Monday, January 30, 2012

Noir City Festival - Castro Theatre.

On January 22nd, 2012, a tribute to Vera Caspary was presented as part of the Noir Film Festival at The Castro Theatre. The festival started on January 20th and ended on the 29th, showing classics such as Mr. Dynamite, Gilda, The House On Telegraph Hill, Point Blank, Unfaithfully Yours, Naked Alibi, The Great Gatsby and many other noir works of art. As cited before, Vera Caspary was honored with a double feature night of her own writing work, including the hardly known british "Bedelia" and the very famous Otto Preminger adaptation of "Laura".

Bedelia - The Queen of The British Femme Fatales.

After a long heartbreak by Otto Preminger's adaptation of her Laura, Vera Caspary decided to hide "Bedelia" from the hands of Hollywood. She brought her new screenplay to alternative British filmmaking and followed up with a great cast, the wonderful Lance Comfort direction and a much more intimate production(in relation to Laura). In the beginning of the night at The Castro, there was a speech about the "conspiracies" of this movie and how it would only be allowed to be shown once in every theatre that miraculously put their hands into it. It is a very rare 35mm print that will not be shared many places. In fact, it is very hard - almost impossible - to find it in a video rent store. "A piece of treasure", as the founder of the Festival, Mr. Eddie Muller - who is also a great film/theatre noir writer and who I have had the pleasure to meet when I was in a reading of his new play, Fear over Frisco - said.

Bedelia, played by the "queen of the British femme fatales", Margaret Lockwood, represents the grave danger in women recognized at that period of time. Strong, seductive, forceful, vigorous. The true meaning of a young film noir female character. The plot, the story, is absolutely wonderful. It magnetizes the audience like a good book you can't stop reading. Margaret makes a great job on her acting, giving her Bedelia a touch of drama and sometimes making the audience wonder if she is a hero or an anti-hero. It is wonderful to know we still have that wonder in the world and that maybe some people will still be able to see it. If it wasn't so secretive, I am sure it would be a very famous classic, just like Laura is.

Laura - The Grand Mystery.

Adapted by Jay Dratler, "Laura" is one of the most famous mysteries of all the History of Filmmaking. The amazing acting, - including the very young Vincent Price, who I almost didn't recognize - wonderful direction by Otto Preminger and the amazing cinematography and wardrobe choices makes me think that Vera Caspary had a love-hate relationship to this movie. Even though it is a great adaptation, Vera could not stand to see her screenplay turned into something absolutely different. If "Laura" was adapted in the way Vera wrote it, it would have been a different story, with a different plot and even maybe different actors for the characters. If there is an example of an artist not knowing how to "kill their baby", Vera Caspary was definitely it.

Laura tells a story about a detective(played by the great Dana Andrews) that falls in love with a murder victim, Laura(played by Gene Tierney). The film's build up is absolutely great. The secret being revealed in the end works perfectly with the timing of the movie. Impeccable cinematography, Oscar-winning. Great direction, great acting, great film overall. For those who have a preference for mysteries, it is more than recommendable.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winding Refn, the Scorpion, the rage and the Drive.

Last night at The Lumiere, I decided to watch a movie that would change my perspective on action films. We all know the story: stay close to Enter The Dragon, The French Connection, The Seven Samurai or even Die Hard. Action movies are usually not supposed to be subtle or delicately complex. That is why I fell in love with Nicolas Winding Refn - also director of Bronson and Valhalla Rising, which I haven't seen yet, but might give them a chance. The impeccable direction of the movie, followed by a great screenplay taken by the book, Drive, from James Sallis and adapted by Hossein Amini, made my legs shake when leaving the theatre. There is nothing like the feeling of catharsis, and I tell you - Drive does that to you without previous expectations.

It's hard to know where to start. I am not sure if it is because of the absolute amazing build-up that the movie presents or if it would be because of the subtlety of the acting, which we would have to say grace for(even if you aren't religious). It is hard to find today an actor that we know will be in our future, that will enter the History of filmmaking like De Niro or Brando. If Ryan Gosling hadn't reached that level to you before Drive, go watch the movie and feel save about our future in film acting. Besides his wonderful ability to control his eyes in a perfect way to show emotions - knowing exactly what he is doing - he also knows exactly how to construct a character. Of course it is obvious to anyone who watches the movie that his performance is beautiful, so I believe we can also give high credits to his co-workers, Carry Mulligan, - who I fell in love with after 'An Education' and am excited to see perform in 'Shame' - Bryan Cranston, - yes! Malcom in The Middle! - Albert Brooks, our great vilan, Ron Pearlman, the gorgeous and sort of new to me, Christina Hendricks and obviously we couldn't forget the scorpion jacket, who embodied a strong character after little bit of blood and car grease.

