Wednesday, November 30, 2016

“Neruda” The Runaway Poet

By José Alberto Hermosillo
"Neruda" is the perfect antihero movie. A cinematic work of art and poetry, temper, and passion. Terrific cast!

In "Neruda" we learned, 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.”

What we didn't know is 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 intricate 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, real 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: how to be humble.

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

The beautiful cinematography starts its dramatic progression with colors and meanings. 

That palette evolves from dark brown of the lobby of the Chilean Congress to the yellow of the city and sepia of the countryside. Then to the deep blue and almost purple of the port and sea, to the bright-white light of the snow and ends with 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 is not quite there. The film, with its rough start, is hard to learn who is going to 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 character growth spiritually all the way until the end.

“Chile has not freedom of speech---” those words were 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 the person in charge of one of those concentration camps. He later becomes Chile’s Dictator.
"Neruda" has a very "noir" style reflected during the chase between the desperate investigator and sneaky poet. The laureated poet's biopic has a similar approach to Michael Mann's crime-drama “Heat.” The difference is that “Neruda” is more about the thinker-fugitive with little knowledge of committing a crime, other than the pursuit of his freedom of speech.
Pablo Larrain, Photo by Jose Hermosillo
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 a 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 by Lupita Mendoza.
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 to the vast Andes region of “Mapuche.”

The last mêlée between Pablo and the investigator is comparing to Napoleon's Waterloo.
Pablo Larraín, Chile. Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo.
The film’s enchantment comes when Pablo writes letters and verses on how deeply every character is affected by his life and his escape out of Chile. 

The meaning of his words describes real-life events that were about to happen, as if those situations were part of one of his novels, including the destiny of his wife and the detective who followed him all the way down to the “end of the world,” literally speaking.

The Nobel Prize Winner is the poet who not only enamored women but also 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. His words gave his people Hope in one of the darkest times in Chile's history. 

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Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

FRENCH "DIVINES" WINS THREE AWARDS AT THE AFIFEST 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


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Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Latino Filmmakers Flex Their Muscle at AFI FEST 2016

By José Alberto Hermosillo, 
AFI FEST. Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo © Festival in LA 2016
Prominent Latino filmmakers and auteurs will have an opportunity to get some exposure at the most prestigious film festival in Los Angeles, the AFI Fest 2016 presented by Audi.


Local movie fans are eager to see those productions made by the talented Latino filmmakers and maybe one of them could follow the steps of the “The Three Amigos,” the Mexican directors who had won the Oscar for best director the past three years in a row (Alfonso Cuarón (One for "Gravity") and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Two, the first one for "Birdman" and the second for "The Revenant")).

Pablo Larrain, Director of "Jackie" and"Neruda." Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016 
This year, Chilean Director Pablo Larrain may have a good shot for his astonishing production of “Jackie,” scheduled to have its Hollywood premiere in one of the festival's galas.

The films representing Latinos in the AFI Fest 2016 are excellent and those will be showcased during the festival for your consideration:
From Chile; Pablo Larraín with two amazing projects this year: “Jackie” with Nathalie Portman. A biopic that is getting the Oscar buzz for best actress. This big production will have a special red carpet treatment with a Center Gala during the festival. 
“Neruda” is the official Chilean entry for the Academy Awards 2017 for Best Foreign Film and will have two screenings during the festival. 

The story is about the poet and activist Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) and his Argentinean wife Delia Del Carril (Mercedes Morán), members of the Communist Party trying to escape from the political turmoil of Chile, while the police officer Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal) hunts them down.
Pedro Almodóvar, Director of "Julieta." Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016 
From Spain; Pedro Almodóvar and his “Julieta,” as the official Spanish entry for the Academy Awards 2017 for Best Foreign Film. 
The latest production of the Spanish prolific director deals with two women and the love that never dies. The film it has gotten great reviews since it premiered at Cannes earlier this year.


Amat Escalante, Venice International Film Festival

From Mexico; the winner of Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival, Amat Escalante, and his highly praised work “The Untamed/La Región Salvaje.” Escalante also won the best director award at Cannes for his previous film “Heli.”(The Mexican director is one of the four directors who had won both film festivals in history).
“The Untamed” is an intense drama that brakes the taboos of pure sexual gratification in a country where every desire is forbidden. This film is worth to see it with an open mind as every work done by Escalante.

Also from Mexico and Poland; "Panamerican Machinery," a murder-mystery drama where the generous boss of a factory gets killed. The workers have to change themselves to keep their jobs. This is the Opera Prima of Joaquín del Paso.
From Brazil; “Kill Me, Please/Mata-Me, Por favor.” Directed by Anita Rocha da Silveira. A terrific horror-thriller full of contrasts in the modernized and still marginalized skirts of Rio. In this exuberant and strange place, young girls obsessed with sex dream about their first love. The reality will hit them only when they get close to becoming victims of a serial killer on the loose.

From Argentina; comes the Award Winner for best picture at the Locarno International Film Festival “The Future Perfect/El Futuro Perfecto” directed by a German-Argentinian filmmaker Nele Wohlatz.

From Colombia; “Oscuro Animal” is the Opera Prima directed by Felipe Guerrero. This must-see film is a story that follows three young women caught up in the middle of the “guerrilla” time, where they deal with pain and hope for a better life. 

