Monday, May 26, 2014

Memories Eternal

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) - Singer
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This franchise, along with its Wolverine spinoffs, has been dragged out long enough, even though there are plenty more characters, subplots and parallel universes to cling on to until the end of days. Singer and co. decides to put a semi definite "." on the X-Men series with Days of Future Past. The plot: The world is destroyed by the war between humans and mutants. Only a few mutants remain, hounded by Sentinels- indestructible creatures borne out of shape shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)'s DNA when she was captured after assassinating a military industrialist Trask (Peter Dinklage). The only hope is to go back in time and prevent Mystique from killing Trask. Kitty (Ellen Page), a mutant who possesses the power of "phasing", sends Wolverine, who has unlimited instant cell regeneration, therefore, only one who can withstand destructive long term phasing, to 1973 to stop Mystique. There he has to convince both young Prof. X (James McAvoy) and his rival young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to team up and stop the development of Sentinels. A lot is at stake here, folks.

Days of Future Past in its seriousness, invalidates the first 3 X-Men movies since its timeline doesn't match with the existence of Sentinels. It's more of a continuation of X-Men: First Class with Fassbender's showy Magneto in the center with Wolverine thrown in. The mood is grim and no one smiles. Wolverine has skeletal blades instead of metal in his paws. Prof. X is struggling with spine damage and lost his way. Magneto is still scheming to end humanity. Someone's got to save prez! In the mean time, Sentinels are picking up mutants like daisies - they get crushed in graphic detail - they burst in to flames, bodies explode, heads crushed, etc.

What's left is that Wolverine remains the most tragic character in superhero franchise. He is the sole witness to all the destruction and death of the loved ones and when it's all fixed, it's only he who remembers all for eternity.

Fresh Off the Boat

The Immigrant (2013) - Gray
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I like this. The storyline is so old fashioned and melodramatic, but its sincerity is undeniably noble. Darius Khondji's cinematography is faithful to the other period piece look - copper colored and silhouette-y. I don't know what they did to the film shot footage, but it's way too sharp, it looks like digital. I'd prefer it if it was a little grainier and grittier.

It's clear that Gray doesn't really care about the setting, the plot, boobies and other characters much. They are all indistinguishable but it's all about Bruno, Ewa and to some extent Emil (Jeremy Renner). Not them even. But it all culminates to the end confession of Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a gentle pimp in 1920s New York to down and out fresh off the boat Polish immigrant Ewa (Marion Cotillard). He is in love with the woman he corrupted, and he can't barely look at her in the eye: his head tilted to the side, squinting in the grey light. Gray quietly lenses Phoenix's face from the side in medium shot, never a close up. For that scene, this sappy 2 hour period piece is totally worth watching. It doesn't even matter if the actors are too old for their respective roles. It's an 'adult movie'. Two Lovers is next.

Jagged Rock Between Us

L'Avventura (1960) - Antonioni
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I don't know. The ills of modern society making people unable to connect with one another has been done better since. The first part with the island and the woman disappearing is truly arresting. The rest though, is way too glacially paced for my taste. Also cinematically, I prefer Antonioni's color pictures more than b&w ones. They drive home the contrast between humans and its surroundings better. I gotta watch La Notte.