Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Elle: The New “Basic Instinct” with a “French Twist”

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Elle” is a sophisticated, twisted-erotic-psychological thriller - charge with a high voltage of anxiety, desire, and animosity. It will stick with you right under the skin for a long time.

Director Paul Verhoeven returns to his European roots with a high content of sexual deviations, perversions, and obsessions - always pushing in his films, the boundary-line beyond the imaginable.
The role of “Elle” is custom made for Isabelle Huppert (“Things to Come,” “Amour,” “The Piano Teacher”) who perfectly portrays Michele LeBlanc, an upper-class, high-ranking French executive, and producer of violent video games charged with bloody erotic sequences that alter the subconscious. 

The responsibilities of Mrs. LeBlanc have changed her into an uptight, snooty, hard-hitting woman.
After a freak home invasion and rape, her mind is obsessed with the assault and can't stop thinking about it. 

The event repeats itself, over and over, inside her head and in constant incursions.

“What if…” she could defend herself and counter-attack the burglar.

“What if…” she would be in control and get pleasure out of it.

"What if..." she could take revenge against her attacker...

The thoughts of being a woman in power, (not only in her job, but in her sexuality), create a high level of instability, anxiety, and cravings in her mind and body.
Mrs. LeBlanc would like to know who attacked her. She suspects everyone, but she has no evidence of who he could be. 

She has many haters, starting with her ex-husband and her closest collaborators.

Some of her detractors are her daughter in law, her confused and immature son, and her mad and sophisticated mother who has a relationship with a much younger stud.
The mother wants her daughter to heal herself and become more “normal” by visiting and to forgive her incarcerated father, a “monster” serving a life sentence for committing a horrendous crime which Michele witnessed when she was a teenager.   
“Oh…” is the original name of the novel by the French-Armenian writer Philippe Djian, outstandingly adapted to the screen by David Birke.
Director Paul Verhoeven really knows his craft. In "Elle," he places every element in the right space and time. When he became famous in Hollywood with the Cult Classics such as “RoboCop” “Basic Instinct,” “Total Recall,” and “Show Girls,”  he already had a long trajectory in Europe.
In the Netherlands, his homeland, he made his most controversial works “Turkish Delight,” “Diary of a Hooker,” “Katie Tippel,” “Soldier of Orange” and“The 4th Man.” 

Verhoeven continues making films with the same quality and freedom in Europe and in Hollywood as well.

Many directors have successfully explored this genre with sex, violence, and fetishism. Like: Vicente Aranda’s “Amantes/Lovers: A True Story,” Bigas Luna’s “The Chambermaid on the Titanic,” Luis Buñuel’s “Susana” and “Belle de Jour,” and François Ozon’s “Criminal Lovers” and “Young & Beautiful.”

“Elle” is the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, Isabelle Hupper. And it is the official French submission for the Academy Awards 2017, in the Foreign Language Film category.

Verhoeven’s experience in Hollywood makes “Elle” unfold with perfect cinematography, fast-paced editing, and elongated moments that enhance the actors’ performances to a whole new level of importance.

In "Elle," every actor is impeccable. Isabelle Huppert is Magnifique!
Michele’s anger and obsessions make her unconscious of her own reality. 

At one point, she must figure out how to get out of this sickening situation in one piece and regain control of herself, but her environment drags her down into deeper waters.

As the sexual assaults become more frequent, the structure of "Elle" could be interpreted as “Jesus descending into Hell.”

The technical achievement of “Elle” makes it seem like a non-traditional French movie, but because of its sexual content, we can say “Elle” is very French. If you dare to see this film, you will know what I mean.

Paul Verhoeven, Elle.
Paul Verhoeven, Elle. Film Critic José Alberto Hermosillo 

Related Articles: 
“A Fantastic Woman” Love, Grief, and Compassion in Santiago 

“Polina” From the Classic Russian Ballet to the World of Contemporary Dance

“Cezanne and I” An Extraordinary Journey of Art and Friendship 

“Colossal” Not Your Typical “Godzilla” Movie

Copyright © 2016 Festival in LA 

Saturday, December 10, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo

Selecting the best film festival posters of the year can be subjective and open to interpretation. What is tangible is the beauty, originality, and harmony of the composition.

The poster's colors, spaces, and fonts convey information and emotions that a festival wants to promote to its targeted audience. 

The base colors have to be limited to no more than five. 

The information is vital, and it has to be precise and understandable. 

The language, name, dates, theme, and location must be precise and easily read.

