Tuesday, December 31, 2019


By José Alberto Hermosillo
The Best Films of The Decade:

2010 - Biutiful
2011 - The Artist
2012 - Silver Linings Playbook
2013 - Gravity
2014 - Birdman
2015 - Anomalisa
2016 - Moonlight
2017 - The Greatest Showman
2018 - Roma
2019 - Transit

The Best and more existentialist films of the decade 

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“Invisible Life” Melodrama is Not Dead Thanks to Brazilian Cinema

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Invisible Life” is a nostalgic, affectionate, and well-crafted masterpiece.

The Brazilian/German co-production is a profound and artistic adaptation of Martha Batalha’s novel “A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmăo” to the screen. 

The film depicts the lives of two sisters growing up in Brazil and their tortuous separation by their conservative parents in the 1950s - Eurídice (Carol Duarte), the extraordinary pianist/aspiring soloist, and Guida (Julia Stocker), the one who yearns to be a devoted housewife.
Invisible Life, still photo ©2019 Amazon Original
A series of unfortunate events will determine the fate of the Gusmăo sisters. Their separation was caused mainly by the pre-established authoritarian male structure of that time. 

When life sets them apart, their hearts remained together by the illusion of writing to each other, emotionally speaking. Those undelivered letters are the thread of the film that upholds the melodrama until the end.

Furthermore, Eurídice is forced to marry a man who doesn't care for her vocation. And Guida, after a wrecked relationship with a Greek sailor, upon her return, is banished from her parents' house, forcing her to look for her well-being out in the streets, where prostitution can be one of the solutions. 

At that time, sexism and tyranny suppressed women's dreams, goals, and desires – they couldn’t aspire for higher education or a better-paying job unless they pushed the bar

The sisters' experience can compare to the lives of our mothers and grandmothers who didn't have the opportunities they deserved. They could be someone famous if they only were allowed to fulfill their dreams.
Karim Aïnouz, director of "Invisible Life." Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Director Karim Aïnouz (“Madame Satã,” “Futuro Beach”) took a risky decision to adapt the novel to the big screen with delicacy and mastery. 

"Invisible Life" is not only a well-told family melodrama but a social and political document that transcends to our days in defense of women’s emancipation, if we can read between the lines.

Born in Fortaleza, Brazil, Aïnouz fluctuates residency between Berlin and New York. In the creation of “Invisible Life,” Aïnouz was inspired partly by the life of his single mother, her enormous spirit for survival, and the courage she had to take care of her children.

After a private screening in Hollywood, Aïnouz was questioned by viewers about altering the novel’s ending. He said, adapting the ending to the screen took him more than a year. The end rightfully complements the entire movie, making it more poetic and cinematic. The writer's collaboration team includes Murilo Houser and Inés Botargaray in the credits.
Invisible Life, still photo ©2019 Amazon Original
In charge of the sumptuous cinematography is the talented cinematographer Hélène Louvart. She worked in other relevant films around the globe such as “Happy as Lazzaro” in Italy, “Maya” in France and India, “Petra” in Spain, “Dark Night” in Florida, “Beach Rats” in New York, and now “Invisible Life” in Brazil.

With a plethora of colors and elaborate set compositions, “Invisible Life” is a tropical allegory full of liveliness, heartening emotions, and nostalgia.

The editing elongates the flow of the story and can be confusing towards the end if we don't follow the family tree-line carefully, but the film is still enjoyable.

“Invisible Life” can be compared with other compelling and classic melodramas such as the Best Picture Oscar winner “Rebecca” by Alfred Hitchcock, “Imitation of Life” by Douglas Sirk, “Like Water for Chocolate” by Alfonso Arau, and “All About My Mother” by Pedro Almodóvar.
Invisible Life, Italian poster.
“Invisible Life” won Un Certain Regard in Cannes and the CineCoPro Award at the Munich Film Festival. Now, it has a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award. The film inspires women to continue breaking barriers and closing the gender gap, optimistically speaking.

