2011 Cannes (Probable) Selection

With ONLY 14 days to the Paris press conference at which the Cannes official selection will be announced and because all the fuzz and buzz about the possible contenders decided to do a list here (especially for my photographer friend) with some of the movies that most likely could end up being part of the Selection either In or Out of competition.

From France
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Poulet aux Prunes (Chicken with Plums), France and Germany (wow! Must be seen, of course)
Christophe Honore’s Les bien-aimés (The Beloved), France (Ludivine Sagnier, Catherine Denueve, Louis Garrel… must be seen!)
Mia Hanse Løve’s Un Amour de Jeunesse (Goodbye First Love), France and Germany
Dominik Moll’s The Monk, Spain and France (Vincent Cassel, Sergi Lopez, hmm, yes must be seen)
Bruno Dumont’s Hors Satan (aka L’Empire), France
Mathieu Kassovitz’s L'Ordre et la Morale (Rebellion), France
Pierre Schoeller’s L'exercice de l'État (The Excersice of State), France

From Europe/Asia
Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany and Italy (of course must be seen)
Dardene Bros Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid With a Bike), Belgium, France and Italy (with Cecile de France, must be seen)
Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), Italy and France (yes will watch)
Paolo Sorrentino This Must Be the Place, Italy, France and Ireland (with Sean Penn??? Hmm, will watch)
Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, Finland, France and Germany (of course must be seen)
Ruben Östlund’s Play, Sweden (of course must be seen)
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradies, Germany, France and Austria
Chantal Akerman’s La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly), France and Belgium (interesting)
Radu Mihaileanu’s La Source des Femmes (The Source), Belgium, Italy and France
Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, UK
Yorgos Lanthimos Alps, Greece (I know didn’t liked Dogtooth, but of course will watch his next)
Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena, Russia (wonder if will be ready but OF COURSE is must be seen for me)
Alexandr Sokurov’s Faust, Russia (the fourth and last film about corruption, of course: must be seen)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Bir Zamanlar Anadolu (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Turkey (must be seen for me)
Brillante Mendoza’s Captured, France and Philippines (What??? With Isabelle Huppert!!! Must be seen)
Eric Khoo’s Tatsumi, Singapore and Japan (Very interesting animation)
Nadine Labaki’s Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where Do We Go Now?), Lebanon (release date May 2011, hmm that’s Cannes, isn’t? of course, must be seen for me – follow up to Caramel…)

From the Americas
Carlos Reygadas’s Post Tenebras Lux (After Dark), Mexico and France (“Dying” to watch, but wonder if will be ready for Cannes…)
Juan Solanas’s Upside Down, Canada and France (very interesting posters… lol!)
Gus Van Sant’s Restless, USA (will watch)
Terrence Malick Tree of Life, USA (will watch)

Some still consider that Almodovar’s La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I live In) could make it, but release date is set for September 2, 2011 in Spain, so who knows if will make it to Cannes. Of course is must be seen for me and yes, “dying” to watch it. If you feel like reading about film and Cannes check article here available only in Spanish; says that film is NOT ready for Cannes.

No matter if none, some or many of the above films make it to the selection what it’s a fact is that 2011 will bring movies by excellent directors, many of my dearest favorites, so it’s going to be one of those years when the “wait” will be unbearable. Sigh.

5th Gopo Awards Winners

Exactly the day of my birthday organizers had their award ceremony and in *BLUE are some of the winners. If you wish to check winners in all categories go here available in English.


Yesterday organizers announced the nominations for the annual awards and here they are.

Best Film
Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu), Andrei Ujică, Romania
*Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), Florin Şerban, Romania, Sweden and Germany
Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas), Radu Muntean, Romania
Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honor), Peter Călin Netzer, Romania and Germany
Morgen, Marian Crişan, Romania, Hungary and France

Best Debut Film
*Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), Florin Şerban, Romania, Sweden and Germany
Felicia, înainte de tóate (First of All, Felicia), Răzvan Rădulescu and Melissa de Raaf, Romania and Croatia
Morgen, Marian Crişan, Romania, Hungary and France

Best Director
Peter Călin Netzer for Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honor)
*Florin Şerban for Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle)
Marian Crişan for Morgen
Radu Muntean for Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas)
Răzvan Rădulescu and Melissa de Raaf for Felicia, înainte de tóate (First of All, Felicia), Romania and Croatia

Best Actress
Ada Condeescu in Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle)
Adriana Trandafir in Europolis, Corneliu Gheorghita, Romania and France
Maria Popistasu in Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas)
*Mirela Oprisor in Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas)
Ozana Oancea in Felicia, înainte de tóate (First of All, Felicia)

Best Actor
Andras Hathazi in Morgen
George Pistereanu in Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle)
Mimi Branescu in Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas)
*Victor Rebengiuc in Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honor)
Yilmaz Yalcin in Morgen

To check nominees in all categories go here available only in Romanian. If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle is the film with more nominations, a record number: 13; followed by Morgen with 11, Tuesday, After Christmas with 10 and with 7 each First of All Felicia, Medal of Honor and Kino Caravan by Titus Muntean.

Now becomes very important to soon have my own Romanian cinema cycle with many, if not all, of the above movies as awards ceremony will be on March 28 and will be streamed live at awards official site and the ProCinema site as well as will be broadcast live in TV of ProCinema and ProTV International.

Celda 211

Impressive movie by director Daniel Monzón, this Spanish/French co-production has won several awards including several Goya awards, and I can promise it will keep you interested from beginning to end. 

What does it take to turn you from a law-abiding citizen into a murderer?

How far would you go to protect yourself and those you love?

How do you react when your life is in danger and you lose all that is precious to you?

Juan Oliver has a new job as a prison officer and reports to work a day early determined to cause a good impression. He is filled with hope and happiness as he kisses his pregnant wife, Elena, goodbye. During his tour of the prison an accident occurs and he ends up in cell 211 during a riot; trying to survive, he decides to convince the others that he is also a prisoner. He ends up by establishing a deep connection with the prison leader, Malamadre.

The movie is served by an excellent cast, with special relevance to the amazing Luis Tosar and and also Alberto Ammann.

The story unfolds offering you a deep analysis of human psyche without been boring or pretentious. If you think you have seen enough movies about inmates and prisons, you are wrong.
As so many times happens, soon we realize that a criminal is not necessarily striped of a heart or feelings, and that the “good guys” (the guards) are not always nice people.

I warn right now it does not offer a happy ending, nor it should. It is as real life is, harsh and tender, unpredictable and multi-layered.

One of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

Green light!

Watch trailer @MOC

5th Asian Film Awards Winners

Last night award winners were announced and here they are in *BLUE for some categories. To check winners in all categories go here.


Today AFA announced the nominations for these awards and Jury President this year is none other than renowned writer, director, producer and art connoisseur, Yonfan. As we know awards ceremony will be within the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival and will take place on March 21st. These are the nominations for some of the 14 categories.

Best Film
唐山大地震 Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock), Feng Xiaogang, China
告白 Kokuhaku (Confessions), Tetsuya Makashima, Japan
让子弹飞 Let The Bullets Fly, Wen Jiang, China
पीपली [लाइव] Peepli [Live] (Peepli Live), Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui, India
Shi (Poetry), Lee Chang-dong, South Korea
*ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand

Best Director
Feng Xiaogang for 唐山大地震 Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock), China
Jiang Wen for 让子弹飞 Let The Bullets Fly, China
*Lee Chang-dong for 시 Shi (Poetry), South Korea
Miike Takashi for 十三人の刺客 Juusan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins), Japan
Na Hong-jin for 황해 Hwang Hae (The Yellow Sea), South Korea
Nakashima Tetsuya for 告白 Kokuhaku (Confessions), Japan

Best Actress
Jeon Do-yeon in 하녀 Hanyeo (The Housemaid), Im Sang-soo, South Korea
Kikuchi Rinko in ノルウェイの森 Noruwei no mori (Norwegian Wood), Japan
Matsu Takako in 告白 Kokuhaku (Confessions), Tetsuya Makashima, Japan
*Xu Fan in 唐山大地震 Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock), Feng Xiaogang, China
Michelle Yeoh in 剑雨 Jianyu (Reign of Assassins), China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Best Actor
Chow Yun-fat in 让子弹飞 Let The Bullets Fly, Jian Wen, China
Ge You in 赵氏孤儿 Sacrifice, Chen Kaige, China
*Ha Jung-woo in 황해 Hwang Hae (The Yellow Sea), Na Hong-jin, South Korea
Ethan Ruan Jin-Tian in 艋舺 Báng-kah (Monga), Doze Niu, Taiwan
Yakusho Koji in 十三人の刺客 Juusan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins), Miike Takashi, Japan

Best Newcomer
*Mark Chao You-Ting in 艋舺 Báng-kah (Monga), Doze Niu, Taiwan
Aarif Lee in 歲月神偷 Sui yuet san tau (Echoes of the Rainbow),Alex Law, Hong Kong
Omkar Das Manikpuri in पीपली [लाइव] Peepli [Live] (Peepli Live), Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui, India
T.O.P. in 포화속으로 Pohwa Sokeuro (71: Into The Fire), John H. Lee, South Korea
Zhou Dongyu in 山楂树之恋 Shan zha shu zhi lian (Under The Hawthorn Tree), Yimou Zhang, China

To check nominees in other categories please go here. Have seen some of these movies, but there are a few that been doubting watching but now will give them a try; then of course I’m dying to watch Confessions, even when story must be hard to watch, but I also know that Japanese cinema does extraordinary narrative and visuals that make film a lot easier to watch and enjoy.  From those that haven't watch there are too many war movies, but definitively will watch Let The Bullets Fly that's a comedy (!) Chinese style of course.

15th Sofia International Film Festival Awards Winners

The main program of the fest ended on March 13th with a gala screening of Aleksei Uchitel’s КРАЙ (The Edge); to check films in the festival please go here.

International Competition

Grand Prix for Best Film: ПОДСЛОН Podslon (Shelter), Dragomir Sholev, Bulgaria
Jury Special Award: Kar Beyaz (White as Snow), Selim Güneş, Turkey

Best Director: João Nuno Pinto for America, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Russia

FIPRESCI Award: Sound of Noise, Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Sweden, Denmark and France

To check winners in all categories go here.

