Trois couleurs : Blanc (1994)

Blanc is the second of the well regarded Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The first one is Blue based on Liberty (liberté), this one is White and based on Equality (egalité), and the next one Red is based on Fraternity (fraternité). Roger Ebert calls it an “anti-comedy between the anti-tragedy (Blue) and the anti-romance (Red)”, which seems to be the best description of the film that I can find. Spoilers to follow.

This time around the main character is a shy man Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), an immigrant from Poland. We meet him before going into a divorce hearing and despite his limited knowledge of French he learns that, his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), doesn’t love him and that the reason for the divorce is that the marriage hasn’t been consummated. Humiliated by his wife Karol has lost everything but a 2 franc coin. He is left to busk in the Métro de Paris where another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). recognizes a song Karol is playing on his comb harmonica and they become friends. Mikolaj offers Karol a job to kill someone. They make their way back to Poland with Karol smuggled in a suitcase. Now back in Poland Karol become a wealthy man and decides to humiliate his ex-wife to get back at her for all that she did to drive him from Paris.


I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary film about the African American Experience in America. It is based on the James Baldwin unfinished novel, Remember This House, which was a manuscript which contained the personal recollections of Baldwin on civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. Now this should be a film that everyone goes out and watch or it should be added to like high school history classes. It could help kids figure out how broken the world still is even though “we solved racism” by electing President Obama. Racism will exist for awhile longer, but I believe that Rodgers and Hammerstein were right in their song You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught “that it’s not born in you, it happens after you’re born.”

The film itself was rather interesting as in most history classes that I’ve taken you hardly get to the Civil Rights era or they gloss over it talking about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights Act of 1964 in like the final weeks of class. So it was nice to learn a bit more about these figures Evers, Malcolm X and MLK. It is available to watch on PBS until the end of the month so make some time to watch it.

Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi

To begin i will be talking about things that happened in The Last Jedi so there will be spoilers. If you are trying to avoid them please turn away. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW

The latest film from the Star Wars Universe begins with the Resistance packing up from their base as the First Order is about to start bombing it. As the Resistance escapes Kylo Ren and the First Order try to destroy the ships yet Kylo hesitates as he senses his mother and doesn’t want to destroy her, but a TIE fighter hits the bridge of the ship killing several leaders like Admiral Akbar. Thankfully they aren’t all killed as Leia uses some of her Jedi abilities to save herself, but she was still injured and leaves Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) in charge over Poe.

While this is going on Rey is on Ahch-To with Luke, we return with Rey presenting the Lightsaber to him only for him to refuse to come help. We dive into what the force is something like Midi-chlorians that are in all things that bind us all together, check on the last couple of episodes from The Clone Wars animated series. They lean on the spiritual side of the force which is great as well.

Back in the great space chase the Resistance get there own resistance as Poe wants to mutiny over Holdo when he discovers that Holdo’s plan is to use small transports to escape from the First Order on to an old rebel base on Crait. Poe thinks this is dumb and has Finn and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) go on a secret mission to find a code breaker to get them on the First Order ship to stop their ability to track the rebel fleet. They (Finn and Rose) have to go to Canto Blight to find a hacker to get them in. After finding DJ (Benicio del Toro) who steals a ship to get them back we learn that the rich are financing both sides of the war, so who are the good guys and who are bad. Oh and Nien Nunb is still alive.

This is all I’m going to say here as the needs to be something that you need to learn from going to see the film. It has some great action set pieces and I have no clue where the next film will be going JJ Abrams has his work cut out for himself, especially with the death of Carrie Fisher last year.  Another thing that I am glad is back is the humor at times The Force Awakens was a bit too serious. All in all it was another Star Wars film and I doubt that I could be that disappointed with one of them, as I am one of the few it seems still find some positives in the prequels which get derided by just about all the fanboys, who are out there complaining about this new trilogy as well. One of the coolest things about the film was the creature the Porgs are there because Skellig Michael has a bunch of puffins on it so the Porgs are there to cover that issue. Also, I am looking forward to what stories Rian Johnson has to tell in his trilogy.

