Cinema DVD

The Number 23

{sidebar id=28}Jim Carrey continues struggling with his status of comedy
actor trying twisted roles where he can show that he is able to provoke more
than laughs from the spectators. Sometimes results are huge successes and great
interpretations like in The Truman Show (1998), Man on the Moon
(1999) or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and some other
times we have to resign with a weaker result as happens in this Joel
’s The Number 23.

The first half of the film looks promising, with Carrey in the role of
Walter Sparrow, a normal and good citizen that gets hooked step by step and by
some mysterious circumstances to a book that keeps plenty of reminiscences with
is own life. But an initial plot that could have been turned by Schumacher into
an exciting and mysterious exploration of the human mind starts to feel predictable,
boring and dull from the moment when Sparrow’s family takes an active role in
helping with the investigation.

The product smells too much of Carrey needing once more to reaffirm
himself as a “serious” actor, repeating once more registers seen in previous
works. At this level most of the audience already knows about the good skills
of Mr Carrey, so he could try to focus on choosing a bit more solid scripts
that can offer more extra excitement during the last and final twist. Virginia
and Logar Lerman are just correct in their roles of wife and
son of Sparrow without any special brightness in their work, while Ronda
Mitra and Lynn Collins
bring some fresh and needed sensuality to the

Not a bad effort by Schumacher, but the film had all the ingredients
needed to be the main course of the menu, and finally lacked of some spices
that turned it into a normal appetizer.

Cinema DVD

Write for your rights

{sidebar id=29}In the world
where we live nowadays, full of intolerance, racism and hate that seems to grow
up without reason from every corner, films like Freedom Writers
are needed and received as a fresh breeze that brings some hope.


Based on the
book The Freedom Writers Diary that compiles the story of Erin Gruwell
and her pupils during her first years as teacher in a problematic and violent
high school in Los Angeles,
the film teaches that the first knowledge that the pupils must learn in the
classrooms is respect for the others. Hilary Swank is convincing as the
naïve but strong idealistic teacher, and Jack Dempsey plays his part as
forgotten husband who spends his lonely hours watching matches on TV.

The story,
which happens mostly inside the classrooms, has some really emotive moments
when the youngsters remember their relatives and friends fallen due to
violence, or when Gruwell make them face the story of Ana Frank and the
Nazi Holocaust.  Sometimes situations
cross the border of melodramatic and turn into ridiculous, with some dialogues
that we hardly expect to happen in a real classroom, but all in all, the film
is well enough balanced and achieves the goal of transmitting a message of
hope, understanding and equality for those viewers who want to listen to it.
For some of you, it can make you take a pencil again after a long time and
forget for some hours the personal computer on exchange of the familiar
notebook, or simply make you reflect for some minutes that the problems of your
neighbour are not so far from your own ones.

Cinema DVD

Teenage criminals

{sidebar id=31}After
watching this film, my first feeling was of annoyance. I was feeling
quite angry at the point that the main core of the events (although
modified for the film) had really happened in real life years ago.
That made me reflect how stupid the human being can be when we see a
tragedy coming on and we do nothing to solve it, thinking that others
will make us the favour to erase the problems.

n any case, the
feeling of annoyance also made me realized that the acting skills of
the young actors had been pretty good, since they had reached the
point of making me hate them during the last scenes. I must say that
I have never been a great fan of Justin Timberlake, but I must
admit that here he is probably the best of the whole film: A
character that can be sweet, naïve, stupid and cruel at the same
time. Alpha Dog features young guys playing to be big fishes into the
crime world surrounded by an environment of luxury, parties, pretty
girls and drugs. Maybe the atmosphere is a bit exaggerated, but it
adds a good touch of decadence to the action.

as the histrionic older brother of the kidnapped child has
some brilliant moments, although sometimes he suffers of overacting,
like in the scene when answering the telephone call that turns to be
stupidly unmeasured. Saving the distances, during some moments he
could remind you of Edward Norton in American History X.
Bruce Willis is correct in his small role, but Sharon Stone
is not in her most brilliant movie. The part where he appears
interviewed at the end of the film disguised as a fat woman does not
make much sense with the rest of the plot, and does not add anything
to the film. The last minutes could have been perfectly erased, but
wants to stretch the storytelling too much, and that
makes the film to lose power after the climax. Not a bad reflection
about the MTV American way of living, where owning in a big villa and
playing to be the hardest gangster seems to be the coolest ultimate
feature to gain respect in a group of friends, but the film in
general turns to be a bit too much artificial.

