Let’s talk about movies: With The death of Stalin (2018) you will die laughing

December 12, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 7.4/10

Directed by: Armando Iannucci

Written by: Fabien Nury, Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Thierry Robin

Genre: Drama, comedy

MPAA: R (Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.)

Starring: Adrian McLoughlin (as Josef Stalin), Steve Buscemi (as Nikita Khrushchev), Simon Russell Beale (as Lavrentiy Beria), Jeffrey Tambor (as Georgy Malenkov), Paddy Considine (as Comrade Andryev)…

Running Time: 107 minutes

These days when modern comedies try to make people laugh based on foul language and outrageous behaviour, The Death of Stalin (2018) comes to remember you the beauty of the fine humor, the different subtle hues that good comedies are made of, and above all, to make you laugh for a while. The Gold Rush (1925), The Great Dictator (1940), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or Woody Allen with his Hannie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) are among the movies that quickly come to your mind to create some parallelism after watching The Death of Stalin since in this movie, humor comes from subtle things: A simple gesture, a facial expression suggesting something or a simple phrase, in appearance, but with infinite jest and a great deal of ingenuity that will make the audience burst out laughing.

The Death of Stalin (2017) is a scathing political satire about the last days of the Soviet dictator and the struggle for power that his death brought among his close aids. Pay attention to the face of the people around Stalin, the reaction of some of them after knowing that their names were included in the famous Stalin’s list, which was tantamount to saying that they were going to be killed sooner than later. Observe the way they played with Stalin’s coffin or the way they arrived at his place and tried to persuade his daughter. If you don’t laugh after that, you are not human. I tip my hat to the director Armando Iannucci for creating a very simple movie, but filled with a lot of fun.

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

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

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Let’s talk about movies: Battle of the sexes (2017) got the wrong identity

September 18, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 5.0/10

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Written by: Simon Beaufoy

Genre: Drama, comedy

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: Emma Stone (as Billie Jean King), Steve Carell (as Bobby Riggs) and Andrea Riseborough (as Marilyn Barnett)

Running Time: 121 minutes

“Based on a true story” can be a fair explanation or a label. Used as a label, in the world of movies, it has always been a good bait to obtain higher ratings, especially if at the end of the film it is written the way those involved are living today because it puts the public into motion, people are all moved by those phrases and, like horses that are pulling a wagon, they move their heads and the movie will be passed on the nod. Battle of the sexes (2017) is one of those movies “based on a true story” and it is also a good example to understand how people are losing their critical eye these days to turn into blind people in terms of reflection or robots that repeat “good morning” every time a person enters an office.

The 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs could be considered as the most important event of all time in that sport, not for the high level of quality shown by the players (Bobby was 55 years old and he had retired from professional tennis), but because of the match itself represented: A gap, an opening for the emancipations of women and consequently, it was a fight to demonstrate that men are superior to women (Bobby Riggs) or to prove that women are equal to men (Billie Jean). You do not need to have a highly developed sense of observation to know that this is not the main idea of Battle of the sexes (2017), but Billie Jean’s lesbianism and that’s why a lot time was used during the scenes when she was talking to her hairdresser and lover, both girls at the hotel and many other irrelevant things like that for the case mentioned before.

If the director’s intention (or writer’s) was to focus on lesbianism, homosexuality, recognition of rights for those people, etc., this is something different, another matter, and I do not care at all about it because it is not my movie, but at least, change the title of the film for a simple reason: We went to see a battle between a man and a woman, not a man and a lesbian or a homosexual and a woman. What did we get at the end? A real disappointing movie on that aspect that forced me to watch the film and waste two fruitless hours of my life, and I am getting old, so I cannot afford to. Fortunately, Emma Stone and Steve Carell were there to console me with their good performance. Watch the film if you want (according to other movie reviewers, the movie is out of the ordinary), but for me, that steak is not good enough to lick my fingers.

