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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Noah (2014)

NoahNoah: even thought it would be basically an opposition of terms, this film is not a particularly subtle epic. The brutal, allegorical story is pure Old Testament, but some of the undertones inserted by Darren Aronofsky (preservationism and religious fanaticism chiefly among them) are a product of our time. Well-done, with solid special effects and good performances from the cast (Russell Crowe, with the most conflicted character, is the stand-out). However, at the end, the heavy hand ends up being somewhat excessive.

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Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window (1954)Rear Window: this film is, to put it simply, a masterpiece. Alfred Hitchcock was in full command of the language; that is clear by the fact of how many stories he is able to tell, mostly visually (and with just hints of sound). They form a mosaic, but the centerpiece is the suspense story, of course; it’s a slow burner, but not one bit less effective for that. It’s a great-looking cast (one can’t go wrong with James Stewart and Thelma Ritter, but Grace Kelly isn’t as convincing, despite the fact that she looks absolutely gorgeous). Some of Robert Burks’ shots in this film are incredible, traveling around the whole set before landing back in the main characters. The viewer-viewee relationship subtext, essential to film-watching, is icing on the cake.

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Mad Men – Season 1

Mad Men Season 1Mad Men – Season 1: on this day and age when television series are, for the most part, plot-centered (those which major or minor story arcs are the reason for the series to exist), when a character-centered series appears, it takes some time to get used to the different pace and tone. Such was the case here; the first season calmly introduces the characters, their traits and relationships, and requires some patience, which is amply rewarded. Well-written and very well-acted (Jon Hamm and January Jones deserve special mention); one of the major strengths is the lack of any hint of political correctness about New York and its people in the 60′s. Quite well-done as well, even if the art direction seems almost aggressive, calling too much attention to itself.

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Between Us (Entre Nós)

Entre NósBetween Us: delicate and sorrowful, this film’s story is effective for being, in general terms, so relatable; the characters, their relationship and dialogues are realistic and touching. Paulo and Pedro Morelli get beautiful performances from the whole cast, and it would be unfair to mention any one over the others. Gustavo Hadba’s camera work is a joy to look at, as it makes full use of the location and find interesting ways to frame some conversations. The great location, incidentally, provides serenity to juxtapose with the tensions among characters.

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