Cinema DVD


{sidebar id=26}I read in an
interview made to Brad Pitt years ago, after having acted in Troy, that
he had to work his ass hard to look as fit as Aquiles since the guy was the
best warrior in all the history. Then imagine the best gang of warriors of all
the history, 300 men whose only purpose was to fight and die in the battlefield
and your mind can go with no difficulty directly to the festival of biceps,
six-packs and flesh shown in 300. Many have complained about the
excessive cult to the perfection of the bodies exhibited all around the film,
but for me the explanation is quite much simple: they look fit because those
warriors had to be fit.


Although the
film is not as bright and revolutionary as Sin City,
director Zack Snyder accomplishes a more than decent job here,
considering the extreme difficulties when facing an adaptation of this kind. At
least the main point of the story is clear; Spartans are a warrior society so
the backbone of the films is the battles. There is a lot of blood spilt and
some artistic slow motion footage that brings fight scenes into a new level of
plasticity. But the bellicosity of the film makes otherwise boring the scenes
when the action slow downs as the political plot inside the walls of Sparta and
the continuous narration in voice over turns to be annoying and excessive. Gerard
plays a convincing role as Leonidas, carrying a look that oscillates
between anger and madness that suits the historical character perfectly, and Lena
as Queen Gorgo, plays effectively her role being sensual and
beautiful but also a firm and strong Spartan woman (nothing to do with the
ridiculous role of Angelina Jolie in Alexander).

It seems
that Iranians are quite busy lately filling complains about western films
(recently it happened also with the adaptation of the comic Persépolis
by Marjane Satrapi) since some sectors do not seem much happy about the
treatment given to their nation. In any case, do not look here for veracity or
historical accuracy because the main goal of 300 is to entertain. And
the mission is accomplished.

Cinema DVD

Leather, bikes and flames

{sidebar id=23} Director Mark Steven Johnson was not very popular character for
comic fans after his weak adaptations of previous comics Elektra and
. It seems that he does not want to “disappoint” anyone with this
reputation completing with this Ghost Rider a trilogy of films to forget.
Not even a couple of Hollywood super stars as
Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider and Peter Fonda as the devil
himself are able to disguise the lack of quality all over the film.

The storyline is very weak, the film is as predictable as it can get, so
it turns to be horribly boring. The decoration look cheap and the special
effects look totally artificial. Dialogues make you laugh, but not exactly due
to their inventive and nobody believes even that Cage has that hyper-muscled
body for real. Peter Fonda looks plausible but the gang of demons that wander
with Blackheart would not scare a 5 year old child. I think that Wes Bentley
was looking even scarier when filming a plastic bag in American Beauty
than here…

Added to all this Eva Mendes’s and Brett Cullen’s lines
can make you feel like going to prepare some popcorns in the middle of the

The question is: Was this adaptation needed? In recent years we have
assisted to the chained release of many movies whose inspiration is taken
directly from such a rich source as comics is. There have been products for all
kind of tastes, and not all the adaptations are bad (look at the excellent Spiderman
released not a long time ago). But maybe it is about time in Hollywood industry to think twice before wasting budget
in another bad film that will pass to story with no glory. Next time that
Steven Johnson’s name will be announced for a new adaptation, I am afraid that
more than one comic fans body will shake in pain. It is known that Cage
collaborated actively in the writing process of the film. From here, we can
just advice Nicholas to keep just in acting roles.

Cinema DVD

Eddie Murphy x 3

{sidebar id=21} The king of the
comedy is back, and stronger than ever! 2006 was an important year for Eddie
with two new films released: Dreamgirls and the one in
spotlight here: Norbit.  

