12 Years a Slave (2013) - 9.5 / 10
"Sin, there is no sin. I can do as I wish with my property” - Edwin Epps
Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, we follow the man from the time he is kidnapped and forced into slavery until his life changes again. Based on the book with the same name, written by Northup himself, it's clear where the film eventually goes. No doubt this film will get much comparison to Tarantino's Django, which also dared to show slavery in a gloves off kind of way, but this is a film that deals with slavery in a much less entertaining or satisfactory fashion. Rather, the film is brutal and does not shy away from being ugly and emotionally charged.
In my opinion, this movie is more similar to “The Girl Next Door” Both movies were absolutely horrible to watch, but left me thinking deep questions about society, and my part in it. Sadism sells, you only have to look at the “Saw” movies to see this. To use violence in cinema effectively requires a great skill for not only the actors but the plot, the characters and direction, all have to remain very focused. Each slave in this film has their character developed so when they are objectified the viewer knows the slaves emotions, thoughts and their humanity.
McQueen uses a special technique, by framing his actors' faces in extreme close-up, the eyes staring into despair, the nostrils flaming up in aggression. Naked flesh are shown not because of erotic content, but rather because of desperation and meaningless. Long takes and wide shots are not uncommon in his films, and here they display an excessive amount of fantastic scenes and performances that work to discomfort the viewer as much as possible. This is an extremely uncomfortable film to watch.
The camera gets up close as the audience watches the blood and flesh torn from the backs of people tied to whipping posts. There are moment-by-moment reminders to the slaves that they have no rights.
The many ways in which slavery dehumanizes people are shown here: a mother is torn from her children as the family is sold to different owners; a husband will never see his family again; educated blacks must hide their literacy from the owners; horrid working conditions; any form of defiance is met with strokes from the lash; every human comfort, every expression of human decency is denied to the slave for a lifetime and most important, every form of cruelty directed at the slave is acceptable because they are seen as property, not as fellow humans.
Acting was superb! I don’t know what other director could have picked a better cast. By the end of the film, I know that people will be in tears at the resolution and the emotion that emanate. A man's most prized possession is his freedom. Rob any man of that injustice, and soon his hope, spirit, and soul will follow. But Solomon was a man who did not, and would not give his soul, and his spirit fall into despair and hopelessness.
As Northup, Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent. He handles the character with a great deal of emotional layer and considering the brutal and realistic nature of the film, it's hard to imagine many who could take on such a brave role. But even beyond this being just another film about slavery, McQueen goes the extra length to depict the film in such a fashion that we are almost forced to feel something.
There's a scene about halfway through in which Northup is left roped up with only his tiptoes to keep him from hanging. During this scene, McQueen carries the image in a single shot for several minutes, what seems to stretch into an eternity, during which everything around Northup goes as if nothing happens. Slaves go about their day, while the slave drivers don't budge an inch to help. As Ejiofor is obviously not choking here in real life, it is to his credit that we are convinced he is suffering for such an extended period of time. And the rest of the performance carries on with the same professionalism.
Appearances from Benedict Cumberdatch, Quvenzhale Wallis, Paul Dano (with his haunting acapella song - “Run nigger run, run so fast / Stoved his head in a hornets nest / Run nigger run well the pattyroller'll get you / Run nigger run well you better get away.”) and Paul Giamitti are all very welcome. Brad Pitt also appears towards the end in a role which completely turns the film around. Although his appearance is minor, his character renews our faith in the world and brings a sense of happiness that seems to be completely lost. All of the performances are Outstanding. Making her cinematic debut, Lupito Nyong'o as the object of Epps' attention, Patsey, gives a performance beyond that of many season stars.
For me, Fassbender stole the show. There’s one particular scene near the end of the movie that simply won him the award in my opinion. It was when his prized slave, Patsey (played by Nupita Lyong'o), went missing and suddenly came back from her Sunday stroll down the road. That whole 10 minute clip, all filmed in one take, was stunning.
