2016 Academy Award Winners

"I'm here at the Academy Awards - otherwise known as the White People's Choice Awards.". Chris Rock was on fire tonight, and used his Oscar opening monologue as a vehicle to address the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. That's exactly what one would have expected and I absolutely loved it.


Jokes aside, Chris's message was clear, black actors must get the same opportunities as white actors, not just once. And this also applies to other minorities as well.

Back to the ceremony, Lady Gaga brought to the stage the abuse survivors, but The Weeknd was the best musical act and had the best original song in my opinion.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" got a love of love, and "The Revenant" almost left high and dry. But without further ado, let's see this years winners and losers.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Genre

Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi

Director

William Shatner

Country

USA

Cast

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Laurence Luckinbill, David Warner, George Murdock, Todd Bryant, Spice Williams-Crosby, Charles Cooper Cynthia Gouw

Storyline

Captain Kirk (Williams Shatner) and his crew has to deal with Spock's long-lost half-brother Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God at the center of the galaxy.

Opinion

Spock is too busy trying to understand humans and humour to do all the job so he left the reins of direction to Kirk, who better stick to his job of captain of the Enterprise because he is not a good director.

"Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" unfortunately is another weak odd numbered film.

In the first part that sees Kirk, Spock and McCoy camping there is humour, and the influence of the fourth chapter is palpable. This is arguably the best part of the film and the most enjoyable. Then the crew of the Enterprise stumbles across a bad idea, poorly executed that turns into a bad film as one would expect.

While I liked the idea of Spock having a brother brother which is totally different from the other Vulcans - Sybok uses sensibility and passion instead of sense and logic -, I don't get his obssession with finding God. He probably represents the Christian missionary, but I don't see the point in a Star Trek film. And the film doesn't even explain who the fake God was in the end of the film. And the end is just terrible. A cocktail party with the Klingons? Seriously? How about no?

Most of the time the comedy seems forced instead of being natural, especially when Sulu and Chekov were lost and Chekov blows into the communicator to simulate a blizzard; that just wasn't funny. 

The badly executed, fake-looking special effect doesn't help either, but that didn't bother me so much. Some of the acting was weak and over the top though, and that did quite bother me. 

9 (2009)

Genre

Animation | Action | Adventure

Director

Shane Acker

Country

USA

Voice Cast

Elijah Wood, Fred Tatasciore, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, John C. Reilly, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, Alan Oppenheimer, Tom Kane, Helen Wilson

Storyline

In a world destroyed in a war between man and machine, a hand-stitched doll with the number 9 on its back (Elijah Wood) comes to life, and with the help of others like him he must save humanity.

Opinion

Back in 2005 a young Shane Acker made a short film that was nominated for an Oscar. Four years later, thanks to creative genius Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, he was able to make an animated feature length out of it, and it's quite good.

Visually appealing though not providing a lot of food for thoughts, "9" is a breath of fresh air in terms of dystopian fiction and animation.

Shane Acker brought to the big screen a tale about the classical conflict between humans and machines, following "WALL·E" footprints, and borrowing maybe a little too much from other apocalyptic films like the abovementioned and "Terminator", but in the right way.

Still the film is not a nine. It suffers from a straightforward plot which ends exactly how one would expect it to, there aren't any real twists, or anything in the plot that makes it really engaging. Also there isn't a real explanation of what is going on. The characters had a lot of potential, all wasted though, and there is no character development.

The film also suffers from some dead moments and a swinging pace - very fast paced moments followed by long narrative pauses.

However, the animation, which is basically the reason I watched the film in the first place, is stunning. The scenery and landscapes are beautifully crafted, and although it is computer generated it really resembles the style of Tim Burton's stop-motion animation.

Overall it is quite enjoyable, and it's definitely worth checking out for the visuals.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Genre

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Director


Country

USA

Cast

Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Carrie Fisher, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Max von Sydow, Daniel Stern, Julie Kavner, Fred Melamed, Benno C. Schmidt, Joanna Gleason, Bobby Short, Lewis Black, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christian Clemenson, J. T. Walsh, John Turturro, Rusty Magee, Sam Waterston, Tony Roberts

Storyline

During a Thanksgiving Day party, we meet Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her husband Elliot (Michael Caine), who is in love with Lee (Barbara Hershey), Hannah's sister in a relationship with an old misanthrope painter (Max von Sydow), and Holly (Dianne Wiest), the other sister who is going through a deep crisis.

Opinion

Woody Allen's directing career has had its many ups and numerous downs. "Hannah and Her Sisters" is arguably another up. The film indeed is a brilliant, thoughtful, funny and very, very smart mixture of comedy and drama about life.

