Sunday, August 13, 2017

Neruda (2016)

Director: Pablo Larraín. Cast: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán. 107 min. Rated R. Chile/Argentina/France/Spain/USA. Biography.

There's an old unwritten adage, that to introduce a foreign cinema entity, you do so by twos - show two of the country's films, or two of a director's films ... I forget which. In any case, that applies here: before 2016, only rare Chilean films such as No made any noise. But last year, we suddenly have two (Jackie and Neruda) from the same director. Both are slow-paced character studies, both are meditatively shot, and both eventually undermine the significance of their main character. I never knew Pablo Neruda before watching this, and wasn't any more eager to do so after.

Mo says:


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Perfect Blue (1997)

Director: Satoshi Kon. Voices: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto. 81 min. Japan. Animation.

At the dawn of the internet, a popular young singer switches to acting, but then finds herself stalked by a fan, accusing her of "treason". After awhile, you're not sure - are events truly happening, or is it her guilty conscience going into hyper-drive? This plot may sound commonplace, but consider: the blood/gore/sex-filled psychological thriller was made 20 years ago, is highly prophetic of the concept of internet stalking, and ... is an anime. So what may have petered out as live action (wait ... the remake actually did in 2002), is strangely effective in "cartoon" form. The wonders of animation.

Mo says:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Promise (2016)

Director: Terry George. Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Shohreh Aghdashloo, James Cromwell, Jean Reno. 133 min. Rated PG-13. Spain/USA. History/Drama.

Love triangle set during the World War I Armenian genocide by the Turkish army. Long movie, lavish production design and great actors (some playing the smallest cameo roles) prove only one thing: somebody/somebodies poured lots of money to make this happen - probably on the basis of principle. But all the money in the world cannot save this boring, linear story devoid of mysteries or subtleties (Flashbacks? Plot twists?). And the impossibly coincidental ending looks more like Titanic ripoff than dramatization of history. The Armenian genocide story will be told with heartbreaking impact someday ... but that day is not today.

Mo says: