CINE REVIEWS

Bong Joon HO Review by Antonio Lourenço, 7th August 2021

The authentic and original south Korean film Director, Producer and screenwriter, reveals himself in contemporary cinema, intelligent and emotional, sometimes with biting humour and emphasis on strong social components, raising questions and social inequalities, GENRE-MIXING, BLACK HUMOR, AND SUDEN TONE SHIFTS.

Considered one of the best directors, especially after winning Cannes Palma d'Or, in 2019. It addresses family and drama with contours of the psychological thriller and suspense. A journey in search of that point, metaphorical which can erase the traces of pain.

Bong shows the Korean actors, constantly eating (as they are endowed with excellent cuisine) and disabled young people also appear, by creating false and metaphorical situations in order to provoke violent actions, sometimes with blood, and using flashbacks between the plans, not revealing the happened crimes, he let us get involved and causing the spectators anxiety and some anguish and reflections, letter involved in the riddle, whose criminal is it (?).

FILMOGRAPHY

BARKING DOG NEVER BITE=Flandersui Gae- (2000) is a black comedy. We are advised at the beginning that "no animal was harmed during the filming.

MEMORIES OF A MURDER=Salinui Ghueck- (2003)- crime thriller (one of the best)! ,

THE HOST (2006)- the monster film,

Tokyo (2008), 

MOTHER=Madeo-(2009)- Corajouse mother to prove is sun was not guilt, 

"SNOWPIERCER (2013)- Science fiction action film, 

ONJA (2017)-a super pig,

PARASITA (2019)-Oscars 2020- Academy Awards: best picture, Best Director, International Feature Film and best original screenplay.

Snowpiercer: Science Fiction film, spoken in English. It was inspired by the comic strip "La TRNSPECENING". Review by Antonio Lourenço, 7th September 2021

All the action takes place in a dystopian future and is related to climate change.

The inability of human beings and groups to act, in the face of the unknown.

The experience almost ending with the world population, except for the inhabitants of Snowpiper.

An extensive railway engine, that circulates throughout the Planet, via a railway.

After the disaster, the train is divided into two social classes: the front occupied by the privileged class and the tail by the working and poor classes.

It was decided to organize a revolution in order to take control of the machine!

Instantly famous Review by Nuno Carvalho, 2nd May 2021

In Fake Famous, journalist and writer Nick Bilton carries out a social experiment that proposes to make three young adults from Los Angeles with no discernible talent illustrious influencers on Instagram, making them artificially "famous" in order to assess how their lives might change. An informative and enlightening documentary that questions the culture of appearance and the new "values" without so much value of the notorious new world of "notables" of social media. 

In times gone by, to achieve fame you had to have talent, unusual skills, intelligence, merit and a good capacity for work (and sometimes even sacrifice). Above all were famous people like actors, writers, musicians, people who distinguished themselves in their field by the merit of what they did. Fame usually ended up being a consequence of talent, of work that was recognised as being of value, quality or originality. Nowadays, and especially after the phenomenon of reality TV has definitively installed a new model of notoriety, you can be famous for nothing, without having done anything noteworthy to deserve it, without having any distinctive characteristic, but simply because you are "noticed" in any audiovisual space with good audience levels that favours media projection. And fame has also become the goal itself, fame for fame's sake, as in the myth of Herostratus (an obscure citizen of the ancient city of Ephesus who set fire to the Temple of Diana with the sole purpose of inscribe his name in history and become "famous", even if at the expense of the most infamous of acts).

This idea of the "banality of notoriety", in which it is enough to "appear" in a "channel" that allows visibility, has created popularity phenomena that are not sustainable for anything substantial, authentic vacuities fed by narcissistic vanity, a kind of beautiful packages with almost nothing inside, or the equivalent to advertising campaigns that are set up without there being any product or service really worthy of that name to sell and that are built from the outside in a kind of almost fetishistic dynamic of belief on the part of those who adhere to and believe in the "product" that end up creating reality – in a strategy somewhat identical to the "fake it until you make it", like a Pinocchio who wants and pretends to be flesh and blood so much that he ends up being it. In other words, you start with nothing, and with so much wanting and pretending you end up creating a reality that didn't exist. It's a bit like having a machine that produces money and being able to have a good life without the need to work hard – the reality of all that we can have and buy with it is very real. This is in fact what happens to the three influencers "forged" by the social experiment carried out in the documentary Fake Famous, the directorial debut of Nick Bilton, former technology journalist for The New York Times and Vanity Fair correspondent with published books on the effects of technology on human behaviour.

The aim was to test and verify to what extent it would be possible to artificially create an influencer. To do so, the director and his team randomly chose three people from Los Angeles (the city of dreams, where people go to try and achieve fame), after an advertised casting session with the question "do you want to be famous?" to which five thousand people responded and which was attended by four thousand (this alone shows that fame is the new gold of modern times). Three people were intentionally chosen who had very few followers on social media (namely Instagram, the digital platform favoured by influencers), and for whom fake followers, comments and likes were bought (on specific sites that sell these services), with the aim of observing how their lives would change.

With a trivial and average personality profile, and lacking the charisma necessary to be popular, these three people are going to follow very different paths. Dominique, a young aspiring actress who works in a clothing shop, starts receiving generous amounts of free products and invitations from brands to promote them, the calls for castings increase, and even the fact that she's perceived as "famous" becomes a supplementary aphrodisiac when she meets boys. It's a real game changer, literally everything in her life changes.

With the other two participants things go differently. Wylie, a personal assistant to a Beverly Hills real estate agent, ends up panicking and eclipsing himself under the pressure of the anxiety caused not only by the boom of likes and comments, but also when he begins to be questioned about the veracity of his followers (at one point, he is unmasked by an internet user who realizes that his "explosion" of popularity was leveraged by bots, advanced algorithms that simulate real followers). Chris, a designer and songwriter, ends up realising the falseness of that virtual world and concludes that he wants no part of it.

In a world dominated by image culture (but not always with visual culture) and by societies of spectacle, more and more people are evaluated by appearances and also "obliged", by the very laws of the market, to have significant acting talent (but what is life after all if not a big stage and all of us actors with various roles to fulfil and play?) However, as Fake Famous demonstrates, much of this valuing and demanding of fame is not only a huge hassle (sometimes it can be a lot of work not wanting to have a more ordinary job) but it ends up being futile, artificial and empty. And this becomes more evident when in the final part, filmed during the pandemic, many of the influencers continue to post images of luxurious, paradisiacal places when the whole world was locked up at home – the greater or lesser falseness of a lifestyle no longer matters (because much of the glamour is manufactured), but ethical issues are raised.

The truth is that in a time when it is increasingly important to defend causes and give good examples of life many influencers promote an ostentatious and consumerist lifestyle that, moreover, only serves themselves, and even ends up contributing negatively to the mental health of many people – it's easy for someone with a less strong psychological structure, especially if they are younger and less knowledgeable, to feel themselves losers and become unhappy with the (false) perception that almost everyone seems to have a fantastic life... Fake Famous dismantles this illusion, being very informative and relying on the intelligent, pleasant and empathy-generating presence of the director. Nick Bilton debunks a good part of the work of many digital influencers, who often turn out to be nothing more than teleshopping hosts. We could say that these bots are made for shoppin'...

"Fake Famous" is available on HBO

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!


 

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