Cinema DVD

Factory Girl

{mosimage}The film narrates the twisted relationship between Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, who became an icon of glamour during the 60s.

Finding out before watching the DVD that Guy Pearce was in the movie as Andy Warhol, I must honestly admit that I had great expectations, since I am a great fan of his work since I watched Memento, one of my all times favorites movies. And I still had fresh in the memory the sensuality of Sienna Miller who had appeared recently in Stardust. So after all that, I could not feel less than disappointed after the end of the movie with the poor depiction of the characters. The actors make a decent work of interpretation, but the script is poor and does not catch the essence of the characters. Andy Warhol does not look like a genius, but just like a clown, and Edie´s sensuality and glamour is erased during half of the movie with a too much overwhelming focus on her drug addiction. Funnily, at the end the best of the movie turned to see Hayden Christensen playing brilliantly the musician that has an affair with Edie (Bob Dylan…!?).  This was the first role of the young actor after the new Star Wars trilogy, and apart from his deserved fame as the new Hollywood heartbreaker, he shows that he can really deliver a good acting performance.

The narrative of the film uses cliché after cliché: the typical images of New York, the typical walks around Central Park, etc., but in the end the characters are not substantially developed, and we do not feel identified with any of them; it's a waste, in spite of the promising cast.
Unless you are a Warhol´s super fan, you do not miss much with this film. The Factory, in this occasion, has failed in creating a new piece of art.

Rating 2/5.

Cinema DVD

Musta jää

{mosimage}Critically praised and highly award Petri Kotwica’s drama is released on DVD.

At the time of its theatrical release last autumn, Black Ice (Musta Jää) was acclaimed by critics. Since then, the film has received several international awards and most recently the film was honored with six Jussi awards (the Finnish Oscars), including Best Director, Best Film and Best Script and Best Actress. With such a hype, I was very intrigued and really eager to watch this film. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.

Many might say that Black Ice is a typically (depressing) Finnish movie. Indeed, a not so funny plot takes places in a freezing and snowy Helsinki and it is a calm and restrained storytelling. But the core and the theme of the story are quite universal: in short, Black Ice tells the story of a woman and her relation with her husband and her husband’s lover. This effect is increased by the way the city is portrayed. We see Helsinki on the screen but we don’t really recognize its streets. It could be any other city.

The film is magnificiently directed by Petri Kotwica, who portrait the dark and corrupted relationship between the three characters with a beautiful photography of blue and cold tones.

The script is addictive and in spite of the tragedy or the extreme turns of the plot, the film is convincing and solid. It avoids the easy drama. Outi Mäenpää’s acting is outstanding and it really helps making the story real.

Black Ice, now easily available for the non Finnish speakers thanks to the English subtitles included on the DVD, is one of those stories that offer strong characters and a solid dilema that will remain in our minds days after we finish watching the movie. How far can we go because of jealousy?

Rating 5/5

Cinema DVD


{mosimage}“Sex, death and freedom” is the motto of this crazy film that pays homage to Russ Meyer’s style.

If not long time ago we reviewed the last book of Juho JuntunenPaholaisen Morsian, in the same line we could place this Pervert! from American  director Jonathan Yudis, or what is the same: sex, tits, blood and a lot of fun!

Filmed with a very low budget, the film is quite entertaining, overall during the first third, when the presence of porn star Mary Carey makes the story totally amusing and crazy (not mentioning the presence of her voluptuous curves). Later, with the appearance of the so called: “the pervert” and the animated scenes, the film loses a bit of punch, but it still has some good moments like in every intervention of the director himself, Jonathan Yudis, as an exhilarating crazy Nazi gay mechanic.

In any case, the best part of the acting goes to Darrell Sandeen, who is able to complete a great role as the sexually and "artistically" active old father of the main character. Another good feature is the length of the film, just 1 hour and 20 minutes, because it could have certainly turned a bit boring if it had lasted longer. Nevertheless the plot follows a similar dynamic all the time: new girl that goes with the father, with too high carnal instincts, the son getting seduced…and blood spilled.

A good effort and guaranteed laughs for this Pervert! It is good and healthy to have this kind of B movies from time to time bringing a touch of fresh air against  the big productions.

Director: Jonathan Yudis
Cast: Mary Carey, Sean Andrews, Darrell Sanden, Juliette Clarke, Jonathan Yudis

Rating 3/5

Cinema DVD

No Reservations

{mosimage}Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart are a sensual couple of chefs sharing the same kitchen… and a couple of tips about the flavours of good food and good love.

