Gravity


The worst meteor shower or worst set of events always takes place when someone goes to outer space in Hollywood. This year’s big seller at the box office has been Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and is in the line up for some Oscar nominations. The 90-minute film about Sandra Bullock floating around space dodging an orbit of debris which coincidentally passes by every 90 minutes.

The film was not terrible in fact it was pretty good but viewing it in 2-D was probably a bad decision. It was very boring most of the time and you could clearly see where slow parts of the movie incorporated 3-D aspects to keep the viewer alive. The times it was not boring was when either George Clooney was not dead, the orbit of debris was passing by (which only happens twice), or when Sandra Bullock was walking around in her tight little spandex shorts.

In these scenes that had more action than others the viewer was clinching onto their seats, squeezing their toes, and ducking away from the flying objects passing over. The high suspense was the best part of the entire film, I personally was tense the majority of the film as I mentally reached to hold on while Bullock and Clooney bounced around trying to hold onto anything around them before they drifted into space.

One major thing I noticed was the Cuaron’s apparent view on space. When most people consider outer space they think it’s empty no other people up there. This is shown because everyone who was in space has gotten the hell out of dodge before they became a piece of the flying debris. Though at one specific time I would never expect so many people to be in outer space at once. Clooney the space-traveling veteran is constantly attempting to travel to other countries space stations to receive help. Clooney makes it seem as if each morning every country wakes up sends a few men to the station to do some work and then they travel on home each evening and that space is just one big office for all these workers and that travel between stations is like walking to the cubical down the hall. This was what got me, it just seemed very unrealistic that everyone would just be up in space at the same time and that travel between stations only took a short amount of time.

Overall I think the film was well done with great cinematography and lighting that really make the movie look like it is shot in outer space. The acting was not terrible however seeing Sandra Bullock in a space suit was a bit humorous but she got back to normal when she broke it off and came out wearing skintight clothing to fit her unrealistically fit body. With all of this I believe the movie was very good and does deserve an Oscar and good recognition. The narrative of this film is similar to others but also completely different and has not ever been done before making it a great film in Hollywood’s history.

Gun Blazin and People Dying


More deaths than I have ever seen in a film with dramatic deaths and some very bullet proof characters. John Woo directed Hard Boiled (1992) and is one of the coolest action films I have ever seen. The incredibly high amount of deaths and endless amount of rounds fired in this film make for one killer action packed film that everyone must see at least once.

The story of a suborned cop Tequila who is determined to bring done the gun smugglers responsible for the death of his partner in a recent raid joins sides with an undercover cop Tony whose secret identity is as a Triad hitman.

Despite all of the explosions, gun shots, and deaths you are able to really get a feeling for the characters. You would not expect to be able to gather much of a relationship with these characters because they are simply shooting people the entire time but you are able to make a close connection to these characters throughout the film. In the end when the film comes to the climax and we think we are watching John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988) we really watch out for the characters and do not want them getting hurt. The two finally begin getting along and make a kick ass team and this is when the audience-character connection really comes into play. In the beginning we are not too worried about Tony but once he closely teams up with Tequila we as an audience have his back.

In the end both kill all the bad guys and make it out alive. The ending scene with Tony sailing off into the sun on his boat allows us to know that he survived the wrath of the Triad leader. I believe this film was a great film and I recommend it to anyone who is into lots of action and gun fights. If you liked Die Hard you will see a major resemblance and if you are a Quinten Tarantino fan you will like the gory action and killing that is in a way like his. This film has defiantly opened me up to Hong Kong cinema and so far I have a strong respect for it and would not mind seeing more films made in Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ogoro’s Osuofia in London (2003)


London’s McDonalds does not carry Nigerian soup what kind of food join is this? In Kingsley Ogoro’s Osuofia in London (2003) a popular Nollywood film lets a Nigerian father who is used to hunting food to feed his family loose in London. The comedy is about a man Osuofia who has learned his brother who once lived in Nigeria and has since moved to London has passed away and left his inheritance to him. In order to collect the inheritance Osuofia must leave his small village in Nigeria and travel to London and the differences between cultures clearly seen as Osuofia has no idea what to expect of London.

