A scene from 'The Saddest Music in the World' (2003)

directed by Guy Maddin

In this video Siam and Mexico duel to prove who can play the 'Saddest Music in the World' for a grand prize during the 30's depression era. Review of this film is available here.

Stalker (1979)

In the film, a Stalker is a guide. Stalkers lead clients to a place protected by the army known as the Zone. Dangerous and unpredictable the Zone possesses unknown powers that may be life-threatening. However, if you make it to the end, any of one's wishes will be fulfilled. In the movie, a writer and a scientist take on this journey, following the Stalker and encountering many obstacles.

This film falls under the the sci-fi genre, but its only the concept that invites to that categorization. In reality Stalker is an invitation to introspection, a walk to discover human's innermost fears and desires of oneself and society, a psychological debate of our perceived value. A philosophical masterpiece. Throughout the movie a series of dialogues and monologues raise various concerns that question existence itself.

A writer and a scientist debate their social roles -imagination vs. rationality- both looking for something, both trying to prove something, but what? and why? The same questions can be asked to the Stalker. However, the ultimate question is what are their true desires and what are their perceived desires? And who really is able to handle the idea of fulfilling their most truthful and intimate wishes? People follow the Stalker, perhaps blindly, in an egoist attempt to solve their troubles, and the Stalker, needs followers in order to exist and be happy. He abandons his wife and his deformed daughter in a sacrificial way to "help others". Is it just me or can this be somehow connected to religion? Actually, the film can be connected to many aspects of life in different levels and that's what make it so universal and transcendent. 

Sometimes criticized for its slow pace and long takes, the film works out perfectly and is engaging for the 163min of duration. About this, Tarkovsky commented "the film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action".  

This film is a great example of perseverance. There were many complications during the making of this film, but lucky us, after 5,000 meters of film and some patience, it was actually made. The film was shot three times with changes in crew and participants, changes in cinematography and script, music and pretty much everything. The Zone is portrayed in colors and the outside world is shot in a beautiful brown high-contrast monochrome.

Must see. 
Avoid if you are impatient and/or need dynamic cinema. 
Rating: 9.75/10

127 Hours (2010)

directed by Danny Boyle
with James Franco

After his highly successful and praised (honestly disappointing) film, Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle's next move was to be supervised by both haters and lovers of the Slumdog. It is understandable that he decided to go for a less commercial feature that is distant from his previous work but that stays true to his style. A highly artistic achievement with enough mainstream ground; an unusual balance in today's cinema that few directors such as Nolan have managed to accomplish.

Based on a true story, the film is about extreme mountain climber Aron Ralston, that accidentally gets his arm trapped under a boulder. Unable to break free, the film depicts the processes that he goes through, from extreme introspection to creative surviving techniques. Danny Boyle describes it as "an action movie with a guy who can't move", very precise in my opinion.

127 Hours is unique and compelling, breathtaking and nerve-wrecking, inspiring, thoughtful and hard to swallow, but it is worth it to go through delusions, dehydration, pain, and regret to enjoy the final cathartic liberation along with Aron Ralston (James Franco in his finest performance). 

Approach with caution, extreme visuals and situation. 
Rating: 8.25/10


My Winnipeg (2007)

written and directed by Guy Maddin

Call it docu-fantasiapseudo, quasi or hyper documentary, experimental and avant-garde,  My Winnipeg truly is a poem, a powerful and honest poetic film that mesmerizes the viewer with its unique imagery and storytelling. With this movie, Maddin definitely entered my list of the most important and visionary directors of this century.

We learn a lot about Winnipeg through Maddin's eyes, particularly about the vibe of the city. Revealing hidden layers that will not be contained in any tourist guidebook and that not even locals would be willing to explain, Maddin opens the doors to his hometown with certain nostalgia and desperation. It's as if the movie itself was cathartic for Maddin to make. It feels like he has been keeping all the lines of narrative to himself and needed to spit them out for psychological healing, seeking freedom from his childhood, from his memories, from his fears and his unconformities. However, Maddin manages to make all these private and personal feelings universal, turning Winnipeg into a familiar place with which we also relate to and struggle with -hockey, people, sleepwalking, TV shows, buildings, public pools, the forks, mother issues, Winnipeg-. When the movie ends, unlike most Winnipegeans, we are forced to leave Winnipeg.