Love in the kitchen is trendy in Hollywood. You can check it out in an animated film like Ratatouille or here, in No Reservations (in Finnish the title is Rakkauden resepti) by director Scott Hicks, featuring the always sensual welsh Catherine Zeta-Jones as a dedicated chef totally concentrated and even obsessed on his work in the kitchen, with no other private life. But some happenings are going to transform radically her life. The sudden death of her sister in a car accident that makes her being in custody of her nephew Zoe (Abigail Breslin, the girl in Little Miss Sunshine) and the entrance in the kitchen of a new chef with a particular style and charm “made in Italy”: Aaron Eckhart. Chemistry works pretty well between the couple, but nevertheless the plot is too obvious and there is hardly any time for surprises: Fights, falling in love, reconciliations… all is too predictable. The best parts maybe come when little Abigail Breslin is into scene and both characters try to gain her sympathy. The relation with the little girl has even more punch that the love relation between the main characters, and brings a bit of rhythm to the film.

A good story for the lovers of good cuisine and romantic stories cooked inside the kitchen, but do not expect any big surprise here.

Rating 3/5

Cinema DVD

Hostel 2

{mosimage}Hostel was one of the nicest surprises in the horror and gore movies genre during last year. Now director Eli Roth tries to repeat the formula again.

It seems that Tarantino appears lately in every film project bathed with blood. This time is not about crazy drivers terrorizing young ladies on the wheel, but with an active collaboration in the script of the second part of Hostel, a film that revitalized the horror movies genre, applauded by millions of cinema fans and not so beloved in Slovakia whose reputation does not exactly “shine” when you end up watching these films (remember other close examples like Borat and Kazakhstan…).

But the surprise element is missed this time, and the movie turns to be boring and predictable. One of the most significant changes is that this time the main characters are girls instead of the boys of the first movie. The cast is decent, with the three American girls perfectly counter partnered by the two male sadistic businessmen, but the trick of swinging the personalities of the bad guys when the blood is spilled is nothing new and not surprising at all anymore. A couple of visually shocking moments save the action, like the unforgettable scene with the naked woman receiving her bath of blood, or the cannibal Italian police officer tasting carefully one human leg while his poor owner screams in horrible pain, but apart from that, do not expect anything extraordinary. Even the sensuality (and sexuality) of the first part has decreased here, except for the always splendid view of the sensual Vera Jordanova.

The only issue that can keep on ringing inside your mind is “Can a place like this really exists in real life?” We hope not, but in any case, watch out if you meet a guy with an Elite Hunting tattoo in a train towards Central Europe…

Director: Eli Roth

Cast: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Vera Jordanova, Roger Bart, Richard Burgi

Rating 2/5 

Cinema DVD

Planet Terror

{mosimage}Rodriguez and Tarantino join forces once more in Planet Terror, the second of the movies composing Grindhouse, together with Death Proof; an odyssey full of blood, sexy chicks and enraged zombies.

{sidebar id=45} Filmed paying homage to the grindhouse films of the 70s and 80s, there are a lot of deliberated mistakes (starting for the poor quality of the image) all around the movie  that try to reproduce with fidelity the atmosphere at that time.

In Planet Terror you will be faced with tensed action all along the footage and a plot where you don’t need to have deep thoughts or take too seriously what is going on the screen, but just to enjoy the good acting skills of the superb cast. Bruce Willis (who does not appear in the film credits) plays perfectly his part as the tough soldier of fortune coming from Afghanistan infected by the bio-weapon;  Josh Brolin, who is finding a new peak in his career starring also in American Gangster (do you remember him as the oldest brother in The Goonies?), is superb as the evil cheated doctor. Rose McGowan shows a perfect balance between being strong and sexy, and undoubtedly her right leg spitting fire will be one of the best moments remembered by the fans in the future. Freddy Rodriguez shines powerfully as a new promising star while Marley Shelton repeats again with Rodriguez after the successful collaboration in Sin City. Sharp dialogues, thousands of bullets flying and the search for the best barbecue sauce in Texas will definitely not make feel bored during the 1 hour and 41 minutes of action. Added to all this, you will  find that even more dangerous than the zombies themselves are the own human beings wandering around Texas, leading the ranking Tarantino himself who has a short but explosive and exhilarating  role as a crazy rapist soldier.

Well, obviously, if your taste is oriented more towards philosophical films where the action goes slowly, Planet Terror is not the product for you. But if you enjoyed previous Rodriguez’s movies like Desperado or From Dusk till Dawn, you won’t get disappointed with this DVD.

