The Artist [2011]

30 jun. 2014


Junio 30, 2014

Cuando una película obtiene la máxima calificación en Spill.com (ahora Hollywood.com) denominada Better Than Sex!, sabes automáticamente que es excelente. Algún cinéfilo militante podrá argumentar con sólida base que, efectivamente, un filme como este deleita los sentidos casi al nivel de una intensa sesión de cardio amoroso. Por fortuna no hay necesidad de escoger uno u otro.

The Artist nació como un homenaje por parte de Michael Hazanavicius a los directores del cine mudo que tanto admira e influyeron su obra. El formato 1:33:1 usado en este trabajo es uno de tantos detalles perfectamente bien cuidados para que el producto final luzca tal cual si hubiese sido rodado en el ocaso de la década de los 1920’s, el momento histórico en el cual la trama se desarrolla. Malo para los modernos formatos de video y los impresionantes monitores caseros, pero excelente para el espectador que anhela regresar a una época donde no había necesidad de palabras para transmitir emociones agitadas y en ocasiones hiper dramáticas.

La historia no es del todo original, pero en el mundo del cine como en el de la música, prácticamente no hay nada nuevo bajo el sol, aunque las mediocres y muy taquilleras películas de vampiros adolescentes se empeñen en afirmar lo contrario. El guión escrito por el mismo director (Hazanavicius) recuerda bastante al clásico A Star is Born, originalmente llevada a la pantalla grande en 1937 y dirigida por William A. Wellman. En esta ocasión es el personaje central masculino, George Valentin, el que cae en desgracia y ve cómo su fastuosa carrera de estrella del cine mudo se desvanece tan pronto como las películas habladas dominan la industria.


Jean Dujardin acierta en todos los aspectos en su interpretación: su físico atractivo pero nunca al grado de distraer la atención del público de la trama (al más puro estilo de los pretty boys de Hollywood de grandes ojos y cuyos respectivos talentos son  tan breves como sus cinturas) es el vehículo perfecto para plasmar en escenas dirigidas con extrema meticulosidad la melancolía, tristeza y auto abandono del actor que, igual que sucede en el mundo real del celuloide, tiene que enfrentar la más cruel de las realidades: está envejeciendo, por lo menos en términos de la industria cinematográfica, y las nuevas generaciones exigen nuevas emociones, nuevos ídolos que adorar, derrumbar y desechar. Tal es la sociedad de consumo y el mundo del espectáculo es uno de los más degradantes ejemplos de ella.

La personalidad de Dujardin logra una mancuerna perfecta con la de la adorable Berenice Bejo: Peppy Miller es la nueva estrella de la cuadra y la novedad en las portadas de revistas y en los pósters cinematográficos. Más que tensión romántica, se respira una mutua admiración durante el filme, el cual no deja lugar para sueños de alcoba o momentos de éxtasis corporal. A pesar del eventual drama que la película ofrece, la trama nunca se aparta de la fórmula perfecta para lograr que el espectador se enternezca, y de esta manera el animal de compañía de Valentin, Jack (interpretado por el perro actor Uggie), es parte central de la historia y simboliza el eterno lado infantil, soñador y noble de su dueño, que aunque adormecido por el pesar y aniquilado por la bancarrota, siempre está dispuesto a surgir en cualquier instante.


El filme tampoco se aleja de Hollywood del todo en lo que a elenco de reparto se refiere: los talentosos James Cromwell (¿hay alguien mejor que Cromwell en la pantalla grande?), Missi Pyle, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller y Malcom McDowell adornan con su presencia esta cinta de extraordinaria belleza y perfecta ejecución artística.

Por supuesto, una película silente sin un gran soundtrack ocasionaría el aburrimiento del espectador a pesar de contar con un guión inmaculado. No es este el caso, ya que la banda sonora compuesta por Ludovic Bource y Alberto Ginastera entre otros maestros, ilustra las escenas nítidamente y conmueve en la mayoría de los casos.

 En definitiva, The Artist es una película obligada para los amantes de la gran nostalgia fílmica. Una obra que indudablemente dejará profunda huella en la historia de la cinematografía mundial. Premios aparte, decir que es entrañable no alcanza a definirla totalmente. Tal vez la frase ‘Los 100 mejores minutos en la pantalla grande de los últimos años’ la calificaría mucho más adecuadamente.

Francia, 2011
Protagonizada por Jean Dujardin y Berenice Bejo
Dirigida y escrita por Michel Hazanavicius



30 jun. 2014

Vincent D'Onofrio

Vincent D'Onofrio has a great passion for indie movies, which speaks a lot about his uncompromising work ethic and authenticity as an artist. To be honest, I'd rather meet Mr. D'Onofrio than most annoying pop or rock stars. There are a lot of questions on my mind related to his career. Interviewing him would be a dream come true for me. I think he's a great male role model, and I know I'd be paying attention to every single word and gesture if I had that chance.

As a hardcore cinephile, I'm glad there's such an extraordinary actor in a world where media makes believe that mainstream awards and inflated reviews measure an artist's real talent in any way, shape or form.

As an actor, D’Onofrio has a very unusual and fascinating characteristic: he’s not afraid of playing the most diverse roles, no matter how shocking or demanding they may be. After all, real life is full of good, bad, pleasant and awful things, every day, everywhere.


So are Vincent’s characters. 