Once again Woody deals with human relationships, and this time he does focusing on three sisters: Hannah, Lee and Holly. Once again the title of the film is not random, and Hannah is the only sister's name in it because she is the family's point of reference. All relationships revolve around her, which appears as a static, ethereal character in contrast to the dynamism, and the psychological and sentimental instability of the other sisters and other characters. 

Allen uses that contrast to emphasize the superficiality of being perfect. Hannah, as Michael Caine says, is a woman "who gives so much and needs so little in return". Therefore what's interesting about perfection? 

The atmospheres well highlight the importance of the relations that bond the characters, and even though Allen throws in some heavy themes revolving around life, love, and death, he does it so cleverly he doesn't allow them to overshadow the characters.

Allen's script is clever and filled with interesting and superb dialogue. His direction also is quite wonderful, and the Manhattan setting, music and photography are nice as well.

Michael Caine is terrific as Hannah's husband, and thoroughly deserved the Oscar. It was quite a shock for me to see a young(er) Caine as well as seeing him pull off such a performance. Woody Allen is very funny as the hypochondriac who tries religions in a search for serenity. Max von Sydow gives a poignant performance too. Mia Farrow and Barbara Hershey also do a great job, but Dianne Wiest is the standing out sister, as she gives a brilliant performance as Holly.


A week ago I bought a rifle, I went to the store - I bought a rifle! I was gonna, you know, if they told me I had a tumor, I was gonna kill myself. The only thing that might've stopped me - MIGHT'VE - is that my parents would be devastated. I would have to shoot them also, first. And then I have an aunt and uncle - you know - it would've been a bloodbath. - Mickey 

The Danish Girl (2015)

Genre

Biography | Drama | Romance

Director

Tom Hooper

Country

UK | USA | Belgium

Cast

Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch, Emerald Fennell, Adrian Schiller, Henry Pettigrew

Storyline

Danish painter Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) has been married to fellow-artist Gerda (Alicia Vikander) for six years. After his wife painted him as a lady, Einer starts to change his appearance into a female appearance and gradually becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming a woman, a quest which leads him to attempt one of the first sex reassignment surgeries.

Opinion

Some films have everything it takes to be engaging, fascinating and emotional. "The Danish Girl" is one of them only on paper, because in spite of everything it has to offer, it is a cold and detached film.

Following George VI and Jean Valjean's dramas, Tom Hooper brings to the big screen a film about brave people in a time where their bravery was counted as mental illness, from a diagnosis of schizophrenia to a suspicion of perversion. 

This is not just a film about transsexuality, but also a love story with two equally powerful dramas: that of the man who suffers because he feels trapped in a physical cage, his body, that does not recognize as his own, and who is willing to risk his life to see his dream come true, being himself; then there is the even stronger and more dramatic one, that of the woman who loves that man so much she is willing to sacrifice herself in order to see him happy.

Now the problem, the lack of emotional impact. The film is emotionally sterile. Maybe if they didn't pay so much attention to the aesthetic of the film and worked a little better on the screenplay, it would have been different. The costumes are beautiful, so are interiors and landscapes, but they are not enough.

The musical score by Alexandre Desplat has purely romantic tones and reminds the audience it's a great love story the one the film is telling, but in some scenes is too intrusive, and ruins said scenes. Especially the one when Einar undresses in front of a mirror.

The acting isn't that brilliant either. While Alicia Vikander delivers an excellent performance as Gerda Wegener - still she should have been nominated for "Ex Machina" -, Eddie Redmayne is not as good as everyone is saying, and not only his performance doesn't come close to DiCaprio's John Glass but neither it does to Fassbender's Steve Jobs. Last year, I praised Redmayne's portrayal of Stephen Hawking for the awkward and exaggerated manner he brought to the character. Unfortunately, that does seem to be his trademark, because he does the exact same thing as Einar/Lili and it doesn't really work here. All he does to portray the complexity of his character is smile and blinking eyes. Some also claim that Redmayne was the perfect choice to play that role because of his androgynous beauty. To be honest I fail to see that too.

Live and Let Die (1973)

Genre

Action | Thriller

Director

Guy Hamilton

Country

UK

Cast

Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Julius Harris, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, Clifton James, Geoffrey Holder, Bernard Lee, Roy Stewart, Earl Jolly Brown, Lois Maxwell, Tommy Lane, Madeline Smith

Storyline

James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to New York to investigate the mysterious deaths of several British agents. He soon senses that there is a drugs link between the notorious Mr. Big, and Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), the secretive owner of a small Caribbean island.

