Biography

THE LOST CITY OF Z (2017)

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A film by James Gray

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller

The true story of Percival Harrison Fawcett, one of the greatest explorers of the twentieth century. Percy Fawcett is a recognized British colonel and a loving husband. In 1906, when he was about to become a father, the Royal Geographical Society of England proposed to him to leave to Amazonia in order to map the borders between Brazil and Bolivia. Right a way , the man has a passion for exploration and discovers traces of what he thinks is a very old lost city. Back in England, Fawcett constantly thinks of this mysterious civilization, torn between his love for his family and his thirst for exploration and glory …

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Here is a stroke a genius where James Gray reappropriates a genre fallen into disuse to offer us the masterful portrait of an explorer carried by his thirst for adventure.Here Gray choose to do an interpretation of the novel La cité perdue de Z écrit par David Grann. It is no secret that  Gray makes the viewer follow the adventure of the military man names Fawcett that disappeared somehow into the jungle never to return to England. James Gray’s latest feature film is a beautiful  scenario built around Percy Fawcett’s (Charlie Hunnam’s) back and forth between his home and the heart of the Amazon jungle. Here Gray shot this film à la classic mode the only thing to do to me otherwise the film will fall into the water. Fawcett is not crazy to go to the amazon forest but to reclaim his tile of his name he decided to go which trigger his thirst for adventure and exploration as well as glory. Charlie Hunnam here does a superb job to incarnate his character.It is interesting to see that Fawcett also has other obligations, well he is a  husband and father which his wife makes the sacrifices here  and is beautifully interpreted by actress Sienna Miller. You see  he returns to his home, after several years of travel so it takes a toll on his wife. He has a hard time with the children. The cinematography here is near perfect. I can’t wait until his next picture.

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HIDDEN FIGURE (2017)

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A film by Theodore Melfi

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

Nasa space program 1961 3 women African Americans Mathematicians serve a vital role here should I say they were genius.

Desperate to beat Russia at putting a man in space, NASA enlisted the help of a group of African American women mathematicians. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who were the brain behind the operation.

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Based on a true story, we didn’t even know that part of history and thank god it came out Director/co-writer Theodore Melfi has assembled a terrific cast to bring
this amazing story to life. Here are three women who had difficulty in their job because they are black. But with persistence and will power added to that their genius brains and overcame it which did wonders for Nasa. Mrs. Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) who is cold here did not want to give in to Dorothy’s promotion. Everything was black and white, coloured bathroom, coloured computer, blacks were working on the east and white on the west wing. The film goes back and forth to the three women and shows us the difficulty on the job but also the perseverance that they had. Jackson is a wise ass with a  comic timing and Johnson is the clever optimist. They are similarly educated, though each has their own skill set the film will explore. They form a bond between them as you can tell with the dialogue. Think about it is not easy for a black woman in a room full of white men mathematicians to hold her own. I love that the fact the monster IBM computer was ordered and two white man did not know how to work it. Here comes Dorothy and on her spare times figures it out by herself, she even knew how to program FORTRAN  is a matter of fact I used to know this computer language. Here is a film that is well acted, casted, and written. Do not miss this one.

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JACKIE (2016)

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A film by Pablo Larraín

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and want to preserve her husband’s historic legacy in doer to do that the invites a journalist in her own term to tell her story.

What a beautiful performance by Natalie Portman who is married to a French guy and suppose to live in France soon that is beside the point. Noah Oppenheim’s brilliant screenplay fells claustrophobic  and it is centre on Jackie. Jackie has  invited a Life Magazine  journalist played by  ( Billy Crudup) in which Jackie is invited to give her own version of what happened on that fateful day in Dallas, Texas.

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Here Natalie Portman embodied Jackie essence so well that you forget that you are watching Portman you think you are watching Jackie who had the physical illusion of the elegant woman whose fashion statement, sense of style and grace. But Portman capture much more how she walk, talk, breath, her speech, her smile, to the grief-torn woman in total control of her public and private image, that revealed her vulnerability in private. Of course her priority is clear making a mark in history and leaving a legacy for people to remember. Plus her husband indiscretions where Larrain did not go there it kept it on Jackie the all time. We see Jackie going from room to room with new outfits popping pills, drinking wine, vodka, and smoking cigarette wondering in her mind what is she going to next. Peter Sarsgaard here shines as Bobby Kennedy I did not recognised him at first until he started talking. Plus Greta Gerwig who plays Jackie confident and John Hurt is the Irish Catholic priest with whom Jackie can let her guard down. The assassination scene here is perfect, short and beautifully shot. Even the music for building the tension was dead on. Even the decor and the costumes were out of their world I think Larrain nails it here. Here you have it a great film not to be missed.

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L’ASCENSION (2017)

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A film by Ludovic Bernard

Cast: Ahmed Sylla, Alice Belaïdi, Kévin Razy

“For you, I could climb the Everest!” Samy should have shut up  that day … Especially since Nadia does not believe much in those beautiful words. And yet … Out of love for her, Samy leaves the  city and goes to climb the mythical 8848 meters that make the Everest the biggest mountain of the world. When he leaves his friends who also leaves in the suburb of France La Courneuve where they say the slackers resides has a radio station going to follow step by step Samy.

