Now You See Me – Magically lame

NOW YOU SEE ME

“Watch Now You See Me, you’re going to be blown away!”, “this is the magic version of the Ocean’s saga” they said. Bullshit.

If the movie starts en a quite spectacular tone, providing some compelling excitement, and not to mention the gathering of great actors (such as Woody Harrelson, who’s one hell of a sexy guy), the series of magic tricks less thrilling throughout the movie, are very quickly annoying. And all the expectations and the high level that french director, Louis Leterrier, set from the beginning of the film, are botched until the crapy end.

Basically, the story is simple; some crème de la crème magicians, are approached by a mysterious unknown person, and we, then, understand that they’ve been contacted in order to have the opportunity to play their last card, their ultimate trick that we’ll fool everyone and make some jaws-drop. And there appears the similarity with Ocean’s Saga, where the ultimate magic trick is a series of robberies. But it would be unfair to compare those.

Therefore, even if the identity of the magician mastermind is finally revealed, as part of a shitty plot twist, the real guy who’s setting up a window dressing, is the filmmaker. Trying to blow us away, with twists over twists, and I don’t like to be manipulated this way, that is to say, either you really trick me, or you don’t. And if you did once, don’t try to do it twice if you’re not confident about your move. However, the director took a bunch of risks, trying to do big, that just came back at him, and hit him in the face, showing that not only he’s a bad magician, but he fooled himself into thinking he wasn’t. Thus, all the glittery of Now You See Me, the flakes, and the flying cards, are just working for a while, and even convincing, until the story just turns into an untidy, mixed up, script which was cruelly lacking of creativity and credit. Jumping from professional writings to tired and childly ones, and even the characters personalities are just changing in a blink of an eye, and annoying, more than confusing, the spectators. And it’s a pity, really, because the beginning just promised so much!

Well, nothing further to say, unless maybe the fact that, is better to start badly and finish well, than the contrary.

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The Last Detail – Badass week

I have been advise to watch The Last Detail and so I ran into my favorite DVD store to buy it and come back home to put in on VLC.

Buddusky and Mulhall, are two Navy men having as a duty to squire Meadows a young boy, who’s been accused of robbery. They had a week to reach Portsmouth, New Hampshire prison, being in Norfolk, Virginia. The thing is, you only need 2 to 3 days to accomplish the job, but Buddusky, also nicknamed Badass, had the idea of enjoying the whole week given, by drinking beers and eating burgers. Playing by Jack Nicholson, his character embodies the machismo, with its badass attitude (implying yelling, grunting and swearing), the tattoos and the cigar in mouth. By far one of his greatest role, Nicholson utterly compelled in the movie.

A particular trip begins, in which friendships are created; Buddusky and Mule (Otis Young) felt right away empathy for the boy, and learnt that he was actually suffering from kleptomania. This is element is quite resembling to the catalyzer that made Badass decided, as they couldn’t help him escape, to give Meadows (Randy Quaid), his last days as a condemned offender. Because, they’ve agreed that the accusation against him was ridiculous; you don’t put a guy in jail for 8 years, because he stole $40!

Therefore, this buddy adventure gets more and more poignant, with funny moments, throughout the film. And a great scene, in which Meadows is having a conversation with a prostitute, who, after learning about his situation, suggested him to escape in Canada, where she could provide him a shelter. The boy politely refused her proposition, answering, that the two Navy men were his friends, it would be a betrayal and they asses would be on the grill if never he slipped into their hands.
But how are they’re going to separate after all this days together? Aren’t those shared memories will be obstacles to the achievement of the mission? Many questions that the sorrowful separation will put an end to.

However, the most moving aspect of The Last Detail, is the way director Hal Ashby showed the growing friendship between the three men, bashfully with some restraint established by every characters, confused whether or not they should fortified this relationship, as long as they’re should be in a position of “cops and robber”.

A forlorn ending reflecting a poor thinking government and the unlucky turns of a baby boomer’s boy, that will moved the most badass of all.

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This Is The End – Apocalyptic fun

I saw Pineapple Express and Superbad from director Evan Goldberg and casting Seth Rogen, but I never laughed like I did while watching This Is the End .

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The movie is starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride as the main characters of the movie, and they all play themselves. So a manly cast for a brocomedy, with drugs (weed and ecstasy), booze and penises. And the way I saw the movie, was: a bunch of guys, having a good time, self-mocking and sharing their funny experience with the spectators. Because it is obvious, that they enjoyed doing this and had a great laugh. That’s what I loved about This Is the End; they saw in acting, a way of letting go and make the spectator having a good time while watching their pranks.

