Review: “Mamma Mia”

You know, how people react is uneven ways to different types of stimuli. That was what happened for my reactions to this movie compared to my friends reactions.

Personally I felt that the movie was only cute, but the narrative was just all over the place, it didn’t really flow that wel, even messier than Columbus take on “Rent”. While my friends left with the feeling “I really want to watch it again ASAP”, I was “fine, it was fun, but I don’t see myself watching it again or even desiring for the Dvd”.

It was clear which songs settings were almost only amplified versions of the stage versions, and sometime just didn’t work that well in film.

But if there’s a reason to watch the movie, is for another nothing less than phenomenal work from Merry Streep.  She really show us how she’s a lady of multiple talent. She’s so good that overshadows, some disturbing moments like having a James Bond, not only sing, but in shiny tight clothes, or “Strapboot Bill” bare butt.

I never went in expecting more, but the lack of better narrative flow really bugged me.

Discography as Movie – going “Across the Universe”

More than an movie or stage musical becoming a musical movie, it’s a showcase of some of Abba’s best hits. Which reminded me of the amazing work Julie Taymour did with some of The Beatles best hits for “Across the Universe”. Unlike the movie that I’m actually reviewing, “AtU” flowed amazylying well, and the songs really fit well for the narrative. And maybe for the fact that the movie was basically populated by new faces, I was even surprised that it was Evan Rachel Wood herself sining all of her part, and a great script, the result was so compelling. This was actually an example of movie that I left wanting to watch it again right away.

Moulin Rouge was another great moment as contemporary music was incorporated into a more classic musical style, with all the mish mash of music.

But onto the subject of best hits becoming great musicals, I started to wonder which other bands or groups discography or best hits, could be turned into a great musical, either for stage or film. After some thought, I think the following bands song history would turn out into great musicals, and with a good script, could turn out to be classics:

1) Queen

2) U2

3) Aerosmith

4) Roxette

Any other ideas? And, yes, thinking about Moulin Rouge, is kind of like cheating…

Review: “Blindness”

This must’ve been one of the most diversified opening weekend in years, as we saw the premiere of “Blindness” and “Mamma Mia” last friday. I’ll be reviewing “Mamma Mia” in the next post, but this one will be all about Fernando Meirelles “Blindness”.

Starring a multinational cast, incluidng hollywood’s big starts Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Danny Glover, and also recent latin stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Brazil’s very own Alice Braga. This Brazil-Canada-Japan co-production, was the opening movie for the last Cannes Festival, received with (understandable) mixed reviews.

I never read the original book “Ensaio sobre Cegueira” from Portuguese Nobel prize winner José Saramago, which was originally published back in 1996, but people who read it, says that Meirelles rarely strays away from the source material, and created quite a faithful adaptation.

From IMDB:

A city is ravaged by an epidemic of instant “white blindness”. Those first afflicted are quarantined by the authorities in an abandoned mental hospital where the newly created “society of the blind” quickly breaks down. Criminals and the physically powerful prey upon the weak, hording the meager food rations and committing horrific acts. There is however one eyewitness to the nightmare. A woman whose sight is unaffected by the plague follows her afflicted husband to quarantine. There, keeping her sight a secret, she guides seven strangers who have become, in essence, a family. She leads them out of quarantine and onto the ravaged streets of the city, which has seen all vestiges of civilization crumble. Their voyage is fraught with danger, yet their survival and ultimate redemption reflect the tenacity and depth of the human spirit.

Grittiness

This is a really good movie, but it must’ve been one of the hardest movies I ever had to watch in recent years. If you’ve watched Meirelles other movies, be it “Cidade de Deus” or “The Constant Gardner”, you can find a certain common signature, that is very much present in “Blindness”. All the grittiness of the narrative and the way he shoots it, it taken almost to the limit, it never becomes gore, but it’s something that is really hard to take in. It was so strong that it almost made me want to leave the movie midway through it, and that lingering feeling do stay for a while. If you can take all the gore from those many horro-gore movies from recent years, we know you have the stomach to take the punch, but the human scar goes further. Its nonetheless a violent movie, in a lot of senses. And the way it’s lighted with a lot of white background, making things really hard to see is constant for most of the duration of the picture.

I can understand people who weren’t able to take it, but if you can stick with it only a few minutes longer, the conclusion is somewhat satisfying.  No it doesn’t explain at all the source, the how and why the blindness happened, not even try to answer why Moore’s character is the only one we see being immune to it. And I think that was never intended by this tale.

Is it another cautionary tale for how man is destroying the planet, yadda yadda yadda? It can be taken as a possible interpretation for the movie, but in a much lesser level. “Cegueira” is a lot more about human condition; about the essence of what is commonly called “humanity”; is about how society try to rebuild, try to re-organize in midst of almost absolyte chaos.

New York, Vancouver, São Paulo

The movies primary photography was done in 3 cities: São Paulo (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Toronto (Canada). Just like the characters being basically nameless archetypes, you’re not supposed to recognize the city. It’s never specified in which country or city it takes place. But for São Paulo, natives is really hard not to recognize most of the location, which are not only recognizable, but are from places that I really go by on a daily basis. Now I get it, how strong this can be on the screen, like how Sex and the City is deeply linked New York City, or how funny must be to see Vancouver as the fake whaterver city for every other US movie out there.

The Happening

For some reason, as the credits were rolling I was reminded of one the major flops from this summer, M Night Shyamallan’s “The Happening”.  It made me think, that if Fox didn’t sell it that much as a supposedly horror movie, and if he did shoot a few things differently, it might have worked better.  Of course, they would never be able to try to sell it to the large public, to get the big numbers they never got. But maybe they would have gotten a more satisfying result by selling it differently targeting another public. Shyamallan eastern influences were completely gone in “The Happening”, which will really be one of the biggest jokes from the movie season of Summer 2008, which would have been a intersting opportunity to show us something to reflect upon.

Unlike the latter, I expect whoever watches “Blindness” (Ensaio sobre Cegueira) until it’s very end, to be challenged to think, to reflect about the issues that the movie tries to very widely show us.

Saturday Night Live – Palin / Hillary Open – Video – NBC.com

Saturday Night Live – Palin / Hillary Open – Video – NBC.com.

If you missed this little piece of comedy from SNL’s new season, you should watch it. Is really that good, and with some really good stabs about Palin`s nomination. NBC is allowing worldwide access to this part of the show in their website.

Onto that, a certain mayor candidate for the mayor in Sao Paulo, is using some lame comparisson as he compares his vice-president candidate who just happens to be female to Palin.