Opinion

After "Diamonds Are Forever" Sean Connery finally left the role of James Bond, the producers once again had the task of looking for a new James Bond and they went with Roger Moore. I'm sorry to tell ya, but he is not as bad as people say, nor is the film.

It may not be the strongest entry in the series by any means - original song excluded though -, but "Live and Let Die" manages to be both captivating and exciting. What else could you ask to a Bond flick?

The film can be basically divided into two parts. A more comical first part that seems aiming to make fun of the franchise with many references to previous entries - the fake funeral, the snake instead of the tarantula, Bond's adventures in the bar, and more. In the second part action takes over, just think of the long and spectacular boat chase and the crazy sheriff trying to capture Bond. 

However, the film is not flawless. The spy-story and thriller kind of become a noir that is not that bad after all, but the story becomes more and more surreal, and the death of the villain - don't worry, he isn't Blofeld - says a lot about the cartoonish turn the series is taking.

The theme song is spectacular though. Probably the best in the whole franchise. Former Beatles member Paul McCartney and Wings "Live and Let Die" is exciting and iconic at the same time, and it's played both in opening and closing credits. This beautiful rock song perfectly blends with George Martin's musical score.

Like I said before, this is Roger Moore's debut as James Bond, and he is not that bad. He actually does a great job, and his Bond is very different to Connery and Lazenby. He is more chilled and charming and humorous. I'm sure all the hate comes from Connery's fanboys. Yaphet Kotto makes a good villain, and Jane Seymour does a fine job as Solitaire.

Thursday Movie Picks: Valentine's Edition: Love Triangles


Hello you and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.


February has come to an end and with it the Valentine's Edition as well - thank God! This week's topic is Love Triangles aka when two people both love a third person, and that third often loves them both. That simple. Without wasting any more time, here's my unconventional picks for the week:

X-Men (2000)

Magneto believes a war between mutants and humans is approaching, and needs Rogue, a young mutant run away from home, to accomplish his evil plan and Professor X tries to do anything in his power to stop him. While this happens, instead of properly helping, Wolverine and Cyclops are too busy fighting to win Jean Grey's heart. How selfish of them *look of disapproval*

Casablanca (1942)

During World War II, Rick is an exiled American who runs the most popular nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco. Rick is also in possession of two valuable letters of transit. Those letters should help Laszlo, a Czechoslovak underground leader, and his wife to get out of the country. But nobody ever said life is supposed to be easy, and it's not. Especially when Rick discovers that Laszlo's wife is his old flame Ilsa. 

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Jess, a teenager whose only passion is football and dreams of being a great footballer like David Beckham, strikes up a friendship with Jules, and joins a girls team coached by the handsome Joe. As if coming from a traditional, close-knit Sikh family wasn't enough, Jess and her new friend both fall in love with Joe, putting at stake their friendship and football career. This film's focus is not the love triangle, but I love it so much I had to make it fit somewhere.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Genre

Mystery | Sci-Fi

Director

Stanley Kubrick

Country

USA | UK

Cast

Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Douglas Rain, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, Frank Miller, Edward Bishop, Edwina Carroll, Penny Brahms, Heather Downham, Maggie d'Abo, Chela Matheson, Judy Keirn, Alan Gifford, Ann Gills, Vivian Kubrick, Kenneth Kendall

Storyline

When a large black monolith is found beneath the surface of the moon, the reaction immediately is that it was intentionally buried. When the point of origin is confirmed as Jupiter, an expedition is sent in hopes of finding the source. When Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) discovers faults in the expeditionary spacecraft's communications system, he discovers more than he ever wanted to know.

Opinion

Unpopular opinion coming in 3, 2, 1... "2001: A Space Odyssey" isn't perfect as people say or want you to believe. To be honest I just found the whole thing dreadfully tedious.

Some aspects of the film are arguably perfect, or almost. I'm talking about the objective aspects. The film indeed has gorgeous, out-of-this-world cinematography, breathtaking special effects for its era, a glorious, sublime musical score, dazzling colours and fine acting.

That sure is something, but it's not enough. The screenplay seems to be an optional, because I wasn't able to find one. Well, there is one, a very, very, very short one dragged on and on for two hours and a half.

A visionary tale for a 1960s film, the story is simple but I guess it's supposed to be profound. According to those who have understood the film, one is supposed to ask oneself a lot of questions, like what are those mysterious black monoliths, where did they came from, and what do they do, but I just didn't care neither about the answers nor about the questions.

Kubrick wanted to warn about the destiny of man in space, but we all know when films try to predict the future they always fail. Nowadays science is too busy trying to save the Earth from an environmental catastrophe to organize trips to Jupiter. Still I'm not saying it wasn't a great idea back in the '60s.

