Let’s talk about movies: The Sense of an Ending (2017) is the beginning of your memories

April 10, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 6.4/10

Directed by: Ritesh Batra

Written by: Nick Payne

Genre: Drama

MPAA: PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.)

Starring: Jim Broadbent (as Tony Webster), Harriet Walter (as Margaret), Michelle Dockery (as Susie), Charlotte Rampling (as Veronica Ford), Billy Howle (as Young Tony)…

Running Time: 108 minutes

If you are a middle-aged person, you should see The Sense of an Ending (2017) because this movie might be a mirror of yourself. If you are a young person, you should do the same, since that is the period of life where you inevitably go someday. After reading my praise for the movie, intuitive minds can easily recognize some disparity between the rating (6.4) and my recommendation. Can this film be part of your “collection” and one of your all-time favorite films? Absolutely not. Did the actors create a masterpiece with their performance? I do not think so, but nevertheless, The Sense of an Ending will make your heart feel tangled itself up in your past. Why?

In general, the woman or man you married is not the person you loved most. It is the sense of getting something in return after a failure what pushes many people to get another boyfriend or husband as soon as possible. It also explains why millions of couples end up with a divorce. Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) belonged to this group, but at least he was smart enough to keep a good relationship with his ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter) after getting divorced. Now, retired and running a camera shop that somehow rekindles his fond memories for his first love, Veronica Ford (Charlotte Rampling), hence the first time he saw her, she was holding a camera, Tony tried to put in order his past.

When we are getting old, we tend to look back on the past and our thoughts spend more time there, enjoying those good moments we had at first and trying at least to imaginarily rectify our mistakes later. In the Sense of an Ending, a movie, based on a novel written by British author Julian Barnes, that was exactly what Tony tried to do and… What you will do someday. The way the movie deals with its plot, a piece of reality where all of us sooner or later will go, is in my opinion what makes this film somehow commendable.

One of the most striking feature of the movie occurs when Tony, after knowing from his best friend that he was dating Veronica and had decided to marry her, wrote him a letter filled with hatred that ended up turning into a curse, but not in the way he wanted at that time. When you discover what happened as Tony was talking to Veronica about the letter, your conclusion will be the same as others cinema buffs: Life has mysterious paths.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2018 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Let’s talk about movies: The Greatest Showman (2017) is good, but far from being great

February 24, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 7.0/10

Directed by: Michael Gracey

Written by: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon

Genre: Musical

MPAA PG (Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give “parental guidance”. May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.)

Starring: Hugh Jackman (as P.T. Barnum), Michelle Williams (as Charity Barnum), Zendaya (as Anne Wheeler), Zac Efron (as Phillip Carlyle), Rebecca Ferguson (as Jenny Lind)…

Running Time: 105 minutes

I have been very lucky and have had the privilege and opportunity to see thousands of movies in my life, movies that can be metaphorically ranked and defined in different ways: Few ones have seen delicacies for the spirit, able to delight the most demanding palates. Some of them have been good enough to be remembered. Most of them fluctuate between entertainers and mediocre wage earners. And the rest is castor oil used in the past as a laxative.

With the passage of time, this situation puts any writer in a position where, apart from a few rare exceptions, he or she can mentally read where the script of a movie is heading after few minutes. Thus, in The Greatest Showman (2017), when the camera wanted to make sure that all of us had seen Hugh Jackman’s worn-out shoes, when the first minutes of the movie spun around his vicissitudes (his father’s death, his food deprivation, etc.) and, moments later, we saw the same Hugh Jackman with a string of success that looks like eternal, even a child who start to lose his or her milk teeth can tell you the remainder: Hugh Jackman, “the ringmaster”, will collapse like many companies will do due to the global economic crisis that lies ahead of us, waiting for its opportunity, and he will rise from his own ashes like a modern Phoenix.

From a musical, we expect great songs and good dancers. In this regard, nobody will be disappointed after watching this movie, and above all, after listening to the beautiful voice of Loren Allred, the person behind the scenes who really sang the songs of Jenny Lind, played by the beautiful Rebecca Ferguson or the song This is Me performed by Keala Settle. And it is precisely this aspect, that is, its imbalance between the quality of its music and the frivolity of its plot that puts The Greatest Showman (2017) behind other movies of its kind, like The Wizard of Oz (1939), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The Sound of Music (1965), Chicago (2002), Les Miserables (2012) and La La Land (2016), referred to them in chronological order.