2011 Miami International Film Festival Award Winners

From March 4 to 13 the fest was held in Miami and to check films in competition please go here. Yesterday they had the closing ceremony and here are some of the award winners.

Knight Foundation Ibero-American Competition Grand Jury Prize: Las Marimbas del Infierno (Marimbas From Hell), Julio Hernández Cordón, Guatemala, France and Mexico
Honorable Mention: La Mitad de Oscar (Half of Oscar), Manuel Martín Cuenca, Spain and Cuba

Knight Foundation World Competition Grand Jury Prize: Gang de qin (The Pinao in a Factory), Zhang Meng, China
Honorable Mention: If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry, USA

To check all awards winners go here.

2010 German Film Critics Association Award Winners

A while back the association announced the winners and here they are in *BLUE; to check winners in all categories go here, available only in German.


Yesterday the group announced the nominations and Feo Adalag’s fantastic Die Fremde (When We Leave) received seven nominations. These are the nominees.

Best Film
Boxhagener Platz, Matti Geschonneck
Das letzte Schweigen (The Silence), Baran bo Odar
*Die Fremde (When We Leave), Feo Aladag
Drei (Three), Tom Tykwer
Goethe!, Philipp Stölzl
Habermann, Juraj Herz
Vincent will meer (Vincent Wants to Sea), Ralf Huettner
Wir sind die Nacht (We Are the Night), Dennis Gansel

Best Debut Film
Die Entbehrlichen (The Dispensables), Andreas Arnstedt
*Die Fremde (When We Leave), Feo Aladag
Draußen am See (Loosing Balance aka What You Don’t See)), Feliz Fuchssteiner
Parkour, Marc Rensing
Schwekraft, Maximilian Erlenwein

Best Actress
Bernadette Heerwagen in Die kommenden Tage (The Coming Days), Lars Kraume
(tie)*Sibel Kekilli in Die Fremde (When We Leave), Feo Aladag
Julia Koschitz in Der letzte schöne Herbsttag, Ralf Westhoff
(tie)*Sophie Rois in Drei (Three), Tom Tykwer
Katrin Saß in Das letzte Schweigen (The Silence), Baran bo Odar

Best Actor
August Diehl in Die kommenden Tage (The Coming Days), Lars Kraume
Fabian Hinrichs in Schwerkraft, Maximilian Erlenwein
Andreas Lust in Der Räuber (The Robber), Benjamin Heisenberg
Sebastian Schipper in Drei (Three), Tom Tykwer
*Devid Striesow in Drei (Three), Tom Tykwer

To check nominees in other categories go here available only in German. Winners will be announced next month during the 2011 Berlinale.

There are some films that are known to the blog and definitively nominees are a good source for German films to watch as some stories are very interesting; hope I’ll be able to watch a few before the Berlinale.

14th Swiss Film Prize Quartz Award Winners

Two days ago they had the award ceremony and winners are in *BLUE; to check winners in all categories go here.


A few days ago at the Solothurn Film Festival the nominations for Quartz 2011 were announced and here they are.

Best Fiction Film
Cosa voglio di più (What More Do I Want), Silvio Soldini
Der Sandmann (The Sandman), Peter Luisi
*La Petite Chambre (The Little Room), Stéphanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond
Sennentuntschi, Michael Steiner
Stationspiraten, Michael Schaerer

Best Actress
*Isabelle Caillat in All That Remains, Pierre-Adrian Irlé, Valentin Rotelli
Sabine Timoteo in Sommervögel (Little Paradise), Paul Riniker
Linda Olsansky in Zu Zweit (The Two Of Us), Barbara Kulcsar

Best Actor
Fabian Krüger in Der Sandmann (The Sandman), Peter Luisi
Andrea Zogg in Sennentuntschi, Michael Steiner
*Scherwin Amini in Stationspiraten, Michael Schaerer

Best Performance in a Supporting Role
*Carla Juri in 180°, Cihan Inan
Martin Hug in How About Love, Stefan Haupt
Stefan Kurt in Stationspiraten, Michael Schaerer

To read nominees in all categories and check info about each movie go here. Awards ceremony will be on March 12 in KKL Luzern.

31st Genie Awards Winners

Last week the Academy had their awards ceremony and winners are in *BLUE; to check winners in all categories go here.

Today the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television announced the nominees for this year with Barney’s Version leading with 11 nods but following closely is Incendies with 10. These are the nominees in some categories.

Best Motion Picture
Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats), Xavier Dolan
Barney’s Version, Richard J. Lewis
*Incendies, Denis Villeneuve
Splice, Vicenzo Natali

Achievement in Direction
Xavier Dolan for Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats)
Richard J. Lewis for Barney’s Version
Podz for 10 ½
*Denis Villeneuve for Incendies

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
*Lubna Azabal in Incendies
Tatiana Maslany in Grown Up Movie Star
Molly Parker in Trigger
Rosamund Pike in Barney’s Version
Tracy Wright in Trigger

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Jay Baruche in The Trotsky
*Paul Giamatti in Barney’s Version
Robert Naylor in 10 ½
Timothy Olphant in High Life
Francois Papineau in Route 132

To check nominees in all categories go here. Award ceremony will be on Thursday, March 10. Haven’t seen movie yet but I bet that Incendies will get the top award.