I profoundly believe that this movie has reached its peak because of the blaséness it has perforated in it, but with boldness too. The scenes with the blood, through the build up, the approach to the audience, who was probably not expecting it(at least me) was absolutely necessary. Fantastic. The respiration, the long pauses, the pace itself - perfect. And I have to cite something one of my good, good friends said that was very true: the scene at the beach had a huge remembrance to Jason. Mainly because of the music - which was perfect for the movie as well.

I applaud Drive, Mr. Refn and all the cast and crew for giving us such a rush. And will most definitely be more attent to Refn's works.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nothing but yardly's lavender.

There has never been a woman like Marilyn Monroe. There is no comparison to the defined mole, to the rounded hips, the voluptuous lips, the innocent blue eyes, the curly, beautiful hair - no matter what color or length - the curves, the vivid manner she would take in every single one of her movie characters, her low and deep voice when she sung, the way she spoke gently and softly, her smiles and suaveness when being approached by fans, her love of being loved by many people, her eagerness to learn, to make others comprehend and believe she was not only a film star, but a great actress. There is also no comparison to all of her instabilities, her fear of being abandoned, her lack of home and family, her abuse in alcohol and pills, her broken marriages, her loneliness, high auto-criticism, sometimes lack of profissionalism and sporadic gloominess.

All of these straight and easy to see characteristics of Marilyn Monroe were studied and dressed on by Michelle Williams in 2010, when the movie "My Week With Marilyn" was filmed. As a true lover of Norma Jean, I subjectively did not believe in the movie itself when I saw the trailer. In fact, my first reaction to seeing it was indignation. How could someone try to "imitate" our Marilyn? My Marilyn? The only one? Seems like my eyes deceived me in a first impression. There is a way, indeed, to recreate - not imitate - Mrs. Monroe.

Michelle did not only get to play the part physically - which worked perfectly, since her body and Marilyn's could be easily mixed up - but she also did something that Marilyn would love to have done - to impeccably confuse a whole audience into shock. Who would ever have thought that Michelle, with her usual dramatic, almost awkward figure, would be perfect in Marilyn Monroe's body.

There's a possibility that if Norma was still alive and she was taken to the movie theatre to see herself in the picture, she would be envy of what Michelle Williams could do. Everyone knows Marilyn was of course a great actress. Not because she changed much in her characters, not because she used great techniques, not because she was praised and loved or because she just looked great in every film she has been in, but a great actress because she sat and listened. Because she always made an effort to learn. Because her insecurities only made all of her co-workers, friends and fans realize how modest she really was. Marilyn didn't know what to do with her power. And that's what made her so beautiful.

Michelle is not afraid. That is the difference you can see in the movie. She ate Marilyn Monroe. Swallowed her live. Michelle embraced her from death and brought her back to life. Her voice, her looks, the way she moved, absolutely everything that Marilyn was and would want to be, Michelle made true.

The movie itself - not leading to only how amazing Williams turned out to be - is great. For those who are fans of Marilyn and know her story and trajectory, it is a good film, turthful to who she was and to what really happened between her and Colin Clark - the author of the book "My Week With Marilyn", which will be very popular this winter.

There are few better things than seeing Mrs. Monroe's face in the theatre. I have had the opportunity of seeing a couple of films with her in the big screen and I have to say - watching Michelle play her gives me almost the same feeling. Excitement, happiness, freedom and identification.

That is Marilyn Monroe. That is Michelle Williams. Sweet.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Coen Brothers do it again.

