Posts Tagged ‘dead poets society’

Indeed these last two Sundays were really neglected but even partially neglected since I was helping a friend shoot a documentary about one of the most traditional neighbourhoods in Mexico City called Colonia Doctores. The shooting was exhausting and we are merely in the beginning. The documentary is of course still in production but you can have a look at my friend Andrés Villela’s previous work and yours truly’s behind the camera at: http://vimeo.com/nod

I couldn’t even tell my readers I was out since the schedule was really tight but I’m here!

I had the chance to see several other movies in the Cineteca showcase and here is a brief review of them.

Aleksandr Sokurov‘s version of Faust is indeed interesting although a little bit heavy. Considering that the source text by Johann Wolfgang Goethe can no longer be understood even by German-speakers, this film is another version, this time by the Russian filmmaker. The camera work is excellent since it looks like an enormous tableau vivant, the choice of using a 4:3 frame creates a more claustrophobic environment and the deformed eerie images in certain takes also gives the film and interesting look. This is a fine interpretation of Goethe’s text that becomes at times overwhelming.

I was not familiar with Tony Kaye‘s work. He is indeed a very interesting character by himself. By doing research to write this collaboration I found out he directed American History X, a film I didn’t get to see, but this time he made one of the best films I’ve seen in ages. Detachment is a film about the education system. It hasn’t been released in the States and I am not really surprised. It is a great film but it shows another America: the Amercia of the shattered dreams where people are just average and ordinary. Adrien Brody is a fine actor, one of the best, and in this film he gives one of his best performances as Mr. Barthes, an enigmatic substitute teacher who inspires his students but in the anti-Dead Poets Society dimension (and of course without the obnoxious presence of Robin Williams) where it questions if it’s worth the effort teachers do. It really moved me since I’m a teacher myself, it made me writhe in my seat, I felt this film in my guts as a good film should do to viewers. Apart from certain predictability in one of the characters and a little over-the-top madness of Marcia Gay Harden’s character, several great performers appear as they’ve never been seen before: CSI‘s William Petersen, James Caan, Blythe Danner and even Lucy Liu (an actress I’m not particularly keen on) and joined by a non-pro cast who give a great retort to their famous and experienced counterparts. Magnificent acting, magnificent script, a film that every teacher must see since it gets to be a universal topic.

Another Russian filmmaker present in this showcase is Andrei Zvyaginstev whose 2003 debut film The Return is a remarkable piece. This time, Elena is a film about a middle aged couple and their dynamics: Elena is the house wife, Vladimir a welthy man. They come from different backgrounds and have offsprings from their previous marriages. The relationship starts to crumble until it gets to an abrupt end. This film echoes Fiodor Dostoievsky and Robert Bresson. The mise-en-scène tends to the latter’s minimalism.

What is there to be said about a legendary band like The Doors? Aparently not much. Tom DiCillo is responsible for great 1990’s films like Living in Oblivion or The Real Blonde, banners for the American independent cinema. That’s why a film like When You’re Strange: The Doors is a bit of a disappointment since it doesn’t offer new insights or even a new documentary language. In short, it doesn’t contribute with something new to the genre. Johnny Depp is the narrator and it has great stock footage but it’s all the same. A film I could have watched on The History Channel, VH1 or something like that. Indeed it is a film with great intentions but remember what they say: the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. The good thing about it is that I got to see it with my 12-year old son, the Angry Young Man, who is also keen on great music and wants to be a filmmaker. To sum it all up, this is a film for the die-hard fans and whoever wants to be introduced to The Doors’ music.

And that’s it, those were the films I got to see during this great cinematic feast in Mexico City. December is a good month to be in the cinemas with a fistful of interesting releases and the fact that it’s cold out there makes me want to be in the safest haven of them all: the movie theatre.

Even the omnipresent new Muppets movie gives an interesting message: no matter what you do, what you love to do eventually will get you, so I am a filmmaker, I’m no longer in the filmmaking closet so I’m out!

Hanukkah is just around the corner and my best present will be to continue making films. I really wish that. To film is to live!

If you have no idea what to get your friends and relatives a great Hanukkah present just remember a sweater is a lousy gift. Give people the best present of the all: a film or better yet, a gift that will pass the test of time: a book!

Besides, let’s all cheer up for the Bald Guy since his birthday is also around the corner! I’ll have a cold one in his honour and hopefully you will too!

Have a great week and remember: in the cinema, the guy who has the final word is always the one who sells the pop-corn!

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