The evolution of monkeys, and seeing how these animals slowly learn to use a bone as an object surely is interesting. But like I just said it happens slowly, and for slowly I mean it takes the damn monkey about 20 minutes. In the meantime they also try to fight the monolith.

I can't wait to know what you think about this masterpiece.

Spotlight (2015)

Genre

Biography | Drama | History

Director

Tom McCarthy

Country

USA

Cast

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Gene Amoroso, Jamey Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Maureen Keiller, Richard Jenkins, Paul Guilfoyle, Len Cariou, Neal Huff, Michael Cyril Creighton, Laurie Heineman

Storyline

When the Boston Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.

Opinion

Inquiry films are quite a challenge because in the process of making one you have to combine complex facts and the story of those who lived that reality. You either can end up with a documentary-like film, or get lost. "Spotlight" does get lost. Kind of.

While it still is a solid drama, it lacks of that something that makes you wonder how the story will end even when you do know how the story will end. And this unfortunately is not the only problem.

Another one being the Catholic Church. It is unlikely that a team of journalists manages to dig in the darkest corners of the Church without the Church trying to actually do something. I suppose the Church would have opposed much stronger resistance considering how powerful we are told it is.

Also the film tells the story from the point of view of the victims and reporters and it portrays the perpetrators and their protectors in a negative way. Sure, there's nothing wrong with that, but at some point, one priest has the chance to explain the reason for his behavior. I'm not sure what is that supposed to prove. Just because something has happened to you, does that mean you are free to do the same thing to someone else? The priest doesn't show any regret yet the report is interested in listening to his explanation. I don't know, maybe I'm getting this wrong.

However, like I said before, it still is a good film. The pacing is quite slow but it serves to show better the struggle and long research conducted by the team of reporters in order to put under the spotlight those abuses that have been covered-up for years.

Tom McCarthy did an astounding job directing the film and writing the screenplay with Josh Singer. His storytelling lacks emotion but he clearly wanted to tell the story in a certain way, and he did it.

The acting is top-notch. Mark Ruffalo will never stop surprising me. He is fully engaged in the role of reporter Mike Rezendes and along with Michael Keaton, he pulls off the best performance in the film. Rachel McAdams also does a brilliant job - I'm sure I've already mentioned how glad I am she's doing serious stuff -, but she doesn't belong in the Best Actress category this year. Great performances also from Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber.

Overall the film is fine, but in my humble opinion I don't think it can compete with "The Revenant" or "Mad Max: Fury Road".


"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them." - Mitchell Garabedian

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Genre

Adventure | Comedy | Sci-Fi

Director

Leonard Nimoy

Country

USA

Cast

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Robin Curtis, Catherine Hicks, Jane Wyatt, Mark Lenard, Brock Peters, Robert Ellenstein, John Schuck, Joe Lando

Storyline

To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it, humpback whales. 

Opinion

I was told there is an unwritten rule amongst Star Trek fans that the odd numbered films are never as good as the even numbered films. This fourth entry in the series proves that.

"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" is an exciting, charming and funny turn for the franchise, and lighter than its predecessors.

The premise of the story is kind of bizarre - a threatening alien space vessel is destroying Earth in an attempt to communicate with an extinct species - but it turned out to be very good. The story flows very nicely, and passed the first half hour made of dialogue and little else, the film is a lot of fun. Sure, there are some plot holes. A lot of plot holes to be honest - the first that comes to my mind is how come no one found the ship -, but the humour makes up for this lack.

Spock, dressed like a hippie because he lost his uniform, made me laugh out loud a lot of times as he tries to understand human behaviour, as well as the crew as they try to find their way through 21st century Earth.

Between a laugh and another, and despite the silly plot, the film makes a commentary about man's greed and selfishness, and his destruction of life. It is indeed the man the real villain.

The special effects are spectacular, and the action leaves room for humour, but who said that a great sci-fi film has to be action-packed and violent? Nobody, that's who said that.

Yet again directing, Leonard Nimoy does a terrific job and brings some depth to the plot; he also does a great job as Spock. William Shatner has the biggest role but has the least of fun as he has to carry an unlikely love interest. The rest of the cast does a good job as well.

Live long anprosper­čľľ­čĆ╗

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

Genre

Animation | Adventure | Comedy

Directors

Mark Burton | Richard Starzak

Country

UK

Voice Cast

Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, Kate Harbour, Richard Webber, Tim Hands, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate, Henry Burton, Dhimant Vyas, Sophie Laughton, Nia Medi James, Sean Connolly, Stanley Unwin, Andy Nyman, Jack Paulson, Nick Park

Storyline

Shaun the sheep (Justin Fletcher) is tired of doing the same work at the farm everyday. He decides to take a day off. In order to do that, he needs to make sure the farmer doesn't know. When more happens than they can handle, the sheep find their way in the big city. Now they need to get back to the farm.

