Sunday, January 26, 2020

"Dear Basketball" Kobe Bryant Inspiring Love Letter to Posterity

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Kobe Bryant, Academy Award Winner. Photo courtesy of the Academy, 2018.
 
"Dear Basketball" is an extraordinary animated 2018 Oscar-winning short film, written, produced, and narrated by Kobe Bryant directed by veteran animator Glen Keane.
 
The emotional short "Dear Basketball" is an inspiring love letter to the posterity and a legacy of one of the greatest basketball players in history, Kobe Bryant. 

In 2015, when the star of the L.A. Lakers thought about retirement, he wrote a farewell letter to his teammates, fans, and other players from other teams. In his statement, he expressed his love for basketball, his values, and how important it is to follow the dream.

The best way to say goodbye to the game he loved all his life was by producing a high-quality animated short film and hiring the best people in the industry to do the job. 

The sublime instrumentation is the responsibility of a five-time Oscar winner and a 52 Oscar-nominated composer John Williams ("E.T.," "Star Wars," "Jaws").

Two historical facts: "Dear Basketball" is the first time a professional athlete wins an Oscar. Kobe Bryant becomes the first Afro-American to win that award for the best animated short film.

Now, the beautifully animated film takes more relevance after the tragic events of the helicopter crash on a Sunday morning, January 26th, 2020, in Calabazas, Los Angeles County. 
 
The animation is important, not only for Kobe's passing but also its motivational content. The athlete's legacy, humanitarianism, and the impact of his actions to the community, and around the world, felt at large.

My deepest condolences to the family, friends, and millions of fans around the world. Kobe Bryant was an inspiring human being with a positive attitude, the spirit of constant improvement, and determination to succeed.    

Festival in LA ©2020

Monday, January 20, 2020

My Hindu Friend; Hector Babenco's Testament to Posterity

By José Alberto Hermosillo

“My Hindu Friend” is elegant and cinematic celebration of life at the end of one man's journey with gratifying visuals. Hector Babenco last film, is a conciliatory testimony with his work, friends, and close ones, with a high sense of respect.

The insightful reflection about the life and death of one of the most beloved Brazilian-Argentinean directors is immersive, and goes beyond the bounds of a delirious reality.

Willem Dafoe’s execution is a tour de force. He plays the director's life, who is on a quest for redemption, exceptionally. If you think Antonio Banderas in his Oscar-worthy characterization of Pedro Almodovar in “Pain and Glory” was remarkable, the performance of Willem Dafoe portraying Hector Babenco is fascinating, hypnotic.

My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.

Without self-pity, Dafoe's fictional character, Diego Fairman, is a conflicting, selfish filmmaker who blames others for things that are out of his control – including his lymphatic cancer. 

In the urgency for a bone marrow transplant, his brother Antonio (Guilherme Weber) is the only person who lives nearby with compatibility.

Antonio feels that Diego blames him for the death of their father and the misuse of their family’s money. Far-off, the brother became the medulla donor with a costly price tag.

The family liaisons don’t go well. In private, everyone feels betrayed. His surrounded friends also have problems dealing with the stressful situation of Diego going under surgery. The treatment will have an unknown outcome. 

“My Hindu Friend” original dark humor lightens the awkward moments of Diego's fight against cancer. Diego’s witty personality guides us to unexpected places. The performances and the settings work together harmoniously, enriching the flamboyant and pristine look of the film.

My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.

At the hospital, he meets some stimulating characters who will help Diego on his transitional stage, including a symbolic gatekeeper, the death, and his new Hindu friend.

In terms of separation of the body and soul, every doctrine has different interpretations. For Diego, being Jewish is a confrontation between the predetermined religious beliefs versus his precepts.

Babenco's last work makes us feel the experience of a dying man vividly. All he wants is to have another opportunity to produce one more film and redeem himself. 

“My Hindu Friend” exquisite soundtrack is composed by the extraordinary Polish musician Zbigniew Preisner, who worked closely with Krzysztof Kieslowski in "Three Colors: Blue, White, and Red" and "The Double Life of Verónique," among other transcendental soundtracks. The recording was done in Austria by the Vienna Symphony.

My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.

Born in Argentina and naturalized Brazilian, Babenco is not afraid of talking about his active sexual life - he shows, without any inhibitions, the beauty of a women's naked body in a poetical form.

Babenco accomplishes, with a high grade of mastery,  his personal experiences to the big screen in a very intimate atmosphere with his minimalist settings. 

The filmography of Babenco includes his Oscar-winner masterwork “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” He is behind some Brazilian influential projects such as “Pixote,” “Carandidu,” and “El Pasado.” “Before Night Falls” and “A Play in the Fields of the Lord” represented his return to Hollywood.

“My Hindu Friend” has some references to "Pixote," a child dealing with drugs and prostitution in the streets of Saint Paulo in the late 1970s. Both films deal with loneliness, despair, and dehumanization in a society.
 
The character-driven, linear, semi-autobiographical piece awakens paradoxical emotions in the viewer and transcends further the legacy of a director that is no longer with us, but his work is a fundamental part of world cinema.

“My Hindu Friend” is essential, spiritually meaningful, and a well-balanced work of art ready to be discovered by viewers who appreciate the excellence in cinema.
 
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Festival in LA ©2020

NETFLIX FILM EXPERIENCES 2020

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Netflix Film Experiences, Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Netflix Film Experiences 2020
With well-elaborate exhibits, more screenings, Q&As, and special events, Netflix reached out to more press, social media, and had the attention of Academy members. 

Without any surprises, Netflix received more Oscar nominations than any other Studio 24, including two for best picture, two for best animation, two documentaries, and one documentary short. Disney, the closest contender, had 23 nods for all its productions.

This year, without any controversies, the streaming service showed its films for seven days in movie theaters in the Los Angeles area before its streaming platform.

Netflix's aggressive campaign and its spirit for excellence and customer service yielded for success with more number of nominations and, at the same time, with more online subscribers regardless of the recent increment of the subscription fees.

The public had the opportunity to appreciate the films on the big screen, assist to Q&As with the directors, talent, and crew members. Plus, the city witnessed some cool exhibits with costumes, props, and sets to immerse spectators into how the movies are made. 

Here is a series of photographs with the costumes, sets designs, and props of a well-mounted Netflix exhibition at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, early January.

The exposition, with a museography, quality, included vital elements of the films "Dolemite is My Name," "Marriage Story," "The Irishman," and "The Two Popes."  

The Netflix live-experience made spectators feel as if they were inside of those outstanding movies that reached an Oscar nomination.
Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Dolemite is My Name
Director: Craig Brewer
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, and Wesley Snipes.
Two Golden Globe Nominations
Dolemite is My Name. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Dolemite is My Name.  Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA


Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Music: Randy Newman
6 Oscar Nominations
Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Marriage Story. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA


Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Irishman
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, and Anna Paquin.
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
10 Oscar Nominations.
The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

The Irishman. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Two
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins.
Writer: Anthony McCarten.
3 Oscar Nominations.
The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The Two Popes. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Film Critic José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
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NINETEEN BEST FILMS OF 2019 - FESTIVAL IN LA

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