Monday, April 30, 2012

IndieLisboa'12: "The Fairy" (2011)



The Fairy is a pretty idiosyncratic piece. It not only feels deeply personal, it is actually written, produced, directed and starred by three good friends: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy. Even more, the main characters are called Dom and Fiona, as they were in their previous film Rumba (2008). A strong artistic freedom, I suppose, and a creative set of sensitive minds have unfolded the carpet for a tale that has as much great funny moments as random pointless boring stuff. Those good moments make it worth, that's when the script does a skillful counterweighting of weird nonsense humor with familiar little nags, plus a sense of drama arousing from character clues. The first twenty minutes are lovely on this matter: the boredom of Dom's profession showed by the constant interruption of his dinner (a sandwich), working the suspense as a comic device, for we know he is eventually going to eat the tap of the ketchup bottle that fell with the sauce onto the bread, because he was too distracted on his own imagination. The repetition not only makes you laugh for the gags but also increases the tension for when he finally chokes on the tap and is saved by Fiona, a woman who claims to be a Fairy. Dom lying on the floor, she then steps on top of him, dances to crack-massage his back and the day after he wakes up and one of the first wishes was fulfilled: to have a scooter. Right there, a brand new blue scooter. And he doesn't even now how to ride it.



They have a date now. A light sequence in which Fiona robs a dress and a pair of shoes (she's always barefoot). But the rendez-vouz takes place on a rather banal caffee, managed by a man who constantly hits the wall because of how blind he is. Another proof of script dexterity with little details is the way Fiona gets Dom his second wish: gas for a lifetime. She trades her room key, a blue chip with the number "23" for a similar one with the number "57", that opens one of the big gas containers by the riverside. We get a little bit more into their real world and she's a patient in a mental institution and hence we wonder if what we're seeing is all but in their heads. You have to see the way Dom finds to rescue her from that place and I'm only telling you, a baby suddenly puffs up on someone's belly.

 
Somewhat after the middle of the movie, I started to feel the lack of plot or character design planning. As it kept adding more and more characters, I begun to realize most of the things wouldn't payoff and it would all feel even looser, the drama was surpassed by the quirkiness, which exhausted it, and I don't even want to go into the three musical scenes. Yet, I must walk off with a big note of appraisal for some fine, fine touches of visual conception. The hotel at night, the silent and desert bit of street we glimpsed at, the colors and forms of the sky against the cemented roof, it all gave the piece a funny-dark comic-book sketch tone that helped to corroborate the balance between the reality and the fantasy. It went off trails on that magic realism though, and let the what-the-hell take the reigns.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

IndieLisboa'12: "Terri" (2011)



Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a depressed overweight teenage boy who suddenly starts wearing pajamas to school and, while taking care of his dependent ill uncle, finds a peculiar breach from routine by contemplating mice being stuck killed on mousetraps for a piece of Cheddar and posteriorly being eaten by birds, on the forest. Those are the woods he has to trailblaze every morning to go to school, along an old wrecked train rail, the perfect metaphor for his condition of misfit. We learn such right away, from the sad looks Jacob brilliantly puts on his face, from the way his colleagues mock him. When Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), the school principal, calls him up to know what has been going on, he says he considers Terri to be in the group of the good-hearted kids, instead of the bad-hearted kids. However, when Terri comes back on the first of their weekly appointments, he realizes those are only for mentally or physically crippled students plus him: and that's the group he is in. And it hits him and us, without words and only reactions, as a comic-relieving harsh-dramatic bomb. Then, there's Chad (Bridger Zadina) over there, going bald for pulling his hair out one by one, blood clots sprayed all over his scalp, who seems to need yet another category. Terri and Chad begin to understand each other and befriend with little conversation.


