Archive for the ‘Film’ Category


James Garner, Witty, Handsome Leading Man, Dies at 86

Written on July 21, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

garnerJames Garner, the wry and handsome leading man who slid seamlessly between television and the movies but was best known as the amiable gambler Bret Maverick in the 1950s western “Maverick” and the cranky sleuth Jim Rockford in the 1970s series “The Rockford Files,” died on Saturday night at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.

His publicist, Jennifer Allen, said he died of natural causes.

He was a genuine star but as an actor something of a paradox: a lantern-jawed, brawny athlete whose physical appeal was both enhanced and undercut by a disarming wit. He appeared in more than 50 films, many of them dramas — but, as he established in one of his notable early performances, as a battle-shy naval officer in “The Americanization of Emily”(1964) and had shown before that in “Maverick” — he was most at home as an iconoclast, a flawed or unlikely hero.

An understated comic actor, he was especially adept at conveying life’s tiny bedevilments. One of his most memorable roles was as a perpetually flummoxed pitchman for Polaroid cameras in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in droll commercials in which he played a vexed husband and Mariette Hartley played his needling wife. They were so persuasive that Ms. Hartley had a shirt printed with the declaration “I am not Mrs. James Garner.”

His one Academy Award nomination was for the 1985 romantic comedy “Murphy’s Romance,” in which he played a small-town druggist who woos the new-in-town divorced mom (Sally Field) with a mixture of self-reliance, grouchy charm and lack of sympathy for fools.

Even Rockford, a semi-tough ex-con (he had served five years on a bum rap for armed robbery) who lived in a beat-up trailer in a Malibu beach parking lot, drove a Pontiac Firebird and could handle himself in a fight (though he probably took more punches than he gave), was exasperated most of the time by one thing or another: his money problems, the penchant of his father (Noah Beery Jr.) for getting into trouble or getting in the way, the hustles of his con-artist pal Angel (Stuart Margolin), his dicey relationship with the local police.

“Maverick” had been in part a sendup of the conventional western drama, and “The Rockford Files” similarly made fun of the standard television detective, the man’s man who upholds law and order and has everything under control. A sucker for a pretty girl and with a distinctly ’70s fashion sense — he favored loud houndstooth jackets — Rockford was perpetually wandering into threatening situations in which he ended up pursued by criminal goons or corrupt cops. He tried, mostly successfully, to steer clear of using guns; instead, a bit of a con artist himself, he relied on impersonations and other ruses — and high-speed driving skills.

Continue reading in The New York Times


Norte, The End of History

Written on July 18, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

norteInnocence and punishment come together in this gripping Dostoyevskian epic from the Filipino director Lav Diaz: a gigantic four-hour saga composed with pellucid clarity and simplicity, and a kind of transcendental naturalism. This is a classical tragedy of the modernPhilippines and of global capitalism, a story of violence, hate, fear and love spread out on a colossal panorama which extends its reach into the realms of the spiritual and the supernatural.

Diaz’s camera depicts everything in pin-sharp deep focus. He appears to frame reality in every quotidian detail, even as it begins to merge into dreamlike unreality. The light in this film seems as clear and calm as a standing pool, and yet there is a blazing emotional turbulence in the picture too. It has a rapture – something weirdly euphoric, and is absolutely unlike anything else around, although you might draw parallels with the quietist achievements of Asian cinema such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, or Tsai Ming-Liang’s What Time Is It There? and I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone. Sergio Leone might have wanted to make his own version of Norte, The End Of History.

The Norte of the title refers to the Philippines’ northern province of Ilocos Norte where a certain hothead student called Fabian (Sid Lucero) holds forth on the subject of atheism and anarchism to his long-suffering friends. The terms of the debate have evidently been set by the alleged “end of history”: the absolute victory achieved by capitalism and western liberal democracy, famously hailed by the historian Francis Fukuyama in the late 80s, but now leaving Asia’s developing world on the losing side. Fabian rages at the corruption and complacency of the Philippines’ ruling classes and longs for some Napoleonic individual who — undeterred by the non-existent God and his meaningless sixth commandment — has the courage to carry out some violent revolutionary act.