During the year, Festival in LA collects and curates the design of many of the posters of the festivals from around the world to ensure the legacy is preserved and shared by many who appreciate the art of graphic design and the ones who love films in general. 

The Best Film Festival Posters of 2016 are:

Persian International Film,  
Sep-Oct. 2016, 
Cinerama 70MM Film Festival,  
September 9-19, 2016, 
Seattle, Washington 
Annecy International Animation Film Festival, 
June 2016, 
Carthage Film Festival, 
Oct-Nov 2016, 
Petaluma Film Festival
Oct 2016, 
Horizontes Latinos
San Sebastián, Spain.
Luxembourg City Film Festival
Feb-March 2016, 

  11th Austin Polish Film Festival
 Austin, Texas
American Film Market, 
Nov. 2016,
Santa Monica, California
San Sebastian International Film Festival, 
Sep. 2016, 
Festival International de Cine de 
San Cristoval de las Casas,
Chiapas, Mexico
Chicago Latino Film Festival, 
April 2016, 
Chicago, Illinois 
Festival International du Film, Cannes, 
May 2016, 
Mostra Internazionale D'Arte Cinematografica, 
La Bienale di Venezia, 
Ags-Sep 2016, 
Feb 2016, 
Bucheon Fantastic International Film Festival, 
July 2016, 

Copyright © 2016 Festival in LA 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Neruda: The Runaway Poet

By José Alberto Hermosillo

"Neruda" is the perfect antihero movie. It is a cinematic work of art and poetry, temper, and passion with a terrific cast!

In “Neruda,” we learned that Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda wrote his famous “Love Poems” in the same romantic way we saw in the Italian Academy Award winner “Il Postino.”

We didn’t know that Pablo also engraved in his “other poetry” the suffering of his people with an indelible mark for social justice. His poems were a patriotic manifesto against the Government of Chile, making him Public Enemy Number One.

The complex script of “Neruda” cleverly separates fiction from reality, intending to provoke controversy about Chile’s history.

Abruptly and awkwardly, the film opens with a vigorous discussion of Pablo Neruda’s bourgeoisie lifestyle and the accusations of treason from members of his own Communist Party in 1948.

While trying to defend himself, actor Luis Gnecco plays the not-so-charismatic persona of Pablo Neruda. He demystifies the figure of the poet from a Saint, Hero, or Demigod to a human being of flesh and bone.

More shockingly, the audience will meet a very raw, honest, and even grotesque Pablo Neruda, who thinks he is above everyone, including himself.

At one point in his life, he has to teach himself a valuable lesson: humility.

A few minutes into the film, investigator Oscar Peluchonneau, played by Gael Garcia Bernalbegins the narration of the persecution of the poet.

The beautiful cinematography by Sergio Armstrong("No," "The Club") starts its dramatic progression with the meanings of the colors. The palette of "Neruda" evolves beautifully. The contrast of color can be appreciated in the dark brown lobby of the Chilean Congress, in the city's bright yellow, and in the sepia tones of the countryside. Towards the climax, the film evolves into a deep blue, almost purple color of the port exteriors. The cinematography works well in the story's resolution, which is more lavish at the display of the bright-white light of the snow and the sharp colors of Neruda’s exile in Paris.

Neruda’s wife is an upper-class Argentine lady played by Mercedes Morán, who cleverly says, “Communists hate to work, but they love to burn down churches, and that makes them feel alive.”

The editing of the film could be more there. With its rough start, the film is hard to learn who will be the principal character, the investigator, or Pablo Neruda. 

With the writings, poems, and lyrics inspired by the poet, the film gets better as the script solidifies. The terrific group of actors makes their characters grow spiritually until the end.

“Chile has no freedom of speech---” was a declaration of war from Pablo to the Government. He went even further to qualify President Gonzalez Videla as a Traitor.

The film also refers to the concentration camps in Chile, where members of the Communist Party, students, and detractors were incarcerated.

Those were the “Desaparecidos,” the hundreds who vanished without a trace by the Government. Augusto Pinochet was in charge of one of those concentration camps and later became Chile’s Dictator.

“Neruda” has a “noir” style reflected during the chase between the desperate investigator and sneaky poet.

This biopic of the laureated Chilean poet has a similar approach to Michael Mann’s crime drama “Heat.” The difference is “Neruda,” a thinker-fugitive with no knowledge of his crime other than pursuing his entitlement to freedom of speech.

Pablo Larrain, photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2016

Academy Award nominee Director Pablo Larrain (“No,” “Tony Manero,” “Jackie,” “The Club”), during the AFI FEST presented by Audi 2016 in Los Angeles, said: “You cannot put Neruda in a box. You cannot describe him as smart, educated, and distinguished because he was someone larger-than-life.” 

