MEXICO VIAJE

MEXICO VIAJE
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Bienvenido, Welcome, Bienvenue

Hope you enjoy my travel blog, comments are not necessary but much appreciated.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: Get ON UP - very short take on James Brown biopic

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: Get ON UP - very short take on James Brown biopic: For a film about the hardest working man in show business, the godfather of soul and x other number of monikers this film was surprisingly l...

Get ON UP - very short take on James Brown biopic

For a film about the hardest working man in show business, the godfather of soul and x other number of monikers this film was surprisingly lackluster and I'm not sure why.  The acting was top notch throughout by both main and supporting actors.  There was something a little schizophrenic about this film, at times it felt right on the money and at other times it completely let me down.  Can be summarized thus:  it's both dazzling and boring in equal measures, at least it was for me.

Ultimately it was a meh for me never really liked James Brown only like a few of his songs, not surprisingly one of the standout sequences, for me, was the performance of "This Is A Man's World" which given the volatile nature of his relationship with women turns out to be quite ironic indeed..  Story is told in episodic fashion, not chronological which would have been OK if there had been more emphasis on Brown's creative processes which were totally given short shrift in this film. There was little in terms of the civil rights background and struggles  which were going on at the time except for one totally gratuitous scene staged more for effect than for enlightenment. His relationship with women was also poorly done, still don't know how many wives, kids he had etc....he was an abuser but that was barely touched upon. It's significant that the one time Brown hits one of his wives the director chooses to only show the after effect of the hitting so as not to somehow taint Brown's image.
 Chadwick Boseman was phenomenal as Brown although he was difficult to understand, he could have kept the cadences of Brown's speech, which were quite particular, and placed a lot more emphasis on refining the  elocution. It's frustrating when one has to fight to understand the main actor throughout most of the film. Also a stand out was Nelson Ellis as the long suffering band mate Bobby Byrd who only gave up on Brown towards the middle of Brown's career when the singer was at the height of his success and received rapturously in France.  Felt that Dan Akryod did an OK job as Ben Bart, Brown's manager, a mere sleepwalking role for him with a paycheck at the end or maybe I'm being cynical. James Brown's legacy as a musical prodigy still holds.  He was an uncompromising genius when it came to his music, would have loved to feel the beat more in my heart rather than be told about feeling it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: Lucy film review The Beginning of the End

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: Lucy film review The Beginning of the End: Lucy the latest opus by director Luc Besson telegraphs its lofty ambitions pretty early on,Lucy our oldest female ancestor is the underlying...

Lucy film review The Beginning of the End

Lucy the latest opus by director Luc Besson telegraphs its lofty ambitions pretty early on,Lucy our oldest female ancestor is the underlying heroine of  the film which begins and ends with her....sort of since at that point she and the other flesh and blood current Lucy have morphed into one all encompassing consciousness.  I did say lofty in my opening sentence.  Besson is the French equivalent of Michael Bay with a Gallic twist, he's a little more "intellectual"  in his pursuits which doesn't necessarily mean he's successful in his various filmic endeavors some are pure pulp fiction and some are Lucy.
Through a series of unfortunate circumstances and choice of lousy friend/boyfriend Lucy who just wants to have a good time in Taipei while pretending to study (mid to low IQ- lol) ends up an unwilling mule with her stomach sewed shot filled with a new designer drug of an electric blue hue destined for the voracious appetites of the European market.  Three other male mules are in a similar predicament and will all be landing in different European cities to unleash their illicit "treasure".  It's never made entirely clear why Lucy ends up in a cell somewhere possibly for the enjoyment of low-level jailers before being sent out, that much is hinted at with the lecherous looks and groping.  In the process of resisting her freshly opened stomach is kicked and the drugs released in her system.  These drugs have the power to increase brain capacity from zero to hero ok maybe not zero I'm exaggerating for effect here and maybe not quite hero either although Lucy does take her revenge on those who have wronged her which includes the main bad guy played by Choi Min-sik with scenery chewing relish.
With the experimental drug coursing through her system Lucy's brain cannibalizes itself and everything around her,neurons firing exponentially till she's absorbed all that is knowable in the world and returned to a state of pure awareness.
The film opens with a central question:  All these years of evolution and what have we done to the world, this followed by a quick montage of positive and less desirable outcomes. Here Besson won't get much argument from me, the bad far outweigh the good  look at the state of the world right now and be afraid be very afraid.  At this precise moment in history things are going to shit pretty fast and the end is nowhere in sight, it's downhill all the way.  Does Lucy answers this fundamental question, i.e. does increased brain power to 100 make a difference well it turns out it's pretty awesome and fun what will at the telekinesis,telepathy,supernatural stuff and general mind fuck control but that's about it, the basic question is left unanswered and it's back to square one with the original Lucy for what we can suppose will only be a repeat.  It turns out all Besson wanted was a kick ass woman in a gorgeous body with some pretty trippy pictures thrown in, your brain on fake cinematic acid no more wiser or smarter.
Quite a few things broke the spell for me along the way.  Lucy's phone call to her maman while being operated on to get the drugs out of her system, drugs which she will  later have renowned scientists pumping back intravenously so she can get the full payload and achieve the desired 100.  Morgan Freeman lends his voice and not much else to supply the desired gravitas and make it sound like it's real science with lofty goals and not a matinĂ©e popcorn movie.  Another shot really got to me.  Lucy on her way to the airport changes her hair color and style  with a flick of her wrist from blond to black, why stop there and not change her whole appearance, the point is it's a gratuitous shot in a film filled with them add that to a shot of her feet shod in Leboutins with the signature red signaling that there's always time to shop for the best and most chic regardless of brain power.
I wasn't bored, the running time is short Besson likes to hit you fast and hard.  Had to admit it was fun seeing a woman hitting back for a change too bad it takes superhuman brain power in order for that to happen, we're royally screwed if that's what it takes.  Always did have a fondness for Besson's earlier female incarnations in Nikita and The Fifth Element, for that reason and Scarlett Johanssson he deserves a pass, recommended with some reservations, it's perhaps the dumbest film about increased brain power around.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: A Curious Oddity called NOAH- My take

