7 ART REVIEWS

 
The story about Joseph Losey Review by Antonio Lourenço, 7th April 2021

Was an American Director, Producer and screenwriter, that studied in Germany with Bertold Brecht. Blacklisted in Hollywood, in the 1950's, he moved to Europe where he made their remainder of his films, mostly in the United Kingdom. Among successful, were the films with screenplays by the dramaturg Harold Painter. "The Servant" and "The Go-Between" (1971) , "Monsieur Klein", (with Alain Delon), won the César awards.

Losey was four times nominee for:

  • Both the Palme d'Or, (winning once);
  • The Golden Lion;
  • And two times Bafta nominee (with Nicolas Ray), school classmates. Beginning as a student of Medicine and ending in drama.

The writer Sinclair Lewis offered to Losey his first work, written for the stage: "Jay Hawker", to directing a theatre in New York.  Losey visited “The Soviet Union” in 1935, to study the Russian stage and a seminar on film, taught by the famous Sergei Eisenstein. Also met Bertold Brecht and the composer Hans Eisler. From 1946-47, he directed several plays on Broadway worked with Bertold Brecht and the actor Charles Laughton in the US. Losey went, with Both Losey and Brecht, in the House Un-American Activities Committee (anti-communist). After this, the following day he left US (the land of "Liberty")! At “The Maxine Elliot Theater”, he went on with the play "Life of Galileo". Again, with C.Laughten in the role. Losey's first feature film was a political allegory " The Boy With Green Hair"(1947). The Producer of Fritz Lang's classic "M" hired Losey to Direct a remake.

In 1946, he joined the Communist party. Meanwhile,  Howard Huges began purging it of leftists and Losey ask to release him of his contract and left for Italy, after one year returned. Stelled, in London, did his first film " The Sleeping Tiger"(1954) under the pseudonym Victor Hanbury, feared being blacklisted by Hollywood, based on the play by Harold Pinter's screenplay:

  • "The Servant"(1963) (forbidden by censorship in Portugal);
  •  "Accident"  (1967);
  • And "The Go-Between" (1971) with Britsh Academy Film award with Grand Prix Special du Jury of Cannes Film Festival (1967).

Joseph Losey films are naturalistic and Expressionism. Worked with the famous playwriter Harold Pinter on the Marcel Proust´screenplay, but died before. Note:  Marcel Proust wrote 7 books: "A  La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"(In Search of Lost Time ) considered one of the best's  20th Century writer.

In 1975, realized a film on Brecht's "Galileo" and follows "Monsieur Klein".

In 1979, filmed Mozart's Opera "Don Giovanni, shot in Italy. Following: "LA Truit" with Isabelle Huppert.(1982)Nominated Golden Venice Lion.

He died at his home, in London, on June 22 (1984), four weeks after completing "Steaming", that was made on the year after his death.

Note: Hollywood blacklist MacCarthysm make so many victims. Also, like one of the greatest screenwriters, called Dalton Trombo, who refused to testify before that American Activities committee and have to work clandestinely on major films.  

While England sleeps Review by Nuno Carvalho, 6th February 2021

Written by Russell T. Davies (creator of Queer as Folk and Years and Years), It's a Sin, a five-episode miniseries from Channel 4 (available on HBO), centers on a group of friends living in a London apartment in the early 1980s, when the clouds of AIDS begin to loom on the horizon of the british gay community blown by the winds that bring bad news from across the Atlantic.

When 40 years have passed since AIDS was first recognized by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the US equivalent of the portuguese DGS), some fears and ghosts resurface that make us think of that era, if only because we find ourselves in the midst of another pandemic. Anyone who has lived through that era or read about it will recognize in It's a Sin, a Channel 4 miniseries that is available on HBO, some strange and unexpected parallels between the two epidemics, even though we are naturally talking about two very different situations.

However, just as there are coincidences between the coronavirus pandemic and that of the so-called “spanish flu” of 1918 (mainly in the fact that the second wave killed way more people than the first, and also because many people, just like now, relaxed their care due to fatigue), also the HIV/AIDS epidemic was initially marked by a lot of misinformation, rumours and speculations (as someone pointed out, fake news and conspiracy theories are not only a reality of the present time). However, although centered on the AIDS drama, It's a Sin is not just an “AIDS drama”, and that is also one of its assets – that it is not a one-tone song or a one-colour picture (the multiplicity of colours is always present).

But if the drama of 2020-2021 has as its main enemies a very fast virus and the stupid politicization that the far-right made of simple public health issues, the drama of It's a Sin, which covers a decade (1981-1991), has as its main antagonists the then mysterious virus that began killing gay men and the widespread homophobia (as we know, the press first called the disease "gay cancer", an expression that, despite the natural ignorance in the face of an unknown threat, was also unbearably homophobic and moralistic).

