Friday, July 20, 2018

Ocean’s 8

First it was the 60s, and La cuadrilla de los once, with Frank Sinatra and his colleagues from the "Rat Pack" (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop ...). Then it was the turn of George Clooney, born to be the leader of the most stylish band of Hollywood thieves of the new century (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Cassey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould ...), and with the that would give up to three punches on orders from Steven Soderbergh. The formula was clear: to bring together the group of the coolest stars in the world of entertainment and to spoil them with the softness with which we imagine that Sinatra prepared a mimosa at breakfast time. 'Cool' types, elegant types, funny types. It was about following the adventures of some thieves with so much class that one would say that they do not commit crimes, if not the opposite: the hedonistic spirit behind their scams is based on a certain poetic justice; They steal because, simply, they are not willing to give up any of the pleasures of life. In other words, they robbed the dark vaults of the capitalist system to reinvest it in beauty (travel, food, clothing, art ...). And all without losing your composure.

How to collect the witness in 2018, once the Clooney stage is closed? No doubt about it: it's the girls' turn. The boy band of the Nespresso ambassador gives way to the buddies of Sandra Bullock: Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson ... Thus to form a group of eight actresses with disparate charisma and diverse characters in pursuit of inclusion. Bullock puts on the skin of Debbie Ocean, sister of the Danny Ocean that interpreted its companion of fatigues in Gravity. And as such, he comes to us: out of jail on parole, with a plan in his head and a team to recruit. The Ocean genetics. At his side, an electric Cate Blanchett assumes the role that Pitt played in his day, the right hand of the leader. Owner of a bar (discarding presentation), with a pimp point that the sophisticated Australian fits with obvious enjoyment and lends to all emulate Kristen Stewart in the last edition of the Cannes Festival. And if before the goal was the casinos, now it will be a Cartier pendant valued at 150 million dollars, one of the jewels of the most chic and exclusive event of the North American fashion, the Gala MET. An object of desire with which the character incarnated by a fabulous Anne Hathaway, who parodies her diva image ends up taking the film as who does not want the thing, in what constitutes without a doubt the most satisfactory theft of all the footage.

All the elements that made the saga famous are in front of the screen. But by the time Bullock puts into practice an ingenious method to sneak into luxury hotels we will realize that something is definitely missing, and that absence must be sought behind the cameras: the direction of Gary Ross is flat where Steven Soderbergh was all garbo . The functional classicism of the director of The Hunger Games finds its natural place in productions - notables - like Seabiscuit or Jones' free men, but in Ocean's 8 it shows a certainty that we already had learned when comparing the Clooney trilogy with the Sinatra original : Beyond the costumes, the locations and their stars, it was the Soderbergh factor that managed to turn a fetishistic nonsense into a sly escapism game of assumed frivolity that seduced the viewer constantly. A bubbling montage, a grainy photograph of beautiful old school colors, seventies zooms, fun with framing, the dreamy soundtrack of David Holmes ... A sparkling gift that is left out of the equation here and leaves the seams of a Costly suit dress without conviction. In a moment of Ocean's 8, through a funny trick orchestrated by Bullock and Blanchett, the dressmaker played by Bonham Carter will go from being "outdated" to being "iconic". It is, therefore, about putting value. In this case, staging.

The vaunted genre subversion that so many characters have spilled on the internet is also worth highlighting. There is no doubt that the strategy is, above all, of a commercial nature; the industrial machinery of Hollywood trying again to monetize everything that crosses him in front. And according to the blockbuster that already accumulates in the United States, the play has gone well. But even the revenue that capitalism tries to get out of the feminist 'zeitgeist' we can get something positive: the mere questioning of twisted fang with which on the Internet is received female reboots like the Ghostbusters of Kristen Wiig and justifies its own existence. The pity is that Ross is too shy when it comes to playing with a certain idea of ​​"the feminine", as Soderbergh did with Clooney's gang and "the masculine", always with one foot in self-parody. A failed opportunity, because it will be, precisely, when you take advantage of the particularities of having a story starring a cast of women where we find the most refreshing of this Ocean's 8. Perhaps, these female reboots would have to start hiring a director.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is an eighteen-year-old extroverted young woman who, after meeting the charismatic poet Percy Shelley, a man with advanced ideas for the time, falls in love at first sight. In spite of the difference of age they initiate a romance, that is complicated when the family of Mary discovers it, prohibiting that both return to be seen.

To escape the constant rumors, the two go with Claire, the half-sister of Mary, to a house that Lord Byron has in Lake Geneva, in Switzerland, where the young woman conceives the idea of ​​Frankenstein, writing the novel as a Escape route. But, at a time when women writers were not taken into account, she will have to protect her monster and forge her own identity.