The score by Hans Zimmer deserves a special mention for perfectly complimenting the visuals and cinematography and also enhance the effect that this film has.
Regardless, while the film may be disturbing and difficult to sit through, it is simply brilliant all the way through, and by far the most honest depiction of slavery that I've ever seen.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - 8 / 10
“Let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man, and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time.” - Jordan Belfort
I'll just start by saying that I’m not a fan of Scorsese’s work. I really enjoyed a couple of his movies, but I never liked his style in particular and I’m not chasing after or prioritizing his movies.
The Wolf of Wall Street is too much of everything: sex, drugs, profanity, laughs, dialogue, narration.
From the opening shot of DiCaprio snorting cocaine from between a prostitute's open legs, this is 3 hours of absolute depravity. And it's hilarious.
This was the fifth collaboration between much lauded director Martin Scorsese and, until now, Oscar looser Leonardo DiCaprio. Looking at the other 4 movies - Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006) and Shutter Island (2010) - The Wolf of Wall Street signals the moment the two finally took the step over the edge.
The film somewhat comes close to Scorsese's older film, Goodfellas: a man who love affairs, with a job that betrays both of his marriage and any moral standards, however the guy lacks the sympathy which defines the character's humanity. The main character's human figure here has all the negative sides. Compare him to the other goodfella, his motivations and attempts are much insignificant, because of course, he has it all.
The combination of Scorsese's narrative and Leonardo DiCaprio's performance creates a profound feeling of hatred towards Belfort. Despite having this ability of character development and appeal to the audience, the film severely lacks in describing exactly what crimes Belfort actually committed on Wall Street. The lack of factual details behind the true story is instead taken up by screen time consisting of Belfort's drug use and addiction to sex.
DiCaprio plays the perfect antihero: Belfort is a liar, he cheats on his wife, he steals money from people, he is constantly drugged out of his mind and so on. Still, it's very difficult to hate him, and I think most people actually envy him: who wouldn't want to have so much money, so that you can throw $100 bills in the trash without blinking? DiCaprio's performance is wonderful, and I hope he'll finally win the Oscar he deserves.
Also nominated for Oscar (again, after Moneyball) is Jonah Hill, playing Belfort's neurotic business partner, Donnie Azoff. It was recently revealed that Hill accepted without even thinking, the minimum pay of $60,000 for this role, simply because he was desperate to work with Scorsese, one of his heroes. This enthusiasm is immediately visible as he takes the role like a starved cat to food. His chemistry with DiCaprio is effortless and unforced, creating a warm, humorous and believable relationship upon which the movie basically survives.
Hill gave the performance of his acting career, the character had deeper roots than his normal characters and it allows you to see a different side of his acting.
It's hard to believe that Jonah Hill is that same actor that played the goofy kid in “Superbad” way back in 2007. It's the best performance of his I think I've seen (maybe even better than in Moneyball). For those 3 hours he genuinely was Donny Azoff, and played the role perfectly.
The beautiful Margot Robbie plays Jordan's second wife, Naomi. Robbie is great in her role, seducing and sexual yet trustworthy, Naomi is not just the eye candy in the movie and it’s quite easy for such a sexually based character to be objectified in films, whereas Robbie triggers real emotion of sympathy from the audience towards the end of the movie in various Jordan related scenes.
Also notable strong performance from Rob Reiner (his dad) and Kyle Chandler (FBI agent). And for only few scenes, Matthew McConaughey, as Belfort's mentor, Mark Hanna, steals the show in his usual way, that reminded me of his role from Magic Mike.
The only criticism I would perhaps make, and I’m really picky here, is the running time. At 3 hours, I'll admit there was a slight lapse in my concentration and I think that some dialogues could have been slightly shortened.
The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the most brutal, honest and smart films I have seen in the past 5-6 years. Done with a twisted, dark sense of humor, we see the effect money has on people, and its almost impossible to dislike any of the characters, despite them being money grubbing, cocaine sniffing, deceptive, womanizing, yet extremely ingenious and dexterous individuals.