The British accents, different foods, and troubles catching pidgins causes all affect Osuofia on his journey. The sunburned man who believes he is always correct is put into the harsh sunburned environment of London dealing with the snobby British people.

In this film we are able to see the major differences between third world countries and first world countries. In Nigeria there are not restaurants and in order to get food one must hunt and gather for the most part. In London Osuofia sees a great deal of cultural differences and one is that he cannot order soup at McDonalds and when he can’t he becomes very frustrated. He also is unable to understand the dialect of the British people and believes they are not opening their mouths when they speak. Then he notices the dress of young women, when he notices a young teenage girl smoking cigarettes wearing a short revealing skirt he rushes to her to cover her up and upon doing so is smacked in the face. Osuofia is unaware of these cultural differences and it is hard for him to understand the Western civilization.

I thought this film was very good and the low budget corny aspect of the film made it even funnier. In Nigeria this film is looked at as a very good film and in the US we see how terrible it really is but still enjoy it due to the comedy and understanding of the culture in Nigeria. I would like to watch the sequel to this film because I thought for an African film on such a low budget it was very well done minus the few scenes where the boom dropped in scene. I can clearly see how this film has done well national and internationally.

Ikiru (1952)


Living behind a desk lead to a life with no close friends or family and results in what eventually killed the man whom has not yet experienced life. Kanji Wantanabe, only realizes to late that he has stomach cancer and has spent the majority of his years working a desk job that he did not enjoy.

In Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952) the man character Kanji realizes that he has stomach cancer, the film revolves him coping with the struggles of death in near sight. Kanji meets some new friends and does some new things he has never done before. When he goes to a bar and tells the waiter he has cancer the waiter first tries to talk him out of drinking Saki but then realizes it won’t stop him and decides to take him out and get him extremely drunk and visit some clubs.

The second person Kanji meets is a young girl he works with; He takes her out, buys her nice things, and good food. The two of them have some pretty good times together but she soon she believes he is just a creepy old man and wants him to leave her alone.

I believe the movie is a lot about how we can get caught up in life and forget what life really is. Kanji’s wife dies and he supplements depression with working constantly and once he starts he does not stop for 30 years. By doing this he forgets about his son and their relationship goes downhill, he also forgets to establish friendships and has no support once he finds out he has cancer.

The film does a good job showing us how relationships are a very important part in our lives and how without them we can feel lost once we realize they are not there. I believe that this movie was a very good movie about life and relationships. In the end the death of Kanji allows the viewer to think about their relationships with family and friends and whether or not those relationships will be there when their last few days come around.

Central Station


Breaking from the Eastern region of the world we travel back to the Western hemosphere and settle in Latin America. Specifically focusing on a film based in modern day Rio de Janeiro directed by, Walter Salles Central Station (1998). This road film covers the life of a crooked letter writer Dora in Rio’s Central Station and the life of a boy Josue whom loses his mother and is search of his father he never knew.

The story itself is about Dora’s journey with this boy to help him find his father since she fells it is her fault that he has no one to take him on this journey. However you slowly begin to realize that this film is more about Dora’s life and her finding herself as the film progresses. Dora has been by herself without any close friends or family for a lot of her adult life and is now meeting people and venturing out of her comfort zone and finding out whom she truly is. We see this when she meets a male friend in whom she likes, we also see it when she begins dressing more as a women with the dress and lipstick. This road movie shows us the life of these characters and country of Brazil all through the characters eyes.

Central Station is a great film that I really enjoyed. I found a lot of meaning in this film and was able to really feel as the characters were throughout. You can make a good connection with these characters and you find yourself siding for different characters throughout as their actions change your mind of them until the end when Salles finally brings the characters together and allows you to like both of them together.  