Based on a novel from Charles Portis, True Grit tells a story of a U.S. Marshal who is called on a mission by a stubborn and witty little girl. She needs to find her father's murderer and get revenge. The story first became a film in 1969, in which John Wayne performed as the Marshal. I cannot say much about the original screening, because I haven't seen it yet, but it easily got into my Netflix queue when I heard people that really do understand about good movies told me it is an amazing piece. Not forgetting to mention, of course, the presence of the glorious Wayne, who, after so many great Westerns (the best ones I have seen), became an idol in my life.
Despite the fact that the story is a very simple Western fabula, what does go beyond delight is the type of language used. When listening to how each character got their points their very own way, my heart fell for Portis and it definitely made me want to read the book. I do have two items in different queues to take care of now. True Grit, 1969 and True Grit, the book.
Talking about adding movies to my queue, I've got two words for you: Jeff Bridges. For the last few months, I have been watching many of the movies he was in, and I have been completely blown away by each of his performances. It is hard to understand that a man can change so much from one character to another. That's called acting. He is one of the few that can do that with concrete success today. I have to start watching more and more of his movies, because he is slowly becoming one of my favorite actors since humanity started filming. I guess I do have to give some credit for the amazing character he got too, but I am not sure if I would have been in catharsis by the end of the movie if Bridges was not cast to play the part. Jeff continues to be "The Dude", if you know what I am talking about.
Not drifting too far from the same shore(the "acting" subject), I would like to admit that yes, I felt something very good for Matt Damon the first time in my life. I would never imagine Damon being as good as he was in the new Coen film. In fact, before the movie started, I had even forgotten he was cast in it, even though I saw him in the trailer. I was not stoked about watching his work, because that is not the feeling I had from him, ever. I always found him a mediocre actor. After watching the movie, the thought I had was that I would definitely remember him in the next movie trailer he'd be in. In fact, I will be ready to watch it. At least I hope I will. He was subtle, his voice changed, his eyes were different, he interpreted the character in a very interesting way. Simple and honest.
Not forgetting the 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld, who played my favorite character in the movie. I am always glad to watch young talented people on the screen and she was just fantastic. Very well articulated, eyes full of life, a great personality and a very mature and professional posture. Criticism: none. A round of applause to the young Hailee. I only hope she continues in the good side of the coin and keeps acting for high quality films.
True Grit can be considered a very slow movie. The tempo and the flow reminded me of "The Road to Perdition", which is definitely a calmer film, with pauses and many artistic shots. I find films that are free of extreme excitement and passion very charming, because it is a different view of a piece that could become cliché and boring, but truth is, it has to be very well done and maintained, because otherwise, it can go in a complicated direction. The Coen Brothers had the perfect amount of excitement and upbeat throughout the movie, making it not only cinematographically beautiful, but also a down and low Western from our times. Great direction, great photography, great acting. It is very clear that the Coens did it again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Darren Aronofsky covered in Black.

If there is such thing as a heaven, Darren Aronofsky just guaranteed his place with a big white mansion and a Rolls Royce in the garage. Reasons don't lack, but I can say he has blown many people's minds with many of his movies. Detail: he was born in 1969, incredible. For those who haven't watched an Aronofsky movie this winter, take my advice and start from the beginning of his career, arising in Pi(which I am ashamed to say I haven't seen), then sweeping Requiem for a Dream off the list(a very big chunky must), then understand how he can be mischievous with The Fountain, although the acting is better than the directing, considering Hugh Jackman's best performance, in my very own opinion, and of course, the glorious as always, Rachel Weisz. To finish off well, watch The Wrestler, to pump up the blood in your veins and brain and when you're all done with all of these amazing pieces, do please drop by a movie house to watch his devious new masterpiece, Black Swan, which is the movie that made me want to talk about Aronofsky in this post, in first place.

As well as The Fountain, Black Swan can be considered a movie for actors. The casting, by Mary Vernieu, was almost impeccable, mainly because of our chosen swan queen. It is hard to find words that would describe an actress like Natalie Portman. I have always believed that every ten years, a muse is born in the world of film. The 2000's are Natalie's, without a shadow of doubt. Not only for her committed and flawless performance in Aronofsky's view of the play Swan Lake, but also in her past career. Natalie can be portrayed as something close to perfection these days. She speaks fluent English, Hebrew and knows a decent amount of German and French. She was born in Jerusalem, which makes her very interesting, in my opinion. She studied psychology in Harvard, graduated with honors and mocks about it, saying she would smoke pot everyday. She started ballet when she was four years old and she moves gracefully. Her voice is very suave and she looks stunning even with her head shaved. Besides all of that (as if it wouldn't be enough), she has been in great movies, which I can only remind you of, dear readers. Here they are: The Professional, Cold Mountain, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta, Paris, Je T'aime, The Darjeeling Limited, New York, I love you(where she also directs), The Other Boleyn Girl, Brothers and many other great films(not counting the ones that are being released this year or many others that I have watched and liked). Natalie is intelligence, talent and beauty all mixed together in a woman. In Black Swan, she brings it all up with a fine and elegant performance that I haven't seen from any other actress this past decade. Not even Marion Cottilard, who has earned many well deserved awards for Olivier Dahan's La vie en Rose has reached the high top where Natalie is in accord to the critics, the public and the artists.

