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Ever watch a movie and feel you’re in the presence of greatness? That’s exactly how I felt during the opening of Sin Nombre as we are introduced to our gang member protagonist El Casper – or Willy – as he stares longingly into a canvas of a colorful, glowing forest. It’s a powerful introduction, already blazing the trails for the film’s understanding of freedom and what it brings to everyone we see and here throughout this masterful work directed by first-timer Cary Fukunaga.

Fukunaga’s work is quite astonishing, really. His film is so much more than Mexican crime drama I anticipated, infiltrating those aforementioned themes of adolescence and longing for something else, whilst always providing the intensity and power required for a film such as this to have any mainstay. Miraculously, Sin Nombre boils quietly under the sharp-witted dialogue by its director which never screams for attention or provides reliable answers to the film’s more interpretative moments. It’s rare to witness this unadulterated pain and intelligence in a crime drama and I can’t praise it enough for that.

I’ve racked my brains, but I honestly cannot find a fault with this movie. The performances are raw, the themes are adequately portrayed and Adriano Goldman’s cinematography is stunning even despite the brutality on show. I applaud every inch of this masterwork.

94/100

Performance art is not something I know much about, but it’s something I know exists because of the passion inside of its creator. It’s not something put on display just to provoke an audience or to be pretentious as close-minded people may understandably feel, rather it works here most notably as an exhibition of one’s self and how they wish to portray their ideology to the world. Marina Abramovic has gained notoriety for some of her work and judging by the footage frequenting this documentary you can sympathise simply because it’s not only odd or challenging, but it can be quite terrifying to see particular exhibitions such as Marina running repeatedly into a wall or cutting her lower torso with a razor to display something.

Marina is not displayed here as an outlandish figure, looking for attention though. She analyses her experimentation with art throughout the years and even comments on the confusion people feel towards her work. She’s a fascinating figure, constantly challenging convention and as seen by her latest exhibition – and the main focus of this documentary – truly puts her mental state on the line in a performance in which she sits at a chair for three months as willing audience members come to sit opposite her and seek to find something for themselves from this experience. I

It’s more intense than you’d expect, many of whom are seen shedding tears due to the sheer intimacy of what is happening between them and Marina. That’s why The Artist Is Present is so beautiful. Not only are Marina’s thoughts portrayed and her way of life, but those tears show there’s a meaning to what she’s doing, essentially justifying the performance as the art she proclaims it is. Quite astonishing.

91/100

 

The beauty of Richard Linklater’s success lies entirely within the realism he portrays in his films, most notable in the recently concluded love focused Before trilogy. Those films are charming, funny, entertaining and most important of all they are relatable. You can feel the humanity pouring throughout every shot, in every piece of dialogue written, every emotion portrayed and that’s why they work. Linklater excels this realism here also, pushing it to an even more visual representation of reality in how we see characters age, disappear, return.

It’s a shame there’s been such a widespread attention on the gimmick Linklater utilised of filming his actors at several stages over the course of the last decade, because as impressive as it as and the work gone into it is admirable, there’s such a reality and humanity on display in the performances and dialogue that it could’ve worked just as magnificently if it was produced in a more orthodox manner.

I can’t fault any of Linklater’s ideas, though, as Boyhood is a work of a true wonder. It is a film of identity, beauty, dependence and maturity and the duration of close to three hours is necessary and although it might seem extensive from an initial look, but everything Linklater includes here contains a life lesson for us all. I won’t jump the gun and proclaim as one of the greatest films of all-time just yet, but I’m happy to say I’ve rarely witnessed a film so competent in its understanding of the world. Possibly the only film to feature Soulja Boy and Arcade Fire.

85/100

The unabashed sweetness, loving, youth of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is gone, replaced by the ageing reflection of a romance and the impact it has on the emotions on two people. Linklater still delicately this anger and resentment magnificently, portraying the problems of a relationship as something that’s real. Towards the end Jesse points this out, suggesting these problems are human and things happen, but although true love may not be perfect but it’s real. Before Midnight gave me some initial caution, the inclusion of more characters and a larger dynamic to proceedings took me away from that connection which made the first two movies so beautiful, but slowly it began to struck me. It didn’t just take me out of it initially, it showed the minimalistic simplicity and charm of a romance can fade when there’s more elements to contain. I understand that now. It’s necessary. These problems are presented more fiercely in the film’s final sequences – perhaps the greatest writing Linklater’s ever done – in a way rarely see. It might be my least favourite of the three, but that doesn’t take away from the fact this is a extraordinary work.

83/100

 

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 saw Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise once many years and although I loved it, I never truly appreciated just how beautiful of a movie is was. Analysing a one-night romance, Linklater’s drama tore into understanding two people in a way unlike anything else, picking them apart and pulling them together. It was gorgeous and ultimately what drove it was the youthfulness of it, that freshness to it. Before Sunset pushes it one step further, the two finding each other again 9 years on as they re-connect throughout discussion of environmental issues, family, happiness and of course love.

Ethan Hawke’s Jesse clearly feels the pain of a lost relationship more here as he frequently announces he’s always thought of her over those years to the point of obsession, Julie Delpy’s Celine is a little more refined. She feels the same connection Jesse felt, but tried to move on. It’s not that simple, though. The connection, however minimal in duration, was colossal. These two are made for each other, that’s clear to see for the audience. Linklater knows this too, but doesn’t push for over-dramatics. He portrays is as real, a romance which could be resurrected, but might not be. It’s all quite beautifully portrayed, the chemistry between the two unparalleled. Incredible writing.

86/100