26th Oct2014

The Way He Looks – Film

by timbaros

images-275High school student Leonardo is blind. He relies on his parents and his best friend Giovanna to literally guide him through life. His world changes dramatically when new student Gabriel enters his classroom. A slow moving love story begins in the new film The Way He Looks.

Leonardo, played convincingly by non-blind actor Ghilherme Lobo, is a young man who doesn’t have much independence. He is guided everywhere by his best friend Giovanna (Tess Amorim), including making sure he gets home ok after school. They even investigate the possibilities of going on an exchange program to another country together. When Leonardo’s home, he’s got his parents calling him to make sure he’s arrived safely. He’s doesn’t lead much of an independent life – and his parents nix his idea of going on the exchange program. At school, he’s bullied by the other boys in his class, they tease and taunt him and follow him and make fun of him. And no one wants to sit in the empty desk behind him as he uses a typewriting machine to get through the lessons. One day new student Gabriel (played by a confident Fabio Audi) arrives in the class and takes the only seat that is available – behind Leonardo.

Soon Leonardo, Gabriel and Giovanna all become close friends. And before you know it, Leonardo and Gabriel start hanging out together, leaving Giovanna out. Gabriel starts walking Leonardo home, and they take on a class assignment together which makes them spend more with each other after school. Giovanni decides to stop speaking to them. Meanwhile, Leonardo and Gabriel’s friendly relationship starts to grow – Gabriel takes Leonardo to ‘see’ his first film – narrating it for him, scene by scene. Leonardo also sneaks out of his home very late one night to go ‘see’ an eclipse with Gabriel – it’s a moment that brings their friendship closer together. Meanwhile, Gabriel’s got Karina (Isabela Guasco) chasing him. Giovanna calls her a slut, meanwhile Giovanna also has a crush on Gabriel, leading her to steal a kiss from him at Karina’s house party. He doesn’t reciprocate – but in turn he steals a kiss from Leonardo – after Leonardo was humiliated by the young partygoers during a game of spin the bottle where they almost made him kiss a dog. A few days later, the class goes on a camping trip, and finally Giovanna comes around and makes up with Leonardo, leaving Gabriel to be with Karina. Yet, Gabriel isn’t interested in her, he’s quite aloof when it comes to girls. And when Gabriel showers naked next to Leonardo, it’s Gabriel’s eyes that start to wander and it’s at that moment, touchingly, that we realize that Gabriel wants to be more than a friend to Leonardo.

The Way He Looks is a very lovely film, quite quiet yet very moving. What makes it so are the performances. Lobo is just so sweet as the blind boy who wants to start exploring life on his own. It’s a delicately nuanced performance. And Audi as Gabriel is just the opposite. He’s a confident yet not cocky young man who takes Leonardo under his wing and guides him through new experiences in life – something no one else has done. Director Daniel Ribeiro has structured a film where homosexuality is not the central theme – the theme throughout is Leonardo’s blindness, it’s the love story between Leonardo and Gabriel that is very subtle. The Way He Looks is Ribeiro’s debut feature film. It’s based on his 17-minute short film “I don’t Want To Go Back Alone’ which tells the same story. It won the 2011 Iris Prize (a prize given to a short film with an LGBT theme). Using the same actors, Ribeiro has gifted us with a longer version of his short film that explores a subject not seen in the cinema, gay or straight, the sexual awakening of a blind teenager. The Way He Looks is not just a gay love story, it’s a universal love story that everyone can, and will, relate to.

26th Oct2014

This is Where I Leave You – Film

by timbaros

images-274A dysfunctional family with a sexy matriarch is the premise of the new dramatic comedy This is Where I Leave You.

Jane Fonda stars as the outspoken Hillary Altman. Her husband has just passed away so all of her children come to the family home for the funeral, to live under the same roof, for seven days. The Altman children include Judd (Jason Bateman), a 40-something radio producer who catches his wife in bed with his star DJ Wade Beaufort (Dax Shepard); Tina Fey plays Wendy – she’s the sensible one, very close to Judd, with two children and a husband always on the phone making deals; Adam Driver is Phillip – he’s in his mid 30’s going on 25 but who is dating a woman almost double his age (played confidently by Connie Britton); and then there’s the oldest and responsible brother Paul (Corey Stoll), who works in the company business with their now deceased father but is having a hard time trying to have a baby with his wife him Annie (Kathryn Hahn).

In a film that has cute moments together with some awful moments, This is Where I Leave You is basically a film about a family that is just as dysfunctional and loopy as we’ve seen before on the screen. Awkward moments abound, especially as the father’s dying wish was to have all his children come home and spend seven days Sitting Shiva (a seven-day period of mourning in the Jewish religion). Hillary goes on to tell her children “For the next seven days you are all my children again. And you are all grounded.” The Altman family basically don’t know what to say to each other and the silence is louder than words. Other Awkward moments include Hillary’s breasts. They loom large when she’s making a bed for Judd and tell’s him “these are the same breasts you sucked on as a child,” and he tells her “Oh no they’re not.”

With the four adult children back in their hometown, past romantic liaisons come alive again. Rose Byrne plays Penny Moore, a hometown girl who’s always carried a torch for Judd, too bad for her that he unknowingly has sex with her daughter. And Paul’s wife Annie has always carried a torch for Judd and even asks him to impregnate her as it appears her husband Paul’s sperm is not doing the trick. And Wendy has to come face to face with a high school sweetheart (Timothy Olyphant) who was in a tragic accident and was incapable of being the man she wanted him to be so she moved on with her life.

This is Where I Leave You is recommended for it’s smart cast (they all do very well in light of a very weak script with some unfunny jokes) and direction that could’ve been tighter and more focused. And it could’ve finished with a different ending as I didn’t believe the ¬†relationship Wendy is now in. Having said that, it’s a fun film that you will more than likely forget a couple hours after leaving the cinema.