The Greatest Showman (2017) lost a wonderful opportunity to be one of the greatest musicals because of its conventional plot. Nevertheless, I am sure you will spend a good time watching this movie. Hugh Jackman (P.T. Barnum) did his good job, as usual and so did Rebecca Ferguson (Jenny Lind), with the great difference that she looks more beautiful than ever! My last praise goes to Zendaya (Anne Wheeler). She really deserves special mention for her performance as a trapeze artist and singer. Finally, do not lose sight of the last scene, when Hugh Jackman goes to his daughter’s performance. It is probably the only unexpected part of the movie. Enjoy it!

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2018 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Let’s talk about movies: Gifted (2017) is a real gift for lovers of the good films

December 10, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 8.5/10

Directed by: Marc Webb

Written by: Tom Flynn

Genre: Drama

MPAA PG-13 (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.)

Starring: Mckenna Grace (as Mary Adler), Chris Evans (as Frank Adler), Lindsay Duncan (as Evelyn Adler) and Octavia Spencer (as Roberta Taylor)

Running Time: 101 minutes

After watching Gifted (2017), rather than details about the movie itself, what came to my mind was another thing: The force of habit since it seems that when it comes to movies these days, film critics and wider public have become so accustomed to idiotically “well-prepared films” that they have lost the capacity to differentiate between good and bad films. Gifted (2017) can teach them the difference: A beautiful melody, pleasing to the ear makes us start the movie with happiness and peace. An adorable and toothless seven-year-old child has a talk peppered with subtle jokes and sharp expressions with her uncle and guardian at the same time and things go so funny that we don’t really know if we are in front of a drama or one of those great comedies of Woody Allen like Annie Hall (1977). The rest is history: We know already that Gifted (2017) is like a piece of cake on our birthday.

This movie was made stitch by stitch: Good cast and scenes. Mckenna Grace (Mary Adler), Chris Evans and Lindsay Duncan (Evelyn Adler) performed quite well and Octavia Spencer (Roberta Taylor) will be soon among the current best few actresses who can be seen in Hollywood. When Chris Evans (Frank Adler) and Mckenna Grace were silhouetted (1) by the orange sunset (2) while Mary climbed about Frank’s body (3) and talked about the existence of God, Marck Webb gave a good lesson to young directors on how to use clichés in a creative way by merging them. Something similar happened at the beach, in harmony with the background music of Cat Stevens. Both scenes defined, in my opinion, the quality of the movie in terms of images.

The main dish of this film is, however, the plot. About prodigies, a lot of movies can be found, being the best example Beautiful Mind (2001). But Gifted (2017) does not spin around Mary’s difficulties in adjusting to society because of being gifted, but in the search of balance by her uncle Frank for her subsequent to what happened to his sister (Mary’s mother) and despite his disagreements with his mother (Lindsay Duncan as Evelyn Adler).

Good execution and balance lead to a good movie without the need to bulky budgets or the best actors. Gifted (2017) is a good example of it. Today, when predilection for explosions, missiles, absurd extraterrestrial beings, in short, arrant nonsense, prevails among most people who go to the cinema, those who have another perception of movies as art have in Gifted (2017) a gift.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Let’s talk about movies: The War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) and their planet cannot longer bear another movie

November 12, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 6.8/10

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Written by: Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves

Genre: Action, adventure and science fiction

MPAA PG-13 (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.)

Starring: Andy Serkis (as Caesar), Woody Harrelson (as Colonel), Karin Konoval (as Maurice), Steve Zahn (as Bad Ape) and Amiah Miller (as Nova)

Running Time: 140 minutes

If my memory serves me correctly, I think this is the second time in less than a month that a reader tells me that my movie rating is lower than other film critics’. The reason might be the fact that when we are getting old, we take one of these two possible paths: One acts leniently or becomes a grumpy man. In the field of movies, at least, I strongly believe that it is much better to take the second path than to be called “soft”. Therefore, what we see with our grumpy eyes in The War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) was an extension of the former films, no room to find something new for those with a discerning palate, which led to sharpen and sharpen to a point that the movie ended up as blunt as a knife.