Cold Movie Bits

I thought that was my terrible cold what didn’t allowed me to enjoy the movies, surely does not help but also most are not really interesting. So here are some movie bits.

Four Lions by Christopher Morris – Dark UK comedy that was hilarious at moments, but playing with humor while telling a Muslim terrorist’s story was too much for me in the not positive way. Sigh.

Kaboom by Gregg Araki. Story and film are too bizarre for my taste plus visuals are not interesting; yes, the first 2010 Cannes Queer Palm winner is labeled as a Sci Fi comedy but I couldn’t understand the kind of humor or well, is definitively not my kind of humor. Perhaps has more lesbian than gay interest but as expected in a Sci fi film is not definitely what lesbian interest audiences are used to watch. I watched until the end when the Earth goes Kaboom, still I believe I fall asleep several times, lol! If you skip it won’t miss much. Sigh.

Made in Dagenham by Nigel Cole. What surely is an interesting story about UK Ford’s female workers strike to ask for equal pay becomes uneven and uninteresting thanks to a script that unsuccessfully tried to tell too much –especially sentimental personal stories- plus a director not disciplined enough to maintain story focus on the great achievement these women accomplished for UK and the rest of the world. Usually enjoy Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins performances but here they tend to be dull. If you skip it you won’t miss much, but story is one that we should know. Enjoy!

Tron: Legacy by Joseph Kosinski. Still recall first installment and wanted to watch for the special effects but story was not interesting and special effects were also not interesting. Still young Jeff Bridges looks like in Starman, which I imagine is where they got the idea to do the special effects. Boring, very boring. Sigh.

Waste Land by Lucy Walker, Karen Harley and João Jardim. Very interesting documentary for highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit; but is excellent food for thought for life in city landfills dwellers that live out of garbage. Do not miss it, highly recommend it. Enjoy!!!

So this is it, probably forgot a few ones, but these are the ones I recall. Sigh.


Movie is so good that here is another of the Chaos Says, Storyteller Says series.


A powerful movie centered in the story of Nawal Marwan, a woman that sends her children on a quest that will confront them with a past filled with pain. It couldn’t have been more fitting that I had the chance to watch this movie just a few hours after reading about the lives of women as Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi or Cambodian author and human rights advocate Somaly Mam. It seems to me that wherever and whenever life is hard, it’s always harder for women, and still they seem to endure it with a level of heroism and determination that is amazing and touching.

Denis Villeneuve movie is an adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad's acclaimed play, and the Canadian director does a great job at it. There is nothing in this movie that is superfluous or out of place, and it turns into an elegant and poetic work of art.

Very good casting with a magnificent Lubna Azabal as Nawal and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin also giving us a touching performance as her daughter.

Some say that the story is too farfetched, but personally I think that it’s just too difficult for us to accept it as something that can happen. I have seen things happen in real life that I would not believe in if I saw them in a movie, but still they happened. In this case, the more I think about the movie and about what goes around in many places where war is a reality for decades, the more believable it seems to me.

In my opinion, this is a movie about redemption, about a woman who tries to save her soul by forcing her children to face her life and then hopes that they will choose to forgive her because it is easier to choose love and forgiveness than to live with hate in their hearts.

I’m afraid you will have to watch the movie to understand what I’m saying and maybe you will not agree with me…either way, I absolutely recommend you do not miss this movie that brought some viewers to tears and gave me reason for hours of conversation.

Green light!


I was so looking forward to watch this Denis Villeneuve film that I expected to be as good if not superior to extraordinary Polytechnique. I was not disappointed at all as film has a strong story developed with what seems is becoming Villeneuve style where he crafts tension to make watching his films very, but very intense. As in Polytechnique I watched this movie in one long prolonged breath of air and when the climax arrives I almost chocked (have a terrible cold) as I was strongly surprised and shocked by the last scenes in this modern tragedy that absolutely recalls some Greek tragedies.

After watching film is hard to believe that is based on a successful and honored play with the same name by Wajdi Mouawad as Villeneuve storytelling evolves so fluid that in my ignorance certainly believed script co written by Villeneuve was based on fiction, on a novel. Story is set in an unnamed Middle East country, but more interesting is to learn that Mouawad play was inspired in the story of a woman, Souha Béchara, that was imprisoned in Lebanon for ten years, six of each in a solitaire cell which surely is what makes story so credible and impactful; yet is Villeneuve’s excellent cinematic adaptation what makes film and story so intense.

Performances are truly extraordinary with special mention to Lubna Azabal that created an intense Nawal Marwan that with sights as well as with face and body expression told absolutely everything that character was living or thinking. Same goes to Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin that plays Jeanne Marwan, Nawal’s daughter, which goes from the stern mathematician mind to a state of confusion and pain as she starts to learn her mother story.

Story is about Nawal’s last will that will take her twin son and daughter into discovering her story before coming to Canada and in consequence, they will also learn their own story. Won’t tell you more as story is so good and unexpected at critical points that whatever you read could spoil for you the tension building and the numerous shocks you will get, so try to avoid reading spoilers to enjoy it better.

