Raúl Alejandro Mendoza is a visually impaired Chicano filmmaker based out of Houston, Texas and creator of The Nerd Corps. A cinephile and artist, Raúl loves the cinematic arts and discussing them whenever he has a chance.
Giuseppe Tornatorre’s Cinema Paradiso (1988) is a monumental picture that remains timeless 31 years later.
Everyone has a certain film that is so close to their heart. For some that maybe It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982), oreven modern treats like Lady Bird (2017). For me, it is Guiseppe Tornatore’s Academy Award-winning 1988 masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso. From its opening shot to its phenomenal ending the film captivates every emotion that is capable of being felt.
Cinema Paradiso (1988) looks at the life of an old Italian director who must go back to his hometown in Italy and confront his life before he left his home after hearing the news of his father figure passing away. The film is accompanied by exquisite direction and cinematography. It is also followed by its young and older cast members portraying every character on screen. The most captivating part of Cinema Paradiso (1988)? It is none other than Ennio Morricone’s heartbreakingly beautiful score that tugs on the heartstrings. No score is capable of automatically drawing tears from its first note like this beautiful piece of art.
It is so hard for me to fully explain what makes this film so special to me granted most of my work is reviews. This film could easily be written off as an old man reflecting on his childhood is much more than that. There is a sense of dread but admiration for what Alfredo did for Toto. He did not just introduce him to his love of cinema, but he introduced him to the unconditional love from a father figure that he was longing for. Toto must confront the loss of someone he cherished so much, but also realize that because of Alfredo he had someone who pushed him constantly to be the best he could be. So when it comes to that amazing ending and Toto receives the final gift from Alfredo, he is reminded that even though his decisions weren’t perfect they were imperative to take.
Cinema Paradiso (1988) is not just a movie about the love of cinema but the love of our mother, father, first job, friends, and of course our first love. It is a timeless classic that extends from the country of Italy to the rest of the world.
Director Makoto Shinkai returns with his latest film since 2016’s Your Name which seems to miss its footing.
In Weathering With You, Hodaka Morishima a runaway teenage boy meets Hina Amano an orphaned teenage girl who can control the weather. The rest is no different from the average film from Makoto Shinkai. This seems to be the problem prevalent throughout the picture. Where one expects Shinkai to take risks and do something different it’s met with redundancy in the most captivating way.
As always the film is accompanied by an incredible score by the RADWIMPS and some incredible animation. Weathering With You includes interesting themes about gun violence and climate change that make for a nuanced movie.
Sadly there is not much more to write home about Weathering With You and follows a blueprint of characterization that his other films have had. Even though it was a wonderful theater-going experience there was not much left to reminisce on after the credits rolled. One hopes that Makoto Shinkai takes a different route and steps out of his comfort zone in his next directorial effort.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a solid closing to a 42-year story that must sacrifice its thematic choices in the process.
The newest and final installment in the Skywalker story has arrived and with it brings an array of controversy that is not foreign to Star Wars. Rey, Finn, Poe, Leia, and the whole gang are back for one final mission to bring down the first order in the new film directed by J.J. Abrams. The final story in the new trilogy that started in 2015 with Abram’s The Force Awakens and continued by Rían Johnson’s 2017 movie, The Last Jedi was met with a mixed critical reception and has once again left the fandom of Star Wars polarized.
There is a lot of things that The Rise of Skywalker does right, but the picture is far from being perfect. The first twenty minutes of the film are very rushed and feel out of place with the overall film. They feel like an epilogue to what could have been Abrams’ Episode VIII. Once the action and story really start to flesh itself out, you are once again reminded about what makes Star Wars a cultural phenomenon.
The movie has heart, laughs, and tear-jerking moments that made this man transport back to age 6 when I fell in love with a galaxy far far away. Sadly, there are character choices and some dialogue that does not land as well I thought it could have that makes this my least favorite in the new trilogy. Underneath the chaos of a movie that is just good, there is a movie that can grow on you with multiple rewatches.
Go watch The Rise of Skywalker in theaters and may the force be with you, always.
Director Noah Baumbach crafts a meaningful emotional piece of art that just cannot stick the landing even with its incredible performances.
This story of the divorce of a couple trying to get past a troublesome relationship between each other is written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Adam Driver as Charlie Barber a famous theater director in New York City who is undergoing a divorce alongside his soon to be ex wife Nicole Barber who is building her acting career in Los Angeles portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. The picture also includes an incredible performance by Laura Dean as she plays the lawyer helping Nicole Barber.
I am not one that says I have high expectations for movies. I think movies are consumed best when we enter the theater without any notions of what we want the movie to give us. That’s how I went into Marriage Story but came out not entirely satisfied.
The film is incredibly performed by Johansson and Driver, and if you were to just rely on the performances itself than this is as perfect as it gets. The plot feels a bit rushed especially for it pretty long runtime. There are some odd editing choices that made the movie feel a little out of place. It also feels a bit lopsided, for example I felt that it was a film majorly concentrating on Charlie and not Nicole, which could’ve been improved by adding a bit more depth to her character.
Marriage Story is one of my favorite movies of this year but has been a difficult one to put up against other incredible releases this year like Parasite, The Farewell, and Honey Boy. Noah Baumbach’s picture asks us to do probably one of the hardest things us humans can do and that is to feel. I recommend you all give this movie a chance like I did, and not listen to people on the internet posting a scene from the movie passing judgment without context.
Watch Marriage Story on Netflix today or if you can catch it in a theater near you still definitely do that!
Parasite is Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece of 2019 that takes a simple family drama and creates a layered thriller about classism.
Parasite, the 2019 Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival directed by Bong Joon-ho and written by him and Han Jin-wan. The film follows the family of father Kim Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jeong as they infiltrate the Park family house to gain jobs to hopefully pull themselves out of their impoverished life.
This is not the first time that Bong Joon-ho has brought a hit to the United States. Bong Joon-ho directed 2006’s The Host, 2013’s Snowpiercer, and 2017’s Okja that was released on Netflix. Parasite won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and since then would come to the US to sprout some interesting conversations. As we approach The Academy Awards those conversation have begun to circle around the film getting a Best Picture nomination.
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a tour de force of a film, and is one that weeks after watching is still lingering throughout my head. There has been a small amount of movies this year that have done the same like The Farewell, The Lighthouse, and Honey Boy. The film is masterfully crafted by the cast and crew throughout its runtime of two hours and twelve minutes. The story grips you and absolutely never lets you go even after its incredibly executed climax that left me speechless. The theme of classism is profoundly present throughout the picture and creates an interesting theme to talk even after the credits roll on the silver screen.
Director Bong Joon-ho has truly created one of or possibly the best movie of 2019. Parasite is a film that we will be including in discussions when we speak on the medium of filmmaking for years after 2019. Watch Parasite at your local theater that is showing it before this year ends!