LA NOCHE DE 12 ANÕS (2019)

A film by  Álvaro Brechner

Cast:  Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín, Alfonso Tort

English title: A twelve year night

1973, Uruguay falls into dictatorship. Three political opponents are secretly imprisoned by the new military power. Thrown into small cells, they are forbidden to talk to each other and badly nourished with barely have the essential toiletry , three men whose limit is pushed to madness, three hostage where the punishment is to break them of their humanities. The film tells the 12 years of imprisonment lived by three the most famous figures of contemporary Uruguay.

Here are twelve men who are confined in a small cell and submit to the atrocities that are inhuman. Solitary confinement is the worse case scenario they said you can not go more than 30 days without talking with to someone or you will go crazy. A haunting story of 12 years of incarceration in the life of Jose Mujica (Antonio de la Torre) and his two camarade, Mauricio Rosencof (Chino Darín) and Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro (Alfonso Tort). In 1973, Uruguay in taken by a military dictatorship. Members of the guerilla known as Tupamaros are considered traitors to the country. They are caught and thrown in jail and persecuted. Some of them were kidnapped by the military to subject to inhuman condition and psychological torture. They are moved from time to time to different cells. But those three men are finding ways to even talk to each other sort of and to not submit to those atrocities. There was one funny scene in the toilet with a prisoner who wanted to take a shit but could not squat do to one arm was in cuff high by the pipe. You will laugh your ass off, how stupid are the military. Álvaro Brechner here made sure not to let up on the tension throughout the film. There are the occasional flashback that does not revealing to much which was a smart move here. Keep in mind that those men were incarcerated for twelve years of pure psychological torture. Those are men you will not see men like them now. Great film here not to be missed.

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VICE (2019)

A film by  Adam McKay

Cast:  Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell 

Dick Cheney managed, without making a fuss, to be elected vice-president alongside George W. Bush. Become the most powerful man in the country, he has largely contributed to impose a new world order whose consequences the American feel today …

Dick Cheney here started as a young man not too in the hurry to get where he was going, well nowhere. He failed at yale, got into fight and drank to death and got a job as an utility man. When fiancé Lynn has enough she makes him choose this way of life that you are leaving now or me. At that moment Dick (Christian Bale) looks Lynne (Amy Adams) in the eye and swears he’ll never disappoint her again.

And that is how Adam McKay start the film and you can tell he was not a fan of our protagonist. The dark satire is kind of scary because here Dick though he was doing the right thing. Dick here was thirsty for power and somewhat abused it. Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, is performance was outstanding you don’t quiet recognize him right off the bat, it takes you awhile to seek in.  Amy Adams as Cheney’s demanding wife, who gives her unfocused husband an ultimatum will have an effect on you as you are watching her performance you do not recognize as well. Steve Carell fits like a glove into Donald Rumsfeld while Sam Rockwell as a young George W. Bush looks the part. Let’s not forget the good old Jesse Plemons’ character too funny but not he does the narrator here. Of course the directors uses , mixed media, archival footage and some flashbacks. Cheney became the most powerful vice president of all time. scary .

L’INCROYABLE HISTOIRE DU FACTEUR CHEVAL (2019)

A film by  Nils Tavernier

Cast:  Jacques Gamblin, Laetitia Casta, Florence Thomassin 

English title: The ideal Palace

At the end of the 19th century, Joseph Ferdinand Cheval (Jacques Gamblin), is a simple postman who travels every day at least 32 kilometers a day from villages to villages. One day his wife dies of a sickness and Cheval is along until he meets the woman of his life who will give him a daughter that is going to love more then anything and then Cheval throws himself into a crazy idea : build her with his own hands, an incredible palace. This ordinary man will not give up and will devote 33 years to building an extraordinary work: “The Ideal Palace”.

I didn’t know this story at all as I am living in the country where this Palace was built. Here Nils Tavernier wishes today to draw from this story a lesson in life, and pay tribute to the man by filming the poetry of his gesture. Here is a beautiful love story out of the ordinary. Here is a man who is a postman and walks 32 kilometers a day when suddenly his wife past. His son goes living with some relative in Lyon. One day Cheval meets this woman that he falls in love with and marries her later on. Cheval was a loner spent most of his days along delivering the mail . When his daughter came to this world and old dream that he forgot about came up again and decided to build her with his own hands an ideal Palace. He created this architecture that resisted 2 world wars and even it still stands today. Million of tourists has seen it. The nature, the stones, the lime and Joseph’s knowledge of kneading bread, certainly helped him to realize and finalize his project. Jacques Gamblin who plays cheval is perfect for the role, he embodied the character with grace. Of course it was not easy for Cheval throughout his life.  Laetitia Casta who plays his Cheval’s wife who is devoted and supported him all through his project is also perfect for the role. A terrific film about this stubborn man who realized his dream.

GREEN BOOK (2018)

A film by  Peter Farrelly

Cast:  Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellin

1960’s An italian American bouncer who had two month to kill because of renovation at the club he was working at, ends up driving for a black musician  on a tour in the deep American south.

Here are two men quite different one black one white comes from different background get thrown together under unusual circumstances. Here is a mismatched buddy road trip with a message about race relations. And it is based on a true story. Green book it is a bit an old fashioned film making which is kind of nice for a change. It is a joy to see two actors like Mortensen and Ali their chemistry is so perfect and their performance is so outstanding. The film feels has similarities with Driving Miss Daisy.

Mortensen here has to gain 20 pounds which he said was fun to do but not fun to loose he said in an interview. Tony is from the bronx Italian descent and his vocabulaire is limited. (Tony’s son, Nick, co-wrote the script with Farrelly and Brian Hayes Currie.) Tony is the kind of guy with big appetites and loyal to his wife ( Linda Cardellini) and two young sons. He is happy to be living in the Bronx. However Don Shirley is an educated man well mannered with expensive taste and a genius musician.