Now, to focus more on the “story”, basically it’s the apocalypse, and more especially the Last Judgment on the Hollywood hills. Good people are sucked into the sky, called in paradise by God, and the others are left to be killed by sexualized demons on an inflamed Earth. And if the ones left to die in terrible ways, don’t accomplish a good action they can’t be called up by God. It’s a kind of simplified biblical interpretation, and a little mockery towards the Christian religion. But well, everything in the movie is a joke.
Therefore, how those selfish, narcissistic, actors will survive in such a situation? And that’s the point of the whole crazy gore adventure they’re in. They don’t particularly stand each other, and yet it is a bromance and they will try to save each other (at least some of them). ‘Cause, as a reminder, Jay doesn’t live in L.A., he came to see Seth and ended up at a party in Franco’s house, where he didn’t like any of the guests. And when the apocalypse started, and a great part of them died in a freaking huge whole that suddenly opened up under their feet, the five guys (Danny McBride arrived later, not being invited to the party) barricaded themselves into James’ house and stayed there, gathering food and drugs. And their little private heaven on Earth, is little by little ransacked.

Well, This Is the End, didn’t disappoint me at all, on the contrary, I was pleasantly surprise to discover a really funny movie, with hilarious moments, and with a really great cast. I enjoyed the concept, the pranks, that were for once not stodgy and I heavily advise you to watch it.

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The Hidden Face – Mirror, mirror

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Adrián (Quim Guitiérrez), is a conductor, and he’s a prodigy in leading an orchestra, but also the several women in his life into craziness, or into, at least, adopting excessive behaviors. His first girlfriend Belén (Clara Lago) dropped everything in Spain, to follow him into Bogota, but after a few time, she began to have cheating suspicions. Therefore she decided to test her fiancé, by leaving him a video telling him she was gone.

But wait, that’s not all, as they moved into a new house that they were renting, Belén weaved a friendly relationship with the owner, Emma (Alexandra Stewart), who shared with her the secret of a hidden room. Her husband, an engineer, built it a long time ago, and the reasons why he built it are rather dark. Indeed, he was a nazi and it is possible that he hid himself there when the World War 2 ended and people were searching for nazis to be judged. However, Belén decided to hid herself in there to watch, through mirrors, Adrián’s reaction to her video, hoping he will be feeling devastated, proving his feelings for her. And she get what she expected.
The Problem? She forgot the key, and stayed stuck in this soundproofed room. Thus, she’ll be witnessing Adrián’s life without her, or more especially, with Fabiana (Martina Garciá, who is a terrible actress).
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Andrés Baiz, the director, did something interesting; he used both Fabiana and Belén points of view, beginning with Fabiana’s one, without explaining us the whole situation, only starting the movie with Adrián watching the video Belén did. When Fabiana moved in, she began to hear noises, see the water moving, or changing of temperature without touching it. She then thought a ghost was haunting the house, but then, little by little, she figured out the whole thing.

What I really appreciated in The Hidden Face, is that, even though the concept might sound wacky and fragile, or original but not screenable, and even if dealing with betrayal, manipulation, egoism and jealousy, the Colombian thriller knew how not to fall into the stereotyped, kitschy style of telenovelas and Baiz found a way to make it work.

Voyeurism is at its best, and provided the effect of mise en abyme where we, spectators, are watching Belén, watching Adrián and Fabiana. As a scheme: a box in a box in a box.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed The Hidden Face, and was excited to watch the end (which could have been better I admit). I didn’t feel like I lost my time, so why not watching it guys?
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Mama – Another ghost story

20130918-102332.jpgIt’s not wonder Guillermo Del Toro was the producer of Andy Muschietti movie, Mama. Once you’ve watched Pan’s Labyrinth is hard not to see the similarity between the two; both directors chose children to experienced an entrance into a new world, which isn’t fairy at all, but dark and mysterious, however, there’s a clear balance between good and bad in all creatures of the universe. And yet, I could only think of The Tall Man.

Therefore, I wouldn’t categorized Mama as a very scary horror film, as long as I wasn’t this afraid, (just surprised sometimes) knowing that I’m a real chicken-hearted. The creature is moving, just like Tim Burton‘s animated characters are, and I was only stressed in the beginning, a stress that rapidly fade away. I would just say that it seemed like it was targeting, at first, a Disney production, but hasn’t be accepted due to lack of gentle characters.

