divendres, 27 de febrer de 2015

Express Reviews (8)

Every year, as the Oscar ceremony approaches, I watch a lot of movies. Whether there really is a cause-consequence relationship between the two is still yet to be explored, but, in any case, I have quite a few to review and, as usual, not enough time to do full, well-thought and well-written critiques. Like this introduction, which is awfully painful to re-read.


Birdman


Riggan Thomson became famous by playing the film adaptations of a superhero comic book, Birdman. In an attempt to give his acting career a radical turn and to gain fame and prestige, he directs, produces, and stars in a Broadway adaptation (that he also wrote) of a Raymond Carver play. However, the road to success is paved with obstacles, among which a voice in his head that keeps telling him to go back to being Birdman.

If there is one thing that Alejandro González Iñárritu can do is writing dramas and very real characters, a sort of on-screen magical realism. Through special effects, the movie makes you believe that it was all done in one single shot, giving the impression of being inside the theater where the action takes place. I'm still not sure how to interpret the ending, though. I'd definetely recommend it.


Relatos salvajes


Several short stories about everyday people in everyday situations... with wild twists. Dark humour? Yes, please. I won't spoil it for you, just watch it.


Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au bon Dieu?


The Verneuils, a very Catholic French family, have four daughters. Three of them have already got married: to a Jew, to a Muslim and to a Chinese man. So their hopes are all set on their youngest daughter to marry a Catholic. And she does, but the future son-in-law also happens to be black.

I'm not a huge fan of politically incorrect humour, but in this movie the situations are taken to exagerated extremes that make it work without actually being as offensive as it could have been, in my opinion.


Cabaret


Berlin, 1931. Brian Roberts, a young British writer, arrives to the city to experience the bohemian lifestyle and ends up being flatmates with cabaret artist Sally Bowles. In the background, the Nazi party is becoming stronger, but remember: life is a cabaret! 

I took this subject on the history of the 20th century that made an emphasis on the rise of the Nazis to power and the professor talked a lot about how small details of the political background can be seen if you pay attention to more than the romance between the main characters. So I watched it again for the first time since I decided I prefer the stage musical (let's face it, it's much better, although a lot more "in your face" with the historical context). I want to read the novel both the musical and the movie were inspired by.


Schindler's List


During WWII, Oskar Schindler managed to save about 1000 Jews from death by giving them work in his factory.

No, I hadn't seen it yet. There is a limit to how many WWII-related movies I can watch in a year. Yes, I cried a lot. Yes, it's a beautifully done film, although I was skeptical and thought it would be even more romanticised.

A bt in Cinema Sins's style, two things: is Ralph Fiennes playing a nazi as foreshadowing for one of his most famous roles ever, Lord Voldemort? Also, nobody is kidnapping Liam Neeson's daughter in this movie.


An Education


Upon meeting David, a man almost twice her age, 16 year-old Jenny discovers there is more to life than what is being taught in school.

A coming-of-age story that is worth watching as a sort of modern-day fable. 


The Time-Traveler's Wife


Clare met Henry when she was 6 and he was in his thirties. Henry met Clare when she was 20 and he was 28. Henry is a time-traveler and Clare knows since she was a little girl that she is going to become her wife.

After reading the book, which I never got around to review properly, I watched the film to compare and contrast. The movie really tries to make the audience believe that this love is beyond the borders of time, but I honestly didn't buy it. There isn't a lot of chemistry between screen-Clare and screen-Henry, nor is there a lot of character development that would have made the movie a lot more interesting. It becomes just another bland romantic movie.


The Painted Veil


In order to escape the pressure her family sets on her, Kitty marries doctor Walter Fane, with whom she moves to China. Upon finding out that she has had an affair with a diplomat, Walter volunteers to become the doctor of a small, rural town that suffers an epidemic of cholera.

This is what I expected the novel The Piano Teacher to be. This movie is also inspired by a book, which I might or might not read in the future. As a dramatic piece, it works. I would have liked some more character development for the protagonists but the actors make a good job portraying them.


Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre is an orphan who hasn't had it easy in life. After being sent off to a horrible school by her horrible aunt, she becomes the governess of Mr Rochester's illegitimate daughter Adele. Despite his character, Jane starts falling in love with Mr Rochester.

Jane Eyre is one of those Victorian novels that I should have read at some point during my university life and never actually did, so Julia and I watched the movie one night and... it's so slow! The actress playing Jane is so monotone and has only one facial expression. Not even Michael Fassbender can be counted as a saving grace. Julia and I decided to comment the movie with hashtags like #VictorianProblems to make the whole thing more tolerable.


Mononoke hime (Princess Mononoke)


Prince Ashitaka gets a curse when he kills a demon-infested god of the forest, so he goes on a quest to find a cure. On the way he meets Lady Eboshi, the leader of a human town with a metal-based industry. The humans are at war with the gods of the forest because they want their industry to grow more and, to do that, they need to destroy the forest. A human girl raised by wolves, San, fights against Lady Eboshi.

It is considered one of Miyazaki's masterpieces and it is, indeed, a beautiful film: great animation, great story, great characters.


Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl's Moving Castle)

The young, shy Sophie gets cursed by a witch, who turns her into an old lady. In order to break the spell, Sophie employs herself at Howl the wizard's moving castle and has to gather all her courage to fight against an upcoming war.

Apparently this movie is based on a book by the same name and I'm guessing that's why a lot of things happen that are never explained in the movie but we're supposed to accept, like Sophie looking younger every time that she does something brave but then turning back into an old woman. While the animation is classic Miyazaki, I would have liked for the story to make a little bit more of sense for people who haven't read the book.



Next time I'll be back with a series recap.

dimarts, 24 de febrer de 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - #11 Top Ten Favorite Heroines from Books

Today's topic: favorite heroines from books. It was fucking hard! There aren't that many female heroines (as in leading ladies, protagonists) who are relevant enough to be even considered candidates AND that I like. I will do a favorite heroes, male-only version next week and maybe I'll go for a "characters from other media" list in the future.


#1 Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling). 

She's bookish and introvert but she always finds the courage to fight with Harry. Actually, without her help, the boy who lived might have not made it past the first book.


#2 Matilda from Matilda (Roald Dahl)

Probably one of my favorite children's books of all time. As a kid I admired Matilda for standing up to a bunch of stupid adults and I really, really wanted to have her powers.


#3 Antigone.

Whether it's Sophocles's "canonical" play or any of the modern adaptations (I would personally go with Salvador Espriu's text), Antigone is probably one of my favorite characters from Greek mythology: she's willing to give up her life and actually dies for defending her ideals. 


#4 Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins).

I'll be honest: at some points during the first book I didn't like her that much and she never becomes 100% charismatic, but in a world where female characters are not so often allowed to be the hero that saves the day, she's some of the best we have.


#5 Eliza Doolittle from Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw).

The play version, not the musical version. She rocks.


#6 Rose from Patron Saint of Liars (Ann Patchett).

The way I saw it, she's a sort of antihero, actually, but you empathise with her and her life choices even if you disagree with them. I like complex characters that fuck up their lives, what can I say...


#7 Mariam and Laila from A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini).

Laila is a fighter in a world that is out to get her. Mariam resigns to follow its rules until she realises it's no longer possible. They share this entry because they are from the same book, but they would deserve separate entries.


#8 Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding)

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.


#9 Brienne of Tarth from the A Song of Ice and Fire series (George R. R. Martin)

In this particular book series, women who are also protagonists have two roles to choose from: they're either two-faced bitches or by-the-book noble women. Brienne defies the traditional roles, which makes her awesome. Runner-ups for this place, from this series, were Sansa Stark (yes, I like her, and from book 1 despite, you know, everything) and Arianne Martell.


#10 Tita from Como agua para chocolate (Laura Esquivel)

Poor Tita sees her boyfriend get married to her older sister to stay close to her, which only brings more unhappiness to her life, leaving only the kitchen as her own space and the only place where she finds solace.


Twitter Goodreads