Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sorkin's "The Newsroom" on HBO: final countdown

One exact month. While I'm currently following Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire on the drama type-machine, Aaron Sorkin's return to TV writing (after Studio on the Sunset Trip in 2006, already a tackle on journalism) is one of my most expected moments of the year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prada, by Roman Polanski


Written by Roman Polanski and Ronald Harwood. Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter. Photography by Eduardo Serra. Music by Alexandre Desplat.

Monday, May 21, 2012

FINALLY, the first clip for PTA's "The Master"

Ohmigod, if this is not the film I most expect since 2007's There Will Be Blood. The Master has been going on for a long while, bending through some financial troubles (I wrote about a part of the process here) but as announced a couple of months ago, it is up for October. The sixth Paul Thomas Anderson has been enveloped in a dense cloud of mystery, even when an very early version of the script leaked. Can't wait: this images are fantastic and Phoenix promises to follow Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview on a very intense, idiosyncratic performance.

Clean-up New York, says David Lynch, or melt in filth

Some of the most brilliant commercials in the world are his. This is one of those.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ultimate Super-Team of Comedians is Epic

Epic stuff is epic stuff.

Wrap TV reports a collection of Seinfeld's tweets hinting at a project that unites the four comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Ricky Gervais and Alec Baldwin. It is not known of it is to be a movie or a series but it is certainly not commercial (Seinfeld was one of the 2012 Super Bowl ad's star). The traveling designation is "a project" which, by the way, involves old vintage cars, and has began shooting in NY. Blasting news that promise the ultimate comic super-team, in some sort of The Avengers' spin-off.

Here are the tweets:

"Seiny and LD back together again? What could this mean?"
"Here's a clue: A 1952 VW."
"Always lovable Ricky Gervais and myself shooting today in City Island, NY"
"My New Project: Shooting today in Battery Park City"
"Working on my New Thing. Shooting in Manhattan with the Great @alecbaldwin"

Seinfeld (Seinfeld) has been working on the reality-TV program The Marriage Ref; Larry David (Seinfeld) has been working on his series Curb Your Enthusiasm; Ricky Gervais (The Office UK) has been doing his audio-show The Ricky Gervais Show and Alec Baldwin (Beetlejuice) has just been on Woody Allen's From Rome with Love and signed with him for the next one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dictator (2012)

Admiral General Aladeen is not like Sacha Baron Cohen's previous characters and yet it is not unlike them either. After Ali G, Borat and Brüno, The Dictator is a purely fictional movie, without valiant elements of mockumentary, but that still threw the persona off the screen into the streets for commercial purposes mostly. The campaign drives you to the film with a pretty safe opinion of who this man is and what you're about to see - plus you remember those three other guys' irreverence, the political teasing, the loathsome sexual jokes. And that's why you'll be blown away: because you can't believe how it gets sharper, grosser, more hilarious, dirtier, unbelievably mocking of...everything. USA, Europe, Asia, blacks, whites, men, women, girls, boys, common citizen, celebrities, friendship, love, loyalty, democracy, dictatorship, politics, economics, morals, religion, peace, war, terrorism, life, death. It goes on. Nothing stands unharmed. My jaws hurt for 83 minutes, ever since that first "In Loving Memory of" frame which perfectly captures The Office's David Brent's "just to show a bit of the laughs we have here". My head tries to evaluate how anyone hasn't tried to murder Sacha Baron Cohen so far.

This is the product of one of the strongest artistic and politically relevant voices of our society and certainly achieves the status of one of the harshest satires I've seen. It's nuclear-explosive. A bash of scolding against ourselves and what we've been building and supporting, with an utterly-improper, politically-incorrect, vividly-sarcastic, shamelessly-blunt, incredibly-free, extraordinary sense of humor.

PS: Ok, now that I've written this, give me my family back, Aladeen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The perfect comedy where "nobody's perfect"

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Jerry: I'm a man! 
Osgood: Well, nobody's perfect! 

Is this the greatest comedy film ever made or what ?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brandon Cronenberg follows his father's steps with "Antiviral"

Brandon Cronenberg, a name that a few days ago had nothing more than a curious similarity to David Cronenberg's, until I stumbled upon the paternity test: the synopsis of Antiviral (2012), his debut film that assures he will be following daddy's steps. By Ropes of Sillicon, "Syd March, an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate.".