The timing of these engaging melodrama couldn't be better as we see today’s women pushing barriers that limited previous generations to accomplish their goals and reached out for more opportunities, leaving behind the oppressive world remarkably and exquisitely depicted in “Invisible Life.”
Jose Alberto Hermosillo, a film critic. And Karim Aïnouz, director of "Invisible Life." ©2019 Festival in LA
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Saturday, December 28, 2019


By José Alberto Hermosillo
Prepare to enjoy two consecutive and amazing weekends of Nordic movies at the Writers Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills at the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. 2020. The festival’s 21st edition includes a remarkable selection of films from the Northern European countries - including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.

The festival screens some fantastic shorts and documentaries as well. 

 The features include this year’s Oscar submissions, such as “The Mover” from Latvia, and “Stupid Young Heart” from Finland. 
The outstanding erotic thriller “Queen of Hearts” submitted from Denmark, with the extraordinary performance of the renowned Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (“In a Better World,” “Love is All You Need,” “Nico”). 
The festival continues screening the highly praised and critics' favorite “A White, White Day” from Iceland.
Special mention to the charming film representing Sweden “And Then We Danced” about a risky love among the very traditional Georgian dances.
Another of the festival highlights is the unmissable Academy shortlisted epic, “Truth and Justice” from Estonia.
The Opening Night Gala includes a reception with a buffet before the screening of sensational book adaptation of “Out Stealing Horses” from Norway.
The Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. closes with “Daniel” from Denmark. The story is about a Danish photographer captured by ISIS in Syria in 2013 and held hostage for 398 days. 
 James Koenig, host, director, and founder of the SFFLA. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019
Many of the films will include Q & A's with the filmmakers, cast, and crew. After each movie, they are always ready to talk about the arts and crafts in their film industry. The Nordic visitors: like mingle with Angelinos. 
Gustav Mollër, director of The Guilty. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019
Scandinavian Film Festiva LAl 2020 Festival in LA ©2019
If one of your New Year resolutions is to start watching good movies, the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. is the answer. The festival is considered, for many, a small gem in the Los Angeles festival circuit. 
 Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA © 2019
The hospitability and organization of the festival make any film lover feel welcome. The receptions include good wine, food, live music, and stunning quality of films from the countries located on the top of the world. 
 SFFLA Cake. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019
You can buy your season pass for $140.00 to all the films and events.
Individual tickets are $12.00.
Scandinavian Film Festival LA Festival in LA ©2019
For more information about the Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles, please visit the festival's website, www.sffla.net 

Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2020. Festival in LA ©2019
PROGRAM: schedule.

Follow SFFLA by email  -  Facebook  - Twitter @scandifilmfest
 Film Critic José Alberto Hermosillo, www.FestivalinLA.com ©2019
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By José Alberto Hermosillo
Nineteen Best Films of 2019
Nineteen Best Films of 2019:

1. Transit
2. Joker
3. 1917
4. Little Women
5. Invisible Life
6. The Irishman
7. Honeyland
8. Dolemite is My Name
9. The Painted Bird
10. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
11. Parasite
12. Pain and Glory
13. Les Misérables
14. The Two Popes
15. Synonyms
16. Song of Names
17. Honey Boy
18. And Then We Danced
19. The Biggest Little Farm

SPECIAL MENTION: Our Time, Deerskin, Nobadi, Us, The Cave, The Farewell, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The Mustang, Giant Little Ones, Marriage Story, American Factory, The Report, Maiden, The Aeronauts, The Great Hack, The Art of Self Defense, Apollo 11, Knock Down the House, High Life.

