If you asked me “who would you like to meet in your life?”, I bet one of my choices would be Luis Buñuel. I know, he’s no longer with us, but I feel like a conversation with him would be one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. During each of his films there’s a point at which I say to myself “no, you didn’t…” – and yes, he did. Today, I’d like to recommend you a story that won’t only entertain you, but also make you reflect on things you perhaps have never reflected on. We’re moving to a fancy mansion where Mr. and Mrs. Nóbile are having a party. Oh, sorry, not a party… an elegant meeting with their acquaintances. Each guest is worth a fortune, so just imagine the level of glamour in that place. However, a strange thing happens right before all those rich people arrive – the mansion’s staff leaves without any explanation. Then, when all the invited gather together, they start mingling and listening to one of the ladies playing the piano. At some point, the guests start suggesting going home, but… they simply don’t. Despite their willingness to leave the room, they just can’t do it. There’s no barrier, no guard forbidding them to pass – they simply don’t go. And if you’re not familiar with Buñuel’s style, then, welcome to his head, my dear reader. Personally, I adore his productions, but I can never fully analyse them. I mean, each time I try to understand what the film is about, I come up with some ideas, yet I never feel satisfied with them. I hate the fact that I cannot just meet with Buñuel and discuss his views, because no critic in this world may see what that man saw in his own work. To me, this particular story is actually quite creepy and disturbing. Except the fact that those people are somehow trapped in that one room, the scariest part is that there’s no explanation why they can’t do anything about it. As an overthinker, I’ve found lots of metaphors hidden there, but I really don’t want to share because of two reasons: one – some of them are somehow private and based on my own life experiences, two – I’d like you to discover something for yourselves without any suggestions from my side. Buñuel didn’t like explaining his films and I respect that fully, because some stories get better if we interpret them ourselves. Even though some people say it’s a comic fantasy, I see a very subtle horror there. I guess it depends on the moment of your life when you decide to watch it, but it’s definitely not just a random film to see and forget. If you like surrealism and quality cinema, this is your new must-see for sure. And I hope you’ll find something to admire there.
It took me quite some time to watch this film and I think I saw it one day before the Oscars ceremony… and I’m so glad I did because at least I knew who my real favourite in that category was. And the reason why I couldn’t really force myself to it was because some time before I watched Robert Zemeckis’ “Pinocchio” and… well… it hurt. I mean, as much as I admire Zemeckis, that was a really unnecessary production. Same old story, tiring and even cringy at certain points. So after that, I really didn’t want to go through the wooden boy drama again. But you know what? Guillermo del Toro did something spectacular with the well-known novel and painted it in his own style, with a pinch of mystery and even plot twists I totally didn’t expect. I believe everyone reading this post knows the story of Pinocchio, so I’ll just skip straight to telling you why admired this version so much. First, I had no idea that del Toro decided to go with stop-motion animation, so at the beginning I was positively shocked – if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m a big fan of this type of animation. Second, this film screams “I was made by del Toro” because it’s not adorable, it’s not cute – it’s beautiful but in a really disturbing way, which I personally loved. Is it a film for children? Well, depends. It’s not that drastic, but it’s not a shiny Disney production with catchy songs either. Besides, it is set in Fascist Italy, so we get some political background and messages, which can be understood only by older viewers. To me, that decision was great as it gave a lot of new quality to the story and made us reflect on the character of Pinocchio from a different perspective. Also, what does a boy who cannot die mean to the army? Expect such questions being asked in this film as well. Besides, I think this version has something that I missed in other versions myself, but I have to spoil it a bit so the next part is only for those who have seen it already. SPOILER coming: I believe that the end when Pinocchio returns to Gepetto is a real cherry on top. Why? Do you remember the ending in other versions? Pinocchio was turning into a human boy. However, in del Toro’s film Pinocchio stays the same. And isn’t that the point of this story? It’s a story that reminds us to stay who we are and love ourselves for who we are. Pinocchio was perfect from the beginning as a wooden boy and so shall he stay one. Damn, that’s what I’m talking about! I had tears in my eyes, but I guess they were caused by my feeling of satisfaction seeing such an ending. Thank you so much for finally making this story mean more than before. *END OF SPOILER* This animation is truly wonderful and I’m thrilled it was awarded. Not only I’m glad that Disney/Pixar was finally not a sure choice, but also incredibly proud that the Oscar went to a stop-motion animation, my beloved style. Please, let’s make more of those! At the end I may just share a funny fact – Cate Blanchett asked del Toro to give her a role in the film and he agreed, but the only character left was… Spazzatura, a wild monkey that makes only monkey noises. And guess what – she went for it. So each time you see that creepy money, remember it was dubbed by Cate Blanchett herself. Isn’t cinema just wonderful?
