FlixChatter Review: SERGIO (2020)


Directed By: Greg Barker
Written By: Craig Borten
Starring: Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, Bradley Whitford, Brían F. O’Byrne

Sergio, is a biographical drama chronicling the life and work of United Nations diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello. Directed by Greg Barker, a man known for his career in television and documentary films such as Sergio (2009) and The Final Year (2017), it marks his first attempt at a narrative feature.

A decade after premiering his doc, Barker returned to Sundance with this adaptation. Making a film about a subject one has already explored so deeply could seem like beating a dead horse. Greg slows the pace, and injects this new film with a sense of poetic romanticism. Given the creative license Barker focuses on on the inner-emotions and Don Quixote like qualities of Sergio. He was a larger than life personality who believed that one could live in and create the future one wanted for tomorrow, today. And that by nations coming together we could bring about a better, brighter, freer global future. He believed the U.N. would be instrumental in achieving this dream and that he could help birth it.

Recounting the days, months, and years leading up to his death, this film’s emphasis on de Mello’s romantic life (with Ana de Armas playing the woman he loved), provides fresh insight into the life of a man many have already heard much about. After making a documentary I can understand the wish to focus on developing the personality of who Sergio was.

While it creates an engrossing story for general audiences who know next to nothing about its titular character, it conversely makes the film a bit drawn-out and lacking focus. This is disappointing for a film that is about a man who led his life with decisiveness and a singular focus.

– Review by Jessie Zumeta


Have you seen SERGIO? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: Knives Out (2019)

With a provocative title like Knives Out, the film had better be a sharp murder mystery. Fortunately, writer/director Rian Johnson and his stellar ensemble cast delivered! The film embraces the tropes of the whodunnit genre – the wealthy dysfunctional family, the historic mansion, and an eccentric detective investigating the case… but it cleverly turned it on its head. It’s not as eerie, chilling or overly dark, in fact, Johnson kept the mood rather light and even seemingly frivolous. But don’t let that fool you, it’s suspenseful when it needs to be and oh, it’s just so delightfully entertaining!

The film starts out with the death of the family patriarch, crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), following his own birthday celebration. Soon the family gathers to mourn him, while in reality all they care about is how big of the inheritance they’d get. Given the suspicious nature of Harlan’s death, the detectives promptly arrive to question the members, including the debonair detective Benoit Blanc, whose involvement in the case is a mystery in itself.

Daniel Craig seems to have a blast playing Detective Blanc, with a rather quirky Southern Accent. The accent perhaps intentional to contrast him from the WASP-y, Massachusetts-bred Harlan  family, much like Agatha Christie’s Poirot’s mustache sets her protagonist apart from the people he’s investigating. Craig definitely stands out even amongst this stellar cast, but the real star of the film is Ana de Armas who plays Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s loyal nurse who can’t lie without vomiting. That bit lends to some hilarious scenes in the film. This is only the second time I saw her since Blade Runner 2049, but she’s proven herself a versatile actress. Here she looks plain as can be, dressed in the dowdiest clothes, but portrays a seemingly-helpless-but-smarter-than-you-think character so well that you’re never quite know just who she really is.

I won’t go into more plot details, as this is the kind of film that’s best to go into it blindly. Any fan of murder mystery would get a kick out Johnson’s clever plot that keeps you guessing. Every single member of the family could have been the culprit, and that’s what made this kind of movies fun. I kept thinking things would go one way and it went another direction, keeping things suspenseful yet light and mirthful. Most of the action takes place inside or around the mansion, but there’s enough going for it to keep you engaged. It goes to show that a good script the best special effect of all, no amount of special effect or stunning visuals can make up for a good story.

I also love the fact that the writer/director makes good use of his eclectic ensemble cast, even Plummer in the flashback scenes. Each actor have their moment to shine, though of course some are memorable than others. Chris Evans clearly relish on playing a spoiled brat, practically the black sheep of the family… quite a departure from his goody-two-shoes Captain America role. The cozy-but-oh-so-sexy aesthetic no doubt spikes up sales of Fisherman sweaters everywhere.  I always adore the chameleonic Toni Collette and she’s fun to watch as a lifestyle guru, perhaps channeling Gwyneth Paltrow a bit with her Goop empire. It’s also amusing to see Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson as a couple. I think Jamie Lee should get more leading roles even now in her 60s, this sassy woman’s still got it!

Rian Johnson got so much flak for The Last Jedi which I actually enjoyed. I’m glad he’s back directing an original story as he’s clearly a gifted storyteller. In addition to the shrewd plot, he manages to inject a not-so-subtle jab about today’s political climate in regards to immigrants. I think the Best Original Screenplay Oscar nod is well-deserved, oh and the cast should’ve been nominated for Best Ensemble at SAG Awards too! The last shot of the film is absolutely brilliant… the expressions of the cast and an ingenious use of a particular prop is one of the best cinematic final scenes ever. I can’t help but smile every time I think about it!

I’m glad I was able to catch it before it left local cineplex as I missed the press screening back in November. Apparently a sequel is in the works for this, centered on Benoit Blanc with Craig reprising his role (so Craig is trading James Bond for Blanc, Benoit Blanc. Ha!) Normally I’d roll my eyes whenever sequels are announced, but I’m open to this idea, let’s hope the follow-up sequel’s script is as clever as this one.


Have you seen KNIVES OUT? Well, what did you think?

Bond 25 – NO TIME TO DIE first trailer + character posters!

I’ve been waiting for this!! After revealing the new title last August, No Time To Die finally has its first trailer… and as a longtime Bond fan, color me excited!!


