Jimmy’s Hall – A Very Light Biopic

Ken Loach‘s last feature focused on Jimmy Gralton, the leader of the actual Communist Party of Ireland, back in 1932.
This figure of not only communism, but cultural revolution, was obliged to flee Ireland during the Civil War of the country in the 20’s, after building a cultural space. Indeed, this “hall” – as called in the movie – combined different activities such as singing, poetry, box and dance. It went against the strict values of the Catholic Church and after Jimmy’s (Barry Ward) escape, it was shut down.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.05.18Jimmy’s Hall relates his story starting the day of his coming back ten years after the event. It didn’t take long to him to reopen the hall and gather along the old activists and teenagers in search of freedom.
However, it didn’t take long also to get the attention of the Church again.
When Jimmy flee the country, he went to the United States, where he wandered around jazz clubs, animated by black musicians, and assisted to the evolution of the music genre. Therefore, when he returned, he introduced new dance moves to the members of the hall, moves bearing sexual meanings and african-american origins, but most importantly, moves caring freedom of expression, and opposition.

Ken Loach filmed the movie as an old movie broadcasted on TV on a lazy afternoon.

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However, as many Loach’ movies, his biopic bears and conveys values and elements of denunciation. Here, an image of an old Ireland, where the Catholic Church wanted to contain all the progressive ideas of the time embodied by the character of Jimmy. A Church that is represented as castrator, negatively portrayed; a source of violence controlled by a priest aiming as inspiring respect and devotion to the population of Leitrim.

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Despite all that, the film lacks of twists. Indeed, it is really smooth, very light, and thus, lacks of a little something that will get it out of the tv feature film aspect.
The issue is also located in the angle Loach has adopted, filming from one perspective, thus lessening the complexity. It is a light movie, with a happy ending and no shots taking by night increasing this idea of lightness.

In a nutshell, all the craziness, intensity, and thus depth Jimmy’s Hall could have borne was put aside, which is very unfortunate.

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Rush – To Feel More Speed

You love Formulas 1? You are familiar with Niki Lauda and James Hunt? You like speed and adrenaline? You like pizza? You like puppies? Okay I stop there. The idea is, no matter what are your tastes, Rush is movie everyone of you might appreciate.

Now, about those two guys;

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James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), one blond good looking british, who would with one glance at his opponents cars, made them collapse like if they were wo
men.

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Niki Lauda (
Daniel Brühl) the other, a super smart Austrian guy,who knows more about how to make race cars reach their climax more than how to make women reach theirs.
Well, there is a story. They’d always been opponents, rivals, and their ultime battle was during the 1976 Formula One Season. High skilled, with an unbelievable determination, they dedicated their entire time, to racing, giving the best of what they got, and climbing the ladder little by little, during 1970 – 1976.

A gutsy movie, with lots of adrenaline! Yet, it is a historical, and really poignant one. The director, Ron Howard and his screenwriter Peter Morgan knew how to catch the essence of the rivalry between the two racers. Every elements are here: the well recalled event, the races, love, friendship, solidarity, humanity.
The important point to understand is, about their relationship. It is not only based on competition or hatred, not at all, it is about friendship, because they connected, and created links without being really aware of it. It was a game and just about two proud roosters, or more like two cheetahs. Success was in the chore of their competition, who will have THE WOMEN, the fastest CAR and win the GOLD medal? They had to finish what they started to be able to turn the page. Their story is amazing, almost fantastic; they completely dedicated 6 years of their lives, for their passion sure, but also and most important, to play together and prouve each other something like children.

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Rush is thrilling, exciting, two big figures interpreted on the screen, recreating events some of us never even heard of. The actors, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are outstandingly credible, moving and wild. They gave very hollywoodien performances paradoxically in a movie that isn’t felt like being a Hollywood product. The way its feel, what we experienced, the drama into the film, are making the whole difference.

Then, if I had to say few last things, this movie is a biopic driving you through 6 years of history in a rush. Put on your sea-belts, hold on to your seats, and enjoy the speed.

Dallas Buyers Club – Matthew McConaughey, drawing his “straight line of success”

Unlike Nicolas CageMatthew McConaughey had darn good parts in his last films chosen damn right.

