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.

Advertisements

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.


Let’s talk about movies: La La Land (2016) is lol lol lol, but…

March 26, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 7.5/10

Directed by: Damien Chazelle.

Written by: Damien Chazelle.

Genre: Musical.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers).

Starring: Emma Stone (Mia) and Ryan Goslin (Sebastian)

Running Time: 128 minutes.

”What movie will win tonight?” A. M. asked me.

”Moonlight.” I said.

”But how can Moonlight win if La La Land is the clear and great favorite with the public and critics?” She asked me again.

”The same thing happened to Trump and now he is the president of USA”.

Despite having scored a record-equalling 14 nominations, there are good reasons to explain why this joyous musical did not win Best Picture at the Oscars and, above all, why it is behind other films of its genre. It might be seen as a mere conjecture, but several incidents show that a lot of people in the movie world (like Meryl Streep, for example) are not happy at all with Trump’s behavior and policies. Moonlight, Mahershala Ali and others as winners reflect better than La La Land the discontent mentioned before. But let’s just be clear on this idea in order to prevent any misunderstandings: I am not saying that those winners did not deserve to win; actually, they did. It is just that the context in which they were provided a little extra help for them.

The most important reasons, however, were cinematographic factors rather than social or political issues. In my opinion, you don’t even need your five fingers of one hand to count the greatest musicals of all time: Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The Sound of the Music (1965), Oliver (1968) and Les Misérables (2012). The first three films have showed their quality by being tested through the inexorable passing of time; the last one is still young, but deeper and with better plot than their predecessors. La La Land cannot even be compared with any of these group. Let’s see the why of it.

A musical comedy is the most difficult genre to judge since all things do not only spin around the plot, like other genres usually do, but around the music and humour too. To put harmoniously together these three components is quite difficult. To judge fairly the way they have been put is worse. That may very well be the reason why only 10 musicals have won the Best Picture Oscar. In La La Land (2016), some parts of the plot are connected as if the director and writer (the same person, Damien Chazelle) had no option, but to make use of filmic clichés: people dancing over cars or Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) throwing and catching his hat while dancing, etc. With these kind of things, you can get some claps and lose some Oscars.

I tip my hat to Emma Stone. She personally saved La La Land from falling into oblivion. She danced gracefully (Ryan Goslin had hard times trying to catch her when she was spinning!), sang beautifully and deserved all credits and her Oscar too. The swing of her blue dress and smile can make even and eighty-year-old man think about his glory years. The rest moves between the acceptable and good, and that’s all.

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

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


Last Love Poems: If I could back to my past…

February 28, 2017

dawn

By Eddy Montilla.

If I could go back to my past, I would have told her “Yes!” to whom so many times I told her “No!”

I would have kissed my best friend on that rainy night after class,

the only opportunity I had, the only thing she really asked.

I still remember that rainy night…

Walking together under one umbrella,

full of dreams, full of hopes.

She, perhaps, looking for something different and similar,

and I, for sure, without even knowing how to react.

If I could go back to my past, I would have told her “No!” to whom I told her “Yes!”

because when it comes to love, half love is worse than nothing.

I would have taken more risks,

I would have drowned my fears for the future

and would have taken more actions in the present.

If I could go back to my past,

I would have cultivated more roses instead of waiting for shooting stars.

I would have walked more on the sand, barefoot, singing a song,

enjoying the sea, looking at the horizon while trying to find mine.

I would have gone more frequently to the park where she used to walk

and have walked less with my loneliness.

If I could… Only Lord knows how many things I would have done
If I could…

But I can’t.

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