Monday, February 17, 2014

The Monuments Men ~ Film Review

by:Uel Ceballos

The Monuments Men is neither your action-packed kind of war account nor the suspenseful narrative kind of history film that would make your heart beat in thrill and excitement. However, it carries with it a noble intention and a highly significant event that is worth showing to the whole wide world. Though given with mixed to negative reviews by film critics, it’s quite undeniable that Monuments Men got two major features that would certainly place it in the line of this year’s notable films. First, it got a powerful casts who all have a respected name in the film industry. Second and the most important thing, the film reveal the unknown event to which the whole world owes the recovery of the stolen Western civilization art treasures during the Nazi ruling. If not for the Army Unit nicknamed as “Monuments Men” during the World War II, there will be no more ancient arts to be treasured today because these would be either destroyed forever or stolen by the people who reigned during the war period. It is just timely at this point of humanities’ advancement and continuous development, that we take into each and everyone’s awareness the details about the silent heroes who have risked their lives for those pieces of arts that we greatly value and admire today.

Directed and starred by George Clooney himself, The Monuments Men is created with subtle intention for drama and action. Nonetheless, with the narrative of that particular event as the main focal point of the story, the emotions are naturally developed during the progression of the film. Mainly because the past itself is already a bunch of emotional elements that whenever it is stirred, recounted, or remembered, everyone who witness does feel that strange connection onto something that happened or existed from long time ago, thus we people can't help but get into that nostalgic feeling. People’s lives are all interconnected through numerous links and channels, regardless to where part of the world they are or to what era they have lived, each and everyone are connected to both the past and the present. That is exactly the same way I have felt while I’m watching The Monuments Men, the attached feeling to the arts treasures which I only read on books but never yet see and touch. I have never known or even heard about these Monuments Men who helped recover the lost and stolen arts from the paintings, sculptures, jewels and other arts antiques made from the old times. It was never written in the history books (well not in the books that are used in school), and it was never taught in school that there were heroes who saved these artworks from the Nazi’s (unless maybe if you're majoring in arts or humanities). Who would have thought anyway that there were men who were willing to risk their lives for a piece of art? But, it is worth it? The answer is given in the movie.

The Monuments Men may lack an excellent screenplay and cinematography but nonetheless it has delivered a strong context for arts history. Not the kind that would compete to films with aesthetic spectacles and creative execution, but rather a film that is worth keeping for the future generation to see.  The film carries with it an important narrative of the people who have played essential role but scarcely remembered and recognized for their heroic deeds.

I would review this film not by the criteria of how excellent the film is made but by how the message is effectively delivered and infused to the audience. Therefore, being an audience myself, I admit that the film was not flawlessly carried out with its sequences not all smoothly transitioned, but it did affect me and moved me in a special kind of way. In fact, I’m quite more inspired now to study more about humanities.

I urge you to not be affected by the reviews that you read online but go and see this movie for yourself to judge on your own account. I must warn you though to not expect more of artsy film but to rather focus to the context of the story which I believe is the film's strongest characteristic.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ~ Film Review

by: Uel Ceballos

The 2013 film Secret Life of Walter Mitty brings an unforgettable experience that would make you embrace even more the great splendour of life. The movie is a remarkable motion picture that engaged the viewers to its inspiring concept of adventure and exploration. It is effective in firing the mind and emotions to grasp the idea of getting out of your comfort zone and discover what else out there are in store for you in the world.

The story is focused on Walter Mitty who works as negative asset manager at Life Magazine.  His mundane existence is suddenly transformed when for the very first time in his long career he happened to misplace (that what his boss and other co-workers thought so) a very important film negative, the negative 25. The negatives are sent to Walter by the photojournalist Sean O’Connell including a wallet gift for Walter for his excellent works. Sean O’Connell says that the special photograph, negative 25 should be the cover for the magazine’s final print issue. Now the great problem is that Walter cannot find the negative 25 among other negatives that Sean O’Connell sent. Sean O’Connell cannot be reached and Walter’s corporate transition manager Ted (bearded guy they call him) is pressuring him for that negative.

In this film you will be privileged to go along with Walter Mitty in his journey of finding Sean O’Connell. And where do you think Sean O’Connell is? Using the other negatives as his leads to Sean’s whereabouts Walter gets ready his backpack and his travelling journal. You wouldn’t believe that in the midst of Walter’s monotonous life, he would suddenly gets out of his dungeon to travel the Greenland, survive the eruption of volcano Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, and conquer the Himalayas Mountain.

The cinematography of the film is brilliant and stunning. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is delivered with its overpowering grand designs that serve as splendid backdrop to the film’s significant message. Its vibrant spectacles will make you thirsty for your own life’s adventure. The concept of the story is quite touching and it would make you proud of whatever you do in life as long as you do it with the sincerest dedication and passion as Walter Mitty does with his profession.

Ben Stiller who directed and at the same starred in the film has brought to life a Walter Mitty that is both funny and admirable. This film is really a potential motivation to those who are longing to break their dreary existence, and go out in the world to meet greater challenges and discover much more beautiful things just like what Walter Mitty did. Even Walter Mitty himself is greatly overwhelmed by all things that he has found out in his extraordinary journey. He left New York for that unplanned travel and came back as a different person.

Sean Penn who did the role of Sean O’Connell has short but very noteworthy appearance in the movie. He has effectively imbibed the character of a photojournalist who imposes an unbearable influence not only to the characters in the film but to the viewers as well. 

Just because of that missing single piece of negative film, Walter Mitty is forced to travel. Sean O’Connell says that the special negative film has captured the quintessence of life, that it should take the cover space of Life Magazine. Walter Mitty got no single idea what’s in the negative but all he wants to know is where it is placed by Sean.  

You know what, that negative 25 is worth the description that Sean gives. When I finally see it, I was moved by its perfectness, no, not really the technical perfectness of the shot but the enigmatic attitude of the picture. The negative 25 shot was taken capturing the abstract concepts of zeal and passion over something that makes a person more alive than ever. If you want to know what the negative 25 is all about, see the movie and you wouldn't regret it that you did!

For this movie that has inspired me even more to go out, explore and travel the world, I’ll give it a rate of 10 Espresso Shots.