Opinion

Despite not having seen the television series this film is based on, I had quite big expectation for this picture because of its Oscar nomination. I can say without a doubt that it deserves every single nomination it got, even though it can't compete with "Inside Out" or "Anomalisa".

Witty, hilarious and sweet, "Shaun the Sheep Movie" is eighty-five minutes of pure entertainment and lightheartedness for all ages. Yep, adults as well. 

In this film there are the two elements that characterize Aardman's productions: claymation, the art of making a film with plasticine characters filmed in stop motion, and British humour expressed without words, but through actions, 'facial' expressions, and comical moments, with some slapstick scenes that live up to Chaplin's - like a memorable scene at the restaurant where the sheep, wearing human clothes and pretending to be humans, try to have lunch

The animation is excellent and if you didn't know it, it would have been hard to tell whether it was CGI or stop motion. 

Directors and screenwriters Mark Burton and Richard Starzak didn't just lengthened an episode of the series or put together several episodes, but created a story about a small rebellion against monotony that turns bad and they enriched it with plenty of emotions and humour.

The story is very easy to follow, the characters are very likable, especially Shaun the main sheep, and the lack of dialogue is spot-on. The closing credits also deserve being mentioned: they are nice, and the song is very catchy. 

Definitely worth the time!

Deadpool (2016)

Genre

Action | Comedy | Romance | Sci-Fi

Director

Tim Miller

Country

USA | Canada

Cast

Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapi─Źi─ç, Leslie Uggams, Jed Rees, Karan Soni, Stan Lee

Storyline

Subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) adopts the alter ego Deadpool and hunts down the man (Ed Skrein) who nearly destroyed his life.

Opinion

Remember that "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" version Ryan Reynolds played in 2009? Bloody awful, wasn't it? We can finally forget about that pathetic attempt now, thank you Marvel!

Dirty, hilarious, romantic, very rude and violent, "Deadpool" is an excellent piece of entertainment as well as a total game changer for superhero movies.

First things first, thank god Fox has the rights. Just imagine how normal and probably boring this film would have been if Disney made it? Before this, I didn't see the need for an R rated Marvel film, but I was proved wrong. Sure, there's profanity everywhere, gratuitous nudity - I gotta admit it was kinda awkward when my mother asked me about the Stan Lee's cameo -, sex, a masturbation scene and Deadpool giving a handjob to a unicorn in the credits, but it wouldn't have worked the same without all of this.

The plot is simple: revenge. But the minimalist plot works perfectly here, because Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick - the great minds behind "Zombieland" - created a wonderful screenplay, full of humour, humorous moments and acrobatic, slapstick, and violent action scenes. 

The humour. To be honest I wasn't expecting the kind of juvenile humour this film has to offer for 108 minutes, but it works surprisingly well. Not every line or joke is great, but they don't really need to when you have a character like Deadpool. What else can I say about a film that had me laughing in the opening credits? And teases (not only) the audience in the post-credits scene? Just brilliant. 

The action is just beautiful. Every sequence is creative and infused with Deadpool's humour, the rallenty also works well, the fights choreography is great, and even though some CGI has been used, I'm sure lot of the credits goes to the impressive stunt work.

There's also a super '80s soundtrack. I haven't loved a soundtrack so much since "Guardians of the Galaxy".

Ryan Reynold plays Deadpool again after 7 years, but this guy is completely different from the other one. He fits the role of Deadpool wonderfully; he is hilarious and charismatic, and nails the role. He also has a great chemistry with Morena Baccarin who plays Vanessa, Deadpool love interest. Gotta give him the credits for the making of this film as well, because he started fighting for this film back in 2004 when "Blade: Trinity" was released. Ed Skrein gives quite a fantastic comedic performance as that British villain aka Francis aka Ajax. The supporting cast also does a good job.

In summary, don't bring your kids to see this. And I'd like to apologize for saying this is a superhero film, because it's not. 

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Genre

Comedy | Fantasy | Romance

Director


Country

USA

Cast

Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Edward Herrmann, John Wood, Deborah Rush, Zoe Caldwell, Van Johnson, Karen Akers, Milo O'Shea, Dianne Wiest, George Martin

Storyline

Trapped in a dead-end job and an abusive marriage, Cecelia (Mia Farrow) regularly seeks refuge in the local movie house. She spends much of her time at the local movie theater repeatedly seeing the same movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo. One day, a minor character in the movie, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), literally walks off the screen and joins Cecilia in exploring the world on the other side of the screen.