🎥  🎞  📽  🎬

The year 2019 brought us some fascinating films - many of those you probably never heard of, or have no time to watch them. Many movies have no possibilities for an award or won't get an Oscar buzz - many critics may agree that the best film of the year will not necessarily be the most highly praised or rewarded movie of the year.
"Transit" is the most sublime, obsessively beautiful story of 2019. This modern and existentialist masterwork is comparable with classics such as "Casa Blanca" or "Touch of Evil."  
Films like "Joker" deserve to win Best Picture, "1917" is a masterpiece as well. "Little Women," a movie narrated from the writer's point-of-view and directed by a woman, is the best adaptation of the classic American novel so far. 
Some productions from other countries enrich the list of best films of the year, such as the Brazilian masterwork "Invisible Life." The French productions "Portrait of a Woman on Fire" and "Les Misérables" are also great movies worth your time. 
In the foreign section, we have the Swedish production, "And Then We Danced" about Georgian dancers in love. Finally, the most controversial film of the year, and difficult to swallow, the black and white WWII drama "The Painted Bird."
The year 2019, also brought us a few big disappointments. I was not referring to Cats, Richard Jewell, The Fanatic, Rambo: Last Blood, Terminator: Dark Fate, or Ugly Dolls. But that is another story. 

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Ten Shortlisted Films for Best International Feature Oscars 2020

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Ten Shortlisted Films for Best International Feature Film for the Oscars 2020. Festival in LA


The Czech Republic, “The Painted Bird”
Estonia, “Truth and Justice”
France, “Les Misérables”
Hungary, “Those Who Remained”
North Macedonia, “Honeyland
Poland, “Corpus Christi”
Russia, “Beanpole”
Senegal, “Atlantics”
South Korea, “Parasite
Spain, “Pain and Glory
A record number of 94 countries submitted their films to the 92nd Academy Awards for the Best International Feature Film, previously known as the Best Foreign Language category. 

Out of those 94 submissions, the one from Afghanistan was ineligible. Austria and Nigeria were disqualified because more than fifty percent of the dialog is in English. 

From that long list, ten films are shortlisted now, before the nominations announcement mid-January.  

Not many surprises as the frontrunner and top foreign box-office, Cannes winner “Parasite,” seem to be ahead of the other preselected films.

Not that fast, the favorite film not always wins the Oscar. It happened in 2009 with Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner “The White Ribbon” loosing against the undiscovered Argentinian political-thriller “The Secret in their Eyes,” both films are equally meaningful with extraordinary beauty.

Last year, the Venice Film Festival winner “Roma” from Mexico won the Oscar over Cannes winner Japanse social drama “Shoplifters.” And a year before the transgender Chilean love story “A Fantastic Woman” beat Cannes winner “The Square” from Sweden.

In history, very few films won the Palme d’Or and the Oscar as well. The last movie to do so was “Amour” in 2012. “Pele the Conqueror” won both in 1987, “The Thin Drum” in 1979. “A Man and a Woman” in 1966, “La Dolce Vita” from Italy won in 1960, and “Black Orpheus” made in Brazil, represented France in 1959, won Cannes and the Oscar.

Measuring art is subjective, but not for the Academy members who prefer a wide variety of topics than the ones that have won in the influential European Film Festivals.

The films from Latin America are out of the competition after winning the Oscar for two consecutive years, "A Fantastic Woman" from Chile, and "Roma" from Mexico. "Invisible Life," the masterwork from Brazil and "Retablo" from Peru, both films were nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, but after the shortlist announcement have no chance for an Oscar nomination.

This award season, anything can happen because the most controversial film of the year, "The Painted Bird" from the Czech Republic, made the cut. The eco-friendly documentary from North Macedonia's "Honeyland," or even "Beanpole" from Russia, can win over the three favorites, "Parasite" from South Korea, "Pain and Glory" from Spain, and "Les Misérables" from France. 

The Painted Bird, Czech Republic
Directed by Václav Marhoul.
Language: Interslavic. 
Truth and Justice, Estonia
Directed by Tanel Toon
Language: Estonia

Directed by Ladj Ly
Language: French.
Those Who Remained, Hungary
Directed by Barnabás Tóth
Language: Hungarian.
Honeyland, North Macedonia
Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotovska
Language: Turkish, Macedonian, Bosnian.
Corpus Christi, Poland
Directed by Jean Komasa 
Language: Polish

Beanpole, Russia
Directed by Kantermir Balagov
Language: Russian
Atlantics, Senegal
Directed by Mati Diop
Language: Wolof, French, English.
Parasite, South Korea
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Language: Korean.
Directed by Pedro Almodovar
Language: Spanish.

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