A Rainy Day in New York (finally!)

A Rainy Day in New York (2019). Dir. the great Woody Allen

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Thanks to a shameful and horrifying lynching campaign against Woody I was robbed last year of my yearly Woody Allen film (me and millions of fans around the world). So, I had to wait until today (August 24th) to see the film. I was very lucky to be with my family in the Netherlands this month and this afternoon I went with my oldest daughter (she’s 13 and loves Woody’s films) to the national Dutch preview of A Rainy Day in New York at the Film Hallen (Hannie Dankbaarpassage 12, Amsterdam). We live in Madrid and in Spain the film will only arrive in October.

I don’t want to give ANY SPOILERS here, but I just will say: Wow, such a film: funny, poetic, beautiful, clever and so entertaining. We enjoyed it so much. Such a gem! Woody is so brilliant, Vittorio is the king of light, and the writing is so cool and funny. The only problem: the film felt too short! I wish it would have gone on for two more hours… (Woody should always make films that are over two hours long, one hour and a half simply feels too short).

I have to confess that I was very angry with Timothée Chalamet because of his cowardice and opportunism, but I must say that his performance in the film is very beautiful. Selena Gomez is also really good and Diego Luna is very funny. Elle Fanning is probably the weakest actress here (to play comedy isn’t that easy after all) but it doesn’t bother so much because her lines are hilarious. Cherry Jones’ performance is absolutely spectacular. Liev Schreiber, Jude Law, Will Rogers and Kelly Rohrbach are fantastic in the film but I wish they’d appear more.

The music of A Rainy Day in New York is wonderful as in all Woody Allen films, you can feel the rain’s perfume and there are plenty of quotes that will make you laugh and enjoy.

I feel really sad for the millions of Woody Allen fans around the world who still cannot watch this film. I’m furious at the stupidity and witch-hunting that goes on in the States and don’t have words to express my anger and disappointment. The world is upside down. How is it possible that Woody’s art has suffered because of a shameful prefabricated accusation? Woody has worked with hundreds and hundreds of actresses in the past half century and nobody, NOBODY, has ever complaint of wrong conduct. If you believe that prefabricated story made by three vengeful psychos you are either ignorant, stupid, antisemite, or just part of the lynch mob. Sexual predators always abuse several victims and this false absurd accusation smelled of nonsense and vengeance from the beginning. (For the ones who feel uncomfortable with the fact that Woody fell in love with Soon-Yi Previn, just have in mind that Woody and Soon-Yi love each other and are together for more than 26 years, have two wonderful healthy beautiful daughters and don’t care about what you, me or the psychos think about their love. Their relationship and their love is what triggers the stupid people, not the shameful false accusation). Everybody deserves Woody’s art (well, not everybody, the psychos and the brainless herd who follow the psychos don’t) and it’s absolutely horrific that we live in times like this, in which innocent men are tried and hung by the social media. And, by the way, go to hell, stupid Amazon.

I’ve read some bad reviews about this film. As a musician, teacher and PhD candidate (Philosophy) I know how difficult is to create, so, I have a huge respect for the artists who do create. Because to think about creating is pretty easy, to trash the art of others is the easiest thing in the world, but to create and actually finish a project is very difficult. Woody is a wonderful director and a stunning writer. He’s 83 and he’s still a creating machine and I admire that a lot and thank him a lot for that.

Woody’s films talk about love, death, dreams, art, passions and desires, and are poetic, brilliant, real, magnificent, stunning and wonderful. No superheroes here, no bombs, no explosions, just real people with normal problems, like you and me. Woody’s films make life better. Thank you for your art, Woody, and, please, keep on creating.

10 / 10

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Sing Street

Sing Street (2016). Dir. John Carney

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Brendan (Jack Reynor): “This is life, Connor. Drive it like you stole it.”

My children and I discovered this jewel only this year (3 years after the film was released!). My youngest daughter just made a film with Ferdia (a super talented actor and a wonderful, sweet and beautiful guy) and we wanted to see Ferdia in this movie.