Tony who finds himself out of the job due to the renovation of the club he is working at needs to provide for his family. So he accepts a job from the record company to be the driver of this musician. Yes there are the clichés thrown in there of what Tony thinks about the black people, plus the lesson learn with fast food and such. Too funny at times. The adventure will takes us across the country with the ups and downs. The green book back then was a guide used by black motorists to help them avoid the dangers and indignities of road travel, especially below the Mason-Dixon line. Well as we know from history the south was segregated. Tony was the bodyguard as well as a chauffeur. Don is a well known musician but is denied to dine with white people. It is a bit crude and offensive at times but back then that’s the way it was. Some Americans white and black the older folks were talking about it to me as I was listening to their stories was a bit shock that was going on in America. It is an intelligent screenplay where the two character are going to learn from each other. A nice film done the old fashion way that have funny moments and not so funny moments but played very well by two great actors. Do not miss this one.

COLETTE (2018)

A film by  Wash Westmoreland

Cast:  Keira Knightley, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West 

ColetteSidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954) was a French author and woman of letters nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948; also known as a mime, actress, and journalist. Here is her life story.

The real Colette in Paris.

Well first I thought the French cinema would at least make the picture but instead it is a US / British film. We begin the story with young Colette who is barely out of high school where she meets the man named Willy Dominic West. The relationship soon flourishes and they are to be married. She finds herself form the country to Paris in the middle of the art community. You see Willy is a writer well not really he tells writers to write the story that he wants him to write. Soon he can’t afford them so he tells Colette to write about her friend she went to school with. It soon becomes the best seller in France and Willy is praised for his book that he put his name to it. Soon after Willy ask her to write a sequel about Claudine. Back then it is a man world and women couldn’t be author. Of course comes the affairs from willy and the fact that Colette wants to become more independent. So she demand that her novel have her name on it as an author.

The film shows the struggle that a woman writer has back in the late 1800’s in the belle époque which the director as so beautifully put together. The chemistry of both actors is amazing and so is their acting. By the way Colette was most widely known for her 1944 novel Gigi (1944).

EL ANGEL (2019)

A film by  Luis Ortega

Cast:  Lorenzo Ferro, Chino Darín, Daniel Fanego 

Buenos Aires, 1971. Carlitos is a 17-year-old angel-faced teenager that no one can resist. What he wants he gets.In high school, his Path crosses with Ramon. Together they form a charming poisonous duo . They engage on a path made of flights, lies where killing soon becomes a way of expressing oneself …

Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch born 19 January 1952 also known as “The Angel of Death” or “The Black Angel”, is an Argentinian serial killer. He was convicted of 11 murders, one attempted murder, 17 robberies, one rape, one attempted rape, one count of sexual abuse, two kidnappings and two thefted. He has been in prison since 1973.

Here Luis Ortega made a film about his life but kept out the rape part out well yes Carlos did rape and shot the first girl 5 times the second girl was raped and shot 7 times. Back in the 1970’s the public was fascinated in disgust that a young heartthrob teenager so good looking could do those horrible things. Where did all go wrong that must be the question that his parents ask themselves. His Parents are hard working middle class people where they tried to educate Carlos but somehow Carlos went on his own path of destruction. Carlos starts his criminal career as a petty thief, breaking into big mansions and helping himself to jewelry, cash and a motorcycle like if it was a natural thing to do. His parents are on to his lies, but he’s just getting started. Ramón (Chino Darín, The son of Ricardo Darin, Carlos) meets his first criminal mastermind and mentor, Ramón’s father, José (Daniel Fanego).

Ortega did not show how the character went on a dark path instead he had Carlos on a light path. Was Carlos bi or gay the director made it look like he was both perhaps a crush on Ramon. Carlos plays with his charm in order to get what he wants and people will be fooled by his looks. He soon gets a taste for killing when he does it by accident. The film feels like a velour, with warm color to make it feel like the 70’s which the decoration is straightforward 1970’s. For some reason Ortega left out some stuff. However there is a resemblance with the actor and the real Carlos. The Rock-n-roll music fits into this story of love, and murder in a style rhythmic like a musical comedy. Here filmmaker offers a pleasing and sarcastic spectacle.

LETO (2018)

A film by  Kirill Serebrennikov

Cast:  Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk 

English title : Summer

Leningrad. A summer in the early 80’s. Upstream of Perestroika, Lou Reed’s and David Bowie’s records are smuggled, and the rock scene emerges. Mike and his beautiful wife Natacha meet the young Viktor Tsoï. Surrounded by a new generation of musicians, they will change the course of rock’n’roll in the Soviet Union.

The story with no surprise takes off from the success story of this group of rock and roll that is going to rock the soviet union in the 80’s. When the film opens the group’s career is already well established, the audience seems to love them but there is something out of place here in the audience where everyone is sitting on a chair and watch carefully by the watchful eye of representatives of the State. No rocking, no dancing, not even taping their feet. And yes it is a black and white film.  These ambitious guys who wants to be rock stars are influenced by the western rock and roll records that gets into the country somehow that includes  David Bowie, T-Rex, the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground, the Talking Heads, Ziggy Pop, and more. Leto is based on the early career of Russian rock-n-Roller Viktor Tsoi. The film is full of music with some kind of funky eding from time to time. There is a love triangle, some great tunes to dance, the struggling of the band  etc….It is all there in this perfect film.   Somehow the director was one of the few who was banned from Cannes this year. He is under house arrest accused of corruption. A must see.