I found Polytechnique very visual, but I found Incendies more narrative oriented or maybe is because narrative becomes so tense that well-crafted landscapes and great indoors compositions become secondary, but is noted that film has top notch tech specs with very special mention to editing that so successfully intertwined Nawal’s and Jeanne’s stories occurring at the same places, amazing and definitively a technique that allows viewer to faster and flawlessly integrate past and present stories.

Definitively Denis Villeneuve is a great filmmaker and extraordinary storyteller as for me he has become the director to follow closely, especially when he does stories that are not easy to tell, not easy to watch and makes them into true cinematic magnificent experiences that are ‘enjoyable’ to watch but most of all that give lots of food for thought about women issues. Maybe is just a coincidence but both Polytechnique and Incendies are excellent examples of timeless women issues consequently strongly and especially recommend both films (if you haven’t seen the first) to all women in the world, but this is a film that I know most adult audiences will highly appreciate.

As we know film was in the five Oscar nominated films for the Best Foreign Language film and was Canada’s submission; even if haven’t done the post (the cold is killing me) I know that film won eight awards at the 2011 Genie Awards, we can’t forget that premiered at 2010 Biennale fest at the Giornate degli Autore were won the Best Film award in the 27 Times Cinema Mention section, since then has collected many awards and honors all over the world.

Not a story to love but definitively a well-crafted film that everyone should watch thinking that what we see here in an unnamed country, has happened, is happening and unfortunately will continue to happen all over the world.


Watch trailer @MOC

13th Polskich Nagród Filmowych Orły (Eagle Awards)

Last night the Polish Film Academy held the awards ceremony and here are the winners for the main categories.

Best Film: Essential Killing, Jerzy Skolimowski
Best Director: Jerzy Skolimowski for Essential Killing
Best Actress: Ursula Grabowska in Joanna, Felkis Falk
Best Actor: Robert Więckiewicz in Różyczka (Little Rose), Jan Kidawa-Blonski

Best European Film: The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski

To check all the nominations go here and winners in all categories will be here later on; available only in Polish.

Been delaying watching Essential Killing as I got the idea that will be not easy to watch, as soon as I find the right moment will try to watch it; but think I will give a try to Little Rose. But I'm really curious about Venice by Jan Jakub Kolski that won most top tech awards.

2011 Czech Lion Winners

During the weekend organizers had the award ceremony and winners are in *BLUE.  To check winners in all categories go here available only in Czech.


Yesterday organizers made the official announcement and here are nominees in main categories.

Best Film
Habermannnův mlýn (Habermann), Juraj Herz
Kuky se vrací (Kooky), Jan Svěrák
Občanský průkaz, Ondřej Trojan
Největší z Čechů, Robert Sedláček
*Pouta, Radim Špaček

Best Director
Jan Svěrák for Kuky se vrací (Kooky)
Robert Sedláček for Největší z Čechů
Ondřej Trojan for Občanský průkaz
*Radim Špaček for Pouta
Jan Švankmajer for Přežít svůj život (Surviving Life)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
*Zuzana Bydžovská in Mamas & Papas, Alice Nellis
Simona Babčáková in Největší z Čechů, Robert Sedláček
Anna Geislerová in Občanský průkaz, Ondřej Trojan
Kristina Farkašová in Pouta, Radim Špaček
Lenka Vlasáková in Ženy v pokušení (Women in Temptation), Jiří Vejdělek

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Karel Roden in Habermannnův mlýn (Habermann), Juraj Herz
Konstantin Lavroněnko in Kajínek, Petr Jákl
Jaroslav Plesl in Největší z Čechů, Robert Sedláček
Martin Myšička in Občanský průkaz, Ondřej Trojan
*Ondřej Malý in Pouta, Radim Špaček

I do enjoy Czech movies and found at least two that will try to watch eventually, Mamas & Papas as well as Kajinek. To check nominees in all categories go here, available only in Czech.

三槍拍案驚奇 Sānqiāng Pāi'àn Jīngqí (A Simple Noodle Story aka A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop)

I knew that this Zhang Yimou film was not his usual style, this was “different”. Actually is not that different as his arresting visuals and his peculiar use of color are all over the movie. What I was not prepared for was what I read at the opening when it says that film is based on Blood Simple, yes the 1985 debut film by Joel and Ethan Coen. Film is Zhang Yimou’s homage to Coen brothers’ movie that is claimed he cites as one of his favorites.

Not being a Coen bros fan the moment I saw the opening I got not only surprised but concerned. So film opens with a scene that has beautiful colors (costumes) in a darkish setting but shows the unexpected from Zhang Yimou, comedy! Yes, oriental slapstick/screwball comedy, which also I’m not a fan. Oh! I should have stopped watching, but no I continued watching only to discover a story that does not distance itself much from the tragedies that Zhang Yimou likes to tell but the continuous comedy moments really annoyed me and if it wasn’t for the serious moments plus the truly arresting images this film would have become the very first Zhang Yimou movie that I can’t watch. But watched until the very end and my honest reaction when film was over was to ask myself: what did Zhang Yimou smoked to make this movie?

So from Texas story moves to China to become a period drama set in a desert town in Gansu province with a noodle shop in the middle of nowhere being the axis to all the drama that rotates around a rich man that abuses his wife and when he finds that she’s having an affair with one of the noodle shop employees, hires a police detective to kill them. Everything, absolutely everything goes wrong and in good “western” style everyone dies, except the only two women in the story. Crazy, crazy but the scenes with the killer (or serious moments) are quite good and thrilling.

