diumenge, 30 de gener de 2011

Films I watched in 2010 (I)

I have an embarrassingly long list of films waiting to be reviewed and, as I said in my last cinema reviews entry, there are two categories: films that I've watched at the cinema or that I've watched at home. In an attempt to redeem my lack of organisation, in the next two or three entries I'll be reviewing movies, and following that, I'll start reviewing books once again.


The sorcerer's apprentice (Jon Turteltaub)

Synopsis... Many centuries ago, at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Merlin and his three apprentices, Balthazar (Nicholas Cage), Horvath (Alfred Molina) and Veronica (Monica Belucci), were the most powerful wizzards of the world. However, Horvath, betrayed them to Morgana, Merlin's greatest enemy. In order to defeat Morgana, Veronica locked her spirit in her own body, and they were both imprisoned in the Grimhold, a magical prison with the shape of a matrioshka, so neither of them can escape.

Balthazar is given a mission from Merlin: to find his successor, the Prime Merlinian. Thus Balthazar travels all around the planet during centuries and seems to finally find the Prime Merlinian in a young boy from New York City, who seems anything but the successor of the most powerful wizzards of all times. However, Balthazar settles himself to train him and turn him into a powerful sorcerer.

Opinion... I expected too much from this film, probably because of two things: a flashy trailer and the fact that it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, best known for Pirates of the Caribbean. I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean, and while the film doesn't fail to entertain the audience, there are certain things, such as the plot, that make the film incoherent at times. It feels more like somebody (the producers?) wanted to make a film, no matter what, inspired by a scene of the same name as the film in Disney's Fantasia, and got the script written in one night (similarly to some college papers).

In conclusion, The sorcerer's apprentice is an irregular but still enjoyable action and adventure film, with impressive special effects. However, that's not enough to make a good film.

Eat, Pray, Love (Ryan Murphy)

Synopsis... Liz (Julia Roberts) is in her late thirties, is married and has a successful career: every modern woman's dream. However, she is not happy with her life and after a divorce that leaves her with nothing and an adventure with a younger man, she decides to go on a trip to Italy, India and Bali. During her road trip she will meet people who will change her views on life, but she will also learn to eat, pray and, most importantly, love.

Opinion... Romantic comedies are not easy to film, especially because of the fact that there is a pre-established formula to them and twists are rare (and a precious good, I must say). Eat, Pray, Love doesn't start off as a romantic comedy, though: just a road trip with mainly comedy, but also some light drama. This is why I enjoyed the film. Of course we know that she is going to find herself a new boyfriend by the end of the film, but that's not the main purpose of her trip, and it's refreshing in this kind of movies.

While it's not the best romantic comedy of all times, it's not extremely cheesy and sugary and predictable, it's actually a cute film to watch with girl friends.

The American (Anton Corbijn)

Synopsis... Jack (George Clooney) must hide in a remote town in Italy from the assassines that are looking for him. Jack himself is an assassin, and tells his boss, Pavel, that his next mission will also be the last one. He gets the job to build a gun for a Belgian woman, which he will build at the same time as he passes for an American tourist guide writer and photographer.

Opinion... I found this film incredibly slow and confusing, even when it had already finished. There are many questions that I personally didn't find an answer for (and which I won't write here because they'd be considered spoilers), although I must say the photography was really beautiful. Still, I expected much more from this film.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 1 (David Yates)

Synopsis... Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, won't return to Hogwarts for their seventh and last year in the school. Since Dumbledore's death, no place is safe, especially for Harry. He knows that in order to destroy Voldemort he must find the deathly hallows, and so begins a very long journey...

Opinion... The problem with all the Harry Potter movies is that many things are left out and, if you haven't read the books, you get either totally lost or mislead. To please fans, they decided that the adaptation of the more than 700 pages-long last book had to be done in two movies, so everything could be explained.

This first part is plain boring because so is the first part of the book. In fact, I was about to stop reading exactly half an hour before the point where they end this movie. There is very little action, some important things are told, but all of the meat is in the second part (or it should be). This first part must be seen in order to understand what is going to happen next, but if you've read the book, I'd suggest you to skip Part 1 and wait until summer for Part 2.

