystopias and you're not allergic to SciFi steam punk, then watch this.

Rating: 4 out of 5



Monday, May 11, 2015

It Follows (2014)



It's been a while since I've been in the mood for a real horror. Meaning one that seems to have the potential to scare me. Which is quite improbable, but if it is to happen it applies for the "ghost/demon/poltergeist" subgenres. In brief UME = Unexplained Malefic Entities :). Because for serial killers, zombies or animals with excessively sharp teeth (ex. sharknados or piranhas in 3D) I don't feel any increase in pulse rate. Actually, I didn't expect to have that either for "It Follows". Because, in my blissful ignorance, I've chosen the movie without any deep research. I told myself that's probably lighter than the alternatives: "The Conjuring" or "Woman in Black". Since I didn't see these two, I can't say if it was lighter, but what I can say is that since "Insidious" I don't think I've seen anything else to make me feel ... let's say "uneasy" (at least during some moments) ...

Jay has a boyfriend. She doesn't know him really well, but enough that, after a romantic evening on the beach, to offer him a more steamy follow-up on the backseat of the car. What Jay doesn't know is that her boyfriend carries a ... sex curse. A viral one. It may sound funny, but trust me ... in the movie is rather scary. Especially after Jay founds out that Hugh is actually Jeff, and the curse is for real. What's the curse about? "It". What does "It" do? As the title says: follows. Or to be more clear, "It" is an apparition seen only by the cursed, who follows the last cursed person. And after it reaches the person ... Well, enough. I've already spoiled almost a third of the movie :)

We have an indie here. One of the fortunate cases when the indie is exceptionally well done. Somehow, who directed, written and produced it, managed to gather the best crew with the money he had. The only flaw that I see, keeping in mind we're talking about an indie, is the beginning, which is rather slow. We have two strong points in the production: 1. The cinematography - I've rarely seen a movie that can create so much tension just through the camera work. We have a couple slow tracking shots combined with zoom-ins that are amplifying a lot the creepy factor in some scenes, and that's just one example. 2. The soundtrack - the 80's are back. The music is written by somebody called "Disasterpeace". And Disasterpeace apparently likes synth :) If you've seen "The Serpent and The Rainbow" by Wes Craven and you still remember the feeling that Brad Fiedel's soundtrack gave there, well .. we have pretty much the same here.

To give a final verdict, I think that if John Carpenter would've made "The Ring", the result could be directly compared with "It Follows". If this mix sounds interesting, you should watch this ...

Rating: 4 out of 5



Friday, May 1, 2015

Closer to the Moon (2013)


Yes, I know ... There was a long break, and I can't say I'm coming back "in force". "Closer to the Moon" is definitely not the best movie I can recommend, but I'm struggling since two weeks ago to find time to write this entry, and I'm afraid I start already forgetting what I wanted to say ...

I stick to the opinion that Nae Caranfil is something different in the scene of Romanian cinema, filled with over-appreciated communist nostalgia. His "The Rest is Silence" is in my opinion the best film made in Ro after '89, compared to the multi-awared "4, 3, 2" which is a sort of local shock trigger a la "Hotel Rwanda": unique purpose - impress the foreigners (with the bitter difference that the ending is dark, in the "profound" spirit of the Balkans area, vs. the sunny Africa in the other one). So .. that's why I was expecting much more from "Closer to the Moon" ... I could get over the communist period setting. What we have is subject that has enough potential to transcend this context. The movie is a romanced version of what was called "the robbery of the century" in the post WW2 Romania (real case). I won't say more, just to leave at least the story as a potential interest. Although ... the way this is told ...

We're not talking here about a Romanian movie. Despite the ton of awards it recently got from what we could call the local Oscar = Gopo Awards. Maybe the only which would be deserved (if that would exist) is "best movie in a foreign language". And probably even this would be won just when there aren't any competitors ... The main cast of the movie is foreigner, and the movie is spoken in English. I didn't expect this, but the result looks so artificial that it removes any credibility. I'm never expecting a documentary from a movie based on real facts, but come on ... when you have an actor with English accent, one with American, one with Scottish, and they're supposed to represent the same nationality ... when a drama is approached in a comic fashion up to the point when it bypasses the "artificial" threshold, but still wants to be believed after that ... and there are more to say, but I'm not in the mood and I don't have the time.

Caranfil wanted to shoot a Hollywood movie, with Hollywood actors. I actually appreciate that. I'm more than fed with the harsh Romanian reality that keeps getting awards for its shock factor. In the end he managed to get something right. The production value: cinematography, editing, sound .. everything's at least at the "OK" level. But beyond that ... There's no chemistry. The sensation you get is of a unpolished B movie, where the screenwriter struggled to look a bit like Tarantino by placing scenes into chapters, and too many actors want to be the lead character no matter how many others are around theme in the scene. I guess Vera Farmiga is the only one who does indeed a good role here ... (maybe I'm a bit subjective too). That's it ... hopefully next time will have better ...

Rating: 2 out of 5



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Incendies (2010)




I should write a decent review for "Incendies". It deserves it. Even though it's not exactly the ultimate masterpiece as some rankings say, and the pace it develops in the first half it's way too slow. However, I'm sorry but I'm definitely not in the right mood to write an entry on this. All I can say, in the spirit of the movie, is that families are complicated. That ... and Happy Holidays! :) ... for who's still in the Easter season ...

Rating: 4 out of 5