Man on Wire: Review

Saturday, February 28, 2009

An exquisite film about a man following his dreams and following his undying passion for his art, this is the story Philippe Petit's dangerous, daring and illegal stunt of walking on a tightrope across the New York City Twin Towers! A stunt that is considered by many the "greatest artistic crime of the 20th century". This was an amazing documentary showing how a small group of men dedicated to show the world the greatest feat a person can accomplish. An engaging story on the massive undertaking these people went through. This stunt was completely done illegally thus they had to do everything under the radar. The documentary goes through a step-by-step retelling of the entire stunt, it was exciting, suspenseful, and awe inspiring. This film truly deserved its Oscar for Best Documentary. It was inspiring how one man with a passion for his art of wire walking can achieve his ultimate dream, walking between two skyscrapers 1350 feet above ground! Man on Wire is an enigmatic documentary that keeps you glued to the screen and may inspire you to follow your own dreams!
Final Grade: A

"To me, it's really so simple, that life should be lived on the edge. You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to tape yourself to the rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge. Then you will live your life on the tightrope."
-Philippe Petit

Place To Go Before I Turn 30

Here are some places that I really want to go before I turn 30 years old. These are not the only places I want to go and they are not listed in any particular order but these are the ones that popped in my head first.

1. India

Exotic, majestic, and grand. Always depicted beautifully in film (Slumdog Millionaire, The Darjeeling Limited) filled with vibrant colors, vast landscapes, and impressive ancient structures. The birth place of Buddhism, Yoga, and Bollywood, India has one of the most fascinating cultures in the world filled with a long history. Did I mention that India food is amazing too?

2. Paris, France

The City of Lights, the City of Love, the City of Art, all names attributed to one of the greatest cities in the world. Paris is a beautiful city; having one of the most important museums in the world, the Louvre, the most recognizable monument, the Eiffel Tower, one the most luxurious palaces, Château de Versailles (not exactly in Paris but close), and one the most grand cathedrals ever built, Notre Dame de Paris. Je dois aller à Paris!

3. Spain

España is a place with dynamic culture, exquisite food, and amazing music. The birthplace of the Spanish language, Pablo Picasso, La Pella, Salvador Dalí, the Gipsy Kings, and Flamenco! Need I say more?

4. Perú

A cultural fusion of two great historical empires, The Incan and The Spanish, Perú is one the countries I desire most to visit in South America. The place I want to visit the most in Perú is Machu Picchu, the large Incan city built on top of the mountains, it’s certainly one the most mysterious places to visit. How did an ancient civilization manage to build an entire city 8,000 feet above in a rough mountain range and then be completely and mysteriously abandoned?

5. Tokyo

Vibrant color everywhere, a mass of pedestrians flooding the streets, a strange (from a Western point of view) sense of fashion, the distant view of the majestic Mount Fuji, the sight of seafood everywhere, towering skyscrapers filled with blinding lights, Tokyo is a city with a unique personality, a hyper techno city with a traditional flavor.

Trailers: Skills Like This

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Again watching more trailers... found this film called Skills Like This, which was an official selection at the SXSW Film Festival in 2007 (South by Southwest). This film looks stylish and fun plus I always love trailers that use Indie Rock music!

Must-See Foreign Cinema

A loose remake of 12 Angry Men, this Russian film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008. This movie is apparently so intense that it made Russian president, Vladimir Putin, cry at a private screening!

Entre les murs (The Class)
Even though this movie lost in the Oscars last night this is nonetheless the winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival (arguably the highest honor in the film industry) and is the highest rated film of 2008. I have come to the conclusion that the Academy Awards hates the Cannes Film Festival because every film that wins the Palme d'Or either loses or doesn't even end up getting nominated! Anyways, this film strikes me as the French version of Stand and Deliver. An intense and personal look on the social complexity of this racially diversified Parisian high school. Living in New York my entire life, this film really resonates with the social world I have lived in, the intricate complexities and how in this melting pot of culture we develop a world-view. Have to see this one soon!

