Hugo Cabret (2011)

Yeah, I do reckon that this post comes a little late. But you know… Italian releases and my dissertation are not helping me out on this one. Anyway, Hugo Cabret has finally come out in here too and I’ve also finished writing my grad thesis, so I’m ready to come back to my blog-life. And yep, I’ve been missing you all, guys!

I saw Hugo Cabret on Valentine’s Day and I must say the timing was perfect. I mean, I spent the night of Love’s Day (which I usually despise, but that’s another story) with Martin Scorsese. I spent the night of Love’s Day with George Méliès. I spent the night of Love’s Day with a little boy who, just like me, is absolutely crazy about movies. Summing it up: I spent the night of Love’s Day with my Love for cinema.
Surely it’s not a flawless film – a little too long, sometimes even to sappy, editing not as perfect as you expect from a Scorsese movie – but overall, I enjoyed it. I felt like a little kid watching The Magic happening on the screen. Yeah, I did feel like Hugo so, dear Mr. Scorsese, mission accomplished: through that kid you perfectly represented all of us film-lovers. You perfectly represented yourself. By the way: not only this movie made me appreciate Valentine’s Day (at least for a little more than a couple of hours), it also made appreciate 3D. It was actually kind of painful because I forgot to wear lenses so I had to wear two pairs of glasses for 137 minutes. But that’s just me to blame. So, do you know why I enjoyed it, nevertheless? Because the film was made for 3D. Apart from the technical perfection, I felt like Mr. Scorsese made us put on our supercool and super-21st century 3D glasses in order to watch the 1930s viewers on the screen watching us back. And, as we viewers watch each other, we feel like two reflections of a mirror. As if to say that, you know, love for films is transcendent, no matter where and when you live.

That’s why Hugo Cabret is a great love movie.

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Beware: Copyrighted Material

“Even the good become pirates in a world where the rules seem absurd”
(Lawrence Lessig, Remix

I think you all know about PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by now. In case you don’t, Wikipedia’s links will do the job. The acts’ approval has been postponed due to the widespread protests and boycotts, but the issue is far from being over. So… what do I think about online piracy?
First of all, let’s define piracy.

– Someone enters a theatre and starts recording the movie with his/her camera. Than He/she posts it online or makes DVD and sells the copies.
– Someone edits an homemade video of his/her holidays adding a legally bought Prince song (not a random reference, see the Lenz v. Universal Case) as soundtrack. Then he/she posts it online.
Well, these are very different cases. Yet, according to lawmakers and copyright supporters, these two people are both perceived as criminals.
So, firstly: the crime of piracy lacks a real definition. And before acting on penalties and consequences, I think it’s essential to define WHAT really arms society copyright owners. Secondly: I think it’s totally wrong to apply “real world” rules and common beliefs to “virtual world”. And I’m saying this because PIPA and SOPA supporters have made a major case out of it (see here). We live in a digital era that requires new points of view about matters as copyright and intellectual property. We live in a world where technology actually ALLOWS copies. The possibility to copy is now an intrinsic feature of all texts and works of art (just to paraphrase Walter Benjamin). And here we go: the market enters the game.
A few days ago I found this article by Tim O’Reilly that explain what I think better than I’d actually do. Summing it up: piracy is the result of a market failure (“the unwillingness or inability of existing companies to provide their product at a price or in a manner that potential customers want”). Traditional companies were so busy fighting online “pirates” that they retarded  the growth of new business models more suitable for the digital era. Who won? Not pirates. But new services as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix. So “The solution to piracy must be a market solution, not a government intervention, especially not one as ill-targeted as SOPA and PIPA. We already have laws that prohibit unauthorized resale of copyrighted material, and forward-looking content providers are developing products, business models, pricing, and channels that can and will eventually drive pirates out of business by making content readily available at a price consumers want to pay, and that ends up growing the market”

That’s pretty much all, folks.
And now: what do you guys think about it? 


We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilley,  Ezra Miller

Kids can really be scary and disturbing. Take Joshua, for instance: he’s a little wicked demon cast inside a seemingly normal family. And there’s nothing more threatening than normal things turning out to be the opposite. But, you now, you take movies like Joshua just for what they are: thrillers/horrors. For thought they may be creepy and disturbing, you see their cinematic and fictional effects. You see the plot.

Then there are other movies, like We Need to Talk About Kevin. In short, and in IMDB’s words: “The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief – and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions.”
The story is entirely told through her memories and perspective.  As she tries to start a new life, metaphorically cleaning up the new house, she scratches the surface not only of those walls, but also of her memories’ walls. Through her flashbacks we gradually find out what really happened and, above all, like her we strive to understand why and how.
Kevin is clearly a disturbed child, right from the beginning. She knows that something is wrong with him. We know too. Her husband, instead, doesn’t notice and that makes her feel like an unfit mother – also because that little ass wants her to feel like that. So she’s deeply conflicted about the evil that she sees in her son and the natural love of  a mother. She knows, but she doesn’t really act. And that makes you wonder, at the end, whether things could have gone differently if she had said to her husband: “We need to talk about Kevin”.
In many ways, Kevin’s character is as disturbing as Joshua’s. But, as I said, this is a quite different movie. Though it’s not a true story (it’s an adaptation of 2003 Lionel Shiver’s novel), it conveys that precise feeling. The way is told, through rough and uneven memories, makes it so real. Like reading a diary. Or looking inside someone’s mind. Plus, it totally engages the viewers: as we embrace the mother’s perspective, we perfectly understand what she feels. And, like her, we start to feel guilty as well. We start to look for reasons and someone to blame but, in the end, it all comes back to Kevin himself. Who is just innately evil.
A painful drama, a gripping psychological thriller, a great movie.