That's it for movies that I watched at the cinema in 2010. Hopefully I'll be able to go to the movies more often in 2011, so stayed tuned! As for films that I've watched at home, the list is a bit longer, so probably I'll have to divide my entry in two parts. Coming soon!

diumenge, 16 de gener de 2011

[Freaky -and nostalgic- stuff] Peraustrínia 2004

És probable que no conegueu la pel·lícula Peraustrínia 2004, una cinta d'animació feta a Catalunya a finals dels anys 1980 que em van portar els Reis (juntament amb un vídeo del Babar) el 1991 o 1992, no n'estic segura, però era molt petita.

No sé per què, però avui m'ha vingut al cap la cançó de la pel·lícula i l'he estat tararejant tota la tarda, i he mirat si pel Youtube hi havia alguna referència. I es veu que sí! He de confessar que mentre veia les escenes intercalades en aquest documental se m'ha posat un somriure tonto als llavis veient que em recordo de com anaven els diàlegs i les accions.

A veure si la trobo entre els VHS de l'any de la Maria Castanya que corren per casa o en algun mitjà audiovisual, per rudimentari que sigui, perquè ara m'ha vingut de gust veure-la. Us deixo amb el documental, que té pinta de ser del programa de cinema del Canal 33.

dissabte, 15 de gener de 2011

De la derrota i l'esperança

Estic cansada de fer el paperina i posar bona cara quan ho engegaria tot a pastar fang.
Toca esperar, esperar, esperar...

diumenge, 9 de gener de 2011

Kaikan Phrase

Año nuevo, vida nueva... ¡y sección nueva! Además de mis "mangas indispensables" creo que sería interesante dar a conocer qué mangas he encontrado infumables o completamente prescindibles, hasta el punto de no poder decir siquiera que son "lecturas entretenidas para pasar el rato". En críticas de cine, las "entretenidas" son las que reciben una o como mucho dos estrellas. En este caso, los "prescindibles" (que iba a llamar "bodrios" pero me pareció demasiado fuerte; al fin y al cabo solo es mi opinión) serían los que no reciben ni una sola estrellita.

Para empezar esta sección, y porque meterse con ella vende, hablaré del manga que catapultó a la fama a Mayu Shinjo: Kaikan Phrase: Melodía erótica, una historia de amor entre una colegiala y el cantante del grupo Lucifer... ¡con mucho sexo, por supuesto!

Sakuya estudió en la facultad de Traducción casi seguro, porque es uno de los lugares donde encuentras hombres más femeninos que la mayoría de mujeres. Lo digo con conocimiento de causa.


Aine es una colegiala de 16 años a quien solo se le da bien la clase de lengua y que escribe letras de canciones con tintes eróticos. Un buen día, su grupo favorito, Lucifer, organiza un concurso para que las fans puedan escribir la letra de su próximo single, que (¡oh, casualidad!) debe tener tintes eróticos como todas las otras canciones del grupo.

Aine, como no, decide presentarse, pero justo cuando va a entregar el sobre, un coche está a punto de arrollarla. El conductor baja para ayudarla y le empieza a tocar la rodilla... con lo que Aine se excita sobremanera. Por suerte el accidente no ha sido nada, pero cuando el conductor se va Aine se da cuenta de que ha perdido el sobre con la letra para el concurso.

¡Cuál es su sorpresa cuando al cabo de unas semanas Lucifer presenta un nuevo single con (¿no lo adivináis?) la letra que Aine iba a presentar al concurso! Resulta que el misterioso y sexy conductor no era otro que Sakuya, el cantante de Lucifer. No contentos con esto, Sakuya va a buscar a Aine porque quiere que sea la escritora de las letras de las canciones de Lucifer.

Solo hay un pequeño problema: casualmente a Aine ya no le viene la inspiración, así que Sakuya se la proporciona... acostándose con ella. ¿Pero puede dar fruto la relación entre un músico famosísimo y una chica normal y corriente?

Que portada más fea...


Habréis intuido que muy buena crítica no le voy a hacer a este manga, entre la introducción y la sinopsis.

