Force Majeure – 9.0/10

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9.0/10

The movie is rich in subtext; the characters and the dialogue are extraordinary. Director Ruben Östlund creates a family drama with subtlety and elegance; he slowly raises the conflict in a masterful way, without falling in the melodrama. The long takes and static camera bothered me at the beginning, I was begging for a cut or for a reverse shot; then I gave it a pass, I thought that the filmmaker was trying to create a language for the film; but suddenly, at the middle of the movie, he broke his own language: the camera began to move (in a series of pushes in and out) without no emotional reason; it’s seems to me that he was serving the style more than the plot.  But other than that, the movie is perfect; “Force Majeure” remind us how fragile and unstable humans relationships are.  Don’t miss this one.

by Oscar Rodríguez Górriz

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Nightcrawler – 8.5/10

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8.5/10

Great story, great rhythm, great editing. The mood of this film is extraordinary. The super-high-speed car sequences are masterful. Jake Gyllenhaal owns the role, he blends into the character and invites you to witness the bloody incidents with him. It could have been a perfect film, but it’s limping out of a third act. “Nightcrawler” is missing the “all is lost moment”, that part where usually the character is on his lowest point; sometimes that moment is replaced for moment of weakness and doubt, where the protagonist goal is hanging on a cliff and the next decision that he takes will determine if he succeeds or fails. Gyllenhaal’s character is never in real danger, nor  has to break his brain to take a important decision; he never doubts, he has no weakness. When the end credits began to roll I was expecting another 30 minutes of film. I wanted to see what will lead to the doom of the protagonist or how he will redeemed himself; but well, that never happened.

by Oscar Rodríguez Górriz

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Whiplash – 10/10

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10/10

Intensity – this is the core element of “Whiplash”. Every aspect in this film is strong and compelling; its greatest strength coming in from the music. The editing is electric, the music brilliantly crafted with almost every story beat enhanced by excellent musical cues. Each high or low is expertly aided to bring the audience to the next highlight of the journey. All major characters are well accounted for, with none of them made out to be carboard cut out stereotypes. They don’t just gloss over the narrative, they live and breathe the music – the audience never forgets how integral this is to the characters. Miles Teller and JK Simmons give life to the student and mentor, respectively, and one does not doubt how their love-hate and hate again dynamic defines their relationship from beginning to end. The audience is left on the edge of their seats to figure out if these two warring characters will finally reach a common ground of understanding. “Whiplash” hits all the right notes, and any minor flaw is deemed irrelevant by the excellence of the film as a whole.

by Angelo Agojo

10/10

Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize winner “Whiplash” is one the year’s best. Lead actor Miles Teller is amazing and J.K. Simmos gives a performance of a lifetime. Just when you think that the movie can’t go any further, director Damien Chazelle proves you wrong and pushes it to a whole other level of insane and intensity. The film builds up perfectly, every scene is more powerful than the previous one; its like the growing curve of a graph that never goes down. The ending is extraordinary, it finishes just when you reach the peak of that curve; it’s an inspiring film.

by Oscar Rodríguez Górriz

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Wild – 7.5/10

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7.5/10
The director of Dallas Buyers Club, Jean Marc-Vallée, brings another drama based on a real life story.  Strong performances of Reese Witherspoon, who plays Sheryl (a woman that embarks into a solo hiking of 1,100 miles), and Laura Dern, who plays her mother. The main problem is that the film is not ‘wild’ enough, not the hiking, not the forest dangers, not even the sex and drugs. The story never builds up; actually its the opposite: the most difficult parts of the journey are at the beginning, when Sheryl is a rookie in hiking, after that all the dangers are overcome relatively easy. The film is full powerful moments where Witherspoon shine,  but at the end you will find yourself asking: Was that all?

by Oscar Rodríguez Górriz

 

Clouds of Sils Maria – 7.5/10

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7.0/10

Finding street parking in Hollywood is like finding the Majola Snake featured in Olivier Assayas’s new film “Clouds of Sils Maria.” Luckily, I knew where to look (I used to live nearby where cash  and drugs were tossed up and down in a tennis shoe from a stucco balcony across the street.) and snuck past security to view the recently overbooked AFI screening. Playing the aging actress Maria, Juliette Binoche is as marvelous and at home in her role as Kristen Stewart seems flat and out of place playing her assistant. All the scenes of Alps vistas and moody interiors play out gracefully (except for a goofy X-Men parody), but ultimately this film misses the potential of its subject matter and its lead talent by delivering a wink rather than a snakebite.

by Scott Gist

8.0/10

Juliette Binoche gives an amazing performance but perhaps the biggest revelation is Kristen Stewart. She proves to be the female-Keanu Reeves, that when cast in the right role she gives warmth to an easily forgettable character. The heart of the film lies on those intimate scenes between Binoche and Stewart even though nothing appears to be happening at first glance. Here lies what can be considered the film’s greatness and failures: the editing. Long scenes slowly escalating to something we never see and therefore is implied, repeat another 15 times and you’ve got this film. Again, this formula sometimes works tremendously but in the end it turns out to be repetitive a bit frustrating.

by Enrique López Oropeza

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Birdman – 8.5/10

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8.5/10

The first half of “Birdman” miraculously transported me three feet above my seat – hovering just like Michael Keaton’s character in that glorious first shot of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brave new film. Perfect pacing with staccato jazz rhythms. Perfect flowing imagery. Perfect performances. There may never have been a role as nuanced, frenetic, heartbreaking and hilarious as this one by Keaton. In fact, all the actors shine. The second half, unfortunately, with a few too many feel-good-but-you-know-its-ironic moments, left me a bit lower – just one inch in the air. And why do so many movies nowadays turn the camera away from the main character at the climax of the film? Isn’t involvement more entertaining than surprise? Anyway, “Birdman” is a cool movie. Check it out.

by Scott Gist

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