I care a lot

I care a lot ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: J Blakeson, Cast: Rosamund PikePeter DinklageEiza González, Dianne Wiest.

Bit of a conundrum here: is it possible to like a film where every single character is so despicable that it impossible to root for any of them? A film that uses the most evil cynicism to advance it black comedy and score a few laughs? A film which is morally deplorable in its depiction of exploiting the weak as the key to capitalism?Well apparently it is possible, because despite me wondering throughout “how can I possibly watch more of this bitch doing these awful things?”, I was absolutely glued to the screen without a single clue on how the whole things was going to pan out. There’s no denying that the film is nasty, some people may even have a problem with its bad taste (and they’re probably right), but at the same time it is constantly inventive, always surprising and infinitely addictive.

“I care a lot” proclaims at its start that “there’s no such thing as good people” and while I hope that’s not true, the film goes all the way to prove its. It exposes and makes fun of the corruption behind the healthcare system, the care for elderly and the loopholes within the legal systems. Let’s all just hope that the world depicted is a fictitious one… Let’s pretend this is a science fiction movie and take it as a joke.

Rosamund Pike plays a relentlessly ruthless, cruel, heartless, a calculative bitch, a cold predator who, in cahoots with doctors, retirement-home bosses, and lawyers, works the system to become the appointed legal guardian for rich elderly people so that she can then drain their bank accounts and their assets. She’s one of the most deplorable main character I’ve seen in a long time without any single redeeming quality and yet you can hardly take your eyes off her. She brings with her a delicious nastiness, which is hateful to start with and then it becomes fascinating to watch and almost hypnotic.

She’s won the Golden Globe for best comedy for this film and she deserves it 100%. As for the film itself, I thought it was incredibly “entertaining” and painful at the same time. It has divided critics and audiences right in the middle and for once I’m more with the critics.

I watched it on Amazon Prime, but apparently in some countries is on Netflix.

Shortlisted BAFTA Short Films (Part 1)

The Birth Of Valerie Venus (⭐️)

Director: Sarah Clift. Cast: Jane GuernierPaul HunterMohd Aslam 

A rather frustrated, lonely and long suffering vicar’s wife suffers a little accident which cleaning a statue of the Virgin Mary as a result of that her had becomes “possessed” for lack of a better term and begins to have a life of its own, with strange and supposedly funny consequences. Well, I have to say, not only I did not laugh once (the timing of the comedy seems to be off most of the time and every single scene goes on for twice as long as it should), but also the filming of it seemed to be very student-like and quite pedestrian. Very disappointing.


Dad Was (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Director: Barnaby Blackburn. Cast: Cameron Kerr, Seylan BaxterNicholas EllardPaul Ellard 

The story of young boy somewhere in Scotland who is to give a eulogy at his father’s funeral… It is a heartfelt, beautiful and gentle piece with an unexpected twist at the end which makes everything even more weighty. This is the best kind of short film I can think of: simple, direct and which will stay with you long after they’re over. The little 8 years old boy, Cameron Kerr is wonderful. The pain and grief clearly visible in his eyes and felt in his voice. Beautifully photographed too with its black & white sepia(ish) look matching the mood of the entire piece. You can watch it here.


Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine (⭐️⭐️)

Director: Ethosheia Hylton. Cast: Doyin AjiboyeLuke GasperJoan Iyiola 

A young Black woman facing pressure to change her name and natural hairstyle as she prepares to enter the working world after school. While this story might be very recognisable to many black girls and it’s certainly not something to laugh about, I found it very forced, full of stereotypes and rather clumsy. I appreciated the effort and some of the filming, but on the whole I found it rather weak. Gina McKee’s final cameo redeems it slightly, but not enough to make it worthwhile for me. On Netflix


Eyelash (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Director: Jesse Lewis-Reece. Cast: Elijah W Harris, Ishtar Currie-Wilson, Frankie Stew

A powerful adaptation of spoken word poet Neil Hilborn’s poem ‘OCD’ (You really get the full scale of the achievement of this short film once you see the original material). The film turns the spoken words of this sad love story into pictures as if it was the most natural thing in the world. A simple but effective adaptation dealing with mental health and breakups. You can watch it here.


Tic Toc (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Director: Mark Waters. Cast: Felix Sanderson, Mike Brompton, Joel Clark

Powerful and affecting short documentary about 16 years old Felix who has Tourette’s Disorder, a condition that affects his brain and nerves and causes him to make uncontrollable movements, tics, sounds and screamsThe film lets him take centre stage as he shares his story to try to break the stigma that his illness carries with it. “The worst feeling in the entire world is not being able to control it” Felix says at one point. There’s a disarming honesty about the piece as the camera gets really close to his handsome face as he confesses “people come to me and tell me “Shut the fuck up”…. He pause… smiles “I would if I could”… then his smile drops and in that moment of silence it’s as if a thousand words are said.“I just feel very pissed off, very agitated… I feel so much anger… but all I’m trying to do is to raise awareness… Because when they tell me to shut the fuck off, it makes my day 10 times worse than it already is. “Here’s the trailer

Another Round

Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Cast: Mads MikkelsenThomas Bo LarsenMagnus Millang 

Watching this Danish film tonight I found myself thinking that maybe one day I should start drinking too… 

Jokes aside “Another Round” is a story about a group of 4 high school teachers who decide to follow the theory of a Norwegian psychologist who claims that humans are born with a 0.05% alcohol content deficit in our blood. And so they embark in a rather reckless and “unusual” experiment where they’ll have to drink just enough to constantly maintain that small percentage of alcohol in their blood to be slightly inebriated and free from inhibitions, releasing their full potentials, but obviously without ending up drunk. No brownie point for guessing where it’s all going to go… 

This was sold to me as a comedy, but it’s definitely not one of those laugh-out-loud film. In fact it’s more of a tragicomedy: a parable about over-drinking, addiction, middle-age crisis, friendship and families.