Moneyball – 7.5 / 10
Voi incepe acest review prin a preciza faptul ca nu am fost niciodata si nici nu sunt un fan al sportului numit Baseball si ca nu dispun de notiunile necesare intelegerii acestui sport. Totusi, pentru acest film nu iti trebuie nici o notiune de genul.
Filmele ce au ca subiect sportul au fost intotdeauna preocupate de ceea ce se intampla pe teren. Ele spun povesti despre sportivi necunoscuti sfidand toate cotele, valorile si onoarea, curajul si determinarea in atingerea scopului propus. Moneyball renunta la acel evident prim strat, dar totusi reuseste sa atinga aceleasi scopuri. Baseball-ul, ca si sport, este esential povestii, dar aceasta nu depinde de baseball.
Filmul se bazeaza pe best seller-ul lui Michael Lewis din 2003 intitulat “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” si desi baseball-ul ramane “imaginea” de fundal, filmul ne arata cat de dificila este organizarea schimbarii unui “joc de culise” batran, aplatizarea ierarhiilor prin disponibilitatea informatiei precum si nevoia eficientei cerute de capitalism.
Cel mai puternic element al filmului este scenariu excelent, scris de Aaron Sorkin si Steve Zaillian (The Social Network), acesta este viu, intens si emotional.
Poate ca subiectul filmului pare fad, insa co-scenaristii mai sus mentionati, combina minunat aspectul intelectual cu emotiile sportului, in care un “loser” este gata sa se confrunte cu obstacole greu de imaginat, doar pentru a-si atinge scopul...sau macar de a incerca. Faptul ca povestea se desfasoara in sali de sedinte, vestiare si birouri, nu o face mai putin interesanta, desi regizorul Bennett Miller stie cum sa ne ofere si cateva momente tensionate in timpul meciurilor de baseball decisive.
Interpretarea lui Pitt m-a cucerit complet. Este una din cele mai bune interpretari ale sale si parca m-a luat pe nepregatite. Stiam ca poate sa joace si mi-l amintesc in roluri foarte complexe; Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds), cu barbia pronuntata, ochii stransi si accentul excelent, Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), care intinerea pe masura ce crestea si multe altele. DA. A fost nominalizat pentru toate aceste roluri, dar tocmai aceste interpretari aveau ceva ce clocotea pe interior. Toate acele personaje aveau o poveste „interna”, dar acest personaj, Billy Beane, e atat de normal si calm la exterior si doar atunci cand este singur, putem vedea durere si frustrare.
Nu puteam sa nu mentionez si performanta fenomenala a lui Jonah Hill, care pana acum ne-a obisnuit doar cu comedii inteligente (Superbad, Funny People, Get him to the Greek) si cred ca acesta a fost pasul de care avea nevoie pentru a putea fi luat mai in serios. Portretizarea lui Peter Brand, un absolvent al facultatii de economie de la Yale „and full time computer nerd” este mai mult decat credibila, practic ai putea jura ca-l cunosti personal chiar si la cateva zile dupa vizionare.
Filmul ofera o perspectiva interioara a modului in care se fac afaceri in lumea aceasta, de la ranzactionarea intre echipe pentru jucatori pana la reducerile care trebuie implementate pentru ca o echipa sa aiba succes.
Directia data de Bennet Miller este constanta si usor de urmat. Mie personal mi-a placut felul in care au fost filmate scenele de flashback ale caracterului lui Pitt.
Moneyball nu este doar o drama despre baseball, este si un film inspirational. Curge bine de la inceput la sfarsit si in nici un moment nu devine plictisitor. Chiar si momentele in care Beane este singur in masina, avand flashbak-uri sau cu fata sa, sunt scene foarte bune deoarece Brad Pitt are capacitatea de a face aceste scene „watchable”.