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Gojira (Godzilla: Resurgence) was a film that I was really looking forward to watching this film. This is Japan’s latest Godzilla movie, the 31st overall and the third reboot in the franchise. This is a wonderfully amazing film and everyone should take some time and watch it. Like the original film which was written in the aftermath of WWII and the atomic bomb this film was written in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami and the Fukshima Daiichi nuclear disaster. As always spoilers to follow.

Shin Godzilla is a full reboot as it is the first time that Godzilla has appeared in this world. The film is a nonstop ride, it begins with something happening in Tokyo Bay, an abandoned yacht being investigated by the Coast Guard is sunk by an eruption of gas of some sort and the Aqua-line (bridge/tunnel) is flooded. We head to government meetings with the cabinet and PM who want to claim it’s only a volcano or underwater steam vent nothing more. Only to discover through news reports that it is some sort of creature as a massive tail comes out of the ocean. It begins moving inland and after the Prime Minister says it can’t come on land it does just that. It evolves while on land into a standing creature before it returns to the water.

From here we go into a bunch of meetings with the government focused on military strategy and civilian safety, while a task force is put together to research the creature. The United States sends in an envoy to the task force when they learn that they could exploit this discovery. The creature now named Godzilla by the Americans reappears and again heads toward Tokyo. The Japanese Self-Defense Force is mobilized and they try to shoot it down, it doesn’t work, they turn to the US who fly B-2s to bomb it this causes some damage but ultimately nothing comes of it. It doesn’t seem that there is anything that can stop this monster.

Here the movie turns again we get the United States and United Nations pushes for nuking the thing nothing can live in one of those explosions. However, Japan doesn’t want to be nuked again so they try their own thing, it some sort of cooling thing, but can they get it done before the world blows up Tokyo. Take some time and watch this movie to find out. There is a sequel planned for some time after 2020 so that can sort of tell you what all happens in the end.

Doctor Stranger (2016)

The latest Superhero to join Marvel’s fold is Dr. Stephen Strange. Marvel has dipped some toes in the mystical/magical with Vision and Scarlet Witch but here they dive right in. There are some Tony Stark vibes going on with Strange, a brash egotistical guy who wants everything for himself. Sure, this is the about the 14th film in the MCU and Robert Downey Jr. is nearing the end of his time as Iron Man so they are looking for  a new “star” to fill the role. Clearly Benedict Cumberbatch is a very likeable person and we’ve seen him in just about everything the past couple of year. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a monk stealing some pages from a book and then we are introduced to Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch), he is a brilliant neurosurgeon and his hands are his life. Unfortunately on the way to a speaking engagement he is talking on his phone and subsequently crashes his car and his hand go through the dashboard. It’s not looking nice until one day at therapy Strange hears about a paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn who went away and came back able to walk, he searches Pangborn out and finds out about Kamar-Taj. This lead Strange to go on a journey to find Kamar-Taj. He finds it and learn from the Ancient One (Tida Swindon) about the general idea of mystical things, Strange is taught by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) how to harness these powers. The bad guy who stole the pages from the book at the beginning are trying to connect with the dark dimension to overthrow the Ancient One. Things happen and Strange learns how to be a sorcerer, but we all expected that to happen in the film. Other things happen as well but Dr. Strange will return in the new Thor movie this November and the next Avengers film next May.

I enjoyed this film more than the Guardians Vol. 2  but perhaps that’s just the cool action bits in this one provide a better story. You should probably see this one before the next Thor or at least before the big team up film coming next May.

Silence (2016)

Silence is the Martin Scorsese film based on the Shusaku Endo book of the same name. I have previously written about the book and it bring out some big questions. Spoilers to follow. So I was looking forward to seeing a film adaptation of the novel. According to Wikipedia this film is the third in Scorsese’s trilogy of film epics about religious figures struggling with challenges to faith with Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun. Scorsese has said that the film is about “the necessity of belief fighting the voice of experience”.

