Sunday, January 1, 2017

Here's To The Fools



Now that I've had a few weeks to calm down after seeing La La Land, I can finally control my brain to actually form words about what I was seeing. It was magical, inspiring, transformative. I actually hadn't seen any articles or reviews about it before, apart from the trailer. Rarely do I go in without much insight, but this was definitely a worthy experience of losing myself in movie magic.



On the surface, it's just another love story between two beautiful stars mixed with Chazelle's characteristic music motif. But what he creates is an unforgettable journey through space and time -- just kidding (mostly). It really is an incredible two hours though. After just a couple minutes, you'll wish you were singing and dancing around LA along with the perfect Gosling and Stone.

From here on out, spoilers beware


What most people are upset about, or talking about the most, is the tragic ending. What was a delightful escape for the entire film becomes a heartbreaking end for the pair that lights up the screen. But isn't it nice to have some reality in a mostly fictitious landscape? As Mia and Sebastian do, shouldn't we live for the journey and not just the ending? In another universe, they are for sure still together and as happy as in that dream sequence. This leads me to wonder: did they need to break up in order to achieve their dreams? Possibly, but they pushed each other to persevere their own dreams. And even though they have their weak moments, they never want to give that specific dream up. Sadly, this draws them apart and into different lives once again. I live by a saying that every single person comes into your life for a reason. Seb and Mia may have become fools for each other, but they met for the ultimate reason: for their love to inspire their own passion for life. 

In that last glance with Mia in the doorway (which to this day makes me cry imagining it), their eyes say 'I love you, I'm so proud of what you've created.' And that to me is true love. Love may or may not be eternal and it definitely isn't always kind. Regardless, it recurs throughout one's life. Their love for their careers was the greatest during their relationship and without that (Mia's exhaustion being defeated through auditions and Sebastian joining a band where he knew he wasn't reaching his full potential), they couldn't even satisfy each other. 

His juxtaposition of the audiences' ideal ending with the more real and tragic end love is the cherry on top of a magnificent film. You get lost in the beauty that they have created and you don't want to escape. The classic Hollywood backdrop, a happy-go-lucky love story, is perfect to showcase the effortless on-screen chemistry between Gosling and Stone, almost tricking the audience to assume a perfect ending. So whether you love it or hate it, I think it is the most perfect way to end a movie. To make what is happening on-screen more than just plot. To not only make it surprising, but also to reshape the Classical Hollywood formula of a happy ending for modern times. (Also, if you haven't seen Mommy by Xavier Dolan, please do yourself the favor and watch that now.)

Is there anything I didn't like? No because even John Legend's interlude with 'Start A Fire' is catchy. Also, when you think you've hit the "slow part" of the movie after they're playing phone tag, Seb shows up and they fight. On the other hand, my grandma loathed the opening's unrealistic car-hopping number. But to me, the film's tightrope act between reality and fiction is what keeps you so emotionally engaged till the very end. Some parts are really fun and imaginative (who expected hundreds of people to get out and start dancing and singing on the 405?), some are pure beauty (Mia walking into the party, snow falling, the music crescendoing, the variety of bold colors dazzling every inch of the frame), and some awfully real (Mia coming to tears during first audition in her -again vibrantly- blue coat; well, all of Stone and Gosling's acting for that matter).

On another note, do I even need to say anything about the music? I've listened to the entire OST everyday for the past 3 weeks. So that's probably why I remembered the film on second viewing almost shot-for-shot. Chazelle uses jazz as a backdrop just like in Whiplash, and it is quite interesting to see music become almost a third character in the story. I'll be interested to see what he brings in his third picture-- maybe creating a jazz trilogy of sorts. 

Here are some of my favorite moments from the soundtrack that blow you away on-screen:
-The entire first number, because how could you not be rejuvenated every morning after listening to it
-The crescendo in 'Someone In The Crowd' with Mia approaching the pool (mentioned above) 
-Stone laughing while singing in her duet with Gosling. You can tell it's pure joy and it makes my heart melt for her more and more
-Planetarium. Easily the whole track but the swooping stretches of ballroom music bring me to tears 

If you can't tell, I'm trying to ramble because there are an endless number of wonderful things to discuss about this movie. It will easily win Best Picture at the Oscars among many other deserving nominations. So if you haven't seen it but knowing the ending makes you want to see it now, GO. If you've already seen it, go again! Because if loving is dreaming, then let me be a crazy fool. 

