Lion (2016). Dir. Garth Davis


Over 80,000 children go missing in India each year. This is the story of one of them.

Over 11 million children (11 million!) are living in the streets of India. Many die there or have terrible lives, suffering hunger, extreme poverty and child abuse. How many kids like little Saroo are able to tell their story?

Lion is a pure jewel. It is based on a true story (Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, published in 2013). Lion is one of the best movies of 2016, if not the best. The cast is superb, the direction is excellent (this is Garth Davis’ first feature film), the music (Volker Bertelmann & Dustin O’Halloran) is amazing, and the cinematography (Greig Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty and Rogue One‘s cinematographer) is stunning. Lion‘s screenplay is by Luke Davies (based on Saroo’s memoir), the writer of one of my favorite movies: Candy (Candy is autobiographical).

You will not understand the title of the movie until the end.

Sunny Pawar’s performance is breathtaking. He is only 8 years old and he’s a real talent. 4,000 boys were auditioned to play his part. He carries the first 40 minutes of the film brilliantly. We (the lucky and rich ones, who can eat every day and have the luxury of having really superficial problems) immediately enter in Saroo’s extreme reality, and suffer with him. There is nothing more disturbing than the suffering of children. That’s why this movie is so powerful: because it tells a cruel reality that is happening today to lots of children, in the midst of the 21st century. And it’s happening now, in this very moment, as I write this non-important review and drink a delicious hot chocolate, comfy in my beautiful big house with heating, water, and electricity; a house full of books, toys, clothing, DVDs, CDs, food, and plenty of other things that we give for granted and that millions of children cannot even dream of.

Dev Patel’s performance is superb. His accent is perfect. We don’t see him screaming or making big scenes, but his face contains so much pain and so much fear that we really feel for him. Rooney Mara (which I find a brilliant young actress –her performance in Carol was amazing–) is as great as always, even if she appears very little on screen. Her character is not real, and it is a combination of several girlfriends that the real Saroo had back then. Also, in real life, Saroo had two brothers and one sister, not one brother and one sister (I don’t understand why they changed these facts in the movie).

Abhishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose, and Divian Ladwa are absolutely perfect in their roles. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham are very good too.

The movie Lion has launched a charity campaign to support the street children of India. You can also help a bit if you want.

Lion is a movie that will go directly to your heart. It is a movie about despair, tragedy, hope, parenthood, and love. A movie for appreciating what you have and for remembering the millions of forgotten children who live in extreme poverty today and who go missing everyday in India and other countries in the world. Lion is a movie that will stay in your heart for many many many days.

The best: the incredible story, the stunning performances by Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel, the music, and the cinematography.

The worst: nothing.


dalit-antonia-joker-2016 Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, February 8, 2017

La La Land: An Annoying and Cheesy Torture filled with cliches

 La La Land (a 2 hour cheesy torture). Dir. Damien Chazelle


I love Cinema & Art. I don’t usually write negative reviews, because I like to spend my time and my words on the movies that I love and not on the movies that I hate. But since this movie is stealing all the awards so far, and some people are calling that dull & cheesy film “a masterpiece” I felt forced to write something about it. When a movie is bad and nobody seems to care, I never bother writing anything about it. But when bad movies and mediocre actors get all the attention and cast a shadow on really good movies and really talented actors, it makes me really angry. This is my Blog’s first critical review.

La La Land is a movie made from plastic. It is full of cliches and it has a fake aroma of nostalgia. The beginning of the film (with that deodorant commercial tone) doesn’t have neither weight nor meaning. The director only wants to tell us here, in case we don’t notice afterwards, that this movie is a musical. Good for him, because who could have guessed that with all the bad singing and the bad dancing! The love story is completely predictable and fake for the first hour or so, with terrible dialog and a lack of any real emotion, until the first fight (which is one of the very few situations that feels real in the movie).

Somebody has said that this is a super-white film about 2 “baby-dreamers”, and I completely agree. Where is the Art? Where is the real struggle? Is it so terrible not to succeed in a theatre play? There are today millions of people dying from hunger, wars, violence, and incurable diseases, and to sink because a play didn’t turn out how you expected or you cannot be the jazz pianist number one is a bit childish, don’t you think?

Good things about the film: the cinematography and the flashbacks are very good. The end is the best. That turn is actually original but does not make any sense any way. Let’s not forget that the girl and the boy are where they are because she was depressed about her career failure. As simple as that. The jazz is good too (I mean, the real jazz musicians) and Ryan Gosling is actually playing the piano, which, in a Hollywood movie is already a lot. Apart from that, the film is a 2 hour cheesy torture.

Annoying things: the weakest point of the film is, in my opinion, Emma Stone. I never understood her “talent”. She is a very pretty actress but with a skinny (anorexic?) body who seems to think she is too good to prepare for her roles. Her singing and her dancing in the film are not good enough and that’s a pity for the film. Let’s remember that in Irrational Man (that masterpiece by the genius Woody Allen) she didn’t even bothered taking piano lessons for her role as a “pianist”. Emma’s hairdo is usually too fake (she always seems to have just come out from the hairdresser) and I never understood why she cannot appear in even one frame without make up. How she won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in stead of the amazing Meryl Streep or the amazing Annette Bening shows how Hollywood is losing it. The most hilarious thing would be that she wins the Oscar (and, sadly, she probably will), being in the same category as Ruth Negga (who made an stunning performance in Loving), Meryl Streep (always amazing and always great), and Isabelle Huppert (one of the best European actresses today). But, hey, if Sandra Bullock got and Oscar in 2010, Stone could definitely get one too!

Gosling can play the piano but his voice sounds like olive oil. How come he ended wining the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in stead of Hugh Grant (who gave his best performance ever in Florence Foster Jenkins) is a real mystery.

14 Oscar nominations? Give me a break! As somebody said, it’s the endless story about Hollywood in love with itself. Pity, I will definitely not watch the Oscars this year. There were lots of really great movies this year and they did not get 14 Oscar nominations: Collateral Beauty, Loving, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight, Elle, Florence Foster Jenkins, Smrt u Sarajevu, Fences… In my opinion, La La Land should have got 1 Oscar nomination only (cinematography, Linus Sandgren). 

The whole movie, even if it features some great black jazz musicians, has a whitish taste that is unbearable. I don’t care AT ALL if the actors are white, black, yellow, orange or green. But this cheesy movie with 2 black actors definitely wouldn’t have got 14 Oscars nominations. Why? Because from the 6,000 and something Academy members, 73% are men, 27% women; 89% are white, and only 11% are people of color (and it’s not even clear which group the Latinos belong to). The world is still very racist. That’s why many people are calling this film White White Land for a reason. The age average of the Academy members is 60 years old: that can explain the love for this mediocre musical (I would not call it a musical, because in the musicals the actors actually know both to sing and dance).

The fact that this film is stealing all the awards and probably will also steal many Oscars shows the decadency of cinema today in the States. Either that or people are really bored and need an empty and cheesy love story to be entertained. I love many Hollywood movies, but I think that Hollywood should learn from the reality that European cinema knows to depict, away from cliches and empty love stories, away from pretty actors with fake hairdos and plastic bodies. If La La Land has achieved something it is that: a new line of decadence, cliches, and cheesiness in American cinema. Sorry.

dalit-antonia-joker-2016 Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, February 7, 2017