Category Archives: Cinema

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Hi,

On January 2015, this was on the portuguese cinemas and I decided to watch it after being intrigued by its premise (it wasn’t my first choice, though, as I initially thought of seeing something else. But I ended up watching the movie I’m going to give an opinion as the first one wouldn’t be in the cinema that’s nearest to me). Talking about the 2014 movie “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”, made by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Regency Enterprises and Worldview Entertainment, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton in the leading role of Riggan Thomson

For starters, you can read more about the movie that recently won the Academy Award for Best Movie in here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birdman_(film)

As for the opinion regarding the movie:

I first saw the movie months ago in a cinema near me with my mother, my brother and my brother’s girlfriend and while my family wasn’t really digin’ it (they thought it was quite tiresome to watch. When I told them months later that it won the Oscar for Best Picture, they were suprised), I was mesmerized by the overall package

As someone that likes the art of acting, I understood the main character (Riggan)‘s attempt at reinventing himself as an actor, trying to prove everyone he can be more (+ writer and director) than just being famous for playing a superhero (Birdman, who still echoes in his own mind throughout the movie) – eventhough he’d face several obstacles in order to obtain that achievement, not to mention the fact that he also has to deal with his own personal problems

In a way, let’s just say the main story flows pretty well with the secondary plots: Riggan‘s difficult relationship with his formerly drug-addict daughter Sam, Sam‘s special relationship with Mike, the making of the play, theatre critic Tabitha‘s presence with some supposed threat flair in “killing” the play with her review (something that didn’t happen  and the) and the enigmatic ending are some of the other wonderful highlights that could be found in this movie

Without a doubt, Michael Keaton‘s finest hour by playing the role of sucha a faded and yet determined person as Riggan was (and this coming from a coincidence in one aspect: he had actually played Bruce Wayne/Batman in the first two movies of the titular character’s first big budget movie saga back in 1989 and 1992, made by Tim Burton)

But he couldn’t have done it without the help of a tremendous cast – big kudos to Emma Stone for her carefully intense portrayal of Sam, Edward Norton as famed actor Mike Shiner, Zach Galifianakis giving a subtle ironic comedy touch with his character Jake, and scottish actress Lindsay Duncan for her performance as tenacious theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson

Gotta love the improvised music Antonio Sánchez: so electrifying and tempestuous. And finally, kudos to Alejandro G. Iñárritu who masterfully directed the movie and brought in the philosophical move it deserved

All in all, a movie about acting that I’d reccomend to those who either like a thoughtful and topical drama or who likes the acting world

Last, but not least – one of the movie’s trailers:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (short) (1983)

Hi,

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As Christmas is getting near, I’m going to give my opinion on a minor Christmas staple (two years ago, I did it for the classic Christmas TV-special “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). Coming from Walt Disney Pictures, here’s the 1983 short animated feature “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (adaptated from Charles Dickson‘s famed story “A Christmas Carol”, released in 1843), directed, produced and co-written by Burny Mattinson

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General plot: 1843, Victorian EnglandChristmas Eve – generally, everyone is into the spirit of Christmas. Well, not everyone – Ebenezer Scrooge (portrayed by the character Scrooge McDuck)‘s way of living has always been in the function of money, making him visibly cold, selfish and greedy with other people, such as his current head Bob Cratchit (portrayed by Mickey Mouse), the charity collectors Rat and Mole and even his nephew Fred (portrayed by Donald Duck)

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In the evening, Scrooge gets the visit of a ghost – that of Jacob Marley (portrayed by Goofy), a greedy former business partner – who warns him that if he doesn’t change his ways, the similiar fate that occured with his ex-partner could indeed happen. For that reason, he will be visited by three spirits in a few hours’ course

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The three spirits represent the three main courses of time during Christimas time:

– The Ghost of Christmas Past (portrayed by Jiminy Cricket), who recalls him the time when he lost his sweetheart Isabelle forever (portrayed by Daisy Duck) due to his obesession for money, foreclosing their supposed honeymoon cottage’s mortgage from the moment Isabelle payed her dues one hour late

– The Ghost of Christmas Present (portrayed by Willie the Giant), who shows him how his head (Bob Cratchit)‘s family

– The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (portrayed by a somber figure, later revealed to be Black Pete), who takes him to the graveyard and witness the funeral of Cratchit‘s ill son, Tiny Tim... and of his own (from which the most frightening sequence of the movie happens before the end of the third spirit’s visit – almost entering into hellish bounds)

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After the terror, Scrooge is suddenly awaken on Christmas Day. A premontion of having been given a second chance, he goes all the way to visit the Cratchit family – but not without cheerfully donating amounts of money to the collectors and telling to his nephew Fred  he’ll appear on his holiday feast. Once he arrives to Cratchit‘s house, he tries to play a joke on Bob, making him think the sack he brought is filled with laundry and . To everyone’s suprise, the sack is actually filled with toys and a big turkey for dinner – plus, he gives Bob a raise and a partnership in the counter house. The story then ends with a thoughtful quote from Tiny Tim: “God bless us, everyone!”

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My opinion: This was the very first animated adpatation of Charles Dickens“A Christmas Carol” I’ve ever seen on my childhood and it captivated me from the first moment I saw it on my family’s videotape (dubbed in brazilian portuguese) – certainly a nostalgic moment whenever I see this countless of times

The story is surely well adaptated in a modern approach that doesn’t feel too dated, with a good sense of humor and tenderness – it’s as if Charles Dickens was one of the writers of the screenplay himself

The animation, done amazingly well (as per usual with the Walt Disney Pictures company) for a short movie of its kind, really gets that sheer spirt of Christmas of that era. Of course it’s below the many animated movies the company had done before for , but there’s still something quite intriguing and sweet that makes it all worthwhile

In terms of the Disney characters’ portrayal of the story’s characters and voice acting, well… everything is spot on – I dare say Scrooge Duck got the biggest animated moment of his life since the character’s creation before going to the TV-series “Ducktales”, created in the late 80’s

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All in all, an interesting approach to Dickens‘ story – something that only the staff from the Walt Disney Pictures could see it coming with some minor changes from the original source. Expressly recommended to the ones who like to see different adaptations of classic Christmas inspired stories or novels

As last treat, here’s a documentary about the making of the short animated movie at the time:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

The Reluctant Dragon (short) (1941)

Hi,

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I’m doing something different this time: instead of a full movie, my review will solely be based on a short segment of the movie. Talking about “The Reluctant Dragon”, a 1941 tour guide movie from Walt Disney Pictures directed by Alfred Werker (live action footage when touring the Walt Disney studios) and Hamliton Luske (animation sequences) and produced by Walt Disney. More about the movie in here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Reluctant_Dragon_(film)

The short animated segment in question is based on the novel of the same name as the movie written by Kenneth Grahame in 1898, itself based on the legend of Sir George and his fight against a dragon in Berkshire Downs, Oxfordshire

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General plot of the short: The story begins  with The Boy (a young but smart and caring person in his own way) reading a book about knights and dragons. Meanwhile, his father (a shepherd) comes all of a sudden claiming he has seen a monster – to what his son reasures it’s a dragon (that reassurance is not even better as his father runs to the village in panic)

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Next thing we know, the boy goes to where The Dragon lives and tries to warn him about the fact that the villagers might certainly come after him. The fact, though, is that the dragon is not an ordinary one, but rather a sensitive, peaceful and poetic one, as well as he isn’t apparently aware of the dangers he’d should face for what he is

