Sunday, June 26, 2016

Embrace of the Serpent

The Gist: A revered Amazonian shaman, last of his people, is approached by two white researchers, decades apart, to help them find a rare, sacred plant believed to have unique healing powers.

Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Embrace of the Serpent is a raw and emotional film that dares to show us the ugly truth about white colonialism and the havoc it wreaked on the Americas' indigenous peoples.

The Bottom Line: Embrace of the Serpent is slow and methodical but delivers an important message and is well acted and edited.

Grade: 6

Valley of Love

The Gist: Long after their divorce, Isabelle and Gérard travel together to the Death Valley to fulfill a final request from their son's suicide note.

Full disclosure: the main reason why I decided to watch this movie was its location, since the Death Valley is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

Fortunately, Valley of Love turned out to be a decent exploration of love and loss. Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu, two greats of French cinema, are always a guarantee of quality.

The Bottom Line: If you decide to watch this movie, keep in mind that it's not your typical Hollywood fare, both in terms of directorial style, acting, and writing. This is not meant to scare you away, as the movie is quite nice, but I feel like it's best to know this going into it.

Grade: 6


The Gist: A successful writer and motivational speaker is having an existential crisis. Unsatisfied with his marriage, he tries to reconnect with an old flame only to be turned down. That's when he meets the woman he thinks is the one.

Anomalisa is not your typical movie. It's an animated movie for adults (strictly!), but uses stop animation rather than the typical computer generated characters.

It's also quite minimalist as the cast goes: two actors play the main two characters while a third voices all the others. This, however, causes a bit of confusion when you hear what sounds like a man's voice but it's a woman who is speaking.

The story is interesting and well written, but also a bit puzzling in its meta subtext. It certainly succeeds in generating a whole array of emotions, as it's both funny and sad, exalting and depressing.

The Bottom Line: While Anomalisa might leave many people wondering what the fuss is all about (critics have raved about it), it's still worth watching. Beware its writer though, as Charlie Kaufman does not typically meet the favors of the average moviegoer.

Grade: 7

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In Memoriam

Anton Yelchin (March 11, 1989 - June 19, 2016)

This very talented (and handsome) young actor died today in a car crash. He was only 27.

Although still quite young, he is credited on IMDb with 65 roles in anything from TV series, to shorts, to movies.

I first took notice of his talent in Alpha Dog. Later on, he took on the role of Chekov in the Star Trek reboot (the next installment comes out this summer), but he was also in Terminator Salvation and Along Came a Spider, among many others.

It's so sad to think that we won't be able to see him on the big (or small) screen and admire his craft ever again.