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: Last Flag Flying (2017) flew high

July 27, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 7.7/10

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Written by: Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan

Genre: Drama, comedy

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: Steve Carell (as Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd), Bryan Cranston (as Sal Nealon) and Laurence Fishburne (as Mueller)

Running Time: 124 minutes

There are certain films that only can be fully understood or savoured at a particular age or period of life because their plots awaken memories and feelings associated with our own reality. The Sense of an Ending (2017) and the movie we are talking about today, Last Flag Flying (2017), belong to that group. And the following question will help you to grasp the fact about this idea: Where do you go when you are in trouble and need some help? Would you go to your parents’ house to talk to your daddy and mom, looking for their help to solve your problems as you used to do when you were a child? Not at all. Your pride and desire not to put on your parent’s shoulders your problems overcome that “temptation”, besides the fact that you do not want to listen to the lecture they will probably give you first. This situation takes you to the infallible, your old friends, those who will help you without conditions or telling you the phrase “why did you…? Well, that was exactly where Larry (Steve Carell) went when he desperately needed a helping hand to deal with the death of his son, killed in the Iraq war: He went to the place where his old friends, Sal and Mueller were.

Last Flag Flying (2017) is very interesting drama and comedy that shows how people change through the years and how on friendship, despite the inexorable passing of time, always grows new green shoots, which also explains why Muller (Laurence Fishburne), pastor of a church today when he was a man of a dissolute behavior for years and Sal (Bryan Cranston), the same funny and crazy man as always, decide to help the good-natured Larry, and then they undertake a long journey to take the coffin of Larry’s son home, a journey where, despite some heated argument between Muller and Sal, prevail the most important thing: their friendship. That was the moment when they remembered all crazy things they did together when they were young, that was the moment when they doubled up with laughter, which will make you do the same and that will be the moment when you will begin to think about your old friends too, especially if you are over 40 years old.

The only disappointing thing in The Last Flag Flying (2017) is the markedly political bias that can be seen in some scenes. Except for that, to see this movie is a good and wise investment of your time and money, above all, for the good memories that will come to your mind about your good friends, memories that will make you agree with Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss) in Stand By Me (1986) when he said at the end: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

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: Darkest Hour (2017) was well-lit thanks to Gary Oldman

July 16, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

Rating: 7.6/10

Directed by: Joe Wright

Written by: Anthony McCarten

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: Gary Oldman (as Winston Churchill), Kristin Scott Thomas (as Clementine Churchill), Lily James (as Elizabeth Nel)…

Running Time: 125 minutes

At first glance, it seems that a plot based on people’s life stories is an easy task to carry out for the vast amount of information that can be found on the Internet these days. However, it is quite the opposite, actually, since the director cannot bring anything new to those facts about the subject of the biography that we know already or we can get with a simple click or movement of our index finger. And if the director commits the folly of showing something that is made up out of the whole cloth, he or she is running the risk of being bombarded with criticism by people who are very well up on history. Besides, before going to see such movies, everybody knows what will happen from head to foot. Therefore, if the director does not want to see the film ending in fiasco, his or her salvation is only one: an incredible performance by the actor who plays the role of the important historical figure.

The above remarks explain why movies like The Iron Lady (2011) with Meryl Streep and Malcolm X (1992) with Denzel Washington were successful instead of falling into oblivion and why Darkest Hour (2017), thanks to Gary Oldman, will be remembered for years. Churchill’s life was characterized by Oldman in a way that very few actors can do it these days. He was masterly in dealing with delicate and contradictory situations like Churchill’s anguish of indecisions before and after being Prime Minister and his resolute leadership to achieve things. Oldman drank as Churchill, smoked as Churchill, yelled at people as Churchill and made me laugh with the same caustic humour that the Prime Minister had.

When it comes to a biopic, you do not have to offer too much details about what happened, but how the director and the main actor did their respective job (this comment is for movie critics only!). The English director Joe Wright, best known for Pride & Prejudice (2005), brought us a well-balanced movie surrounded by a good piece of music that aroused the audience’s interest for the film. The rest is on Gary Oldman’s shoulders, which can be seen when he (Churchill) hugged his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas), when he is talking to a fearful king, George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) when Nazi forces advanced during the early days of World War II or when he delivered his speech in front of political supporters and opponents.

Winston Churchill is widely celebrated as Britain’s greatest ever Prime Minister and one of the most eminent and debated men of the 20th Century. Gary Oldman’s job on Churchill is not enough accolade to be the Prime Minister of United Kingdom (and I don’t think that he wants that job either!), but undoubtedly, he deserved the best actor Oscar 2018 that he won for Darkest Hour. If you are not convinced about it, I recommend you to see the moving scene when he gets on the subway to talk and listen to people. I’m sure that you will change your mind and I will have more time to write my next review.

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 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.