La verdad es que no entiendo por qué Kaikan Phrase es el manga más famoso y, consecuentemente, más largo de Mayu Shinjo. Pero tampoco entiendo el éxito de Crepúsculo, que casualmente sigue un esquema parecido: chica "normal" (léase sin personalidad ni características destacables pero con la que teóricamente los lectores se pueden identificar) y chico "perfecto" (rico, famoso, guapo, sexy, y que confunde "tratar bien" a su pareja con "acosarla" y ponerse celoso de todo aquel de sexo opuesto que se le acerque, y encima darle las culpas a la novia, que le perdona porque tiene un pasado oscuro y traumático) se enamoran, pero un montón de obstáculos se interponen en su relación.

Tengo que reconocer que cuando Ivrea trajo el primer manga de Mayu Shinjo, Virigin Crisis, me lo compré e incluso lo disfruté (con 15 años), a pesar de que los personajes protagonistas siguen el mismo esquema. La diferencia principal entre Kaikan Phrase y Virgin Crisis es el número de tomos: 17 contra 4, respectivamente. Y claro, si la Shinjo utiliza el esquema del triángulo amoroso dos veces en cuatro tomos se hace menos pesado que si lo hace cuarenta mil veces en diecisiete tomos.

Porque Kaiphra (versión contraída del título Kaikan Phrase) es, esencialmente, esto: el manager, la ex-novia, la amante, las fans, el vecino del cuarto primera y todo dios se opone a que Aine y Sakuya estén juntos, con lo que tenemos intentos de violación (no incluyen los de Sakuya, que como son "consentidos"...), celos, intentos de asesinato, fans histéricas, managers despóticos que hacen mobbing a Aine para que deje de ser la escritora de letras, intentos de suicidio... Lo normal en todas las relaciones de pareja, vamos.

Llegué hasta el tomo 10 en un acto de valentía por mi parte, por allí en 2004, y la vendí, porque era infumable. El hecho de que en el segundo o tercer tomo ya se haya exprimido todo el jugo a la historia, ante la perspectiva de quince tomos más, hace que una se plantee si merece la pena seguir aguantando una y otra vez el mismo arco argumental de varias personas que se interponen en una relación más bien poco realista.

Además, tengo que hacerle una crítica a Mayu Shinjo: esta señora plantea la violación o el sexo no consentido como algo erótico. Y si no me creéis, leed el primer capítulo del manga, en el que Aine se excita de mala manera porque un perfecto desconocido le roza la rodilla y un poco el muslo para ver si se ha hecho daño. ¿Hola? ¿Eres tonta? Además, que la única manera de que Aine consiga escribir letras eróticas sea cuando Sakuya se pone en plan macho ibérico dominante, a mí, personalmente, me preocupa.

No entraré en la crítica del dibujo de Shinjo porque es una de sus obras primerizas, pero eso no es excusa: el dibujo mejora muy poco a lo largo de los tomos.

En definitiva, un manga que se ha ganado una fama totalmente inmerecida, a pesar de que hay incluso un anime (aparentemente más light y menos sexual, eso sí). Los 17 tomos fueron publicados en España por Ivrea a 6,90€ el tomo.

divendres, 7 de gener de 2011

New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Let's check last year's New Year's Resolutions list. The blue ones are the ones I accomplished. The ones in green mean "well, kind of". Red stands for "mission: impossible", and those left in black can be undestood as "didn't even try".

  • quit eating chocolate between meals
  • lose those extra kilos
  • go do any type of physical activity other than running to catch the bus
  • study German and Russian seriously
  • stop falling in love with Daniel-Cleaver-type of guys
  • stop giving into temptation everytime I go to a bookshop
  • save up enough money to travel
  • hand in my translations for Farrés on time
  • learn to walk properly on high heels and not break a leg
  • take certain things -and people- less seriously
  • take certain other things -and maybe even people- more seriously
  • change my repertoire of CDs for the car
  • keep my room tidy for at least one week (in which I'm supposed to be living in the room: this doesn't apply to days I'm away)
  • write and draw more
  • go to the movies more often, or at least watch the DVDs we have at home
  • finish my degree without getting my psychological health damaged in the process
  • find a new aim for after my graduation

I'm going to set myself only five goals for 2011:

  1. Learn not to worry about things and people that are not worth being worried about.
  2. Wake up when the alarm rings for the first time, not the fifth.
  3. Make it on time.
  4. Enjoy the little pleasures of life with people I love and more regularly. This includes last year's "go to the movies", "read, draw and write more", etc.
  5. Seriously, I have to change my repertoire of car CDs.