Beyond the fairly predictable plot there are still plenty of small intimate, very human and rather touching surprises along the way. 

The whole cast is perfect, but Mads Mikkelsen’s performance is absolutely spectacular. Throughout the film he manages to play the “looser”, the depressed, the drunk, the man on the verge of a breakdown but also the amazing teacher we would all love to have… and a lot more.

Hard to believe this was the man playing “Hannibal Lecter” just a few years ago!

And then, that final sequence in the film, which of course I’m not going to spoil, which all of a sudden lifted the film up for me to a 4 star rating and left me with a big smile on my face (I actually laughed out loud at last freeze-frame!)

ROCKETMAN – Mini Review

rocketman-cannes-review.jpg

Director Dexter Fletcher: Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones

rating: 6/10

Your enjoyment of films like these usually goes together with how much you like the music of the artist subjected to the bio-treatment.
Last year I ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody, not because it was a good film (which clearly it wasn’t), but because the music by the Queen was so infectious and permeated every single frame of that film, elevating it from “average” to “a lot of fun”
In the case of Rocketman, the pitch was obviously quite an easy sell. I mean, who doesn’t like Elton after all? As the film played I found myself saying “Oh… I had forgotten about this one too… “ about 20 times!
On top of all that, the visual dazzleness (is there such a word?), the inventiveness of director Dexter Fletcher (who rightly decided to go for a musical as opposed to just a plain bio) and obviously the sheer brilliance of Egerton who inhabits Elton to perfection, make this a much more enjoyable experience and a better film than it had any right to be.
Yes of course, the framing device (those AA meeting scenes) is clunky as hell, the wigs are terrible, it’s all pretty disposable, ridiculous and filled with all the usual cliché of this kind of films, but what else were you expecting? Just sit back and enjoy it and stop picking on it: I had fun with it.

Zero Dark Thirty – Review

Zero-Dark-Thirty-Trailer

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) rating 6.5/10

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Starring Jessica ChastainJoel EdgertonJason ClarkeKyle ChandlerJames GandolfiniMark Strong.

The film opens in darkness: almost two minutes of black screen as a sound montage made of screams, 911 calls and that all-too-familiar crying. There is no need for pictures, somehow those bits of sound are just as recognisable… And we get it straight away. It’s an effective, un-exploitive and subtle way to take us back to 9/11 without having to resort to the abused images of the collapsing towers… Also by using actual archive sound, talking about real about events, real dates, real names and victims, the film establishes certain boundaries of reality which makes it feel pretty much like a documentary… A dangerous and a rather questionable game to play… But more on that later.

Zero Dark Thirty essentially tries to do three things at once: to give us an account of the Osama Bin Laden manhunt “based on firsthand accounts of the events” leading up to his killing, but it’s also a look at black ops‘s modus operandi and their way of obtaining information by means of torture, and finally it paints a portrait of a woman who seems to have no other purpose in life than finding the Al Qaeda leader: unfortunately her character is really paper-thin (kudos for  Jessica Chastain for actually making something out of it and for that getting Oscar nominated too) and this ends up being the weakest part of the film, in my view.

There is no denying that Kathryne Bigelow is a skilled director who knows how to tell a complicated story in the clearest of terms, while at the same time cranking up the tension but without falling into the obvious Hollywood clichés. There are certainly interesting, riveting and compelling sequences throughout this handsomely made film, while a lot of serious, important and controversial issues are touched upon… But to me that’s the key problem: they’re just touched upon. Not only the film never really seems to ask any real question, but even when it looks like it does, it never actually gives any answer. Of course, a good movie doesn’t necessarily have to ask questions, nor give answers, but when the subject matter is something as serious as this (including the showing of graphic depictions of Americans torturing their prisoners in order to obtain information) and when you’re doing it in such a manner that the audience assumes this is all real, then you’re beginning to have certain responsibility too.

There are glimpses of an interesting and challenging film here and there, (including an extract from a news report showing Obama stating “America condemns torture”, which happens to be just after a torture sequence), but to me it was all too a bit too little and spare.

This is not meant to be a real documentary, in fact the end credits tell you that this is to be taken as a dramatisation… Well, if that’s the case, the characterisation of every single person in the film is pretty weak (including the already mentioned “super-woman” protagonist).

So if you take it as a drama, it’s all pretty standard fare and rather flat and superficial film. As a piece of documentary and a critique to the “American System”, it’s just too diluted in among all those bad lines of dialogue (“who are you?” -“I’m the motherfucker who found this place”, or “I believe I was spared so I could finish the job”) which in the end diminish the impact that such a subject could have had.

The last 25 minutes of the film follow the actual mission to capture and kill Bin Laden (sidelining even our main character, who completely disappears from the film). It is pretty much shown in real time, without any music (mercifully, because for the rest of the film the score is as obvious and bland as they come). It is a sequence which is meticulously executed and wisely stirs well away from easy heroism or American triumphalism and yet, because of course we all know how it ended, it felt to me not only a bit anticlimactic, slightly voyeuristic, but also a bit pointless, which in a way sums up my thoughts about the whole film.

Certainly a lot of people will talk about the issues raised, but mainly because of the issues themselves, not  because the film.

Of course we’ll never know the truth (In fact recently some criticism has been raised about the actual veracity of the facts), but as it often happens with these sort of real-case stories (whether it’s about the birth of Facebook with “the Social Network”, or a terrorist attack with “United 93” or simply Che Guevara’s road trip in the “Motorcycle Diaries”…), this film will eventually become THE VERSION of the truth we’ll all believe, which in this case might be a bit troubling and very questionable.

6.5/10

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