Monday, November 29, 2010

Paper Castles

Paper Castles(2009)
Director: Salvador García Ruiz
Country: Spain
Runtime: 93 min

Three aspiring artists forge a powerful but unusual bond while studying at the School of Fine Arts.
María José is a painter. She’s preparing her canvas for class as her classmate Jaime furtively sketches her portrait from afar. But while María José fails to notice her own likeliness being captured mere feet away, her talented classmate Marcos senses genuine artistry in Jaime’s drawing.
Later, Jaime shows María José his sketch, but surprises her by not offering to give it to her. Before long, the curious event begins to draw María José, Jaime, and Marcos into an unconventional, yet powerfully passionate, relationship as their education winds to a close, and the real world comes knocking. ~ Jason Buchanan, Allmovie


Hermano (2010)
Director: Marcel Rasquin
Country: Venezuela
Runtime: 97

In Caracas, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Julio and his mother are walking through a gateway near La Planta prison in Caracas. Suddenly, he thinks he's heard a cat but when he runs closer, he notices an abandoned baby crying in the middle of a street dump. The mother hesitates to take the child with them, but eventually welcomes him to their family. 16 years later, Julio and his little brother Daniel have grown to become the best footballers of La Ceniza, their barrio (slum). While Daniel, nicknamed "El Gato" (the cat) is an innocent boy who dreams of playing in Caracas FC, one of the major teams in the Venezuelan Primera División along with his older brother Julio and studies regularly; the latter has become part of a gang, quickly establishing himself as a leader within his young partners. This is specially proven when he beats up his comrade after he bullies a minor drug dealer. Anyway, he never intends to push out the chief of the criminal organization. During a game against the team from La Vega -another slum- they both impress a scout from Caracas FC, who encourages them to participate in the tryouts of their youth team. Daniel is hugely motivated; Julio instead is gradually more involved with his barrio's underworld.

Dear Galileo

Dear Galileo (2009)
Director: Nithiwat Tharathorn
Country: Thailand
Runtime: 130

A story of two Thai girls nicknamed Cherry and Noon who plan to backpack to Europe for a year. They took off for reasons totally understandable for most teenagers, but unfathomable to adults.
“One is suspended from university while another one is heart broken.” Their plan was very simple: get a student visa to take an English course, but their true motivation is to save money, travel, and experience the world. The destinations were the ‘Big Three’ of Europe – London, Paris, and Rome. Before they took this trip, they swore: #1. No matter what happens, not to leave each other. #2. To never break rule #1 However, as we all know never say “never” when it comes to life being that you will “never” know what might happen.
How did the father of modern science like Galileo come to be identified with a Thai film?
One might think that Dear Galileo is a sci-fi or a comedy. Instead, it is a coming-of-age pic of two girls experience their lives in a new surrounding. After despairs with their Bangkok lives, Noon and Cherry escape the Asia city for a year and travel to the “Big Three of Europe” - London, Paris, and Venice. Noon is heartbroken; Cherry is suspended from university for forging a professor’s signature. Across the continents, they struggle the hardship as illegal workers and find the true meaning of their lives and friendship. They swear to each other that no matter what happens, they will not leave each other.
Is Dear Galileo then a film about friendship between the two girls? Partly. When the film was released in Bangkok, the studio's publicist tried to elaborate on the fun and difficulties in which the crew encountered during the shooting. Nice lines and plots also attracted some ex-actors to take a part in the film. Dear Galileo is liked by many young generations as a liberal film. It is something that they want to do and follow. It is a female version of modern Rebel Without A Cause.
Indeed, Dear Galileo occupies several smart plots and sharp lines in the eyes of contemporary young Thais, though they might not be new for western audiences. These include scenes in which a group of foreigners living in a public shelter in Paris without electricity and water, a girl fighting with her demanding customer to accept what she has served her, a girl securing a good job without completing her study, and a girl living in Italy while having cheated Italian people. They all look cool! All of these things have rarely been portrayed in contemporary Thai cinema.
Director Nithiwat keeps every mise-en-scène under his meticulous control and the umbrella of enjoyment. Music is good and realistic. The real song that overseas Thais often sing to get over their homesick, was used. Cinematography is nice and subtle. Acting is almost perfect. Some of the actors themselves have spent time abroad. For example, Rey MacDonal as the liberal Thai man in Paris is himself a host of a television tourism documentary. One of his programs featured a train trip from Bangkok to London. And the two lead actors - the heartbroken Noon and the smart but stubborn Cherry nicely show their opposite chemistry of the good and the bad. At the end, it is the movie with plenty of laughter and good feelings.
Perhaps as there are too many good lines and cool plots, the writers tried to include and mix everything in one film - and then make the film loss of focuses. Sometimes, it is about the hardship of Thai lives oversea. Some others are about the philosophy of lives. And then friendship. Homesick. Thai style of living, and etc. Dear Galileo becomes a film of massive feel-good. Many lines and philosophy can only be touched at the rim, but hard to be appreciated in depth.
However, if you want to see how Thai overseas live with fun, laugh and meaningful - this is the first movie that will best clarify it.

Protektor aka The Protector

Protektor aka The Protector(2009)
Director: Marek Najbrt
Country: Czech Republic
Runtime: 98

A Czech journalist joins a Prague radio station what broadcasts Nazi propaganda in order to protect his Jewish wife. However, as the Nazi rule over Czechoslovakia calls for more and more collaboration, his relationship with his wife spirals downward.