As it happens, he is desperately in debt to the local moneylender, Magda (Mae Paner) – and so is Joaquin (Archie Alemania) a poor soul whose plans to open a roadside cafe, poignantly named after his children, have come terribly unstuck. Fabian, that sociopath, confuses the personal with the political and decides that the time for violence has come, but the subsequent horrific act is blamed on Joaquin. Yet it is Joaquin who enters into a mysterious state of grace in jail, while Fabian endures an unending calvary of horror while notionally a free man, in parallel with Joaquin’s wife and children.

Continue reading in The Guardian



Written on July 11, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

BoyhoodLike the fabled Jesuit, Richard Linklater has taken the boy and given us the man. In so doing, he’s created a film that I love more than I can say. And there is hardly a better, or nobler thing a film can do than inspire love.

This beautiful, mysterious movie is a time-lapse study of Mason, growing up from around the age of five to 18, from primary school to his first day in college. It is an intimate epic: over 12 years, Linklater worked with the young actor Ellar Coltrane, shooting scenes every year with him and other cast members, who grow visibly and heart-stoppingly older around him. The director’s daughter, Lorelei Linklater, plays Mason’s older sister, Samantha; Patricia Arquette is superb as their divorced single mom, hard-working and aspirational, but worryingly condemned to hook up with drunks and give the kids abusive stepdads. Ethan Hawke – his lean, chiselled face softening as the years go by – plays the kids’ feckless and unreliable but charming father, who shows up every few weeks in his cool car. And Mason’s own face changes from its young, moony openness to a closed, grown-up handsomeness. It is the face he will learn to present to the world.

In some ways, the movie invites us to see Mason from an estranged-dad’s-eye-view, alert to sudden little changes and leaps in height. As an unestranged dad myself, I scrutinised Coltrane at the beginning of each scene, fascinated and weirdly anxious to see if and how he’d grown. But the point is that all parents are estranged, continually and suddenly waking up to how their children are growing, progressively assuming the separateness and privacy of adulthood. Part of this film’s triumph is how it depicts the enigma of what Mason is thinking and feeling.

Boyhood is so ambitous and passionate that I can’t imagine anyone cranking out another conventional “coming-of-age” picture. That genre now looks to be obsolete. Which is not to say this film is utterly novel: audiences must remember Michael Apted‘s 7-Up TV documentary project. Michael Winterbottom did something similar with his long-gestating 2012 movie Everyday, interestingly another absent-father tale, this one of a family left behind when the dad goes to prison. And Linklater got Hawke and Julie Delpy to grow up and grow old in hisBefore movie series. There are other approximate examples: Robert Guédiguian, Steven Soderbergh and Mike Myers have used recycled “flashback” scenes of actors’ younger selves from other films. Perhaps the nearest comparison for Ellar Coltrane and Mason is Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter – a connection to which Linklater subtly alludes.

But none of these cases really do justice to the substance and completeness of this one thrilling film. The long-term commitment required is such that conventional assessments of “performance” are almost beside the point.

Continue reading in The Guardian


Design award for Zaha Hadid exposes architects’ moral dilemma

Written on July 2, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

heydar-aliyev-center-baku-z141113-hc3The announcement of Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Centre as the overall winner of this year’s Design Museum Designs of the Year is sure to provoke strong reactions.

The building, completed in 2012, is a wildly impressive and determinedly sculptural structure designed by London-based architect Zaha Hadid. Its fluid, white forms seem to emerge from the landscape of the city centre, the ground plane folding and swelling to become the building itself.

But it is a controversial choice. The cultural centre is dedicated to the father of the president, Ilham Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev was a divisive figure who was once a member of the Soviet politburo and gained such a reputation for corruption that he was expelled from his post as leader of the Azerbaijan SSR by Mikhail Gorbachev before becoming president after the collapse of communism.The current president has followed in his father’s footsteps, with the country now regarded as one of the most corrupt in the world while its authoritarian power structures and allegations of torture and elections widely criticised for their lack of transparency have further damaged its reputation.

