Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Golden Globes Nominees, from high-buzzed "Lincoln" to secret "Django Unchained"

While Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty have been gathering the most appraisal from critics, the absence of Django Unchained and Les Miserables from any major film festivals and their extended secrecy until the premieres both on December 25th swept them off sight of early Oscar projections - but what about this? I believe The Master will play differently to the Academy and I'm particularly happy with Moonrise Kingdom's surprise and Argo's confirmation. Where the hell is Mad Men and go Girls!
Life of Pi
Django Unchained
Zero Dark Thirty

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables,
Moonrise Kingdom,
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,
Silver Linings Playbook

Mark Boal ("Zero Dark Thirty")
Tony Kushner ("Lincoln")
David O. Russel ("Silver Linings Playbook")
Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained")
Chris Terrio ("Argo")

Ben Affleck ("Argo")
Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty")
Ang Lee ("Life of Pi")
Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln")
Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained")

Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln)
Richard Gere ("Arbitrage")
John Hawkes ("The Sessions")
Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master")
Denzel Washington ("Flight")

Hugh Jackman ("Les Miserables")
Jack Black ("Bernie")
Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings Playboy")
Bil Murray ("Hyde Park on Hudson")
Ewan McGregor ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen")

Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty")
Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone")
Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock")
Naomi Watts ("The Impossible")
Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea")

Emily Blunt ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen")
Judi Dench ("The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel")
Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings PLaybook")
Maggie Smith ("Quartet")
Meryl Streep ("Hope Springs")

Alan Arkin ("Argo")
Leonardo DiCaprio ("Django Unchained")
Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master")
Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln")
Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained")

Amy Adams ("The Master")
Sally Field ("Lincoln")
Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables)
Helen Hunt ("The Sessions")
Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy")

A Royal Affair
The Intouchables
Rust and Bone

Hotel Transylvania
Rise of the Guardians

Mychael Danna, "Life of Pi"
Alexandre Desplat, "Argo"
Dario Marianelli, "Anna Karenina"
Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, "Cloud Atlas"
John Williams, "Lincoln."

Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
The Newsroom

"The Big Bang Theory"
"Modern Family"

Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire")
Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad")
Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom")
Jon Hamm ("Mad Men")
Damian Lewis ("Homeland")

Connie Britton ("Nashville")
Glenn Close ("Damages")
Claire Danes ("Homeland")
Michelle Dockery ("Downtown Abbey")
Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife")

Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock")
Don Cheadle ("House of Lies")
Louis C. K. ("Louie")
Matt LeBlanc ("Episodes")
Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory")

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

Game Change
The Girl
Hatfields & McCoys
The Hour
Political Animal

Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Woody Harrelson (Game Change)
Toby Jones (The Girl)
Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gellhorn)

Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum)
Sienna Miller (The Girl)
Julianne Moore (Game Change)
Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals)

Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Ed Harris (Game Change)
Danny Huston (Magic City)
Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)
Sarah Paulson (Game Change)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Regina Pessoa enters the most prestigious animation film festival in the world

The Portuguese filmmaker features in this year's nominations for the Annie Awards, the highest regarded film festival exclusively dedicated to animation. The nine-minute short film Kali, the Little Vampire (2012) goes for Best Short Film and has its English voice-over lend by British star Christopher Plummer.

Best Animated Featur

Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Frankenweenie - The Walt Disney Studios 
Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation 
ParaNorman - Focus Features 
Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation 
The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Aardman Animations 
The Rabbi's Cat - GKIDS 
Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios

Best Animated Short Subject 

Brad and Gary - Illumination Entertainment
Bydlo - National Film Board of Canada
Eyes on the Stars - StoryCorps
Goodnight Mr. Foot - Sony Pictures Animation
Kali the Little Vampire - National Film Board of Canada
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare - Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV
Paperman - Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Simpsons - Bill Plympton Couch Gag' - Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

Writing in an Animated Feature Production

Chris Butler - ParaNorman - Focus Features
Gideon Defoe - The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Aardman Animations
Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Karey Kirkpatrick - From Up on Poppy Hill - GKIDS
John August - Frankenweenie - The Walt Disney Studios
Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi - Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee - Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios

Animated Effects in an Animated Production 

Andrew Nawrot, Joe Gorski, Grant Laker - ParaNorman - Focus Features
Andrew Schneider Ice Age: Continental Drift - Blue Sky Studios
Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, David Lipton - Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Bill Watral, Chris Chapman, Dave Hale, Keith Klohn, Michael K. O'Brien Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Brett Albert - Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Jihyun Yoon - Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - DreamWorks Animation
Joel Aron - Star Wars: The Clone Wars' - Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production 
Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway The Avengers - Industrial Light & Magic
Stephen Marshall, Joseph Pepper, Dustin Wicke The Amazing Spider-Man - Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation
Sue Rowe, Simon Stanley-Clamp, Artemis Oikonomopoulou, Holger Voss, Nikki Makar, Catherine Elvidge John Carter - Cinesite
Willi Geiger, Rick Hankins, Florent Andorra, Florian Witzel, Aron Bonar Battleship - Industrial Light & Magic

Character Animation in a Feature Production 
Dan Nguyen Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
David Pate Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Jaime Landes Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Phillppe LeBrun Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Pierre Perifel Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Travis Hathaway Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Travis Knight “ParaNorman - Focus Features
Will Becher The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Aardman Animations

Character Animation in a Live Action Production 
Erik de Boer, Amanda Dague, Matt Brown, Mary Lynn Machado, Aaron Grey Life of Pi - Orangutan - Rhythm & Hues Studio
Erik de Boer, Matt Shumway, Brian Wells, Vinayak Pawar, Michael Holzl Life of Pi - Tiger - Rhythm & Hues Studio
Jakub Pistecky, Maia Kayser, Scott Benzu, Steve King, Kiran Bhat The Avengers - Industrial Light & Magic
Mike Beaulieu, Roger Vizard, Atushi Sato, Jackie Kochler, Derek Esparza, Richard Smith, Mac Tyrie - Columbia Pictures - The Amazing Spider-Man - Sony Pictures Animation

Character Design in an Animated Feature Production 

Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carlos Grangel Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Carter Goodrich Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Craig Kellman Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - DreamWorks Animation
Heidi Smith ParaNorman - Focus Features
Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - Illumination Entertainment

Directing in an Animated Feature Production 

Genndy Tartakovsky Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Johan Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux The Rabbi's Cat - GKIDS
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie Zarafa - GKIDS
Rick Moore Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sam Fell, Chris Butler ParaNorman - Focus Features

Music in an Animated Feature Production 

Alexandre Desplat Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Bruce Retief Adventures in Zambezia - Saltzman Communications
Henry Jackman Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda Secret of the Wings - DisneyToon Studios
John Powell, Adam Schlesinger, Ester Dean Ice Age: Continental Drift - Blue Sky Studios
John Powell, Cinco Paul Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - Illumination Entertainment
Mark Mothersbaugh Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Patrick Doyle, Mark Andrews, Alex Mandel Brave - Pixar Animation Studios

Production Design in an Animated Feature Production 

Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - DreamWorks Animation
Marcello Vignali Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chen, Jon Townley, Kyle McNaughton Ice Age: Continental Drift - Blue Sky Studios
Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer ParaNorman - Focus Features
Norman Garwood, Matt Berry The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Aardman Animation
Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Rick Heintzich Frankenweenie - The Walt Disney Studios
Steve Pilcher Brave - Pixar Animation Studios

Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production 

Emmanuela Cozzi ParaNorman - Focus Features
Johanne Matte Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
 Leo Matsuda Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Lissa Treiman Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rob Koo Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production 

Adam Sandler as Dracula Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Alan Tudyk as King Candy Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Atticus Shaffer as "E"Gore Frankenweenie - The Walt Disney Studios
Catherine O'Hara as Weird Girl Frankenweenie - The Walt Disney Studios
Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Aardman Animations
Jim Cummings as Budzo Adventures in Zambezia - Saltzman Communications
Jude Law as Pitch Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Kelly MacDonald as Merida Brave - Pixar Animation Studios

Editorial in an Animated Feature Production

Catherine Apple Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
Joyce Arrastia Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
Mark Rosenbaum Secret of the Wings - DisneyToon Studios
Nicholas A. Smith, ACE, Robert Graham Jones, ACE, David Suther Brave - Pixar Animation Studios
Tim Mertens Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios

Sunday, November 11, 2012

LEFF'12 day one and two: "The Master", "Greetings" and "Amour"