After making us laugh with his voice as the Donkey
of Shrek, the help of new technologies plays an important role again, (same
than happened in latest products as The Nutty Professor 1 and 2), to
transform Murphy into three totally opposite characters: The young, sweet, naïve
and sometimes slow minded Norbit, his ugly fat wife Rasputia and the Asian
owner of the orphanage where Norbit was raised, Mr Wong. A multi-role formula
that has worked pretty well for Murphy all over the years.  It comes to my mind in his extended filmography
the exhilarating title Coming to America where he played already four
different roles! Those were “Chocolate sexy” times!

And what can you expect from Norbit?
Well, the story is well known: A poor guy married to the wrong woman, and whose
old love from child times appears again to bring fresh air to his life. But in
this case, the cocktail has tones of…weight personified in Rasputia, Norbit’s
dominant and monstrous wife, who heads the clan of brothers that rule the city
with the muscle: the Latimores.

Murphy’s biggest virtue is that he knows how
to make fun of everything, starting from his own black race and continuing with
all kind of stereotypes. The movie does not bring anything new to the comedy
genre, but I must recognize that there were some exhilarating moments where I
could not stop laughing. As co-starts, a couple of big names in Hollywood: Cuba
Gooding Jr.
and Thandie Newton, but the ones who really take the
glory after Murphy are Norbit´s curious pimps friends Eddie Griffin and Katt
. Norbit is recommended for watching with the family or with
the girlfriend in a rainy evening.

Cinema DVD

A rifle in your life

{sidebar id=22} We saw snipers in
films like the new version of The Jackal (1997, and by the way, for
those lovers of the detail, the action of the movie was starting in Helsinki) or most
recently with Jarhead, a shout of alert against the paranoid mood that
accompanies the American soldiers while staying in Iraq.

I must
recognize that until now, Antoine Fuqua was a director that had never been
able to convince me. I always consider him too lucky to handle enormous budgets
for creating mediocre products. He is the man behind movies like Replacement
or Training Day, and although he always achieves some
exciting action sequences, their films have always lacked some “punch” to turn
them into real classics. But well, it seems that he has finally
achieved it with The Shooter, his most solid film so far.

The storyline
is good with excellent twists; the action is astonishing, the actors are credible
all the time and you feel hooked to the plot from the beginning to the end.
Probably the success is in great part due to the excellent cast: big names and
great recognized actors like Danny Glover, Elias Koteas and Rade Serbedzija
together with promising new blood like Rhona Mitra and Michael Peña.
The main role as the “difficult-to-kill” sniper goes for Mark Wahlberg,
who shows film after film great skills and good taste when choosing new works, not
only like a tough guy but also touching other genres like comedy (check the
excellent I love Huckabees). Does anybody still remember him in his young
years as the political non-correct white raper singer Marky Mark? The
times are changing…

I hope that Fuqua
can make honour to his status in Hollywood
in the future with more interesting works like this The Shooter. One of
the best action movies of the year.

Cinema DVD

Magic against Fascism

{sidebar id=19}
Reality and
fantasy world get mixed in the last work of director Guillermo del Toro: Pan´s
, being the second of his films framed on times of post civil
war in Spain,
after his terror tale in an isolated orphanage in The Devil's Backbone

The film is
visually astonishing, with detailed and marvellous scenarios that catch totally
the attention of the spectator in the fantasy sequences, all seen through the
eyes of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who turns to be one of the youngest
revelations of Spanish cinema. But the narration has undoubtedly its best
moments when the very real characters step into screen. The cast of Spanish
well known actors is simply magnificent, with an excellent Álex Angulo
as the rebel rural doctor and one none less excellent and more mature Maribel
, far from the usual erotic roles of years ago. All of them turning
around Ofelia's stepfather, Captain Vidal interpreted by Sergi Lopez in
a superb role  as a violent fascist who
has to face the guerrilla hidden in the mountains of north Spain 4 years after
the end of the Civil War. Lopez is almost better known in France than in Spain and after
this praising work, it is about time that his skills get more recognized

