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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie Digest # 084

Gateway Cineplex, Platinum Theater, January 14, 3:50pm

In the first Guy Ritchie reimagining, we came to know Sherlock Holmes as a very observant detective. This is suggested by the scenes wherein the well loved spy looks at a certain object, have it zoomed mentally and from there, his speculations are sealed. That attempt at making the film adaptation more exciting becomes tiring in this sequel. Save for the chasing scene at the German border and the funny camouflages, I didn’t find anything interesting in the film.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who’ve seen the first.

Cine Hoyts – Punta Carretas Shopping, Sala 2, January 19, 8:10pm

I dig deadpan humor which made me expect a lot from this Alexander Payne film. Plus George Clooney is a fine actor who’s always been picky of late with the projects he’s doing either as an actor or a director. After watching the film, I can say that it’s not something that I really liked but more of I enjoyed it. Mr. Clooney, best known as having a macho persona in the biz, portrays a husband who has been cheated by a wife who fell into coma. In the process of waiting what’s up for the bedridden spouse, the husband figures out what went wrong and tries to reconnect with his family. The title basically pertains to the protagonist’s role as a caretaker of an income generating piece of land from his Hawaiian ancestors. On top of the dry wit, there’s also a portion of melodrama, a commentary on being patriotic (as reflective as the New Zealand film “Once Were Warriors” by Lee Tamahori) and a melancholia that felt very close to home for me.

Friends who might appreciate it: The yayaspeak reviewer (aka Jessica Zafra).

Movie Center – Punta Carretas Shopping, Sala D, January 21, 7:00pm

I haven’t seen the Swedish original nor I haven’t read the Stieg Larsson book but I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s categorically a popcorn film but a really good one. At first, I was clueless as to what the film is all about and for a Hollywood film, it is a feat. There are two parallel lives unfolding separately which got me hooked until the two characters intersect. For a spy film, there are a lot of things to root for. The turn of events is interesting enough, thanks to the ensemble, and the twist is very much satisfying.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that Rooney Mara is love.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 5, January 28, 7:35pm

This film adaptation of a political play deals with two opposing candidates and the spin doctors behind them vying to win the majority of votes from a certain state. It’s like watching a game of chess on screen; each piece has its own moves and strategy. Given the subject, the film occasionally makes use of the Ohio River (or Mississippi River) as the backdrop to highlight the border of the two states Ohio and Kentucky, a powerful metaphor of the warring candidates. In one particular scene, two characters are seen talking on a bench in Kentucky side while facing Ohio. Directed by George Clooney, it boasts of a very competent ensemble (my best so far for 2011) that includes Ryan Gosling, Clooney himself, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Evan Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who are considering entering politics.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, January 28, 9:50pm

Leo DiCaprio topbills this Clint Eastwood film about the life and death of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. I had high hopes for the project as it was the first time that DiCaprio and Eastwood (and even Judi Dench and Naomi Watts) will be working together but I was totally disappointed. First, the material has a lot of things going on. It tackles the rise of the intelligence group which is engaging on its own. On top, it is a character study and it partly proposes a thought on homosexuality. Furthermore, it also tries to touch some state secrets but it didn’t take off. Allegorically, the audience is given a clue and it’s immediately destroyed as the film ends. It all boils down to a DiCaprio project with a bad make-up and false promises.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who expect that DiCaprio can do another “Blood Diamond” someday.

Cine Hoyts – Alfabeta, Sala 5, January 29, 3:00pm

In the tradition of “500 Days of Summer” sensibilities, Joseph Gordon-Levitt tackles the role of a guy on his late 20’s who is diagnosed with cancer. Family and friends (Seth Rogen as the irritating best buddy and Angelica Huston as the motherly mom) support him as he tries to undergo a medication and overcome the illness. Since the film is essentially a comedy, it tries to downplay the grief that the patient has to endure but still makes it a point to hit the lachrymal spot when needed. I have to admit that I cried in some scenes, particularly those that show an overwhelming support from the people around the lead character. Another way to look at the film is the metaphor between battling a disease and moving on from a failed relationship.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who like 100.

Casablanca, Sala Humphrey Bogart, January 30, 10:10pm

From director Roland Emmerich who megged CGI-filled blockbuster films, this is a surprise for me. It proposes an argument that William Shakespeare was not the real author of the famous works we know but a certain royalty who cannot dish out his real identity because of the political situation then. Apparently, most topics from the play deal with political and social commentary, something that you couldn’t (and shouldn’t) share when you are within the fence of the crowned heads. The film runs for more than two hours, providing an extensive pathos on the subject matter sans the usual Hollywood edge-of-our-your-seat device. But of course, there’s still CGI and the striking costumes to heighten the period that complement the superb acting from the likes of Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis and Vanessa Redgrave.