 I am not stretching my words to the length of a cat's tail writing about The Master (2012). I shall be back in a few months after I've seen it again and therefore be able to put into paper what I believe the experience deserves. I watched it last night as one of my most expected films of all time (considering I wasn't there for many of the great classics) and yet how could I still be surprised, I don't know. I am not speaking of quality evaluation. I am speaking of an unparalleled cinematic experience, much like Tree of Life (2011). Only I liked it more than Malick's, for being such an intensive character study. A tale of mentor-pupil, magnetically bonded like Baker Hall and John C. Reilley in Hard Eight (1995) (although, yes, the only thing I am currently questioning is Hoffman's motivation, because even Baker Hall has one). An hipnotic, time-traveling technicolor-like visual approach, carrying the rebirth of a man psychologically destroyed by the Second World War (Freddie Quell) at the hands of the founder of a religious cult (Lancaster Dodd), "The Cause", mystically hoping to cure the former soldier and thus believe he himself has unlocked the meaning of life. One is an hormonal wreckage, clinging to a bitter lost love (sweet innocence); the other, like Daniel Plainview, the most ambitious man in the world. Waving between Thomas Pynchon  in literature, and mixing Kubrick and Fellini's perverse worlds with even more twisted, degrading and neglected fears, wishes and imaginations. Joaquin Phoenix is otherworldly (many will consider it "overacting" and its legitimate), Hoffman is bizarre and Amy Adams is ravishingly manipulative. Dodd fights an afflictive battle to try to understand Quell's mind, as he progressively becomes the only capable man of questioning the master, accomplishing his own rebirth and going back for his pure ancient desires. Between madness and make-believe, from oniric humiliation to magic-realistic lush (the dream and the phone, the eyes turning black, the decadent lust, the color of the sea).

My first ticket for Brian DePalma's retrospective gave me entrance to his 1968 Greetings, which won him a Silver Berlin Bear. I went in completely unaware of what I was up to see, but I did expect a thrilling plot and restless tracking shots. Instead, this satirical piece on Vietnam War, about three young men trying to elude the U.S. army's recruiters, unfolded as a sewing of sketches linked by world, characters and their expectations, but never by the usual causal-effect logic. I didn't know Jonathan Warden nor Gerrit Graham but watched Robert de Niro playing his first major role. DePalma brought DeNiro back as the same character played here, Jon Rubin, in Hi Mom! (1970), an adaptation of one of the funniest chapters of this piece: Jon convinces a woman to behave intimately in front of a camera with its lens cut like a window (the reference is obvious, Rear Window (1954)), an experimental project that instantly turns in something else when she's finally nude. It has a wonderful payoff when he works out the same plot on a Vietnamese woman, in the middle of a war he doesn't want to fight. It's a very nouvelle-vaguian sketch out of a very nouvelle-vaguian aesthetics (and the intertextuality is extremely obvious, as the references to Blow Up (1966)). A portrait where everybody is paranoid or obsessed about something (JFK's assassination, finding a soulmate, having sex), caring about the war seems more stupid and meaningless than singing for no purpose at all.

Amour (2012), by Michael Haneke, is not a perfume. It is a Golden Palm winner that stems out of a very truthful, very sad premise. It then breeds out of two brilliant performances by the European legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. The colors are coherent, the texture and the framing create the lonesome house, a metaphor for minds of the characters, knowing their time is drawing near. Technically, nothing to point out and we even get the pleasure to hear a bit of music, not like many of his works. But it all goes away by minute twenty, when you've realized you still have two hours of endless boring chat, repetitive scene after repetitive scene, infinite shots where the old man cuts flowers one after the other. It's painful at some point. And not because of those people's suffering, which I don't deny but didn't care about. I would've liked it if it was a fifteen minute short film without dialog.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The most improbable screenwriter for the new Star Wars episodes?

I was -- I am as skeptic towards the new Star Wars episodes as all of you guys. Wait, I was. Or was I? I am confused. I am perplexed. Michael Arndt was reported to have penned a 40-50 page treatment for Episode VII and is likely to go for the whole script. He is one of my favorite screenwriters, the genius behind Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, and I can't imagine what such an improbable but fresh choice can do with the saga (he also co-wrote the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is working on the screen adaptation of Phineas and Ferb and on a secretive Pixar project for 2014/2015). Good job, Disney, you've granted my money already.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Argo" is truly the escapist feature

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (2011) was a cold, analytical, slow-paced, spy movie engendered by minute attention to detail and a puzzling structure inflicting a paranoid feeling of double-intentions and distrust of your own and Smiley's fragile conclusions. It was commanded by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson and resulted in a little masterpiece. I could get used to one of those each year. But I didn't mind a bit sitting to watch a whole different approach to a melancholic main character, a troubled international political context and an espionage agency as the otherwise vibrating, exquisitely tense and witty flick that is Argo (2012). The year's ultimate escapist film, though it is much more than watching a bunch of guys trying to escape Iranian crazy people.

