“The Departed” by Martin Scorsese (2006)

Incredible casting, best film of the year at Oscars 2007.

A smart game of different layers of who-knows-what and who-works-for-whom between police and local mafia structures in Boston.

Jack Nicholson in a characteristic role reminding his “The Witches of Eastwick” times.

Beautiful Vera Farmiga (perhaps one of the most underestimated roles in this film) – amazingly playing internal conflicts with external body language clashing with what the character is saying.

Great Mark Whalberg, very good Di Caprio, average Matt Damon (*I really want to see Matt Damon as a) baddie, b) in a shabby role), respectful Martin Sheen.

Amazing amazing casting and a grabbing story. A must.

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“Joy” by David O. Russel (2015)

Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper in a slightly different combination than in “Silver Linings Playbook” – this time De Niro is Lawrence’s father rather than Cooper’s. Why the switch? Just a bow to the previous film? Maybe.

Based on a true story, the film shows a struggle to make dreams come true – when you’re a woman – divorced, with children and a complicated living situation (grandma, mother, parents, who are divorced and ex-husband + plumber – all live under one roof. And Joy has a business idea.

It’s less absorbing than the above mentioned “Silver Linings Playbook”. Perhaps because there is no love theme.

Interesting story, but not the most successful presentation.  There are other, more interesting films to watch this season.

 

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Spectre by Sam Mendes (2015) – the new James Bond movie

One more time Daniel Craig as 007. Again, Ralph Fiennes as M.
The Blond Bond begins to show grey hair, but one surprisingly strong character turns out to be Q (Ben Whishaw again), who suddenly appears in the field rather than solely remain in the HQ.
What I liked about Spectre – it nicely circles back to the original Casino Royale, to Quantum of Solace and to Skyfall – paying tribute to Craig’s previous Bond movies. It does more than that as – one attentive viewer may note – there are subtle nods to Casablanca, and previous James Bond films.
Amazingly shot, beautifully edited, with breathtaking racing scenes and charming Bond, as ever, with devilishly blue eyes and soft heart, as ever.
Great dialogues too, full of irony, double entendres and class. Slightly more is served on a silver plate, sligthly less is left for interpretation. Good one Mr. Mendes. I sincerely hope this is not the last time for Daniel Craig as Bond.

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Somersault by Cate Shortland (2004)

Rarely does it happen that I see such a beautiful film. Apparently, it is easier to find such gem if we drift away – off the beaten track of European and American films. “Somersault” is an Australian feature made in 2004. As its poster boasts, it was part of the official selection of both Cannes and Toronto festivals back in 2004.

The strongest aspect of this film is coldness in watching a nice looking girl collapse and then gather together. In emotions, in feelings, in life.

Great watch.

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“Irrational Man” by Woody Allen (2015)

Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey.
Sadly repetitive. There was (at least) one Woody Allen film exploring a similar theme.
Student falls for a professor, professor engages in an affair with the student and with a colleague’s wife (finally Parker Posey in visible supporting role). He commits a perfect crime, and pays the price.

Great soundtrack. Also, Joaquin Phoenix in an excellent role. Now I’m curious about his next choice. I will definitely want to watch it.

However, the last Woody Allen film that I honestly enjoyed was “Midnight in Paris”. This is one to skip.

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“Amy” by Asif Kapadia (2015)

Documentaries are my favourite genre. And documentaries related to music personae in particular.

Kapadia got access to private archives of Amy Winehouse’s family and friends. Thanks to that, we received an in depth presentation of who Amy Winehouse was prior to releasing her hit album Back to Black which turned her life upside down.

In one of the first scenes Amy sings a simple “Happy Birthday” to her friend filming her. She was 14 at the time and her voice already gave incredible chills to my spine.
Her voice was great, she was a hard working musician throughout her career, however, unfortunately, she was prone to influences, which led her to drugs and alcohol addictions.
From the film, we find out through the words of none other but Tony Bennett himself, that Amy Winehouse was a great jazz vocalist.

The film is a bit too long, also I was missing the hard data of numbers – e.g. it is not stated when she was born, and how old she was when she passed. The general knowledge is that she joined the infamous 27 Club. At the age of 27 she died of alcohol poisoning. And that was the age that many other great artists passed away. Such as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Kobain…

Great film telling the story of a tragic and incredibly sensitive artist – Amy Winehouse. A great watch.

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Mr. Nobody by Jaco Van Dermal (2010)

One more film exploiting the concept of multiple scenarios in one’s life. Perhaps Kieślowski’s “Przypadek” (Blind Chance) was the first (and the best), but the idea keeps appearing and re-appearing in diverse versions in the cinema. Perhaps because everyone wonders from time to time – what if – what if I did go left instead of right, what if I did go out with that person, what if I did not say some things to someone I just met, what if I was born in a different place, in a different country, what if… Everyone knows these sort of doubts that almost always present with us. Because we are people and we have so many choices in our lives that sometimes too many things depend on one important or seemingly unimportant decision.

This film could also be read from a different angle – perhaps the versions of life of the main character are not different scenarios of ‘what if’, but perhaps he has lived all of them in all of his incarnations. From this perspective, it is somehow similar to “Cloud Atlas”.

Probably the most important message of “Mr. Nobody” is that until you make a decision, everything is possible – like the famous case of Schroedinger’s Cat. Until you open the box, the cat may be dead and alive at the same time. Everything is possible until you make it happen one way or another.

A message we could probably be sending to our teenagers – to people who desperately need to know how to learn to not only make good decisions, but learn to make decisions. Decisions, that sometimes will not be good, sometimes will be the worst decisions of their lives, but they need to be made. Because life is about making decisions. Not pending on making them.

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