Haifaa Al-Mansour (The Green Bicycle) directs this biopic written by Emma Jensen and Conor McPherson (A por todas). Ellen Fanning (Trumbo) stars in the film as Mary, with Douglas Booth (Pride + Prejudice + Zombies) playing her lover Percy and Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out) in the skin of Claire. In the cast we also find Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark in Game of Thrones), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones) Tom Sturridge (The Madding Crowd) and Joanne Forggatt (Downton Abbey) ).

When it comes to Frankenstein's monster, it is sometimes difficult to discern if the story told by the novel or the story behind it is more fascinating. I mean, Mary Shelley, the author, could perfectly be a fictional character. Or perhaps that Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, on the other hand, may already belong more to the territory of science than to that of literature and cinema. Be that as it may, this is the initial success of filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, responsible for The Green Bicycle (2012): addressing the biographical experience of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin - who happened to be Shelley to marry the poet of the same name - as if it were a 'woman's picture', a melodrama focused on the adventure of a woman trying to reassert herself as such in a hostile society. And, of course, all in the context of a film that wants to make clear the female condition of the protagonist: in the background, Mary Shelley is the story of an artist who fights for recognition in a world of men, already try her husband, his friends - Lord Byron, without going any further - or his very own father, an ancient radical come down.

That is the journey that this second long of Al-Mansour tells, already made under the umbrella of a co-production halfway between Hollywood and Europe. We see Mary during her first youth, still living in her widowed father's house, after the death of a mother with an equally artistic and transgressive vocation. We also see her in her first steps as a writer, as a poet who still has to find her own voice, as her father tells her about it. We follow her when she meets Shelley, a rebellious literary man who shows her the ways of love and rebellion. And we continue with her at the moment in which, due to different biographical events, she reaffirms herself as a woman and as an artist, she frees herself from the masculine domain and launches herself to write her first novel, Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus, at first anonymously , then with his real name. On the one hand, Al-Mansour - and his screenwriter Emma Jensen - insist on the feminist side of the story, in what constitutes the weakest part of the film, since the claim is mixed with a certain tendency to the more conventional biopic, to the film of 'qualité'. On the other hand, the best of all is that he knows how to extract an energy, a truth, that finally presents the protagonist as a combative girl, but also fragile, whose confrontation with the society of her time has more to do with movies of Nicholas Ray that with the typical British fiction of literary inspiration.

Well, Shelley is also a brittle and vulnerable boy, however much he sometimes appears as tyrannical and macho. And Byron appears on screen as a mix between the young David Bowie and the Viscontian archetype of the decadent aristocrat. In those moments, Mary Shelley becomes a film about the yearnings of youth, always condemned to failure. Or around the life that advances relentlessly and leaves us behind, badly injured and battered. That is why Al-Mansour's film is more convincing when it presents the creation of Mary, the monster of Frankenstein, as a "creature" born of his pain and frustration when he wants to link it to specific events in his biography. And that is why, too, it is more emotional and subtle when it dispenses with the great topics of history that we all know -the birth of the novel in Mary's mind, during her Genevan stay in the house of Byron- and she starts to narrate the small things, the daily tragedies, the way in which a disoriented young woman gradually becomes a woman and an artist, even at the cost of losing faith in love and in life as she had conceived them in her first youth. The greatest virtue of Haifaa's film Al-Mansour is that it could perfectly be the story of a girl who learns to live and write when all her illusions vanish.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Walk in the Woods

After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) returns to the United States in order to undertake the great adventure of his life: climbing the Appalachians, crossing some of the most beautiful landscapes of the continent. On this trip he has the help of an old friend (Nick Nolte), who is the only madman willing to accompany him. The only problem is that they have a very different idea of ​​what "adventure" means. Adaptation of the memories of Bryson, a well-known writer of travel books.

  • Original title: A Walk in the Woods
  • Year 2015
  • Duration 98 min.
  • country United States
  • Director Ken Kwapis
  • Music Nathan Larson
  • Photography John Bailey
  • Cast Robert Redford, Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Nick Nolte, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Derek Krantz, Linds Edwards, Andrew Vogel, Hayley Lovitt, John Kap, Walter Hendrix III, R. Keith Harris, Alex Van

It is a better film than the specialized critic believes. It is entertaining and well-intentioned that in these times it is appreciated. This film whose purpose is to entertain and offer a simple common vision without melodramas or dramatic nonsense that few love and more when you get to an age where it gives you one thing that the other and what they will say to look good.

Well, for my criteria, she is honest and nice and we say for the whole family. There is no sin in it that is so ... because life itself is as it is and the purpose of this type of cinema in one part is to entertain and tell funny stories to evade reality. This film has very well defined nuances with the two characters fantastically played by two great Robert Redford and Nick Nolte these in their professional twilight.

And life is that simple ... who wants to escape and be half happy to see this movie that will please you.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hotel Artemis

The directorial debut of screenwriter Drew Pearce (whose most notable screenwriting credit is Iron Man 3), is Hotel Artemis, which suffers from the beginning by trying to do too much at once. It is not difficult to see where the compulsion came from, however, considering that the cast includes figures such as Sterling K. Brown, Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum and Charlie Day, something else was expected.

