Chico & Rita

A love letter to the Jazz age. A tale of thwarted love and ambition. A Spanish/UK co-production that manages to capture the big emotions and themes of the post-war era in a sumptuous animated and scored film. It should, if there is any justice, do well in the box-office. Certainly there was a sizeable audience when I saw this bitter-sweet romance.

Havana, present day, Chico works as a shoe-shiner for a living. After work he goes home and turns on the radio to hear an old song he composed. This sparks off a series of memories from his youth in Havana in 1948 and his subsequent travels, tours and the tragic romantic and career situations that have lead him to his present fortunes.

(Warning: This trailer gives away WAAAAY too much but shows off the animation.).

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We Are What We Are

Spoiler Warning

I suspect part of the power of this film is, like the Japanese film/book, Audition, in being unaware of just what happens in a film. If you do not know what the twist is and haven’t watched the film then stop reading. For those aware of the focus of the film, carry on.

Spoiler Warning Over

I was eating a rather lovely cheese-cake whilst waiting through trailers for We Are What We Are to start. As soon as the patriarch of the family started spewing up black liquid in a shopping district, I was afraid I should have eaten the cheese-cake sooner.

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Easy to Read Kanji

It has been a while since I posted anything about learning Japanese so I’m back with a short and rather silly post about Kanji and how to recognise the easy ones and some of my favourites.

Through some examples I have raided from recent anime and Japanese news programmes I watched I want to show Kanji characters that anybody can quickly recognise.

Let’s go… or should that be 行きましょう!!!!

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Let Me In

2009 was the year that Sweden became the new cool.  At least in the UK. There were Wallander originals and remakes on the BBC and Let the Right One In was a hit with the critics and the public. I liked, not loved, the original and was intrigued by news of a Hollywood remake.

Oskar and Eli from Let the Right One In

So I was curious about Let Me In, just to see what Matt Reeves (director of Cloverfield) made of the Swedish film.

Los Alamos, New Mexico, 1983. Owen, (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a lonely 12 year old boy who is brutally bullied at school and living with his mother whilst his parents get divorced. A mysterious 12 year old girl moves in next door, coinciding with a string of grisly murders around Owen’s home. One night, the mysterious girl introduces herself as Abby (Chloё Grace-Moretz) and she happens to be a vampire.

Chloё Grace-Moretz as Abby in Let Me In

I really liked this version. I found it better in some aspects. It is a faithful remake that focuses more on horror.

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The Kids are All Right

American film-making seems to have a problem supporting female film-makers. The difference is stark when compared to, say, France where there are a more films written and directed by females both new and legendary being released. It was an issue flagged up when Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to take the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

Since Bigelow’s landmark win, the paucity of American women directing seems downright insane given the strength of films released this year like Winter’s Bone, Please Give and The Kids are All Right.

Taking place over the course of a summer, this story focuses on the relationship between two middle-aged lesbians, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) and their two teenage kids, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). Joni has just turned eighteen and is old enough to find out who their sperm donor dad is. Prompted by her fifteen year old brother, she contacts Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Soon he is a part of their family which causes chaos as they explore their own identities and roles within the family.

This is an easy film to recommend because Director Lisa Cholodenko has crafted a film with a simple story that allows the characters to blossom and the dialogue, which is both heart-felt and comedic, to impress.

The Social Network

Directed and written by heavyweight talents David Fincher (Fight Club) and Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), The Social Network opens in a busy bar, Mark Zuckerberg, soon-to be co-founder of Facebook, asks his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), 

“How do you distinguish yourself?”

Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from The Social Network

He’s desperate to join one of the universities exclusive clubs and in a fast talking conversation – with him mostly doing the talking, it is clear that he can’t socialise, dipping in and out of conversation leaving Erica adrift as he focuses on himself. Realising that Mark is self-obsessed, Erica admits, just before she dumps him,

“Dating you is like dating a stairmaster – it’s exhausting”

A scene from The Social Network

It’s a line typical of Sorkin’s wit but the opening scene and the question, “How do you distinguish yourself?” set the questions and tone for the movie.

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