Cinema DVD

28 Days Later

{mosimage}The continuation to 28 Days Later features an empty Great Britain trying to be repopulated under the control of US army. But the problems are not over…

{sidebar id=44}Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is on charge of continuing the story of 28 Days Later in his new 28 Weeks Later, featuring a new wave of raged zombies wandering the empty streets of London. Basically, that would be one of the few strongest points of the film: the excellent and unusual opportunity of watching the streets of the English capital empty. Because taking into account all the rest, the film turns to be pretty bad. The usually excellent acting skills of Catherine McCormack and Robert Carlyle are totally missed this time, and their characters look ridiculous.

The beginning looks promising, with a group of refugees trying to survive in a big mansion, but the tension soon disappears and it is replaced by the boredom of situations that have been seen one hundred times before in other films. The story does not add anything interesting to the gender neither explores a new exciting approach to the first part; just again scared human beings trying to escape from zombies, with the help (that turns into risk) of the American army. A couple of good visual moments, like the scene when the helicopter is tearing into pieces some zombies in the middle of a field, or the snipers shooting to everything that is on the move in the streets of London, but that is certainly all.

Let’s see if the incoming and awaited I am Legend with Will Smith can spice up the gender again, because Fresnadillo totally failed in his purpose. Do not waste your time watching it unless you are a real fan of the zombie gender.

Cinema DVD

Meet the Robinsons

{mosimage}Meet the Robinsons is the last product that arrives in DVD from the Disney factory. Follow the adventures of the young Lewis in the future!

{sidebar id=43}Keep Moving Forward is the motto of the Robinsons family, but it could represent very well the spirit that invades Disney factory in their last experiment with animation. The old Mickey Mouse that appears at the beginning of the credits also keeps moving forward to find a world of fantasy were Lewis, the main character, is dragged in his search for identity and love. An orphan and a future genius who still has to learn how to forget the past and focus on the present. For that, he is going to count with the help of a very peculiar family, The Robinsons, but all in all, a family like any other, that shows unity and love when problems arise.

Although the beginning of the film is a bit slow, since Wilbur interferes in the destiny of Lewis everything gets better and better. Hilarious moments and splendid dialogues with that special sense of humour that the guys of Disney know how to show so well.

Director Stephen J. Anderson has really won the pools with the creation of the evil character of Bowler Hat Guy. His naïve behaviour provokes some of the best moments I have seen in animation movies during the last years, like the crazy dialogue while mentally controlling the “mafia frog”. A lot of winks to film history (Jurassic Park, Matrix, Goodfellas, Back to the Future…); proof that the creators are really cinema history lovers and some moments that look almost taken out from dreams, like if the hand of Walt Disney would be painting back some magical feelings from works like Fantasia.

The film is available in Finnish and English, with subtitles, so if you are thinking about a good present for the incoming Christmas, Meet the Robinsons is an excellent choice to enjoy all the family together.

Cinema DVD

Mother’s love

{mosimage}Directed by Martial Fougeron, this French drama  was awarded with the Golden Shell (Concha de Oro) at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2006 ex aequo with Iranian Bahman Ghobadi’s Half Moon. However, in spite of its inner violence and its tough tale, the film is empty and results pointless.

{sidebar id=42} In less than 80 minutes, Fougeron tells the growing violence of a mother towards his son through excessive protectionism, selfishness and extreme authoritativeness. It is the portrait of an unbearable mother’s love. One can easily connect this idea to François Truffaut’s masterpiece The 400 Blows. But while Truffaut’s is a complex psychological portrait of troubled youth, My Son is simple and it does not ask as many question as it tries to.

Although such a punishment from a mother is touching and the boy’s psychological suffering (rather than physical) is shocking, the film becomes implausible. It is hard to believe the passivity of the father and the transformation of the mother out of the blue.

Nevertheless, there is something really outstanding in this film. Nathalie Baye in the role of the mother is superb and she keeps the son together and clearly justifies the prize she also won in San Sebastian. It is pity that there’s nothing else in the film that tops her acting. Fortunately Fougeron’s narrative styles is marked by sobriety and My Son avoids falling into a TV drama.

Cinema DVD

Call the bet!

{mosimage}Lucky You portrays the high stakes poker world, with Eric Bana and Robert Duvall in a twisted father and son relation.

{sidebar id=41} Since Rounders, it has been long time that the exciting world of poker is not deeply depicted in a film. Director Curtis Hanson (winner of an Academy Award for L.A. Confidential) puts the cards on the table with Lucky You, a wonderful and accurate description of the poker world and the gamblers. The scenario has been meticulously copied, with almost exact replicas of Bellagio casino and Binion´s Horseshoe, emblematic places to play poker.

