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.


Someone is looking at you…always (last part)

July 12, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

(Taken from the book Real stories told as fiction)

“And how about you. Who are you?” The young woman calmly asked him. “We share one thing in common and differ in everything else. I carry my grief within. You, however, like your sumptuous black attire, carry it outside. That means that you keep more things back from people than I do.”

“I don’t have anything to hide.” The violinist simpered.

“Really? Let’s see… It is said that medicine and art complement each other. Some colleagues of mine paint or play the piano or the harp. You play quite well the violin. I wonder if you didn’t get passionate about medicine to get complacent later.”

“The violinist did not say anything.”

“I guess your silence means yes because your aching heart doesn’t let you say no.” She said. “Why didn’t you become a doctor, artist? Perhaps you are one of those people who flinch at the sight of blood or there’s a lot more to it than that. Maybe you can’t get along well with people. It is probably the latter, and that’s why you decided to take refuge in you violin, so that you don’t have to deal with anyone because an instrument always obeys without complaining and it will do whatever you ask when you play it.”

“Why don’t you shut up once and for all?” The violinist yelled at her as if he were about to lose control of himself sooner than later and shatter into pieces.

“You were right. It seems that love is not for me. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t get the love I needed, the love I wanted. Well, maybe that’s why I’m a doctor, because I love people and want to help them. You didn’t get what you wanted most in life either. However, very different from me, instead of helping people as I do, you spend as much time as possible to watch them from a distance and hate them in silence first to attack them later in public. As you know, I love math: I don’t owe you anything. On the contrary, it is you who owes me money. Is not that true, Derek?”

The last question of the young woman astounded the violinist. He quickly looked at all the people around him and ran out of the bar without saying a word or taking the 700 dollars that Mr. Lawrence had left on the table while they were whispering about him without understanding what happened.

“Who’s that man?”

“Another sick person who goes from town to town.” The young woman answered to her friend.

“And how do you know all those things about him? Is he your friend?”

“Of course not. It’s just like he said: Wherever you are, from a distance, somebody is looking at you…always.”

Shortly after midnight, all customers had left the bar. The waiter picked up the glasses from the table and, of course, the 700 dollars that were waiting for an owner too. He wiped the tables and did the washing-up. It is said that there truly is an art to popping open a bottle of beer, but that does not apply to a waiter after his workday is done, so he did it quickly and looked towards the corner where the violinist had played and left his violin.

“Another artist who leaves the bar and another instrument that remains with us.” He said and, because of one of those inscrutable impulses of the heart, he went to the place where the violin case was, near a big black bag that also belonged to the violinist.

“There is no room for all theses things here.” He said and opened the bag out of curiosity. Then, he was stunned and stuck for a moment, looking at what was inside and shaking his head in disbelief.

“Oh, my God!” He could barely say. That was the moment when he remembered the words that the young woman said: “From a distance, someone is looking at you…always.

The waiter put the violin behind the old piano and guitar, increasing the number of instruments left at that corner. Then, he went back to the counter, drank his beer down in one go and hurried home, taking with him that black bag with its content: another instrument, but far from being used to play music. He had a strange feeling of pleasure and happiness at the thought of what he could do with it, which drowned immediately his utter astonishment. From that day, or rather, from that night, the waiter began to do the same thing that millions of people have been doing since the dawn of time: To snoop.

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

Someone is looking at you…always (penultimate part)

July 8, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

(Taken from the book Real stories told as fiction)

“Don’t you keep it inside some briefcase at home or office under lock and key?”

When Mr. Lawrence heard that, he only took 100 dollars and, of course, his credit card.

“Let’s get out of here quickly!” He said to his employees, and before walking out of the door, he emphatically told them:

“If tomorrow someone at office knows what happened here tonight, I’ll kick you out! Is that clear?”

Wherever there is an extremely pleasant waiter, there is also an extremely big-mouthed person. For that reasons and others more complex, all people knew already about the bet and, above all, about the other mysterious talent of the violinist.

“Would you take a bet with me?” A clean, but slovenly funny man wearing a short T-shirt that unveiled his non-desirable and prominent belly asked him.

“You can’t even pay the rent money for this month, let alone make a bet like the man who left.”

“I’m drinking beer like anyone else here. Who knows?”

“I know what I’m saying and your friends too. You make them laugh by clowning around all night and they give you some drinks in return. But just for some mental exercise, judging by the look of your underpants, up out of your trousers and, by the way, you get them on inside-out, it’s no wonder that you get up every day around midday and spend the first hours in the afternoon scratching your tummy with one hand and your armpit with the other one while walking from here to there inside your apartment in your underpants.”

“Wow! I got myself into a fine mess!” The man said, smiling without being angry at all.