The story of this five-episode miniseries written by Russell T. Davies (creator of Queer as Folk), whose title comes from a well-known song by the Pet Shop Boys, centers on a group of friends living in a London flat in the early 1980s, when the AIDS clouds begin to loom on the horizon of the british gay community blown by the winds that bring bad news from across the Atlantic, while the rest of England sleeps (and will remain asleep for a long time to come, with the criminal complicity of the political establishment).

The first episode (which serves mainly the purpose of launching the characters, with the series gaining a crescendo of density and intensity from then on) begins with one of the protagonists, Ritchie Tozer (played by Olly Alexander, lead singer of the band Years and Years), aged 18, leaving his parents' house (who do not yet know that he's gay), on the isle of Wight, to go to London to study Law. Like the title of the Bronski Beat song that is part of the series' apt and accurate soundtrack, Ritchie is a typical smalltown boy who, as soon as he sees himself in the big cosmopolitan city, begins to freely explore his sexuality and flourishes in all its splendour. He is joined in the flat they christen Pink Palace by three other friends, in addition to Jill (Lydia West), his best friend and the only woman in the group: Ash (Nathaniel Curtis), a nice biracial teacher with whom Ritchie initially becomes involved, Roscoe (Omari Douglas), a construction worker who has defected from a conservative and religious nigerian family who believe he has been possessed by a demon (ah, the religious delusion, that great builder of bridges between men!), and Colin (Callum Scott Howells), a shy and more “square” but lovable welsh boy who works in a clothing shop, and who finds a mentor and friend in Henry (Neil Patrick Harris, in a brief but effective role), a kind and openly gay co-worker who has lived for 30 years with his boyfriend who will be forced by his family to return to Portugal when things start to go wrong (and, speaking of portuguese, and to give you an idea of the level of xenophobia in the days of thatcherism, at one point a portuguese man is referred to as “a bloody argie”, a derogatory english slang term that can be translated as a “damn argentine”). By the end of the first episode, the specter of the coming tragedy is already beginning to loom... 

Just as, in the current field of queer cinema, it is characteristic of the New Queer Cinema to portray its characters as ordinary people (flawed people, but also people with “a normal heart”, to quote the title of Ryan Murphy's telefilm of the same name based on Larry Kramer's play), so the characters in It's a Sin are portrayed as ordinary human beings (like common people, after all), with flaws, qualities, imperfections, talents, which is to say, with everything that characterizes a human being. They are neither pure angels nor evil demons, neither stereotypical villains nor idealized heroes, neither “unbalanced” poor things nor aseptic “normotics” or “monsters” with some form of supersanity or supersanctity – they are, of course, simply people (sensitive, indeed, and sometimes even fragile, without any of this being “wrong” or “abnormal”, quite the contrary!) And there may be a lot of existential pain and suffering caused by a terrible epidemic in this series with autobiographical echoes, but there are also many moments of glorious happiness. Because, after all, the true and worst “sin” is not to live our truths and not to try to be happy.

All episodes of ‘It's a Sin’, created by Russell T. Davies, and starring Olly Alexander, Keeley Hawes, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry, are available on HBO

"To the Stars" a movie of Martha Stephen Review by Antonio Lourenço, 24th November 2020

Lonely Iris, introverted girl, and friendless. And a new student appears, saving her in the constant bullying, loneliness and humiliation. 

The movie Director will cleverly profile their families. Iris repressive an religious parents with a passive father but Maggie, the new student, appears and becomes her only friend.

There's a certain atmosphere of mystery and doubt as to why they changed the cities. Iris has a psychosomatic reaction, but her "protector" will help to alter everything, creating a new creature, which was hidden inside her. 

Films of this complexity and analysis are not easy to make, but  they are the ones that define masterpieces.                                                                        

"Miss" (2020) of Ruben Alves Review by Antonio Lourenço, 12th October 2020

The French Film Festival kicks off in the middle of the pandemic with a program full of previews. Inaugurated with the film "MISS", with the protagonist the model Alexandre Wetter.

We warn you in advance that the Portuguese-French director Ruben Alves "Gaiola Dourada" (2013), is not concerned with knowing the sexual orientation of the protagonist.

Beginning with a 9-year-old boy, whose wish is to become Miss France, which is received with laughter by his colleagues. Years later, Alex, after losing his country, decides to run for the Miss France contest, hiding his male identity! With moments when he falters and loses self-confidence. A film full of glamour, filled with beautiful dresses by famous costume designers.

I Am Woman (2020) of Unjoo Moon Review by Antonio Lourenço, 1st October 2020

Based in the true story of the famous Australian/American singer, Helen Rubby, that composed and sang, a hymn to the fights for feminine rights. She was born in Melbourne, Vitoria, Australia. 

She married 3 times and the 2nd husband, Jeff Wald, became her manager, and with the support of him, reached a fantastic career. 10 times on top reached nº1, with her album. Helen comes from an Irish family. Now, she has dementia at 78 years old. Finished singing in 2002, and went to Australia, after singing in some musicals entered University and obtained a degree and practiced as a clinical hypnotherapist.