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

He is Ron Woodroof, a real Texan, rodeo cowboy, who loves whores and cocaine, in his last feature: Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
Homophobic, it was quite, tragic and ironic, when he was diagnosed with AIDS.
Next to Jared Leto, who won and deserved a Golden Globe for his outstanding performance embodying Rayon, a lovable transexual, and Jennifer Garner, playing the role of Dr. Eve Saks, Matthew McConaughey, gave everything he had, for one of his best, or maybe his best, role. He perfectly got his character, and even though he had to be skinny (50 pounds lost), and get a mustache, he was handsome, because, his acting, was beyond everything else.

The story is defining his character in a way, because, when he discovers that he had AIDS, after having sex with a heroin addict prostitute, he tried everything to get better. As the doctors said he only had 30 days left, his anger, turned into an urge to survive. Its 1985, and scientists are trying to find a cure to this unbeatable disease, and by the time Ron learns about his HIV, a new medicine, AZT, is about to be tried. As he doesn’t want to be part of those who gets the placebo in the testing, he buys it from a guy, working at the hospital. Well, it appears to be not working, and after doing some research on his own, and getting medicine not supported in the country, he runs his own pharmaceutical market, with those new drugs that made him feel better.

The whole purpose of his action, is not only getting better himself, but helping the others. He moved to, hating homos, to helping them. Dallas Buyers Club, is also a great life lesson, about, solidarity, and not judging before knowing. Ron found himself in the same situation as gays, he finally stayed more with them than other people, not to mention his old friends turning their backs to him. He overcame his prejudice. And his relationship with Rayon, is one the best example, of this overcoming.

The movie, is what I love to call, a truly humanistic film, that is to say, having actors embedded in their characters, and strongly conveying emotions, and experiences, with palpable feelings, that we might someday, discover too. Rayon, just like Ron, wants to survive, they are both the depiction of joyful people, enjoying life and fearing death, even though, both are brushing with it everyday; one drug addict, and one rodeo-cowboy.
Ron’s character is interesting for us, viewers, because we are witnessing his evolution, and facing his determination to denounce the FDA and selling his medicine that is making HIV victims better. But he is also trying to have his moments, some intimacy. He misses sex, and falls into denial sometimes, when he feels weak. And I would call those elements, meticulous finishes, that give the character his final structure, and make him believable, give him credit.

I truly hope Matthew McConaughey, gets an Oscar for this role. This would be fair and he deserves it, and even if the competition with Leonardo DiCaprio is pretty strong.

Dallas Buyers Club, is ferocious, powerful and awfully human. Watch it you will not be disappointed. 

This Boy’s Life – A young brilliant DiCaprio

One of the greatest roles of Leonardo DiCaprio as a kid, was the one of Tobias Wolff, in a cinematographic adaptation of the author’s memoirs; This Boy’s Life. His performance, literally gave life to the pretty monotonous movie, that seemed unfinished, or missing pieces.

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The actors are all outstanding, and we can’t reproach them anything. The real problem is coming from the mechanism of change: from book to film. Director Michael Caton-Jones, chose to focus on the relationship mother/son plus external father figure appearance. Indeed, it is the story of a boy who never had the opportunity to live with his rich father, nor his brother, but rather had to stuck to his mother, the brilliant Ellen Barkin, and saw her being mistreated by her boyfriends, while living modestly. He wanted to escape this kind of life, taking as  models his non existent male figures, trying to do great in his studies and build his future professional life. However he had this tendency to fall into some vicious circles of quaint youth, and not caring about school. And this came simultaneously with the arrival of Dwight Hansen, his mother’s new lover.
His extreme behavior, mixing continuous anger and feeling of inferiority, pushed Tobias to seek for rebellion and for a total detachment from reality.

He wanted to be called Jack, a more boyish name, tougher, reminding those adventurers, brave and strong, and element, paradoxically put with his ambiguous relationship with another boy. He was hanging out with a bunch of thugs, smoking, and acting really immature, but also joining the Scouts. He hated Dwight but was getting closer and closer to him, behaviorally speaking, as being his daily and only father image.

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However, the movie stays moving, recalling the importance of family bonds. And each characters brought a special asset, helping shaping a good film. DiCaprio was a talented kid at that time, and his talent never stopped rising.

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