The Man from Earth

Screenwriting lesson.

Jerome Bixby's script (apparently finished not long before his author's death) almost starts like a joke to unfold in a most engaging and fascinating story that challenges all sort of preconceptions. Some of the most elaborated dialogue lines of all-times cinema, excellent characters, emotional performances and beautiful, seemingly irrepetible moments, contribute to this ode to humanity, this triumph of reasoning over beliefs, to this pure message of hope for the future.

If you see it with an open mind, The Man of Earth is, I believe, all the above and more. And all with a very low budget, one set and a bunch of actors.

I saw this film recently in DVD, nearly by mistake. I then found out that it had only been released in some countries and always at a small scale. I didn't have high expectations, and I'm delighted to have found gold. As I said to a good friend recently, I'm still pondering whether this might be the best script I've ever have enjoyed.

Then again, you may hate it. Anyway, still worth watching and decide then.

Revolutionary Road

Leo and Kate's world of pure suffering.

One of the reasons I keep devouring stories in general, and films in particular is that I firmly believe that the authors always have something to say, something worth being heard. A powerful message, if you may, about their view of life. A revelation to present the audience with, so we can leave the room with that “wow, life is just like that” feeling.

This message may be positive or negative, but it should always be believable within the reality of the film. I confess I rather prefer a positive one. Or, if negative, at least with a tiny bit of hope hidden somewhere, I rather not leave the room feeling miserable. But I understand some audiences may enjoy this and, in any case, it doesn't matter: it's your message, isn't it?

According to Justin Haythe (writer) and Sam Mendes (director), life is just too painful to be lived, too full of suffering and sorrow as to find the time to enjoy, create or love. We are hit with a most melodramatic picture of everyday events in a script that fails to create actual conflicts and believable drama. In such a farce, the luxury of the intense performances given by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are outrageously wasted.

Fans of the actors will undoubtedly enjoy it, of course, and such an effort certainly deserves recognition. But the story itself contributes nothing, neither to the film history wealth, nor to the poor audience's expectations, that are likely to feel rather down after the show, or even mad at the whole world for no apparent reason, just like the protagonist couple.


Television battle for the best film.

The latest Ron Howard’s was something more than a pleasant surprise. It was an example of how performance-based films and historical recreations (and by extension other so-called “smaller films”) can have other excellent features. And indeed should, in order to become memorable films like this one.

Although I increasingly enjoy this type of film more and more, I must admit that they are not my first choice, and I get to the cinema fearing for the worst case of inedible yet sophisticated boredom.

Instead, you are delighted with a profoundly human story about men the size of giants, with a story of responsibility, about facing one’s mistakes and weaknesses and making tough decisions with in an enormous and most enjoyable script. An script that is, not very surprisingly, nominated for an Academy award on February 22nd.

Especially delicious is Frank Langella’s Nixon (effort which, too, has been nominated for the popular award). His unbeatable presence makes you wish he were onscreen every minute of the film. But then again, I though that he was outstanding even as Skeletor, so I suppose this is not much of a valuable piece of data coming from yours truly :-)

It doesn't matter whether Frost/Nixon ends the Oscars night with any of the five prizes it's been nominated for. Whatever happens, YOU should see it.

An incovenient lie

A couple of weeks ago, I was very excited to stumble upon the so-called project Virgle, supposedly a joint effort between the two all-powerful corporate giants Google and Virgin.

Although the questionnaire that says whether or not you are qualified to join the project is somewhat entertaining, the whole thing is nothing but a joke that I personally find inappropriate and of course NOT funny.

Science (and ecologists too, but I don't trust the latter that much :-S) has been seriously warning us about the dangers associated to running out of natural resources for decades now. It is a matter of time that we exhaust Earth and need new settlements somewhere in space. The highly recommendable video extract below shows scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov speaking, quite eloquently as usual, about this and other matters.

Google should be the last organisation in making that tacky and frivolous a joke. And dangerous. People like them are to lead the technologically complicated but necessary way to the stars, to convince people that it is paramount to leave the planet. Especially in a time when Virgin is making spaceships for NASA, and having Sir Richard Branson participating on this farce seriously makes me fear for the future of humankind. Moreover, to me, Google simbolises the future, the change, the possibility. I was very disappointed with Virgle.

But of course, it could also be that scientist like Stephen Hawking are simply exaggerating.