12 Years A Slave (Movie Review and Analysis)


Amongst the thundering noise of Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game (2013) playing in the neighboring theater I was able to enjoy a beautiful picture. A film that I still cannot completely grasp, portraying a past history that one can only look back at wonder why.

Steve McQueen has released his third film, a film that puts history into full view through every aspect of film as we know it. 12 Years A Slave (2013) left me speechless upon walking out of the theater. A few days before viewing this I watched Denis Villeneuve’s latest film Prisoners (2013); I believed without a doubt this would be taking home an Oscar for best Cinematography. Roger Deakins did an outstanding job with his camera work; the shots could have told you the entire story without a single line of dialogue. Beautiful is not usually a term to be used when considering a film about the kidnapping and imprisonment of young girls, but Deakins along with Villeneuve told a dramatic story in such a beautiful way. Though Prisoners was such a beautiful portrayal of a families struggles and the matters a father will go for to protect his family; I believe that 12 Years A Slave deserves an Oscar for best cinematography in 2013.

12 Years A Slave is a movie about an African American man whom has lived a free life. When he decides to take a job offer from two mysterious characters to play the fiddle in Washington he quickly loses his freedom. Solomon played by Chiwetel Ejiofor is moved from slave plantation to slave plantation until he is placed on the plantation he’s prospected to one day die at. This plantation is run by Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender, he is a harsh slave owner and cotton farmer. Solomon goes through man struggles on Mr. Epps plantation until one day due to Bass (Brad Pitt) mails a letter requesting an officer come to present Solomon his freedom. After twelve years Solomon is able to return home to his grown kids and wife.

The fascinating and true story of one man’s struggles through slavery is seen beautifully simply through the script alone, however the acting and cinematography absolutely make this movie what it truly is. Sean Bobbitt the director of photography for this film not only tells the story but completely grasps the viewer’s feelings through his camera work. From the opening scene of the movie I felt as if I was there with Solomon, I seemed to have a connection with him because I was able to see what he was feeling simply through camera shots.

Two specific scenes that really catch the viewer’s attention and make them feel for the character and the entire situation of slavery alone are seen first in the beginning and second right before the ending. The first scene that really impacts viewers is, Solomon hanging from a tree. The plantation owner was not home and his assistant Tibeats (Paul Dano, who played a lead role in Prisoners) decided to hang Solomon until another assistant ordered him to let him down. In this scene no one takes the noose off of Solomon’s neck and he is left hanging with only his toes keeping him from strangling. This scene continues for several minutes and though nothing happens to Solomon so much is seen in the background. What happens in the background is really the main point of this scene to me; it shows us the reality of what was like to be a slave. As Solomon hangs there gasping for air, nearly dying, other slaves continue on with their day. This shows the fear these African Americans had as slaves; they couldn’t even help each other for they were afraid worse would come of them in this game of survival. This entire scene keeps Solomon in full focus, while the others are moving about out of focus. This to me is McQueen’s way of showing how people ignored the abuse of others not only through actions but camera work. He is not stating this in a bad way but what the others must do to fight for their own survival. This scene to me is one of the most powerful scenes of the entire film; it truly shows what it was like to be a slave and the struggles each and every one of them went through. As much as they wanted to protect each other they had to watch their own heads above others to try and escape this madness that was forced upon them.