Friends who might appreciate it: Shakespeare fans and non-fans.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 6, February 3, 7:50pm

The opening scene with present day Margaret Thatcher trying to buy milk from a convenience store is a winning way to perk up this memoir film. Meryl Streep, aided with a convincing make-up, is so good on this early part. Then it spiralled to the usual and tiring film bios that we’ve seen before, flashing some chronological back stories on the former prime minister’s rise to political fame. On the side, we saw the Iron Lady battling Alzheimer’s disease as punctuated by the frequent (and for me, unnecessary) appearances of her late husband. The final output is a bit muddled by its storytelling. I love all the current day scenes, even the madness it entails (a suggestion to her “insanity” to grab a position in the government in her early years) and the way the film ends (as if it’s just another day for Mrs. Thatcher). My problem is in the meaty part of the flashbacks as I did not gain anything from it. What’s left is a terrific actress doing a believable impersonation of a larger-than-life character.

Friends who might appreciate it: The one who did the make-up for “J. Edgar”.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 3D, February 3, 10:00pm

I have to say that Martin Scorsese made the right choice in bringing this film to life on 3D. Let me count the ways. First, it looks very personal for the ace director. It doesn’t have the violence that some of us are used to but it discusses about a dozen other films that every film buff should watch. Second, Hugo’s world is a world on its own. Sure, it is set in a train station that resembles Gare du Nord in Paris but the time and space are not distinct. Third, it is done outside the Hollywood mold of fast paced sequences and overwhelming CGI. Fans of popcorn blockbusters will be truly disappointed. Lastly, it partly talks about film preservation. It takes a clueless boy to save the artistry of master filmmaker Georges Méliès from extinction. In Hugo’s attempt to safeguard the memories of his dead father, he also salvaged the origin of moving pictures. This is a clear proposition on the contribution of cinema as it documents life in a time capsule.

Friends who might appreciate it: Cineastes.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 11, 9:30pm

If this film were produced roughly half a decade ago, then it deserves all the accolades it is getting (including an Oscar Best Picture nod). As it is, I am a bit lost. It is well made, yes, but it doesn’t leave a thought for the viewers to ponder upon. The messages it wants to partake are loud, almost screaming, and it doesn’t bother much. Even the scenes in Britain look fake or too Hollywood for me. Furthermore, I almost cried when Emily Watson delivered her weakest performance to date as a doting mother, an accessory character to the young protagonist. The intention of highlighting the importance of animals to the history of mankind is there but for sure Mr. Spielberg can think of something cleverer and more imaginative.

Friends who might appreciate it: I’d rather drink a bottle of Red Horse than recommend this.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 17, 8:20pm

As sure as the sunrise, this film will be this year’s Oscar Best Picture. Figures say it all. It has been awarded here and there and from what I see, it offers something new to the people behind the Academy. The film is supposed to be Michael Hazanavicius’ tribute to the silent film era as it studies the evolution of American cinema up to what it is now. The key homage is the total absence of speaking lines (almost) all throughout the film, complete with title cards and that lingering musical score that reminds everyone of the era. On the side is a sad story of a struggling artist who doesn’t want to sell out his own brand of creativity even if it means abandon and death. The story works for me a bit but not the gimmick. I find the idea of mimicking a silent film for the heck of making a tribute corny. Definitely there’s more to explore up to what length a real artist can go to and depression is the least subject that needs to be romanticized. Charming performances though from Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who have seen the OSS series.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 1, February 24, 7:35pm

For a Hollywood drama with a mainstream cast and editing, I can say that this film is above average. Stephen Daldry has become an actor’s director to beat. His cast are all good in the movie with the likes of Sandra Bullock even outdoing her Oscar performance in “The Blind Side” and the lead child actor, a revelation. The quiet scenes are very admirable as well as those that require shouting. Those dramatic scenes are well directed and should be merited as such. It’s just that I don’t see it as something vying for the highest honor in the Oscars but I understand how the 911 underscore did it. I cried in some scenes at the latter part, those that engage father and son connections and unspoken messages.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who consider that for an actor without a speaking line, it’s a toss between Max von Sydow and Jean Dujardin.

Movie Center – Montevideo Shopping, Sala 7, February 24, 10:20pm

If there’s an excellent example of a film that deserves an Oscar Best Picture, it must be this film. From the director of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In”, Tomas Alfredson effectively transports the audience back to the 70’s with a consistent mood and feel of the time John le Carré first published his book. The chill of Gary Oldman’s stares is another thing. It highlights the coldness of what seems to be the camaraderie between colleagues of an intelligence group. I appreciate, too, the stagey approach of the adaptation wherein the progress of the storytelling is dependent on the dialogues, spoken or otherwise.

Friends who might appreciate it: Those who think that there’s a mole in the Academy.

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