The premise is a delicious starting point. The real-life story of how the CIA and the Canadian Government hooked up with Hollywood to produce a fake sci-fi movie in order to remove, as part of the fake crew, six people from the Canadian embassy in Tehran, during the hostage crisis the U.S. suffered in 1979. A somewhat metanarrative political thriller that buckets as much suspense as comedy potential.

And that's how it rolls. Chris Terrio's script is a straightforward incredible machine of tension, suspense and last-minute touchdowns where slight distortions of historical facts only happen on behalf of the drama (as the "adaptation" of President Carter's delay in approving the plane tickets). The way it delivers the tons of thoroughly-research-based but elegantly-baked exposition makes the bed for the oiled interlocking of three very distinct worlds: CIA headquarters, Hollywood studios and Tehran's mutinies. The secret was to ally the bureaucracy and urged political swing of the first, the hilarious comic relieves of the second (among the golden cast, a special bow to Alan Arkin) and the claustrophobic, rioting suspense of the third, with Ben Affleck swifting between them both in front and behind the camera.

Affleck is fine as Tony Mendez, but he exceeds himself once again after The Town (2010) on the director's chair, confirming for the third time and hopefully once and for all that this pretty boy is up to the challenge of being considered one of the most valuable filmmakers of his generation. This is not a guy who read the script and decided to shoot it. This is a man who understood the story and interpreted history, or else he wouldn't have been able to create this tale of asphyxiating timing. Close-ups locking the characters into frightening impatience and uncertainty; the capacity to make you feel the tumults of the revolutionary crowds; strong editing; a cut-in-half 35mm filmstock, increased by 200% to produce an aged graininess - some of the distinctive options the young director took that put you on the edge of your seat.

Some will complain about the overpopulation of characters and the lack of development of most, if not all, of them. "Argo" is a heavy-plot-driven movie, relying more on the smartness of the operations and the dimension of the stakes than on the character's inner lives. Although it cares to show you how broken Mendez's life is and that draws you close to him. It is as subtle and economic in conveying the sentimental states of the couple among the hostages and Lester's among the movie business. They had more stuff on John Chambers that didn't make the final cut, and maybe even on Jack O'Donnell, but this wasn't the time nor the place and I plainly accept it as it is.

I believe this film will live as another testimony to the power of stories and how they basically structure our perception of reality. It's all in there, as when they offer the Iranian militia's some storyboards as souvenirs. The dangerous game of real life and the amusing, often escapist, flare of storytelling is the inevitable way to look at things, at living things mostly, even if you don't take part in the fictions of diplomacy and international politics and just humbly want to tell the weather to your friends. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tom Hanks on genius marketing performance for "Cloud Atlas"

Here's the five-minute trailer for Cloud Atlas (2012), written and directed by the Wachowski brothers and Tom Twyker, based upon the book by David Mitchell, starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and many others who, like these, play many roles.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A huge 2012 Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival at sight

Last year's was a high-profile program with national premieres of flicks like Carnage (Roman Polanski, 2011), A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011), The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011), Drive (Nicolas W. Refn, 2011), The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011), or Killer Joe (William Friedkin, 2011) - just to name a few. Plus a retrospective of Wes Craven's career (The Last House on the Left (1972), Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)) and an homage to William Friedkin (The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973)). David Cronenberg and Paul Giamatti were the main attraction, following legends like Abbas Kiarostami, Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Pedro Almodóvar, Bernardo Bertolucci or John Malkovich.

In 2012, I could pick around twenty movies I've been growing desperate to see and I could point other twenty I'm awfully excited about. Paulo Branco maintaining the streak would mean a line-up able to compete with some of the biggest film festivals in the world. And so it happens, as the 6th edition of the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival brings us not only the most anticipated movies of the year but also a handful of them that might figure their way into the history books. From the best of the young Hollywood generation, to the best of European cinema, to Sundance pearls. So far, no masterclasses have been announced but Willem Dafoe and Paul Giamatti will be here to pay us a visit. I'm placing a bet on Brian DePalma, because of the retrospective on his work. My greatest highlight is Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (2012), probably the most talked-about film since it premiered in Venice almost two months ago. What I'd like to watch:

(2012, written/directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)

(2012, written/directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Twyker, based upon the novel by David Mitchell)

(2012, written by Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar; directed by Benh Zeitlin, based upon a play by Lucy Alibar)

(2012, written/directed by Michael Haneke)

(2012, written/directed by Brandon Cronenberg)

(2012, written by Bruno de Almeida, Frederico Delgado Rosa and John Frey; directed by Bruno de Almeida)

(2012, written/ by Brian DePalma, Alan Corneau and Natalie Carter; directed by Brian DePalma)

