83rd Academy Awards – Action Shorts Shortlist

The Academy just released the announcement of the Action Shorts that will advance in the voting for the final nomination. Seventy-six films had originally qualified in the category and ten were selected, here they are.

Ana’s Playground, Eric D. Howell, USA
The Confession, Tanel Toom, UK
The Crush, Michael Creagh, Ireland
God of Love, Luke Matheny, USA
Na Wewe, Ivan Goldschmidt, Belgium
Slitage (Seeds of the Fall), Patrik Eklund, Sweden
Shoe, Nick Kelly, Ireland
The Six Dollar Fifty Man, Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland, New Zealand
Små barn, stora ord (Little Children, Big Words), Lisa James Larsson, Sweden
Wish 143, Ian Barnes, UK

I’m impressed that only two out of the ten in the shortlist are from USA. To check the press release at the Academy official site go here.

83rd Academy Awards – Animated Shorts Shortlist

The Academy just released the announcement of the Animated Shorts that will advance in the voting for the final nomination. Thirty-three films had originally qualified in the category and ten were selected, here they are.

The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger, Bill Plympton, USA
Coyote Falls, Matthew O’Callaghan, USA
Day & Night, Teddy Newton, USA
The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang, UK
Let’s Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe, USA
The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, Australia and UK
Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), Bastien Dubois, France
Sensology, Michel Gagné, Canada
More at IMDbPro »
Le silence sous l'écorce (The Silence Beneath the Bark), Joanna Lurie, France
Urs, Moritz Mayerhofer, Germany

Some of the above short films are available to watch especially at director’s sites; have to admit that there are some very interesting shorts and say this even when I not fond or care much about animation. To read press release at the Academy official site go here.

20th Gotham Independent Film Awards Winners

This is my first time I see this awards ceremony live and it was a different experience. First believe it or not was entertaining even when was kind of odd that presenters and hosts had to read a written script as they had no prompters. Still the fun part was evidently when they got out of the script.

This year nominations had the particularity of having films directed by women and in the ceremony introduction co host Patricia Clarkson read all the fantastic statistics and mentioned that at least indie cinema was no longer a “boys club”. Maybe is true for nomination honors but when it comes to wining still seems like a boys club; nevertheless this year with Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone leading the awards you could dream that women are really leaving a strong mark in the American filmmaking industry.

Show was so informal that made it quite fun to watch; to have an idea imagine the Golden Globes award ceremony a lot more free and you’ll get an idea of how this show was including that as the night advanced dinner was consumed but seemed that alcohol was consumed more, so hosts, presenters and honorees became more crazy to watch. There were lots of tributes, Hilary Swank, DarenAronofsky, Robert Duvall and James Schamus. Professor Schamus was long but quite fun to see how he related Prostitution and Porn film making with Hollywood and Independent cinema; gosh he was so right with his comparison.

The ceremony was by invitation only and the streaming opened the door to many that watched online what has been mostly a close, private event. The magic of Internet gives the possibility to go inside those still small indie circles and I just wish that many more awards shows in the world will follow this example and there are many of us that will like to watch live the ceremonies, as the excitement you feel when watching live is well-above just reading a press release.

I enjoyed the ceremony freedom, informality, the out-of-the-script moments, and most of all the clips to so many films that are truly quite hard to see trailers much more films. I even got interested in watching two documentaries but I’m still waiting to find access to much awaited by me, Waste Land; so imagine how hard will be to watch indie documentaries. Also was impressed by the many indie films with actors that are very well-known, including some that surely their non-indie film will surely be honored at Oscar. Interesting that indie producers are having access to well-known actors.

Hope next year I have again the opportunity to watch this ceremony that hope will be co hosted by great actors like Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci.

Here are the award winners.

Best Feature: Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik
Breakthrough Director: Kevin Asch for Holy Rollers
Best Ensemble Performance: Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik
Breakthrough Actor: Ronald Bronstein in Daddy Longlegs
Best Documentary: The Oath, Laura Poitras
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You: Littlerock, Mike Ott

Festival Genius Audience Award: Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim

As you can notice Winter’s Bone was the film with most awards and can deny that I was surprised with Jennifer Lawrence NOT winning the actor award; but then she was indirectly recognized in the ensemble performance award. In about two hours we will learn the Spirit nominations and I’m sure Granik’s film will get several nominations, but I’m also still sure that film will make it to the Oscar and Lawrence will get a nod.

Can help but to be glad that one film I didn't enjoyed got no awards; for me this little fact gives awards credibility as film has BIG actors and a known indie honored director.  Yes I'm talking about Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids are All Right.

That’s it for the first awards of the 2010 season.

Cheers!!!

20th Gotham Independent Film Awards News

There are still a few hours before the deadline to vote for your favorite movie that could win the Festival Genius Audience Award which celebrates audience award winners from across Top 50 US and Canadian film festivals. Voting closes today at 5pm and here are the nominated films.

9000 Needles
Brotherhood
Waiting for Superman
White Irish Drinkers
Winter’s Bone

You know my vote absolutely goes to Winter’s Bone. To vote please go here.

Tonight’s award ceremony will be co hosted by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, which makes it interesting to watch; but haven’t find if they will stream the ceremony like they did last year. Okay found it, if you wish to watch the show live go here or check home page for the link a little before 8pm ET.

Cendres et Sang (Ashes and Blood)

Sometimes takes me a while to be able to watch films and this film was not only really elusive but was must be seen for me as I was really curious by Fanny Ardant directorial debut; the wait was worth it as I liked this film that has excellent cinematography and a performance by Ronit Elkabetz that absolutely recalls Greek actresses in Greek tragedies, not only for the extreme eye makeup but also for the sometimes exaggerated gestures.

Film looks and feels like a Greek tragedy; like those stories that start with tragedy and end with tragedy while in between have some happiness moments until tragedy starts to built its course. Story has several characters and many are not well-developed; believe that the reason why is because main character is tragedy and believe me, tragedy is well-developed.

Film starts with black and white scenes that show how a father is killed. Killing has all signs of a vendetta. Move forward in time to watch what looks like a normal family with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz) being the mother, Pashko the younger violent son, Ismael the older son and Mira the younger deaf daughter who are living in Marseilles. Against her will, better judgment and under pressure of her sons and daughter Judith finally accepts to return to her homeland for a cousin wedding. Homeland is a large country house were an extended family lives under the strict eye of the grandmother, a stern matriarch in a dark and absolutely tradition oriented family that will follow her commands. As they arrive not everyone welcomes mainly Judith and later we will learn the tragedy -and reason why she’s not welcomed- that she has hidden from her children. Tragedy shows its signs since they arrive and when we learn that the cousin is marrying into a rival clan. What follows is tragedy developing slowly but surely.

I was surprised to find mostly negative critics’ reviews (much less among viewers), reviews that I read in every language I understand as it was incredible for me what English, French, and Italian critics were writing, so I went further. Incredible because I do like the film even when has tragedy written all over or haven’t you noticed how many times I have written the word “tragedy”?

For example some complain that country is unnamed; well never mention the name or you will clearly see signs that tell but actors speak Romanian, so I never questioned where they were as I knew it was Romania. Other complain about not well developed characters; agree that they’re not well developed as in my opinion the only well developed character here is tragedy. Could go on and on but it’s not relevant as you haven’t read reviews; what’s important is that I understood that film is not for everyone and deduced that you really have to appreciate classic tragedies to enjoy story as film is not really criticized, is the story what bothered everyone.