“It’s like this: you wake and watch TV, get in your car and listen to the radio you go to your little jobs or little school, but you don’t hear about that on the 6 o’clock news, why? ‘Cause nothing is really happening, and you go home and watch some more TV and maybe it’s a fun night and you go out and watch a movie. I mean it’s got so bad that half the people on TV, inside the TV, they’re watching TV. What are these people watching, people like me?”

A Song of Ice and Fire

(FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE ONLY SEEN THE SERIES OR READ SOME OF THE BOOKS, I WILL TRY NOT TO SPOIL ANYTHING IMPORTANT THROUGHOUT THE POST, BUT I CAN’T GUARANTEE ON WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WRITE IN THEIR COMMENTS!)

Last night I watched Disney’s The Sword in Stone. It’s a classic, so I’m taking for granted that all of you saw it too. Do you remember when Arthur takes out the sword from the stone, his master bows to him and then says to his son: “Bow to your king”? Well, what I thought in that moment was: if we were in Westeros, Arthut would be dead in 5 years. It just takes someone like a eunuch in silk slippers, a Lannister in golden gown or a turncloak ward. Here’s what George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire does to you. Then I also watched Camelot‘s pilot, but that’s another story.
As you could tell, I’ve just finished the last book available, A Dance With Dragons. Actually, I must say that I’m really disappointed. Not only because of the awful ending, but above all because after a sort of preparatory book like A Feast For Crows, where nothing really happens, you expect a huge blow on the following chapter. Nothing like this. Everything that really happens could have been told in 200 pages, instead of 800… Seriously Mr. Martin, do your editors pay you per page like in the 19th century? Do we really need to know the deatils of every meal? Do we really need to read every character’s thoughts, even if they’re just about taking a piss or not? I swore I wouldn’t spoil anything important, but let me also ask you this: why do you hate us, Mr. Martin?
That being said, aside from a huge amount of useless and totally uninteresting pages in the last two books, the saga is just awesome, as you may have noticed from HBO’s A Game of Thrones. The first three books (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords) are mind-gripping, breath-taking and every other absolutely cool adjective you can add to the list. They just surprise you every time you turn the page. So I’m really hopeful and enthusiastic about HBO’s series: first season was just perfect. I think that second, third and fourth (the third book is going to be split up in two seasons) will be on the same page. As for the other books remaining… Mr. Martin, here’s your chance to make things right. I’m not suggesting to change the story. But I’m sure that nobody is going to let you write a one hour episode about Cersei’s breakfast. That’s why, Mr. Bienoff and Mr. Weiss, we also rely on you and your cinematic wisdom: Winter has come. Don’t let us freeze.

The Ides of March (2011)

Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei

Gosh, I love when Good and Evil mingle so as you can’t tell anymore which one is which. ‘Cause actually there’s no difference, they just live inside everyone not as separate, but as complementary ways of being. Not that I’m going to lecture you about philosophy, religion or whatever, I just need to underline this to make you understand how awesome The Ides of March is. See the movie poster? That’s a double face. Yeah, they’re different persons. Yet, they’re still the same. But they’re not. Also because one is real and one is on paper. Yeah, that’s kind of complicated, but that’s why even the movie poster is so awesome. Clooney brings competition, corruption and bad deeds not only inside the same person, but also right inside the same team. Inside the same party. A party which has a public façade made of liberal values, positive will of change and honesty. Well, that’s politics baby.
Technically, The Ides of March is perfect. Clooney’s direction mingles television style and classic cinema, putting a particular emphasis on a pop-artsy composition. The cast is just impressive: Ryan Gosling, Clooney himself,  Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei… The good thing is that you don’t actually see the “stars”: the actors disappear and you just see the characters. That’s real talent, I think. All this, needless to say, supported by a very well-written story by Clooney and Grant Heslov (right from Goodnight, and Good Luck).Did I say that I really loved this film? 

“We’re gonna be fine. We have to do it, it’s the right thing to do and nothing bad happens when you’re doing the right thing”
“Is this your personal theory? ‘Cause I can shoot holes in it”

PS: If you can read Italian, there’s a great review a friend of mine wrote here.

About Fall Season’s Finales

DEXTER – Season 6
Overall, the series wasn’t great. At all. Dexter spent all his time hunting down Gellar and Travis, forgetting about his killer instinct and the fact that we liked him better when all he cared about was stabbing bad guys. One bad guy each episode, not a couple of them in one entire season. That being said, the plot itself was good and gripping. As for the finale, well, I’m so glad it happened. In the literary series it happened on the first book and it made things much more interesting.
Oh, I forgot: that psychological problem with Deb… Well, that was awkward and totally inappropriate for the series. Shame on you, writers.

HOMELAND – Season 1
Confirmed: best new series. Throughout this 12 episodes, it had lots of ups and no downs. Carrie and Brody are two of the best characters who ever appeared on the small screen. The long finale was just breath-taking: the opening video gave me goose bumps and the closing sequence made me curse, so I guess every part of it did its job.

Saul for president.

MISFITS – Season 3
Honestly, I only appreciated the last two episodes, from zombies on. Yes, I do miss Nathan. But I also really like Rudy so far… So I guess that, given the ending, I could be happier from the fourth season on. Just a plead to the writers: give them all their original powers back, that was what made them themselves! But again, I think that this ending opened up for a “back to the roots” thing.