(2012, written by Randy Brown; directed by Robert Lorenz)

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Hitchcock" surprisingly awesome trailer

I wasn't sure about this one despite believing in Hopkin's capacity to deliever, but I am extraordinarily surprised as it becomes one of my most expected films of the season. Amazing trailer. Directed by Sacha Gervasi (writer of "The Terminal"), adapted from Stephen Rebello's book by John McLaughlin ("Black Swan") and star-powered by Anthony Hopkins, Scarlett Johanson, Hellen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jessica Biel, the biopic Hitchcock (2012) tells the story of the making of "Psycho" through the Master's relationship with his wife, Paramount, his crew and the most attractive Janet Leigh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Autumn Leaves" - Help financing a short film by Filipe Coutinho

Filipe F. Coutinho is a L.A. based Portuguese young filmmaker studying at New York Film Academy and he is producing his next film, Autumn Leaves, a 15-minute drama short film chiefly inspired in one of the greatest family dramas of all time, Ordinary People (1980).

"Autumn Leaves tells the story of Peter Sanders, a mid-30s wheelchair-bound man who comes home to die after being diagnosed with liver cancer. The story follows his relationship with Joanne, an adulterous wife who desperately tries to reach to him, and Lindsay, his six-year-old daughter who tries to cure him with love and Bob Dylan songs. Peter soon realizes that he’s not fighting cancer but his own fears and frustrations.  "

The call for crowdfunding is hosted by IndieGoGo and they have twelve days to plummet their already achieved $1.250 towards the aimed $7.000. I challenge you to visit the page of the project, check their notes and intentions, their team, their commitment. And to contribute if you can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Portuguese team of filmmakers "The Clones" is spreading wings; wings soaked in blood

 "The Clones exist officially since 2008. Our headquarters are based in Lisbon, Portugal and we specialize in small productions, mainly low budget, of the comedy/horror/sci-fi genres"

The Clones is a Portuguese team of filmmakers, friends who got together to make a short film and ended up founding one of the freshest, most interesting projects the country has known film-wise. Papa Wrestling (2009), BLARGHAAARHGARG (2010) and Banana Motherfucker (2011), three extremely low budget productions of pure trash-gore, an energized revitalization of the genre that weaves between the politically incorrect and passionate homages and references to horror classic movies. Uncompromised, funny and bloody messy, let it not deceive you in that they're not serious. They are. You can visit their website at ClonesPT, check trailers and videos from masterclasses and order copies of the DVDs. Enjoy the launching promotion of "Banana Motherfucker", 3€ as a preposterous low price for an edition with a batshit crazy cover plus extras. I had my chance and got myself the complete pack at MOTELx'12. Now I'm just sitting here waiting for their next projects.

Maybe you're a follower of Twitch, whose creator and editor Todd Brown did the coolest review on "Banana", which you can read here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MOTELx'12: a close-up on the best moments

Not only but also - will make sure I will be back next year. 
Hope you too.

Suspiria (1977), written by Dario Argento e Dario Nicolodi; directed by Dario Argento. Probably the greatest masterpiece of the Giallo legend and one of the most remarkable horror movies ever made. A unique experience to re-watch it on the big screen.

Dario Argento himself, in a masterclass that took place on the last day of the festival, with right to the screening of a few scenes and a sympathetic autograph session in the end. From the inspiration he draws from painting, architecture, opera and music in general, to the embrace his films have always given to technical features (the "reinvention" of the technicolor in Deep Red (1975) or the first Italian 3D movie with Dracula 3D (2012)), to how his films cope with his dreams, how did he learn to make films, and his future projects.

Babycall (2012), written and directed by Pål Sletaune.This is a rare case of appraisal for me. Why, because I hated the ending. I mean, what happened to "write a great third act because that's the only thing the audience will remember"? Happened that such one-sided aphorisms shrivel at the hands of craftsmen like the Norwegian filmmaker. A slow paced, realistic thriller that blends gelid paranoia, silent and undetectable violence with three real-life-like characters that might as well have been extracted from a good family drama. Main plot of delusion and subplots of character exploration are tied seamlessly together, instead of connecting here and there, pretending to puzzle up a major complexity of storytelling. You never get the impression that Anna's relationship with her son is loose from the babycall issue or from her relationship with Helge. It's almost unattainably organic. Details after details (the drawing of the building, the blood, the poster), this is no castle of cards. Noomi Rapace makes you mad along with her because you'll believe anything she says, any look she throws. The resolution casts a whole new light upon the rest of the film and I felt I lost so much of what I had to ground these characters and their actions on. I am still fighting with some logical holes but it is remarkable anyway.

