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The Kids Are All Right – A Film Far Better Than All Right!!!

14 Aug

So far this year, it has become the year I have seen the least number of films since I started going to the movies—age 14.  Nevertheless, I don’t give up completely, as there are those little movies that from time to time pop-up, as it’s the case of the following films: The Kids Are All Right, The Disappearance of Alice Creed and Life During Wartime.  Each of these films have released over the last several weeks, but even those I am being a bit cautious about seeing.  I have heard great things about all three of them and Todd Solondz is the director of Life During Wartime, whose films I enjoy very much.

So, I went to the local theater to check out one of these films to end my curiosity, and I got tickets for Lisa Cholodenko’s new film The Kids Are Alright“. Not to be confused with the 1979 musical documentary by The Who, also called: The Kids Are Allright or their single by the same name.  Interestingly enough I don’t recall noticing this song being played during or after the film, which would have been perfect.  I did hear a couple of David Bowie songs however, which I enjoyed very much.

To my delight I ended up liking the film very much!  The film was poignant and felt very personal to the director, as Lisa herself had gone through something very similar herself, as she became pregnant in 2006 by the way of an anonymous sperm donor.

The film officially released to the general public following the LA Film Festival on July 31st, where it premiered locally.  The story centers around a lesbian couple, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), who each give birth to a girl and a boy respectively using the same anonymous sperm, donated by Paul (Mark Ruffalo), as we find out in the film.

Nic and Jules are in committed relationship until Paul comes back into the picture via the kids (Joni and Laser) desire to find out who their biological father was.  Their relationship is put to test indeed, as Jules—who is very insecure and dependent on Nic—realizes that something is missing in her life and that she’s bored, so she decides to just let go.  Nic on the other hand is a doctor who believes in rules and controlling the family, the breadwinner in the house.  Nic’s “exhaustingly controlling” behavior as Joni calls it becomes overbearing and begins pushing everyone away from her.  Jules’ stay-at-home mom life changes as she decides to begin her own landscape design business to start being more independent from Nic, and follow a new passion, as her children are all grown-up.  Joni is turning 18 and will be leaving for college and her little brother Laser isn’t so little anymore, as he is finishing high school soon, and will follow her shortly after.

Although Nic and Jules don’t want Paul to come into the picture, they are influenced by the kids to eventually all meet and make friends.  Little does Nic know of how much trouble this would really bring to her life?  Paul, a late 30s co-op farmer and restaurant owner comes into the picture, and the kids and Jules become very fond of him.  Nic and Jules’ relationship come to a to a point where it is fully compromised and they realize how much pain is causing one to the other once everything comes to light.  The climactic scene at the dinner table just when Nic was just beginning to feel comfortable with Paul is masterful.

Cholodenko’s subtlety is stirring, as one expects an all-out war at the dinner table, Nic just sits there in slow motion and just watches.  What the director is able to do here with this script is pure magic.  Her story is very compelling and the actors beautifully tell the story to the audience in a very organic way.  Annette Bening’s performance is a knockout!  She becomes Joni very convincingly, and mark my words; if there is any justice in Hollywood this performance should at least guarantee her a place on the Best Actress Academy Awards short list.  Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo were also very strong and delivered very solid performances.  And the kids were better than all right; they were perfectly casted, as at one moment—at the beginning of the film—they made the entire family feel like the perfect family.

The film is without doubt one of the few best films I’ve seen this year and highly recommended to anyone.  The film was released to universal acclaim since it premiered on January 25, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival and at the 60th Berlinale festival, where the film was awarded with a Teddy award.  The nation’s top critics rate the film 96 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, which says a lot about the film.  I rated 90% on my Icine book and highly recommend it to anyone to go see it!

I am also going to set away some time this summer to go see Solondz film: Life During Wartime and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, so stay tuned for reviews for those films to follow soon…

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What is Máncora???

25 Jun

Mancora PeruEl Peru’s one of most best-kept secrets for beaches and BIG surfing waves and a lot of sun is without doubt Máncora!