If you’ve seen all episodes of “The Last of Us” and you’re also missing Daddy Pascal, then I have something to cheer you up. Besides, it’s Sunday, we all need to chill and enjoy a bit of fun, right? So… the main character is actually Nicolas Cage playing himself. He’s a talented actor (duh!) whose time in the spotlight has gone. He’s remembered and admired for his legendary roles, but not really lucky in getting new job offers. Plus, he has a teenage daughter that visibly suffers from not having Nick in her life – all because of the man’s obsession over his own career. At some point, he decides to resign and quit acting. But he still has to earn money, right? That is why he agrees to go to Majorca and be some kind of a gift for Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), a billionaire and Nick’s huge fan. When he gets there, turns out that Javi doesn’t only want to have Nick attending his birthday party, but also wants to encourage the actor to play in the film based on a script Javi wrote. At first, Nick isn’t much thrilled about the idea, but the more time he spends with the billionaire, the more he seems to be convinced. However, a plot twist happens here, but I’ll let you discover it yourselves. I have to admit that I played this film because of Pedro Pascal – yes, I’m #teamdaddypascal and I’m glad the man is having his 5 minutes now. Except being attractive and hilarious in his way of being, he actually is a good actor and that’s great he’s been appreciated. Besides, putting Nick and Pedro in one production was a wonderful idea, because those two go very well together. Plus, I have a feeling they are both genuinely good people in their private life, so seeing them having so much fun shooting this film was a true blessing. Generally, I laughed so much, especially when they were mocking cinema stereotypes and patterns common for each genre. Besides, you may catch several jokes based on Nick’s previous performances, so if you’re a cinephile who also likes Nicolas Cage, then you should enjoy that as well. Perhaps it’s not a film I will remember after some time, but is it something good for a relaxing evening with friends? Yes, absolutely. Besides, that scene in a car when Nick looks as if he’s just taken part in 3 weddings in a row and Pedro is laughing like a child after eating way too much sugar – that’s already a classic. Make sure to check it out and if you want, you can play a game – write down as many Nick’s film references as it’s possible. Have fun!
