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. 

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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

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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.


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 Animated Life of a Swiss Boy

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“My Life as a Zucchini” is the most gorgeous film of the year! A heartfelt stop-motion animation, colorful yet sweet and tender. A masterfully crafted coming-of-age Swiss production suitable for children of all ages.

The animated story recounts the early life of an introverted nine-year-old orphan named Icarus. His mother nicknamed him Zucchini, and Icarus proudly keeps the moniker to honor his mother’s memory from then on. 
Zucchini is the wallflower kind of kid who is also an excellent storyteller who communicates his experiences through drawings. 
His big eyes are two transparent windows reflecting his soul’s purity, emotions, and real feelings.
Zucchini, photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
Those big eyes tell us when Zucchini feels lonely, sad, depressed, nostalgic, jealous, happy, or in love with his new friends. Zucchini once said, “Sometimes, we also cry for happiness...”
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 Okay. There is no need for a guilty feeling.
Claude Barras Director of “My Life as a Zucchini,” photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
Director Claude Barras identifies his childhood with these fantastic characters. He is influenced by classics such as the “400 Blows,” “Nobody’s Boy: Remi,” “Heidi,” and “Bambi.”

Zucchini and his friends have one thing in common: they all lost their parents in particular circumstances. 

Barras comments that no matter how obscure the story is, we always find ways to tackle those critical subjects with children. As the Brothers Grimm did in Germany with their dark stories in their own exciting way.

Zucchini is a dark novel that departs from depicting a kid who kills his mother with a shotgun. 
Those tragic stories happen almost daily in real life; few can tell.

“My Life as a Zucchini” is a faithful adaptation to the screen of Gilles Paris’ Autobiography. Screenwriter Celine Sciamma (“Tomboy”) laid an elegant and subtle screenplay on the page. She knew the story had to be up for kids of all ages. So, she wrote a less ghastly adaptation from the writer’s experience.

Inside the Fountain’s Foster Home, Zucchini and his “diverse” buddies are from different backgrounds and represent the most needed inclusion and diversity in cinema. 

The Zucchini gang teaches us an unforgettable lesson, “No matter how rough life can be, there is always hope for a better future.”
The Magnificent Seven

Simone is the red-headed, sloppy boy who knows everybody’s story. Ahmed is the soul of the party. Jujube is the chubby, gluttonous/hypochondriac. Alice is the shy 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-inch-tall puppets were beautifully handcrafted and came to life in a simplistic but realistic form. The dolls were made of latex, silicone, wires, and fabrics. 
Zucchini and his collection of mouths. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA

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

When the puppets needed a change of clothes for the next scene, the production stopped for the night.
The minimalist and handcrafted sets were hand-painted by the director and his crew. The art direction and the perfect editing make audiences glide evenly throughout the movie.

Without sugar coating, “My Life as a Zucchini” draws the spectator from the beginning to the end. The story flows smoothly with continuity, a good pace, and gratifying surprises.
Max Karli & Pauline Gygax are the producers of “My Life as a Zucchini.” Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
Professional and non-professional child actors were cast for the characters' voices. The children were placed in an actual set to let them interact with each other, and only then could the children communicate their emotions realistically. 
The filmmakers taped the dialogues in action, letting the children’s voices overlap occasionally and purposefully making the soundtrack realistic.
Director and producers. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA

This original animated film is Switzerland’s official entry to the 2017 Academy Awards for best foreign-language film. It also qualifies as a best-animated feature, with a high possibility of getting an Oscar nomination in both types.
The film’s saddest and happiest moment is when the children talk about adoption, helping them mature emotionally. As Simon says, “Adoptions with older kids happen rarely.” Children must be content with a simple goodbye and the sweetest memories of their friendship.
Film critic Jose Hermosillo, Director Claude Barras © 2016 Festival in LA
“Zucchini” masterfully captured plenty of gratifying moments for the little ones and the grown-ups created by the talented puppeteer.

“My Life as a Zucchini” left my heart uneasy, with sweet and sour feelings. Also, it keeps me thinking about how catastrophic and, at the same time, beautiful life can be when we are children.


Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016