Máncora is the place to see and be seen along the Peruvian coast, where during the summer months foreigners flock to rub sunburned shoulders and enjoy on of Peru’s best sandy beaches, which stretches for several kilometers in the sunniest region of the country.   But getting there isn’t easy, as driving there can take up to 18 hours from Lima–the capital–or a couple of hours via plane.  Driving up to Máncora from Lima along the Panamericana Norte can be quite an experience, as one is traveling from the middle of the country to almost the northernmost part of this big nation that is actually bigger than it seems in most maps.  The country is quite arid along the coast and the Pan-American Highway takes one along the many deserted areas of Peru.

ASP+World+Tour+Movistar+Classic+Mancora+Peru+1xdfY8u03RzlBUT, how do I know this or anything about Máncora and what’s the relevance of it to ICINE?  Well, it’s simple; a GREAT new film released in the United States recently called the same as this gem beach community: Máncora.

mancoraFrom the director of “La Mujer de Mi Hermano” (My Brothers Wife), and the writer of “Voces Inocentes” (Innocent Voices), Ricardo de Montreuil comes Máncora, a tender and pulsating road-trip drama that delicately traces the shifting emotional boundaries between three disconnected souls.  Máncora introduces us to Santiago, a 21-year old from Lima who is haunted by his father’s recent and unexpected suicide. Suffocating in the chill of a grey Lima winter, Santiago decides to take refuge in Máncora, a beach town in the north of the country where summer never ends.   Right before his departure, Santiago receives an unexpected visit from his stepsister Ximena, a vibrant, sexy Spanish photographer and her husband Iñigo, a brash art collector from New York.   The tranquility of their getaway is quickly shattered by a powerful act of boundary-crossing and betrayal, which threatens to transform their relationship forever and turn Máncora in to a paradise lost.

ing_esp_copyThe film begins with a lovely poem excerpt from César Vallejo’s–a great Latin American writer/poet from El Peru– from Los Heraldos Negros (The black messengers), which as you will see in the film is Santiago‘s gift from his father.  And the excerpt reads…

Hay golpes en la vida tan fuertes . . . ¡Yo no se!
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos;
la resaca de todo lo sufrido se empozara en el alma
¡Yo no se!  …

The film is reminiscent of Y Tu Mama Tambien with fresh new faces to us–in reality these are very talented actors in their own countries and IberoAmerica—that takes us on a road trip searching fordiscovery.  The film has poetic undertones and raw look at life growing up and searching for what path one is to follow and its meaning and place in life.  Ricardo de Montreuil‘s collaboration with Angel Ibargurent and Juan Luis Nugent (writers of the film’s screenplay), and Leandro Filloy’s cinematography, along with the precise casting of the main characters,, makes Máncora work, as great quality film that deserves to be noticed!

3306133584_30f57915d9During this time of mediocre to BAD films out there, little independent/foreign films like this are those that need to be discovered, enjoyed and tell others about, so I am doing my part.  I don’t want to provide with too much in depth information or details about it other than what’s been provided, but I assure you, you WON’T be disappointed!

It’s a universal story of discovery, growing up, going through difficult times–death, depression, etc.–love, friendship and family, with likeable characters in a very fresh new place to most of us Máncora, before now have you ever heard of it?

3313639819_c32d6bab43Now you know what it is, where it is and what this movie is all about…is playing in selected cities in the US, including Los Angeles’ Laemmle Theatres, which I highly recommend as an independent art house/boutique theatre group to support.

Go see it and tell everyone you know about this great film!

TWO THUMBS WAY UP FOR “UP”!!!

11 Jun

3542206004_8e1999967cThis Summer has been a very lackluster one for movies, take films like the new “Terminator” or “Angels & Demons” as a couple of examples of films that disappointed the audiences, critics and Hollywood studio executives.  BUT, there is some hope, as Animated Films seem to be taking over Hollywood in popularity and success.  One of those films is “UP”, which is this year’s “Wall-E”!

disney-pixar-up-movie-poster-2“UP” is the story of a young adventure spirited girl named Ellie and a boy named: Carl.  They both dream of going to a Lost Land in South America, but Ellie never gets to make that dream true together, but Carl manages to make it finally happen in her honor. Carl’s determination and believing in such a place–Lost Land--makes makes this dream possible, by making his beautiful house fly away with the help of a thousand balloons.  However, he gets a surprise on aboard, an 8 year old boy named Russell, who is trying to get an assisting the elderly badge, which he fully earns by the end of this story.  Together, they embark in an adventure, where they encounter talking dogs, an evil villain and a rare bird named Kevin!  The characters: Kevin, the main dog and their funny voices and Russell are a simply a joy!