Aceste nu este un film dramatic despre baseball, este o drama cu baseball. Credeam ca stiu de la inceput cum se va sfarsi si ma gandeam ca „It's not the what, but the why and the how”. Totusi, nu a fost cazul. Filmul nu s-a terminat cum credeam si adevarata poveste nu este atat de buna precum credeam initial. Adevarata poveste este mult mai putin inspirationala iar producatorii au incercat din greu sa para ca si cum Oakland Athletics chiar au schimbat baseball-ul.
Nu stiu daca au facut-o, dar faptele sunt mult mai convingatoare decat cuvintele.
Pirates of Silicon Valley - 8 / 10
Un film bun, foarte bine interpretat, despre inceputurile lui Steve Jobs si Bill Gates.
Despre anii adolescentei, despre cum au fost realizate primele calculatoare si sisteme de operare, despre cine si cum a "furat".
Un film in care vedem un Steve Jobs foarte aspru cu angajatii, in care vedem un cu totul alt om, decat ne-am obisnuit in ultimii ani.
Un film despre inceputurile a 2 cele mai mari companii din lume, Apple si Microsoft.
The King's Speech - 7 / 10
Un film bun, putin prea lung decat trebuia.
O interpretare buna a lui Colin Firth, dar nu de oscar. (am un prieten balbait, care are probleme in pronuntia consoanelor de la inceputul cuvintelor/propozitiilor si blocajele lui nu seamana deloc cu cele jucate in film. si in general, blocajele sunt mai naturale. in film au fost prea artificiale). Mi s-au parut mult mai ok interpretarile personajelor secundare (Geoffrey Rush si Helena Bonham Carter).
Imaginea si sunetul au fost la inaltime. Nu ma refer strict la coloana sonora, cat si la zgomotele de "fundal", la parchetul care scartaie, la ceainicul pus pe foc sau la atingerea dintre o ceasca si farfurie.
Per total este un film bun, dar nu de atatea oscar-uri.
127 hours - 9.5 / 10
Un film facut dupa fapt real, o interpretare magistrala.
Se apropie de (desi nu depaseste) Into the wild.
Pur si simplu o lectie de viata, despre cum sa pretuiesti fiecare moment si despre cum sa lupti pentru a continua sa traiesti.
Mi-a placut in mod principal, cum s-a pus accentul pe trairile lui si pe nevoile umane, precum si felul in care a fost filmat si coloana sonora aproape inexistenta, perfecta pentru un asa film.
The Social Network - 8.5 / 10
Un film foarte bun. Am ramas surprins de el.
Actorii joaca foarte bine, povestea este spusa frumos, dar cel mai mult m-a uimit coloana sonora. Este absolut perfecta. De la Dark Knight nu am mai vazut asa ceva. Fiecare melodie/sunet/nota muzicala era acolo pentru ca asta inspira scena.
Daca nu te prinde subiectul, il poti considera plictisitor, mai ales din cauza lungimii filmului.
Chaplin - 9 / 10
Un film superb, interpretare magistrala a lui Robert Downey Jr. and Co.
Cel mai bun exemplu de capodopera. L-am revazut a 15-a oara si tot ma uimeste calitatea actorilor si reproducerea perfecta a filmelor lui Chaplin.
Unul din primele roluri ale lui Robert Downley Jr. Scenariul si decorurile sunt uimitoare, atmosfera este perfecta, iar restul personajelor sunt perfect alese.
Pentru cine se intreaba, absolut tot filmul este interpretat de Robert Downey Jr. Nu este nici macar o scena in care sa fie adevaratul Chaplin (decat cel batran)
Ray - rerererevazut
Ca actori si ca realizare, nota 9 cu felicitari, ca poveste (reala), nota 10 si nota 7 pentru duritate.
Unu din cele mai bine jucate filme din cate am vazut. Si nu ma refer doar la Jamie Foxx ci la toti actorii.
Mi se pare foarte tare sa aflii cum sunt create melodiile si ce se ascunde in spatele lor, cine le canta (chair si baking vocals) si ce se intampla cu ei.
Pentru cine nu stie, absolut TOATE melodiile din film, sunt interpretate de catre Jamie Foxx personal, la pian. Nu sunt cele cantate de Ray Charles.