12 oktobris, 2018

First Man

I am not sure if it wasn't for how much I enjoyed Whiplash and La La Land I would've gone seen this "First man on the Moon" biographical piece. But boy how glad am I to trust Damien Chazelle won't make bad movies. It's been a long time since a film left me with such strong and lingering aftertaste.Thank God.

About the plot: We get to follow the life of Neil Armstrong (played by wonderful Ryan Gosling) from 1961 up until his landing on the Moon in 1969.
There is plenty to enjoy, so let's break it down. I will try to list everything that worked for me in the order of appreciativeness:

▲ THE MOVIE GOT TO MY GUTS! IN TWO DIFFERENT WAYS!! 3 times each!!! At different times I noticed I was tensed-up and holding my stomach or leg tightly. For this I can thank the team consisting of the director, cinematographer, operator and editor. Ryan was shaking, I was too. The other "gut-thing" was emotional. Got myself choked up in different parts of the story. As I am not good in history (wasn't interested at school, this is the only way I get some historical facts, basically), some of the "revelations" (for me those were revelations, probably there are plenty of people who know them) hit me hard and couldn't help myself feeling intense empathy. So for that big thanks goes to the director, Ryan Goslings performance and writers.

▲Ryan Gosling. Man, he can act! The power of transcending the character out of the screen and into your life for a couple of hours - not everybody can do that.

▲Music and sound effects. And also the lack of it when needed. Justin Hurwitz (soundtrack master in this one) also made music for Whiplash and La La Land. I enjoy the fact that I guessed that while watching and later proved myself right with fact-checking. I choose to highlight soundtracks because there are plenty of movies who somehow mess it up. For me the music should complement and enrich the visual experience, sometimes it should set you in specific mood, but not give away "what's about to happen". I think Mr. Hurwitz is on the same page here.

▲Mood of the film. Overall you get this calm, melancholic vibe and time from time you get thrown out by suspenseful and action-like parts. Interesting mixture that works. 

▲Couple of supporting role actors - Kyle Chandler and Jason Clarke both caught my eye. Luke Winters who played older Rick Armstrong (Neils son) also out-stood. He had just a couple of scenes but he delivered those neatly.

▲ I couldn't shake the movie off for some time after end credits. Considering it was a space related movie, it's even more surprising.

Was there something that didn't work for me? Yes. Although Clair Foy did a solid work, her character had substance I somehow didn't feel her and her relationship with anyone. Also I don't find the story itself (the part about landing on the Moon) that exciting.

Damien Chazelle, you have lifted the bar even higher for yourself. Three movies made. All three kind of epic. I have said enough.

P.S. To enjoy the movie, don't listen to me and lower your expectations.

Rating: ★★★★½

04 oktobris, 2018

A Star Is Born

First things first:
DEFINITELY A CINEMA MOVIE. Can't imagine how you will get "the right feeling" at home as this is music-filled piece.
Now the seconds:
A Star is born starts off with some strong and powerful string filled tunes that most possibly will give you chills (CHILLS!!) which to me is a rare experience. After that nice blast of bass, drums and cool vocals the story about experienced and popular musician who has somewhat typical rockstar problems keeps moving into a direction where he meets/discovers very talented wannabe singer. And the next is quite typical.
The thing is - while almost everything could be predictable (if you tried to guess and not enjoy what is in front of you) it is made that fluently and the characters feel so natural that predictability does not really bother you.
Bradley Coopers debut as a director (yes, you heard me. DIRECTOR) is all right, plot touches on some popular problems show business might bring - personal and within relationships. As I mentioned previously - nothing new. Cooper and Gaga did a solid acting, no argument there.
There were things that lowered my overall feeling, one of them - plot being very "I feel like I've seen this 15 times before...oh, wait..there is something different...yet still feels like I've seen this." (didn't bother me much, but I noticed). While main characters were strongly built, supporting ones were weak. Also think the ending could have been 15 minutes before it was and that would have been so much better. There was a great space where to finish it without making another cliched grand finale that kind of typically tries to suck everything out of you. Felt unnatural. Less is more I would say.

Good movie. Good music. Gagas' pipes and Bradley's voice - very enjoyable.
I should highlight that this was a cliched piece that I unexpectedly could enjoy. I blame the music.