Red State (2012), written and directed by Kevin Smith. Sardonic at times, scary at others, might be an interesting case study on how to carry the audience between two heroes and yet the global situation as a third character, mostly the antagonist, without leaving room for complete identification with anything unless the moral pending issues it lifts. We are with Travis in the setup and the religious lunatics in the first half and we suffer for him and his friends. Then we're with Keenen in the second half and visit both Travis and the progressively dissolved antagonists, but now we're not simply pinched by the one hero's pain but also the other's ethical and political ungrateful decision. The shaky camerawork waves a story between ritualistic torture and paranoic institutional evaluation, two magnifying glasses for the same situation. Still, I would've wanted a more traditional approach to the relationship between Travis and Cheyenne, which provided some of the best conflict of the movie. I don't think you can call it Manichean, because while yes it has a clear target for conviction (extremists even ultra-conservatives and neo-nazis pull away), never trying to hide it ("red" state), the doubts it poses upon the characters are sharp human examination. And yes, the epilogue is a fucking spit on those people's face. Great performances by the whole cast, chiefly Melissa Leo and Michael Parks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MOTELx'12: day four with "Suspiria", "Midnight Son", "Crawl" and "Emergo"; highlights of day five with Dario Argento Masterclass

After last night's short intervention by one of the Masters of Horror, a full house of fans and admirers of the genre and his work were locked down in red cushioned chairs and assisted to a masterful assembling of colors, lights, sound, music and gore that though grounded on a little sloppy narrative (not pure trash cinema, like Inferno (1980) or Mother of Tears (2007)), produced a psychedelic paralyzing of my senses of lucidity and serenity. Unforgettable experience of devastating fright, where contrarily to the rest of the trilogy magic and witches loom so close and real you might sometimes be alone in the room, sitting on a fluctuating recliner, your perception driven by their powers and your attention guided by their muffled footsteps. Suspiria (1977) is not the last Dario Argento playing in the festival, as today screens Demons (1985), written by himself and directed by Lamberto Bava.

Midnight Son (2012) features interesting notes on the vampire genre and tracks the course of their complete humanization. The atmosphere of uncanniness was never completely lifted and so it takes wrong steps like the healing skin by the end. We followed a character progressively discovering his symptoms which helped the narrative to move forward, but it was constantly stalling due to lack of new and subtler ideas, fresher decisions, and a determined arc. The relationship with Mary needed a little bit more time and better acting and the one with the brothers was simply awful, in a movie where you feel like you're watching the first fifteen minutes over and over again.  

Crawl (2012) reminded me of the title of a fine tv show canceled by HBO last year, Bored to Death. When the host of the session felt the necessity to state that this was a film in which the duration of the scenes was appropriate for the genre of suspense, I smelled something burning. Like so many others, this film could've been told in twelve to fifteen minutes. The scenes were made of everlasting intercuts between a hand and a door knob, a hand and a gun, a footstep and a door. That shatters suspense, romps with it. That's Gerry (2000) with guns, man. It pays homage to Blood Simple (1984) and No Country for Old Man (2008) but it lacks purpose. A pint of what makes the Coen brothers great storytellers is their conveying of profound themelines bellow their drop-dead-and-laugh bloodshedding dumb crime scenes - the morality of stealing and killing; a contemporary nihilistic America; a paranoid modern society; the meaning of life actually. China brothers characters were void, roaming, aimless, despite their grasps for some odd funny moments.

I am not a fan of found footage films, but I loved REC (2008) and kind of liked Chronicle (2011). And I wished Emergo (2012) had been produced before me and the world watched all the other spin-offs, except the first Paranormal Activity, from 2007. It was written by Buried (2010) and Red Lights (2012) director Rodrigo Cortés back in 2009, and I believe it would've known more praise for originality than it did three years later. Much more tell than show, developed an interesting drama-genre relationship between father and daughter but the rest wasn't more than predictable moments. Great aesthetics and camerawork though.


Masterclass "Os Clones", a Portuguese team of filmmakers dedicated to serie B trash gore short films. Stupidly funny and trashly out of the box, you can watch their work on Youtube - Papa Wrestling (2009), Blarghaaahrgarg (2010) and Banana Motherfucker (2011).


