mamma mia! (2008)

by zEke

mamma mia! es también el título del archiconocido musical de Catherine Johnson que se recrea en esta película, además del título de uno de los números uno del grupo sueco ABBA, cuyas canciones son la excusa del embolado. Y algo que podría parecer aislado no lo es, pues algo parecido le pasa a The Beatles con across the universe (2007) y Village People con can’t stop the music (1980). Musicales los hay de todos los colores, algunos más brillantes que otros y mamma mia!, a pesar del constante centelleo de fondo del Mediterráneo, brilla poco.

La historia, inspirada en el argumento de buona sera, mrs. campbell (1968), es tan simple como inofensiva. Al fin y al cabo se trata de entretener. Sophie Sheridan está a punto de casarse en una paradisíaca isla griega en la que su madre Donna (Meryl Streep) regenta una posada. Pero su vida no es de color de rosa, pues de lo contrario no habría canciones por cantar. Sophie desconoce la identidad de su padre y resuelta a descubrirla decide invitar a la ceremonia a los tres apuestos candidatos, Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgård), Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan) y Harry Bright (Colin Firth). Tan sencillo como investigar lo que acontecía en el diario de su madre veinte años atrás. Continue reading

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hedwig and the angry inch (2002)

by zEke

hedwig and the angry inch posterLet’s be straight, I said it, if you end seeing this movie is either because you know what to expect, or because someone whose taste you trust has recommended it to you. There is little chance for chance here. Thus, me watching it was not chance either, a friend whose taste I trust every now and then recommended it to me and I will not call him back complaining. Is it that good? Yes, and no.

Do you like musicals? That is probably the first question you need to ask yourself. hedwig and the angry inch is by all means a musical. It is based on the off-Broadway homonym musical by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. Guess what? Both Mitchell and Trask are also behind the jump to the big screen. Is that enough? It is if you are down for a rock musical. This is definitely closer to the rocky horror picture show (1975) than the sound of music (1965). Up to the point that if you do not know anything about the former and love the latter you might better do something else. Continue reading

sweeney todd: the demon barber of fleet street (2007)

by zEke

sweeney todd posterOnce again Tim Burton. Once again a musical. This time, though, with real actors. And among them, once again, Johnny Depp. And it has been already six the collaborations between the Gothic filmmaker and the idiosyncratic performer. They dare now to reinvent the Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical of the same title, a musical that hit Broadway back in 1978 and has been touring since. Of course, and these days this is not news anymore, the story of the demon barber of Fleet street had been visited many times before, including three minor feature films in the thirties and a recent television movie with Ben Kingsley. On the other hand, being a character so popular in the English folklore that is not surprising.

Fictional or not, Sweeney Todd is an English villain and serial killer that has appeared in English language works since the nineteenth century. He is a barber that cuts his victims’ throats with a straight razor. Victims, whose corpses are baked later into meat pies and sold by Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crime.

This is precisely the cornerstone of Burton’s film. The barber Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is unjustly sentenced to a life of forced labor in Australia by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) who steals from him his wife and daughter. Fifteen years later he escapes and is back in London, where he meets baker Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), seeking revenge as Sweeney Todd.

This is, above all, a movie that moves along through songs rather than dialog. It is through the songs that the story is delivered. Those who love the genre will be in their element. Nevertheless, those who are not friends with songs on screen will have a hard time to let themselves be seduced by a story that develops at a low pace for longer than they would have liked it. After the solid preamble the action stabilizes and Burton beats around the bush while waiting for an excellent but late final bloody climax. Something I cannot argue is the excellence of the setting, the beautifully shot black and blood (loads of) London that Burton’s camera goes constantly through, the melancholy of a decadent scenario, the power of the omnipresent tunes, in one word, the style. Yes, this movie is stylish, yes it is.

And then Depp. Truth is, none of the characters he plays can be labeled as usual. Sweeny Todd is just another eccentric odd character to add to his long collection of freak performances. And, to be honest, it is obvious to me that he really enjoys performing those characters. You can like his mannerisms more or less, but you cannot deny that each of his performances drink of his joy for good. Here, he knows how to get his character drunk of the dark humor and melancholy that the film emanates. Bonham Carter, who tends to make me think all the characters she performs are relatives, counts one less collaboration with Burton, despite of being the mother of his son. About Rickman I will just say he shows the same exact faces he showed in perfume: the story of a murderer (2006).