Horror, perhaps even body horror, disease of the individual as a result of some kind of overweighting social power (in this case, fame) and running for your life. It's all there and this is suddenly one of the films I most expect to hear from France next week, as it will compete on the Un Certain Regard section. The film will star Caleb Landry Jones as Syd, Sarah Gadon as Hannah and a bit of the good old Malcom McDowell as Dr. Abendroth.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brazilian actor Wagner Moura will be Federico Fellini

Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, Elite Squad star, which I still remember watching in evening soap operas, will impersonate the Gran Bugiardo in an indie biopic. He will make team with Peter Dinklage, William H. Macy and Terrence Howard.

The life that gave birth to historical masterpieces like La Dolce Vita, Otto et Mezzo, La Strada, Amarcord, Satyricon or Le Notte di Cabiria, embroidered with all sorts of awards and recognitions throughout, will only be portrayed in a slice, on Fellini Black and White. It is 1957 and Federico has been missing for 48h on his first trip to America, right where and when he is supposed to attend to the Academy Awards ceremony. It is said that's when he went infused on the dope of jazz and had quite a fellinesque expedition, finding inspiration for subsequent works.

Henry Bomell, known for being involved in series like I'll Fly Away, Rubicon, Brotherhood and Homeland, writing, directing and producing, has put the wheels in motion and I am excited to see a piece of the life of one of my favorite directors, the maestro of European film Golden Age, Federico Fellini, up on the screen.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bernardo Sasseti (1970 - 2012)

A massive and wordless loss for music, film, the country and the world. My deepest condolences to family and friends. He left beauties like this one to fill the gripping silence we're made of.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Dark Shadows" (2012)

One very common product of today's infinite catalog of entrainment, a tendency not so voguish in the beginning of the decade: vampires. Sure we'd had Coppola's Dracula in 1992, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in 1997 and even John Carpenter's Vampires and Blade in 1998, but what's that compared with the bouquet of Twilight's saga and the foreign attempts to spin it off , True Blood series (2008 - present), the angle between Let the Right One In (2008) and its remake Let Me In (2010)? It engulfed the merchandise machine and we suddenly realized it is one of the most exhausted sub-genres of the time, making it much difficult not to be irrelevant.

 Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) was put upon a curse that made him a vampire and locked up for two hundred years, until the 1970's. Depp, one of the most versatile and extravagant actors of our ages, embraced this pale, archaic, handsome, ville but emotionally shattered creature of death, as he wakes up to take revenge on Angelique (Eva Green), the jealous witch who killed his beloved Josette (Bella Heathcote) and who did the tricks. The only problems are the electricity, the asphalt, the cars, television, the vinyls, the Carpenters, Alice Cooper or Iggy Pop, the still boiling design creative bubble of the 60's, the mash of colors, the hippies. What the hell is all that? Beelzebub, he thinks at first. Oh, and perhaps it is not too much to note that Angelique is a very, very sexy woman now, and the spooky mansion of his family, the Collins, is now a defunct large piece of a chateaux inhabited by the disenchanted remains of their last generation, headed by Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer). 

Dark Shadows (2012) is not as touching as Edward Scissorhands (1990) or Big Fish (2003) but arrives as one of the most enjoyable Tim Burton's of a career. I am a big fan of genre and thus I delight over deconstructions, re-examinations and crossovers. Some describe it as a Gothic dramedy. Indeed it is a very funny entwining of the conventions of the vampire mythology and horror aesthetic with the distant elements of the melodrama: the overbearing sentimentalism (the love triangle; Barnabas and Hoffman (Helena B. Carter) and the whole beauty angle; Carolyn's (Chlöe G. Moretz) teenage whims); the big palette of colors (e.g. the pinkish fire); the excess of form (extraordinary art direction and special effects). The lack of a social critique has given place to the dark and witty exegesis. I hint you to pay attention at some of the best  jokes: McDonalds; Chevy; get stoned. But I laughed a lot all the way throughout.