Opinion

Has the idea of a movie character literally walking off the screen ever crossed your mind? And what would happen if that occurs? Woody Allen thought about it, and this is what "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is about, a brilliant, surreal and original enchanting fantasy that envelops the viewer into a whirlwind of adventures. 

In life not everything goes the right way, or the way we planned, and the lack of courage and strength to react often leads us to accept situations we are not fully happy about. Woody Allen thus presents cinema as a possible way out from reality, mixing together reality and fiction up until it's almost impossible to distinguish them.

The film induces us to consider the viewer's relationship with art, and art's relationship with reality by creating a two-way communication between art and reality, where real people want to refuge in fantasy and fiction characters want to live in real life, and poses a question: how deep are we willing to believe this is possible? This is the question Mia Farrow's Cecilia has to answer: choosing perfection/art or reality? Her choice shows how afraid we are of what it could be and that we end up choosing what seems to make more sense, even if that means going back to normality.

This time appearing as director and screenwriter only, Woody Allen once again shows why he is god of cinema. The cinematography, that alternates black and white to colour, still is Gordon Willis's and still is beautiful. 

Mia Farrow superbly plays Cecilia, and gives one of her best performances. Jeff Daniels is also good in the role of the character who comes into the real world, as well as the actor who plays that role. Danny Aiello is marvelous as Cecilia's abusive husband.

A must-see for any Allen fan and movie lover.


You make love without fading out? - Tom Baxter

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Genre

Action | Thriller

Director

Guy Hamilton

Country

UK | USA

Cast

Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Glover, Norman Burton, Joseph Furst, Lana Wood, Bruce Cabot, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Joe Robinson, Marc Lawrence, Sid Haig, Leonard Barr, Laurence Naismith, David Bauer, Ed Bishop, David de Keyser, Lola Larson, Trina Parks

Storyline

After traveling the world in his quest to kill Blofeld (Charles Gray), James Bond (Sean Connery) is ordered to investigate what he believes is a simple case of diamond smuggling. He soon discovers the extent of the problem and travels to America where a millionaire casino owner is suspected to be behind it all.

Opinion

Do you remember that song that goes like "You only need the light when it's burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow"? Well, it should have continued like "Only know you love George Lazenby when you get an uninspired Sean Connery".

A weak and tedious entry, "Diamonds Are Forever" doesn't have the same quality as its predecessors, but does have the license not to thrill.

There are so many problems with this one, it's hard to decide where to start. I'll go with the plot, I guess. A lousy plot stuck in the middle of a bad crime film and an even worse science fiction flick. It completely lacks suspense, and if you are looking for plot twists you better try with another film. Both boring and confusing, Bond moving from place to place and Blofeld's evil scheme in the background is basically what happens in a nutshell.

The film lacks the excitement of Sean Connery's earlier film, the running time seems not to be running at all, and nothing memorable really happens. And it's frustrating because the film started off quite well, with action, a decent idea and a great song - the desert chase scene is nice, and the Las Vegan chase scene is decent, but that's all.

Then there are the characters. George Lazenby left and took away all of Bond's humanity. The Bond girl is anything but memorable, and the villains are awful. I said villains because there's Blofeld - what a surprise, I really wasn't expecting that - and a gay hitmen duo who don't know each other's first names, and the only entertaining thing they do is dying.

And at last the acting. I don't think it can get any worse. Sean Connery lacks in charisma, and delivers every single line with the same bored expression like he doesn't give a shit. He also aged quite badly and that doesn't certainly help. Jill St. John is nothing but eye-candy. But that's a problem with that: her acting is so poor, it's hard to look at her, and listen to her annoyingly delivered lines. Blofeld has a new face, again. They casted Charles Gray this time, the same actor who played the British field-agent in Japan in "You Only Live Twice". I guess nobody cares if people get confused about it. And the perfonrance: a mess. He has no menace and probably makes the worst Blofeld and villain ever.

Hopefully things will change with Roger Moore. 

Thursday Movie Picks: Valentine's Edition: Movies with Memorable Declarations of Love


Hello you and welcome to Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

For this 3rd Valentine's Edition week, we are dealing with memorable declarations of love. Without further ado, let's get started!