Masterclass Dario Argento, on his career, his films and his methods. The lecture of a legend. Unmissable.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MOTELx: "Excision" on day three

Excision (2012), written and directed by Richard Bates Jr. is one of those cases that proves if you've made a short film than that's how it was supposed to be made. Let it live and move on. Paul Thomas Anderson expanded Cigarettes and Coffee (1994) into Sydney/Hard Eight (1996); Wes Anderson did the same with Bottle Rockett (1994), into Bottle Rockett (1996); Andres Muschietti is doing it with his three-minute Mama (2008). Though I'm sure hundreds of other attempts fail sharply. I haven't seen the 2008 Excision, eighteen minutes that converted horror followers all around the world, but after last night's screening I won't wait much longer. For both good and bad reasons. Praises first, "Excision"'s ending is absolutely bizarre and gut-freezing, attending to wrap a mash of very disturbed human emotions. The tension of the editing drove the theater dead-shut for the first time since the beginning of the film. I just wished the rest of the film hadn't been a constant repetition of the same beats, shots and reactions (dinner scenes), surreal and nerve-rackingly loathsome images of sex, blood and...praying? The main character had a very interesting psychology, until halfway in you realized you would never know what the hell was going on inside her mind and, bear with me, even crazy people have utter motivations and goals. What was she doing there? Why was she doing those things? It wasn't developed as  mystery. It was loose confusion, allegedly created on purpose, something I'd rather call false-complexity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MOTELx'12 day two: Highlights

An improbable film by Clerks (1994) writer/director Kevin Smith, with a great cast and premise. "Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda." 

New film from Pascal Laugier, writer/director of the straight-to-DVD brutally violent and cruelly existentialist Martyrs (2008), one of the best horror movies I've seen.

In the section Cult of the Living Masters, the third film of the Three Mothers Trilogy, by Dario Argento. The other two, Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980) will also play at the festival.

MOTELx'12, day one: "Vampire", "The Butterfly Room" and "REC 3: Genesis"

I opened my viewership on MOTELx 2012 with what promised to be a vampire drama with a unique touch of sociological background - the modern online relationships and the sadly timeless suicide. Vampire (2012), by Shunji Iwai, navigates those seas and unfolds the story of a human being apparently obsessed with drinking human blood - he's no vegan like the Cullens. It feels somewhere between a ritualistic experience and a vice. He goes into an online discussion group, Side by Cide, arranges a suicide pact, preferably with a girl, and convinces her to die first by draining her to a corpse. Any supernatural moments vaporized  at twilight while the camera work and the art department did a good job on keeping it interestingly realistic. But that's when the piano didn't go on a loop, or the minimalist transcendental slow motions stalled the pace even more than many boring dialogues, or incomprehensible slanted shots threw globules of randomness on this often anemic movie. Although it pushed up really dark-funny moments and even grasped a worthy gloomy sweetness between Simon and Ladybird, there were too many underexplored characters and angles, certainly because it tried to cover way too much than its 120 minutes could afford. It never had a proper focus, never picked up something small to try to convey something bigger, and thus never foresighted the land of moral I felt it wanted to come ashore at. The Japanese girl provided a very intense scene from which new dramatic questions could have been raised (they sparkled) on the value of life, death and assisted suicide. But it never took off organically and had to force its way in with cheesy moments defining the character arcs and evoking a sloppy irony in the end (being caught for giving blood).

The evening went by with The Butterfly Room (2012), written by Jonathan Zarantonello, Paolo Guerrieri and Luigi Sardielli, directed by the first. The thriller began by setting a fine tone with its geometrical capturing of the apartments, the mysterious assassin vibe from an amazing Barbara Steele and the dead delicacy of dozens of colorful butterflies hanging on a wall of a forbidden room. Then the plot takes two ways: present and flashbacks covering the last days before the beginning of the film. They mirror each other and rhyme with the wicked backstory of the main character. Aesthetically amateur and structurally dispensable, the storyline of the flashback turned out to be miles more interesting than the main one. Steele's character was more genuinely flawed, the girl Alice was absolutely fascinating and intriguing, their relationship and the surprising state of global affairs evolved into a bizarre contrivance of love, obsession, paranoia and blackmail. The present didn't care for no subtlety and relied on overdramatic exposition and scenes that balanced between tense and stupid (I hated the way music was handled). When the two stories came together in the butterfly room, it was visually great but no sooner did the resolution destroy everything with a forced fatality just like "Vampire".