Sing Street is an absolutely amazing movie. It’s poetic, cool, brilliant, beautiful, and touching. The writing (John Carney) is superb, the music is really really really cool and the cast (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Don Wycherley, Mark McKenna, Ian Kenny, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kelly Thornton, Marcella Plunkett, Lydia McGuinness, Ben Carolan, and Percy Chamburuka) is absolutely wonderful. 

Sing Street talks about the innocence of the first love, the bound between  brothers, the lack of communication between parents and teenagers, the importance of pursuing one’s dreams, the power of music, art, and friendship. John Carney succeeds on bringing all of that and more to the screen without falling into empty cliches and with great mastery. And the British music from the 80s… Wow. Such a treat! This is a film that will make you smile, cry, sing, and dream.

My children (ages 13, 11 and 6) love Sing Street and have watched the film 7 times already (we bought the DVD and have a cinema projector at home). They know all the songs sung by Ferdia by heart (we also bought the soundtrack) and my oldest daughter almost knows the whole script by heart too. But this is a film for all ages. I was also very impressed by this film (its poetry and sweetness overwhelmed me) and can’t get the songs out of my head.

If you didn’t see this gem yet, watch it, watch it, watch it. If you saw  it in 2016: watch it again. You’ll enjoy it a lot. I promise.

The best: the script, the music, Connor’s journey, Ferdia, Jack, Lucy, and the Freud poster.

The worst: nothing.

10 / 10

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, August 6, 2019

Happy 83rd birthday, Woody!

Happy 83rd birthday, Woody!

With love, respect, and admiration.

Thank you so much for your amazing art!

Many birthday wishes to you, dear Woody, from some of your fans from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, Uruguay, and USA.

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These are the wonderful people who participated in this amazing collage:

Maryam Amiribehzadi. Accountant, mountaineer, ping pong player, Woody Allen movies lover. Tehran, Iran.

Octavio Barros Vicuña. Uncle and great-uncle, smoker, bird and butterfly lover, stamp collector. Santiago de Chile, Chile.

Flavia Bellu. Writer, cinephile, singer, baker, native New Yorker. Berkeley, CA, USA.

Khashayar Boroomand. Philosophy PhD, Woody’s fan, fond of music, cinema, and chess. Tehran, Iran.

Souha Boughanmi. Woman, passionate for love, grateful to Woody Allen. Tunis, Tunisia.

Dennis Brian. Screenwriter, completist, friend, Philosophy graduate. Green Valley, AZ, USA.

Javier Camacho Cruz. Fine Arts teacher in Tokio, Japanese translator and modern Japanese literature lover. Jaén, Spain.

Tindaro Capuano. Father of Ludovico, clarinet player as our friend Woody, swimmer (or at least I like to swim). Palermo, Italy.

Patricia Casal Rodríguez. Passionate, curious, Foodle and nature lover. Vigo, Spain.

Beto Caserio. Oboe player, uncle of three, music teacher, cinephile. São Paulo, Brazil.

David Cerdá. Philosopher and writer who has seen all of Woody’s films. Seville, Spain.

Robert Chastain. Poet, artist, photographer, novelist. Longmont, CO, USA.

Vasilis Chatzigeorgiou. Student, theater-goer, cinephile, book-lover, dreamer. Thessaloniki, Greece.

Mireille Clees. “Mom” of two dogs, cinema, book, Woody and nature lover. Theux, Belgium.

Victoria Corral Blázquez. Woman, mother, wife, consultant, passionate about the future. Madrid, Spain.

Nadia Edwards. Emigrée, divorcée, Woody Allen passionée. Miami, FL, USA.

Sophie Girardin. English teacher, 45, I watch Woody’s movies again and again. Saint Étienne, France.

Nina Gleize. Writer. Montréal, Canada.

Anna Grau. Writer, reader, journalist, I interviewed Woody once! Madrid, Spain.

Tussah Heera. Pianist, composer, writer, dreamer, and philosopher queen. Las Vegas, NV, USA.

Marc Heller. Married, father, bi-polar, witty, under-achiever. London, UK.

Sébastien Jacques. IT engineer and Woody Allen fan since the 80s. Paris, France.

Michael Joseph. Poet, Robert Graves scholar, failed clarinetist, New Yorker, resist/persist! New York City, USA.

Andrey V. Kalashnikov. Huge Woody Allen fan over a period of 25 years. Moscow, Russia.

Danae Kardara. Philologist, writer, dreamer, romantic, and sarcastic. Karditsa, Greece.

Hesham Khaled. Software developer, Woody movies addict, jazz junkie. Alexandria, Egypt.

Polina Kiou. Fashion, movies and animal lover. Athens, Greece.

Tempe Laver. Curious, stubborn, shy, middle aged. Brisbane, Australia.

Scott Linker. Musician, father of Sabrina and two Yorkies. Las Vegas, NV, USA.

Andrea Lukomski. Mom of two girls, teacher, dreamer, Woody Allen admirer, nature and animal lover. Vukovar, Croatia.

Tom MacCammon. Musician, writer, supporter of Woody. Toronto, Canada.

Hannes Minkema. Teacher, learner, father, son, musician, audience. Amsterdam,  The Netherlands.

Hesam Mohamadi. Engineer, philosopher, dreamer, writer, sleeper. Tehran, Iran.

Mariana E. Montes. Psychiatrist and artist. There is more truth in poetry than in history. Montevideo, Uruguay.

Pavlina Nelson. Mom, wife, cinephile, bookworm, nature lover. Prague, Czech Republic.

Monica Nicolau. Book-movie-music-junkie, mathematician. San Francisco, USA.

Kostas Papazafeiropoulos. Musician, composer, art lover, father of two. Athens, Greece.

Adrian Pasarica. Software engineer by profession, Woody’s fan by nature. Timisoara, Romania.

Mar Pastor González. Book-eater, The Beatles, jazz and dog lover, Woody’s fan. I love the films of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Madrid, Spain.

Olga Radulovic. Animal, music, and nature lover, vegan and cinephile. Woody’s fan. Vukovar, Croatia.

Hana Radulovic. Artist, caring, animal lover, sensitive and modest. Woody’s fan. Vukovar, Croatia.

Odalys Rey. Cuban, family, love, peace, happiness. Havana, Cuba..

Jacquelyn Roberts. Artist who serves Art. Tehachapi, CA, USA.
 
Stéphan Sante. Musician, piano teacher, cinephile, Woody’s fan. Verviers, Belgium.

Billie Shankar. Woody Allen fan. Brussels, France.

Carol Space. I love Café Society, Blue Jasmine, Midnight in Paris and Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona. Brewster, MA, USA.

Ruth Streett. Mother and grandmother living in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Israel.

Eyal Streett. Father, musician, curious, cook, creative. Jerusalem. Israel.

Yael Streett Tejeda. Musician, ballet and hip hop dancer, tae kwon do brown belt, painter, trilingual. Madrid, Spain.

Itay Streett Tejeda. Writer, book-eater, chocolate lover, hip hop dancer, basketball player. Madrid, Spain.

​Dalit Streett Tejeda. Ballerina, violinist, recorder player, swimmer, ice cream lover. Madrid, Spain.

Michael Taft. Book and music lover. Loves anything to do with Woody Allen. Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ulrich Tangl. Basketball player, basketball coach, basketball organizer, ex-sports editor, single. Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany.

Antonia Tejeda Barros. Mother of Yael, Itay and Dalit, musician, Philosophy MA, teacher, cinephile. Madrid, Spain.

Moiz Terem. Woody’s fan, book, film, and jazz lover, father of two. Tel Aviv, Israel.

Marise Thomspson. Music, movies, history, animals, and Woody Allen lover. I love to laugh. Ohoka, New Zealand.

María del Pilar Trujillo. Life lover, meat lover, wine lover, salsa music lover, Woody Allen art lover. Bogotá, Colombia.

Elisabeth T. Walker. Inspirational artist-writer-performer-activist-mystic. New Haven, CT, USA.