Can you imagine the Godfather as a poor Jewish milkman? Yeah, me neither. Apparently, if Chaim Topol hadn’t finally got chosen for the role of Tevye, Marlon Brando would have made another legendary performance. However, say whatever you want, but I’m glad that Vito Corleone wasn’t singing in that production. And I’m obviously talking about the famous “Fiddler on the Roof”, which is an absolute classic. Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve heard its famous songs not once. About the plot – we’re following a Jewish man living in 1905 Russia, whose life isn’t much complicated. However, Tevye (Chaim Topol) has one big trouble he has to deal with – his five daughters. So five big troubles, to be exact. And since all the girls are old enough to get married, it’s definitely a priority for the family to find them husbands as fast as it’s possible. Because an unmarried young woman is the worst that can happen to a religious family of 1905, right? Except the family drama that is presented in a rather comedic way, there’s a lot of political messages hidden there, but since I’m the last person who wants to focus on that, I’ll just skip it. The reason why I’ve decided to write about this particular production today is because we’ve recently lost Chaim Topol and I believe that everyone should be reminded of his acting talent. Are you angry with the Academy for their choices this year? Don’t worry, dear, they managed to piss us off even in 1972 as this marvellous actor wasn’t awarded for his legendary performance. I adore every second of this character on the screen because Topol was acting in a very precise and believable way. I feel like nowadays many actors are overacting or focusing on pretending to be someone they’re not, while those older actors were simply becoming their characters. I don’t see Topol in this film, I see Tevye. And that’s what acting is all about, in my opinion. So we should remember and praise such artists till the end of time. Besides, this production was technically better than many modern ones, I swear. The cinematography? Best! (awarded, by the way) Editing – satisfying. Costumes? Make-up? Production design? Top, top, top. Plus, the music by Jerry Bock adapted by John Williams – per-fec-tion. What is more, the film is over 3 hours long, yet it feels like a moment that you’d like to last forever. But I guess that if a film makes you forget about reality and time, it is a huge success. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a chance to see “Fiddler on the Roof” on stage, so I cannot compare it to the film adaptation, but it doesn’t change the fact that the film is spectacular and definitely worth watching. Many people want to refresh cinema and they keep searching for something new to be done forgetting the quality we’ve worked on for a long time. Why? I won’t remember most last year’s productions in few months, yet I’ll definitely remember that look in Topol’s eyes. Oh, sorry, in Tevye’s eyes. May you rest in peace, Mr. Topol, you’ve done more than enough here. And I wish you, dear readers, to motivate yourselves each Monday listening and dancing to “If I were a rich man”. It works. Heard from friends.
I had no idea that I’d end up writing such post about this film, but here we go… Perhaps you’ve noticed already that I didn’t rate it well and because of this low rating the film is in my official “not-necessarily-to-watch” category, but I have to point out one very important reason to actually see this production. First, let me introduce you to the story and my inner pain I felt watching it. The film is a tribute to Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), the first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. She’s a true professional who intimidates many with her confidence and huge knowledge on the topic of music. We can see that Lydia is slightly anti-social and has her own way of perceiving everything around her, which is even more interesting in the moments where she has to interact with different people and actually experience a diverse range of emotions, some of which she’s not that capable of. When it comes to the plot – it’s time to start complaining. I didn’t find the story anyhow fascinating, even though the character of Lydia indeed caught my attention. A way too long interview, then some strange course at the music school, then some drama with her assistant, then another drama with her new cello player… but okay, you may say I’m complaining at something that perhaps couldn’t be changed. After all, they’re telling the story of Lydia Tár and perhaps that’s what her life looked like. Yeah… here comes a surprise. As much as the film was difficult for me to stand, I was absolutely amazed by Cate Blanchett for her performance. So much that I wanted to compare her Lydia with the real Lydia, so I started searching for some video materials with the real conductor. Turns out, my dear readers, that Lydia Tár never existed. This story is all made-up. And in this situation, I cannot explain the writer, I’m very sorry. In my opinion, this screenplay is far from being perfect. There are plenty of moments which, as some may say, “could have been an e-mail”. Many critics praised the cinematography and I cannot really say whether I enjoyed it or not because it was all ruined by the editing. Some years ago I had a huge WTF moment when the Academy nominated “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the best editing and seems like this year “Tár” is taking its place. There were many long scenes where not much was happening in terms of actual action or movement, yet for example Cate was expressing lots of emotions with her body or way of speaking – and at those moment the editing should have been more diverse, with more shots from different angles, more zoom-ins, more dynamics – this way, it would support the creation of Lydia. Cate did a marvellous job, but with a bit of help from the camerawork and editing, her scenes would be leaving us speechless. So quoting some people’s reviews I’ve seen – “what is this film for?” – I have no idea either. It doesn’t tell a real story, it doesn’t show the character of Lydia as anyone to look up to (according to me and quite many female reviewers, except the fact that the character herself in definitely in the spotlight), it’s not engaging, it didn’t leave me with much food for thought – just general disappointment about the film and huge admiration for Cate. So even though I wouldn’t watch this production again, I’m recommending you to see Cate’s performance as I believe she should have been awarded for it. Thank you for your exceptional acting work. And for taking that guy’s pen (those who watched the film carefully know what I’m talking about).