Highly recommended. 
Rating: 8.75/10


The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

directed by Guy Maddin
with: Isabella Rosellini, Mark McKinney, Ross McMillan, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox

The Saddest Music in the World is so aesthetically pleasing, visually unique (20's and 30's silent film style), narratively inventive and entertaining that you wouldn't want to miss a second. The premise is simple and easy to follow, but the shots, the dialogues and the story go all over the place and rapidly change, demanding your full attention. In order to get the true feel of Maddin's work, one has to get completely involved in the story so that it makes more sense and pieces fall into place. So the provocative becomes funny and the strange and surreal become natural, part of that world that you decided to dive into. This world is not silent and all black and white, but it is shot with an 8mm, looks grainy and blurry, reminisces the old but feels fresh. 

The Saddest Music in the World takes place in Winnipeg ("the sorrow capital of the world"), during the depression era (people are sad and moneyless) . Lady Port-Huntly announces a worldwide contest in which participants represent their countries by playing 'the saddest music in the world' in order to win a prize of 25,000 "depression-era" dollars. The premise, explained from the beginning hits as instantly absurd, defining the evolving moments of the story. 

As love, memories, grief, pride, self-interest and surrealism mix, things begin to fall apart, as does everything as fragile as an unstable economy. 

Must see for those who enjoy silent film style and surrealism.
Recommended for those who appreciate the unconventional. 
Rating: 8.75/10


A scene from 'Deconstructing Harry' (1997)

directed by Woody Allen

Starring Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg, this is one genius scene is filled with the traditional surrealist spirit, reminiscent of Bunuel. Absurdities are what build up a lot of Woody Allen's work, giving it an eccentric but humorous feel, making you laugh while frowning in confusion. Read film review here

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

written and directed by Woody Allen
with: Woody Allen

Harry Block (Allen), a successful writer, is going through a creative crisis. Unable to come up with ideas for his subsequent novel, his life is interrupted by scenes and characters from his previous work, entering a world that mixes fiction and reality. Block is depressed and desperate, uncomfortable with life and continually complaining. Alcoholic, whore-addicted and pill-dependent, he has gone through three marriages and six psychiatrists. However, he is motivated by an honorary award he is going to receive at the University he attended and from which he got kicked out of. 

Deconstructing Harry is precisely what the film tries to do. We learn all about Harry's psychological problems and social alienation by appreciating the constant surreal interruptions of characters and scenes from his books, who are based in people that part of his real life. 

The film has plenty of hilarious moments, some bright dialogues, intriguing absurdities and ironies, and a spark of natural brilliance. In Deconstructing Harry, Allen was unafraid to experiment, with unexpected jump cuts and repetitions, the creation of the "i'm-out-of-focus" scenario (pure genius) and his view of heaven and hell, but most importantly, it's honest and feels personal, including some of his often criticized personality traits. 

At times, the film feels Bergmanesque, with the psychological exploration and the sudden introduction of imaginary characters, particularly sharing many similarities with Wild Strawberries. 

Worth a look. 
Rating: 8.25/10


Toy Story 3 (2010)

directed by Lee Unkrich
with voices by: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen,

When I first found out that Toy Story 3 was being produced, I was excited and nervous at the same time. The original Toy Story movie was a huge part of my childhood, the second one, not so much. But still, I was afraid that Pixar could ruin the brightest of my animated-movie memories. Since the release of Toy Story, numerous animated children movies followed, but none seemed to match the Toy Story experience and I was afraid that the third installment wouldn't be loyal to former fans. Surprisingly, it was, and more significantly, it was the best of the three.

Toy Story 3 is the perfect animated movie. It appeals both children and adults. It is entertaining and silly, but yet mature and wise. It is witty, full of emotions and laughs, drama, hope, loyalty and selflessness. The Toy Story series have grown up along with their audience always knowing what to offer, always having in mind the innocent child that we all carry within us and the passing of time. Unkrich manages to show us a world where toys represent abstract memories; feelings. A world in which we can observe the influence of the past on our present, making us realize that things have changed. It's always great to go back and reminisce.

As an adult, it's easy to expect a movie like this to be mostly childish, predictable and probably both annoying and boring to a certain extent. But it's completely the opposite of all that. Toy Story 3 is a film for everyone, a visually-stunning, impeccably scripted, highly enjoyable piece of cinema.

Highly Recommended. 
Rating: 9.25/10


A scene from 'Blue Velvet' (1986)

directed by David Lynch
song by Roy Orbison (1963)

Simply an audiovisual feast full of emotions and discomfort. Powerful and engaging, strange and intriguing, David Lynch creates a surrealist scenario that blends beautifully with the rest of the film.


