Showing posts from March, 2012

Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

And She Was by Alison Gaylin (♦♦♦)

Brenna Spector suffers from a rare disorder called hyperthymestic syndrome. This disorder prompts Brenna to remember events of her life to the slightest details. The disappearance of Clea, Brenna’s teenager sister, when Brenna was eleven years-old, scars her for life.

Now a private investigator, Brenna is commissioned by Nelson Wentz to find his wife who has been missing for about a week. As Brenna begins searching for clues, she discovers that Nelson knew his wife very little, but more importantly, clues of Carol Wentz’s disappearance will tie her to the decade-old vanishing of Iris Neff, a small child in Tarry Ridge, New York.

Brenna and Nick Morasco-- a detective in the Tarry Ridge Police, also the main investigator in the vanishing of Iris Neff eleven years ago-- join forces and grey matter to solve the mystery involving the disappearances of both Carol and Iris and of the dead people that begin to pile up as they come closer to the truth.

I liked this book. The mystery is engagi…

The Hunger Games (♦♦♦♦)

The country of Panem is divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. In the Capitol everything is opulence and excess, even the landscape is picturesque; meanwhile most districts are poor to the point of starvation and semi-slavery. It is in that context that two youths from each district are chosen annually to compete in The Hunger Games, a display of survival skills in which only one youth is crowned the winner after the other 23 competitors have fought to their deaths.

Primrose Everdeen is chosen as the female competitor from District 12, but Katniss, her older sister, volunteers in her place. The other competitor from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy Katniss knows but doesn’t really like. There’s nothing like a good fight to death to force both Katniss and Peeta to form a convenient alliance.

Happy Hunger Games and may the odds ever be in your favor…

I am fascinated with this movie. It is gritty and hints at violence that is shown in bits and pieces, such as teenagers killing …

We Need to Talk About Kevin (♦♦♦½)

In We Need to Talk About Kevin star Tilda Swinton as Eva K., Kevin’s mother, John C. Reilly as Franklin K., Kevin’s father and Ezra Miller/Jasper Newell as Kevin.

Since Kevin was a child, he was different. He spoke late, even though there wasn’t anything medically wrong with him. He wore diapers until he was five or six years old and he learned to use the toilet after his mother Eva broke his arm when shoving him against the wall. It’s no wonder that Kevin’s relationship with his mother became antagonistic to say the least.

He did bad things on purpose to spite Eva, but everything took an inevitable turn for the worse when Eva became pregnant with a baby girl. Ever since, Kevin did anything possible to grab his parents’ attention, to the point of seriously hurting his little sister. However, the point of no return for Kevin and his family happened when Kevin opened fire against his high school classmates.

The story is told through flashbacks from the past and the present. Emotions ar…

A Separation (♦♦♦)

An Iranian woman wants to separate from her husband of 14 years. Her reason is that she wants to leave Iran for good and only has 40 days left in her permit to do so. Her husband doesn’t want to leave Iran because his father, with whom they live, is ill with Alzheimer’s. The husband doesn’t want their 11 year-old daughter to leave with her mother. When the wife leaves home and moves to her mother’s house, her husband employs a pregnant woman to take care of his ill father while he works, but events spiral out of control when the woman loses her baby after an argument with him.

At the heart of this movie are issues of family trust, personal integrity, honesty and eternal damnation. Is a child’s safety worth 15 millions in whichever currency happens to be? And more importantly, is that money worth eternal damnation?

This film won several awards at film festivals around the globe this past award season, though as well acted as it is, the story didn’t resonate with me. I watched In the L…

Thin Ice (♦♦♦♦)

In Thin Ice star Greg Kinnear as Michael (Mickey) Prohaska, Alan Arkin as Gorvy Hauer, Billy Crudup as Randy and Lea Thompson as Mickey’s ex-wife.

Michael Prohaska is an insurance agent who owns a two-man company in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During a trip to an insurance convention, Mickey recruits another agent named Bob and agrees to give him 5% in sales commissions. Back in Kenosha, Bob meets an absent-minded old man named Gorvy Hauer who has a house full of old things that belonged to his sister. On Bob and Mickey’s urgings, Gorvy buys an insurance policy for his house. Mickey wants to take advantage of Gordy, but soon things spiral out of control when Gorvy has to go to take care of his dying sister, leaving a precious fiddle behind in his attic.

This movie delivers a few good laughs brought about by situations that appear silly at the time, but no doubt it’s the ending that packs a big punch. I liked the script and the performances, and despite inevitable comparisons to Fargo due to …

Hugo (♦♦♦)

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the upper, forgotten apartments of Paris’ train station. Hugo steals food from the station’s shops in his spare time, but his job is keeping the clocks of the station in working order. Hugo collects pieces of broken machinery to fix an automaton that was a present from his deceased father. In his quest to fix the broken machine, he’ll find an ally in Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), the toy maker’s goddaughter. Together Hugo and Isabelle will discover a secret involving Isabelle’s godfather, one that has made him sad for years.

It has been repeated ad nauseum that this movie is an homage to old cinema, to the beginnings of cinema, that is. I must say it is a very beautiful one. It is the reason why we love movies: to live adventures enacted by others and go places that otherwise we couldn’t go, like the moon.

The movie is well directed, as we have come to expect from Martin Scorsese, stepping out of his comfort zone to make a marvelous …