If you’ve been following my blog for quite some time, then I bet you know I’m a big fan of stop motion animation. There’s something fascinating about it that never gets boring to me. Maybe I’m not being objective since I used to play with stop motion animation myself and I know how much effort and creativity it takes to make even the shortest film using thing method. Today I’d like to recommend you “An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It”, which is a title that definitely catches attention. Before watching this short production with a title of considerable length, I had no idea what to expect. At first, I was thrilled it’s a stop motion animation, obviously, but then, the longer I was watching (funny to say considering it’s only 11 minutes long), the more I was getting excited by the idea. We get to know Neil who is an ordinary office employee. At some point, the man starts questioning whether the world he’s living in is real. And all that thanks to his observations and, yes, you’ve guessed right, an ostrich. An ostrich which told him the world is fake. And Neil thinks he believes it. I have to say I’m thankful to the director for choosing such a title because it saves my time writing this post. Everything you need to know is pretty much explained. But perhaps you’ve already glanced at my rating and if you haven’t – you’ve just done this at this very moment. Indeed, this short has won my heart and I really hope it’ll win an Oscar. The idea is so simple, yet not shallow or disappointing. I honestly had a lot of fun watching it, especially since it’s filled with my kind of humour. If you’d like to get some philosophical messages – I bet you can, even from these 11 minutes. But if I told you what I see hidden in this short story, it would be pointless for you to watch. And since it’s just 11 minutes long, then you have no right to skip it explaining you’ve got no time for films. For this one you do. And you should. And you won’t regret. To me this little animation is a real gem that will hopefully be awarded, because I can tell it was made by a very conscious, imaginative and hard-working filmmaker. Crossing my fingers hoping they won’t fall off and no ostrich comes out of my closet.
I think we need a little break from all the Oscars nominees, so today I’d like to take a deep breath and take you to Japan for a little relaxing ride. If you liked Bridget Jones and her famous diaries but at the same time you have a more romantic side, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy “My Sweet Grappa Remedies”. We get to follow Yoshiko (Yasuko Matsuyuki), a single woman in her 40s who enjoys her rather simple and slow life. She works in an office, rides a bike, goes for walks and observes everything around her. Some may say it doesn’t seem like a perfect life, but to Yoshiko it’s enough. Although at some point she realises that there’s something missing in her uncomplicated way of living. That is why she tries to open up to the world, experience new things and also stop being such a loner. Or perhaps just limit it a bit. Things get even more exciting when Yoshiko meets a much younger guy at work, who doesn’t want to stay just colleagues with her. The man finds her fascinating and makes it clear that there should be something more between them than just a desk with a computer on it. Generally, if you’re looking for a film that lets you relax your brain and hugs you tight to make you feel comfortable – then that’s a title for you. It’s not anything fresh or surprising, but also not that much copy-pasted as most modern romantic comedies. There’s something charming in this production, which made me ignore all the stereotypical elements of this genre that you may spot there. At some point I felt like the main character – sipping on her beverage in peace, not bothered about anything, just me, my glass and the film. We need such sugar powder stories from time to time, right? Besides, I like the fact that more and more productions remind us to stay who we are despite the pressure from society. And to sometimes even break the “rules” to enjoy our life even more. As long as we stay happy with ourselves, we should follow our own rules. I’m afraid that not many of you might have heard of this film, so I’m glad to be writing about it and I hope it’ll make you feel good. About yourselves, your choices and your way of living. Cheers!