So for whatever is worth and for those that understand French this is what Fanny Ardant says about the story:

"L'histoire de la violence est inscrite dans les cicatrices, visibles ou invisibles. La violence n'est pas uniquement dans les coups ! Tout ce que l'on perd ou ce que l'on gagne arrive souvent par une sorte de violence, ce que l'on subit aussi. Nous portons en nous des sortes de cicatrices, faites de tout ce que l'on a accepté. En racontant l'histoire de cette famille, je voulais parler de l'empreinte que peut laisser la violence, la terreur sur les êtres humains, l'autorité de la loi, l'humiliation... "

For Fanny the story is about violence and for me violence is a human tragedy. Anyway, story was written by Ardant and is inspired in Ismail Kadaré’s "Eschyle ou le grand perdant" (1985). Enough said about story.

If you reached this point after so many “tragedy” mentions, then probably this film is for you to watch as we can’t forget that locations are beautiful photographed with good cinematography that absolutely eases your eyes while watching and hearing incomprehensible (for non-tradition oriented people) acts plus harsh words and intentions.

I liked the film that easily got me involved with story, but most of all for the mesmerizing performance by Ronit Elkabetz and the beautiful locations that marveled my eyes; last, Fanny Ardant's film is a lot better than many other debut films by today well known good directors.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons)

I liked this movie beyond any expectations I had and they were high as film is directed by one of my favorite directors: Ferzan Ozpetek, thus I was expecting the best. I got an excellent film with a strong/compelling story, great performances and a Turkish born director that seems to understand Italians more than some of his contemporary colleagues, as this is a drama where main and secondary characters not only are important for story but also have something to say, hide or are the kind we should be careful when near to them as all are true loose cannons as the English title clearly says.

Movie is a drama but also is a farce, is tragic and has extraordinary comedy at the correct time (gee, did I laugh loud!) and yes, is gay interest but honestly even if is essential to the story told I feel is not the main theme as this film is a very interesting exploration into human behavior of the good and not so good kind.

Not easy to tell you what is all about without giving away crucial moments that will surprise you and will make you nervously laugh or will get your reactions; but I’ll try as you should watch this film without knowing much about the story. Tells the story of the Cantone family who are a large extended family living in one big house in Lecce where they own a large pasta factory. Younger son Tomasso, who lives in Rome, returns for a visit and decides to tell them that he’s gay to avoid being forced to assume his responsibilities at the family business as he’s only interested in becoming a writer and stay living in Rome where he’s able to be away from his family and the little town gossip and homophobia. The Cantone family plus friends are having a fun dinner and Tomasso decides that’s the right moment to tell all, his secret; but his older brother Antonio, who he told before, stops him to make an announcement. Antonio’s news is the trigger to a true roller coaster ride into the lives of the Cantone family that includes Tomasso’s grandmother, father, mother, aunt, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces plus the maids, the father mistress, his friends from Rome, and Alba, an eccentric young beautiful woman that also works at the factory in a high position.

Excellent performances by all actors’ that superbly perform sharp dialogues with fantastic expressions in a script co written by Ozpetek and in a film with impeccable cinematography plus tech specs; but most impressive, even when by now is a given for me, are Ferzan Ozpetek filmmaking outstanding abilities that with this film shows an excellent comedy timing and true delicate care of all his characters. Bravo!!!

Film collected many honors including a Special Jury Mention at 2010 Tribeca plus many Italian honors and film is nominated for the People’s Award at 2010 European Awards. Mention honors because I do believe that this film is superior in every cinema element to actual Italy submission to 2010 Oscar; maybe because story is about homosexuality those in charge of selection decided not to chose this magnificent film. If I’m right then is a true shame that they didn’t follow Peru’s example; but it is understandable as this film shows Italians homophobic reactions.

Highly recommend this film if you enjoy talkie European good movies, definitively is must be seen for those that follow Ozpetek oeuvre and for those that enjoy the gay interest genre.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing)

Italy’s submission to the Oscar and with three awards at 2010 David di Donatello awards plus more at the 2010 Nastri di Argento is a family dramedy that I didn’t enjoyed much for about three quarters of film; is the last half hour when film and story become more interesting and compelling. I think know why, the finale has scenes with characters as adults and adult actors’ performances were more adequate than actors as younger characters.

Paolo Virzi films tell about fortyish Bruno Michelucci who reluctantly returns to his hometown as Ana (marvelously played by Stefania Sandrelli) is very sick with terminate cancer. He abandoned Ana and sister Valeria a long time ago, mainly because he was embarrassed by his mother behavior and the gossip about her that surround him. With Bruno and Ana flashbacks we learn the story of the Michelucci family and how a younger Ana- with her two children- abandons jealous husband to start a life of struggles but high in motherly love and happiness. This is a story of misconceptions, exactly Ana being badly judged by other while she always was a good woman and mother; but also is about Bruno’s reconciliation with her mother and sister.

If you endure three quarters of the film I know you will surely enjoy the last half hour where narrative, performances and style absolutely makes sense and story becomes compelling as well as interesting; but I know that, as some English language reviewers express, non-Italian audiences will tend to find this movie a “heavy-exaggerated melodrama”

It’s hard to understand why this is Italy’s submission to 2010 Oscar as I know there are other movies that have a more universal, well-developed and compelling stories (like Mine Vaganti) or have more international renown actors (like Io Sono L’Amore); but you never know with the Academy that always gives us surprises.

Can’t recommend film that has only one highly positive element, the old songs that made me recall the times when they were popular and that I sang along while watching the movie as I still know the words. Of course the best was Nicola DiBari’s La Prima Cosa Bella!

Enjoy.

Watch trailer @MOC

Monsters

I had to watch this movie! Not because I’m a sci-fi fan (I’m not), not because the story (aliens in Mexico of all places), not because the actors or performances (unknown to me), and definitively not because director Gareth Edwards as this is his debut film. So why this was in my must be seen list?

The film production was US$15,000.00!!! Yes, fifteen thousand American dollars!

Considering the budget I have to say that the film is unbelievable as unbelievable as the crew that with the ultra-low budget was able to do a decent film and I just imagine if the director had a better budget, like let’s say 100% more, what he could do with double the money; obviously Mr. Edwards has become a filmmaker with a clear and promising future in filmmaking.

If you’re not interesting in seeing with your own eyes what US$15,000.00 can do and wish to watch the movie just for plot, because you like sci-fi or because you want to see grandiose special effects then I strongly suggest to stay away from it as you will be disappointed as is what some viewers have called “a lame love story” and I add, not much else.

Still considering the budget which means unbelievable tight production resources have to admit that the thrilling part of the drama/thriller/sci-fi was quite good and at a few moments story and thrills even made me think of Tarkovsky! Yes, before we were able to see the creatures and when they are in the zone; doesn’t this sound familiar to Tarkovsky’s fans???

Anyway film also written by Edwards tells about six years ago a NASA probe that on return crashes in Mexico and soon after new life form began to appear and half of Mexico (yes, up north) was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today, American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the creatures and with this setting an American photojournalist reluctantly agrees to escort back home in the US, the daughter of the magazine owner where he works. As you can imagine everything goes wrong.

Absolutely this UK production is the best film I ever seen considering budget and is better than many movies that are produced with more magnanimous budgets.

If you’re interested in filmmaking this movie is absolutely must be seen!

Enjoy!!! (yes, considering the micro-budget!)

Watch trailer @MOC (also included @MOC the behind the scenes with enphasis on HOW the movie was done and yes, I think Mr. Edwards has broken several filmmaking paradigms)

2010 Tokyo Filmex International Film Festival Award Winners

From November 20 to 28 the fest run in Tokyo and a few hours ago announced the award winners. Here they are.

Grand Prize: ふゆの獣 Fuyu no Kemono (Love Addiction), Nobuteru Uchida, Japan, 2010
The Jury awards its Grand Prize to the film "Love Addiction" by Uchida Nobuteru. This film develops a psychological drama through cinematic means to an extraordinary level of dramatic intensity. The use of the camera is especially remarkable just as the play of the actors. The jury also underlines the achievement to make a film of great power of expression with very limited financial means.