Obviously had to watch film as not only is Zhang Yimou but also film was in competition at the 2009 Berlinale plus from trailer was fascinated by the colors and dramatic images. I believe I understand those that don’t like the movie but also understand those that like it as I didn’t liked the comedy (in this or any other oriental cinema) but I liked (a lot) everything else, especially several situations that puzzled me but wasn’t until I read about the movie that I started to understand that film is full of Chinese symbolisms that of course I’m not familiar with, so now that I know some of the symbols there is the possibility that will watch movie again to enjoy it more.

As I find it enlighten I’m reproducing an excerpt from the director’s statement at the movie official press kit:

"I gave the remake a rich Chinese flavor, casting Xiao Shenyang – a young comic actor who recently shot to fame in China – to add in a sense of farcical humor at the beginning. The fun soon turns into riveting suspense. I also adopted the aesthetic style of the old Chinese opera piece, San Cha Kou. The result is the confinement of all the characters within the same space, each of them shifting roles with one another and making similar mistakes. This lays bare the absurdity of life – something ironically repetitive, always beyond our control."

If you’re a Zhang Yimou fan like I am you need to read as much as you can or wish before watching the movie as understanding his motives, the symbols and yes, the use of comedy will surely help you to enjoy film beyond the outstanding use of color plus the breathtaking desert landscapes.

No, won’t be watching the original as this remake is more than enough for me and yes I do recommend movie but as mentioned in the previous paragraph I strongly suggest you learn as much as possible about the movie before watching. Then if you are not a Coen bros fan don’t need to be concerned as according to me, story does not feel or look (even when is said that’s a very close remake) like a Coen bros film at all.


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Русалка Rusalka (Mermaid)

Strange movie that looks and feels like two stories in one, when Alisa is a young girl and when Alisa is a teenager; but this fairy tale drama becomes hypnotic and you will follow Alisa’s journeys as well as ‘powers’ questioning what is really going on and where all these is going. With very interesting music score and maybe a too digital for my taste visuals film showcases the story of a very unconventional –but likable- girl thanks to great performance as teen Alisa by Mariya Shalayeva.

When Alisa is a young girl story plus film for me are more magical and even at times, poetic; but when main character becomes a late teenager film became realistic and I was absorbed by the sights and sounds of modern Moscow which I admit is about the first time that I see a contemporary film that portraits Moscow so successfully as a great megapolis. Just for the second part of the story the film absolutely is more than worth watching, but the entire film is “good bizarre” as after all film is Anna Melikyan interpretation of a fairy tale that maybe many of you are familiar with, Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid.

What maybe not all of you are familiar with is that Andersen’s fairy tale has three endings; one given by Disney, one originally given by Andersen and one modified by Andersen to accommodate Christian beliefs. This film has the original end that’s not a happy ending at all. Still while watching the first part I couldn’t tell it was Andersen’s fairy tale, is when teen Alisa meets Alexander that I started to recognize the tale but have to admit that the film ending caught me by surprise as narrative was leading viewers to believe different. Is an interesting but very complex film not only because of the story but also because of all the playing with the images.

So if you recall Andersen’s fairy tale (not the Disney version, please) and if you’re in the mood to watch a quite surrealistic interpretation of it, then maybe you should give this movie a try but you have to know that movie is a good example of Russian contemporary art cinema that won the FIPRESCI Award at 2008 Berlinale, the Directing Award at 2008 Sundance fest, the Independent Camera at 2008 Karlovy Vary fest and collected many more honors in the festival circuit. Also was Russia submission to 2009 Academy Awards.

A little more than three years to be able to watch this film but the wait was worth it as film was truly hypnotic for me but I know is not for all audiences you have to like contemporary interpretations of art cinema that border into the bizarre both in story as with images. If you haven’t seen it yet I strongly suggest you don’t skip it but try to find the right moment to watch it.


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Tamara Drewe

An amusing social comedy thanks to regular and some dark humor that will entertain you while watching how each character’s selfish motives and agenda are gradually exposed. Good performances by ensemble cast and some remarkable lines (“writers are just thieves and liars”) make this Stephen Frears comedy a great escape moment but in my opinion, not much else.

A story with writers, musicians, rural workers and two very bored young girls that’s based on a comic strip by Posy Simmonds, that later became a graphic novel, which is based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd; but according to what I read is a free adaptation that not necessarily resembles any of the above and with this comment I dissipated all my doubts about me wondering how this film could be based on a comic strip/graphic novel as from watching I couldn’t tell.

Somehow while and after watching I got this idea that character Nicholas Hardiment was the perfect role for Alan Rickman and can’t deny that for more than a few moments I imagined it was him. Anyway story tells about a young newspaper writer that returns to her hometown in the English countryside where her childhood home is being prepped for sale only to trigger all kind of situations in the small rural community.

Not exactly my kind of English comedy as it was not dark enough for me, but surely makes story more accessible to world audiences that will also enjoy film’s good tech specs.

So if you’re in the mood for some light comedy of misunderstandings and actions by two very bored girls (that steal the movie) then you should give this film a try.