All Eyes on Watchmen: A Review of the Graphic Novel

On the simple but elegant front cover depicting blood splatter on what seems to be a smiley face, the name sticks out, Watchmen, mysterious and subtle. Upon opening the novel the first lines read “Dog Carcass in ally this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face” I immediately knew I wasn’t reading a typical superhero comic book. This was of a different quality, a grim look at the superhero mythos. A look at what if superheroes really existed in the real world. We’re not looking at the big brawn hero with a long flowing cape, a captivating good-guy personality, a concrete sense of justice, and always abiding by the law. If heroes truly existed, they would be violent, scary, costumes would be made fun of, they would be crazed masked vigilantes who act above the law and may used it as an excuse to unleash their sadistic tendencies. This is gleam and grim universe created by legendary writer Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons written in 1985, showing a vastly altered history if masked vigilantes emerged in the 1930’s.

First let me delve into the artwork, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, Watchmen takes a different tone. The color scheme consists of off-colors such as purple, yellow, light green, and pink, unlike most comic books which have the strong blue, green, and red. Each and every panel is extremely intricately done. There are tiny details that act as ways to further the plot and as easter eggs. For example, you always see a newspaper or magazine in the background with a headline that just immerses the reader into the universe. As far as the characters, they are done very well, each of them have their own unique personality. The character Rorschach sticks out, who is named after Hermann Rorschach who invented the inkblot psychological tests. Rorschach costume first pays off homage to classic crime-fighting heroes of the 1940s and his mask has inkblots that resemble a Hermann Rorschach inkblot test. The pattern in his mask changes various times through the story, and if you look closely you can interpret them in relation to what is happening in the story. Dave Gibbons intricately creates a world, with immense attention to detail and excellent artistry.

The story of Watchmen is a unique one, a journey into the psyche of the hero, a psychological, political, and sexual interpretation. Alan Moore deconstructed the superhero mythos in order to put into reality. Watchmen throws away all previous standardized conventions of the superhero genre and creates it’s new conventions, instead of looking at the world as good vs. evil, black and white, this is shades of grey. There is no clearly defined line between right vs. wrong, that moral decision is left up to the reader. The novel puts into question of what is the motive of these masked heroes. Do they have some high ideals of justice? Are they driven by vengeance and anger? Do they use their superhero antics to fulfill some type of fantasy? Are they just violent, crazed individuals that take advantage of the moral high ground to justify their sadistic needs? All these questions and more are answered in Watchmen. Alan Moore also approaches the theme of how having an immense amount of power over others cannot achieve peace. Dr. Manhattan is the only hero in the Watchmen universe who has superpowers; he is unquestionably the most powerful being in the universe, able to rearrange atoms and defy the laws of physics. Dr. Manhattan plays a crucial part in severely altering history, the U.S ends up winning the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon wins various reelections, the U.S. is riddled with poverty and crime. With all the power that the U.S. acquired the world is still in turmoil and in eminent danger of a nuclear holocaust. One article in the book that stuck out called “Dr. Manhattan: Super-powers and the Superpowers”, a fake article in the novel talking about Dr. Manhattan’s role in international affairs. It touches on the irony that even though with all the power in the universe peace still can’t be achieved. As written “The second world war was The War to End Wars. The development of the atomic bomb is The Weapon to End Wars… And yet wars continue.” Is it power and force that is really necessary to maintain peace and justice?

Beside Dr. Manhattan, the most interesting character of the novel was Rorschach, a masked vigilante who is dark and psychologically complex. Rorschach is an updated version of Batman, a scary masked vigilante who stalks criminals in the night and has a deep dark past. Rorschach has a rigid sense of good vs. evil. He is paranoid, brash, smelled horrible, and very violent, nothing like your ordinary comic book hero. Rorschach is an individual who isn’t quite normal, he isn’t hygienic, is extremely threatening, and wildly aggressive. A person with an enormous death wish who unleashes his anger for the terrible world he lives in on the vile criminals of New York City.

Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, is the pinnacle of artistry, an involving and immersing piece of fiction that is sure to capture anyone's attention. The deep psychological realism put into a genre where realism used to be out of the question has certainly had an impact on today’s popular fiction by adding intelligence and sophistication to the genre. Even though Watchmen took place in an alternate universe, it still resonates with what’s happening in our world today, the ongoing conflicts, and our desire to save the world. This novel is riveting from cover to cover; it truly deserves its status as one of the best graphic novels ever written.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ripped from the pages of The New Frontiersman....

Still Watching…

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the midst of the release of the Watchmen film, which I’m completely hyped for, especially to see it on IMAX! I decided to browse through their viral marketing. First I stumbled upon which a recreation of the fictional newspaper in Watchmen. Then I found out they have a flickr page with some interesting recreations of photos and documents from the Watchmen universe. And the best part of the viral marketing was the two YouTube videos. One is fake public service announcement about the Keene Act, outlawing vigilantes. The second video is a television broadcast about the commendable service Dr. Manhattan has provided to America. If I didn’t know about Watchmen, I would have thought these videos were real! Take a look:

I’m counting down the minutes for the release of Watchmen! This low-key marketing got me even more hyped and hopeful for the quality of the film. They successfully managed to recreate the Watchmen universe. Also I’m almost done with the Watchmen novel, which is awe-inspiring at the moment, will write a review soon.

“Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense.”


Sunday, February 15, 2009

"A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?"

"There is no future. There is no past. Do you see? Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet."

"The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'Save us!' And I'll look down, and whisper 'no.'"

Muay Thai, Bollywood, and Yoga!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Enlighten Up!
This is a documentary about a skeptical man exploring the wonders of Yoga. I haven’t practiced yoga yet, but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, that it is not only excellent for exercise but also a spiritual and meditative experience. This trailer has me psyched to do some Yoga!

Chandni Chowk To China

Its Bollywood meets Hong Kong Cinema! What an interesting mix, the singing and dancing of a typical Bollywood film and the martial arts fighting of a typical Hong Kong film. This film reminds me of Kung Fu Hustle, can’t wait to see this!


Some good ole’ kick ass martial arts fun! A recent entry to the Thai Kickboxing (Muay Thai) movies that are taking over the martial arts film genre, like Ong Bak and The Protector this film has no stunt doubles, no visual effects, no strings, and they keep editing of fight scenes to a minimum (no Bourne Ultimatum shaky camera fighting here). This is a martial arts film that I have been waiting for, getting tired of the CGI heavy Jackie Chan films.

Song with my name!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

After tirelessly searching all over the internet for a song with my name in it, going through all the Little Mermaid search results and ironically a couple of weird underground metal songs, I finally found a song with my name in it and pronounced in Spanish! The song is entitled "Ariel" is by Billo's Caracas Boys, an old Salsa band from the 1960’s. The song is catchy and good ’ole Latin fun.

The lyrics being repeated in the song in Spanish is translated to: “I want to be like Ariel” XD

Voltaire's Genius/Bach is Back

"Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous."

"What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbors, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

"Nous cherchons tous le bonheur, mais sans savoir où, comme les ivrognes qui cherchent leur maison, sachant confusément qu'ils en ont une."

"We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one.

And in other news I'm currently fervently listening to Bach, great music to listen to while doing Homework, Physics and Math comes easy thanks to Bach.

Cello Suite No1 In G
by Bach

Music + Spiritual + Artsy = Awesome

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Here is one of the best music videos I have seen recently, the song is Gobbeldigook by Sigur Ros:

This is how music videos should be made! More emphasis on art and the rhythm of the song captured on film, rather than making a video that has tons of product placement and/or gratuitous sexuality. Yes people in this music video are indeed naked, but it's not for the sake of "sex sells" like every Britney Spears music video. Heck, this music video won't probably be ever shown on MTV/VH1... or TV in general for that matter. This music video shows the desire to be free. Free of worries, vanity, and inhibitions. Our primal desires to let go from the world, let loose and have fun!