The film follows the plot of the book but adds parts of the appendix to tell the whole story of Father Rodrigues.  We begin the film with news coming in about Father Ferreira (Liam Nesson) being lost, rumor has it he has apostatized. Fathers Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) are tasked with finding out if there is any truth to these rumors. Rodrigues and Garupe set off from China with Kichijuro (Yōsuke Kubozuka) a drunken Japanese fisherman. They arrive in Japan and the Padres minister to the Christians hearing confessions and celebrating all the other sacraments as well. This is the story of the hidden Christians of Japan. Eventually, the Padres are separated and both captured and forced to refute their beliefs and step on an image of Christ “Fumi-e”. The story is Father Rodrigues as we follow him as the Inquisitor tries to get him to deny his faith and using the other Christians that they captured and pawns to get him to refute as they would be set free if and when Rodrigues refutes his faith.

This would be a great film to watch during Lent or if you have some passing interest in Japanese history or religion. Sure people have compared it with The Mission but it’s a completely different story told a world away. This is a book that is a great read so if you watch the film maybe take some time and read the book as well.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The sequel to the surprise hit film from 2014 came out on Friday and it has been getting decent reviews from just about everywhere but most note that the sequel doesn’t live up to the original being weighed down by expectations, narrative problems and CGI bloat.  So I went to see it this weekend. Spoilers to follow.

The film is about family and who makes up a family we’ve got almost all characters doubting who they are. The movie begins with the team tasked on a mission by the Sovereign to protect some batteries from an inter-dimensional beast.  They win in the end and are thanked for their help, but Rocket steals some of the batteries and as they leave this leads to the team being chased after by the Sovereign’s ships, they are all destroyed by a mystery man “who is about an inch tall.” After the team’s ship crash lands, we learn that it was Star-Lord’s father who helped them escape. The team breaks up with Peter, Drax and Gamora going with Ego, Peter’s father to Ego’s world while Rocket and Groot are left to repair the ship and watch on their prisoner Nebula, Gamora’s sister. It’s a bit complicated as Ego want Peter to help him re-make the universe in his image. I find this bit the central problem of the film they never really explain why Ego needs to remake the world (or did they) I mean he can live forever until the light of his world is gone why not continue to do that instead of conquering the known universe. As expected The Guardians win in the end and will return in Vol 3 with music from a Zune.

The music is great and there are a few funny bit but the movie felt over done complete with the five mid/post credit scenes. There were several places where it should have been trimmed like the bit with Groot going and coming back several times to get Yondu’s fin. The film was fun and better than the over-bloated Avengers 2 (Ultron). There are two more Marvel movies this year (Spider-Man and Thor) and three more a year until 2020 perhaps we should slow down with these films and get some smaller films a chance to do something. It also seems like unconventional families seem to be the it thing to do in films nowadays.

Five Came Back (2017)

The latest documentary Five Came Back on Netflix focuses on five directors who went to and fought in World War II and came back from it alive. This documentary was interesting as when it comes to World War II we some 70 years out all know the broad strokes of it, there Hitler takes power, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Holocaust, Bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Sure HBO’s two brilliant miniseries focusing on the Army (Band of Brothers) and the Marines (The Pacific) telling the stories of the two theaters of war and there are a bunch of great films on World War II but this documentary tells an interesting story of the people who went to war and how it changed them.

Five Came Back focuses on John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens all of whom are directors who joined the War effort Ford joined the Navy while Wyler, Huston, Capra and Stevens all were members of the Army Signal Corp. All of them were involved in filming World War II. The documentary features famous directors all talking about one individual Steven Spielberg talks about Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola talks about Huston, Guillermo del Toro talks about Capra, Paul Greengrass talks about Ford, and Lawrence Kasdan talks about Stevens. In the first hour we hear about how they made names for themselves before the war, the second hours is about their time at war and the third hours from D-Day to after the war and what became of them afterwards. If you are a fan of film history this is a very interesting film to watch.

One of the coolest things that I’ve discovered after watching is that you can watch the films that they made during WWII which were talked about in the documentary on Netflix as they have a handful available to watch. If you have some time I would recommend that everyone watch this.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Since Kubo was nominated for an Oscar I though that I should watch this movie it’s the only film that might have had a chance to beat Disney. Kubo comes from Laika which has put out some remarkable stop motion films all of which have been nominated for Best Animated Feature but they have yet to break though and beat Disney. Spoilers to follow.