Eric Bana as Huck Cheever shows film after film that apart from having a great physical presence in front of the camera (remember him in Troy, as Hector), he is also a great actor, for those who could have any doubt after seeing him in Spielberg’s Munich. The action is pretty much focused on him and his relation with his father and also poker professional player, incarnated by an always superb Robert Duvall (L.C. Cheever). Drew Barrymore appears sweet and fresh as usual; it is amazing how she can always look so youthful year after year. Robert Downey Jr. has a short but interesting intervention as Bana´s friend. His appearance nonetheless is pretty wasted. It would have been great to see him more often during the story.

Many of the professional players that are sitting on the poker tables are real ones, who were recruited to give advice and help planning the scenes. They are one of the strong points in the movie, since the most interesting feature of poker games usually is to analyze the individuals, and see their special looks and behaviour. Hanson has made one of the best poker films of the history, with a great balance between the curiosity and excitement that the poker game awakens and the deep analysis of human relations between the two main characters, Duvall and Bana. More than one will go to Internet to play a couple of games after watching this movie. Do not get much addicted!

Rating 4/5

Cinema DVD

Fun on ice

{sidebar id=38}{mosimage}The new and hilarious comedy from Will Ferrell will not let his fans down. This time, he sets the ice rink on fire as the ultimate sex bomb on skates.

I must admit that I am getting more and more hooked with Will Ferrell’s movies. When it is about time to see comedies with not much farther aims than just spending a couple of hours relaxed and having some healthy good laughs, his movies are great. I liked a lot when I watched Talladega Nights for a second time and I enjoyed Anchorman too. In Blades of Glory, Ferrell, as the wild Chazz Michael Michaels (I really love that name!) is back together with Jon Heder (you may remember him from Napoleon Dynamite, one of the nicest surprises from 2004) and both work as a great duo of actors, everyone with a personality that frontally collides with the other. Their dialogues and interaction are hilarious with an excellent chemistry.

Special mention for the scriptwriters that were able to twist once more the comedy genre and take advantage of a sport that had not been enough exploded in the big screen, although some scandals in real life were pretty notorious, like the Nancy Kerrigan’s case (who, by the way, makes a cameo during the film, as many other real skaters).

A movie that knows perfectly how to take advantage of the jealousy and personal competitions that happen in real life, but at the same time resolves exquisitely the non-easy task of putting two heterosexual men skating together. For the detail lovers, you must know that both actors had to learn how to skate almost as professionals with many hard hours of training. Jon Heder broke one rib while shooting the film and the moment when he answers in perfect Japanese a question from a journalist comes from the real Japanese knowledge that he has, after having lived a couple of years in the Asian country while being a Mormon missionary.

If you do not like Will Ferrell’s previous films, forget to watch this DVD, since it goes pretty much in the same line. But if you enjoyed their special gestures and sketches, you will not feel disappointed with this movie.

Rating 4/5

Cinema DVD

Suden Vuosi

{mosimage}{sidebar id=37}One of the nicest surprise last year in the Finnish film industry was this Suden Vuosi (The year of the Wolf). Now available on DVD.

K rista Kosonen has become one of the biggest surprises of the Finnish cinema landscape during last years, not only for her undeniable beauty, but also for her good acting skills in films like Jade Soturi or this present Suden Vuosi.  She, as an epylepthic and talented young Literature student, is the backbone of Saarela´s movie, together with a very effective Kari Hesikanen as Mikko Groman, the University professor whose concentration on Baudelaires work and absence from taking care of family responsibilities is going to cause him more than one headache. 

Krista Kosonen looks perfect as the forbidden fruit, young, fresh, and with an excellent balance between shyness, naiveness and voluptuously. The spectator could hesitate about if the couple will work on screen at the beginning of the film, but they certainly do when the story advances.  The director goes for a very conservative treatment of the relation and the sex scenes, quite far from other Finnish sagas such as the three parts of Levottomat, for example, where frantic sex is present all over the action.I found a bit annoying the role and stridency of Aksa Korttila as Mikko´s sister, but Johanna Af Schulten is superb as the professor´s arrogant ex – wife. Looks like Finnish actresses have a special talent for those kind of roles, after a similar and also magnificient interpretation by Susanna Anteroinen as Hanna in the also pretty reccomendable Valkoinen Kaupunki.

The ending is a bit weak compared with the rest of the film, but all in all, Suden Vuosi was able to climb very high in the ranking of my favourite Finnish movies. Good photography, good script and excellent acting. A must see movie for those of you who want to know what is going on in the Finnish contemporary cinema nowadays.