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New Year, New Me

1/2 (frozen) banana
large handful spinach
1 TB chia or flax seeds
12 grapes (because why not partake in a fun Spanish tradition)
1/2 TB ginger
carrot juice, enough to cover the ingredients
1/2 lemon, juiced

Top off with ice and honey. Happy 2017! 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nom Nom Nom

Best Films of 2015

Happy Oscars Sunday!! 

It's a day for reflecting, looking ahead. Realizing what film has accomplished this year and the advances yet to be recorded. Apart from the drama that will for sure go down tonight, the collection of motion pictures from 2015 has been the most eclectic in years. This was the Year Of Women and Real Talk. 

I mean, they killed it. I have been behind Brie ever since United States of Tara and she has only blossomed ever since. OK, maybe I did choose a winner...

Brooklyn was the most unexpectedly fascinating film this year for me (see below); Saiorse's tour de force brought me to constant tears. Expect a picture with her and Mátyás Erdély (cinematographer of Son of Saul) in the near future. Carol is like watching a Dirty Harry-John Wayne standoff. Not only is it one of Rooney Mara's best performances, it packs a powerful and emotional story that couldn't be better told by Mara and Blanchett. Lastly, Vikander is another beautiful creature that never has a bad moment on screen. Not to mention the fact that she is nominated for two movies in dos categorías (what distinguishes her between Supporting and Lead has yet to be determined...). The list goes on and on with the non-nominated actresses as well, not limited to: Charlize Theron, Mya Taylor, Nina Hoss, Marion Cotillard, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Stewart, and Juliette Binoche.

It has also been a year of very mixed emotions, re: three different winners for the PGA, DGA, and SAG. If The Revenant ends up winning both the Best Director and Picture categories tonight, I'll only be OK with it for this creation:

 It is already winning for being a 160 min grunting session and its raw, sweeping camera work. So consider me stubborn but I'm Team Spotlight all the way. In an ideal world, Spotlight wins Picture and George Miller wins Director. *mic drop* 

I will post my predictions before the show (always cutting it close) but there are more deserving films that also need to be acknowledged. Enjoy this list of my favorite films from the past year! 

Side note: Picking and ranking my Top 5 this year seemed almost impossible. Just look at the range of films: romance, action, foreign, drama, animation. Past, apocalyptic future, Dolan's blurred timeline, present day. Desert, the largest city in the US, a brain, backstreets of LA, Montreal. So, yeah: eclectic. 

1.     Brooklyn
The most emotion-packed film since About Time and a powerful, relatable coming-of-age story of family, hopes, dreams, maturity, and new experiences.
2.     Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller has thrown the action/blockbuster genre out of the water with this immensely intense experience. If there is one movie in all of history to boast "On the edge of your seat the entire time," this is it. Fury Road has teamwork written through every layer: cinematography, performances, art direction, editing, direction, costumes, even Mother Nature. Cast all of your doubts aside and see this NOW.
3.     Mommy
Dolan amazes me time and time again. He has accomplished more before turning 27 than most people aspire to complete in a lifetime. Mommy is a further evolution of his personal and political values that he has developed since J'ai tué ma mère. The chemistry between Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, and Antoine-Olivier Pilon is touching, thrilling, and makes you want to experience the film over and over. The most impressive scene comes late in the film and left me in between not being able to breathe and on the verge of tears.
4.     Tangerine
Shot on an iPhone on location in Hollywood. Merry Christmas, bitch.
5.     Inside Out
If you've ever imagined how your brain interprets and creates emotions but you haven't recently enrolled in a neuroscience course, you should definitely start here. Once again I was unexpectedly blown away by how well so many complex topics (depression, growing up, psychology) were presented so clearly. 
6.     Wild Tales
Ok, maybe this was from last year's list of Best Foreign Film Oscar nominations, but it wasn't released in the US until late winter. This masterpiece is a collection of very very dark comedy vignettes rooted in daily experiences. Road rage? City towing? Infidelity? Yep yep yep. By far, Wild Tales is one of the most shocking, uninhibited, and hilarious experiences I have had in theatres to date. 
7.     Spotlight
Very few times do I leave a theatre and say, "This film is important." This was one of those times. Spotlight is a terrific piece of narrative journalism behind the Boston Globe's uncovering of the Catholic Church child abuse scandal. 