Movies to Watch Out For: Tokyo

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

While viewing various film trailers online one stuck out, Tokyo. A weird off-beat film that follows in the tradition of films like Paris, Je T'aime, which showcases a city from the point of view of various directors. This film is weird, abstract, and surreal; qualities rarely seen in films nowadays. Best part is that one of the segments is directed by Michael Gondry! Director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind, Michael Gondry has a flair for the surreal, a modern-day Salvador Dalí. Plus the song is awesome; it’s Be Good by Tokyo Police Club. Can’t wait to catch this in theaters!

Cinéma Paradiso

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Looking back, there are some movies that touch us, that resonates with us and greatly influence our lives. Film is great mechanism to get a deeper message through and still maintain our attention. A truly great influential film is one where you can feel empathy for the characters, feel what they feel, experience what they experience. Here’s a sample of some of the movies that have influenced my life:

Requiem for a Dream
This masterpiece directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Hubert Selby Jr. is an amazing film about the harms of drug addiction. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t an educational film preaching for a “Drug-Free America”, this is a movie with style, drama, and powerful performances. The two drugs tackled in this film is Heroin and Speed, and we see how the characters use the drugs as an escape from life’s hardships but the irony is that the drug use is causing the hardships. The horrible experiences these characters go through show me the TRUE dangers of drugs. A gritty and real image of the drug junkie not seen in any “Drug-Free America” commercial or seen in our school textbooks. At the end of the film the true consequences are seen, I won’t tell you what they are, but I assure you will be terrified and will most likely never use hardcore drugs. This movie should be shown in every high school!

V For Vendetta
The most intelligent comic-book film to have graced the big screen! V for Vendetta is one of those films you leave the theater and say “Wow!” The biggest strength of this movie is its deep political message which is relevant to today’s problems. In a world where we have suffered great terrorist attacks and international turmoil and the government has passed laws such as the “Patriot Act” which is meant to maintaining surveillance on potential “terrorist” but in reality what can be defined as a “terrorist”? Remember ones man’s terrorist can be another man’s freedom fighter. To what degree do we give government more power to secure us? Should we give up freedom for security? Benjamin Franklin once said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” V for Vendetta shows a world where the people have given up their liberties in order for security, in turn life in that society has become fearful, strict, and limited. Government does not fix problems, it is the problem. Our liberties and freedom is something we should maintain, cherish, and not take it for granted.

"Vi veri veniversum vivus vici" ("By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe")

The Fountain
Another masterpiece by director Darren Aronofsky, a story about a Spanish conquistador and a queen that finds the fountain of youth and embarks on a thousand year journey. A powerful metaphorical movie entrenched in heavy themes about love, life death and the everlasting quest for immortality. This movie is grossly underrated; it failed both commercially and critically and I have absolutely no idea why!! It's a shame people ignore great cinema like this! Due to its complicated story structure and sequencing and subtle themes this film merits multiple viewings. This movie shows how love is constant beyond death. We cannot last forever, there comes an end to our physical lives but love manages to surpass the limitations of age and decay. Love is the true fountain of youth, revitalizing our lives and allowing us to cherish life before it passes us by. This film also touches on the theme of the necessity of death. The fact that we have death eminent in our lives allows us to have an even greater appreciation for life. As the Grand Inquisitor in the film said “Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But, fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.” Maybe this is true, maybe death frees us all from the confinements of the physical world. Maybe death is the factor that connects us all; as Carl Sagan said “We are all made of star stuff” Ultimately death is a cycle for rebirth, uniting us all through the vastness of space. As we continue our quest for immortality, we will learn how to conquer the fear of death. Thus peace can be truly achieved once we let go of our fears and our desire to control them. This film taught me that we must accept death as a natural process of life and of nature. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue to find the cure for cancer or extending our lifespans. We should seek to continue our lifespans and live healthy long lives but all things in the universe ultimately come to an end. Should our goal be to seek immortality? Or instead to have more time to experience life for all it's worth? Sooner or later we must accept death, but as the film tried to show us, we have to live in the present and enjoy ourselves with our loved ones. Ultimately it's really Love and Death that connects us all…

