“Coco” Review

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Coco (2017)

Coco” is a simply delightful Pixar-produced Academy Awards nominee of 2018. Taking the Mexican folklore and tradition on board, it tells the story of Miguel, a boy living with his family of zapateros or shoemakers in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Years before, the family imposed an absolute ban on music, because a father of some previous generation left his family to pursue a music career. However, in this present time, Miguel, unbeknown to his family, dreams of becoming a musician, practices music secretly and worships his music idol Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel desires to enter a local music completion to fulfil his dream of becoming a musician, but, trying to do so finds him in the secret Land of the Dead, where his adventures only begin.  

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“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” Teaser Trailer

“The Odyssey” Review

the odyssey posterThe Odyssey (2016)

No, no, no, you did not understand, no…I am not making animal documentaries. I am going to tell the story of men who are going to explore a new world” (Jacques Cousteau in “The Odyssey”).

I grew up watching Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s TV documentaries, amazed at all the underwater world, unusual sea animals and Cousteau’s adventures. Now, there is a French-language biopic starring Lambert Wilson as Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Pierre Niney as his son Philippe and Audrey Tautou as Cousteau’s wife Simone. The film explores Cousteau’s life from the late 1940s until about the 1970s, showing his journey from an underwater enthusiast to a TV celebrity, not forgetting his private life. A passionate explorer, Jacques Cousteau was indeed a pioneer in marine research and exploration, practically inventing underwater breathing equipment, and very slowly in his career moving from unethical handling of the marine world to promoting the protection of environment. Ironically, the biopic provides little insight into the personality of Jacques Cousteau, and in terms of drama, the film is stale. However, thanks to the beautiful score composed by Alexandre Desplat (The Painted Veil” (2006)) and Matias Boucard’s rich cinematography, there are other things here to contemplate, for those interested.

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Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002)

MV5BNDM0YzFiMzItZDMxOC00YjIyLThiNTktZWU1MGYwMmRhNWY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU3ODUxMTc@._V1_UY1200_CR125,0,630,1200_AL_The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002)  

He’s dreaming with his eyes open, and those that dream with their eyes open are dangerous, for they do not know when their dreams come to an end” (Hugo Pratt, taking inspiration from the famous quote by T.E. Lawrence).

“When I want to relax, I read an essay by Engels. When I want something more serious to read, I read Corto Maltese” (Umberto Eco).

La Ballade de la mer salée” or “The Ballad of the Salt Sea” (2002) is a French-language TV animation based on the Italian comics of the adventures of Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. Corto Maltese is a mysterious and freedom-loving adventurer and sailor who travels the world in search of excitement and fortune, and is found in the early twentieth century in such places as Southern Europe, Arabia, Africa and Russia. In “The Ballad of the Salt Sea”, Corto is found sailing in the Pacific Ocean, and is in the midst of a shady deal with Rasputin, a psychopathic pirate and a Siberian army escapee, and with a man simply called the Monk, while the World War I is about to officially begin and the ocean is full of military ships.

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The Swashathon (the Swashbuckler Blogathon): The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

swashathon-2-princess-brideMovies Silently is hosting the Swashathon or the Swashbuckler Blogathon, and I could not pass this opportunity by to review Randall Wallace’s “The Man In the Iron Mask” (1998). As many of you would know, today is also Bastille Day or la Fête nationale in France, which provides for another excuse to delve into a film portraying France. Here, despite many critics’ allegations that “The Man In the Iron Mask” is laughable, flimsy and disrespects the novel by Alexandre Dumas it is based on, the film is actually an enjoyable ride from start to finish. If the audience does not take this film too seriously, and allow themselves to be carried away by the plot, action and the humour, they are in for a treat. The visuals are delightful, the music composed by Nick Glennie-Smith is great, and the film has a cast many directors would “die for”: Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road” (2008)), John Malkovich (“The Portrait of a Lady” (1996)), Jeremy Irons (“The Correspondence” (2016)), Gabriel Byrne (“I, Anna” (2012)) and Gerard Depardieu. 

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“Silence” Review

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Silence (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

This is not the sort of film you “like” or “don’t like”. It’s a film that you experience – and then live with” (Matt Zoller Seitz).

…wandering here over the desolate mountains – what an absurd situation!…I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom” (Rodrigues [Endo: 90]).

Martin Scorsese’s 28-years’ “passion” project culminated in the film “Silence“, based on the acclaimed novel by Shusaku Endo. The film is about two 17th century Portuguese Catholic priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) who decide to travel to Japan in search of their former mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who, most believe, betrayed his holy cause in the foreign land. Touching delicate moral and religious issues, the film is powerful both in its vision and in its message, achieving its desired cinematographic goal to awe, thanks to Scorsese’s dedicated and masterful direction, breath-taking cinematography and inspiring original material. Although the plot is uncomplicated and could even be considered “thin”, underneath every action and thought of the main character lies (and could be sensed) a myriad of contradictory emotions; culturally-divisive inner turmoil; and dormant causes for the later spiritual/religious re-awakening. 

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Film vs. Book: M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” & M. Peterson Haddix’s “Running Out of Time”

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The Village is a 2004 film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” (1999) and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film tells of a 19th century village whose inhabitants live in a constant fear of some creatures that start terrorising the village population. One of the protagonists of the movie is a blind girl named Ivy. Although the movie is not as bad as critics claim and its soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, it has a needless array of well-known star-actors involved, which is distracting. Running Out of Time is a popular 1996 book by Margaret Peterson Haddix for young adults about a girl (Jessie) in a 19th century village who is sent on a mission to town to look for medicine to cure a diphtheria epidemic in her village.

Even though the plots of both “The Village” and “Running Out of Time” look different, there are considerable similarities between the two. The ways in which the book and the film are similar speak volumes when one considers the most important things of both: “Running Out of Time”’s narrative and “The Village”’s final plot twist.

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