Special Jury Prize: 光棍兒 Single Man, Jie Hao, China, 2010
Audience Award: Peace, Soda Kazuhiro, Japan and USA, 2010

New Masters
Best Project: Ilo Ilo, Anthony Chen, Singapore
Special Mention: It Must Be a Camel, Charlotte Lim Lay Kuen, Malaysia

To check all films in competition and read the official announcement go here.

21st Stockholm International Film Festival Award Winners

A few hours ago the fest announced the winners and here they are.

Best Film: Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, USA
By unanimous decision, the jury surrendered to a world so fully described by the director and a protagonist's dilemma in a community seldom represented in America. Through her heroine, the director paints an original portrait of a matriarchy who, by turns, warns, punishes, and ultimately offers an unlikely deliverance. The story and performances worked together to realize an uncompromised vision.

Honorable Mention: Neds, Peter Mullan, UK, France and Italy

Best First Feature: Bi, dung so! (Bi, Don’t Be Afraid), Phan Dang Di, Vietnam, France and Germany

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, USA
Best Actor: George Pistereanu in Eu cand vreau sa fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle I Whistle), Florin Serban, Romania and Sweden

Best Screenplay: David Michôd for Animal Kingdom, David Michôd, Australia
Best Cinematography: Pham Quang Minh for Bi, dung so! (Bi, Don’t Be Afraid), Phan Dang Di, Vietnam, France and Germany
Jameson Film Music Award: Magnus Börjesson and Fred Avril for Sound of Noise, Olas Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Sweden and France

Telia Film Award: Monga, Doze Niu, Taiwan
FIPRESCI Prize: Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, USA

Audience Award
This is England '86, Shane Meadows, UK (TV series)
Waste Land, Lucy Walker, UK and Brazil (Documentary)

To check winners in other categories as well as read jury statements go here.

59 Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival Award Winners

A while back the festival closed its doors for this year when announced the winners and here they are.

Best Film: 10 ½, Daniel Grou, Canada
"This dilemma of a child in modern society is profoundly convincing on every level"

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Prize: Xun Huan Zuo Le (The High Life), Zhao Dayong, China
"From the very first shot the director demonstrates his ability of telling stories in a visually innovative way"


Special Award of the International Jury: Siyah Beyaz (Black and White), Ahmet Boyacıoğlu, Turkey
"To the director who masterfully combines warmth, lightness and humour in this story of friendship"

Special Mention of the International Jury
Act of Dishonour, Nelofer Pazira, Canada
“To a director who depicts the complex realities of war and the difficult interaction between film making and people's lives” and…

Alicia Vikander in Till det som ar vackert (Pure), Lisa Langseth, Sweden
"For the extraordinary performance of an actress in a very strong film"

FIPRESCI Prize: Xun Huan Zuo Le (The High Life), Zhao Dayong, China
Ecumenical Prize: Hold Om Mig (Hold Me Tight), Kaspar Munk, Denmark

Audience Awards
Eva y Lola (Eva and Lola), Sabrina Farji, Argentina
Hold Om Mig (Hold Me Tight), Kaspar Munk, Denmark

To read the announcement plus the recommendations of Cinema Owners go here.

하녀Hanyeo (The Housemaid)

Film is a remake of a classic Korean movie with the same name by Ki-young Kim, which I haven’t seen and decided not to watch before watching the new film mainly because Sang-soo Im was in competition at 2010 Cannes and wanted to have a fresh approach to story. With this said I have to admit that film is visually stunning with extraordinary sets, location, compositions and a truly amazing style while story is maybe not much compelling but will keep your attention thanks to actors’ great performances and its good looks.

According to Sang-soo film is an exploration of the life and lifestyle of upper classes in 2010 Korea, which tend to live very privileged and isolated lives. If you consider only what Sang-soo says then film story is an outstanding exploration that goes from distant and proper behavior to the most cruel behavior you can imagine where money makes all kind of unpleasant situations go away. I liked this story.

But what you will more clearly see is the story of Eun-yi a good woman that is hired as Nami’s nanny while Mami’s mother, Hae Ra, is pregnant with twins. Hae Ra is not satisfying the sexual needs of her extremely wealthy husband, Hoon; so Hoon looks for sexual satisfaction with Eun-yi. Byeong-sik (aka Miss Cho), the housekeeper, sees Hoon and Eun-yi having sex and soon enough notices Eun-yi changing her habits and deduces that she’s pregnant. Miss Cho reports all to Hae Ra’s mother and from this point on you will watch a dark narrative about power, more exactly women power as story develops with only female characters. This story was not much compelling but performances by actors keep your attention; still I was most impressed by Yeo-Jong Yun performance as Miss Cho and little Seo-Hyon Ahn as Nami, even if both were supporting characters their moments on screen were truly remarkable.

As a film is almost perfect with spectacular locations, excellent camera with many beautiful compositions, wonderful use of black and white in sets -especially when is a full-color movie- great editing and many more superlatives for other tech specs, which superbly is essential part of the wealth recreation.

Film is labeled in some sites as an erotic thriller maybe due to some (not-so-explicit) sex scenes that honestly are no big deal if you enjoy European cinema, so I suggest you don’t get fooled by marketing that exploits the sex scenes as fellatio scenes magnificently show Hoon’s absolute power.

As MUBI has Ki-young Kim movie I will watch it as I’m curious to see the original story that according to what I read it is very different to this story as Sang-soo Im maybe kept the story essence but changed everything else.

Another 2010 Cannes movie that I like even when Eun-yi story was less interesting than the wealth exploration story and definitively I do recommend it to those that enjoy visually stunning movies with good actors’ performances.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Hermano (Brother)

I was expecting a Venezuelan soap alike or a very violent not good to watch film but I was aware that film not only is Venezuela’s submission to Oscar but also won the top award at 2010 Moscow fest and I gave the film the benefit of the doubt. Can’t deny that I was surprised as film is quite good, not soapy and not really violent, thus this film has become the best Venezuelan film I have seen ever and honestly I find it superior to other films submitted to Oscar –which I have seen- by Latin American countries.

Tells the story of Daniel, a baby that was found in a garbage street dump thanks to young Julio who heard him crying and thought was a cat. When Julio’s mother, Graciela, sees the baby she leaves to return and pick him up. Forward story to when Daniel, now a teenager, is an exceptional soccer player playing in a “barrio” team where older brother Julio is the team’s captain. Daniel loves his mother and brother, not only for saving his life but for the tight bond the small family has; he dreams to play professional soccer but life in a “barrio” is not easy and Julio is already involved in the slum lowlife. Suddenly tragedy strikes when both brothers are about to get their opportunity to find a way out of slum life but they’re torn between revenge and following a better future.

Film doesn’t tell a “new” story but Marcel Rasquin’s storytelling technique makes it fresh and as narrative evolves tension is properly built and you will not only get interested in this human drama but also will surely get emotionally involved. Is true that film is about soccer but actually I believe that is just a narrative vehicle and besides soccer is not a popular sport in Venezuela (not like baseball or basketball) so using soccer makes story more about true “underdogs” with everything against them.

Many Venezuelan films portrait Caracas slums quite harsh (which is more real, like real-life) but this film doesn’t do it as centers more in the human drama making the movie a lot easier to watch and a lot more entertaining as well as emotional. This was quite interesting for me that can’t deny that when started to watch was very skeptical and almost stop watching; but I kept watching and soon enough I was absolutely involved with the drama. As a film is interesting with some hand held camera takes but story is what really grabs your attention and tech specs are adequate to not disturb your story involvement.

If you speak or understand Spanish I strongly suggest that you watch this film with subtitles as unless you speak “Venezuelan” will be hard to understand what they’re saying as characters speak using many local words and expressions.