"I am a woman" A very good movie that absorbs us for almost 2 hours, don't lose it!


Roubaix, mercy ( 2019 ), a movie of Arnaud Desplechin Posted by Antonio Lourenço, 12th September 2020
Roubaix, a Christmas night. Commissioner Daoud travels the city that saw him grow. Cars on fire, altercations… At the police station, a new member, Louis Coterelle, has just arrived. Daoud and Louis are going to investigate the death of an elderly woman. Two young women, Claude and Marie, are questioned. Poor, alcoholic, lovers.
MATTHIAS & MAXIME, A MOVIE BY XAVIER DOLAN  Posted by Francisco Lacerda, 17th April 2020
Two childhood friends kiss for an amateur short film. After that kiss, however, a recurring doubt takes place, confronting the two boys with their doubts, disturbing or balancing their social circle.

“Finding my place will have been, as for most people, I imagine, the story of my twenties. For love, and trying to fill a feeling of imposture, I often made a fool of myself. Success is accompanied by isolation and before could realize, I’d lived most of my life so far alone. But after a few years, I saw people positioning themselves on my path, becoming the light in the dark I needed. I let them into my house, and they’ve been there ever since. 

As such, recently I’ve been able to discover (or rediscover) humans, with whom, before I was a director or screenwriter, I was able to be myself. What I gave, and for times I lost, in love, was returned to me by them. Deep down, more than doing movies, in the second half of my twenties, I made friends. Matthias & Maxime talks about friendships like these, inn another world and another story, where young people from different backgrounds, from different classes, reach a certain age and, at the turn of an era and its big questions, ask themselves, as I did, what their place is.” Xavier Dolan, April 2019.

VITA & VIRGINIA Posted by Francisco Lacerda, 1st October 2019

VITA & VIRGINIA is the true story of the passionate relationship between literary trail blazer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), and the enigmatic aristocrat Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton). The film tells the story of the birth of the novel their intoxicatin gencounters inspired; Woolf’s bold experiment in art and androgyny,‘Orlando’. When their paths cross, the magnetic Vita decides the beguiling, stubborn and gifted Virginia will be her next conquest, no matter the cost.

The film is a celebration of their unconventional bond; a vivid exploration of gender, sexuality, creativity and passion. VITA & VIRGINIA is a love story, told in a contemporary style, about two women -two writers -who smashed through social barriers to findsolace in their forbidden connection.

Ordem Moral, direction by Mario Barroso Posted by Francisco Lacerda, 12th September 2020
In 1918, Maria Adelaide Coelho da Cunha, heir and owner of Diário de Notícias, abandoned the social, cultural and family luxury in which she lived to escape with an insignificant chauffeur, 26 years younger. The consequences of this decision will be painful and devastating. Ordem Moral


"SUMMER 85" de François Ozon Review by Francisco Lacerda, 11th September 2020
The storyline of this movie have the question "What do you dream of when you're 16 years old and in a seaside resort in Normandy in the 1980s? A best friend? A lifelong teen pact? Scooting off on adventures on a boat or a motorbike? Living life at breakneck speed?" and the answer is: "No. You dream of death. Because you can't get a bigger kick than dying. And that's why you save it till the very end. The summer holidays are just beginning, and this story recounts how Alexis grew into himself."....

For me this point of view did not represented the beauty of this movie. It is a queer movie for sure, but not erotic . It is a movie to think about love. About the relationship between friends, family and two young teenagers. It is the 80's but when it comes to relations, everything turns intemporal.

#ANNE FRANK - PARALLEL LIVES, a documentary of Sabina Fedeli and Anna Migotto Posted by Francisco Lacerda, 11th September 2020

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt on June 12, 1929 and today she would be 90 years old. The documentary dedicated to her tells the story of her life through the pages of her diary: an extraordinary text that made the tragedy of Nazism known to millions of readers around the world, and revealed the brilliant intelligence of a young girl who liked to become a writer. 

Anne's story is interspersed with that of five Holocaust survivors, teenage girls like her, with the same ideals, the same desire to live, the same courage: Arianna Szörenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci.

Actress Helen Mirren, Oscar® winner for Best Actress for The Queen, is the documentary's special guide.

“ON A MAGICAL NIGHT”, A FILM BY CHRISTOPHE HONORÉ  Posted by Francisco Lacerda, 17th April 2020
After 20 years of marriage, Maria decides to leave, moving to room 212 of the hotel in front of her home. In that situation, she manages to scrutinize her apartment, her husband, her marriage, and wonders if she has made the right decision.

Christophe Honoré is a director and screenwriter, born in France, in the 1970s. He wrote for some of Gaël Morel’s films. His children’s book, Tout contre Léo, is famous in France for the clear speech he usesto talk about the virus that causes AIDS, HIV. Critics consider him to be the heir of nouvelle vague cinema.

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