What is – or should be – the role of movies? To entertain and distract us from our mundane lives? To inspire us? To make a positive impact on society? Cinema, like art, is not science, and thus we may never be able to find a proper consensus on what its role should be. I personally believe that our social reality should be reflected in the entertainment we consume. Which is why, at the time of post-truth, fake news, media mistrust and general political crisis, both in the United States and Europe, The Post is the movie we needed all along.
Let me just start by saying that chances are Molly’s Game is going to be the most disappointing movie I’m going to watch this Awards Season and that based on the critics I’ve read online, I’m either wrong about it or the critics love Aaron Sorkin too much to realize it. I had been anticipating this release ever since I heard of a movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain, whom I believe is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, despite never having won an Oscar (although she deserved it for Zero Dark Thirty). It had all the ingredients: one of the best screenwriters in the world, Aaron Sorkin, was going to be able to direct his first feature based on the thrilling real-life story of Molly Bloom.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just announced that late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will be back to present the Oscars for the second year in a row. I truly love Jimmy Kimmel, I really do, but I feel forced to share my very unpopular opinion with the world: I think this is a huge mistake and I simply can’t understand this decision. These are my reasons (personal AND factual).
Writing a review on a biopic is never easy, but writing a review on a biopic about a convicted real-life murderer told from the killer’s point of view might be the most difficult task ever (perhaps not “ever”, but pretty much). Phil Spector, the 2013 TV movie directed by David Mamet based on the 2003 murder of the actress Lana Clarkson in hands of one of the most renowned music producers in the world, is, in my opinion, one of the best TV movies made recently by HBO. Is it accurate? Every party will say it is not for different reasons (I myself am not expert on the trial so I’m not going to judge its accuracy), but truth (THE TRUTH) is not its main goal: “This is a work of fiction. It’s not ‘based on a true story.’ It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.” Phil Spector is a fiction that goes beyond the actual events and challenges our perception of objectivity, bias and celebrity culture.
I am a firm believer that movies (especially American movies) portraying teenagers and high schools and these sorts of things are usually terribly wrong on so many levels: first of all, most of the actors are not even teenagers (Rachel McAdams was 26 when she played Regina George in Mean Girls), every high school looks the same and relies on the same stereotypes (maybe it’s my European point of view, who knows. Please, don’t take me wrong, I still love Mean Girls (the screenplay is simply brilliant) and I grew up obsessed with High School Musical, but the way these types of films depict high school is simply stereotypical and in a way it makes me feel that whomever wrote or directed them is out of touch with the youth and with the real topic of social anxiety among teenagers. Even movies such as The Duff, which criticizes the way teens who do not fit the mold are simply cast aside by popular teens, ends up being a stereotype blown out of proportions. The idea may be realistic but the “mise en scène” is plain wrong. Which is why The Edge of Seventeen is such an important movie and has simply moved me: it is the most relatable movie that I have ever seen, probably in my whole life.
Films have the power to change people’s perception of life. Cinema is considered a way to see life through somebody else’s eyes and experience things that we would not be able to experience firsthand. Short films have the same power, with the added difficulty that they have to make us feel and experience life in just a few minutes, with just a few shots, and yet they can move us and make us understand characters we hadn’t even met some 10 minutes before. They can teach us invaluable lessons so that even though we may have not lived that experience, we can relate it to our own lives, our own experiences. Stutterer, the first film by Irish writer director Benjamin Cleary and winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, tells a story that goes beyond the screen to tackle a theme at the core of our society: communication.
The BAFTA Awards are one of the most stylish and fun awards shows you there is. Full of our favorite British stars and hosted by the brilliant Stephen Fry, it is also an incredible opportunity to discover lesser known British films and talent (you never know who the next big thing will be). My only problem, the two-hour delay between the actual ceremony and the TV broadcast, which forces anyone interested with the thrill and suspense of awards season to avoid stumbling upon the list of winners on the Internet. But now, let’s focus on this year’s show.
Kenneth Lonergan’s return to the big screen as both writer and director after a hiatus of five years has come in the form of this independent realistic film called Manchester by the Sea. Reminiscent of his previous works revolving around family drama and complex characters (themes also present in his directorial debut You Can Count On Me), Manchester by the Sea tells the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor who leads a meaningless life, who has to go back to his seaside hometown when his brother Joe dies of a heart disease, making him the legal tutor of his teenage son Patrick.
On April 15 1990, legendary actress Greta Garbo passed away in New York. As those of you who’ve been reading this blog for quite a time, I like to dedicate posts to people (actors or directors) for their birthdays or death anniversaries (you can check these posts in my “Wall of Fame” page). Today, since Greta Garbo means so much to me, I wanted to write something a little bit different, I wanted to tell you about the Greta Garbo films you can currently find on Netflix U.S (as of April 15, 2016), because some of you perhaps didn’t know them and would like to honor this special date with on of her films. Well, it turns out it would have been a short article since…there aren’t any!