Gizem Yenikler. Writer, art, theatre and music lover, cinephile, traveller. Izmir, Turkey.

Kiana Zanetti. Musician, poet, cinephile, Woody’s fan. Montréal, Canada.

Yulia Zharkaya. Founder of vk and Woody Allen fan. Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Evelyne de Zilah. Student, cinephile, book-eater, discreet, thankful for Woody Allen’s Art. Creuë, France.

CC 2018 I Believe Woody

www.ibelievewoody.com 

See the original birthday card for Woody here

To Rome With Love

To Rome With Love (2012). Dir. Woody Allen

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Jerry (Woody Allen): “Don’t analyze me, Phyllis, okay? You know, many have tried and all have failed. My brain doesn’t fit the usual id-ego-superego model!”

Phyllis (Judy Davis): “No, you have the only brain with three ids.”

Yesterday I watched with my kids To Rome With Love, by the genius Woody Allen, for the 100th time. Such a great movie! Hilarious, amusing, and cool: full of jokes and funny moments.

Woody manages (as always) to tell his story with humour, deep, jokes and more. This time he tells 4 stories, all amusing and imaginative.

I love that Woody is in the movie, accompanied by the great and beautiful Judy Davis. When they first appear, in the plane, we already get Woody’s philosophical humour. He says to Judy: “I can’t unclench when there’s turbulence. You know, I am an atheist.”

My favorite character is Leopoldo Pisanello, played brilliantly by the hilarious Roberto Benigni. We laugh every second that he’s in the movie. The Italian actors Alessandro Tiberi (Antonio, Milly’s husband), Alessandra Mastronardi (Milly), Antonio Albanese (the famous actor Luca Salta), and Riccardo Scamarcio (the hotel burglar) are all hilarious. The legendary Ornella Muti appears 10 seconds in the film. 

Fabio Armiliato is a very well-known opera tenor singer who plays the role of Giancarlo beautifully and sings amazing (in the shower). Armiliato has had leading roles and sung in the most prestigious opera houses of the world (Metropolitan Opera House of New York, La Scala in Milan, and L’Opéra de Paris). 

Alec Baldwin is great as always. Jesse Eisenberg plays to the perfection the role of a shy and confused young man. Penélope Cruz is wonderful and beautiful as always. Alison Pill (Hayley)’s performance is very fresh, and Flavio Parenti (who is Michelangelo, Hayley’s fiancé) is great in his role as an angry ultra left-wing young man. Monica Nappo plays amazingly Pisanello’s humble wife. 

Since Page and Gerwig opportunistically stabbed Woody right after the world saw Dylan Farrow’s crocodile’s tears in January 2018 (she’s been trying to destroy Woody with her prefabricated story for ages), I can’t stand watching them onscreen. Their treason, hypocrisy and opportunism will be always remembered (unlike their acting). Nevertheless, the lines that Woody wrote for them are really good.

The cinematography of the film is really beautiful. Cinematographer Darius Khondji (born in Iran but majored in Film at New York University) worked previously with Woody in Anything Else (2003) and Midnight in Paris (2011) and would go on working with Woody in two other films: Magic in the Moonlight (2014) and the masterpiece Irrational Man (2015). Other great works of Khondji include Delicatessen (1991), La cité des enfants perdus (1995), Alien: Resurrection (1997), and Amour (2012). He also worked as a cinematographer in many videos of Madonna. 

To Rome With Love is rated in IMDB  “restricted”. I really don’t know why. Maybe because Penélope plays a prostitute? Well, as we all know in the States it’s OK to watch movies with thousands of bombs, guns, and killers, but love and sex are more dangerous and always restricted. Funny country…

To Rome With Love is another Woody Allen gem. A fresh and funny film, packed with jokes, beautiful long shots, great writing and a wonderful cast. 10/10

The worst: that Page and Gerwig contaminate the film (two ungrateful hypocrites who opportunistically stabbed Woody) .

The best: all the funny moments, Woody, the great Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, and the cinematography.

We love you, Woody!