Kubo and the Two Strings is set in ancient Japan is about stories. As the film begins we have a great hook “If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned: If you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you – even for an instant – then our hero will surely perish. ” Then we see a mother and her child trying to escape something and they wash up on shore. Time passes and Kubo is a young boy with one eye and he lives with his ill mother, Sariatu in a cave atop a mountain by a village. Everyday Kubo goes down to the village where he goes and tells the story of Hanzo, a brave samurai who happens to be Kubo’s father using origami and music. As the bell rings signaling sunset Kubo need to head home as his mother warns him that her sisters and father would come and try and steal his other eye. After hearing about the Bon festival, which is a Buddhist custom that honors the spirit of your ancestors, Kubo decides to talk to his father’s spirit however father doesn’t answer Kubo leaves angry but it’s too late as it is after dark and his aunts attack him. Kubo barely escapes with the help of his mother who sacrifices herself so Kubo can go find the magic armor that his father was looking for.

Kubo is awoken by a monkey, it is his monkey charm that has been brought to life. So Monkey and Kubo begin on their quest after a day they rest and over night Kubo dreams and a little Hanzo has been folded and came to life. Little Hanzo now leads them on the quest for the armor. As they follow Hanzo, Kubo falls and stumbles upon a giant beetle, a samurai who was cursed and was an apprentice of Hanzo. After hearing that Kubo is Hanzo’s son Beetle decides to joins the quest. They go out to look for the Sword Unbreakable, the Breastplate Impenetrable, and Invulnerable Helmet. Will they find them before Kubo is discovered by his aunts and the Moon King takes his remaining eye?

The film is about stories and memory as most of the stories that are told are memories of Hanzo. If you want to watch a film that’s gotten raves from everywhere that’s not from Disney this is where to start. It’s a simple story but it has such emotional depth and reflection upon what is family. Kubo is a great little film and if you haven’t seen it you are surely missing out.

Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street is the latest film from John Carney, director/writer of Once and Begin Again. This is the other musical which was nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Once again focusing on music but this time in the 80s in Ireland. We have a story of a boy who starts a band to impress a girl. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins at a family meeting where we meet Lawlor’s who are on hard time so they take their youngest son Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and place him in a free state-school, Synge Street CBS, run by the Christian Brothers. Conor’s older brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor) rubs this in, joking about pedophilia, but also laments about the state of the family which is in a rocky state. On Conor’s first day at school he runs into trouble with the school principal, Brother Baxter, who reprimands him for not wearing black shoes as indicated in the school dress code, Conor also run into the school bully. This leads Conor to met a budding entrepreneur Darren (Ben Carolan), who has also been bullied and Conor and Darren become friends. The next morning or so meeting up before school Conor ask Darren who the girl across the street is, Darren doesn’t so Conor goes over and talks with her, she’s an aspiring model named Raphina (Lucy Boyton) Conor asks her if she wants to be in a music video for his band, she agrees.

The only problem is that there is no band. Conor and Darren go about assembling a band from the school.  They start with Eamon (Mark McKenna) a multi-instrumentalist, who has all these instruments around, and round out the group with the black guy in school, and two other guys who sort of are just there to fill out the band. As they get together they begin as a cover band but after Conor brings a recording of the band for Brendan to listen to, and Brendan isn’t a huge fan as they are just a cover band and cover bands are a dime a dozen. This inspires Conor to begin writing his own music and with Eamon’s help they are pretty good at it as well. After the first song is written they film a video and Raphina shows up. With each new song the band’s style evolves while Conor and Raphina get close at the same time Conor’s home life implodes. However, the closer they get Raphina seems all to motivated to leave for London to become a famous model and one day she leaves. Conor is heart broken and can’t write or play music but Brendan inspires him to write so someone can get out of this place. Will Conor write or ever see Raphina again.

If you have a brother this is a wonderful movie to watch, even if you don’t have one or you are one it tells a timeless story of love and family. Fans of the music of the 1980s should give it a look as well as those who have enjoyed other John Carney’s movies I hope that you take the time to watch the film.