I like the movie more than what imagined and I do recommend it as a strong human drama with an unexpected bittersweet ending (I kept trying to guess the ending, but I didn’t, which is unusual) that will entertain and involve you. If you follow Latin American cinema, film is must be seen as is a great example of good cinema from a not traditional cinema prolific country.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

2010 Prix Louis-Delluc Nominations

The most prestigious French award recently announced the nominations for this year awards that will be announced on December 17. These are the nominees.

Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men), Xavier Beauvois
Des Filles en Noir (Young Girls in Black), Jean-Paul Civeyrac
Carlos, Olivier Assayas
La Princesse de Monpensier, Bertrand Tavernier
Mystères de Lisbonne (Mysteries of Lisbon), Raoul Ruiz
The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski
Tournée (On Tour), Mathieu Amalric
White Material, Claire Denis

Best First Film

Belle Épine (Dear Prudence), Rebecca Zlotowski
Un Poison Violent (Love Like Poison), Katell Quillévéré
La Vie au Ranch (Chicks), Sophie Letourneur
Domaine (Domain), Patrick Chiha
Une Exécution Ordinaire (An Ordinary Execution), Marc Dugain
Gainsbourg (vie héroïque) (International title: Je t’aime, moi non plus), Joann Sfar

The list is most amazing for me as I have seen a few of the films and didn’t enjoy them much!!! That’s really extraordinary, as my love for French cinema makes me like almost EVERYTHING! But it had to happen and even if is unbelievable for me, nope didn’t like much some of the above films. BUT still have to watch some that hope will change this trend, especially Des Filles en Noir, White Material, Belle Épine, and Un Poison Violent.

To read the news go here.

2010 Lux Cinema Prize

The European Parliament’s annual film prize LUX was awarded in Strasbourg on November 24 to the film Die Fremde by Feo Adalag. Feo Adalag is the first woman ever in competition for this award and now is the first ever to win award.

Receiving the prize, Mrs Aladağ said "I made Die Fremde because I believe we live in a multicultural society which can no longer rest on promoting consensus but must rather find new ways in dealing with arising divergence. The LUX Prize is an essential bridge between national identities and beyond. That is why, for me, the European Parliament's commitment to culture and education is of such great importance."

Parliament awards the annual LUX Prize to films that illustrate or question the founding values of European identity, explore Europe’s cultural diversity or contribute insights to the EU integration debate.

To read the official press release go here.  A very good film won the award this year and film is so impact-full that is also Germany's submission to Oscar.

Bal (Honey)

An extremely beautiful to watch film, visually superior to Yumurta (Egg) and Süt (Milk) and with a message that will be up to viewers to decode as in all silences the few spoken words are key to identify symbols, images and metaphors that lead to one of the two layers that this film has or at least, that I discovered.

Had to get out of my system my emotions to say that the last film in the trilogy is by far the best and the hardest to watch when you do not appreciate extreme silence, absence of words, absence of music, extraordinary long shots, very slow pace showing what apparently is nothing out of the ordinary in the life of residents in rural areas, great framing composition indoors and outdoors, spectacular camera, all with a simple story full of “hidden” symbols, clues, messages. Yes my friends, the films is NOT easy to watch, NOT easy to understand but if you sustain the pace enough to keep watching you will admit that is extremely easy to see the beauty of and inside the film.

I’m still blessed with good memory so I do remember Yumurta and Süt, from the visuals to the story I saw and the messages I got; if you remember Yusuf, the poet, when he was forty-ish (Yumurta) and when he was in his late teens (Süt) you will also have to recall that the story is told in reverse-order. But in case you don’t remember –briefly- in Yumurta Yusuf returns to his birth place because her mother passed away only to finally find love; in Süt Yusuf lives with her mother, tries to have his poems published and tries to deal with her mother having an affair.

The story continues with 8-years-old Yusuf living with both his parents, now a quiet, observant of everything that happens around him, having problems learning to read, desiring to win the class prize, not close to his mother and extremely close to his father. The outstanding one long-shot opening scene tells us everything; we know what’s going to happen: is the death of his father, his best friend, his only confident, the only person he really spokes to. This is what you will see and what I call the easiest story layer to follow and understand.

But there is another layer that speaks about nature and absolutely complements the incredible beautiful outdoors photographed in this film. This is a film about nature, its splendorous beauty, the ideal harmony between nature and man, the world as it was and now seems no longer is as nature is starting to die on us. Where do I get this message? Remember the girl Yusuf blissfully saw and heard reading a poem? Do you know the poem? Is Sensation by Rimbaud. Think why Yusuf stuttered when became nervous and why as the film advances he becomes silent. Think why the bees, the most noble and nature “thermometer” of all animals are dying. I could go on and on, but think never before gave away so many clues to a film story; but again, I really think is not easy to watch or to get the “hidden” messages.

Performance by Bora Altas as Yusuf is incomprehensible as for me is so hard to understand how a young boy did such an extraordinary performance with mostly poke face and stiff body that absolutely tells everything just with tiny and furtive expressions. Truly extraordinary but more impressive is to find a director that could work with a child the way that Semih Kaplanoğlu did. My sincere and big chapeau master Kaplanoğlu. As you can imagine tech specs are impeccable with true breath taking cinematography.

Before seeing Bal I was thinking of watching the three films again in chronological order; not anymore. Will watch the three films again but will keep the director order as believe I got the reason why he chose to tell the story in reverse order; besides the “hidden” messages in all films are relevant to the moment when each film was created. I’m sad because Yusuf’s story is over but I know the three masterpieces will be always here, with me, to revisit them as often as I can.

As we know the film is the Golden Bear winner at 2010 Berlinale and is Turkey’s submission to the Oscar. Can help but to think that not many Academy members will enjoy the film as definitively this film is not for general audiences, film is for those that appreciate cinema as true Art form and as such I do strongly recommend this outstanding film.

BIG ENJOY!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Contracorriente (Undertow)

Don’t remember if I have said it before but I have a hard time watching gay interest movies; but if movie transcends the genre like Brokeback Mountain did then films become not only watchable but interesting and many times very emotional. Had to watch this film as is Peru’s submission to Oscar, but I wasn’t in a rush. Gosh I should have seen it before as had nothing to worry because Javier Fuentes-León’s opera prima has a story that slowly grows on you until the very sad end where you will shred a lot more than one tear. It’s amazing how narrative takes you almost like “by-the-hand” and slowly starts to pour emotions that become absolutely intense at the very end; in a way I’m glad that wasn’t more emotional or that had more intense emotions at the beginning as I know my heart couldn’t take it. The way it is, is enough!

Film tells the story of fisherman Miguel, married, her wife pregnant and having what looks like a casual affair with Santiago, his opposite as is a well-to-do city dweller that went to the seaside to paint and take photos. Santiago wants more but Miguel is tied by the small village traditions, prejudices, perceptions and the child on the way. One day Santiago appears in Miguel’s house to his dismal and fear that the wife could see him; but only Miguel can see him and you have to watch the rest of this story that according to his director is an exploration into what many people, especially in Latin American, tend to distort and limit: the concept of manhood. I tend to agree as definitively is a story about our own internal prejudices and fears, the consequent dishonest behavior where we lie to ourselves and the ultimate acceptance of what we are and deeply love. Story is really interesting and I suggest you don’t get lost into thinking that there is a ghost, try to imagine that is just the product of someone imagination due to intense love and surely will uncover more interesting layers to the story.

Performances are acceptable even when at times lost attention to the very interesting story due to not-so-good performing; cinematography is nice as location looks like untamed paradisiacal sea shores and once in a while director created great visual compositions, my only complaint is that there were too few.

Obviously I liked the movie a lot more than what I imagined as slowly but surely story really grows on you thanks to the “well-modulated” emotional narrative with the crescendo at the end. Film clearly is must be seen to those that enjoy the gay interest genre but I also especially recommend the movie to many that read the blog and enjoy the lesbian interest genre as even when there is nothing lesbian shown, story theme and message is one that I know will be easy to relate to.