Now that I have tried to put my deep appreciation for Portman's work (and it is indeed appreciation, because when an actress sees a performance like hers, it just brings inspiration and certainty about how our art can be so gorgeous) in this post, I can start talking about the movie itself, despite the fact that the movie would not be as stunning if Natalie was not in it. Proof of that is Mila Kunis. I am a big fan of her work in That 70's Show. In fact, it is the only television show that I actually take time to watch. Mila plays Jackie, this annoying little prick who is always talking about money and futile things. She does a great job at that and looks gorgeous in every movie I have seen her in. In Black Swan, I thought, I really thought I would see her grown up and different from the annoying little prick she always plays. Since the movie is considered a dark and at the same time, delicate piece, I expected a little more professionalism. Black Swan is a psychological thriller that transcends any foolish figures of speech or image. It is a movie of pauses, of deep topics. Mila's character, Lily, portrays competitiveness. To me, her part was washed off by Natalie's performance. Mila was not terrible, but she did not change a bit from any of her other characters I have seen and it did not go well with what the movie was trying to achieve. That for me, is hard to watch. Now, talking about acting, Winona Ryder comes back to the big screen with a very small but wonderfully played part. She is deeply committed and very powerful in her own way, which I always liked about Ryder. She has her own style, and it works very well, mainly for Black Swan. I can't say much more about the acting in this masterpiece, the big parts were just genius.

Turning your heads back and admiring the backstage work, I would also like to point how the whole crew of sound, lightning, set design, screenplay, production and art direction did a splendid job. As well as for the special effects, dance preparation, make up and costume design. All very pleasing and fresh. As for the direction, I only pray to the heavens that Aronofsky will continue his path into the great world of amazing filmmaking so we can keep watching his wonderful work and be inspired by it every single time. I bow down to Black Swan. The amazing story, the perfect acting, the superb directing and all of it I haven't pointed out. I haven't watched such a good movie made in our days in a long time. I wonder now if it will be possible to count in two hands the awards this wonder is going to win. I can't wait to watch it again.

Monday, December 20, 2010


The year of 2010 is almost over. Christmas lights fill up the city of San Francisco and give the beautiful Californians a lack of tan but a deep and invigorating surplus of elegance. It has been three years now that I have learnt how to deal with the winter in this gorgeous, white city. It has been three years that I have given myself throughly not only to the American culture, but also to all the cultures that surround and influence the Americans in general. Throughout my life, I've realized I need to leave a mark in each place I end up having a certain intimacy with. San Francisco is different. This city has left its mark on me. I have intentions of leaving, yes, after all, I had always felt the urge to learn new cultures, but I will always come back. This city is my mother. It embraced me in so many ways and it's got everything I need. With that in mind, I started to blog. I have moved on from many things the last few years and time is going by quickly. My mind has become more aware and active. The film acting/writing/directing classes from my school started a year ago and not only I had started a networking experience with people that work with film, but I also learned something new about the film industry everyday. From my past, I have experienced a lot of theatre work, but it was the first time that I, a little girl watching good movies since I was eight years old, had finally entered the world of screenplays and green walls. For that, I studied and studied until I could analyze perfectly well Allen's work from the beginning of his career to the latest movies or how Lynch can make certain scenes seem so peaceful and rage-full with only a direct disconnection from the lenses and the camera.
My love for the movies had become more concrete, real and even demanding now and then. So demanding, in fact, that even knowing that I will always have this passion, I needed to go back to my roots, theatre. Now I am indeed returning to the hands of the theatre gods. I will be in the green room, the make up set, under the colorful lights, feeling my feet touching the wooden floor, heart racing, vomiting lines, shooting people looks and expressions. With much of that feeling I can't really explain inside of my chest, through my pores, entering my lungs and grounded on stage, I'll be doing what I love. While I'll dedicate myself entirely to this new experience with the Thrillpeddlers(check us out on, I can't leave my other passion to rest completely, so I decided to write about the movies I'll be watching these next few months. I have done that before, but this is my first time writing in English, so I hope you all have a great time with my horrible grammar and my sometimes poor vocabulary. We'll see how things turn out to be. Many times, I have been frustrated about writing in English, so I do not promise I will always be correct. As I said before, I have been here for three years and I only wish my English would be perfect by now, but it isn't. At least not in my view, because I am a serious thread to people that speak my language(portuguese) incorrectly. In a way, I am paying for that, but I still need to improve my ability to learn the English language. Until then, I will write. So here it is, the great and glorious blog that will indeed help me not only to satisfy my urge to analyze movies and keep in touch with film work, but also help me achieve a wider vocabulary and truthful grammar(hopefully) in a language that takes my breath away. So hold on tight, my dears readers, it might be a bumpy little ride, but trust me, it will be worthy it. Ops! Worth it!