Now, if the movie starts on a pretty creepy note, it’s quickly erased from our spirits and only the pale dark colors and the excessive use of shadows, that prevented me from seeing anything sometimes, will remind us that this is a sad story. Two little girls, have lost their parents the same day on quite awful circumstances: the mother is killed by the father, and this one is killed by a ghost a few seconds before he tried to put an end to his older daughter’s life. To who’s that spirit belongs? Is it good? The only thing we know, is that for 5 years, both girls survived alone in a hut deep in the woods. The creature took care of them, but also took care of their dad and not tenderly, therefore, it is impossible to determine its motivations.

During those five years, the father’s twin brother, Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) will search for his nieces. And one day, they’re finally found. After so many time living on their own, with a groaning creature as a parental figure, you can’t expect the 8 and 6 years old, to speak and act like human beings. Indeed, they gained in velocity and adopted animal behaviors (that cruelly reminded me of The Grudge spirits ones). Thus, they had been under Doctor Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) surveillance before going back to their uncle’s house, who’s girlfriend is a rock’n’roll Jessica Chastain, Annabel. And I have to admit that she wasn’t fitting at all into the role.

Then, started the “taming” of the girls, which better worked on Victoria, the older girl, who knew how to talk and walk before the events. And it’s thanks to those elements, that things will evolved. Now, the script isn’t really solid, nor well constructed or maintained. It is, most of the time confusing and lacking of substance, whereas it could have been interesting, if the story and feelings of the creature were more developed and explained. It left us to make our own hypothesis, but if sometimes it’s a great initiative, in a horror movie it is not. Muschietti rather chose to play on the oneiric and nightmarish side of Mama, creating a parallel world, followed by a haunting melody. And if the idea is great, once again it has been misused.

Nevertheless, the last scene will stay a beautiful one, and the one leveling up the whole movie and partly covering its imperfections. And it’s at the end the very end that I felt horrified. I would considered a plot twist, but it did moved me.

Behind The Candelabra – Father, brother, lover

20130917-123230.jpgSteven Soderbergh is an astonishing filmmaker. Each movie he made, was kind of unpredictable, as long as he’s experiencing every type of film (from Ocean’s Eleven to Magic Mike). And once again, I was surprised to know he was the one directing Behind The Candelabra, recalling the hidden love story between Liberace (Lee) and Scott, starting in 1977 and in a time where the pianist was not assuming his homosexuality. The paradox of the character is that, he gives a lot of importance to appearances, yet he disguised himself, just like drag queens do.

If Soderbergh is using the camera as a tool to remind the spectator of the atmosphere and colors of the 70’s/80’s, he’s also perfectly remodeling the extravagant costumes and luxury decors of Liberace era. Everything’s glamorous and fabulous, and it’s not even a little bit “too much”. The icing on the cake is surely the breathtaking performance of Michael Douglas as the glistening pianist, plus, this collaboration with Matt Damon as he’s young lover Scott Thorson. Who knew that those two manly actors could play convincing divas?
Glitter and fur, fancy jewelry and furniture, wig and plastic surgery Lee embodies the typical stereotype of the homosexual. However, he’s known, among only a small circle, as being gay and having a little preference for well built younger boys. Thus, when he met his Adonis, he directly get rid of his previous toy and gave Scott, the title of “protégé”.

Now, this is going further than just a love story. Because of the tough childhood of Scott (moving from a foster home to another), and the considerable age gap between the two men, Lee is seeing in his protégé, the son he never had and will never have, and wants to be in turn, the father Scott never really had. Therefore, he positioned himself as his father, brother and lover, and even think of adopting him. He wanted to be everything to him. This disturbed me a lot; it raised the question of incest, and to how far the the frustration of hiding his homosexuality, or at least the relationship his having with Thorson, might have led him to.
Starting from here, Scott entered a transformation process, under the commands and pressure of Lee, in order to look like him, and looks like he could be his son. The stake is Thorson’s identity. His old lover already owns him morally, and financially, now, it’s about physical ownership. Lee set his trademark on him and we realize that the extravaganza doesn’t limit itself to eccentric houses, and clothes, the extravaganza comes first, from the pianist virtuoso’s brain.