Not sure if film is suitable for general audiences as I believe will be too soapy for them and wonder if they can relate to or understand the intensity of the story as no, this is not another Brokeback Mountain as does not have well-known actors nor the mastery of the director.

Anyway, long after I finished watching the movie I was sad and very emotional, took me a while to relax and feel good again; but then I felt very glad that I was able to watch this story.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

47th Golden Horse Award Winners

A few hours ago the annual event had the awards ceremony and here are the winners.

Best Feature Film: When Love Comes, Chang Tso-chi
Best Director: Chung Mong-Hong for The Fourth Portrait
Best New Director: Ho Wi Ding for Pinoy Sunday
Best Leading Actress: Lv Li-Ping in City Monkey, Kong Ling-Chen
Best Leading Actor: Juan Ethan in Monga, Niu Chen-Zer (aka Doze Niu)

Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year: The Fourth Portrait, Chung Mong-Hong
Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Lee Lieh producer of Monga

To check winners is all categories go here.

Revolución (Revolution)

As many of you recall I don’t like to read about movies before watching and this anthology was no exception; so had no idea what was going to see and maybe in the back of my head I had a thought that was a series of short films about the infamous Mexican Revolution and yes, Pancho Villa. You have no idea of how deeply WRONG was I and it’s a true shame to admit what I was expecting when the compilation had films by Reygadas, Escalante, Plá, Eimbcke, and Naranjo, I should have known better!

My head is still spinning from watching the shorts but I’m clear that there are at least two ways to watch the outstanding film: one as representation of current trends in contemporary Mexican cinema (or easier, as films –which most serious reviewers seems tend to do) and second, as a series of films with stories that could simply blow your mind IF you’re familiar with Mexico past and present history, Mexican idiosyncrasy and Mexican traditions. To me the one way that totally blew my mind is the second that I should really expand from Mexico to many other countries in the world that had revolutions at one (or more) time (s) in their History, especially those Latin American countries that have ‘similar’ idiosyncrasies to Mexico.

Ten films reflect and some literally tell what I can call “the effects of the revolution 100 years after” and I know that many will not be prepared at all to what you’re going to watch as honestly is not easy to admit that not much has changed after 100 years and like it’s said in a short: “we need another revolution”. Almost all topics of Mexican idiosyncrasy are touched in the films from religion, traditions, expectations, behaviors, feelings, and so many more things that wont list as list could be very long. Maybe I’m totally biased but story wise Carlos Reygadas This is My Kindom is the ONE that stunningly shows in one scenario (had to be a party) the huge diversity of Mexican population plus their appalling behaviors and views of life. Not what I was expecting visually from Reygadas BUT the storytelling technique fits the absolutely impactful story. Amazing and quite hard to watch if you know what happens in many Latin American countries including the one I’m currently ‘visiting’.

Visually I was taken aback with Amat Escalante outstanding short El Cura Nicolas Colgado (The Hanging Priest) with many visually breath taking images and compositions plus a style that some are relating to Buñuel and Jodorowsky but I believe that in this short, more than in his films, he is developing a style that should explore further to make it his own. Briefly, is an excellent short with a strong story that for a moment I thought it was Reygadas, but soon enough decided was Escalante and felt relief when I was right, gasp.

Fernando Eimbcke’s Bienvenida (The Welcome Ceremony) opens the compilation with a visually outstanding film shot in black and white that absolutely plays with light and darkness while telling a compelling story about how today expectations are still peculiarly fulfilled or maybe totally unfulfilled. Gerardo Naranjo’s R-100 tells about how to save something you have to destroy something else as no one will help you saving without first thinking about consequences or how to run away from your past; a gritty story with nice use of digital colors. Rodrigo Plá’s 30/30 (is a ‘corrido’) is perhaps the only that directly deals with a story about politics with a visual style that plays with photos and moving pictures to effectively show disrespect for what is verbally/sentimentally most respected Mexican past; obviously a story that talks about politics but also about almost everything else.

Most impressive for the message and style is Rodrigo García’s La 7th y Alvarado that with what looks like real footage of the Los Angeles intersection blends filmed images of Revolution revolutionaries. The effect is superb with special mention to opening scene; story made me think about how the “real” revolution consequence is now also happening in some streets of USA. I’m so tempted to do an analysis of what I saw in all the above films and a well-known revolution: the American Revolution, but the post will be long and will have to get into ‘dangerous’ not cinema-related issues, so I leave the analysis up to you reader if you feel like getting into those troubled -but very interesting- similarities.

The other shorts by Marina Chenillo, Patricia Riggen, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal are acceptable less impactful stories with more ‘normal’ styles that help to rest/entertain from the ones that have stronger stories plus more interesting storytelling, cinematography and style.

In summary an interesting compilation of different styles, different stories and one theme in common, what’s happening after 100 years since the infamous Revolution.

Wish I could say what’s the natural target for this omnibus but is not easy to figure out. My instinct says that is Must Be Seen for those that enjoy strong human stories and don’t mind to think a lot beyond what the eyes see and the ears hear; but also should be an ‘obligate’ tour-de-force for everyone that lives in Latin America and all countries with a revolution (or war) in the past or present. Obviously must be seen for those that enjoy extraordinary good and art cinema for the films by Reygadas, Escalante, Eimbcke, Naranjo, Plá, and García.

I enjoyed the compilation beyond any expectations and absolutely understand why the film was in Semaine de la Critique in 2010 Cannes, 2010 Berlinale and transited other fests in the festival circuit. Some short films are simply perfect shorts, the kind that leaves you with the sensation that you have seen everything; you don’t need more as they are complete stories. Excellent!!!

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

Here is a photo with the ten directors at the Berlinale.

Revolucion Worldwide Premiere

Thanks to Mubi who's in partnership with Celluloid Dreams this weekend, meaning ONLY Saturday November 20th and Sunday November 21st, we are able to watch the Premiere of the Cannes-selected Revolución made in honor of the Mexican Revolution 100 Anniversary and the following is a synopsis (from MUBI) of the short films that take a look back at that turbulent time in Mexican History.

The Mexican revolution began one hundred years ago with the overthrow of the country’s dictatorial President Porfirio Díaz. Revolución is a portmanteau film in which ten directors look back in ten short films at the violent upheaval that was to bring dramatic changes to the country. In his film, 30/30, Rodrigo Plá observes commemorative events and local politicians’ speeches. In EL CURA NICOLÁS COLGADO by Amat Escalanate, a boy and a girl come across a priest hanging in a tree. In ESTE ES MI REINO, Carlos Reygadas describes a group of proud Mexicans who invite their foreign friends to join them for a celebration in the country. In LA TIENDA DE RAYA Mariana Chenillo reminds us that, even today, workers are sometimes paid in coupons, which, just as in pre-revolutionary Mexico, they can only redeem in shops owned by their employers. Patricia Riggen’s film, LINDO Y QUERIDO, revolves around an American’s dying wish to be buried in the land he was once forced to leave. The titular protagonist LUCIO in Gael García Bernal’s film is enlightened by his cousin, Omar, as to the sometimes contradictory meanings of certain national symbols. Daniel has an unpleasant altercation with his wife in Diego Luna’s PACÍFICO. He winds up at the beach where he begins to realise that he can only fulfill his dreams by being at home with his family. In R-100 by Gerardo Narango, two workers try to run away from their past; Rodrigo García has the ghosts of deceased revolutionaries pay a visit to Los Angeles in LA 7TH Y ALVARADO, and, in LA BIENVENIDA, Fernando Eimbcke portrays a village that awaits the arrival of a special guest.