“Well, I’ll leave you exactly where you are!” The violinist told him and the good laugh that came after his words was the end of the matter.

“The person I’d like to talk to now is this beautiful young lady.” The violinist said, giving her a peremptory look.

“Are you crazy or something?” One of the women who were sitting at the same table with the young lady yelled at him with anger. That kind of bet is for men, not for wome…” and before she could finish the sentence, the young lady silenced her by covering her mouth with the right hand.

“And what kind of person do you think she is inside?” The violinist told her.

Life is a mixture of good and bad things that always come like alternate success and failure. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. If this is true, then, those who thought that it was the time for the violinist to lose were right since the young lady was not the younger female in the bar, but the most beautiful one. Her hair had subtle highlights that brought charming and enigma to her face. She was not tall, but she had lovely and soft eyes that matched perfectly her baby-faced look. Then, why on earth did he call her a man? However, nobody dared to challenge the violinist; nobody, of course, except for the young lady herself.

“She is as methodical and analytical as they come. While her friends crumpled their napkin into a little ball after using it, look at hers, perfectly folded in four parts. I guess she is a doctor or a professor of physics who loves numbers.”

“I’m a doctor.” She said.

“Needless to say, she is fluent in two or three languages.”

“French, Spanish and German. I started to learn Japanese last month.”

“The violinist’s right answers and the succinct confirmation she gave drew the attention of all people in the bar, including the waiter, of course. They seemed to witness a metal battle, something like the Match of the Century between Fischer and Spassky.

“Yes. I’m sure she is like that…A person who has a lot of plants in her balcony to make sure that no one can invade her privacy, a person who hangs systematically the clothes out, following a precise order. But you know what? Behind her successful life, other feelings are hidden. There are days, especially at night, when she feels empty, sad and lonely because the prototype of the perfect man she forged in her mind to share her life never came and, even though she’s still young, she knows now that he will never be there, in her empty house, in her empty bed, and that’s why she mourns that unsatisfied part of her life by wearing almost always black underwear.

“Not almost, but always”. She said, and her words, coupled with the glasses of beer that the men near her had taken, gave free rein to their imagination in a way that does not need to be told.

“Now you can understand”, the violinist said, “why she probably goes to her balcony from time to time in the evenings and puts her arms over the fence and her head over her arms while gazing up at the sky, looking for an irrational explanation to her own situation. That is you.” (TO BE CONTINUED…)

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

Someone is looking at you…always (Part II)

July 6, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

(Taken from the book Real stories told as fiction)

“Bet on the table and a few laughs. Start using your crystal ball, if it’s not on the fritz.” Mr. Lawrence told him, which drew the attention of all people near them and made his two employees laugh unnaturally.

“You are wearing a lovely and distinctive perfume. It’s Eternity. Isn’t it? Its fragrance is well-balanced to a point that some women wear it too, very different from the virile Sauvage that your employee is wearing tonight, as if he wanted to say to all women at the bar that there is a real man in him, a man who doesn’t need money to attract a woman.”

The employee rubbed his hands, looked at the waiter and ordered quickly a beer while pretending that he didn’t hear what the violinist said.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Lawrence. What I told you, even though it’s true, is not enough to demand the payment of our bet. However, the startling revelation of the woman who ignites your passion, that girl sitting over there, changes the whole picture.”

“Now you are playing with fire, kid, and believe me, you will be in real trouble if you are not in a position to prove what you said because…”

“…because she is my neighbor and a little friend.” The violinist said to complete the phrase as if he were reading his mind.

Mr. Lawrence’s sardonic smile faded from his lips and he began to show on his face the same look and feeling of constriction as a sinner in front of his confessor for something that was intended to be done for fun and ended up putting him in a tight spot. His long cigar burned out in his hand, as he couldn’t take his eyes off the violinist.

“Poets, sensitive people and the indecisive prefer a woman’s breast to any other part of her body and it is precisely her cleavage where you have been staring at almost all night. You don’t belong to the first two groups, hence the truth of my words”.

“Didn’t you know that I’m married?”

“You’re legally married and emotionally divorced. Under the pretext of your job, perhaps, you are sleeping in separate beds, I guess, and you both only go out together when she wants to do the weekly shopping or go to the beauty parlour. That explains why you are here with your two employees as a shield, to keep up appearances, and why she is also there with her friends because doubts can be easily covered when the number of people increases. Your longed-for moment will come after leaving this place, by the way, in a place so close yours that nobody could ever imagine something like that. As you called me several times, Mr. Lawrence, I am an artist, a violinist and you are a successful businessman. I’m not good at math at all. Therefore, could you tell how much money you owe me, please?”

