Movie Review: OUR LAST TANGO (UN TANGO MAS) (Argentina/Germany 2015) ***

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our_last_tango_posterOUR LAST TANGO (UN TANGO MAS) (Argentina/Germany 2015) ***
Directed by German Kral

Review by Gilbert Seah

This documentary tells the story of love between the two most famous dancers in tango’s history – María Nieves Rego (aged 81) and Juan Carlos Copes (aged 84).

When the film begins, a closeup of Maria has her say that if she was given the chance to do it all again, she would not change a thing – for tango. The only thing is to do it without Juan. The camera moves back to show Maria and Juan standing very close, face to face. They begin to tango. This is a powerful start. Why did Maria make that statement about Juan. Did she bare that much hatred fro him? Or did she love him too much that she cannot handle it? The doc goes on to reveal the reason.

The film would naturally have a slow feel with two aged subjects. Director Kral (who got his film experience working as assistant to Wim Wenders) tries to counteract this by animating his film as much as possible. This is most evident in one scene where Maria’s two interviewers more than act out their surprise at Maria’s answers to their questions.

OUR LAST TANGO is less a film about the tango than about the relationship between Marian and Juan. And it is not a love but more a hate relationship. It becomes a bit tedious, with each complaining about the other, from start to finish of the film. Director Kral offers two sides of the story, so that the audience takes no sides. Often each would complain about the other at great length. Maria loves Juan too much but not unconditionally. Her pride is terribly broken she Juan bears a child with another woman. On the other hand, one can sympathize with Juan when he says he cannot stand Maria. It is not easy to live with someone whom one cannot stand despite the fact that that someone loves you.

The film has quite a lot of tango dances but not many shown in great detail or to great length. Rather many different types are shown during the different stages of their lives. The duo exported their dance to Broadway with ‘Tango Argentino’.

One wishes that there be more archive footage of Maria and Juan dancing together. Young dancers perform too many re-enactments so the film has too much of a made-up feel.
There is little said in the film of how the two became so famous and how rich or successful they became. Their dances on display in the film reveal very little of their talent as well.

OUR LAST TANGO is also a film about ageing, though not much is said of the subject. But one can see on the faces of both Juan and Maria – their past glories and regrets. Maria is also suffering from some nerve problem, evident in her old age. She cannot stop shaking her head.

It is difficult to imagine OUR LAST TANGO being interesting to those with little to do with dance, for the love/hate relationship of the couple is also not something that audiences will flock to.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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star_wars_posterSTAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
(USA 2015) Top 10 *****
Directed by J.J. Abrams

Review by Gilbert Seah

The film world has finally gone crazy. Disney and Lucasfilm has enforced a world embargo on film reviews at 3.01 (yes, to the very second) on Wednesday December 16th. The film premiered Monday evening in Hollywood and for press, which includes this fortunate reviewer, Tuesday morning. No one had any idea of the venues for Monday’s screenings (3 separate theatres) till the last minute. Sales on Amazon of the old STAR WARS films rocketed 400%. Pre-sales of tickets have not seen numbers like this since the beginning of time, in a galaxy far, far away!

The hype on TV and anticipation have been great. The studios made press hush up on spoilers. And after seeing the film, one will respect those wishes. But there are a lot of surprises and twists in the plot, none that make little sense, and revealing them will would definitely spoil the film’s entertainment value.

The story is short and that does not mean much as the film is more character and action driven. It is set approximately 30 years after the events of RETURN OF THE JEDI where the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire have become the Resistance and the First Order, respectively, and follows new heroes Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) alongside characters returning from previous Star Wars film. Rey, a scavenger finds a droid who holds a map that has the key to finding Luke Skywalker. The dark side wishes to bring down the resistance and thus goes all out to capture the droid and thus the map. Lots of exciting battles result culminating with a climatic sabre to sabre combat between the heroes and villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

The film succeeds in all departments from acting, to the grand music, scored again by maestro John Williams to the costumes, creature and robot designs to sets, spectacle and cinematography. Iceland and Abu Dhabi, where the film was shot add to the grandeur from the desert to the icy mountain landscapes. Rey’s outfit is perfectly designed, a greyish fabric that flows so that she looks elegant while fighting or tracking in the desert. The sets of the dark force, in red and black, looks (humorously) like something taken of of a North Korean dictatorship rally.

Director Abrams, best known for the STAR TREK reboot takes over the reins from George Lucas, who admitted the series needed new blood. Abrams is smart enoguh to put in lots of new blood in the form of new characters like Rey the main female protagonist, Finn an ex-trooper who moves to the good side because it is the right thing to do and Poe while not forgetting the importance of legends like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Hans Solo (Harrison Ford) and of course, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). New ‘robots’ like the droid also meet old time favourites R2D2 and C3PO. Abrams knows how to work the audience. When Princess Leia and Hans Solo reunite and hug, the scene will bring tears to the audience’s eyes. And there are no embarrassing kissing scenes but lots of hugs that get the same message across.

If one wants spectacle there are lots of it. The blowing up of a star fighter that eventually sinks in quicksand, the flight/fight segment between the freighter commandeered by Rey and Finn and the star fighters and the shootouts are just a few examples. And it is one well-orchestrated action segment after another. Abrams knows how to pull back his camera to show the full action spectacle while also engaging in the closeups of the characters’ faces. Lots of smart dialogue as well, with too many quotable lines to include in this review.

The hype and wait are worth it. Abrams’ film is as amazing as you will hear. And it is definitely the best action film of the year, best to be seen in 3D and IMAX.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com