Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.
Warm Bodies (2013)
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Warm Bodies is an alternative to traditional zombie flicks. It consists in a post-apocalyptic romantic tale, having Julie (Teresa Palmer) and R (Nicholas Hoult) as main characters. The former belongs to the world of the living and is the daughter of the human group’s leader, while the latter is a zombie who lives in an airport inside an airplane and didn’t lose hope on coming back to life. The direction was satisfying, maintaining the focus on the course of the story without getting lost on superfluous details, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie has lost intensity. The characterization was also positive while the plot was the weakest aspect, with the cold dead seeing the blood running again throughout their veins. Regardless this fact, the idea behind Warm Bodies has to be seen purely as amusing or comical, otherwise it would look ridicule. Although this film had the potential to be better, Jonathan Levine maintains his work interesting after the successful 50/50 (2011).
Directed by: Andrés Muschietti
Mama is a horror movie directed by the debutant Andrés Muschietti and produced by his sister Barbara together with J.Miles Dale and Guillermo Del Toro as executive. Its story was based on Muschietti’s short film with the same name, released in 2008. The film has an enigmatic and catchy start, but soon we realize that it would lose itself in technical details instead of a good story. Scary moments do exist but in less number than other silly ones, sinking completely our hopes in watching something frightful and less laughable. The plot revealed to be reckless in many aspects, while the fantasy was taken to extremes, with the hand of Del Toro being evident, yet forgetting that Mama was supposed to be a sore and choleric spirit and not a giant looking like an animated cartoon. Jessica Chastain presented charisma while the little girl Lilly, played by the young Isabelle Nélisse, was the scariest in her look and behavior. A rather uneven paranormal tale.
Rhino Season (2012)
Directed by: Bahman Ghobadi
Bahman Ghobadi went to Turkey to shoot Rhino Season, an introspective political thriller with lyrical tones and a very particular pace. 30 years ago, during the Iranian Revolution, Sahel Farzan, a Kurdish-Iranian poet was arrested due to his harmless non-political book entitled “Rhino’s Last Poetry”. His wife’s driver, who was in love with her, made a false accusation driven by envy. Released from prison, Farzan departs to Istambul to search for his wife who believes he has been dead for 20 years. Direction and photography are sublime in this story replete of metaphors. The end is open to multiple interpretations, but it’s clear that Ghobadi wants to show that Iran’s regime is drowning the creativity of its own artists and with that, is also sinking itself. There is no other alternative than to leave a country more and more intolerant to self-expression and parched in its ideas. Rhino Season is tragic and evinces a deep sadness and pain… a tough reality for all the oppressed Iranian artists.
Robot & Frank (2012)
Directed by: Jake Shreier
Robot & Frank is a futuristic comedy depicting an unlikely association between a man and a robot to perpetrate some criminal actions. Frank lives alone and is having problems with his memory. So, his son offers him a robot to help cleaning the house and make healthy food. Frank gets mad in the beginning but then has the brilliant idea to use the robot on what he does best: burglary. Frank Langella has a compelling performance as a compulsive thief, but Shreier’s first film has its flaws. Why Frank wasn’t arrested right away when it got proved that he had broke in the library to steal a precious book? The film’s development was time-consuming and not particularly funny, with the story starting to get a bit warmer after an hour. I cannot say this is a bad movie; its story is just not thorough enough to be remembered in its genre. Still, this robotic-crime-comedy should please those who have a taste for low-key crime films with a hint of futurism.
Stand Up Guys (2012)
Directed by: Fisher Stevens
Entertaining, is the best way to describe Stand Up Guys, a movie that joins Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as three ex-gangsters who meet again after 28 years. Val (Pacino), gotten out of prison, demands party all night long with everything he misses most: drugs, alcohol, women and dancing. He will be escorted by his best friend Doc (Walken), who was tasked with a cruel assignment before he retires. He will have to kill Val, following the orders given by a dreaded headman. Arkin plays a small role as driver, but introduces some zippy moments in a crucial phase of the story, turning it more vibrant. Among some laughable moments (mostly about nostalgia for the old times or sexual desire and performance), sporadic action and a handful of trivial jokes, Stand Up Guys will not leave its mark but is perfectly appropriate for a relaxed watching, not requiring attention to details or complex analysis about its simple story.
Promised Land (2012)
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Promised Land addresses environmental issues in a predictable and melancholic way. Steve (Matt Damon) and Sue (Francis McDormand) work for a Natural Gas company and were entrusted with the tough mission of collecting drilling authorizations from the land owners of a small town in Pennsylvania. Once there, they will find difficulties with some skeptical dwellers and with a newly arrived activist who claims that the land will be condemned to destruction if the drillings occur. Surrounding this story, we are faced with an indispensable love affair, terrible karaoke moments, some gatherings in pubs, a lot of lectures about millions of dollars, and some unconvincing twists and turns. Promised Land is torpid in its development and despite its good intentions, turned out completely unemotional. Van Sant needed some kind of trick to win us over, just as the gas company did in the film.