“How can you prove all those nonsenses and slanderous remarks you have said tonight?” Mr. Lawrence asked after giving him a short and derisive laugh for the last time.

“Can I ask the girl to join us here?” The violinist said.

The eyes of all those present at the table and close to it were fixed on Mr. Lawrence’s face, above all, on his forehead from where beads of sweat began to break out suddenly. He stirred the small ice cubes that were left in his glass of whiskey, passed his credit card to the waiter to pay the bill and put 700 dollars on the table, leaving everybody baffled.

“Give me back 200 dollars.” He said to the violinist after showing him his wallet with no trace of her picture or something similar.

“A bet is over when the payment is made. However, here are your 200 dollars.”

And, when Mr. Lawrence set out to take the money with the small satisfaction coming from the fact that he did not win the war, but at least a battle, he got petrified, staring at the violinist in stunned silence after listening from his lips this question: (TO BE CONTINUED…)

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

Someone is looking at you… always (Part I)

July 4, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

(Taken from the book Real stories told as fiction)

It happened early on a Tuesday night. Despite the early hour, the bar was full of customers, thirsty patrons whose different lives were reflected in their conversations. Some of them were drinking because they had finished their work; others, because the next day they had to work and there was a lonely man who did not even know why he was doing that, a man who, in the absence of real and good company, seemed to make love with his drinks by caressing tenderly and lovely the rim of his glass with his index finger.

They were chatting about a lot of things and exchanging smiles, looking for the same thing. At the rear of the bar, there was a small place in semidarkness labeled by the waiter as “the corner of the forgotten artist” where some people started their dreams of becoming a famous singer, pianist or something similar and, some time later, that was the place from where they left when they woke up to face the truth. As if they were witnesses and conclusive proof of the waiter’s stories, an old piano and guitar remained at the corner, whose owners, divorced from their dreams already and without the slightest shadow of hesitation, threw them away.

Life can be very mysterious sometimes, because it was precisely from that lugubrious place that the sound of the music came from, a melody that covered sadness with armor-plate and evoked memories of an unrequited love to customers. That feeling flooded first through those who were close to him and it spread gradually to others until all customers in the bar were listening to him, trying to see the graceful movements of his fingers over the strings and how his bow seemed to woo the violin. That man was far away from being a new Niccolo Paganini or any other violin virtuoso, but he managed to get from his old instrument an indescribable seam of nostalgia as only the greatest can do, a seam that fitted perfectly into the customer’s hearts.

“Man, what are you doing here?” A person said, emulating the lyric of Piano Man.

The applause went on for several minutes and people were wondering who this violinist was.

“This is the man I told you about, Mr. Lawrence”. The waiter said to a middle-aged man, sitting at a table with two people who worked for him.

“I can’t believe it!”

“Well, if you think that he’s good at playing the violin, you should wait until he talks to you and you will see that I’m by no means exaggerating here. Believe me, Mr. Lawrence, if Freud were alive, he would be a psychoanalyst’s apprentice at his side.”

The waiter beckoned him to come and join them. The violinist put carefully his instrument into its case first and approached the table walking slowly and deliberately. He was dressed in black as he always did when he played his violin. His inscrutable expression was similar to the feeling that emanated from his music.

“Is it true what the waiter is saying about you?” Mr. Lawrence asked him.

“You don’t have to dress your question up, Mr. Lawrence, especially when your real interest is how much I can know and say about you.”

“To know my name doesn’t surprise me at all. Any person here could have told you that, starting with Robert.” He lit a large cigar and began to smoke it, exhaling the cigar smoke as slow as possible as if he wanted that moment to last forever.

“I have not opened my mouth.” The waiter answered quickly.

“That’s true. But nobody could have told me how naturally indecisive you are despite your image of strong man.” The violinist said.

“How can you prove that?”

“Well, Mr. Lawrence, we live in an age of information. Information means power and, therefore, it costs money.”

“And what is the price for your information, artist?”

“I get 100 dollars for each correct guess and you receive the double for each mistake on my part”. (TO BE CONTINUED…)

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

Last love poems: For him

May 3, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

You tell me that you don’t know what’s going wrong,

the reason I don’t call you and I’m distant from you,

You ask for our oath and where it has gone,

the oath of two schoolboys who played at being men,

with their hands on their chests, saying one day

that they will be forever, forever the best friends.

You told me that nothing has changed

even though now you married her

because I am like your brother, I am your best friend

and there is an open door always waiting for me.

You want me to come to visit you the way I used to…

to play chess on Sundays and have one or two drinks

to talk about us and all those things

because before she came to your life,

Was not your life our friendship?

and I know her like the rain knows the prairie or plenty more besides.

“There is no reason to be alone”. You said, “It’s time for a happy life.”