Rating 4/5

Cinema DVD

Sunlight in your eyes

{sidebar id=34}Danny
is one of the most exciting
English directors during last decades, with fresh products like
Trainspotting or
28 Days Later
(and some other films that failed, like
the disappointing
The Beach).
Now, with this
he has achieved a product that pays homage to some science fiction
classics, being the most obvious inspiration to be recognized:
2001: A Space Odissey.

film is visually beautiful and shocking, with nice sequences like the
one when the captain and
Capa go out of the
spacecraft to solve the problem with the protection panels. The
design inside inside and outside the craft is astonishing, once again
you can feel the impact of classic sci-fi movies all around the sets.
Boyle shows respect for all that previous influence and achieves
technically a very competent film. The actors` work is efficient,
with special mention to
Chris Evans
as the down to earth man on board,
as the sun-lover doctor and
Hiroyuki Sanada
as the sacrificed captain. But the plot loses balance after the
encounter with the
Icarus I and
the appearance of Captain Pinbacker. The film could have had much
more to offer just exploding the philosophical and ethical crashes of
the crew’s personalities, without having to resource to the typical
“monster” solution to endanger the mission. At the end, Boyle
just offers a bit of everything good from the science fiction’s
tradition, and much of nothing.

Cinema DVD

Redeeming the lust

They say that
everything is hotter there in the South of USA. It must be true for the
character played by Christina Ricci, Rae, since she cannot control the sexual
desire that turns her body, specially the part between here legs totally crazy,
due to abuses suffered from childhood. Samuel L. Jackson is the
God-fearing retired bluesman that will put effort, faith, patience and
understanding in curing and listening to this troubled woman.

{sidebar id=33}Both actors are
great in their roles, and with a lot of chemistry. It is not easy to play their
parts without falling in a misleading interpretation of their relation, but
they just know how to spice up things when needed, and cool them down to show
that what is really important all over the film is to transmit the feeling of a
real friendship.

Not that I am a
great fan of Justin Timberlake, but he does his part as the betrayed
husband while John Cothran Jr. is a good support and guaranteed fun when
sharing scenes with L. Jackson.

But the best of
the film is when L. Jackson plays the blues, with some electrifying scenes
while makes his guitar cries that matches greatly with the southern atmosphere
exhaled by the film.

Maybe it is not a
great comedy, and probably it is not to be taken seriously enough as a drama,
but Black Snake Moan gives a new nice approach to the relations between
black and white people, showing that there is some universal feelings that we
all share, starting for the pity, the love, the friendship and the
philanthropy. Let’s see when the time finally arrives for the taboo of love and
sexual relations featuring more interracial couples to be finally and openly
broken in the still very morally strict Hollywood

Rating: 4/5

Cinema DVD

A movie to reflect

{sidebar id=32}Guy Ritchie became one of my favorite (and
many others delighted fans`) directors after masterpieces like Lock, Stock
and Two Smoking Barrels
and Snatch. But the higher you climb, the
hardest the fall is, and that exactly happened with his previous work: Swept
, a movie to forget, featuring his wife Madonna, which was smashed
without mercy by critic and public.

So there was a lot of curiosity around his
new film, Revolver, to see if Ritchie would come back to his origins.
And the initial plot certainly reminds his earlier films: gangsters, action,
acid dialogues… He even eliminated the scenes where Madonna appeared trying to
avoid the “kiss of death” that his wife had given to the previous failed work.
But once you get immersed in the story, you can see that there is not much left
from the first successful films mentioned above if not for the repeated
appearance of his “fetish” actor: Jason Statham, perfect in his work as
usual.  Ray Liotta appears as
maybe the best of the whole film, in the role of a tanned and despotic mafia
boss that totally suits him.

Ritchie had warned that this time he wanted
to make a film for intelligent people… and alas that the movie is not easy to
follow! The timeline is broken successively, the thoughts, the real facts and
the imagination of the characters is often mixed, and you really have to pay
attention to catch the subtle angles of the story. This time the sharp
dialogues are not aimed at making you smile, but at making you reflect about
some philosophical questions. The chess game and strategies to win is a great
leitmotiv all over the movie, and looks like Ritchie wanted to create a chess
game also inside our minds. But at the end my feeling is that the product got “over
baked”. Ritchie wanted to play to be a director resembling Christopher
Nolan, David Fincher
and himself at the same time, instead of just being
happy of showing his personal style, leading to the viewers and critics to be
still trying to decide if this is a masterpiece, or a piece of shit. Decide
yourselves, but my advice is that maybe watching the film for a second time can
help you understand it more (or maybe not). I still prefer the Guy Ritchie less
philosophical and more into purely entertainment.