In order to avoid being called “grumpy” three times in a row, I will start praising how well visual effects were used in this film. I have never been a friend to computer-generated characters, which in my opinion instead of being used as supporting material by directors, end up being the main core of their production, partly because many of them cannot work well with reality. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) turned visual effects into something so natural, which can be appreciated in the scenes of the forest. I take my hat off to Matt Reeves for that. Reeves also handled very well the contrast between the title of his film and the plot: In fact, we were not in front of 140 minutes of belligerent actions as the title might suggest, but an “emotional war”: Caesar (Andy Serkis) fighting for peace and future for his group while also dealing with his own feelings of hate and vengeance for what happened to his family or Colonel (Woody Harrelson), burdened by the bad memories of what he did to his son.

Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) brings humor and the relationship between the apes and Nova (Amiah Miller), the little girl infected by a virus that led to a complete loss of the ability to speak, showed dramatically “the human side” of the apes that makes all of us, human beings, look like animals. As for Caesar, a lot of words are not necessary. To act behind a costume might be easy, to do it well is only for great actors. What Caesar (Andy Serkis) did with the expression of his eyes only is great enough to make you want to lick your fingers as if you were eating fried chicken. If Caesar was great in Rome, this Caesar was too, but in the jungle.

If I am praising the movie a lot, why was the rating so low? As I said in the first paragraph: I am getting a grumpy critic and this kind of writers will never evaluate very high a plot with a predetermined ending, a plot in which Caesar at the end of the film looks like a Moses who cannot enter the “Promised Land of the apes”. These are, in my opinion, the two critical points of this movie and if you pay attention to them, you will find only one thing in both points: Repetition, more of the same.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Let’s talk about movies: Wonder Woman (2017) is not wonderful, but enjoyable

September 10, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

Rating: 6.4/10

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Written by: Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs

Genre: Action, adventure and science fiction

MPAA PG-13 (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.)

Starring: Gal Gadot (as Diana) and Chris Pine (as Steve Trevor)

Running Time: 141 minutes

In the field of politics and economy, History may repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, but in Hollywood only as business. No wonder that by now many superhero movies, as pure business, have been thriving even though its saturation point is about to be reached. You will probably receive an affirmative answer if you ask a middle-aged person if he or she read the comics or saw the American television series, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1975-1979), starring Lynda Carter (Diana, Wonder Woman) and Lyle Waggoner (as Steve Trevor) because as many others of his or her generation, people really enjoyed it.

What makes this particularly intriguing is why these present superhero films do not make a deep impression on that generation. Perhaps, this might be attributable to the fact that in the past, superheroes were much closer to us, humanly speaking, and their actions could be “mentally digested” easily, which makes a marked contrast compared to today’s superheroes who destroy everything in fractions of seconds and can rebuild it as a jigsaw in the same amount of time. That explains why we liked Gal Gadot (as Diana, Wonder Woman) since she left her island of Themyscira alongside the mighty Amazons to try to save the world with her sword, shield, bracelets of victory and the Lasso of Truth during World War I.

The world of cinema is crammed with male superheroes, so the presence of a woman sells the female superhero movie like hotcakes, not only for men who delight in watching the beauty of Wonder Woman, but for many women too because they see her as their representative. Gal Gadot’s work is not bad, and if we cannot praise her better is just because the plot is too weak that ends up reducing the result of her performance. The same can be said about Chris Pine’s job. That can be seen at the end of the movie when Travor sacrificed himself by shooting the bombs inside the bomber plane to bring it down. Another end like Armageddon (1998) except for the absence of Bruce Willis. With ends like this one, it is very difficult for actors to do a good job and for movie reviewers to give them the credit that really deserve. There are, however, funny moments, especially those related to the way Diana discovers men and women relationships. In short, Wonder Woman (2017) does not fall into the category of a must-watch movie in my opinion, but cannot be listed as mediocre either.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Let’s talk about movies: Hacksaw Ridge (2016) fought and won its own war to be unique in its kind

July 22, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 8.3/10

Directed by: Mel Gibson.

Written by: Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan.

Genre: War.

MPAA R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.).

Starring: Andrew Garfield (as Desmond T. Doss), Hugo Weaving (as Tom Doss), Vince Vaughn (as Sergeant Howell), Sam Worthington (as Captain Glover), Matthew Nable (as Lt. Cooney)…

Running Time: 139 minutes.