8.     It Follows
One of the best horror films in years. See my previous post where I spill my heart out for this film. 
9.     The Big Short
An informative and sharp-witted piece on the 2008 housing market crash. Michael Lewis sure knows how to crank out Academy Award crowd pleasers (see The Blind Side and Moneyball).
10.  Ex Machina
If this isn't enough, add in a creepily believable robotic Alicia Vikander. 'nuff said. 

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Amy
Anomalisa
Carol
James White
Kumiko
Room
Sicario
Steve Jobs
White God


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Beary Punches

1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Honey to taste
Ice
1/2 OJ (to desired consistency)

Blend and top off with a healthy splash of bubbles. Treat yo self like a celeb walking the red carpet back to your couch!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Film Starter Pack

My entire life could probably be defined by and extracted from the films that have captivated me over the years. My Netflix queue includes over 100 very different films, from Hoop Dreams to Lawrence Anyways (sorry, Xavier. I promise I'll get to it), and every free minute is usually me catching up and shortening that. My most recent adventure has been White God, which was a beautifully terrifying concerto comparing humans to dogs and their capacity to live just as intelligent and full lives. But hopefully I'll get to that in another post.

Instead, I'm here to share my history of film with you in as quick and efficient means as possible. No, I'm not going to shove intense and analytical avant garde films down your throat. I think it's a fair list of 15 genres, 82 films, and many of which are my favorites. I'm a big proponent of foreign films so there are four categories for various languages. Hopefully you'll understand that there is so much to offer through international cinema and pick up on different styles and techniques in different cultures.

I'm certain every film on this list, classic or not, will entertain you, possibly change your opinions on what film can do as a medium, and hopefully inspire you to watch another.

Silent
  1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  2. The Kid
  3.  The General
  4.  Metropolis

Asian
  1.  Oldboy
  2. Mother
  3. Poetry
  4. I Saw The Devil
  5. In The Mood For Love

French
  1. The 400 Blows
  2. The Intouchables
  3.  Holy Motors
  4. Amelie
  5. Au revoir, les enfants

Spanish
  1. Wild Tales
  2. Pan’s Labyrinth
  3. Motorcycle Diaries
  4. Amores Perros
  5. The Orphanage

Foreign
  1. Cinema Paradiso
  2.  Life Is Beautiful
  3. Dogtooth
  4. Run Lola Run
  5. Incendies

Animated
  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  2.  The Secret Of Kells
  3.  Spirited Away
  4.  Grave Of The Fireflies
  5.  Inside Out

Comedy
  1.  Little Miss Sunshine
  2. Annie Hall
  3. Clue
  4. Dr. Strangelove
  5. Airplane!
  6. Bridesmaids
  7. The Breakfast Club
  8. A Fish Called Wanda
  9. Frances Ha


Thriller
  1. Black Swan
  2. Requiem For A Dream
  3.  Seven
  4. Inception
  5. Sunset Boulevard

Horror
  1.  It Follows
  2. The Shining
  3. VHS
  4. Scream
  5. Psycho
  6. Rosemary’s Baby

Musical
  1. Moulin Rouge
  2. West Side Story
  3. The Sound of Music

LGBT
  1. Blue Is The Warmest Color
  2. Stranger By The Lake
  3.  Love Is Strange
  4. Y Tu Mama También

Drama 
  1. 12 Angry Men
  2. The Godfather
  3. Blue Valentine
  4.  Forrest Gump
  5. The Graduate
  6. Pulp Fiction
  7. The Truman Show
  8.  Like Crazy

Cinematography
  1.  The Tree Of Life
  2.  2001: A Space Odyssey
  3. Enter The Void
  4. Heartbeats
  5. Gravity

Action
  1. The Raid: Redemption
  2.  Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Dark Knight

Sci-Fi
  1.  Interstellar
  2. The Fountain
  3. Moon
  4. Minority Report
  5. The Matrix
  6. Avatar
  7. Ex Machina



Enjoy and comment below with your own recommendations and your thoughts on any viewing!

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Summer's Heat

1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup fresh cut pineapple
1/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup greek yogurt
ice
splash of milk or cranberry juice or champagne if you so please (why not)