I'm embedding the video so we can watch the compilation together and it's not necessary but I stress that one of the shorts is by Carlos Reygadas, who is my favorite contemporary Mexican director and consequently absolutely MUST BE SEEN. But also there are shorts by interesting directors like Fernando Eimbcke, Amat Escalante, Rodrigo Pla, and Gerardo Naranjo; looking forward to watch the films by other Mexican directors I'm not familiar with their work.



ENJOY!!!

Note:  I watched the film in my TV and if you have the computer connected to the TV with an HDMI cable I strongly suggest that you watch the film at MUBI that has the best quality; the film is here.

2010 Happens to be A Good Year for Great Female Roles

Not long ago I was having a conversation with my photographer friend about the possible nominees for Oscar Best Actress and we started to notice that there are too many Great roles to fill only five slots with nominations. Not every year a remarkable event like this happens, so it’s worth to stop and review the female roles I have seen, the ones that I have to watch and the ones that get lots of buzz among viewers and critics.

I didn’t enjoyed The Kids Are All Right but I do recognize that Annette Bening did an outstanding performance that’s absolutely Oscar worthy; but she’s not alone as newcomer Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent performance in Winter’s Bone, Tilda Swinton is getting big promotion with her performance in I Am Love which I recognize as award worthy, and Noomi Rapace is still in the lists of many critics as well in mine. These are the roles I have seen and absolutely agree they should be considered for a nomination.

With much industry buzz we have Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, Hilary Swank in Conviction, Naomi Watts in Fair Game, Diane Lane in Secretariat, Lesley Manville in Another Year, and Annette Bening again but for Mother and Child. More recently new names started to appear like Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs, Halle Berry in Frankie and Alice, Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Song, Reese Whiterspoon in How Do You Know. Also with some buzz but considered for the supporting role more than lead is Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right. Take a breath as now I’m listing the ones haven’t seen but I hope their performance will deserve honors: Helen Mirren in The Tempest and Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham.

Then we have some lesser known foreigners like Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go, Freida Pinto in Miral, Cecile De France in Hereafter, and the one that I wish wouldn’t be skipped Lotte Verbeek in Nothing Personal, but I’m not sure that film has been released in LA, even when was released in USA.

So up to this moment there are 23 possible great female roles that I assume they’re great even if I haven’t seen most of all. But mentions continue with Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love which I definitively didn’t liked the movie nor her performance; Robin Wright in The Conspirator, Keira Knightley in London Boulevard, Helena Bonham Carter in Alice in Wonderland or in The King’s Speech and I better stop or the list will be too long to digest.

The point is that 2010 seems to be an excellent year for female roles worthy to be honored by the Academy, the Globes, the Independents, the Guilds and the Critics. Last year when all nominations and award winners started to appear the category started to get a pattern and some actresses were easy to guess that will be among the five at the Oscar nominees. This year I’m not sure the same will happen, or better I’m hoping will be more heterogeneous so guessing the five nominees could be harder as there are so many award worthy performances.

We don’t have to wait much as we have entered the next stage of the Awards season and as soon as the beginning of December the first major independent awards will be announced, the Guilds will announce their nominations, Critics will start to announce their awards and on December 14 the Golden Globes will announce their nominations.

If I have to guess the five nominees considering the roles I have seen plus the buzz from critics that have my credibility, the list looks as follows.

Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone
Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole

But I’m just guessing and the last three still have to watch the films and their performances; still I’m almost sure the first two will make it! Lol! That's it IF we don't have a film released before the deadline with Meryl Streep!!!

I’m enjoying following all the buzz about this category, but also I’m absolutely enjoying the race for the Best Actor as there are some performances that I’m really looking forward to watch like Colin Firth in The King’s Speech who honestly deserved the Oscar last year for his outstanding performance in A Single Man.

Cheers!!!!

83rd Academy Awards – Documentaries Shortlist

From one hundred-one films, fifteen (15) films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process to define the five films that will be nominated and these are the documentaries.

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Alex Gibney, USA
Enemies of the People, Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, UK and Cambodia
Exit Through the Gift Shop, Bansky, USA and UK
GasLand, Josh Fox, USA
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glen Gould, Michèle Hozer and Peter Raymont, Canada
Inside Job, Charles Ferguson, USA
The Lottery, Madeleine Sackler, USA
Precious Life, Shlomi Eldar, USA and Israel
Quest for Honor, Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, USA
Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, USA
This Way of Life, Thomas Burstyn, New Zealand
The Tillman Story, Amir Bar-Lev, USA
Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim, USA
Waste Land, Lucy Walker, Karen Harley and João Jardim, Brazil and UK
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, USA

Since 2010 Berlinale been trying to watch award winner Waste Land that definitively is must be seen for me; but from reading about above docs, one absolutely called my attention: Genius Within… let’s hope that I’m able to find the film.

To read the announcement at the official Academy site go here.

83rd Academy Awards – Animated Feature Films Shortlist

A few days ago the Academy announced the fifteen (15) feature films that have been accepted for consideration in the Animated Feature category and here they are.

Alpha and Omega, Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck, USA and India
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Lawrence Guterman, USA and Australia
Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, USA
The Dreams of Jinsha, China
How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois and Chirs Sanders, USA
Idiots and Angels, Bill Plympton, USA
The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet, UK and France
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Zack Snyder, USA and Australia
Megamind, Tom McGrath, USA
My Dog Tulip, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, USA
Shrek Forever After, Mike Mitchell, USA
Summer Wars, Mamoru Hosada, Japan
Tangled, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, USA
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Bradley Raymond, USA

Some of you probably remember that I’m not fond of animated films, so it’s no surprise that I have seen only one from the above list and didn’t like it much! I’m talking about Toy Story 3 that everybody loved (except me) and surely will be one of the three that will be nominated. As we know with fifteen films the Academy rules says that there could be only 3 nominated and from 16 above there could be five (5) nominated.

Nevertheless, there are four films that have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying run and one of them is the only one I’m really looking forward to watch, The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet that did the outstanding Les Triplettes de Belleville. I hope filmmakers comply with the rule in time so film can be considered as I imagine will be as good as mentioned film. The other three films are The Dreams of Jinsha, Summer Wars and Tangled.

After checking films I’m glad the Academy is considering films that are not only American and got curious about the India co-production and probably will watch Despicable Me eventually.

To read press release at the Academy official site go here.

59 Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival

I’m starting to find new films in festivals and as you can imagine, makes me very excited as there are some films that look very promising. The fest started on November 11 and will run until the 21st and here are the films in the International Competition.

2 Fois Une Femme (Twice a Woman), François Delisle, Canada
10 ½, Daniel Grou, Canada (Surely very hard-to-watch)
Act of Dishonour, Nelofer Pazira, Canada (A very interesting story set in Afghanistan by a woman director that performed in great Kandahar)
Atsisveikinimas (Farewell – The Ballad of a Lucky Man), Tomas Donela, Lithuania
Eva y Lola (Eva and Lola), Sabrina Farji, Argentina (story seems interesting)
Hold Om Mig (Hold Me Tight), Kaspar Munk, Denmark
Just Inès, Marcel Grant, UK (a stylized study of loneliness, could be interesting)
Kandahar Break, David Whitney, UK
La Casa Sulle Nuvole (The House in the Clouds), Claudio Giovannesi, Italy
Paeva Lopus (When the Day is Done), Maiju Ingman, Estonia
Planes para Mañana (Plans for Tomorrow), Juana Macías, Spain
Siyah Beyaz (Black and White), Ahmet Boyacıoğlu, Turkey
Till det som ar vackert (Pure), Lisa Langseth, Sweden (Maybe interesting)
Win/Win, Jaap van Heusden, Netherland
Xun Huan Zuo Le (The High Life), Zhao Dayong, China

I’m impressed by this fest as has many films by female directors, which is quite unusual. To check information about each film go here. I suggest you check other sections as also have interesting films.