As if that wasn’t enough, the city centre site for the cultural centre (and its increasingly grandiose surroundings) has been cleared through mass evictions, forcing citizens out of their homes and towards the outskirts.

The chairman of the awards jury Ekow Eshun, a writer, journalist and broadcaster, said of the building: “It’s beautiful. It’s inspiring. It’s the clear vision of a singular genius and we thought it was a remarkable piece of work.”

A fellow judge, architect Piers Gough, said: “It is as pure and sexy as Marilyn’s blown skirt”, while another judge, designer Kim Colin, did at least allude to some debate between the jury members. She said they “argued heatedly for and against, and then . . . finally agreed unanimously that the project deserves our utmost respect”.

The awards are split into categories, Architecture, Digital (whence last year’s winner, the UK Government’s website, emerged), Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport. Hadid’s building won against competition from, among others, the PEEK Portable Eye Examination Kit (an app for diagnosing eye problems in developing countries), a collection by Prada, a chair by Konstantin Grcic and Volkswagen’s XL1 car.

It might seem an unenviable task to merge these wildly differing categories and find an overall winner. How can you compare a poster – Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” for Barack Obama’s election campaign won in 2009 – with a car? It does, on occasion, sound a little meaningless.

Ms Hadid has faced criticism already this year when she dismissed questions about the dire safety record for labourers working on the construction of her designs for the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, where 500 mostly Indian workers have died since 2012. She said architects “have nothing to do with the workers” on site.

In refusing to accept any responsibility for working conditions on site, Hadid has relegated the role of the architect to a kind of lone creative genius, divorced from the social and political conditions in which their architecture is realised.

Continue reading in Financial Times


‘Return to Homs’

Written on June 27, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

homsWhen the film opens, Homs could pass for a thriving Syrian city, though tanks in the streets and soldiers on rooftops reflect the mounting tension between the locals and the country’s leader, president Bashar al-Assad, “elected” (the 2000 ballot offered no alternatives) after the death of his father, who had controlled the country for three decades before him. By the end, Homs will be a shelled-out ghost town, these once-healthy neighborhoods populated only by troops and an underground resistance movement.

Of all the countries stirred toward freedom by the Arab Spring, Syria had perhaps the most tangled situation. In 2011, civil war broke out after the national army met peaceful, youth-driven demonstrations with a show of force. Derki and his team were present to witness these early protests in Homs — the center of the uprising — observing a small faction of freedom fighters, “the men of Zeer street,” for the next two years as the situation escalated. Despite voiceover narration from the director, “Return to Homs” seldom actually explains what it depicts. Instead, in true verite style, the scenes must speak for themselves, even though it may take multiple viewings to make sense of the film’s many intricacies.

The early scenes are the easiest to follow, as a handsome local celebrity, 19-year-old goalkeeper Saroot, galvanizes a crowd by singing in a local square. Young and optimistic, he seems convinced that change is possible without violence, but Assad’s harsh reaction to this movement proves otherwise: The army cracks down, claiming the lives of innocents and children in the process, while detaining suspected dissidents — including activist cameraman Ossama al Homsi, whom Derki had hoped to feature as one of the docu’s main characters, until his disappearance.

Such unforeseen twists reiterate the tangible tragedy of making a real-world war movie, as opposed to one where the casualties are scripted for poetic effect. Here, no one is safe, and we fear for Saroot’s safety, especially as his remaining friends and relatives fall, making the young man increasingly obsessed with martyrdom. Thankfully, fatalities typically don’t occur on camera, although the bloody aftermath becomes a frequent focus. This consequences-centric approach underscores the demoralizing senselessness of the violence and the futility of such a mismatched insurgence, where the rebels’ only hope is that the outside world will intervene on their behalf.

Continue reading inVariety

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