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गुज़ारिश Guzaarish (Request)

What a beautiful movie, extremely beautiful, like a big succession of riveting paintings some with the most incandescent light and others playing with darkness. It’s a true pleasure for your eyes that slowly will be transferred to all your senses as when another indoor or outdoor portrait comes followed by another and another your heart will shrink and you wonder how someone can create such beautiful compositions and images, especially when story is dealing with a very delicate subject matter: euthanasia.

Yes I watch Bollywood movies because one reason: Aishwarya Rai and in my quest to watch everything with her I have seen many of her movies that truly amaze me with a few that I really didn’t enjoyed much; but never imagined that I was going to watch a movie like this one, I was not prepared at all and totally got me by surprise. You have no idea how beautiful to watch this movie is and on top it made me laugh, it made cry and it made me feel almost everything in this passionate romance between a quadriplegic magician Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan) and his nurse Sofia D’Souza (Aishwarya Rai).

It’s no surprise for me to find that film didn’t do well at the India box office as this absolutely is not your usual Bollywood movie, as a matter of fact is very unusual for Mumbai standards as even when has the usual elements the dancing, the singing, the crying, and the drama is packed in a way that literally resembles art cinema, like going to a moving art gallery with outstanding paintings.

With the difficult subject matter that’s the essence of the story surely was difficult to find a credible ending to the story and no is not a happy ending but filmmakers made it into a life celebration ending which in my opinion was not really successful especially when cinematography, photography, compositions started to look different to what we have seen for most of the film and started to look more like regular Bollywood style. But the good news is that all these happens in the last 15 minutes (or so) of the fim.

Story is set in Goa and we are able to watch the landscape plus so many story touches that recall the region influence by the Portuguese. To my eyes when Aish dances she doesn’t dances to a Spanish dance mix, she dances to a very good mix of Hindi and Portuguese choreography and music. For me was the most dramatic and beautiful moment in the film, like the climax as not only Aish looks divine but her costume, the set, the music, the choreography, the complete composition took my breath away. Exquisite.

Still Hrithik dances and magic tricks are a true visual and magic delight with outstanding scenarios but most amazing is that with a good director and excellent camera work both Aish and Hrithik show that they can truly act as both give extraordinary performances. I was absolutely taken aback with the visuals, but I also followed the story, well not followed, I got into the story and was only at the end when they lost me and I became an observer.

Have to talk about costumes that are not the traditional saris, Aish wears some costumes that are impressive as look like a mix of Hindi and European styles but the use of color in some of them are especially dramatic, like the mostly black dress with a fluorescent red head scarf! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

I could go on and on talking, writing about this amazing movie that caught me by total surprise and as you can imagine by now I strongly recommend it to everyone that enjoy to watch riveting paintings in the screen. This is the kind of movie that western audiences surely could enjoy more than natural Bollywood circuit audiences, but you have to like the word art in your cinema and have to appreciate the particular acting style from Bollywood plus its melodramatic stories.

I really loved this movie and now I’m curious to explore more of the work by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee as if their films are similar to this one, then they will become must be seen for me.

If you are near to this movie I strongly suggest you don’t miss the opportunity to watch it.


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2011 Academy Awards Closure

With the awards ceremony on last Sunday night the American awards season closes by awarding top awards to films that press/critics did not, thus widening the difference between those that work analyzing and/or criticizing films and the ones inside the industry. As I follow a few press/critics I noticed that as the ceremony broadcast advanced bitter and not so nice –yet very funny- comments started to be twitted. No doubt that they were still expecting that The Social Network will be honored as much as they honored the film with their multiple awards and lists. But it didn’t happen.

As an observer of both groups I believe that those that earn a living by writing or commenting about films are a bit concerned about their current function but not only because this awards season incredible discrepancy but also about the “many other forms” that are threatening their raison d’être. Not long ago was reading an article in a very well-known newspaper by a well-known movie critic that -in summary- was “complaining” about “amateur” critics that populate the Internet, especially the “bloggers”. Somehow I felt he was talking to me. Without going further into what I read, my specific point regarding what I’m saying in this paragraph is that I’m seeing clearly that “traditional professional critics” are in need of starting to change as the Internet is changing the way audiences get their information about movies and their “distance” (that seems is getting wider) with those that work inside the industry is not helping them at all to obtain more “credibility” concerning their know-how about films and the industry.

But there is a third element that somehow both industry and press/critics tend to consider less and less, audiences. Not much free information about audiences behavior is available but to give us an idea let’s consider what unfortunately moves the world, money. According to Box Office Mojo these are the Total Gross for the week ending February 27th for the ten films nominated for Best Film at the Academy Awards. Expressed in US Dollars and only for Domestic (meaning US market).

Still running
True Grit $167,132,442
The King’s Speech $114, 231, 030
Black Swan $103,576,418
The Social Network $96,917,897
The Fighter $90, 369,463
127 Hours $17,915,448
Winter’s Bone $6,502,610

Not running -Closed
Toy Story 3 $415 million
Inception $292.6 million
The Kids Are All Right $20.8 million

Above data tells us that American audiences are spending their money in what we like to call mainstream movies like Toy Story 3 and Inception. Then you have a group of five movies that are still running in theaters that include True Grit, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Social Network, and The Fighter. Last there are three movies that audiences didn’t benefit much with their dollars, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone.