Movie-PosterP-up-5260571-342-500Like “Wall-E”, “UP“, is a collaboration of Pixar and Disney, and as expected, it is touching, funny, moving, thrilling and a pleasure to watch!  The characters are very human and the story is universal, about the power of love, dreaming and believing and determination, and all the trials and tribulations of life.  But, it’s all done in a very entertaining and curious adventourous approach!
And what I love the most about Pixar is their cleverly and brilliantly executed animated shorts leading into the feature film; they are always a pleasure to watch.

This is a as a great family affair film, so take mom, dad, kids, grandparents…to see this great visual treat this Summer!

You will be entertained, delighted and moved, guaranteed!!!

For something “UP” is the best rated film to-date on Rotten Tomatoes with an impressive 98% rating, so this is a must SEE!

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SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS…ARE THEY WORTH THE TIME?

8 May

Last weekend my friends dragged me to go see X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as they have been hungry to see this type of action/popcorn/comic character flicks this year and X-Men’s release marked the official 2009 Summer Blockbuster release schedule that attempts to satiate these fans.  But will these films REALLY succeed in satiating their fans?

x-men-origins-wolverineAs Rotten Tomatoes critics agrees X-Men is a VERY DULL slapstick film that proved to be uninventive and a total bore during its first half and slightly better its remaining time.  This is not a good sign for the slew of big Hollywood blockbusters releasing this year yet again…particularly, when people are simply looking for a good quality movie or at the very least a decent film!

Here is the proof…read this blurb from the UK Sunday Times about X-Men:

Ratings ImageX-Men Origins is really a series of action sequences, the usual mix of bangs, chases and fights, held together by a plot so predictable that you get no points for guessing right.”

Are the rest of the films, scheduled to be released during Hollywood’s biggest money making time, going to make a big splash this year with critics and fans?

So, far X-Men has proven to be strong at the box office on its opening weekend, but will it stand to survive younger and fresher approaches to a franchise like Star Trek–which releases this week?  Just time will tell…word of mouth from fans and critics will get around and big budget films sales will taper off, as new films are released every week, creating an over crowded field for films and more competition among them!

BUT, what about other smaller films that are really worth seeing and are getting critical acclaim and are releasing this summer?

Those are the films people should be watching and provide with a great alternative to loud non-sensical big budgeted films!

Here are a couple of some great Indie Films that I highly recommend this weekend!

Rudo Y Cursi

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A great follow-up to Y Tu Mama Tambien: starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, directed by Alfonso Cuaron’s brother, Carlos Cuaron and produced by the “great three Mexican Musketeers: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro”.

Synopsis: Beto (Diego Luna) and Tato (Gael García Bernal) Verdusco are brothers who work at a banana plantation and also play soccer for the village team. Nicknamed “Tough” because of his personality and football style, Beto dreams of becoming a profes…

Little Ashes

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Synopsis: A romantic story about the young life and loves of artist Salvador Dali, filmmaker Luis Buñuel and writer Federico Garcia Lorca. In 1922, Madrid is wavering on the edge of change as traditional…

Starring: Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson, Matthew McNulty, Marina Gatell

Director: Paul Morrison

The Limits of Control

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The Limits of Control is the story of a mysterious loner (played by Mr. De Bankole), a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged. His journey, paradoxically both intently focused and dreamlike, takes him not only across Spain but also through his own consciousness.

Starring: Isaach de Bankolé, Bill Murray, Gael Garcia Bernal, Tilda Swinton

Director: Jim Jarmusch

GO SEE THESE FILMS!!!