The film is
a beautiful cry in favour of the liberty and the hope in own believes until the
end, surrounded by a fairytale atmosphere. But do not get mistaken, this is not
a film to offer to your children while eating popcorns in front of the TV set.
Violence is often and brutally present all over the film, and the final is not exactly
what you would call “happy made in Hollywood”.
All in all, Del Toro has achieved a very difficult task: fidelity with history in
a film where historical happenings are wrapped into a fabulous atmosphere,
achieving a product that can satisfy equally to fans of American and European
cinema. Brilliant!

Cinema DVD

The Last King of Scotland

{sidebar id=15}The first
feature film of Scottish director Kevin MacDonald focuses on the figure of Idi
, army officer and president of Uganda between 1971 and 1979. But rather
than being a biopic of the atrocities and actions of the dictator, the film shows
the relationship between Amin, played by Forest Whitaker, and the fictional
character of his personal physician, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy). It is this
relationship what creates a consistent story and takes a glimpse at Amin’s
brutal regime.

The viewer
discovers the character of Idi Amin through Dr Garrigan’s eyes, whose vision of
his friend and leader drifts from sympathy to fear. And so the mood of the film
varies. Considering the subject matter, there is much comedy. The funny first
part of the movie precedes the uncomfortable course of events.

Much has
been talked about Whitaker’s performance, including an Academy Award. But
indeed, his performance is impressive. He steals the show, even though the
screenplay seems to appoint the physician as the main role in the film.
Whitaker recreates the complex psychology of Idi Amin and presents the leader’s
paranoia and egomania.

The Last
King of Scotland
lives up to the hype with a solid narrative and its focus on
people and its relations, putting aside easy clichés.

Cinema DVD

Friends in love

{mosimage}Based on Zoe Heller's book, one of
the most exciting female acting duels that you could imagine has arrived on DVD:
Barbara vs. Sheba,
or what is the same, Judi Dench vs. Cate Blanchett, both winners
of the Academy Award in previous years. Notes on a Scandal, directed by Richard Eyre,
introduce us into a normal English school scenario where two different
professors will become close friends, linked in their destinies in a fatal way:
The old and grumpy Barbara trying to guide the young and beauty Sheba.



{sidebar id=9}Cate Blanchett really looks astonishing in
the film (not a surprise for many since more than one fell in love with her
ambiguous Galadriel during Lord of the Rings, even rejecting Arwen’s
charms). The friendship relation will became vicious when Barbara discovers
that Sheba, who is married and with a daughter of 16 and a son with Down’s syndrome,
is having sex relations with a 15 years old pupil from her school. But more
than judging the morality of the actions by the professor, the plotline is
aimed at showing how dangerous can be to share secrets with the wrong friends. Both
actresses are superb in their roles, but I was expecting a bit more of “punch”
for the last third of the film.

The role of the young boy is pretty much
obliterated in many parts of the movie, and the shared scenes between Dench and
Blanchett turn to be a bit boring at the end. The best moments usually happen
when there is a third guest between the two main characters, as when Barbara is
sharing dinner with the family (mention apart for the great job of the betrayed
husband Bill Nighy), or in the erotic scenes with Blanchett and the
young Andrew Simpson (who made his debut here while having to assist to
his own normal lessons at school).

There was quite a polemic when the film was
about to be released about the sex scenes in the British media, but from my
point of view, that part has been treated with extreme delicacy. In any case,
if you want to find the “leitmotiv” that leads to the female characters in the
film, think more about loneliness and boredom than about lust.


Cinema DVD

Mr. Bean goes on holiday

Run for your
lives, Mr. Bean is back! After the first film released in 1997, and having had uneven
fortune with his appearances in Johnny English (2003) and Keeping Mum
(2005), Rowan Atkinson is back with the character that has driven him into
fame during the last 2 decades with the second (and rumours say that maybe last
one) long feature film that narrates the adventures of Mr. Bean in his way to
holidays in the south of France.



