Saturday, February 14, 2009

Good for sight-seeing, but...

Movie title: International (2009)
Score: 6.5/10

It seems, with every movie, Tykwer moves further from the indie feel of his earlier movies. International, begins relentlessly with an absorbing plot and the promise of an ambitious thriller. However, it is weighed down by its own heavy-handed intricacy which, at the end, makes it resort to cheap thrills. The worn-out message: if you want justice, take it into your hand. Good shots of eye-catching European locations. Spellbinding shooting at Guggenheim Museum.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another ethereal voice: Lhasa de Sela*

I came across Lhasa de Sela through a friend. She lives in Canada and was raised in US and Mexico. Her songs are (so far as I listened) in Spanish, English and French and she presents an eclectic Latin American/Eastern European Gypsy style. Her third album is due for release in April. My favorites of hers are La Confession and Con Toda Palabra.

* I don't generally score music because my knowledge of it is far from critical.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good insight, mediocrely written

Book Title: Brave New World (1931) by Aldous Huxley
Score: 6/10

A rather dystopian futuristic world reminiscent of that in Orwell's 1984 but milder. A little outdated by today's norms. I enjoyed the didactic parts that characters debated various essential points. Bad story and character development. I couldn't connect with any of the characters (perhaps it was intended). Could have been better as a long essay. The idea for conditioning and breeding human beings was fascinating and horrific. IMO, it failed to show a fully vivid picture of its world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Again, a touching relationship

Novel Title: Diary of a Bad Year (2008) By J. M. Coetzee
Score: 8/10

An old writer is commissioned to write his strong opinions for a book. He asks the young pretty woman upstairs to edit his text. A subtle love triangle ensues. Each page of the novel is divided in 3 parts: the opinion, writer's POV, and the girl's POV. As the story develops it becomes more engaging. The old man's otherwise soulless and rigid opinions become softened by girl's influence. Refreshing narrative style. Few opinions less interesting. Recommendable. The girl's last pages are touching.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Holocaust story

Movie Title: The Reader (2008)
Score: 6/10

It's obvious it had a difficult source material to adapt. Perhaps a first-person narration would have helped. So focused on Hanna's (Winslet) conflicting character that Michael's (Fiennes) later years is poorly handled. Emotionally detached which seems deliberate. The affair between Hanna and young Michael is intriguing but its length is unnecessarily long. By choosing English over German gains more audience at the cost of losing credibility.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yet Another Oscars Hype

Perhaps one of the most intellectual years for the Academy Awards. No epic movie, no big productions save a few. Slumdog Millionaires is a decent movie but obviously overrated. Unfortunately, few mentions of The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road and Dark Knight in main categories. Doubt did a great job in acting categories. Benjamin Button will have the upper hand overall. Frost/Nixon will be the dark horse. I'll root for Ledger, Rourke and... WALL-E.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Inauguration...

The specter of optimism is haunting West*. Yesterday the Emperor of Hope officially entered Oval Office. He has lots of demands to be fulfilled, none trivial. If I sound cynic, it harks back to my experience with Iran's reformist president, Mr. Khatami, who brought new hopes but proved incapable to live up to the expectations. Only time can tell if Emperor Obama can succeed or his widely praised clothes turn out to be non-existent.

* Borrowed from Marx' and Engel's Communist Manifesto: "A spectre is haunting Europe- the spectre of Communism."