The nice boy next-door he played in Mystic Pizza (1988) gave no clue of what was to come. He's well known for his role in Law and Order: Criminal Intent as the majestic and complex Robert Goren, but there have been a lot of unforgettable characters in between. The talented actor who made Stanley Kubrick proud in Full Metal Jacket (1987) was also a perfect Robert Howard in The Whole Wide World

Maybe any other actor would have settled for conventional leading roles as a ladies’ man, but he had a lot more in mind. He kept growing and then starred in The Cell as the disturbed Carl Rudolph Stargher. It wouldn’t be the last time for him to star in a film with such a dark storyline, so he became a serial killer again in Chained (2012). The violence depicted in this movie may confuse some people, but don’t take D’Onofrio’s choice of characters for granted: he knows exactly where he’s standing.



Why is he always looking for those unconventional challenging roles, the ones that even major names would turn down in a second? Easy answer: because he loves the risk involved in creating a new, strong, intricate character on screen.  Of course, Vincent loves to prove himself again and again that he's capable of doing anything, and most of the time the audience agrees with him. That’s why he's known as “The Human Chameleon” though this name doesn’t even begin to describe his immense talent. The man is indeed an actor’s actor.
 
Vincent D’Onofrio most interesting films include The Player (1992), Happy Accidents (2000), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and Thumbsucker (2005). He has been a slayer, a priest, a mob boss and even a charming guy coming from the future on the big screen, but in real life, he’s a very reserved person living the life of his dreams with his family. 

Fortunately for us, he’s still making movies and even directing some of them. His never-ending vision is going strong and he will continue delighting the audience with his amazing performances. People like him never stops and we are thankful for that. Long live real talent! 

JUNE 30, 2014

The Whole Wide World [1996]


JUNE 30, 2014 

Novalyne…. Do you think it is possible for a woman to love this one man forever? 

That simple yet deep question is the premise of The Whole Wide World. One of the most underrated movies ever (though both Vincent D’Onofrio and Réene Zellweger won a couple of awards for their amazing performances), tells the story of real life Pulp-Fiction writer Robert Howard. The film is based on Novalyine Price’s book One Who Walked Alone (1986). 

The fact that this book was written almost five decades after he died, speaks volumes of Miss Price's feelings towards Robert. The film adaptation was made by Dan Ireland and the ultimate result shines as a brilliant piece of art in every sense of the phrase. 


Robert Howard was played by Vincent D’Onofrio close to perfection. His one of a kind performance showcases Howard’s quirky personality and gives the audience a chance to fall in love with the character. No matter how stubborn Howard gets, D’Onofrio’s wide range of emotions and larger-than-life talent gets you laughing and weeping at the same time. He’s always in control, and in this particular movie he embodies the weird boyfriend, the loving son, the tortured man and the cutting-edge author whose body of work lives forever, with a jaw-dropping description of who Conan is in between (Howard’s most famous character). 



There’s no great lead man without a brilliant counterpart, of course. Réene Zellweger has that unique sweetness that makes her look like a virgin on screen, but don’t be deceived: the soft and girly Novalyne Price that she plays with such precision is a feminist by all means, despite her Catholic background. She’s never afraid of Howard’s masculine and thundering presence. She worships him in a slightly maternal way, which is ironic, because Howard’s attachment to his mother was one of the reasons why they broke up. Nevertheless, she has to be the strongest one at one point and tries to guide him in the best way possible, no matter how many times he repeats that “the way he walks, he walks alone…”.

Speaking of virgins, the relationship between Howard and Price seems to be sexless at times, as there is no actual depiction of any situation like that during the movie. Even though, Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams’ poignant score is the perfect soundtrack to fantasize about what was left unsaid in the movie.  Let’s take that first-kiss scene on that mountain as an example: Mexican cinematographer Claudio Rocha deserved any major award for this sequence alone, as the way he captures every single detail is a feast for the senses. The chemistry between the two main characters on the other hand implies a lot of passion, yes, but goes way beyond that. 

At this point, the movie gets the audience thinking and making questions about the briefness of life and the possibility to love someone in such powerful way that it defies space and time. The idea of loving somebody with such purity of heart without even touching them is scary, shocking and heartwarming. It doesn’t happen every day of course, but let’s remember that this is a real story, so the odds are sometimes in our favor… even if the gift of love is sometimes wrapped in tears and heartache.


-Bob… Thanks for bringing me up here, and thanks for telling me what’s wrong with my stories. I mean that.
-Well, you’re welcome. It’s only my opinion; you don’t have to listen to it.
-I’d be a fool not to listen to the greatest Pulp-writer in The Whole Wide World: Bobby Howard.


The last goodbye of Robert and Novalyne pretty much resumes the whole movie and the aftermath is sad, tragic and full of hope, all at the same time. Howard took his own life at 30, shortly after his mother passed away. 

However, the movie ends with a subtle promise: no matter how bad things are, it is always going to be alright. The audience remains in awe, of course, and for a single moment we remember that cinema as a form of art is always capable of reflecting real life’s beauty as a true celebration of love. You just have to let yourself go and let the cinematic spiritual experience empowers you in the best way possible.
 
Unfairly labeled as a ‘chick-flick’ by a couple of critics, The Whole Wide World is a must-see for every D’Onofrio and Zellweger fan and stands as one of the best biopics of all time. Of course, there aren’t enough mainstream awards to reward the talent of all the great artists involved here. Maybe those critics, as Robert Howard said himself, need to look more closely next time.  



USA, 1996
Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Dan Ireland
Starring Vincent D'onofrio and Réene Zellweger
Written by Novalyne Price and Michael Scott Myers
Music by Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography: Claudio Rocha