Opening film was none other than La Vida de los Peces (The Life of Fish) by Matias Bize, which hopefully I’ll be watching in the big screen soon. Award ceremony will be on Sunday November 21st in Mannheim.

Amigo (2010)

I had the opportunity to watch this movie from American director (and writer) John Sayles at the BFI London Film Festival.



At the ticket booth this nice guy told me he hoped I would enjoy the movie because it was exotic. I assumed he meant it was intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange…and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The movie is about the Philippine/American War that took place between 1899 and 1902, and that many people don’t know about, even in the U.S. I have to admit I had never heard of it. You will find out that the way Americans fight their wars seems to have stayed the same; that could be a story in Afghanistan or Iraq, or Vietnam…I’m not making comments on if I agree to the methods or not, but you can see the spirit is the same. In that aspect, this movie becomes a universal tale about war. 

With a low budget Sayles was able to make a very good movie. Perfect cast and a great script will keep you interested all through the movie. What I really enjoyed was how the story is approached from all perspectives: the American occupants, the villagers and anyone else caught in-between. You see good people and bad people, acts of courage and weakness. 

Among the actors, I especially liked the performances of Garret Dillahunt as the lieutenant of the American forces and Yul Vazquez, portraying the priest from the village, proving once more that you don’t need “big stars” to make a good movie. 


After the screening we had a chance to talk to the director, who told us that the events portrayed in the movie are not fictional, but several well-documented episodes all put together. So, don’t always believe IMDB, where it is called “A fictional account of events during the Philippine-American War”. 

Sadly and according to John Sayles, there is no distribution for this movie right now anywhere in the world apart from the Philippines, where it will be possible to see it next summer. 

Green light! (if you can find it)

12th International Film Festival Bratislava Award Winners

Two days ago the fest announced the award winners and here they are.

Grand Prix: Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, 2010 “For its lyrical evocation of the cycle of life and death.”

Best Director: (tie)
Dragomir Sholev for Podslon (Shelter), Bulgaria, 2010
Constantine Popescu for Portretul luptătorului la tinereţe (Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man), Romania, 2010 (A new Popescu film!!!)

Best Actress: Charlotte Gainsbourg in L’Abre (The Tree), Julie Bertucelli, France and Australia, 2010
Best Actor: Robert Naylor in 10 1/2, Daniel Grou, Canada, 2010

FIPRESCI Award: 10 ½, Daniel Grou, Canada, 2010
Student Jury Award: 10 ½, Daniel Grou, Canada, 2010

To check winners in other categories go here and to check all films in competition go here.

7th Seville European Film Festival Award Winners

A while ago the fest announced the award winners and here they are.

Golden Girarldillo: Son of Babylon, Mohamed Al-Daradji, Irak, UK, Netherlands, France, EUA, Egypt, Palestine, 2010

Silver Giraldillo: Mavro Livadi (Black Field), Vardis marinakis, Greece, 2010
Special Jury Prize: Szelíd Teremtés - A Frankenstein Terv (Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project), Kornél Mundruczó, Hungary, Germany, and Austria, 2010
Best Director: Susanne Bier for Hævnen (In a Better World), Denmark, 2010

Best Actress (tie):
Samira Maas in Joy, Mijke de Jong, Netherlands, 2010
Sofia Georgovassili in Mavro Livadi (Black Field), Vardis marinakis, Greece, 2010
Best Actor: Rhys Ifans in Mr. Nice, Bernard Rose, UK and Spain, 2009

Silver Giraldillo for First Feature Film: Gigola, Laure Charpentier, France, 2010 (lesbian interest)

Euroimages Award: La Prima Linea, Renato De Maria, Italy, Belgium, UK and France
Audience Choice Award: Tamara Drewe, Stephen Frears, UK
Campus Jury Award: Son of Babylon, Mohamed Al-Daradji, Irak, UK, Netherlands, France, EUA, Egypt, Palestine, 2010

ASECAN Award: Ovsyanki (Silent Souls), Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia, 2010
Special Mention: Naufragio (Wreckage), Pedro Aguilera, Spain, 2010

You have no idea how glad I’m that Gigola was honored as means that film has to be interesting beyond the lesbian interest genre. Here is what the jury said:
The jury is pleased to announce that the award is given to an unusual director that drags us on a trip to Paris during a period when women's sexual freedom was always a challenge. Special mention to Lou Doillon for her role in “Gigola”.

To check winners in all categories please go here. So that’s for this year and as always I’ll be looking forward to next year edition mainly because is in this fest where the EFA’s nominations are announced. Olè!!!

Gwyneth Paltrow

Have to comment about the enormous and who knows if successful (we will find out when movie is released) marketing effort for Paltrow's latest film Country Song. I don't know if you have catch some of the glitz and buzz, but started with the CMA's (Country Music Awards) and next week continues with her appearance in TV series, Glee.

Don't know about you but I know since a long time ago (remember her father Bruce Paltrow's 2000 film Duets?) that she can sing and have seen that she haven't pursued singing as a career even if she could. So now she's singing all over the net, American TV and who knows where else too. That's marketing as obviously (at least for me) she's promoting her film and not "starting" a singing career. But truth is that you never know... or we will know after her film is released.

Anyway, I tried to watch her at the CMA's but fall asleep (Country music is not my thing) but saw the clip the day after and she was okay. But today I saw the Glee clip and surely because the type of song/music I was taken aback as she can really sing! LOL! Maybe some of you would like to watch the Glee clip that follows and to keep post movie oriented, the film trailer for her film follows.

Glee clip



Country Song Trailer



Well, just for reference here is her in Duets.

Copacabana

There are movies that touch home and did this Marc Fitoussi sophomore film touch mine! Yes the movie has a story that I’m certain many women who had not easy relationship with her mother will absolutely relate to, especially when mother is very outgoing, extrovert, eccentric, speaks loudly, is the life of the party and in one word: is infantile when daughter is her opposite. But even if that’s not the case, film still with marvel you with Isabelle Huppert performance in a role that is very different to her usual roles and until Babou (Huppert) decides to change, you will see a character that looks from another age with smear eye makeup, whitish base, wears furs over miniskirts, alone dances to Brazilian music –which she loves- in cafes, dreams of escape to exotic heavens and seems to be careening toward disaster. Wow!

Story is about Elizabeth, better known as Babou, who embarrasses her very conventional daughter Esmeralda (played by Lolita Chammah –Huppert real-life daughter) up to the point that she’s about to marry and doesn’t want her mother to come to the wedding. For me film has two acts and a finale. First act introduces us to Babou and you’ll be questioning yourself how Isabelle Huppert accepted to do such a role! Second act begins when Babou tries to change her daughter perceptions and we will see the reason why Huppert accepted the role! Finale is nice solution to a film that most of all is a comedy but behind there is a very touching human drama, plus story also plays with denouncing dubious methods of time-share business among other social situations.

I totally understand that some critics and viewers comments find movie not as good as the work of current good directors or better, didn’t like it much. Think that’s because Isabelle Huppert in the first act really shocks with such a different role –compared to her usual ones- and not many will be able to recuperate from the shock to appreciate the second act and great finale. Nevertheless we have to remember that film premiered out of competition at 2010 Cannes in a parallel section that always has very-different films, La Semaine de la Critique; so, me for one honestly was expecting a “strange” film and have to admit that film can be quite strange but is less strange that other films in that Cannes section (for whatever is worth, lol).

Anyway I liked the film above my expectations and just love the music, one of my favorites of all times, that many call Brazilian music but actually is Samba and Bossanova. Film production values are remarkable as truly complement whatever the star is doing; yes, this is a film about one actress in one role and casting Isabelle Huppert in my opinion was fantastic.