Don’t forget, my friend, what I told you on that night:

Distance sometimes can be the best proof for a friendship

and can keep it alive.

I gave up everything to remain loyal to you,

loyalty that grows with distance,

distance that fertilizes my sorrows,

sorrows from long hours of loneliness

and the thought of what could have been,

but was never meant to be.

I did that for you, not for me.

And, please, do not tell me any more

that she is always asking about me,

that she wants to see me

even if it is just for a brief time.

You don’t know why she wants to talk to me

and think that it might be things related to the three.

Have you never thought that reality has two sides?

You only have seen yours and have forgotten mine.

Next time she asks you about me again,

please, tell her that I left the town

and you don’t know why, you don’t know when,

but you heard I live in some distant land.

To live in exile to keep my words,

to keep my friendship and my oath.

Oh, my friend! What a good man! How naïve you are!

You never knew she loved me and I loved her too.

But one day… One day you saw her and your love began

We had the best dream, we lived the best life.

But I don’t break my oath: You are my best friend.

Since that day I left her and that’s why today

you can call her: “wife”.

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

Like your family, perhaps (last part)

March 18, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

(Taken from the book Real stories told as fiction)

“I know where the pixie is!” The child said and rushed into the bedroom.

“No, Grace!” Her mother yelled, but it was too late. The child had pulled the blanket that kept her granny warm off. Except for the younger sister, the entire family could see and think that this was what her body and life had reduced to. She weighed 39 kilograms or less. The distortion of her bones began with her lower jaw and teeth and ended in her toes. She could not close her mouth and had lost most of her hair. Her arms and legs were bent inwards and did not respond to her brain. Except for a weak blinking of her eyes, she lived her life trapped in a paralyzed body connected to three machines. Mrs. Brown spent most of her time on bed, looking at the white ceiling of the room with her head slightly tilted to one side to prevent her from choking. For one or two hours, the younger sister sat her mother in a wheelchair and took her near the window to get some sun. At that time, it could be seen in her how small we are when old age and disease come together.

“Most people know what hell is after dying. For some, this comes a little earlier. It’s just a matter of luck.” Amanda’s husband thought after seen her mother-in-law’s condition and he downed his glass of scotch in one go without waiting for the almost forgotten speech of her wife.

The younger sister was the most prudent person of the family. For that reason, perhaps, everything turned around her and everybody leaned on her. She was also the most intelligent, so to avoid the arrival of that awkward silence for the third time, she encouraged the other members of the family to start the party and she would join them minutes later after giving her mother some massage. Amanda could finally deliver her tremendously exciting speech (as some relatives said), full of praise for her sick mother, family anecdotes that all those present had heard several times and, of course, subtle criticism. After that, men were eating and drinking gluttonously; women, however, were only drinking since they had to drive later instead of their husbands. Only the mother of the child was eating sparingly and her daughter had not touched her food yet.

“Are not you hungry, sweet heart?” Amanda asked the child, and her answer deciphered the mystery about what happens when a child is present at a family gathering for adults: He or she will make them laugh or embarrass them.

“I don’t understand why you can eat so much if this is granny’s birthday and she’s not eating anything.” She said. “If she doesn’t eat in her birthday party, I will not eat either!”

Like one of those jokes that cannot even put a smile on the face of a clown and only make laugh the one who told the story, Patrick said to her younger sister that Grace was a perfect photocopy of her.

“Remember that your grandmother can only drink the magic liquid because it gives her more energy and life, Grace.” Her mother told her.

“But, why can’t she drink it herself?”

“Because it is a magic drink, so she doesn’t need to use her mouth. It goes directly to her stomach.”

“The pixie is back!” Grace suddenly said and ran into her grandmother’s room. A few moments later, she walked slowly back to the living room with her head down.

“I couldn’t catch him. I have never seen him. I don’t even know how old he is!”

“A pixie? But who on earth is she talking about?” Patrick, half-drunk already, asked.

Only Amanda had a grasp of what was going on at home. Her younger sister needed her daughter’s eyes to help with the care of her sick mother, but at the same time, she didn’t want to see Grace suffering for her grandmother’s condition. Thus, before Patrick put his foot in it, she said to her niece this:

“His name is Parkinson, Grace, and even though he’s small, Parkinson is 25 years old. He has been with your granny all these years.”

After that, Amanda’s husband cleared his throat and said that it was time to leave since they had a long journey ahead of them. All members of the family wolfed down everything in front of them, including the apple pie for dessert and drank coffee quickly. Then, they left the house, but this time, different from the way they came, they left together. Four or five days later, Mrs. Brown died. At her funeral, nobody mourned her death, except for the child.

“I want to see granny again!” She said. “I want to see Parkinson!”

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