DALIT-ANTONIA-JOKER-2016 Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, August 27, 2018

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Irrational Man

Irrational Man (2015). Dir. Woody Allen

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Abe (Joaquin Phoenix): “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”.

Irrational Man. Wow. Such a movie. A delight for anyone who loves philosophy, especially existentialist philosophy, my favorite!

The beginning of the movie is amazing. You can only hear a car and, right after the opening credits, Ramsey Lewis’ amazing funky jazz. The first word, pronounced by Joaquin Phoenix, is “Kant”. Woody Allen seems to have made Irrational Man for philosophy lovers: Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Dostoevsky, and Hannah Arendt’s thesis dance in this film. Anxiety, despair, the meaning of our existence, choice, morality, suicide, and murder are the film’s main themes.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is stunning. Really brilliant. Phoenix gained 33 pounds for the role of Abe, a controversial philosophy professor, anguished, depressed and a nihilist who talks to his students about how cruel and frustrating human existence is. Phoenix appears like a man made of blood and flesh, vulnerable and tormented, who prefers to live philosophy than to talk about.

I must admit that I am not a big fan of Emma Stone. I find all her performances basically the same. Nevertheless, her performance in Irrational Man is convincing thanks to Woody’s amazing writing. Still, she could have bothered herself and take some piano lessons if she was going to play the role of a piano student. Oh, well, those young divas…

The other woman is Rita, performed by Parker Posey, an awesome actress. Her performance is fresh, elegant and very real.

Ethan Phillips (who played the nasty IRS agent Gorsky in the 90’s comedy Green Card) has a small role in the movie and plays Jill’s father. I read some negative reviews about Jamie Blackey’s performance, who plays Jill’s boyfriend, Roy, but truthfully I think that he plays his role to perfection (a simple guy in love, plain and zero exciting).

Irrational Man has a bit of Match Point and a lot of Cassandra’s Dream, being at the same time original, genuine, and surprising. The end is unpredictable and has a taste of Hitchcock. Woody had already used Crime and Punishment in Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point and Cassandra’s Dream. Ramsey Lewis (who, I must admit, I didn’t know –I have already bought several CDs of his) accompanies us with his amazing funky jazz during all the film. Woody’s taste in music is definitely the best.

The Adair University (fictitious), where Abe taught before, is the same University that honours Harry Block in Deconstructing Harry and where Sondra Pransky studied journalism in Scoop (how funny).

Irrational Man is the last movie produced by Jack Rollins (Woody’s producer for over 45 years). Rollins died in 2015, age 100.

Abe brings to the extreme the first principle of existentialism: human beings are what we make of ourselves (“l’homme n’est rien d’autre que ce qu’il se fait”, argues Sartre in L’existentialisme est un humanisme). Man is what he decides to be, in complete freedom. Sartre argues that we don’t have freedom, but that we are freedom. Our freedom can never be renounced. Even if we decide not to be free, we are deciding in complete freedom not to be free. That’s what reflects Sartre’s explosive sentence “l’homme est condamné à être libre[1]. We are free and we are completely responsible of what and who we are. There is no God. We are alone in the Universe. We are the solely owners of our own existence and the only responsible ones for our own choices.

Sartrean existentialism is a philosophy of freedom and action. To think about doing something, to hope, to wish, does not count at all for Sartre. Only to act has real value, and Abe knows it. If we wish for somebody to be dead, the only coherent action is murder. But what about morality? Well, are all men worth living? Really cruel people are parasites, are they not? Wouldn’t the world be a better place with less parasites?

When Abe decides to kill the corrupted judge, his life makes sense again. He starts enjoying life: he has big breakfasts (not only back coffee), is able to make love again, writes poetry again, and feels strong and alive. Suicide is not an option for Abe any more. His life has meaning. His murder plans are what give meaning to his existence.