{sidebar id=6}
ut of
course Mr. Bean, a man with the soul of a child, has the ability to turn every situation
into a small disaster. With his “French” language skills reduce to a simply
“gracias”, he will live once more the more amazing adventures in company of
Stepan (Max Baldry) a child that is accidentally separated by Bean from the
company of his father while heading to the Cannes festival.

Rowan Atkinson's
mastery for provoking laugh is undeniable, and he shows a total dominium of his
body, pushing the expressions of his face to paroxysm. The storyline is well
worked and looks plausible, but Bean’s reactions do not look as fresh as in his
beginnings. Fortunately, he is superbly supported by Willem Dafoe in the
role of an egocentric American director assisting to Cannes to release his last “masterpiece”, and
Emma de Caunes as a sweet young actress who will help Mr. Bean to get
rid of the problems he gets immersed into.

Maybe, to
“kill” Bean after this second movie is a wise decision from Atkinson, who
should try to reinvent himself in new roles, and although the film do not
suppose a breakthrough in the comedy genre, there are a couple of interesting
new features as the use of a video camera by Bean all along the film, as well
as good moments like the impressively beautiful 
last sequence when he walks to the beach stepping on trucks to reach the
other side of the road. Not being anything extraordinary, the film makes you
have a good time during the approximately hour and half when Bean almost
literally turns half France
into chaos.

Cinema DVD

Hide your drugs in an elephant’s ass

{mosimage}A poor elephant
escaped from a circus and finds itself lost in an alienated landscape in the
middle of nowhere in the mountains of Norway. This could be a perfect
introductory line for a new animation movie of Disney or Pixar… or not? Imagine
that you start to add to the plot features such as that the elephant is a
junkie, has kilograms of cocaine inside his huge ass, and is followed without
compassion by mobsters and even the Lappish mafia on two wheels!



{sidebar id=5}The name of this
eccentric product is Free Jimmy, and was born from the mind of the
Norwegian director Christopher Nielsen, who brings the spirit of his
tacky underground comics to the big screen. With Free Jimmy we are watching to probably, the most non-political correct animation movie of the
history. The characters have no problem at all along the action to use swear
words, have sex or consume drugs. So I suppose that at this stage, there is no
need to warn that this is not the classic animation movie to watch with your
little children, but more like gathering with some friends, drink some beers
and smoke some…cigarettes, enjoying the adventures of the gangs of freaks that
will wander the screen.

 Technically, the animation is excellent, and the irony
and winks to the spectators (the appearance of the Lappish bikers must be especially
appealing to the Finnish audience particularly, and to the Scandinavian ones in
general) reveal the hard work to create a good script. In any case, there is
also time for the sentimental side, especially in the parts where our poor
Jimmy finds the help of the friendly moose during the runaway.

The cast was
joined by Hollywood super star Woody Harrelson
(that is not going through his career’s peak lately) as the voice of Roy Arnie,
the “animal lover” whose dream is to own a circus some day in the future.

This is the first
animation movie totally created in Norway, and shows one more that the
European animation market is not only going through healthy, but also
innovative times. As negative aspects, I have to pinpoint that is not very
long, 86 minutes, and that I could not avoid to have a feeling of pity for poor
Jimmy all over the film. Nielsen has created the closest equivalent to Trainspotting
in the animation scene nowadays, and it is a crazy journey, as addictive as all
the dope that huge Jimmy carries, so do not better miss it!

Cinema DVD


{mosimage}Diane Arbus, (born Diane Nemerov), was a photographer married with Allan
(and later divorced), that became famous for her personal style of
portraying “freaks”, those people living apart from the normal American
post-second world war society.

Fur: An imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus is
based on the book by Patricia Bosworth, and shows us once more how good
actress Nicole Kidman can be. A character totally made for the Australian red
haired talent, who masters like nobody else in Hollywood the art of releasing sensuality
behind a faked shyness. Together with her, the “recovered” Robert Downey Jr who
is living a second golden era with his appearance in this or other recent
titles like Zodiac.

