Friday, September 30, 2011

Great Posters

Some movie posters are so enchanting that you remember them even if you never saw the movie itself. Here are some examples of my favorite ones - some may not be among my favorite films, some may not have that great taglines, yet all are simply fantastic, captivating and stimulative, whether they are simplified, visually engaging, wonderfully aesthetic or just plain clever. Kudos to the authors were not just preoccupied with marketing the movie, but with doing an art of itself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits; romantic comedy, USA, 2011; D: Will Gluck, S: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Jason Segal, Emma Stone

After Jamie, the Executive Recruiter for the GQ magazine, manages to hire Dylan as the new art director and resettle him to New York, they both find out they just recently broke up from unhappy relationships. As an experiment, they decide to make a pact: to have sex whenever they want, but just stay friends, not boyfriend and girlfriend. At first, it works, yet when Jamie goes to visit Dylan's family in Los Angeles, she falls in love with him. He does not register that and turns accidentally insensitive towards her, which causes an animosity between them. However, they make up in the end.

"Friends with Benefits" is a too light, too fast, too dynamic romantic comedy overburdened with excessive babble, but charming thanks to various satirical jabs at cliches of the romantic comedy genre and, especially, refreshingly untrammelled performances by its two leads actors, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Snappy dialogues give the story - about a guy and a girl who want to have an exclusively sexual relationship until it also gets an emotional and spiritual one - the most sparks: for instance, after Dylan arrives in New York for the first time in his life, pondering over whether or not he should work here, Jamie gives him a grand day out by presenting him with a "flash mob", i.e. hundreds of people who suddenly start a public performance on the streets of Times Square, choreographing a mass dance. Dylan is so impressed that he decides to accept the offer and indeed live in New York, upon which Jamie jokingly says: "OK, you may all go home now!", which coincidences with the mob leaving the street. In another comical moment, Jamie mentions to Dylan how he read the L.A. Times for 23 years, which causes another funny dialogue exchange (Dylan: "Wow. You know so much about me. Someone made her homework." - Jamie: "Yeah, I have this thing in my office...It's called Google."). Only in the last quarter does the movie slow down and give room for the situation in which the characters found themselves in to 'sink in' and for the viewers to absorb the mood, though it does turn melodramatic towards the end (and fall itself into some romantic comedy cliches), yet the wit and supporting performances by Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman manage to assure a good fun.


Rome, Open City

Roma, città aperta; war drama, Italy, 1945; D: Roberto Rossellini, S: Marcello Pagliero, Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Francesco Grandjacquet, Harry Feist, Maria Michi

Rome towards the end of World War II. Giorgio and Franscesco are two resistance fighters who constantly have to hide from fascist raids of apartments. Don Pietro, a clumsy but good natured priest, helps the resistance by smuggling messages for them. Franscesco is engaged to Pina, a widow with a little boy. When the fascists arrest Francesco during a raid, Pina gets shot for interfering. Marina betrays the remaining members of the resistance for money. Fascists torture Giorgio until death. Don Pietro gets shot in a firing squad for not wanting to give information about the resistance plans.

Winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes, the New York Film critics Circle Award for best foreign language film, and nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay, "Rome, Open City" went down in history of cinema as one of the first, if not the first example of Italian neorealism (experts also cite "Ossessione" as one of the possible forerunners to that direction), surprising the audience in those times with honest, unglamourous, "un-Hollywood" depiction of ordinary people coping with a tough, dirty life: with this film, director Roberto Rossellini also started his 'war trilogy'. "Rome" flows well and is a quality piece of art, but still seems to be an underdeveloped forerunner to Rossellini's future and better films "Germany: Year Zero" and "Paisa" - for instance, in the first half of the story, the viewers truly make a connection only with one character in it, the clumsy but lovable priest Don Pietro, in the scene where he is in a shop but cannot help not to turn the statue of a saint away from the "view" of a nude sculpture. Other actors and their characters are also good, but simply not that engaging. Rossellini concentrated his talent only in the last third of the film when it reaches huge intensity during the torture sequence of the fascists where so little is shown, but everything is said on the terrified expression of Don Pietro's face, yet despite an ambitious tone that deserves recommendation, the movie as a whole does tend to turn rather melodramatic at times.