Man is a being in search for meaning. That was brilliantly said by Viktor Frankl in 1946 in his heartbreaking book Man’s Search for Meaning (originally written in German and untitled …trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen. Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager). Frankl’s thesis is a yes to life with capital letters. His message: an unconditional faith in the meaning of existence: “meaning is available under any conditions, even the worst conceivable ones“[2]. Life has always meaning, until the end (“life has a meaning to the last breath[3]) and it’s our duty to look for this meaning. Our main task is to have to give a meaning to our own existence.

Frankl argues that a person who has found the meaning of his life is able to give his life for that meaning, and a person who has not found the meaning of his life can easily commit suicide. At the beginning of the film, Abe suffers from existential vacuum and does not mind at all to die when he demonstrates to his students how to play the Russian roulette. But when he starts planning the murder and finds a meaning for his existence, he rejects suicide and embraces life.

Frankl argues that life has always meaning. Sartre, on the contrary, argues that nothing has real meaning: everything is absurd (like Camus). We are alone, without God and without excuses, and we have to carry courageously the emptiness of our human existence.

Frankl defines man as freedom, responsibility and meaning. Sartre defines man as freedom, responsibility and anguish. In the first half of  Irrational Man, Abe follows Sartre, and, afterwards, follows Frankl. Frankl’s thesis is less dark than Sartre’s. Nevertheless, I have always found an answer (even if a hard and depressing one) in Sartre’s philosophy, and, for what I’ve read, I think that Woody too.

In an interview from 2010, Woody was asked about his vision on life, and said: “I have a very grim pessimistic view of it. I always had. Since I was a little boy. It hasn’t gotten worse with age or anything. I do feel that it’s a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience and that the only way you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself (…) One must have one’s illusions to live. If you look at life too honestly life does become unbearable because it is a pretty grim enterprise“[4]. I agree completely. I think that neither life nor death have real meaning, so we have to create, love and grow as much as we can in order to not to succumb to despair.

Irrational Man is an absolutely brilliant film. A delightful masterpiece. 10 / 10

The best: the huge dosis of existential philosophy, Joaquin Phoenix’s stunning performance, Parker Posey, and Ramsey Lewis’ funky jazz.

The worst: Emma Stone’s perfectly combed hair.

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, August 16, 2018

NOTES

[1] Sartre, Jean-Paul. L’existentialisme est un humanisme, p. 39

[2] Frankl, Viktor E. The Unheard Cry for Meaning, p. 41

[3] Frankl, Viktor E. “Introduction”, The Doctor and the Soul, p. xix

[4] Allen, Woody. Press conference You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Cannes, May 2010

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Frankl, Viktor E. … trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen. Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager. München: Kösel, 2014 (2009), pp. 7–191

Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning (trad. Ilse Lasch). Boston: Beacon, 2006, pp. ix–165

Frankl, Viktor E. The Doctor and the Soul. From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy (trad. Richard y Clara Winston). New York: Vintage Books, 1986, pp. ix–318

Frankl, Viktor E. The Unheard Cry for Meaning. New York: Touchstone, 1978, pp. 13–191

Frankl, Viktor E. TV interview, Toronto, 1972. THE WILL TO MEANING.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. L’être et le néant. Essai d’ontologie phénoménologique. France: Gallimard, 2010 (1943), pp. 11–676

Sartre, Jean-Paul. L’existentialisme est un humanisme. France: Gallimard, 2003 (1945), pp. 9– 109

The Shape of Water (The Shape of Violence?)

The Shape of Water (2017). (The Shape of Violence?). Dir. Guillermo del Toro

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Sex and violence really sell, don’t they? A bit of porn, lots and lots of violence and you have a multi Academy Award nomination movie!