The second scene that really touches the audience was one of the last scenes in the movie and maybe the most powerful of the entire film. Solomon has befriended this young girl Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) whom has been through hell and back on this plantation even though she is the best worker. In this scene she has snuck off the plantation to the neighboring farm and received a bar of soap. When she gets back she is attacked by Epps for leaving the plantation. She pleads to him that she only left to retrieve soap for she is the hardest worker and deserves to be clean. Epps does not agree with this plea and demands she strip down to her bare skin and be tied to a post. Once she is tied Epps forces Solomon to whip her, Patsey replies, “I’d rather you Solomon.” Solomon takes the whip in his hands and begins whipping her; this however is not strong enough for Epps and says if he does not whip her until flesh and blood fly from her body he will kill every “nigger” in his sight. Solomon does as he is told but only for a few lashes. When he stops Epps knocks him back and whips Patsey until she can no longer breathe. Solomon unties her and everyone takes her in to aid to her wounds. This scene really impacts the audience; it again shows how each as much as they may care of one another must do whatever in their power to survive for themselves. In this scene you are emotionally attached to both characters you do not want Solomon to hurt Patsey however you do not want to see Solomon punished for not obeying Epps.

McQueen and Bobbitt really capture the viewer’s attention and feelings in these two scenes. Each scene is one long take adding to the depth of meaning they carry. I believe each of these scenes were shot in only one take to keep the viewer’s attention on the meaning behind each scene which is a great way to really tell this story. This film is not one to be seen as a beautiful story but yet a realistic portrayal of true events through great camera work to show an audience the traumatic and disturbing struggles that human beings were forced into.

If you want a story that will leave you feeling good inside this is not the correct choice of cinema. However if you want to see a film of real events that will impact you and really give you a true meaning life and what people have been through this is the right choice. 12 Years A Slave I must say is one the best films I have ever seen. I still cannot grasp the impact it has put on me. It leaves the viewer walking out of the theater with all of these feelings that they cannot explain. There was a silent exit from the theater without one word said from anyone in the audience. I myself could not speak until I had gone a few minutes down the road from the theater; my first word was “wow,” I simply could not digest what I had just seen. It’s a film one must see in each of their lifetimes and may leave them a changed person upon viewing.

Iranian Cinema


Iranian Cinema, a world cinema that has finally grasped my attention and made me want more. I am very excited to talk and dig deeper into Iranian Cinema. Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011) really captured my attention as a viewer as do I believe it caught everyone else’s around me.

The moment the film started I was hooked, for the first 45 minutes of the film I was glued to the screen. I did not break away from the screen once, then someone left the screening room and it broke my attention, once this happened I checked the time and realized wow I have been really into this film. I still stayed very into the film gathering all of the little details, trying to figure out what this simple plot of a separation between a couple really meant to the overall meaning of the film.

Once the film had finished I was shocked at how the ending played out, it left the viewer to decide how it would end with their own imagination. This was my least favorite part of the film; I am one who likes a resolution in the end. However after completing this film I was able to grasp what I believed was one of the main themes or underlying meanings in this film. I believe the director Farhadi was trying to show the viewers without coming out and saying it that the government in Iran is corrupted. It is very hard for a film to be approved by the government in Iran because it has to fit their rules and regulations. However a good filmmaker can put a good underlying meaning into a film that others can see, I believe that this is that the government in Iran is corrupt and a little into the rights of women. As for the rights of women that is more of a religious thing instead of a governmental thing. Everyone is Muslim and have the rules they must follow that come from the Quran. When it comes to the government’s corruption you see this through the court hearings and the police officials acts of duty. In the court room there is no jury, there are no lawyers and no sense of regulation when it comes to people speaking. The judge allowed Hojjat to speak his mind about an incident he did not witness; he persuaded the judge’s thoughts on what actually happened by listening to his wife’s lies which we see in the end. Along with this there was no sort of expert investigation, only the views of people whom they said could vouch for them (tutors, daughters, and neighbors whom were not present).

This film also allowed the viewers to witness what it is like when a family is separated and the strains it puts on the people who have no control over the situation, in this case their daughter. This could be another underlying meaning the filmmaker is trying to give to the viewers that divorce really causes more damage than good for a family.

I think this film did a good job of portraying the story itself along with what I believe to be a few underlying meanings. I was very impressed with the work of this director, and his technical ways he portrayed this story. It was a beautiful picture that anyone could enjoy. I look forward to seeing more Iranian films in the future after this one.

 

 

Academy Award Winner 2012