Wednesday, 7 December 2016

3 Women (1977)

Genre

Drama

Director

Robert Altman

Country

USA

Cast

Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule, Robert Fortier, Ruth Nelson, John Cromwell, Sierra Pecheur, Craig Richard Nelson, Maysie Hoy, Belita Moreno, Leslie Ann Hudson, Patricia Ann Hudson, Beverly Ross

Storyline

It follow the lives of three women, Pinky (Sissy Spacek), an awkward adolescent who becomes overly attached to Millie (Shelley Duvall), a lonely outcast who desperately tries to win attention, and Willie (Janice Rule), a strange pregnant artist.

Opinion

I've been wanting to watch "3 Women" for a very long time and last night I finally got around it. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I believe this is a slightly overrated film. I'm not saying I didn't like it, I just didn't love it.

Based on a dream Robert Altman had, the story isn't very easy to explain, yet it's very simple and its strongest element is that Altman doesn't rush it, but let the story slowly evolve. Which suits the film very well.

But the plot isn't the main focus of Altman. The psychological aspects of the relationships between the three women is. Unfortunately, while the first part is a very interesting and clever character study, the second part is a bit of a mess, as we see one of the women changing personality and having problems remembering who she really is. That's when "3 Women" basically turns into an identity theft film.

I did, however, find very interesting what Altman says through the film. With each woman, he portrays a different stage of womanhood - Pikny is the child, Millie is the 20-something, Willie is the soon-to-be mother - and each woman is reluctant to move forward and accept changes. Also, it is very clear that the stories/lives of these three women have all been affected by abusive men.

Still there are other things that don't work for me. First, the haunting music feels too intrusive and reminded me of "The Shining"'s. Second, all the paintings symbolism is a bit too obvious and prevent some twists from working.

On the other hand, we have the acting. Shelley Duvall gives an outstanding performance as Millie, easily the most pathetic character. Sissy Spacek is the perfect cast for Pinky, a grown up child who changes into the people that surround her. Janice Rule also does a great job as the mysterious Willie.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Westworld (1973)

Genre

Sci-Fi | Thriller | Western

Director

Michael Crichton

Country

USA

Cast

Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Victoria Shaw, Dick Van Patten, Linda Scott, Steve Franken, Michael Mikler, Terry Wilson, Majel Barrett, Anne Randall, Nora Marlowe

Storyline

In a near future where vacationers can experience life in the themed period chosen - Medievalworld, Romanworld and Westworld -, Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and John Blane (James Brolin) find themselves being stalked by a rogue robot gunslinger (Yul Brynner).

Opinion

A lot of year before he wrote "Jurassic Park", Michael Crichton constructed his first amusement park of the future and brought it to life in "Westworld", this incredibly gripping and tense film that effectively blends sci-fi and western. 

The story, that revolves around people paying to live in a different time period and things going awfully bad, isn't by any mean perfect - the reason why people can't be harmed in these worlds is quite weak, and there are a lot of plot holes -, but it sure is clever, engaging and suspenseful, and it easily manages to hold the attention until the very end.

Michael Crichton who wrote the screenplay and made his (impressive) directorial debut with this film, put together cowboys and robots, and delivered a film that has great and believable main characters, plenty of action moving just at the right pace, a great musical score that fits both the western and the robotic setting, and a few effects that are dated but still work well.

Other than being very entertaining, the film also explores the dark side of technology very well for its time. Of course now it feels dated, but it still is a hell of a ride.

Now forget about all of that because the best is yet to come. I'm talking about the cast. Both Richard Benjamin and James Brolin do a good job portraying the two cowboy-wannabe friends that find become preys of the androids, but easily stealing the show is Yul Brynner. He is simply spectacular, creepy and very menacing as the robot gunslinger that just won't stop coming back.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Rambo (2008)

Genre

Action | Thriller

Director

Sylvester Stallone

Country

USA

Cast

Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Tim Kang, Jake La Botz, Ken Howard, Maung Maung Khin, Supakorn Kitsuwon, Richard Crenna

Storyline

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is living peacefully in Thailand until he joins a group of missionaries to venture into war-torn Burma to rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.

Opinion

After twenty years, Sylvester Stallone brought John Rambo back to the big screen. This time around he is not just acting, but he's also the man behind the camera and co-writer of the screenplay. And precisely for this reason, I wasn't expecting anything from this film, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. Actually, "Rambo" is an entertaining, and quite good action film.