The action is
centered in a particular stage of Diane’s life, when she starts to open her
eyes to the world and open her body to the forbidden side of sensuality that
always attracted her. Still married, she is giving the first steps into freedom
and emancipation. So for those who are expecting a detailed biography of the
photographer, better look for other sources. The film is centered basically in
the relation between the ambiguous two main roles, Diane and Mr. Sweeney, but Ty
, in the role of Diane’s husband, is a perfect third wheel for
conducting the action.

The collection of
freaks show their human side in a film subtly intended to break the borders of
discrimination and alienation in the world. Many will not understand the movie
and will get bored, but for others, me included, director Steven ShainbergSecretary) achieves a different and
entertaining film.
(who already shocked many conservative minds with his previous little essay
about love and sadomasochism)

Cinema DVD

Exploitation in the grindhouse


Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino present a double feature of sex, violence, sleazy characters, zombies, freaks and bizarre plots. Death Proof and Planet Terror now on dvd.

Once again Quentin Tarantino digs deep into American cinema subculture revisiting exploitation films; a genre of cheap production and prurient images. These films broke cinematic taboos, including explicit sex and nudity, explosions and destruction, drug and weird perverse plots. They were most popular in the 70s and were shown in so-called grindhouses, theatres offering a non-stop programme, which consisted of a double feature or double bill, a phenomenon in which theatre managers would exhibit two films for the price of one.

Along with long time friend Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn), Tarantino came up with the idea of filming a double feature like the ones grindhouses used to show. The result is Grindhouse, a film consisting of two separate feature film segments: Planet Horror, directed by Rodriguez, and Death Proof, by Tarantino. The first is a zombie tale and the latter, the story of a crazed man, played by Kurt Russell, who murders young women with his “death proof” stunt car.

Like in the traditional double bill, each feature is preceded by fake trailers for other exploitation films and coming attractions. One of those trailers, Werewolf Women of the SS, is directed by Rob Zombie and features Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu.

The film opened in April in the United States and it got positive reviews, although it performed poorly at the box office. However, for the rest of the world, Grindhouse has been split into two different movies: Death Proof, which premiers on 1 June and Planet Terror, which will arrive a little bit later on 20 July. In the international version, the features will have a different and extended cut. It is also possible that the fake trailers will be different as well. The extended version of Death Proof will be shown for the first time at the Cannes Film Festival.

The producers and Tarantino explained that the movie was cut in two because most non-English speaking countries would not understand the double feature tradition. However, many fans see it as a way of being forced to pay twice for what was originally conceived as a single film.


Grindhouse: Death Proof
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Danny Trejo and Timothy V. Murphy
Premiere: 1 June

Cinema DVD

Casino Royale

is based on
the  novel of the same name by the father
of Bond, Ian Fleming, and presents the first adventure of Bond just
after getting the status of 007: an agent with a license to kill. It combines
the best of the old Bond films with the use of the new technologies.

Daniel Craig
is convincing as the new Bond: virile, seductive, ironic and with a powerful
gaze not seen since Sean Connery himself. The “Bond girls”, Eva Green
and Caterina Murino, are sensual and wild; the action is brilliant; the
fights are vibrant; the baddies are perfect in their roles; Judi Dench
is superb as “M”; and the locations are astonishing.

The critics
loved the film and the audience loved Craig (especially the women), so why did
I not feel totally satisfied after watching the movie? Maybe I have become too
conservative or maybe I have started to get a bit tired of this continuous race
to show in the movies how the latest technologies are always available for
saving the world. Maybe since the last Mission:
trilogy, I have started to feel bored of so many games with
mobile phones, and so many satellites locating the “seed of the devil” in some
remote island in the middle of Pacific. I feel annoyed with this
“ultra-technological saturation” every time I try to watch a spy movie.

I liked the movie a lot. It is sometimes very explicit, even raw (like in James
Bond’s torture scene, which you can feel directly in your own testicles) but
you cannot deny that the film’s rhythm absorbs you for its 144 minutes.