"All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pulled me through time." - Tommy Creo (The Fountain)

Now for one of the best songs from a film score:
Death is the Road to Awe (The Fountain) - Clint Mansell

"A film is a ribbon of dreams. The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins."
-Orson Wells


Saturday, February 7, 2009

For over the past couple of weeks I have acquired a large variety of music. The world of music is so expansive and diverse, especially in this digital age, that limiting oneself to the Top 40 or whatever they put on radio these days is simply not enough. There is so much music out there that is waiting to be listened to. Radio nowadays is becoming dull, filled with music that is way too commercial and lacking any soul. Thus I have dedicated myself to listen to wide variety of music, from all countries and embracing all genres. Here’s a sample of some of the CDs I have heard:

March of Zapotec/Realpeople Holland
by Beirut

Out of all the Indie bands I have heard, Beirut must be one of the most unique. Using completely unique instrumentation comprising of horns, ukulele, trumpets, cello, mandolins, and violins, they achieve a sound never heard of in the Indie/Alternative genre. March of Zapotec/Realpeople Holland is two separate EPs released in one CD, each EP have a completely different sound to the other. March of Zapotec is heavily inspired by Mexican Folk music and Realpeople Holland mainly has an Electronic/Techno flavor to it. Beirut does an amazing job at achieve two completely different sounds, if I didn’t know any better I would have thought they were made by completely different artists! March of Zapotec has a joy to hear! It had that big-band sound and I absolutely loved the combination of Mexican Folk Music with Indie Rock. My favorite song from Zapotec was La Llorona, a truly epic song with emotion and lots of vigor. As for Realpeople Holland it was a nice change from the strong and powerful music of Zapotec. Instead Realpeople’s smooth techno beats are relaxing and soothing.

“All it takes to fall

What a quiet world after all

Of the things that you guessed will come

What a moment it was a
fter all” -Beirut

El Camino by Salsa Celtica
El Camino by Salsa Celtica came up when after hearing an entire days worth of Salsa and Merengue, I wondered to myself if someone, who is not from Latin America, has made Salsa. In my search of international Salsa, Salsa Celtica popped up! Salsa Celtica is band from Scotland fusing two interesting genres, Salsa and Celtic/Irish music. Being a lover of both Salsa and Celtic music, I had to listen to Salsa Celtica. El Camino is Salsa Celtica’s most recent album. The album is mainly Salsa except they use a lot of Celtic instrumentation such as the bagpipe and violins. They maintain a quick pace, and the music is very progressive. This CD just wants to make you get up and dance! A riveting mix of the best of both cultures that one would have never imagined would have been combined. It borrows from the best of both worlds; the excellent and upbeat sound of salsa, the beautiful lyrics in Spanish (have nothing against lyrics in English, actually would like to hear it, but for now the best language combination with Salsa is Spanish) and the diverse and a combination of the both Celtic and Latin instruments. Salsa Celtica so far is one of the best Salsa I’ve ever heard! It has memorable lyrics, awesome instrumentation, and music is just irresistible to dance to. El Camino is a must buy for Latin music lovers or for anybody who just wants to have a good time.

