Django Unchained – Revisit

Django UnchainedDjango Unchained: violent, profane and extremely fun, this is a typical Quentin Tarantino film. The writing is partially great: it is a good story (full of references, as usual), with interesting characters speaking lively lines of dialogue; the main problem with the writing lies in the structure (linear and conventional for his standards), which has a weaker last third. Scenes balance beautifully tension and humor. The cast is in great shape, particularly Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Robert Richardson’s camerawork is fun to watch; in fact, Tarantino has great control over the whole craft.

See what I wrote before: Django Unchained

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Mad Men – Season 3

Mad Men Season 3Mad Men – Season 3: in this season, the focus veers ever so slightly towards a plot (as opposed to the characters), without any loss of quality or interest. There’s no point in repeating some of the things said about the previous seasons, as they remain in place.  Writing and acting continue to be strong; Jon Hamm puts on another great season, as do January Jones, John Slattery and Vincent Kartheiser.

Read also:

Mad Men – Season 1

Mad Men – Season 2

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The Newsroom – Season 2

MV5BNzU1OTkzMjk4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY4MDg2OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_The Newsroom – Season 2: as the second season progresses, it becomes clear that the same weak points from the first season remain in place, even if somewhat less intensely: characters (particularly females, but quite a few are afflicted by this) poorly written (that they have personal problems, is realistic; the way they deal with them, not so much) and an excessively idealized world (where “bad” people turn “good” at a whim and “good” people can do “bad” things without any major consequences). However, as was also the case the first time around, Aaron Sorkin’s dialogues (which, being so politically loaded, have as good a chance as turning some off) are the star of the show, along with the wonderful cast that reads it (Jeff Daniels, who has the most rounded character, makes the best of it). The storyline in this season feels tighter, more focused, which helps. It’s a flawed, but great show.

Read also:

The Newsroom – Season 1

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Divergent

DivergentDivergent: wearing its influences in the sleeve, this film results both a minute variation and a minor version of them. The main problem is that the dystopian society portrayed in the film is dull, and its dynamics don’t seem very relevant. The lack of imagination extends to the visual aspects chosen by Neil Burger: costume and set design, as well as the action scenes, are all pedestrian. Shailene Woodley doesn’t have much to do with her role (the rest of the cast, needless to say, has even less), but she is a good presence nevertheless.

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The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho)

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar SozinhoThe Way He Looks: certain stories call for a light, delicate touch and Daniel Ribeiro delivers it in spades in this film. Beautifully written, it intertwines its ideas seamlessly and creates a group of characters that are engaging and belieavable, as is their environment. The whole cast works beautifully, and the three principals, Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi and Tess Amorim, are simply tone perfect. Visually simple, unadorned, what puts the focus where it should be: the story.

It’s an expansion of a likewise lovely short, Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho, by and with the same talent, which I strongly suggest.

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Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho – Full Short

Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho (I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone): this delicate, lovely short by Daniel Ribeiro, deserves to be seen. (It’s in Portuguese, but subtitles are available.)

After winning many awards worlwide, it was expanded by the director into a wonderful feature, The Way He Looks (even thought the literal title translation actually is “Today I Want to Go Back Alone”; the title change is meaningful).

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The 400 Blows

The 400 BlowsThe 400 Blows: François Truffaut tells a simple story, and it’s a delicate, earnest, touching journey, told naturalistically. The characters (particularly the main one, wonderfully played by Jean-Pierre Léaud) are looked upon without any judgement. There is great control of the tone of the film; a low-key sense of humour permeates the film, a great counterbalance to the sad story. Henri Decaë’s camerawork has some strikingly beautiful images.

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Mad Men – Season 2

Mad Men Season 2Mad Men – Season 2: there is a great sense of continuity in the second season; it picks up where the first one left off (not necessarily in the plot, but in the spirit and mood). It retains everything, either bad (the art direction, too pristine, bothers; there is, at least, a reason for it to be so, as it fits the subject of the show) or good (pretty much everything else: writing and acting, in particular, remain top-notch; Jon Hamm and Vincent Kartheiser are very solid, in particular). The characters and their stories evolve in an engaging way. Interestingly, even thought the series avoids the traditional cliffhangers, the tense serenity at the end of each episode works as effectively, if not even more so.

Read also:

Mad Men – Season 1

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America 2Captain America: The Winter Soldier: this film’s story is relatively grounded (for the genre, of course; that’s not to say that aspects of it are not properly outlandish); the main character is appealing, for being so earnest and vulnerable. Likewise, the Russo Brothers shoot the action scenes, mostly, in a gritty way, appropriate for the nature of the main characters and villains. It’s a good-looking cast, even if they don’t have all that much to do; the recurring cast (Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson) already knows what to do, and the addition of Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie is welcome. For better or worse, however, this film is too much part of an extended universe (that includes a number of other films and a TV series) and at times it feels as if too many pieces of the puzzle are located elsewhere.

Read also:

Captain America: The First Avenger

The Avengers

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Rio 2

Rio 2Rio 2: the weakest link in Carlos Saldanha’s film is the story, which is excessively busy; the messages that are supposed to be conveyed, however relevant they are, end up being poorly displayed. The voice cast is very diverse, but Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway (not trying to do too much and being perfect fits for their characters) are the highlights. That is not to say, however, that the film is not a pleasant journey; the animation is beautiful and colorful (Busby Berkeley being an obvious inspiration; the character design is smart enough to differentiate each of the blue birds) and the music, great upbeat fun (they are varied enough; “Poisonous Love” reminds a Broadway show song, while “What is Love” and “Beautiful Creatures” use Brazilian percussion with magnificent effect).

Read also:

Rio

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