Ok it is based on a true story from  Nadir Dendoune from his book “Un tocard sur le toit du monde”A loser on top of the roof of the world. You see Nadir is the first Franco-Algerian to climb Everest without unkind of experience what so ever and did it the first time around. For the sake of the story here the name was changed and it is a black dude climbing who falls in love with a white girl. What I like about this story is that they will be no name calling nor race joke however it is a light comedy like us French people likes to make them.

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For the love of a woman this man will climb Everest, That is a crazy dude see in the Courneuve suburb there are a lot of laid off people and that are slackers. In the news recently it came to my attention that now there is a lot more business owners in that area. So a bank and a group of people who owns a small time radio station sponsor Samy to go to Everest in return he has to call once a day so he can tell everybody his progress. The thing here is that Samy has to succeed in order to win the love of Nadia and for the slackers friends that he has so they don’t ridicule him when he comes back. It is the journey of this man who at times who said to himself what the hell I am doing here and am I going to make it. Nice little comedy with breath taking cinematography. At the same time as a sentimental comedy, an adventure film, a social chronicle and an initiatory trip, this “l’Ascension ” that starts from the Courneuve  and ends at the snowy summit of Everest, Art is a mountain of sensations, from laughter to tears. Besides, Ahmed Sylla who plays the main role, would have largely lived up to this great performance in incarnated his character. Not too bad for a first time Director here who had to film this under extreme conditions.

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BORN TO BE BLUE (2015)

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A film by Robert Budreau

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Keith Rennie

We just go this film in a week ago and it is going to get off the grid so soon in Paris anyway. it is about the jazz trumpet legend Chet Baker . It first was done in a documentary of his life called Let’s get lost which I have not seen yet but will soon enough.

Born To Be Blue is interested, refreshingly, in what Baker’s charisma meant and how it operated. Outside of talent, there was something about Baker’s image the James Dean’s hair the predominant jaw line and yes he drew audiences big time he was on the top of the bill board No. 1 above Davis Miles. He was a gifted artist but a long time addiction of heroin killed his images and it went down to hell. The film picks up where he is in jail in Italy. He is trying to kick up the habit and get back his life together. The film focuses on the period in the 1950s and 1960s when Baker became emblematic of what was known as West Coast jazz, an anomaly because of the color of his skin, but it was embraced by some legend of the day like Miles Davis, Dizzy,Gillespie, Charlie Parker. The film shows Baker gutting his way back after getting his front teeth knocked out in 1968 under mysterious circumstances. A great film were Ethan Hawks Shines big time. A  performance that understands Baker’s appeal, Baker’s demons and eventual willingness to fight those demons, and later the unwillingness to fight  them. Plus the charisma that he had to him was probably  a curse. A terrific look at the come back of this great artist who had it all, lost it all, and came back but could not fight off his demons.

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DALIDA (2017)

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A film by Lisa Azuelos

Cast: Sveva Alviti, Riccardo Scamarcio, Jean-Paul Rouve

Here is a French film well done we know how to make a biographical movie and this one is about Dalida. The film’s director, Lisa Azuelos , gave the leading role to an unknown actress, Italian Sveva Alviti, it paid off, as the young actress plays Dalida with charisma and an impressive strength of emotional conviction in the songs.

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The story starts in 1956 where Dalida was just 23 and went in the singing business with a bang. And ended in 1987 where she died in Paris. the film open in Paris Orly Airport, on 26 February 1967, with Dalida lying to her brother Orlando (Riccardo Scamarcio) and her cousin Rosy (Valentina Carli), making them think she’s leaving only to then double back and secretly go to room 76 at the Price of Wales hotel in Paris, where she tries to end her life, one month on from the suicide of her lover Luigi Tenco (Alessandro Borghi).  In between there are the flash back when she was a kid living in Egypt where she suffered and  endured as a nerd who is mocked by her classmates, seeing her father, a violinist, incarcerated for helping the Nazis at  the Second World War. You will see  her flamboyant life the concepts the difficulties of the work and the relationship with her boyfriends. Underneath it all she had a hard life even though she became famous and an over achiever that won many awards. You think singers have this great life but think again you have no ideas what the go thought day in and a day out. She was tormented by many things unfortunately. The melodramatic drama is well film with the music to match it. Put that one on your list.

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NERUDA (2016)

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A film by Pablo Larraín

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Alfredo Castro

Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda is a fugitive in his own country for joining  the communist party which an inspector hunts  him down.

The film here gets it. It is the cat and mouse game. This Inspector  Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) is in pursuit of Neruda because he joined the communist party the year is 1948. Peluchonneau is himself a blank page, a poem waiting to be written and, as the cat and mouse of his chase begins, a magic realism soaks into the film as Oscar and to some extent Pablo comes to believe that their roles are essentially fictional. Neruda, whose real name is actually Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto and who recites his poems where ever his goes. He does not try to hide too much but he is five step ahead of the inspector.  To captured Neruda would be an international embarrassment so the inspector begins to understand, because the people loves Neruda. Peluchonneau who narrates the story here. The beautiful texture photography who has a brownish feel to it is from Sergio Armstrong. Neruda is a complex and fascinating character study and by the way he ended up in leaving in Paris. Nice little film here where I had a good time watching it to my surprise.

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