I do recommend the film but not sure to whom as this definitively is not your regular French cinema, is a comedy but drama, silences, and facial and body expressions populate the film, hmm maybe my best guess is that’s suited for those that enjoy dark sort-of-satiric French films, a genre that’s quite rare in French cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

カケラ Kakera (A Piece of Our Life)

With this film I was reminded once again how much I like Japanese cinema and how different Japanese movies can be from western films, especially in the lesbian interest genre. I should watch Japanese films more often as most of them are true powerhouses when you want to feel strong emotions. This Momoko Ando debut is a strong emotions roller coaster thanks to a great story, excellent (yet different) leads performances, and an amazing use of silence that’s broken with extraordinary music score. Absolutely an out-of-the-ordinary film and my chapeau goes to Miss Momoko Ando for an intense first oeuvre.

Please don’t let all my praising confuse you, this film is not your regular western film and I strongly suggest you open your mind to a cinema that uses very-close close-ups, pocked face plus stiff body performances, and slowish pace at times; but when it comes to represent and transmit emotions, actors are outstanding as well as the director that creates awesome scenes, like for example, when Riku explodes and yells all her love for Haru in a smokey izakaya full of anonymous salarymen who try to ignore the annoying disturbance Riko’s creates to their meal! Honestly this scene is one of the most uncomfortable scenes I have seen in ages, a scene that allowed me to feel all sort of contradictory emotions. Bravo! And there are other intense emotions scenes along the film plus some remarkable simple (yet puzzling) life and gender philosophy that totally gave me food-for-thought.

Inspired by Erica Sakurazawaga yuri manga “Love Vibes” and with 80% original material, according to what Momoko Ando says in an interview, film tells about Haru, a college student trapped in a dead-end relationship with her cheating boyfriend. One day she meets Riko, a prosthetics artisan, at a café and a door is open in Haru’s life that will bring her into whirlwind change. But the development of Riko and Haru relationship is not an easy one nor goes in a straight line and precisely this is what makes the story very different to what we usually watch in lesbian interest films.

If you know your Japanese cinema you will understand that Ando’s debut film recalls the style of Ozu, who definitively had to especially influence her when deciding on compositions and female actors performances and interactions; still this film is totally contemporary Japanese cinema and most remarkable is the sparse but extremely well used music by James Iha, once with The Smashing Pumpkins.

Have to admit that this film was a huge positive surprise for me and I only hope to find more outstanding Japanese films especially when they totally belong to the lesbian interest genre. Absolutely a must be seen movie for many that read this blog, to those that don’t mind to watch ‘different’ lesbian interest stories and most of all, to those that enjoy good Japanese cinema.

Love the film that came to me after watching so many mediocre films that don’t inspire me to write about them. Maybe after this great rush of adrenaline I’ll be able to write about the huge disappointments I got with much awaited films like The Kids are All Right, Tournee and others. Sigh.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

23rd European Film Awards Nominations

At the Seville European Film Festival the European Film Academy announced the nominations for the European Film Awards and here are the much awaited nominations.

Best European Film
Bal (Honey), Semih Kaplanoğlu, Turkey and Germany
Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men), Xavier Beauvois, France
The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski, France, Germany and UK
Lebanon, Samuel Maoz, Israel, Germany and UK
El Secreto de sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes), Juan José Campanella, Spain and Argentina
Soul Kitchen, Fatih Akin, Germany

European Director
Olivier Assayas for Carlos
Semih Kaplanoğlu for Bal (Honey)
Samuel Maoz for Lebanon
Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer
Paolo Virzi for La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing)

European Actress
Zrinka Cvitešić in Na Putu (On the Path)
Sibel Kekilli in Die Fremde (When We Leave)
Lesley Manville in Another Year
Sylvie Testud in Lourdes
Lotte Verbeek in Nothing Personal

European Actor
Jakob Cedergren in Submarino
Elio Germano in La Nostra Vita (Our Life)
Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer
George Pistereanu in Eu Cand Vreau sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle,
I Whistle)
Luis Tosar in Celda 211 (Cell 211)

European Cinematographer
Giora Bejach for Lebanon
Caroline Champetier for Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men)
Pavel Kostomarov for Как я провел этим летом (How I Ended this Summer)
Barış Özbiçer for Bal (Honey)

European Screenwriter
Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Daniel Monzón for Celda 211 (Cell 211)
Robert Harris and Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer
Samuel Maoz for Lebanon
Radu Mihaileanu for Le Concert (The Concert)

European Composer
Ales Brezina for Kawasakiho Ruze (Kawasaki’s Rose)
Pasquale Catalano for Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons)
Alexandre Desplat for The Ghost Writer
Gary Yershon for Another Year

European Editor
Luc Barnier and Marion Monnier for Carlos
Arik Lahav-Leibovich for Lebanon
Hervé de Luze for The Ghost Writer

European Production Designer
Paola Bizzarri and Luis Ramirez for Io, Don Giiovanni (I, Don Giovanni)
Albrecht Konrad for The Ghost Writer
Markku Pätilä and Jaagup Roomet for Püha Tõnu kiusamine (The Temptation
of St. Tony)

To check the official announcement at the Academy site go here  and if you wish you can also go to the Awards site that’s here.

The awards ceremony will be in Tallinn, Estonia and we will be able to watch the live stream here on December 4th, 2010.

The more than 2,300 EFA members will be busy during almost one month voting for the winners and have to admit that I’m not pleased with some of the nominees, especially all the nominations The Ghost Writer got as I did find the movie with a style that is more American than European –but what do I know! (lol!). Somehow I find interesting that the Oscar Winner El Secreto de sus Ojos is nominated as best film, but the director is not; as a matter of fact only two nominated directors have their films nominated as best film and I hope one of the two win both awards -or at least one- as Lebanon is truly outstanding and obviously Bal has to be as good, if not superior, to the two previous Semih Kaplanoğlu’s trilogy films.

I have seen Fatih Akin’s Soul Kitchen and didn’t enjoyed much as it’s really different from his other movies, which does not make it bad or good, just enormously different oeuvre from one of my true favorite contemporary directors. Last, yes looking forward to watch Xavier Beauvois’s much honored film.

I’m amazed that Die Fredme was not nominated as best picture, still I know that has a nomination for best first time director, but film is so good that was hoping will also make it in both categories. So I’m looking forward to see what the EFA’s members will declare as the Best Film of 2010, a year that I consider to be excellent for European productions as in the long list there are too many good films that didn’t got a nomination but definitively seem (and are) extraordinary.

With many female directors in the long list I’m appalled that NONE got a nomination! Gosh the European glass ceiling was not broken this year and Feo Adalag’s honored film or Jessica Hausner’s excellent Lourdes –to name two- will continue to collect honors elsewhere as Academy members didn’t believe deserved a nomination. Sigh.

One category that always calls my attention beyond normal is the Best Actress and this year there are some outstanding performances I have seen and some that still have to watch. But from the ones I have seen my award absolutely goes to Lotte Verbeek in mesmerizing, beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary Nothing Personal. Haven’t seen most of the Best Actor films but soon will watch Submarino and I’m REALLY looking forward to watch the Romanian film that some critics’ and viewers are relating to A Prophet, not that I need the film to be compared/related to such a great film as most of you know my true love and fascination with contemporary Romanian cinema.

Last, let me comment about Cinematography. How I Ended this Summer has a breath taken cinematography, but Lebanon has such an innovative, different, and with very-successful use of this tech spec that I hope gets the award. Don’t doubt that Bal has to be as good as the two previous installments or that the French film will be good, but if innovation counts Lebanon will win in this category as well as in editing.

We will have to wait almost a month to learn what Academy members vote as the best in each category and I will be watching live for sure as this is year the race is interesting.

Last just want to remind those that live in European countries to NOT forget to vote for the People’s Choice Awards here.

Cheers!!!

 
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