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La loi du marché (2015)
Brave and Unflinching
It seems that some of the reviewers found this movie bad and boring. Some of them just didn't get it, and one (who calls himself "The Cinema Man")vents his dislike for leftist politics on this movie. Oh well, people see what they see." The Measure of a Man" is one of the best movies I've seen in last few years. In a series of vignettes played in real time we see an unemployed man in his 50's,who is desperately drowning in the modern world of low level sociopath bureaucracy. You don't have to be vengeful leftist to see the deep level of dysfunction on our planet. Vincent Lindon, the only professional actor in this film, played a role of a lifetime. Brave and unflinching actor in a brave movie for frightening times.
Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014)
Gem of a movie
The pure simplicity of the creative filmmaking. We almost forgot that the main staple of a good movie is a story to tell. It all somehow got gradually replaced with car chases and explosions and stunning lack of anything to say, that doesn't prevent so-called "directors" from continuing to torture us with tons of decomposing garbage. And there comes this small, low budget gem of a movie. Teenagers, fight for independence, stirrings of forbidden love and all done with exceptional taste without the need to drown us in syrupy clichés. The innocence of youth, that breathtaking time of endless possibilities, brought to us with such cautious and tender hand. Such a refreshing movie, just in time for the Holiday season.
The Conjuring (2013)
Old-fashioned spine- chiller
These days it is harder to find a good horror movie than be a presidential candidate. The amount of sheer dross is staggering. "The Conjuring" is really an old-fashioned ghost/possession spine-chiller. There is an innocent family and not so innocent house in, of course, New England (where else?). Peaceful countryside, rickety old house with appropriate noises, and the vengeful former inhabitants. And all of this could have so easily slipped into the bad symphony of clichés, but for a steady hand of a smart movie director named James Wan. With a right amount of old, reliable tricks, but put together with fresh hands, it gives a jolly good scare. The only blemish is ever so sweetened ending in an old moronic Hollywood tradition. God forbid something doesn't get neatly wrapped up. That would be the end of the silly world we know.
Dom över död man (2012)
Personal courage becomes a scarce commodity when the times get tough. And there weren't times much tougher than 1930's and the rise of Nazism. Europe stood paralyzed in an unlikely marriage of fear and denial. Veteran director Jan Troell tells a story of a public figure that bravely attacked Nazis in his newspaper column. Torgny Segerstedt was revered and much suspected. His principals made the others look corrupt and petty. And they were, but that is beside the point, because nobody has more concern about appearances than the immoral and tainted. The interesting quirk of this brilliant movie is that Torgny himself was a deeply flawed human being, in turns neglectful and cruel to his wife and kids. Somehow this man with such strong sense of morals, cared about the humanity in general, but alas, not for individuals. Well, that might be understandable. The messiness of humanity would try the patience off all saints combined. Our times prove that beyond any doubt.
The Invisible Woman (2013)
Great men, the esteemed highly revered figures, but only human, just like the rest of us, mere mortals. Charles Dickens, one of the greatest writers of all times left his wife and 10 children for a young lady 27 years his junior. His artistic greatness didn't correspond to his personal conduct. For all of his eccentric exuberance, he had far too much concern for his reputation at the expense of everybody else's. This second movie by immensely talented Ralph Fiennes is much more then the average British period piece. He manages with such strong artistic integrity to transport us to the Victorian era of fake propriety and ersatz family values. Excellent acting and the movie to ponder upon for along time.
Unforgiving, stark landscape of Northern Russia. Hard lives, tough people. Andrei Zvyagintsev, author of few masterpieces (" Elena", above the others comes to mind ),is telling a story of the corrupt system and helpless individual that stands in its way. It is a very taxing job for a viewer to follow the plight of Kolya and his family. The director shows no mercy piling up image after image, till the full picture of utter despair emerges in the end. This is not a black and white propaganda piece. There are no angels and perfect heroes in this world. Even the wronged and victimized fall short, drowning their sorrows in gallons of vodka. But, then if these were our lives what other option would be available? Brave, unflinching portrayal of not just Putin Russia, but of any and every society in which corruption seems to be as natural as the air we breed.
Child 44 (2015)
Dark and Hopeless
The drab grayness and squalor of Stalin Russia. Seen before, but so what? That is not a real problem with this movie. Lack of originality is not a cardinal sin. But everything else, just plain silly accents, manic desire to outdo the horror with ever worse horror of that monstrous political system and just unforgivable lack of subtlety. Even in this hellish place at that hellish time must've been, at least a detail that could lighten their miserable lives. If everything was as dark and hopeless , why the complete population of Soviet Union didn't commit a collective suicide. They just had to, there was no other way. Hollywood again kills a good book and makes it into nothing. Quite a feat.
Backward Polish village stuck in the past. Different generation of people, but little else changed. Story of endless human capacity to commit or allow evil deeds to happen. It soon becomes clear that this is a story about Polish anti-Semitism, so perhaps a spoiler alert wasn't in order. Nothing enrages and mobilizes masses more than guilty conscience. And this godforsaken village has enough guilt to drown the whole country. Hard, unflinching look at the shameful past. Even victims ( and Poles suffered enormous losses in World War II), could be responsible for crime and atrocities. Tough, uncompromising movie, about horrible shame.
The Book Thief (2013)
Trite and Predictable
There is a waterfall of fantastic reviews for this flick. Of course, it is perfectly fine. We all have different tastes. One's treasure could be someone else's junk. I found this movie to be trite and predictable, typical feel good Hallmark TV movie. All those ridiculous German accents ( with an occasional German word snuck in), all these million times chewed upon saccharine sweet messages, that everybody enjoys, but nobody takes seriously. And, above all not a single one original idea, even a sentence. So, if you like a bit of kitsch, nicely colored, wrapped in shiny paper, knock yourself out. You could do worse. Or many times better.
Rarely we see a creative idea in today cinematography. Same tired and predictable plots are being recycled to death, peppered with explosions or violence." Locke" is a brilliant idea brought to us in a short, only 85 minute long flick full of masterful movie-making. A decent man makes a mistake and tries to the right thing. That's about it. He drives and through series of phone conversations his life alters forever. Sounds simple but it certainly isn't. Amazing actor Tom Hardy carries the immense burden on his handsome shoulders, but the actors, some of them quite well known and respected, just through voice draw vivid and colorful personalities. A lesson in creative movie-making.