Fitzgerald has a wise way not only with kids but with people. He is so self-conscious of his own flaws that he has the serenity of mind and spirit to understand and trivialize the imperfection of the human being. He has a special way with Terri, a special way with Chad and a special way with Mrs. Hamish (Mary Anne McGarry). When he shouts for the first times, behind that door, we think we know the kind of director, both good and bad family-guy-cop, but we soon unveil it's not strategy: it's faith. Between him and Terri, a friendly unorthodox relationship builds out of tiny solved conflicts, like the true meaning of his photo album "Yesterdays" or the fake-reprimand. They take Chad to the funeral of eventually recently deceased Mrs. Hamish and the film takes a light touch on death to develop the value of each single individual when part of a group - now, a group of people who care for each other.



Terri has been observing Heather (Olivia Crocicchia) for a while. We had the foreshadowing where she was on the verge of being fingered in class and the tension maintained. The second part of the movie, the most touching, starts developing with the payoff. When she doesn't resist Dirty Jack (Justin Prentice) and her own adolescent curiosity, he masturbates her in the classroom and she becomes the new social scapegoat, even Terri being preferred by the cute girls. Things get intense and the writer didn't expect us to guess it, he gave us visual action and character development to conclude that: Terri's rage outburst when he expels Chad off his house. The day after, he stands up for Heather in an incredibly sweet funny moment and their friendship triggers, shyly. That's when we turn to the yet same soft-paced third act, though steaming with emotional tension. A beautiful indie set-piece in which Terri finally cleans the house (his uncle had asked for it in the beginning), takes a nice bath, still keeps his pajamas. Heather is coming over. Chad interrupts, jealous but sincerely needy of attention. The three get drunk and drugged and have to deal with inconsequential sexual impulses they end up not carrying on - naivety, respect, shame, much of it. In other context, they would be humiliating themselves, all the three. But their disposal up there, taking their clothes off, it is taking it all in, all problems and hopes, falling asleep upon them. The next day, it feels weird, dreamy and embarrassing. But Terri remembers the connection. Its Saturday morning and he and Fitzgerald spend the day at school, dealing with the hangover, eating hamburgers, playing basketball. Terri finally smiles. Besides them, the place is empty, a perfect visual clue for what certainly staid pleading on Terri's mind - "It feels good to be desired", said Heather the night before.



I would have liked to have a little bit more of the mouse metaphor. A conclusion, although this film is never about conclusions. Every relationship is laid out open, uncertain, ambiguous. Every moment is so small and simple, so sincere. The characters are perfectly designed, extremely original, always surprising you in the end, when the emotional suspense of the decision-making second overbears the lack of a main plot line. The comedy doesn't provide laughs but its dramatic blossoming is absolutely enveloping. A great work by Azazel Jacobs and Patrick Dewitt, the cast, pretty songs, making this another 2011 Sundance premiere worth showing the world - my list already went with Take Shelter (playing on IndieLisboa on May 6th), Win Win, Our Idiot Brother, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Like Crazy, Margin Call and The Guard.

If you'd like to see the movie, it will play again on the festival, on May 3rd.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

First official images of Tarantino's "Django Unchained"

It is going to be epic.


Via SlashFilm.

IndieLisboa 2012 opens today



 
Opening film. Dark Horse (2011), written and directed by Todd Solondz.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Liberdade

Bleu (1993), escrito e realizado por Krzysztof Kieslowski. Significa Liberdade, na Triologia das Cores, em que Blanc (1994) significa Igualdade e Rouge (1994) significa Fraternidade. Ainda que aludindo às faixas da bandeira francesa, a Democracia não tem cor nem uma só bandeira.

25 de Abril de 2012.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Lanthimos, Nichols and more at the 2012 IndieLisboa

(click on the image to visit the official website)


Starting on April 26th with Todd Solondz's Dark Horse (2011), nominated for the Golden Lion in the last Venice Film Festival. I had the pleasure to watch his prior Life During Wartime (2009) in the 7th edition and I vividly recommend you check these out. Other highlights are Giorgos Lanthimos's (Dogtooth (2009)) new film, Alps (2011), which also premiered in Venice; Jeff Nichols with one of the year's best works, Take Shelter (2011), with Michael Shanon and Jessica Chastain; Cerro Negro (2011) and Golden Bear short winner Rafa (2011), both by Portuguese young filmmaker João Salaviza; Andrea Arnolds's Wuthering Heights (2011), the adaptation of the 1847 classic by Emily Brontë; Los Angeles Plays Itself (2004), a documentary by Thom Andersen that explores the city as we've been seeing it in the movies throughout the last hundred years; Into the Abyss (2011), the latest Werner Herzog (he featured here two years ago with My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done (2009) and Bad Lieutenant: Port Call New Orleans (2009)) and many others, such as short films from all over the world and a whole bunch of possibly surprising features in and out of competition.