The plot is simple and overall similar to that of the previous entries, yet it is quite solid, and the action - although it still plays an important role in it - isn't the center of the story. In fact, and thankfully, it focuses on the character's frustration and contempt for a world that at first needed him as a soldier, but later rejected and excluded him because a damaged good. So this film is really following the footsteps of "First Blood".

Even though the story is stronger and the main character has that texture lacking in the previous two entries, the writers should have really worked more on the characters. Rambo is the only character we know. The other characters' development in basically non-existent, therefore you root for Rambo only because you don't have enough elements to hate the others.

All of that being said, we still have to remember this is an action film, and as such it works pretty well. The action sequences are well done and very intense. However, the film is too violent. I wouldn't be complaining about it if it had a point. Like in "Oldboy".

Then there's the music that fits to the action, and a camera work that is annoyingly shaking at times, but also adds a little tension to the action. At last the acting, it isn't awful, but it isn't exception either.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Trolls (2016)

Genre

Adventure | Animation | Comedy | Musical

Directors

Mike Mitchell | Walt Dohrn

Country

USA

Voice Cast

Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine BAranski, Russell Brand, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Funches, Aino Jawo, Caroline Hjelt, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis, Gwen Stefani, Iris Dohrn, Liam Henry

Storyline

After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born (Anna Kendrick), and the curmudgeonly Branch (Justin Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends.

Opinion

When I think troll, the mythical, violent creature is what comes to my mind. Is it become I grew up with Harry Potter? Maybe. My point is, I never had one of those neon-haired troll dolls. So, even though I'm not a kid anymore, I was quite interested in seeing "Trolls". It eventually turned out to be just a colourful family film with great music.

My biggest complain is the plot. It doesn't have anything new to offer - it's basically the one DreamWorks seems to be repeating over and over again -, it can be very predictable, it does have a lot of holes, and it lacks of that something that would have left a longer impression. On the other hand, it's easy to follow and the film's short running time makes it perfect for kids.

Another thing kids will definitely enjoy are the characters. But it's not the same for adults. While they are very cute, colourful, funny, these Trolls are also quite annoying, and poorly developed. Not to mention the fact that Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, is basically a copy of Joy from "Inside Out". The voice cast, however, does a good job over all.

The humour isn't working very well either. Sure, the characters are funny, but they are not enough to compensate the lack of good jokes. It is plenty of kids movies with adult jokes that of course kids won't get or need to hear. This one's don't even make adults laugh.

And now let's look on the bright side. Kudos to the filmmakers for being able to incorporate such a great soundtrack into the story. Definitely not an easy job considering the story. In fact, not only those songs are a joy for the hears, but they also fit. And the animation is also good.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Bad Santa (2003)

Genre

Comedy | Crime

Director

Terry Zwigoff

Country

USA

Cast

Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter, Bernie Mac, Octavia Spencer, Cloris Leachman, Alex Borstein, Billy Gardell, Bryan Callen, Tom McGowan, Ajay Naidu, Ethan Phillips, Matt Walsh, Max Van Ville, Ryan Pinkston, Curtis Taylor

Storyline

Santa (Billy Bob Thornton) and his Little Helper (Tony Cox) are two conman that rob department stores on Christmas Eves. It's only when Sana befriends a troubled kid (Brett Kelly) that they run into problems.

Opinion

Let's be honest, we all are sick and tired of those Christmas family films where everyone is happy, bad guys turn good and basically everyone is just enjoying Christmas. Well, at least I am. Call me the Grinch, but I don't like Christmas.

If you are a partner in crime of mine then "Bad Santa" is the perfect film for you. It is a dark comedy hilarious from start to finish, a very inappropriate Christmas movie and also manages to be slightly touching.

The film's plot isn't anything special. Actually, if anything, it isn't even that good and needs a lot of work, but somehow Terry Zwigoff makes it work bringing to the screen this very fun story about a dark side of Christmas, that not only assaults the Christmas spirit, but also tells the story of a man who has lost all faith in humanity and how that will be restored. And he does that without being over sentimental.

The film doesn't care much for the characters either. The main character, Santa, indeed is a one-dimensional, quite stereotypical cynical and suicidal character. And the others aren't any better. However, the cast makes those cardboard characters work, starting from Billy Bob Thornton who gives an extremely funny performance as the alcoholic Santa - he even received a Golden Globe nomination for the role. The film also benefits of Tony Cox, John Ritter and Bernie Mac.

At last but not least, the humour. It is tremendously vulgar, dark and sick, so it's definitely not for everyone, but if you like this wicked sense of humour, you'll really enjoy this dark comedy for grown ups.