My Travels And A Little Bit of This And That: A Curious Oddity called NOAH- My take: I never intended to go see Noah.  My curiosity got the better of me for two major reasons.  I'm a fan of the director Darren Aronofsky, ...

A Curious Oddity called NOAH- My take

I never intended to go see Noah.  My curiosity got the better of me for two major reasons.  I'm a fan of the director Darren Aronofsky, he had never worked on a such a huge, symbolically loaded canvas plus a mostly positive review in Salon tipped the balance in Noah's favor.

Noah is not a complete disappointment, some elements of the film especially the brutality of men,the destruction of the environment, the whole ecological message still resonate with passion and profundity. This is a serious, somber film because the destruction of planet earth by man made forces and then by divine intervention are not mere trifling matters.  These are survival issues and they are accorded the respect and treatment which they are due.

Russell Crowe returning to the passion of his earlier roles plays Noah a man destined for great things, Jennifer Connelley is equally excellent as Noah's resourceful wife.  The tale is the first well known apocalyptic tale but it's presented in the film without any sense of grounding in biblical times save for a brief introduction highlighting the fall of Adam and Even and their banishment from the Garden of Eden.  Other than that the word God is never mentioned, the word creator is used instead.  When the film opens Noah has witnessed the murder of his father after having been told by him of portentous things to come.  Later on an older Noah now played by Crowe is seen living a semi bucolic seemingly idyllic life with his family consisting of wife and three sons.  They are vegetarians one might even call them vegans since they only eat the greens and fruits which nature provides.  They do not eat meat.  They have retreated from the world of men whose punishing activities have slowly destroyed the earth and all its bounties.  At this juncture the script asks us to follow a somewhat tortuous path, machinery is glimpsed, mining is alluded to, the term industrial might have even been used.  It's obvious that the script is a mash up of biblical allusions and tales of modern man in the modern world.  For people who are deeply religious and consider the Bible to be gospel this might be viewed as offensive.  I didn't have any such problem, on the contrary, it was interesting to witness a novel take on such a well known story.

Noah and his family leave after one of Noah's visions.  He seeks the help of his grandfather played with a lot of panache by Anthony Hopkins.  A flood will come, Noah must build an ark big enough to house all of earth's creations. The ark is built with the help of a sacred seed giving rise to a bountiful forest and the Watchers, great lumbering stone giants who are pretty awesome in terms of the CG effect.

That's the story in a nutshell.  Here are some of the things which didn't work for me.  I kept being distracted by the costumes which I would term artistically deconstructed.  A lot of woolens, some leather, buttons, great coats with hoods which I could see myself wearing (haha), these distractions kept me wondering who was doing all the sewing.  It seems trivial but it took away from the seriousness of the message pointing out the fact that this was an ambitious work of creative fiction which fell short of igniting a debate about the ruinous path which man and woman, ancient and modern, had been set on.  The fakery of the clothes was merely symptomatic of the fakery of everything else.  All the animals in the arc, once they're in there they're put fast asleep by some kind of aromatic herb dispensed like incense via smoke.  That's all it takes for the animals to keep from eating each other.  The arK feels more roomy than it actually looks from a bird's eye view and not entirely convincing when you start to break it down.  Lastly I was appalled at the brutal choice which Noah was prepared to make , gender discrimination at its most disturbing.  I should have been more moved than I was yet in the end all I felt was a bemused indifference.  In closing I would also like to mention Ray Winstone as the tribal Lord Tubal cain.  He infused each scene with a ferocity which was palpable. For him the choice was always clear man is destined to put his imprint on the earth, the creator is an absent landlord. This is not an entirely misguided view of the creator since he's not much of a presence in the film, he is often invoked but seldom answers leaving Noah and us to puzzle things out on our own.