Same Kind of Different as Me
It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…
Gerardo Valero was born in 1962 in Mexico City, where he currently resides with his wife Monica. He has a degree in Architecture and an MBA from the IPADE Business School in Mexico. His interest in movies started at a very young age as his father used to take him and his brothers to double or even triple features at their neighborhood theater. He mostly remembers seeing Tarzan movies and Disney classics, though mostly they watched a lot of forgettable war and cowboy movies. He remembers "The Poseidon Adventure" being talked about by everyone at his school, and by the time he saw "Jaws" at age thirteen, it became his favorite all-time film and somehow still remains so, even after watching it more times than he can recall.
Valero first learned of Siskel & Ebert in the mid-eighties during one of many summers he spent with friends in Columbus, Ohio. By 1988 it appeared on a cable station in Mexico and soon became a must-watch for him. Then the internet came along, and in 1999, he emailed Roger his very first suggestion for his "Little Movie Glossary," which, incredibly, he chose for one of his coming Yearbooks! Since then Valero has sent him dozens (or hundreds) of suggestions and, even though his days of batting 1.000 in that department didn't last very long, he has happily been published about 20 times in Roger's annual "Movie Yearbook." He has also contributed to Time Magazine's “10 Questions” (segments on Alex Trebek, Andy Roddick and Hillary Swank) and to "Freeze That Frame" in the long-defunct Video Review Magazine (1991).
Valero has won prizes in a number of trivia contests: an Omega watch for the James Bond contest (1995) and a VCR for the Lethal Weapon one (1996), both by Premiere Magazine (Mexico Premiere), and his first DVD player in the Godfather trivia contest by Cinemex, a Mexican movie chain (1998). His main interests are movies and DVDs, playing tennis, following the NY Yankees and, whenever possible, traveling. His favorite film is still "Jaws," but the first two Godfather movies make him question his standings every time he watches them.
When I reviewed Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" a few months ago, several readers brought up the point that when a filmmaker constantly uses extreme violence in his films, there surely must be something wrong about the director himself.
I don't buy into that theory, but while watching Quentin Tarantino's films, which I mostly enjoy a lot, I have to admit I have a hard time disassociating my diagnosis of the filmmaker with his own work, especially "Pulp Fiction" which is clearly a film with an amazing understanding of violent criminals, the drug culture and the fine art of original cursing.
Sequels to Hollywood hit films usually take a couple of years to arrive, maybe up to three or five or even ten, but twenty-three? Why would Oliver Stone wait this long to bring us a follow-up to his 1987 "Wall Street"? On this opening weekend of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," there doesn't seem to be that much of a mystery regarding the "why now?" The forces behind the collapse of Wall Street and most of the world's economies in 2008, and their nature, couldn't have passed unnoticed to somebody like Stone, whose name is synonymous with plots, conspiracies and the like.
The original "Wall Street" might be a product of the 1980s and it looks a dated in some ways, but if it proves anything to current audiences it's that there isn't much new under the sun. Like other aspects of life, the real Wall Street is ruled by cycles in which similar events seem to re-occur with time and may continue to do so again and again. Greed is not a novelty.
Behind every great fortune there is a crime. - Balzac
So states the prologue of Mario Puzo's novel, "The Godfather," a debatable statement that rings true nonetheless. It certainly feels like "the truth" after visiting this world. Does it mean that the Corleone family was completely amoral? Not at all, and that is what separates this material from just about every previous gangster film. This family provided justice and protection to those who couldn't get it elsewhere. They also gave them gambling, women and liquor--but heck, they did draw a line at drugs. If there is one thing that Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola evidently were clear about, it's that black or white characters aren't particularly exciting.
The phenomenal success of the Godfather Trilogy can basically be attributed to the decision on the part of Paramount executives to put their helm in the hands of a master filmmaker at his very peak who also happened to be one of the few raised in a family with the precise sensibilities required to take the material from Mario Puzo's best-selling novel and make it feel absolutely real.
The dissection of a real life legal case from every possible point of view may be the main subject from Barbet Schroeder's "Reversal of Fortune" but the heart of the film unquestionably resides in one of the most amazing acting performances in the history of cinema: Jeremy Iron's portrayal of Claus Von Bulow
The real Von Bulow was indeed convicted to a thirty year term for the murder of his socialite wife Sunny, played by Glenn Close, but the movie, without taking sides, does make it clear that his sentencing was somehow influenced by the court of public opinion in which everybody believed Claus was guilty, he had to be, he certainly seemed like a man guilty of something.
A documentary called "The People vs. George Lucas" gives disgruntled, hard-core, "Star Wars" a chance to vent on the decisions George Lucas has made over the last several years, regarding the alterations to his beloved original trilogy as well as the overall outcome of that series' prequels. It may be safe to say that these fans' gargantuan expectations were not fully met.
I have to wonder if such expectations were realistic to begin with, I also ask myself if it was the world we live in today that drastically changed the rules of the game for the release of the maligned prequels. Let's face it, the insufferable Ewoks never had to face the same fate that Jar Jar Binks did when days after the release of the first prequel, a web site called www.jarjarbinkssucks.com became the talk of the web in its early days.
I truly enjoy Mel Gibson's work as a director. His films, whether he stars in them or not, always reflect a passion and heart like few others. His best work these days, more and more, seems to be coming from behind the camera. It seems to me he really makes the movies for himself first and second for everybody else, no test audience previews to influence the final product.
"Apocalypto" is a film about the demise of the Mayan civilization. It tells the story of Jaguar Paw, whose small village is attacked by a group of hunters from the nearby metropolis, their job literally being to pillage small defenseless groups while looking for "volunteers" for their "most dangerous game": the sacrificing rituals that the city's leaders use to keep the masses entertained.
Something strange happened to me while watching the recent Benicio del Toro movie "The Wolfman." I suddenly realized I wasn't being scared in the very least. Nada. Like Dr. Chilton once said referring to Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" "my pulse never got above 80".
Despite the movie's constant and frantic attempts to scare the audience with surprising and loud growls, with beheadings and half-eaten corpses, nothing worked, I've a hard time understanding why.
Is it my attitude towards the genre?
Courtroom dramas count for some of Hollywood's best movies and, among their finest stands Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict."
Even when comparing it to other greats such as his own "Twelve Angry Men" or "To Kill a Mockingbird", "The Verdict" stands in my opinion as the one with the most memorable, well, verdict, one which I believe to be as fresh, as satisfying and as powerful in your first viewing as it is in your twentieth.
Recent years have seen the world's two most successful film directors in history do the unthinkable by tinkering with some of their most classic work.
First up George Lucas decided to update his original "Star Wars" trilogy, I imagine with the purpose of standardizing its look with the new three films he was working on at the time.
"Breaking Away" is a movie about four working class friends from a college town who are better know as "The Cutters" a term for the stone quarry workers from town who never got to go to college, and how cycling becomes their unexpected ticket into bigger and better things.
It is populated with original characters who feel completely real, they all have their ambitions, their fears and their regrets which are hardly unlike ours. Each of their numerous idiosyncrasies only serve to make them all the more endearing.