I went to see yesterday The Shape of Water and I was highly disappointed. While the music, the cinematography and the performances are amazing, the love story is really not convincing and a bit creepy, and the unnecessary sex scenes (masturbation and coitus) and, specially, the monstruos violence killed all the poetry of the movie. In the same way that I don’t think a director needs to show the actors shitting, pissing or picking their noses I find graphic sex a very poor choice for a director to illustrate a point. But, more than that, I find violence onscreen really disturbing and I think that such a high degree of violence is a very poor tool for a director. An exception to that would probably be Tarantino, who uses violence in such a crude way that it ends out being funny (nevertheless, Tarantino’s violence is sometimes too much for me, even when he uses it for something great, like killing Nazis). I think that there are greater cinematic ways of showing violence than graphic torture, flying fingers, and litres of blood. If you don’t agree with me, go and see Doctor Zhivago: you will be amazed by the power of the scene where the Imperial Army is massacring the people next to the Winter Palace and all you can see is the horrifying face of Doctor Zhivago, who, from a safe window, watches men, women, and children being slaughtered by the Imperial Army. Now, that’s art. The rest is only good special effects and a big lack of imagination. The same goes for sex. There are many ways of showing the act of love (also the act of fucking –that’s it: making love without love) with sensuality, strength, and poetry, but Guillermo del Toro chose here graphic sex. Why? I guess it sells better.

Frankly, I don’t get the hype around this film. 13 Academy Award nominations? Come on! Guillermo del Toro looks like a really nice guy, and I actually hate to write negative reviews. If I spend a bit of time in writing this negative review it’s because, as with La La Land (an annoying and cheesy torture filled with cliches), I’m amazed at how bad or not so good Hollywood movies can get such a hype, while other movies, like Woody Allen’s masterpieces, get shut out and don’t get any important nominations (yes, I am a huge fan of Woody: I love his art, his philosophy and his genius, and I’m very angry at this wave of hypocrisy, opportunism and lies around him that mixes false accusations from two crazy and resentful women with the most beautiful art).

The characters of The Shape of Water are all either black or white, there are no greys here: the bad ones are really bad and the good ones are really good. Well, life isn’t neither black nor white. It’s full of greys. While the performances of the movie are all amazing (Sally Hawkins is great, Octavia Spencer is amazing as always, Richard Jenkins is really good too and Michael Shannon is stunning: he really steals the movie and, surprisingly, didn’t get any Golden Globe or Academy Award nomination), the souls of the characters are painted only in one color, and that’s very Hollywood-ish and commercial. 

Also, I wonder, for which age is The Shape of Water? You would first think that a fantasy movie is suitable for children, but this one is not. Or, you would think that a love story with so much violence and a bit of porn is suitable for adults, but then, why put this stupid fish-creature? I’m used to seeing lots of fantasy and children movies with my kids (ages 11, 9 and 4, so, imagine: I’ve seen them all: since The Dark Cristal from 1982 until the last superhero movie). But this movie, for who is it?

I understand why this movie can arrive to people, especially people who feel very lonely. I feel a great deal of empathy for all the people who feel alone in the world and seek love and company wherever they can, but I think that the black and white characters and the huge degree of violence kill the depth of this movie. Maybe the majority of the people of  today are so used to see violence (on TV and on the internet) that they don’t even notice it any more. I am very sensible to violence and it disturbs me a lot when I see it (here at home we don’t have a TV for many many years, so I really don’t know what’s going on with TV violence these days –we only choose what we want to watch and watch it with our cinema projector). I understand that there are movies where violence is necessary (for instance, if you watch a movie about the Holocaust it may contain some graphic violence) but what really bothers me, artistically speaking, is superfluos violence: violence for selling, for entertaining a bit more and keep the audience amused. That  kind of violence is repulsive.

I don’t like to put a qualification for a movie. I always found it pretentious to qualify the huge work of a director with a number (I’m aware of the fact that to create art is difficult and to criticize is easy). But this time, since there is such a hype around this film, I feel obliged to qualify this movie. So, 1 point for the music (Alexandre Desplat), 1 point for the cinematography (Dan Laustsen), 1 point for Michael Shannon, 1 point for Sally Hawkins, 1 point for the amazing Octavia Spencer, and 1 point for Richard Jenkins. 6/10

If you want to listen to good music, be amazed by a beautiful cinematography, see Sally Hawkins’s tits, vagina and ass, enjoy your popcorn while a fish-creature is being tortured in a brutal way, blood is running, and a cats loses her heads, go and see The Shape of Water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, February 20, 2018