Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ali

Ali is a 2001 biographical film directed by Michael Mann. Mann is known for directing great pictures like The Last of the Mohicans in 1992, Collateral in 2004 and many more. Ali tells the story of Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay, the icon of heavyweight boxing. In the role of Ali we can see the talented Will Smith. And let me tell you up front, Will Smith was just incredible in this role. In fact, both, Will Smith and Michael Mann, were so dedicated to make this film as good as possible that they offered to put up their salaries in case the film went over-budget.
 So, this magnificent film takes us all the way back to 1964 when fresh from his Olympic gold medal victory, a brash new pro boxer, Cassius Clay, explodes onto the scene of heavyweight boxing and follows his career as professional boxer, personal life and problems with the law as he refuses to submit to military conscription for duty in Vietnam for 10 years. I'm not going to bother with a retell. It would be too long for anyone to read. I'll just write about the aspects I found remarkable.
 Well, what is definitely worth mentioning is that there are no rocky-type fights. This film is not made to entertain people, it's made to show the life of a great man and that as realistically as possible. In my opinion, they have succeeded at that. Although, I'm not an expert on Ali Muhammads biography, I have only seen few documentaries on his life and video recordings of some of his fights, it seems to me that the matches in the movie are close to perfect reproductions of the real ones. Michael Mann really has focused on getting all the details right.
 According to Wikipedia, Ali has won 20 awards. Well, that should be enough of a back up for my rather praising review. Unfortunately, Ali, despite of being nominated in two categories in Academy Awards and in three categories in Golden Globe Awards, didn't win any Oscars or Golden Globes. To me that just seems like a big
misunderstanding. I can't recall that there was anything better made that year. Okay, A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe was a pretty decent film as well. But trust me, Ali is better.
 The users of IMDB have given Ali a rather mediocre score of  6.6 points. I guess a lot of people just can't appreciate when something is made to tell the real story, instead of just being entertaining. Well, from me, this masterpiece get's 8 points out of 10!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Miss Bala


Miss Bala is a 2011 Mexican drama film written and directed by Gerardo Naranjo. To be honest, the name, Gerardo Naranjo, doesn`t really tell me anything. But let me just tell you up front that this not so famous director did an excellent job writing and directing Miss Bala. The film was even selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, unfortunately it didn`t make the final shortlist.
In the lead role we can see unknown but beautiful and talented Stephanie Sigman, who plays the role of Laura Guerrero. A young woman - in her early 20s - who lives with her father and younger brother in Tijuana, Mexico.
The film starts with Laura and her friend Suzu going to an auditon for the Miss Baja beauty pageant. The audition goes well and both girls are asked to come back the following day. For a moment, life seems to be perfect for Laura, she has just successfully taken the first step in the process of realizing her dream of becoming the next Miss Baja. After the audition Laura follows her friend to a seedy nightclub. In there, she soon finds herself being in a wrong place at the wrong time. Lino Hernandez, the local drug kingpin, and his gang, storm the nightclub. Laura lies on the floor and miraculously survives the intense gun fire. After the danger is over, she starts to search for her friend but can`t find her. She ends up spending the night in a café staring at her cell phone, hoping to her from her friend. But as the sun rises, she has not yet heard anything from her firend. She leaves the café. On the street, she spots a police car. Hesitating whether it is the right thing to do or not, she approaches the car. She tells the policeman everything that happened on the previous night and he promises to help her. The policeman says that he will take her to the station to form an official testimony. But instead, he gives her over to the Lino Hernandez gang. The mistake of trusting the policeman, changes Laura`s life tragically. Lino, who takes an immediate shine to Laura, starts to use her in his criminal actions. Laura, afraid for the safety of her family, does everything as told. As Lino appears to be fond of the girl, he uses his criminal ways to secure Laura the Miss Baja title. Laura still taking part in the pageant, after life-chaning encounter with Lino Hernandez, is what makes this film what it is. On one moment Laura is on a street nearly shot to death in an exchange of fire between Lino`s gang and DEA. The next moment, she is thrown to the backstage of the beauty pageant for a quick make up to appear beautiful and cheerful on the stage in just few minutes.
I remember accidentally reading a comment about Miss Bala on Metacritic before watching the movie myself. There was this one guy - I can`t recall his ridiculous username - who said that this movie was fine but appeared as if it had been shot with a cell phone camera. I don`t know what low-budget series of frames did he watch and why he felt the need to write about it on Metacritic`s Miss Bala review page, but he obviously had not seen Miss Bala. This film is expertly shot. Although, the camera work was a little unusual at times, it was so only to make it seem more realistic and bring out the emotions Laura felt more clearly.
Stephanie Sigman did a remarkable job playing Laura Guerrero. Laura did not speak much. So all the emotions - fear, confusion, uncertainty etc - had to be shown with body language only. And Stephanie did a really good job at that. Laura seemed to be in shock pretty much the full time after the shootout in the nightclub.
Noe Hernandez who plays the local drug kingpin Lino Valdez was pretty good as well. He does a great job at bringing out his character`s nasty personality and looking gruesome.
In conclusion, I have to say that I really liked this film. I started to watch it only because I found Stephanie Sigman pretty good-looking and I wasn`t really ready to see something this good. It took me by surprise. It really was a realistic, fast-moving and intense movie that gives the audience a harrowing experience. 9/10 points! Yep, it was that good!