The fact that this film is not nominated to more Oscars says a lot about current Hollywood. If you haven’t seen “Babylon” yet, let me just say it’s a production that is way too honest for some cinema people to handle. Remember “La La Land”? It was showing the dark side of this industry, but comparing to “Babylon”, it was a cute little puppy. This time, Damien Chazelle takes us to the wonderful 1920s, which was a very important period in the history of cinema. It was back then when silent films were finally introduced to sound. For younger readers it may seem quite impossible to imagine films without sound, right? I mean, I’m not that old to remember 1920s, but I was raised watching some old productions with dialogues written on boards. It had its charm, I have to admit. Anyway, “Babylon” focuses on that period, showing how drastic the changes were, not only among producers, but also actors. I don’t want to spoil much, but you may see how much effort it took back then to actually let the audience hear their beloved actor speaking to them. Nowadays the technology is way more advanced so it’s for sure easier, yet I loved getting back in time and imagining the hard work all those crews had to go through to make even a simple romance in the 1930s. I do admit that I had huge expectations before seeing this film because I’m a fan of Chazelle’s style and I felt quite hyped about another “Hollywood-is-not-that-good” kind of film from him, and… I was slightly disappointed. I feel like the screenplay gets lost somewhere in the middle and there are some sub-plots which could have been omitted together with certain scenes which were simply pointless (the vomiting scene for example – I’m generally against vomiting/shitting/pissing scenes which are just added in some productions to make them more controversial/shocking – in this case, it was useless and also badly shot, in my opinion). Besides, I was also not sure whom to follow – there are too many leading characters, so perhaps I’d try to give that role to one or two, not several. But that’s me, Mr. Chazelle could have a different point of view. In the end, is it a film I enjoyed? Definitely. Is it a film that should have been nominated as the Best Picture? Considering the actual nominees, definitely. So why isn’t it? Well, the answer seems obvious, at least to me – Hollywood feels ashamed of what’s presented there. Constant parties, lack of responsibility, unlimited alcohol and drugs, getting jobs based on who you know and not what you can do – that’s just a classic Hollywood image. Everybody knows that. In fact, it’s not only common in the film industry – I bet you can name lots of people who got somewhere high just because they had good connections. That’s how our world works. In art world it’s a bit more complicated as people may be questioning whether someone is an actual artist or just a pretender hoping to earn money on the audience’s naivety. From my side I can say – let’s all grow up, shall we? Let’s stop pretending we do everything to “fulfil our dreams” and “make the world a better place” – we do want to earn money because we like food, we like feeling safe, we like feeling successful. Period. So to me, this film knifes Hollywood in its back, but I totally don’t mind it. Visually, it’s marvellous. The soundtrack? It’s been on repeat in my earphones since I watched the film. Besides – how is it possible that Margot Robbie hasn’t got a nomination? She was outstanding in her role of Nellie LaRoy. I generally believe that “Babylon” is one of the most underrated films of 2022 despite its few flaws, so I hope you’ll check it out and enjoy the whole 3 hours of it, especially the last minutes, which are a true nostalgia starter for cinephiles.