May 2011 bring you all a lot of love, luck and happiness, and less corny entries.

diumenge, 2 de gener de 2011

[DVD] Europeans do it better

I have a very long list of films to be reviewed, divided in two big categories: watched in the cinema or at home. Within the ones I've seen at home, there are subcategories: good films, bad films, and European films.

Today's topic is European films about World War II. I was going to do my first videoblog about this topic, but I never find the time and I'm not very sure how to do it (video editing, especially... I have too big of a project in mind), so I'll just write about it.

The thing is, there are a vagillion films about WWII, because it's an easy topic when they aim at doing an "epic" film. It's easy: the allied forces are THE Good Ones (especially American soldiers: they are always la crème de la crème in war movies) and Nazis or the Japanese are EVIL. Of course, I'm talking about films shot from the perspective of Hollywood here.

I don't know about Japanese films because the truth is, I've never watched one about this topic. But despite it being the darkest moment of German history, there are many German films on WWII. Which shocked me when I was living there, because it's not exactly something they are proud of or like to talk about.

For some reason that escapes me, European cinema is very badly distributed in the rest of Europe, meaning that we don't get to see much of what our neighbours are doing (with the possible exceptions of British and French films). I attribute this to the fact that 1) the Hollywood industry is way stronger than European cinema industry; 2) marketing problems; and 3) more than 50 languages are spoken throughout Europe, so finding a translator for certain language combinations must not be an easy task, while there are thousands of translators from English.

During this past year I've watched three European films about WWII that changed my life: Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (Marc Rothemund, 2005), Der Untergang (by Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004), both of them German, and the Dutch film Zwartboek (Paul Verhoeven, 2006). The context is similar in the three of them, but the time and places are different.

Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage takes us to Munich in late 1942. A group of resistence students who call themselves White Roses distribute anti-war and anti-Nazi panflets secretly and three of them are caught: Christoph Probst, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie Scholl. They are trialed for treason and sentenced to death in the guillotine. The movie shows us Sophie's days-long interrogation and how she stands up to what she believes in, even if she has to die for it because the regime won't tolerate such propaganda against them.

In 1945 Berlin, the highest charges of the Nazi government hide in Hitler's bunker in Der Untergang. In spite of the fact that the Russian troops are not far away from the capital city, and in spite of the fact that his generals think that he is crazy for staying, Hitler still wants to resist because he sincerely thinks that he is going to win the war.

Sophie Scholl and Hitler are the opposite sides of one same coin. The former is a hero and dies because she defends the people's right to know what the Nazi regime is doing, the people's right to open their eyes and think by themselves and speak up. The latter is portrayed in Der Untergang as a crazy old man, the antihero, and not even his collegues respect him that much anymore, but still follow him until the very end.

While Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage and Der Untergang are films "to think" (meaning that they are not precisely action movies with lots of explosions and such), and the characters the films are based on are real, the story in Zwartboek is ficticious and more Hollywood-like.

Zwartboek takes us to Holland during the German invasion in the early 1940's. It's the ficticious story of Rachell Stein, a Jewish singer who must hide in order to survive. After being almost killed and seeing how her whole family is murdered, Rachel joins a resistence group in The Hague and her mission is to seduce a Nazi officer in order to save other members of the resistence.

But, alas! Rachel, now known as Ellis de Vries, is also human, and so happen to be Müntze, the Nazi officer, and all of the members of the resistence, and everybody wants to survive at any cost. And that is what makes the film really interesting instead of just another action film with lots of explosions and deaths and such.

This is precisely what I loved about these three films: the characters are human and plausible, drawn in shades of gray instead of plain black or white. This is especially important with "the bad ones": I sincerely believe that the best villains are those that don't look like villains. It's also important that main characters are not hollow or Mary-Sue-ish, especially if they are the heroes. Sophie Scholl or Ellis de Vries could be any of us (with an overdose of courage, that is).

I know there are some very good, deep and well-developed Hollywood films on WWII, but I think that the fact that the US didn't have fights within their borders (except for Pearl Harbour) it feels like it's just another foreign war in which American soldiers went to save the world, while in Europe millions of civilians died, and that's what movies reflect somehow: the points of view are different according to how deep the wound left by WWII is in your country.

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