 It does have problems. Story problems, mostly. Seth Grahame-Smith popped up a couple of years ago with his book Pride, Prejudice and Zombies (which is now being turned into a movie), and in a snap became Burton's fetish screenwriter, alongside John August, who is co-credited with a "story by", here. Seth wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) (adapted from his book) and is working on Beetlejuice 2 (2014). Although most of the dialog was very good, there were some on-the-nose lines, like Barnabus and Hoffman's last meeting in the house. Roping it to the cheesy last two minutes, I'm framing them all as target-audience devices.

Besides the protagonist and the antagonist, all the characters are sadly underdeveloped which in this case turned into a series of hanging foreshadowings, waiting for a little hand (e.g. Roger (Johnny Lee Miller) and the secret passage), unraveled storylines (e.g. David (Gulliver McGrath) and his mother) and coherence issues (why is Victoria (Belle Heathcote) the main character for fifteen minutes; what's her true relation with Josette; why is she there; who the hell is she and what's with all the ghost stuff). Also, they take some easiness while creating the rules of their special world, such as the scope of the magical powers, leaving out some logical lumps.

Chlöe proves we can wait for huge things from her in the future by making so interesting such a bi-dimensional character. She is the vehicle of one of the big (and also undeveloped) surprises and, without words, plays one of the great moments in the film when she dances in the background. The movie has those incredible visual moments, such as the set-piece sex-scene.

Take a chance to listen to the always beautiful score of Danny Elfman accompanied with some classics from the seventies, lean back, prepare your wits and enjoy this one.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

IndieLisboa'12: winners and the big surprises

I didn't have the chance to watch as many films as I wanted and as I had planned. It's a difficult time of the year. L (2012), Le Skylab (2012), Take Shelter (2011) (would be my second screening of this great film), For Ellen (2012),  17 Daughters (2012), Rafa (2012), Into the Abyss (2011), Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), Whore's Glory (2012), Meet the Fokkens (2012) and several shorts are amongst those I would have like to have seen. I'll be searching for them now. This was, however, the  most interesting edition of the festival I attended to which therefore raises the stakes for next year, having the opportunity to be even greater. 

The 9th edition brought us one of the best films of 2011 (not counting with Take Shelter) and the best Portuguese film in many years.

 Azazel Jacobs (director) and Patrick Dewitt (writer), with Terri (2011).

Filipa Reis and João Guerra Miller, writers/directors, with Cat Craddle (2012).


 Best Film
De jueves a domingo (Dominga Sotomayor)
Audience Award for Best Film
Whores' Glory
(Michael Glawogger)

Best Portuguese Film
Jesus por um Dia (Helena Inverno and Verónica Castro)

Best Short Film
Juku (Kiro Russ)
Hinorable Mention: The Great Rabbit (Atsushi Wada)
Honorable Mention: Praça Walt Disney (Renata Pinheiro and Sergio Oliveira)

Audience Award for Best Short Film
Retour à Mandima  (Robert-Jan Lacomb) 

Best Portuguese Short Film Award
Cama de Gato (Filipa Reis and João Miller Guerra)
Honorable Mention: Kali, o Pequeno Vampiro (Regina Pessoa)

IndieJúnior Audience Award
The Dog and the Key (Hee Jung Kim)

International Amnesty Award
From this day to where (Mathias Eriksen and Matias Rygh)
Honorable Mention: Bon  Voyage (Fabio Friedli)
Honorable Mention: Meet The Fokkens (Gabriëlle Provaas and Rob Schröder)

Árvore da Vida Award for Best Portuguese Film
Luz da Manhã (Cláudia Varejão)
Honorable Mention: Mupepy Munatim (Pedro Peralta)

TAP Award for Best Portuguese Documentary
A Vossa Casa (João Mário Grilo)

TAP Award for Best Portuguese Fiction Feature
Por Aqui Tudo Bem (Pocas Pascoal)
Prémio RTP Pulsar do Mundo
Meet the Fokkens de Gabriëlle Provaas e Rob Schröder

TV Cine Distribution Award

L'estate di Giacomo (Alessandro Comodin)

RTP2 Onda Curta Award
Chefu Party (Adrian Sitaru)
Fancy-Fair (Christophe Hermans)
Kali, o Pequeno Vampiro (Regina Pessoa)
Ovos de Dinossauro na Sala de Estar (Rafael Urban)

FNAC New Talent Award
Salomé Lamas
(w/ Encounters With Landscape)

Obviosom/Gripman/Restart Award
 João Salaviza (w/ Cerro Negro)