Things start with "Waikiki" by Sterling K. Brown, who by failing in a robbery with his brother (Brian Tyree Henry) is hurt in the process. Both end at the Artemis Hotel, an exclusive member-only hospital run by Foster and his portly assistant, Everest (Dave Bautista), while out in Los Angeles descends into rampant chaos. From there, things start to get confused. We are quickly introduced to a cast of characters that populate Artemis, from "Nice" (Sofia Boutell) an assassin for hire, to "Acapulco" (Charlie Day) a weapons dealer, who seem to have their own agendas.

Foster's character is called "The Nurse", as his specific code name, is the leader here. Hotel Artemis never decides exactly where it wants to put the weight of the narrative. Brown and Foster share most of the focus in the first act, but as the plot begins to build and the threads begin to converge, it becomes increasingly unclear who is the protagonist and who is on whose behalf. It becomes even more confusing when a wounded police (Jenny Slate) emerges, who appears just before the arrival of a crime lord known as The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) and his entourage, which makes this a variable Russian roulette of exposure and background structure.

While all these loose ends seem to have little connection, Pearce's script intelligently links them all and, equally importantly, a cast that performs without a weak performance.

Foster, of course, stands out as the neurotic nurse with a past. Dexterously, he goes from exploring the nervous side of his character to finding his sense of humor and, ultimately, his humanity. If vulnerability, sense of duty and threat can inhabit the same body, Brown dominates him as Sherman, courtesy of a script that allows him to explore his faults and remorses as if it were completely natural. While Foster and Brown are proven actors, it is Bautista who brings a lot of fun to his character. He is not only an ordinance but also an executor, his "Everest" gives a lot of value to the film.

The only problem with the cast is that Jeff Goldblum is not on the screen enough. In its limited time, it makes the audience feel like they are dating an old friend.

The cinematography of Chung-hoon Chung (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) shows a great eye for style, allowing its illumination, especially in the climactic scenes, which bathes in crimson, to establish the mood and tone.

For a film that clearly goes for the science-fiction action niche, it does not have many action sequences. The general lack of it, eventually, is based on some scenes of struggle with flavor to the classic cinema of martial arts enough satisfactory, that cheerfully they show so much the physicist of Boutella as the one of Baptist. Hotel Artemis is not particularly interested in surprising the spectators with acrobatics and visual effects, but in entertaining us with interesting dialogues and characters, but mainly with a decadent atmosphere that fascinates from its first shot.

Artemis Hotel is worth it in your short stay required.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

The idea is not new. In 1932, the applied Hollywood producer Edmund Goulding related in 'Gran Hotel' the stories of several characters housed in a luxurious hotel. Beyond the established stories, what really mattered was the notoriety of the chosen actors, on whom fell the dramatic (and commercial) effectiveness of the proposal: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Carwford, Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery. In 'The Exotic Hotel Marygold', eighty years later, the same criterion is repeated, changing the sophisticated American hotel to a ramshackle but charming hotel in the Indian city of Bangalore, the fifth most populated city in the country - what in the film in a way or another we can not remember, and turning into authentic stars of the show a handful of veterans and notable British actors: Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie.

Here would end the direct comparisons between a classic Hollywood film and a British film with a Bollywood accent, which is the concept of any Anglo-Saxon production when it comes to Indian lands (see 'Slumdog Millionaire', the Oscar-winning film by Danny Boyle from which 'The exotic Marygold hotel' inherits its main actor, the contestant Dev Patel). But the formula is very similar: several characters, a central scenario in which all appear communicated, fragmented stories, tragic accent and some comic touch ...

What leads each of the protagonists to settle down in the least exotic of the Bangalore hotels is quite inconsistent, but that is only the starting point. John Madden, director who meets again some of his usual actors (Dench and Wilkinson), is interested in what happens from the moment in which the characters, some belonging to the third age, others in the last phase of maturity They arrive in a city that fascinates, worries and irritates them in equal parts, and as India in general and the hotel in particular influences their future experiences and decisions.

As in every choral story, from 'The Seven Samurai' to 'Alien, the 8th Passenger', from 'The Stagecoach' to 'Calabuch' - and Madden's film, as 'Grand Hotel', is choral - some characters have more force than others either because of the greater conviction of their interpreters or because the script places them in more privileged positions. Both coincide in the stories of Dench and Wilkinson, the emotional overcoming of her and the reunion with his youthful love; two experiences and two interpretations that are without problems to those of the rest of the stories and performances of the film.

In favor: the work of all the actors, especially Dench and Wilkinson, because they are the best and because their characters have more scope.

Against: the tourist tone, the hangover of Bollywood, the actor of 'Slumdog Millionaire'.