Little by little, as the years passed, Scott is feeling like he’s trapped in a cage, they don’t go out, they don’t see people, unless during Liberace concerts, and this one is getting bored of his winnings. He finds a new target, and Thorson will soon be experiencing what his predecessor lived. The same scheme is repeated.

The issue raised in the movie could be “how far would you go, for love?”. Scott, chose to completely dedicate himself to Lee, and accept everything from him. Now, when he’s put apart, no wonder he went mad. However his love lasts, and I believe Lee’s too.
If a lesson can be learn in this movie, is “do not push away the person who could do anything for you”, because at the end, he’ll be the only one there to not let you die alone.

The Iceman – Alias, The Polack

To play Richard KuklinskiAriel Vromen needed an iceman. A guy, who’s eyes wouldn’t let anyone, see through him; an actor like Michael ShannonImageWhen I first saw, the poster of the movie, (up there), I bursted into a fire of excitement. Shannon was the perfect choice. With the crazy look on his face, and yet, the man seemed so unpredictable, he was THE example of what exactly, Richard Kuklinski had the reputation of being. And even, the poster, is quite bipolar, itself. That is to say, on the picture, even though, Shannon could scare little, the table where he’s sitting at, is an element of seizure, between what’s happening over, and under it. More especially, what was, showed as appearances, externally, and what was expressed behind the whole family, caring father, image, that he was spreading. We can clearly see, if we look straight to him, that he’s just a weird guy, having a drink or a dinner, and the second we look down, we noticed the suppressor, and the thought of “that’s it, if somebody had to confront him, he knew he would die in the blink of an eye and without any noises” this thought was what made me craved to see this movie. Now, I would lie, if I say that I haven’t be disappointed about it.

The thing is, when you decide to adapt a real person’s life into the screen, it is more difficult than if you just wanted to write it. Therefore, you have to choose the path, or some specific side of the person’s life and develop it. Otherwise, you’d get something that scatters here and there, and probably a four hours movie. In The Iceman, Vromen, aimed at focusing the script on the bipolar personality of R.K, leading him to live a double life. The whole film is about the serial killer, dealing with, his husband and father job, and his criminal one at the same time. Something, he had been able to do, until the violent mood changes. And the director, is filming this evolution, and also explaining it, using some flashbacks of his earlier, and dark childhood. Basically, those scenes, and the ones where happen the killings are the best, but the many ellipses, and the lack of links between the different periods transitions, are setting a problem, and trasmitting the feeling, that we’ve been missing something. The movie then, gets the shape of a cloze.

However, despite the outstanding, captivating and disturbing performance of Michael Shannon, the style and the “film noir” genre used in The Iceman, are precluding it from totally drowning. That is to say, the different interactions between the characters, very quick and direct; the way the victims are killed, also quickly and in the shadow, just like it would be done in a Fritz Lang movie; and how the different decades are staged, the decor, the costumes, haircuts etc. had a big role in the “movie rescue“.

If we recall the story, Kuklinski wants the best for his family, things he never had, and, if he is obliged to get blood his hands, he will. But there is something important to see, the fact, that he’s not only doing this for his family, but also, for him; he’d been beaten for years, just like his brother, by his father. This one used to count in polish while whipping them with his belt, some trademark R.K will be using before killing. And this trauma, is important because, it had consequences, on both boys, while grown up. In spite of all the efforts made to fight against their genetic destroying nature , the urge to hurt in turn, had been too oppressive and needed. By killing other people, Richard is preventing himself to hurt the ones he really cares about. Nevertheless, he has a policy: he will never touch a child or a women.ImageThe action, takes place between, 1964 and the 80’s. We’re deep, in the “reign” of the American mafia, and it’s no surprise to discover Ray Liotta, indisputable mafioso, playing the role of Roy Demeo, the one hiring Kuklinski to do some dirty work. And even if, Richard is considered as a heartless murderer, just like his boss, we’ll only develop empathy and sympathy for our main character. This is all thanks to the way Shannon is acting. He’s incarnating a devoted and poignant father and husband, he’s ability to move from a state of mind to the other, is flabbergasting, and his cold, yet reassuring behavior, is putting the spectator into a curious but interesting position; a priceless performance, for a priceless feeling.

To conclude, The Iceman, is perhaps not the greater movie of the year, or of the thriller/biopic genre, but, it has potential and a pretty great cast. Now, I’ll keep in mind, the question everyone who’ll watch the movie will think about: Is your God, able to help everyone is distress? Yes, the Iceman has, in addition, an atheistic side, that I really appreciated. Image