Before Sunset (2004)

Nine years after Vienna, Jesse and Celine meet again in Paris. Much like their previous encounter, they decide to spend time together until Jesse is supposed to catch his flight back to New York. Just before he leaves, Celine sings, "Let me sing you a waltz / Out of nowhere, out of my thoughts / Let me sing you a waltz / About this one night stand / You were, for me, that night / Everything I always dreamt of in life / But now you're gone / You are far gone / All the way to your island of rain ... I don't care what they say / I know what you meant for me that day ... Even tomorrow in other arms, my heart will stay yours until I die.". If this one isn't memorable, I don't know what it is.

Released from a psychiatric hospital, Pat is determined to win back his wife, and recently widowed Tiffany offers to help him. Eventually they turn out to be what each other need, although Tiffany realizes it first. At the end Pat finally tells her, "I love you. I knew it the minute I met you. I'm sorry it took so long for me to catch up. I just got stuck.". The perfect end to a brilliant film.

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Harry and Sally first meet in Chicago and spend 18 hours together in a car headed to New York. They don't quite hit off, but over the next 10 years they occasionally meet and soon become friends. Inevitably the two end up sleeping together. Confused, Harry tries to break away, and only after some soul-searching he runs to find Sally on New Year's Eve and delivers a hell of a declaration. "I've been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is I love you." he says, "I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

Once (2007)

Genre

Drama | Music | Romance

Director

John Carney

Country

Ireland

Cast

Glen Hansard, Mark├ęta Irglov├í, Hugh Walsh, Gerard Hendrick, Alaistair Foley, Geoff Minogue, Bill Hodnett, Danuse Ktrestova, Darren Healy, Mal Whyte, Marcella Plunkett, Niall Cleary, Wittold Owski, Krzysztos Tlotka, Tomek Glowacki, Keith Byrne

Storyline

A modern-day musical about a busker (Glen Hansard) and an immigrant (Mark├ęta Irglov├í) and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

Opinion

Buried somewhere on my watchlist for a very long time, my interest in this film reborn when Jane at 500 Days Of Film said great things about it. It has been about two months since that happened, and yesterday I finally decided to spend a hour and a half of my time on it, and I'm glad I did it.

An excellent, gorgeous, honest film, "Once" will give you a unique experience and will remind you of why it is worth making and watching independent films.

The story is simple yet it captures your attention with its realism, and the ability to make you empathize with the characters, one way or another. What captives you the most is the romance between the boy and the girl - nope, they don't have names, they would be nothing but superfluous.

The two protagonists are able to mutually give themselves the greatest love possible, to feel good without needing any physical contact, or even a kiss. That contact or that kiss are not necessary for them to touch each other's soul.

The film, as well as the title, poses us a question: in life, it is possible to meet the person that really understands you, and touches your inner-self? If so, what will happen if you cannot spend the rest of your life with this person?

Entirely shot with a hand-held camera, yet the shots are not too shaky, on the streets of Dublin, the film makes you feel like you're there, in Dublin, with those two, and at the same time makes you feel their feelings through their wonderful music - "Falling Slowly" won the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Glen Hansard and Mark├ęta Irglov├í are perfect for the roles, and their sweet, and delicate chemistry really stands out. 

Videodrome (1983)

Genre

Horror | Sci-Fi

Director

David Cronenberg

Country

Canada

Cast

James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky, Lynne Gorman, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley, Reiner Schwarz, David Tsubouchi

Storyline

Sleazy lowlife cable TV operation Max Renn (James Woods) discovers a snuff broadcast called "Videodrome". Fascinated by the sick and twisted program, Renn searches to discover where the show is coming from and who is behind it. His investigation turns up some strange and terrifying information.

Opinion

1980s. The cinematic audience has already watched with enthusiasm the classics of science fiction - "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Alien", and "Star Wars" -, all different yet similar films. Somebody had to come up with something different, something revolutionary; that's when David Cronenberg stepped in and the shocked the audience with "Videodrome", a disturbing, bizarre, twisted and mind-bending film.

The plot is confusing, contradictory and quite absurd, the film lacks any good dialogue and character development, the storytelling doesn't fully engage and the metaphors contained in the film sometimes distract from the actual film, yet this is a great film.

The reason of that must be sought in its philosophy. "Videodrome" is not about mind-controlling cable shows - that would be the most stupid idea ever, right? -, but about our unhealthy relationship with media.

The world of media, from which we are dominated today even more than we were in 1983, is like a cancer devouring us from the outside; it increasingly erodes our relationship with reality and forces us to live, experience human relationships virtually. This television takes hold of our minds, and it deprives us of the opportunity and ability to be in control of ourselves.

Quite prophetic, isn't it? Anyway, this reflection - quite banal nowadays - is shown by the Canadian director through sick and filthy images, a good use of gory special effects, and moments of beautiful photography, thanks to which "Videodrome" remains imprinted in the viewer's mind.