The Exterminating Angel (1962)

directed by Luis Bunuel

The Exterminating Angel is as absurd as surrealism can get and that is what makes it so enjoyable and entertaining to watch. Basically, this is the premise. After a dinner party, a group of upper class people don't seem to be able to leave the room. Simple, but brilliant. The film of course, is open to numerous interpretations and surely none of them are completely correct. That is what surrealism is about, and this is surrealism at its peak. The wealthy acting like poor, the audience being teased to find an explanation, a bear in a house, a doctor tries to hide the fact that someone in the room is dead and hundreds of other elements are found in this movie. 

The film is not only criticizing the upper class, it also criticizes the human being as a limited species that depends on social norms and formalities to feel comfortable. This group of people is faced with the challenge of leaving a room but nobody manages to. They are forced to deal with death, thirst, hunger, frustration, boredom, sex, betrayal, drugs and secrecy. In this small room with a small group of people, Bunuel is actually building a whole world. Call it Earth or call it your own mind, the difficulties of breaking the barriers of the conventional through creativity have haunted humankind forever. We are trapped in this world and are bound to a social and political context. If you shake that up a bit and change the situational context, people find a way to adapt and that's what happens in the film. 

Think of existentialism, nihilism, egoism, survival, religion, fear, the importance of social structures and the role of oneself in a determined group of people. It's all about perception. 

The film uses plenty of repetitions unexpectedly. Most go unnoticed, but so do repetitions in real life. Having said that, The Exterminating Angel deserves various viewings. Extremely witty and humorous, this is one of the best Bunuel films of his mexican period. 

Extremely recommended.
Rating: 9.25/10

Stella Artois Commercial by Wes Anderson

directed by Wes Anderson

Gladly, the commercial does have Anderson's signature style; slightly geeky, aesthetically pleasing mise-en-scene, bright colors and clever humor. There can be a lot of positive outcomes when using a famous director for a commercial. It increases the brand's credibility and the commercial's artistic values and it's almost like the director is endorsing the product.

A scene from 'Eraserhead' (1976)

directed by David Lynch

One of my favorite scenes from David Lynch's debut film 'Eraserhead' (1976). If you like this video and haven't seen this movie, you should definitely do it right away. This scene defines a lot of Lynch's later work. In most of his movies there is someone singing a dreamy peaceful song that contrasts with the heavy imagery. Lynch also includes a lot of curtains and drapes in many of his films as well as his TV show, Twin Peaks. The pace and mood of this scene is used in other of his movies to break with the chaotic sequences of the movie.


The Social Network (2010)

directed by David Fincher
with: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, 

The film is nearly impeccable, almost perfectly executed, precisely edited with fine transitions. Well-scripted, the dialogues are very realistic and feel mostly natural. The acting is also neat. However, these approaches to perfection are only superficial and technical. The film lacks an emotional and psychological connection to the viewer.  It always feels like a movie and does not go beyond to reach deeper into the audience. The Social Network is interesting and entertaining and it works because it's extremely timely, but the truth is that the film is plainly conventional. Even with an abrupt ending, flashbacks and flash-forwards, the film does not propose or inspire, it does not impress or innovate, The Social Network is just another good movie that would have gone unnoticed if the theme and the story weren't so relevant nowadays. But because of its relevancy this film is of high historical importance. Fincher played it safe for the Hollywood market and did not take any risks. This is understandable because the project is profit-driven, but with such critical acclaim and a perfect trailer, something extraordinary should be expected. The Social Network is not transcendent, it's just good. 

Must see.
Rating: 7.5/10


Six Figures Getting Sick (1966)

a video by David Lynch

This is Lynch's first attempt at video art. An animation experiment that may have diverse explanations, allegorical references and subconscious content, but that's unimportant because who really knows what Lynch is trying to communicate anyways? Just lay back and enjoy your eyes.


Piranha 3D (2010)

directed by Alexandre Aja
with: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Richard Dreyfuss

When I saw the trailer for Piranha 3D I was mildly interested by it. I never really thought of watching it until I had three hours to kill while waiting for a friend. I was expecting something terrible and somewhat entertaining, but simultaneously frustrating. To my surprise, I had some big laughs and was glad I saw it. The movie contains the cliches of horror films you can expect. It uses and abuses the same formula as Jaws, which is one of the reasons why it works. People having a great time, an authority figure that knows what's up, underwater shots ...blood, tons of it...survivors. The 3D of course, is a big plus. An immediate cult movie. 

The movie is never to be taken seriously in any way; then it becomes enjoyable. With a ridiculous plot, and a ridiculous amount of breasts and severed body parts, the film also manages to criticize the spring breaker behaviors and attitudes. Aja did what he had to, he took it to the extreme and he communicated exactly what he wanted and for that, a bad movie can be a good movie... and, I will probably head over to the cinema for the sequel when it comes out. 

Worth a look. 
Rating: 6.25/10