From the USA; An intense metaphysical thriller titled “Busters Mal Heart” where Remi Malek plays a Latino character split into two worlds, one is a fugitive semi-God on the loose and the other a hard worker, religious family man. The film gets intense when both storylines are getting close to each other. Do not miss it!
AFI Fest. Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo © Festival in LA, 2016
AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi screens 118 movies from 46 countries. 

AFI Fest gives Angelinos the unique opportunity to be in contact with great directors, celebrities; and to watch many films from around the world for free; also we can see excellent documentaries, wonderful independent films, shorts, and the much expected Hollywood big premieres, many of those movies will transcend into the Award Season big time.

Link to the: AFI FEST FILM GUIDE

AFI FEST 2016 Trailer # 3 (Ida Lupino)

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Copyright © 

2016 Festival in LA 


Thursday, November 3, 2016

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

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“My Life as a Zucchini” is the most gorgeous film of the year! 

An instant winner!

The stop-motion animation is heartfelt, perfectly crafted, colorful, and yet a sweet and tender, coming-of-age drama for all ages.

This animated story recounts the early life an introverted nine-year-old orphan named Icarus. His mother gave him the nickname of Zucchini, and he keeps it to honor her memory.

Inside the Fountain’s Foster Home, Zucchini and his “diverse” buddies will teach us an unforgettable lesson: 

“No matter how rough life can be, there is always hope for a better future.”

Zucchini is an excellent storyteller. He communicates his experiences through drawings. 
His big eyes are two transparent windows that reflect the purity of his soul, emotions and real feelings.
Zucchini, photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
By looking at those big eyes, we can tell when he's feeling lonely, sad, depressed or nostalgic… Also, when he is jealous, happy or when he feels love for his friends, as once he said, “And sometimes we also cry of happiness...”
At one point, Zucchini has to assimilate the passing of his mother by using the help of Raymond, the supportive cop who tells him that his mother is already in heaven and she is O.K. There is no need for guilty feelings.

“My Life as a Zucchini” is adapted to the screen from Gilles Paris’ Autobiography. 


Director Claude Barras identifies his childhood with these fantastic characters. His influences came from movies such as the “400 Blows,” “Nobody's Boy: Remi,” “Heidi,” and “Bambi.”

Zucchini and his friends have one thing in common: all of them lost their parents in particular circumstances.
Claude Barras Director of "My Life as a Zucchini," photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
The director thinks that no matter how dark the story is, there is always one particular approach. As the Brothers Grimm did in Germany, their dark stories were told in their exciting way.

The Autobiography of Zucchini is like a dark novel; it departs from the depiction of a kid who kills his mother with a shotgun. 
Those tragic stories happen almost every day in real life.

Screenwriter Celine Sciamma (“Tomboy”) was faithful to the book. She knew that the story had to be up for kids of all ages, so she wrote a less lousy adaptation of the original writer’s experience.

The script of this fantastic movie is laid down on the page elegantly and with much subtlety.

In the foster home, the children are all from different backgrounds and represent the most needed inclusion and diversity in cinema today.
The Magnificent Seven
Simone is the red-headed lousy boy is the one who knows everybody's story. Ahmed is the soul of the party, and jujube is the chubby, gluttonous hypochondriac kid; Alice is this the blonde who hides under her hair, the gentle African girl is Beatrice, and Camille is everybody’s sweetheart, a proactive, confident lovable girl.

The ten-inches-tall puppets were beautifully handcrafted and came to life in a very simplistic but realistic form. 
Zucchini and his collection of mouths. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
The dolls were made of latex, silicone, wires, fabrics. 

Other parts, like the computer generated human-like head, were made of metal, to attached and detached the mouths and eyebrows with magnets to change the facial expressions quickly.
Camille and her collection of lips. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
The production stopped for the night when the puppets needed a change of clothes for the next scene.
The sets were minimalist, handcrafted and hand-painted by the director and his crew. The stages gave the right atmosphere to the movie, combined with the perfect editing it glides evenly. 

Without sugar coating, the film draws the spectator into the story right from the begging till the end; it flows smoothly with continuity and a good pace.
Max Karli & Pauline Gygax, producers, "My Life as a Zucchini." Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
Pro and non-pro child actors were cast to do the voices of the characters. 

To communicate the emotions realistically, these young stars were placed in an actual set to perform and interact with each other. They taped the dialogs in action, their voices occasionally overlapping one another purposely.
Director and producers. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
This original animated film is Switzerland’s official Academy Awards entry for the best foreign-language film. It also qualifies in the category of a best-animated feature, with a high possibility of getting an Oscar nomination in one or maybe in both types.
The saddest yet happiest moment of the film is the time they talk about adoption. Simon says, “Adoptions with older kids happen rarely.”

That's why we have to be content with a simple goodbye and the sweetest memories of our good old friends.
Film critic Jose Hermosillo, Director Claude Barras © 2016 Festival in LA
In “Zucchini” the puppeteer created a beautiful story for the little ones where the grown-ups captured plenty of gratification.

“My Life as a Zucchini" left my heart with an uneasy feeling along with some sweet and sour emotions confronting. Also, started me thinking about how catastrophic and beautiful life can be.

Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016