Larrain added, “It’s complicated to put poetry in cinema. Poets describe our society as it is.”
Pablo Larrain, photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2016

Pablo and his brother, producer Juan de Dios Larrain, accomplished a magnificent film. 

With “Neruda” and “Jackie,” the Larrain brothers make magic on the screen. 
The Chilean official Academy Awards entry for the best foreign language is a trip to the beautiful geography of Chile, its ports and cities, and the Andes region of “Mapuche.”

In the last mêlée between Pablo and the investigator, he compares himself to Napoleon’s defeat in Waterloo.

Pablo Larrain, director, José Alberto Hermosillo film critic, Festival in LA ©2016

The film’s enchantment comes when Pablo writes letters and verses on how deeply every character is affected by his life and escape from Chile. 

In a final letter, Neruda describes real-life events about to happen. The meaning of those words would be more about if those situations were part of one of his novels. That includes the destiny of his faithful wife and the stubborn detective, who followed him to the “end of the world,” literally speaking.

The Nobel Prize Winner is the poet who enamored women and broke their hearts. 

Pablo Neruda brought down the walls of hate and abuse of power in Chile. He continued his fight with his writings from his exile in France and Italy, and his words gave his people Hope in one of the darkest times in Chile’s history. 

Related Articles:

“Endless Poetry” The Atypical Universe of Alejandro Jodorowsky

“Cezanne and I” An Extraordinary Journey of Art and Friendship

“Colossal” Not Your Typical “Godzilla” Movie

25 Great Foreign Films that Did Not Get Distribution in US Theaters

Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo
AFI Fest 2016 Presented by Audi announced the Jury and Audience Awards Winners.

Excellent choices. The 2016 AFIFest winners are absolutely fantastic.
Houda Benyamina, French Director, Divines. Photo by Jose Hermosillo,  COPYRIGHT Festival in LA, 2016
The French production "Divines" won three of the awards, the film has plenty of diversity and creativity, and displays an insightful vision of teenagers in trouble, a must see!!!
Other winners were "The Future Perfect," a corky comedy of Asian immigrants in Argentina. And a war drama "Land of Mine."
THE FUTURE PERFECT, DIR Nele Wohlatz. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016 

New Auteurs Grand Jury Award: THE FUTURE PERFECT

DIVINES, Dir. Houda Benyamina and actress Amamra Photo by Jose Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016
New Auteurs Special Jury Mention for Acting: Oulaya Amamra for DIVINES
Photo by Jose A. Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016

Grand Jury Award – Live Action Short: ICEBOX
Grand Jury Award – Animated Short: PUSSY
Live Action Short Special Mention for Comedic Narrative: HOUNDS
Live Action Short Special Mention for Documentary: THE SEND-OFF
Live Action Short Special Mention for Acting: DREAMING OF BALTIMORE
Live Action Short Special Mention for Cinematography: A THOUSAND MIDNIGHTS
Live Action Short Special Mention: SPEAKING IS DIFFICULT
Animated Short Special Jury Mention: SUMMER CAMP ISLAND
Animated Short Special Jury Mention for Mixed Media: DEER FLOWER
Animated Short Special Jury Mention for Visual Aesthetics: SUPERBIA
Mikael Chr. Rieks, producer, Land of Mine, Denmark. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016  

World Cinema Audience Award: LAND OF MINE
New Auteurs Audience Award: DIVINE
American Independents Audience Award: DONALD CRIED
Breakthrough Audience Award: DIVINES
Breakthrough Audience Award First Runner-Up: ONE WEEK AND A DAY
Breakthrough Audience Award Second Runner-Up: THE RED TURTLE
Photo by Jose Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016

Follow us on Twitter 
Like us on Facebook

Related Articles:

25 Great Foreign Films that Did Not Get Distribution in US Theaters

“Cezanne and I” An Extraordinary Journey of Art and Friendship

“Elle” The New “Basic Instinct” with a “French Twist”

“My Life as a Zucchini” The Beautiful Animated Life of a Little Swiss Boy

“Neruda” Runaway Poet

“Colossal” Not Your Typical “Godzilla” Movie


15 Must-See French Films at COLCOA 2017

10 The Best Latino Performances of 2016 And Their Absence From The Nominations

“Endless Poetry” The Atypical Universe of Alejandro Jodorowsky

“Polina” From the Classic Russian Ballet to the World of Contemporary Dance

Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016