“Me amorraste con tu mirar
Iluminaste mi ansiedad

Tú me encendiste sentimientos dormidos sin calmar

Tu mi curaste el Corazón partido”
–Salsa Celtica

Cafe Colando (Part One) -Salsa Celtica

Solo Piano by Philip Glass
Philip Glass has to be one of my most favorite contemporary classical musicians, his minimalist style is engaging yet tranquil. After listening to many of Philip Glass’ movie scores and hearing his song “Pruit Igoe” in the Watchmen movie trailer, I decided I had to listen to his Solo Piano album, where it’s just Philip Glass playing solo. While being a master composer he is also an amazing pianist. The longest track was Metamorphosis, a five piece composition. Metamorphosis is an excellent example of Glass’ genius, a deeply heartfelt and memorable composition, expanding your imagination and taking you to a journey through a vast musical landscape.

Fight with Tools by Flobots
Flobots is one of these rare bands that are able to mix rap, rock, violins all while having deep political message. Fight with Tools is an album that is explosive and powerful. The album contains very strong political themes in its lyrics, its hard hitting and makes a lot of sense of a world where we suffer through many problems; corruption of the political elite, wars killing thousands of people, and people dying of hunger worldwide. Our world has many flaws and has committed many mistakes but through love, knowledge, and cooperation we can surpass that. Flobots conveys this message through its music. Fight with Tools is not all political it also contains one of the most unique Hip-Hop I’ve heard. They just don’t stick to Hip-Hop but instead incorporate rock, funk, and classical. Anytime I hear Hip-Hop with violins, which is rare, it immediately captures my attention. Flobots in Fight with Tools manages to create a unique sound while adding a strong political message.

“There is a war going on for your mind, if you're thinking then you are winning” –Flobots

- Flobots

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
by Devendra Banhart

After hearing the song Lover by Devendra Banhart randomly on the internet, I fell in love with this soft-spoken peaceful folk music reminiscent of the folk rock of the 60’s. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon provides a beautiful mystic and sincere sound. It’s a voyage to the vast soundscapes of American folk music that might mystify unsuspecting listeners, like myself. The first song of the album, Cristobal, was amazing! I hesitated weather to continue to listen to the album or just put Cristobal on repeat, but I decided to resist the temptation and follow my ritual of listening to an entire album in one sitting. Next up was Samba Vexillographica which was an amazing mix of Samba and Folk. Then there was Lover which was a throwback to the funky psychedelic music of the 60’s. You can pop this song in any movie of the 60s or 70s and it will fit right in place. And lastly there is Carmensita, which has one the weirdest and funkiest music videos you’ll ever see. Joyful, funky, mystic, beautiful, calm, and creative are all words to describe Devendra Banhart’s Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.

“Hay un mundo más allá

Otro mundo más allá”
–Devendra Benhart

“Music is the weapon of the future.” –Fela Kuti


Monday, February 2, 2009

So I was looking over the entries of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and I would like to share the trailers that have captured my interest:


It's going to be the Superbad of 2009! It has that quirky and awkward humor with a retro 70's look that has become very popular recently, especially with Superbad and Juno. Simply can't wait to run out of breath laughing my ass off!

Johnny Mad Dog

A grim drama about child soldier fighting in war-torn Africa. This film seems like it's going to be an eye-opener with regards to the harsh conditions in Africa. Unlike most movies that take place in Africa in which they have a heroic leading man saving the day from ravages of Africa. Instead this movie is approached from the point of view of a child soldier, and how a child is subjugated to the violence and barbarity of war. It's about time we have a documentary-esque film about the unfortunate conditions and war in Africa.

Rudo y Cursi

Two sibling go through a rivalry in the world of professional soccer. Produced by the two of my most favorite Latin-American directors, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, this movie is sure to be an exciting and fun ride!

500 Days of Summer

Last but most definitely not least, 500 Days of Summer! By far the most addicting trailer out of the bunch, have seen way too many times and yet it never gets old! The trailer has a cool old school vibe to it with the voice over, that sounds weirdly similar to Morgan Freeman. The song used in the trailer, Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap is simply amazing and a perfect match for this movie. And one most not forget the two starring actors; Zooey Deschanel, who always manages to play the quirky and humorous love interest perfectly, and Joseph Gordon Levitt, who starred in my opinion in one of the best romantic comedies, 10 Things I Hate About You. This movie just doesn't look like a typical Hollywood Romantic Comedy/Drama but instead a whimsical journey through love.

Okay for now you must excuse me, I'm going to watch the 500 Days of Summer trailer 10 more times...

Slumdogs in a Gran Torino

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the past week I went to see two movies that despite their two relatively low budgets they have been massively popular for the past month.

Gran Torino Review
The first one is Gran Torino directed and starring Clint Eastwood. Unlike Clint Eastwood's previous entries this one actually has a sense of humor! Most of the film is filled with Clint Eastwood spouting racial slurs but instead of insulting or offending the audience it ends up being very funny. Not due to the actual remarks themselves, but instead due to the ridiculousness of those remarks. Walt Kowalski, Clint Eastwood's character, builds so much hate and racism it ends up making him a miserable old man but through interaction with the Asian neighbors he begins to relate to them and inadvertently protecting them. Despite the film being quite funny it is filled with heavy themes about racism in today's society and how people, regardless of color or ethnicity, go through the same problems we do. One also cannot forget the main star Clint Eastwood. Despite being 78 years old, Clint is still kicking ass! He is an imposing force in this movie, and manages to maintain that tough guy persona that he started as Dirty Harry. The final product is a movie that can makes you laugh and cry at the same time.
Gran Torino's Final Grade: B+

Slumdog Millionaire Review
Now for the next movie, a movie that took Hollywood by storm and no warning was given. It came from a relatively small budget, had virtually unknown actors, was almost released Direct-to-Video and the entire movie was filmed in the slums of India! Of course I am talking about the Golden Globe Best Drama Motion Picture of 2009 and SAG's Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture of 2009; Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle. First I must say I'm a huge fan of Danny Boyle's previous work especially 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Boyle has a flair for heavy gritty drama and stylish film making. I was extremely hyped to see this movie back in December, when virtually nobody has heard of it, then my hype increased 10-fold when it won Best Picture in Golden Globes and rose to the top 5 in the U.S. Box Office! I was determined to see this movie, tried a total of three times! First two times they were unfortunately sold out! Then fortunately, like people say third time is a charm, I finally got to see it. First I must start with the premise of the movie, it's about Jamal Malik, a teenager from the most poorest areas of India who participates in the new crazed TV game show Who Want's to be a Millionaire? and throughout the movie each question he encounters in the game show corresponds to a life experience. A unique premise ain't it? This is not a typical Hollywood/Bollywood movie that sanitizes everything, instead it shows the most gritty and poor areas of Mumbai, India. Danny Boyle and cinematographer, Anthony Mantle, make the gritty reality of the slums look beautiful on film. Making use of vibrant colors, fast editing, and great camerawork, the film ends up being great eye candy. The film concentrated on the harsh conditions of the slums while showing that there are some aspects in life that remain beautiful even the most of harsh conditions. Despite the movie being centered around winning a large amount of money, it shows that money really doesn't matter after all. Love is the way to surpass your bad life experiences and harsh environments and even through the worst of times one can learn valuable life lessons that will come in useful in the future. Another strong part of this film was the amazing cast. Despite consisting of mostly unknown actors and very young actors, the movie had amazing acting. At not one point I thought to myself "O they could have done this better". Props goes to Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto, who respectively played Jamal Malik and his love interest, Latika. The movie's music also stuck out. It was a mix of Hip-Hop, Techno, Indian Pop Music, and beautiful Indian Vocals. Boyle decided to get rid of the common orchestral score and put some modern and energetic music to capture the frenetic pace of the movie. Overall this movie is a tour de force, a exquisitely and wonderfully constructed piece of art, being able to touch you while making the audience aware of the horrible conditions these people live through everyday but at the end it makes you feel happy that love surpasses all. This movie will sure win the Oscar for Best Picture and greatly suggest you watch this movie and support this "little movie that could" become a mark in cinema history!
Slumdog Millionaire's Final Grade: A+