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Things could’ve gotten complicated with the arrival of Sir Giles (in the novel, he’s called Sir George, just like in the real life legend), if it wasn’t for the fact that he too is a poet. Either way, he’s now the only person the boy can rely on to convince the dragon about fighting. After a feasty cultural picnic and some talks about the fight, Sir Giles and the dragon get to an agreement (eventhough the dragon himself is terribly reluctant, even after he had made the decision of fighting (it’s known that he actually doesn’t like fighting. He never did that in the first place). He even tried to tell the knight he had changed his mind again to no avail)

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Either way, on the next day, the fight starts. And from then on, everything happens until the very end of the short segment (I rather not say the end of the story for “spoiler” reasons)

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My opinion: A charming, underrated piece of story. Eventhough I think Disney could have done a bit more with it (like including it in one of those future “package” movies from the official animation movie canon of Walt Disney Pictures or expanding it to a feature film, separate from the movie it came in), I believe it’s quite a very good effort

The animation, for the 1940’s standards, is good for what it was: kudos to the animation department for their work in this animated short sequence. Nice music score from Charles Wolcott as well

But the best of the short are, without a doubt, the characters: the boy with his sense of caring and realism (it might not be that apparent on the short, but he actually becomes a real friend to the dragon. At least, that’s what I believe deep inside my heart), Sir Giles with his Don Quichotte-like personality (the difference is that he’s lucid, unlike Cervantes‘ titular character) and the dragon with all his pure sensitiveness (his actions might be a bit effeminate at times, but then again, that’s his charm. Either way, he’s exquistely likeable) makes a perfect threesome of characters, with the dragon being the one that shines the most in the story: he’s undoubtely memorable (kudos, by the way, to the voice actors who portrayed the three main characters, especially Barnett Parker for his sucessfull voice acting as the reluctant dragon of the story: it certainly was sensitively unique and refreshing)

All in all, a good upbeat sequence where everything happens without being either too slow or too fast, just as normally paced as it could be. It might not be the best thing the Disney staff has ever created, but it certainly is great to watch. I’d mostly recommend this to either Walt Disney Pictures fans and/or the animation fans

As last treat, here’s the complet segment (in english… and also in japanese):

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Paranorman (2012)

Hi,

The movies are back to my blog. And this time being an animated movie: “Paranorman”, a 2012 3D stop-motion animation comedy horror family film made by Laika Studios (the same ones who created “Coraline”), directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler (the latter also wrote the screenplay for the movie)

More informations about the movie in question, you can read it in here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ParaNorman

General plotBlithe Hollow, Massachusetts – that’s where Norman Babcock, a thoughtfull and yet introverted and misunderstood kid who has the ability to speak with the dead, lives and that’s where the story takes place overall. A story that is divided into two important phases: the first one being Norman and his problems: due to his ability of speaking with the ghosts, he’s emotionally apart from his family, while he’s totally ridiculed by his peers in school. Luckily, there’s one person who has faith in him: Neil Downe, a full-of-life but overweight kid who is equally bullied for some reason. He quickly becomes a true friend of his

The second phase becomes the most active part of the movie: from time to time, a ritual takes place in the town’s cemetry in order to protect the city from a curse caused by an event that took place there (in the 1700’s, a medium girl (with the same age as Norman) was wrongfully convicted by the town council as they mistook her powers as witchcraft. This mistake has become the principal cause of the town’s curse). The previous person in charge of the ritual was Norman‘s estranged uncle, Mr. Prenderghast, who soon passes away after their encounter. Now, it’s all up to Norman to stop the curse once and for all

Now, for the opinion regarding the movie: while I’m not really into stop-motion movies, I found this one highly enjoyable (by the way: apart from this, the Wallace & Gromit franchise, “Chicken Run” and the other stop-motion animation movie released in 2012 (“Frankenweenie”) join to my list of good animation movies of its genre at the moment). Apart from the usual overlayed dosis of comedy that can be found on several current animation movies (but played well on this movie), there are two things I liked very much on the story: its respectful but total fun hommage to the horror genre and its reasonable, pure and correct treatment of important themes such as bullying, ignorance, understanding and friendship