Being overall a decent movie, one leaves the cinema convinced that the three hour long musical might have definitely been more amusing.

For the deadhours of gothics and those who were missing the scissors of Edward and do not need much to be content.

deadrate: δair

official site | imdb

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dr. plim’s word

God… what a bad movie.

I watched this movie over 2 months ago and when I found out that it had been nominated for an Academy Award, a.k.a. The Oscars, (Johnny Depp for best performance by an actor in a leading role) I just had to write something about it.

Firstly, I don’t accept the excuses like “this is a Tim Burton movie”, or “you have to like Tim Burton to appreciate this movie”. It is true that movies have different genres but if we kept making up classifications for each director then there would be no standard of “good movie” or “bad movie”. Instead it would be “Coen brothers movie”, “Tim Burton movie”, “Almodóvar movie” etcetera etcetera. Directors do have their individual styles but something more than that is necessary to make a good movie.

Secondly, the lyrics to the songs are really trivial. Perhaps that was totally intentional, he meant to make the characters say in song (and I have a real hard time calling it “song”!) exactly the same phrases two random people say to each other.

Thirdly, the plot is boring. The movie felt slow and boring.

Forthly, Johnny Depp plays a person with no-affect. He has the same expression the whole time. Ok, he is playing someone who is traumatized and it is true that such people can be challenged in terms of showing emotion… so he should have won the Oscar for best traumatized-no-affect actor.

Tim Burton, director of some great movies such as beetle juice (1988), batman (1989), who can forget edward scissorhands (1990), the animated the night before christmas (1993), the funny mars attacks (1996), and the smart big fish (2003). sweeney todd sure contains his signature of noir, or gore, but lacks in terms of acting, in terms of plot, and in terms of the words that come out of their mouths.

deadrate: εad

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enchanted (2007)

by zEke

enchanted posterIt has already been a while since the last time I went to the cinema with my parents. It will still be a while until I go to the cinema with my nephews to born (polite way to avoid referring to  have my own children while encouraging my sister to rush). Nevertheless, I went and sat, mostly among parents and children, to enjoy a movie that has fairy tale written all over it.

After their come back from wherever they went, mainly due to the success of ratatouille (2007), Disney strikes back, once again, with a movie that reinvents, or at least tries, the way fairy tales are told, and show that in one single under two hours movie there is room for live action, traditional animation and computer generated imagery without getting indigestion. Kevin Lima’s cocktail mixes all the available ingredients and comes out with a movie that while inevitably cloying every now and then, is full of charm.

Giselle (Amy Adams) lives, and sings, in Andalasia, an animated world where animals talk, and sing. She is engaged to Prince Edwards (James Mardsen), who also sings, but in order to remain queen, his stepmother Queen Narisa (Susan Sarandon) sends her to the real, and cruel, world. There, she meets Robert Phillip (Patrick Dempsey), who does not sing, and learns, while waiting to be rescued by her charming prince, that in Manhattan there is much more than just happily ever afters.

Adams might be the keystone of enchanted. This is because no other actress before has looked like an animated princess as much as she does, which might not necessarily be a good thing. I even had my doubts about her nature. It makes one believe that she has really steeped out from cartoon. Nevertheless, the rest of the cast is, by no means, as charming as she is. They are not able to set themselves free from a tendency to overact, which on the other hand, should not surprise anyone in a movie like this, and will delight the children it is mainly made for. At least those who still keep their innocence.

Even though the format is innovative, it is not as much as one might think it is. In the end, what Lima delivers is a live action movie with computer generated animals, including a dragon with the voice of Sarandon, and a chipmunk that might perfectly be a relative of the ones from alvin and the chipmunks (2007). Traditional animation is only used in what turns to be an unattached but related prologue to the action, and then, sporadically, throughout the movie. Nothing to do with past things like cool world (1992) and who framed roger rabbit (1988). Here, traditional animation is just a source of characters to be thrown to the real world.

All in all, a charming movie with songs, a princess, a prince, a stepmother, a dragon, a little miss, a chipmunk and every other ingredient you would like to have in a fairy tale. Assuming you like fairy tales. Otherwise, and since it is made only for those who are going to go see it, you know what to do.

For the deadhours of those who proudly wear tiaras, speak to animals, and wait for them to answer.

deadrate: δair

official site | imdb