It’s not a long film so my post won’t be such either, yet I hope you’ll feel encouraged to see it because to me – it’s one of the best nominated productions this year. And I swear, it could have been nominated as the Best Picture among all those big titles and I’m guessing that would be my personal winner. We’re moving to Northern Ireland where two brothers – Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) and Lorcan (James Martin) – are trying to manage their new reality after just recently losing their mother. Lorcan wishes to stay at the family farm as he feels home there and cannot imagine leaving it behind, while his brother is not really willing to get back to rural life. Why don’t they just keep on living the way each wants? Well, the thing is that Lorcan has Down syndrome and, despite being very skilful and quite independent, he cannot be left on his own. So the two brothers have to agree on something, whether they want to or not. In the meantime, they get a list of things their mother wished to do before her death, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time for. Lorcan encourages his brother to experience all the things from the list together with the ashes of their mother, and then he’ll agree to follow Turlough wherever he’ll decide to go. This film is only 23 minutes long, yet it managed to melt my heart and put a smile on my face. I honestly wish more films were made so conscientiously. There’s everything there – a good story, great acting, well-written characters, engaging drama mixed with honestly amusing humour, spiced with a bit of sarcasm and with an adorable message coming at the end. Besides, technically it’s just beautiful. Quality editing definitely adds a lot to my experience while watching a film, so whenever there’s a smart camerawork and decent editing, I’m satisfied. And these 23 minutes are just perfect in my eyes. I was enjoying every second and I believe that this short film may have a huge impact on many people. If I was to tell you what it’s about in one word, I’d say “connection”. So no matter at what stage of your life you are right now, I believe you may take a moment after seeing it and reflect on yourself deeply. And if you’re a cinephile who appreciates meticulousness and aesthetic balance – this film will please you for sure. I guess I don’t need to add that it’s my winner as the Best Live Action Short Film? Well, I don’t. But I will. It is my winner. And let’s hope not only mine. I wish you good connections, my dear readers. And more of such perfect productions.
I wasn’t planning to write about this film as it didn’t amaze or leave me speechless while I was watching. But then, I started reading reviews and realised what a fire starter this production is. You may think Disney made a cute animation about a clumsy red panda, but in fact, it’s a film that may hit way too many people. First things first, the plot: we’re actually going back to 2002 – the times of Discmen and Tamagotchi (the first one I loved with my whole heart, the second I was afraid to buy because I knew I’d neglect it sooner or later. Anyway, good times). We get to know Mei (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old girl living with her parents who are taking care of their family temple. Mei is no longer a little baby and she starts keeping some secrets from her parents, such as her admiration for a popular boyband or having a crush on a local guy. As much as her dad (Orion Lee) is rather easygoing, her mother (Sandra Oh) is highly overprotective and strict. One day, Mei wakes up and something is different – she’s transformed into a red panda. Yes, a red panda. Big fluffy red panda. Soon, Mei realises that it’s not for good – she turns into the animal only when feeling strong emotions, so as long as she stays calm, she doesn’t change. Apparently, all women in her family have had this ability and in order not to transform on a daily basis, Mei has to go through some mysterious ritual, thanks to which her red panda spirit will be hidden in a talisman. Seems like an adorable story for children? “Mulan” meets “The Emperor’s New Groove” and such? Not at all. This film is a drama starter, so if you like drama, get some popcorn and enjoy reading. So, first thing that comes to many people’s mind is that this transformation of Mei is actually an allusion to getting period. Well, could be, since Mei is 13 and period is red (as obvious as it can be, I swear). But what happens later in the film is quite illogical considering this theory. Yes, Mei is ashamed of turning into a red panda, but – SPOILER – she ends up feeling proud of her other form and wishes to keep it. So how is that anyhow real? Show me a girl who’s happy to be bleeding and suffering from a horrible pain every month? You may be trying to explain that, but in my opinion, this film isn’t about period. Period. What I personally see in this story is a spotlight on the toxicity of female-female relations. Some people say that Mei’s mother wants her to obey rules and be a good girl because that’s what years of patriarchy have done to her and other women in their family. And it might be true, indeed. But nowadays, Mei’s parents seem to have a lovely relationship where her dad is very supportive and caring, yet her mother keeps on feeling the need to behave in a specific way. I don’t want to analyse the reasons for her behaviour, but it is visible that she has high expectations towards Mei and wants the girl to follow her example, which means that Mei would have to stop being fully herself (including her goofy and clumsy red panda self). And, personally, that’s the message I get from this animation. It’s not about period, it’s about the fact that sometimes the biggest obstacle young women may find in their life is… other women. So obviously, we should learn our lesson, communicate with each other and share as much support as it’s possible. Even though this film is far from being memorable, at least to me, I’m glad such topic has been covered. Feel free to be your own red panda whenever you need to. Cheers!