I applaud the Laika crew for the hard work they put into the movie: all vivid, colorful and original on its own way. The list of characters in the movie is quite eclectic and appealing, but I have to give special kudos to Kodi Smit-McPheeJodelle Micah Ferland and Tucker Albrizzi for doing a great job voicing the most enduring characters of the movie (in my opinion, that is): Norman, Agatha and Neil, respectively

All in all, I totally recommended it to animation fans and also to those who like a cohesive and well-crafted story in a animation movie without much exaggerations, as well as anyone who likes cinema in general

Last, but not least – one of the trailers from the movie:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

Hi,

Back to the movies and to a highly interesting biographic movie (from my point of view) that I’ve recently watched. Talking about “My week with Marilyn”, a 2011 british drama made by The Weinstein Company and BBC Films, directed by Simon Curtis and based on two non-fictional diary books made by Colin Clark (who debuted in the world of cinema as a personal assistant on the movie that is biographed in the Simon Curtis‘ movie), “The prince, the showgirl and me” and “My week with Marilyn”

For starters, the movie on biography had as work title “The sleeping prince” but later it was changed what we know nowadays as… “The prince and the showgirl”. More informations about the movie in question, you can read it in here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince_and_the_Showgirl

General plot: Recently graduated, Colin Clark (encarnated by Eddie Redmayne) is an aspiring filmmaker that goes to London in hopes to work on Laurence Olivier (encarnated by Kenneth Branagh)’s next movie production. After meeting him and by Vivien Leigh (encarnated by Julia Ormond)’s insistence, Colin gets his first movie job as Laurence‘s (and later of the leading actress of the movie) personal assistant. One of his first assignments is to find a suitable and calm place for the star of the movie, Marilyn Monroe (encarnated by Michelle Williams) and her husband, Arthur Miller (encarnated by Dougray Soctt) to live temporarily

At the same time the movie is being made (with all of its problems, benefits, etc…), Colin falls in love with a wardrobe assistant, Lucy (encarnated by Emma Watson), and they start dating, eventhough soon things would change as Colin starts to have a growing infatuation on Marilyn (assisting her when it’s needed. This soon would come as close to a love relationship). More situations and troubles do come and go until we get to the ending of the movie’s production and with “My week with Marilyn” movie coming to an end with a musical performance by Marilyn Monroe (the “MWWM” movie also started that way)

Now, for the opinion regarding the movie: I was interested to see the movie due to its original premise and story. And I wasn’t disapointed at all…: there’s this odd and yet cohesive balance between drama (Marilyn and her fears of not getting a great performance, as well as her personal life), romance (explicitally the faded love triangle Colin x Lucy x Marilyn) and comedy (parts of the making of the movie) that makes it a very enjoyable movie to me. Visually, the production is quite remarkable as their details are just spot on (well, the movie was made in the same studios “The prince and the showgirl” was made: Pinewood Studios. Watch out, though, for Michelle Williams‘s luxurious musical performances in the beginning and in the end of the movie: beautifully concieved). The soundtrack of the movie is also enjoyable to hear

In terms of performances, Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe was convincingly perfect, recapturing the exuberance and yet fragility the actress really had (although her voice doesn’t seem to sound like Marilyn itself at all), while Kenneth Branagh was equally perfect and convincing as Laurence Olivier in so many aspects (of course, Laurence Olivier will always be unmatchable and unbeatable. But I think Kenneth defended the actor’s personal attitudes and atributes as brilliantly as he could) – their nominations at the 84th Academy Awards as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively were highly deserved. Nice appearances of Julia Ormond and Judi Dench as well, encarnating the actresses Vivien Leigh and Sybil Thorndike respectively

All in all, if you like biographic movies about a person or an event, this should be one of the biographic movies on your hot list of movies to be seen as quickly as possible

Last, but not leastthe trailer of the movie:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)