Most of the war movies made every year are like a toilet roll: Important, but with dubious values. Among the few honorable exceptions that come to mind, I can cite All quiet on the Western Front (1930), The bridge on the river Kwai (1957), Schindler’s list (1993), Saving private Ryan (1998) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (2016) is fighting and winning its own war to be added to this list for Gibson’s ability to detect two different approaches, very little exploited in the genre of war, and master them in a remarkable way.

First: In an era of omnipotent superheroes, big macho men and stars with inexhaustible physical strength, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector, is a weak constitution soldier, to be more precise, the only unfit soldier in his unit for his refusal to shoot and hold a rifle, which turns him into the most likely candidate to be one of the first war dead in that combat. At the end, Doss showed to be the bravest man, a soldier who spent the night inside the enemy camp saving the lives of American combatants and even some Japanese soldiers too. His almost trademark expression: “Give me one more, Lord”, “One more”, referring to his plea for strength in order to rescue the wounded can make you shudder even if you boast about your impassive heart.

Second: A lot of movie directors have bared soldier’s feelings in the battlefield and have showed them trying to use their religious convictions as a shield or source of strength while they are killing paradoxically “the enemies”. We have also seen movies with pacifists looking for solutions to the conflict from a comfortable place out of the war zone. In Hacksaw Ridge (2016), you will see something completely different: Doss, a man whose integrity bind him to the idea of serving his country in the First World War in Okinawa and his faith in God bind him to the principle against killing another human being. During the film, Doss has to find a way to make both aspects coexist in harmony, not inside a church, but among bullets and flamethrowers.

Except for some excessive bloody scenes that can make some people squeamish and the last shots of Doss on a stretcher that made him look as the average mortal descending down the ridge first to show him as a mystic ascending into heaven later, I took off my hat to director Mel Gibson for being the creator of this work of art. As for Andrew Garfield’s performance, it was so good that the classic adjectives used to describe and qualify in these cases fall short. A great movie full of emotions that will keep your mouth open for almost two hours.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Let´s talk about movies: Moonlight (2016) shines like the sun

April 9, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 8.4/10

Directed by: Barry Jenkins (III).

Written by: Barry Jenkins (III) and Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Genre: drama.

MPAA Rating: R (Restricted, with no one under 17 admitted without an accompanying parent or guardian. The movie might content strong language and violence, nudity for sexual purposes and drug abuse.

Starring: Mahershala Ali (as Juan), Ashton Sanders (as teen Chiron), Trevante Rhodes (as adult Chiron), André Holland (as adult Kevin), Naomie Harris (as Paula)…

Running time: 111 minutes.

There are movies that you want to stop watching them just few minutes after having started; others can be seen till the end. There are movies you can remember for a particular reason and others you can’t take out of your head. Moonlight (2016) belongs to this final group.

American cinematography is full of films with plot about drugs, addiction and bullying in schools. If we judged Moonlight’s plot for these topics only, the movie would be one among a pile of similar films we already saw in the past and one among another pile with similar ideas that are probably coming in the future. Then, what does make Moonlight different and good?

The answer is the beautiful and perfect way the different components of the plot were hung together: Little (Alex Hibbert), trying to find some explanation why their parents are separated in familiar terms, but paradoxically) together in the world of drugs. The teen-age Chiron (Ashton Sanders) fighting against his demons, those that made him lose his way about his sexual orientation and finally, the incredible physical transformation of Chiron in his adulthood (Trevante Rhodes) to hide his spiritual weakness, something that can only be understood just in the last minutes of the movie.

If Mahershala Ali’s performance (Juan) was really good, I recommend you to pay more attention to the moment when Chiron, after being beaten to a pulp, instead of bringing charges against “his friend” Kevin and, above all, the class bully Patrick Decile (Terrel), he decides to settle the matter himself: His calmness and resolution when entering the classroom, the movement of his body and head, the expression of his face indicating he knew exactly what he was going to do and finally, “the sweet” hit with the chair on Terrel’s shoulder. These moments defined this movie and made it spectacular.

And that’s all about Moonlight, because when it comes to good films, a lot words are unnecessary. You just have to watch them, and period. Moonlight 2016 belongs to this group, and after that, perhaps you will not be able to take this movie out of your head for a long time. The same happened to me.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.