Friday, February 17, 2012

V for Vendetta


V for Vendetta is a 2005 thriller film. An adaption of the V for Vendetta comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It`s directed by James Mc Teigue. A man known for being the assistant director of Matrix trilogy. So it sounds promising already, right? Well, it get`s better. In the leading role we can see the fantastic every man`s dream girl Natalie Portman. And on an equally important role, we can see Hugo Weaving. No, sorry. We can`t see him. We can only hear his voice. His face is hidden behind a Guy Fawkes mask. A mask well known to people today as the mask used by the group called anonymous and thousands of imposers.
The film takes us to 2030`s, when the world is in chaos and the United Kingdom is ruled by a totalitarian government under the fascist Norsefire party. They use media to manipulate with people and eliminate everybody who they think don`t fit in their society or could be a security risk. Therefore homosexuals, black people, Pakistanis and Muslims are simply exterminated. Unfortunately to the fascistic government, there is a mysterious Guy Fawkes-masked vigilante known only as V who dares to stand up to them. He blows up Old Bailey and takes over the state television broadcast to urge the people of Britain to rise up against the oppressive government and meet him in one year, on 5th of November, outside the Houses of Parliament, which he promises to blow up as well. On the night before detonating a bomb in Old Baley, V rescues a young woman, Evey Hammond, from an attempted rape by the memebers of the secret police. The women, played by Natalie Portman, becomes V`s only friend and an ally, as he continues the fight against the fascistic government.
I must say, I have mixed feelings towards this movie. It was really long - over two hours. The first hour seemed promising. The story was interesting. They showed backstories to the current events and everything. But the second half wasn`t so great. The story started to seem more and more meaningless with every minute. And the ending appeared rushed and simpleminded. Blowing up a building can change the world? Well, in Fight Club it can, but not in V for Vendetta. Nevertheless, it was quite okay and in Hollywood they make movies out of far more improbable stories. And it`s always a total pleasure seeing Natalie Portman, who`s acting in this one, was pretty respectable.
It`s seems like a lot of people liked this one. Despite all the unkind comments on metacritc, it has a score of 8.2 points out of 10 on IMDB and the tomatometer shows that 88% of the audience liked it. Almost makes me regret all the bad things I said about it. As it seems to be loved by everyone, I could receive a lot of those so called hate comments for this. So, therefore let me just say that I was only trolling and I actually really liked it. It was probably the best movie I`ve ever seen. No-no! What`s done, is done! I don`t agree with IMDB and the tomatometer once again. I`d give it 6.5/10 and 5 points are for Natalie.