But what’s most interesting is that critic’s favorite, the movie that they recommended by so appallingly honoring it comes fourth in the above ranking, below the two top grosser and other three nominated movies. This data suggest that critic’s favorite, The Social Network, is NOT an audience’s favorite.

But this data suggests that Oscar top award (or industry perspective) also did not go to audience’s favorite, even when you exclude the two mainstream top grosser. Interesting.

Data shows what some of us already know or suspected, American cinema domestic press/critics and industry is showing increasing signs of being out-of-touch with their audiences when it comes to honors or awards. There are many reasons why this is happening and some are understandable as movies are a business but others might be harder to understand.

One particular issue made me comment on all of the above: the Academy Awards Show. Let’s say that show is organized by the industry and expand the definition to the broadcast industry, let’s remember that all this is a business and let’s go directly to the point: what on earth does everyone involved was thinking when planning, pre-producing and producing this year’s awards show? Have they forgotten that this IS the most watched annual SHOW in the world? (second in USA after the Super Bowl) Have they forgotten that audiences watch this show for mainly three reasons: they like movies and they like celebrities, but most of all, like entertainment; more clearly, an entertaining show about movies and celebrities that allows them to find out who wins what -in the main categories that usually are at the end of show-.

First thing yesterday I was going to write about the show but decided that was wiser to cool-off. So I read a lot of articles, watch TV news and entertainment programs (even Oprah – lol!), watched youtube clips, etc. etc. Still today before deciding to sit down and write something, read more stuff in the net. Here is my take away.

After the VERY entertaining Golden Globes awards show everyone, but everyone was talking about Ricky Gervais, good or bad, but they were talking about one of the most important components of the show; days went by and surely everyone forgot the winners, but they still kept on talking about Gervais. Surely many will remember 2011 Golden Globes as THE Ricky Gervais (good or bad) show. So, guess what they been talking about the recent Oscar show?

Let’s do a google search…
Oscars 2011 Anne Hathaway – About 61,300,000 results
Oscars 2011 James Franco – About 40,700,000 results
Oscars 2011 Winners – About 236,000,000 results
Hated Oscars 2011 – About 25,700,000 results
Loved Oscars 2011 – About 16,100,000 results

Not very scientific data (lol!) but yes, most results are about the winners in general, followed by Anne Hathaway and James Franco. If you google specific movies and/or actors, results go below Anne and James. This is only to somehow show you what the net is “talking” which in general is not much different to what I saw on TV yesterday.

For a moment let’s forget about the winners and concentrate in the other topics while dissecting (a little) the show. Since the opening montage I got the feeling that I was not going to enjoy much the show but gave the benefit of the doubt, so stayed watching but not for long as started to tweet to stay awake as show was putting me to sleep and of course wanted to learn live the winners.

For me the montage was like the movie, Inception; great special effects but no substance. So Anne and James open the show and was nothing special. Next academy insists in bringing back very-old movie stars, didn’t enjoyed when Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, etc were shown as what I saw doesn’t help at all the image I want to keep in my mind. Ditto with Kirk Douglas. I’m not offended by hearing on TV (or movies) the f-word or more specific hearing a blip in the show and immediately, thanks to twitter, learning that Melissa Leo became the first person in 83 years to say that word in an Academy Awards show. The rest of the show is not worth commenting, period.

But there are some things I enjoyed in the show like Anne Hathaway with her 7 changes of wardrobe and some dresses that looked spectacular, she trying alone to save the show (as Franco became insufferable, annoying, unbearable, etc exactly like the face he showed on the screen), Anne singing (come on we all know by now that she can really sing), Bob Hope remembering us how an Academy Awards show can be entertaining, some of my favorites winning (even when I predicted another winner) and my predictions for the top awards winning! I should have stayed predicting only the top awards, LOL!

Taking almost a couple of days to write this post allows me to be nicer when writing, but still have something else to say that I’m ‘stealing’ from an article called “An open letter to James Franco” that closes with the following:

"Disrespecting the Academy is one thing; we do it all the time. Disrespecting your audience is quite another — and even as a viewer very nearly as inebriated as you by the night’s end, I’m afraid that didn’t go unnoticed."

This Academy Awards ceremony will go into my cinema history as THE one that MOST disrespected audiences and most disrespected me as a show viewer and movie lover. Loved Ricky Gervais that probably was not much respectful to people in the ballroom, but HE absolutely respected and entertained the show broadcast audience.

Not only show ratings are down from last year but, as far as I read, the main objective organizers had to change the show format to attract younger viewers was not accomplished at all (as one example check MTV site for some viewers opinions; or more specifically search for ratings fall in the 18-34 demo). In their ratings quest organizers took out even more the show’s glamour to convert it into a hybrid that alienated many viewers, especially me. Still the big winner is without doubt ABC that weeks before the show announced it had sold all available spots (thanks to the promise of younger viewers) and with each 30-second spot fetching roughly $1.7 million, was able to collect more than $80 million in revenue. See, is all about business.

I close this post writing the words: BLACK SCREEN  which summarizes my perception about this year show, which is also the way I started this post. Closure.


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