I shall go to bed claiming REC 3: Genesis (2012) was the surprise of the day. I loved the first movie and didn't watch the second one - I rarely trust unplanned sequels. But this was the opening ceremony and I had a scratch behind my hear wanting to know the origins of the virus. I was expecting the usual dim found-footage visuals, the religious mystique that bubbled by the end of the first part and supposedly strengthened during the second one and answers for who the Medeiros girl was. A prequel, with all it takes. Well, turn around and bon voyage. Not only "Genesis" stands for the biblical event the priest evokes to justify the zombie apocalypse happening during a marriage, as the story happens at the same time as that of the first movie (the dog is the link), as there's seldom found footage aesthetics and as this is a pure horror-comedy where scary slow paced shadows shifts turns with gory action. Despite the uncountable cheesy love moments, how can you not laugh when a newly-wedded groom, wearing a stolen third century army of St. George, crunches the face of a drunk zombie with all sorts of kitchen cookware? Or when Beatrix Kiddo finally gets a teammate, a short-haired, pale, pissed bride on her white dress, walking on heels and carrying a yellow chainsaw?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

MOTELx day one: I'll be watching

Starting tomorrow.

16h45, Room 3 (S. Jorge Cinema)
Vampire (2012). written and directed by Shunji Iwai

 18h45, Room Manoel de Oliveira (S. Jorge Cinema)
The Butterfly Room (2012), written and directed by Jonathan Zarantonello (w/ Q&A)

21h45, Room Manoel  de Oliveira (S. Jorge Cinema) - Opening Ceremony
 REC 3: Genesis (2012), written by Paco Blaza and Luiso Berdejo; directed by Paco Blaza

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Triple Crown for P. T. "The Master" Anderson

Best Director, Cannes'02 (Punch-Drunk Love)
Silver Bear (Best Director), Berlin'08 (There Will Be Blood)
Silver Lion (Best Director), Venice'12 (The Master)

Besides, this is the kind of achievement only a magnanimous filmmaker can fuel:

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquim Phoenix, ex-aequo winners of the Volpi Cup (Best Actor), fifteen minutes ago, in Venice.

MOTELx: the best of horror movies in Lisbon (12-16 September)

"(...) aims at stimulating the production of Portuguese genre films, displaying the best horror works internationally produced in the last years, contributing to the education of younger audiences and frame recent productions through the scheduling of selected retrospectives. (...) exhibits of recent and classic films, of various styles and genres, promotes the coming of international guests and gives primacy to the only competitive section of the festival, MotelX Award - Best Portuguese Horror Short, impelling dozens of participant to make their horror shorts every year (...)."

After the masterclasses with George Romero, Eric Roth, John Landis and Mick Garris, this year's major highlight is the upcoming of giallo legend director Dario Argento (Sunday 16th Sep., 16h30, free entrance). That's where I dip my first focus of the 6th Edition the festival: Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Demons (1985) and Mother of Tears (1987), in the section Cult of the Living Masters: Dario Argento. The filmmaker premiered his recentest film, Dracula 3D, in Cannes'12.

You may also want to gather some questions for Jonathan Zarantonello, Julien Maury and Alex Chandon whose newest films will be served in the section Room Service - respectively, The Butterfly Room (2012), Livid (2011) and Inbred (2011). For such breakfast I shall not miss those three plus Emergo (2011), written by Buried (2010) and Red Lights (2012) writer/director Rodrigo Cortés, Excision (2012), The King of Pigs (2011). I think Rec (2008) should've ended right there but I can't say I am not curious to peek on the national premiere of Rec 3: Genesis (2012).

There's also Pal Sletaune, writer/director of Babycall, staring new-Hollywood star Noomi Rapace, and one of my strongest picks, Pascal Laugier, writer/director of the undervalued but outstanding french horror movie Martyrs (2008) and of the upcoming The Tall Man (2012), staring Jessica Biel.

Nobuo Nakagawa gets a special homage section with his Black Cat Mansion (1958), Ghost Story of Yotsua (1958) and The Lady Vampire (1959). There's no deceiving in my words: I had no idea who this gentleman was but I am curious now. Another parallel section, Lost Room, brings us two sole films: The Territory (1981), a Portuguese production directed by Raoul Ruiz, and The State of Things (1982), a Portuguese, German and American production directed by Wim Wenders.

Never forget the good old short films: Aconteceu no Interior (Ricardo Machado), Até Quando (Jorge Cramez), A Bruxa de Arroios (Manuel Pureza), The Headless Nun (Nuno Sá Pessoa), Leito de Maldição (Paulo Teixeira Rebelo), Mutter (Tony Costa and Rafael Antunes), O Princípio do Fim (Joel Rodrigues and André Agostinho), O Reino (Paulo Castilho), Silêncio (Hélio Valentim and Ricardo Ferreira), Tormenta (Francisco Carvalho).

For more, you can check MotelX official website.