I'll be covering some of the pieces I watch and thus will be around.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cannes'12 line up: favorites


Released this week as you may have already consulted all over the blogsphere, here's the line up.

2012 promises to be another big fight for the Golden Palm, although it leaves out this year's heavyweights like Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick (he is coming up with his own Lawless) and Woody Allen. Among them all, here are my favorites (in no specific order):


Moonrise Kingdom (written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola; directed by Wes Anderson)
Des Rouilles et d'os (written by Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain & Craig Davidson; directed by Jacques Audiard)
Cosmopolis (book by Don DeLillo, written and directed by David Cronenberg)
Killing Them Softly (written and directed by Andrew Dominik)
Amour (written and directed by Michel Haneke)
Lawless (book by Matt Bondurant; written by Nick Cave; directed by John Hillcoat)
Like Someone in Love (written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami)
Mud (written and directed by Jeff Nichols)
Vous n'avez encore rien vu (play by Jean Anouilh; written by Laurent Herbiet and Alain Resnais; directed by Alain Resnais)
On the Road (book by Jack Kerouac; written by José Riviera; directed by Walter Salles)
Hemingway & Gellhorn (written by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner; directed by Philip Kaufman)
Dracula 3D (book by Bram Stoker; written by Antonio Tentori, Stefano Piani, Enrique Cerezo, Dario Argento; directed by Dario Argento)



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anthony "Alfred Hitchcock" Hopkins


Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock for previously titled Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, now only Hitchcock, to be played as a love story between the director and his wife, Alma Reville, during the making of the horror/suspense masterpiece. The film stars Helen Mirren, Scarlet Johnasson, Jessica Biel and Michael Stuhlbarg.



Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kiss

 The Graduate (1967)


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Django Unchained poster, possibly official

Plus, I've read the script and can barely wait for the injection of awesomeness and western brute-comic violence.



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Aaron Sorkin's "Network" (1976) ?


Taking a hindsight at Aaron Sorkin's career we may conjure up a set of precise concerns and thematic preferences that enwrap his character's worlds and bake the extent of his overall works. Politics, institutions and media. A Few Good Men (1992) is a military court drama that deals with the ethics of subordination and corruption in the light of law and the greater good; The American President (1995) and TV series West Wing (99-06) go on board of the White House; Charlie Wilson's War (2007) revolves around a Congressman and Afghanistan.

Sorkin has also created Sports Night (98-00) for ABC, Studio 60 on the Sunset Trip (06-07) for NBC and recently wrote The Social Network (2010) for David Fincher. He loves to write about what's behind the scenes, about the human dilemmas among social and institutional pressure and hypocrisy, underneath whatever that crosses screens every day and every night. Hierarchies, ethics, rates, information, emissions, make it stockholders, likes, friends - how much is too much when people depend part of their lives on fabricated platforms of indirect interaction with the world and between each other?


Isn't anything crossing your minds? Sorkin has stated many times that one of his favorite writers is the great Paddy Chayefsky and that one of his favorite films is the masterpiece Network (1976), directed by Sidney Lumet. He reveries about what could have been made of Mark Zuckerberg's life if penned by the visionary who created such a black-comic tragic treaty on the implications of media in the modern society.

Well, the Oscar and Emmy-winner screenwriter is back to TV and on TV. The trailer of new HBO series The Newsroom is out and stars Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston and Emily Mortimer. And it's all there: politics, institutions and media. An amazing trailer that has me hooked at the 24th of June.