James Woods gives an intense performance as the cable TV pornographer who stumbles upon Videodrome. He is totally convincing, but the lack of character development keeps you from feeling him. Deborah Harry is excellent as Woods sadomasochist girlfriend, and she has a great (sexual) chemistry with Woods.


"Television is reality, and reality is less than television." - Brian O'Blivion

The Acting Black Blogathon: Lupita Nyong'o


Hello you there and welcome! In the U.S., February has been designated Black History Month, and Wendell over at Dell on Movies had the brilliant idea to host a blogathon about it, and asked us to highlight black actors. You can either write about one actor's performance or about one actor's career. Or you could make a list. 

At first I wanted to write about one of Samuel L. Jackson's performances, but it would have been an obvious choice. Plus, I wouldn't  have been able to write a good piece. I'm not good with lists, so I decided to go with an actress I admire, both as an artist and as a woman, Lupita Nyong'o.

Born in Mexico City in 1983 to Kenyan parents, she grew up mostly in Africa in an artistic family. Acting was in her blood, and she played her very first role, a minor role in Charles Dickens's "Oliver Twist" while attending the Rusinga International school.

Inspired to pursue a professional acting career by Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey's performances in "The Color Purple", Nyong'o starts her career as part of the production crew in several films.

In 2009, she moves her first steps alone as she directs, writes, and produces "In My Genes", a fascinating and inspiring documentary about albinism in a predominantly black society such as the Kenyan.

She works unnoticed in the cinematic world for years, but thing are about to change when she is casted to play Patsey in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave". Before you know, the whole world is talking about her and her performance. As much as I love McQueen, the film wouldn't have been the same without her, the emotional epicenter of the entire film. Her performance as Patsey is devastating, and the tears, and anger that will grown inside of you during the film are because of her. There it is, the birth of a star.

In January 2014, she is 'surprisingly' nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Academy Awards, and even more unexpected is her win over much more experienced (and famous) colleagues, and her emotional acceptance speech, closed by a quote I'll remember forever -- When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid. -- was remarkable.

Thank to that role, she becomes an inspiration and an image of hope to black women, and later delivers another moving speech at the Black Women in Hollywood. She talks about beauty, and how she used to feel about her own skin. How unbeautiful she used to feel and how much she wished for a lighter skin. She spends words about the moment in her life she finally realized that beauty was not a thing that she could acquire, but it was something that she just had to be. "I hope [...] that you feel the validation of your external beauty but also get the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty" she says.

This is exactly what she delivers as Patsey. It is indeed the beauty of her spirit, her inner beauty that enchants the soul and that the viewer remembers. This is the kind of beauty that has survived in the young woman portrayed by Nyong'o while the outer beauty, the one everyone seems to be desperately looking for, has faded away.

Later that year, she plays a minor role in "Non-Stop", an action film starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. Unfortunately the role doesn't give her the chance to fully express her potential.

She quickly becomes an icon of beauty and style, and that same year she is named "The Most Beautiful Woman" by People Magazine, and "Woman of the Year" by Glamour.

She arguably likes to be on covers, but that's never been her ambition. What she really wants is to be the best actress she can be, and she wants to be in situations that challenge her to continue to do that. That's the reason why she chooses to play Maz Kanata, a thousand-year-old space pirate in the latest Star Wars film. She wanted to challenge herself, and what a better way to do that than portraying a CGI-created character?

Well, despite rumors saying her character's role was drastically reduced because J.J. Abrams wasn't happy with her performance as she seemed to be struggling with CGI and she didn't feel a great connection to the character, her voice performance in "The Force Awakens" is more than satisfactory. We don't know a lot about Maz Kanata, but her voice sounds wise as required by someone who has seen a lot of things.

In 2015 she returns to stage with a starring role in "Eclipsed", a drama about the decisive roles women played in the second Liberian civil war, written by Danai Gurira - also the actress best known as Michonne on "The Walking Dead". The production, that began off-Broadway, will mark Nyong'o Broadway debut this year. I haven't seen her off-Broadway and I won't have the chance to see her at the John Golden Theatre, but according to the critics she delivers another heartbreaking, and intelligent performance as she portrays a 15-year-old orphan.

With another voice work as Raksha in "The Jungle Book", scheduled to be released on April, and a leading role in the upcoming biographical drama "The Queen of Katwe", hopefully she will continue her great work.

I hope I've paid a fair homage to such a wonderful artist and woman. Thank you for reading, and I also hope I did a good job and I didn't bore you to death with my piece.