I personally can’t wait to see what director Cary Fukunaga would do with this 57-year-old franchise, and from what I’m seeing here, it certainly looks promising!

The one I’m most curious about is Lashana Lynch’s character, and this trailer confirms that she is indeed has been assigned as a Double-O while Bond’s away from active duty. Oooh and she’s fierce!

Stay in your lane. You get in my way, I’ll put a bullet in your name.

She also reminds Bond that the world has changed… a way the studio reassure moviegoers that ‘this new Bond movie is woke, guys!’ I had to chuckle a bit seeing how reluctant Daniel Craig says the name ‘Bond… James Bond.’ He doesn’t look too happy to come back from retirement… just like Craig himself who can’t wait for his Bond contract to expire, ahah.

So Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld, let’s see if they’d redeem his character here after what they did in Spectre where he’s basically playing a clichéd psychopath. And now Rami Malek is the new Phantom of the Opera er, Bond villain named Safin, complete w/ a preposterous accent to go with his eeee-vil plan. Looks like Safin will be one of those baddie with a more global ‘vision’ for his malevolent schemes… not simply a guy on a personal vendetta w/ Bond.

“… your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone.”

Nice to see Léa Seydoux back as Dr. Swann. So is she supposed to be new Vesper? Blofeld said ‘you gave up everything for her’ but there’s talk about her  knowing Safin’s secret… hmmmm, are they alluding to a Stockholm syndrome of some kind as Dr. Swann was kidnapped (presumably by Safin) and Bond had to rescue her? Not sure yet who Ana de Armas is playing, but hey she looks fabulous in a low-cut dress firing out two guns, so that’s all that matters, right? 😉

The cinematography looks gorgeous, plenty of cool-looking shots here. DP Linus Sandgren has worked with Damien Chazelle in La La Land and First Man. Composer Dan Romer is also new to the Bond franchise,  so far the music sounds good to me.


Ahead of the trailer, they released these new character posters… I’d say they look pretty sleek! I like the vintage, art deco vibe of the font, but yet looks very modern overall. Hey even Ben Whishaw gets his own character poster as the quirky Q, but no Ralph Fiennes as M??

Even in his poster Craig looks like he absolutely can’t wait to be done w/ his Bond stint, ahah. Well, I like him in the role, but honestly, I’m pretty ready to see a new Bond myself.

In any case, I am excited for Bond 25. There’s no shortage on the writers apparently… Cary Fukunaga also wrote the script which started with Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, then Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were brought in to make some updates. Release date in North America is April 8, while the UK and its territories will see it first on April 2.


What do you think of NO TIME TO DIE trailer? Let’s hear it!

Musings on #BOND25 news – New Director, Writers + Cast

Ok, as a massive Bond fan, today’s a big day. Somehow I missed the news that they were going to do a LIVE stream right from Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Yep, the same exact location where Fleming wrote all those 007 novels.

Apparently next week on April 28 the cast/crew will begin to shoot the still-nameless Bond movie and Daniel Craig will be back to reprise his role as 007.

Bond25 cast and crew at the Jamaican LIVE reveal event

Yeah, so much for all those rumors about who’ll be the next Bond. I mean, the 25th Bond film isn’t out in the US until April 8, 2020 (April 3 in the UK and internationally), but of course the rumor mill will continue endlessly.

In any case, below is the video of the Live Reveal, which honestly isn’t the most exciting video despite it being in such a glorious location. Even most of the cast seemed in a rather gloomy mood, and Craig himself struggled to give a shit explain about the enduring appeal of James Bond when he’s asked that question, ha!

Before I get to the cast, well the main things are who’s making the movie. It’s been confirmed that Cary Joji Fukunaga will direct the film. I’ve only seen one of his films, Jane Eyre, but he’s well-known by US audiences since Beast of No Nation (starring fan-favorite for Bond, Idris Elba) and True Detective series. I gotta say the Japanese-American filmmaker is handsome and dapper enough to actually play 007 (that is in a world where someone of his ethnicity could actually be cast as James Bond)

As for the script, longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis & Robert Wade wrote the original script but now they’re bringing in Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, The Informant!) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Killing Eve series). I actually knew that Scott Z. Burns is involved in Bond 25 when I attended a panel honoring him at the Minneapolis St Paul Film Festival (MSPIFF) where he talked about his roots growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and went on to be one of the most acclaimed and prolific writer/director in Hollywood. He might be the first writer to tackle Bourne AND Bond, and I for one am excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.

Now the cast…

Returning cast are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright.

I pretty much love every single one of those returning cast members. I do miss Dame Judi Dench as M, but Fiennes is terrific as M. I also love Harris as Money Penny, Whishaw as Q and Wright as Felix. A truly solid group there in Bond’s corner.

INTRODUCING new cast members:

Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Now, out of the new group, I’m most intrigued by Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek’s casting. I quite like Lynch as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. I didn’t even know she’s British until I saw her speak in this video, super cool! She and Naomie Harris both have Jamaican roots, so this project must be extra special for them.

As for Rami, this is his first high profile role he’s doing since he won an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody AND looks like he’s going to play a Bond villain. He said in a video message that “I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing.” 

I know a lot of people are probably excited for Malek’s casting but at this point it’s kind of meh. Yes I like the diverse casting here. He is Egyptian-American and a good actor, but I don’t see the boyish-looking 38-year old as having the kind of gravitas I expect as a classic Bond villain. Heck, it would have been awesome to see Idris Elba as a Bond villain, now THAT’s a guy that could give any Bond actor a run for his money and he’d probably steal all his ladies, too. If they were bold enough, why not someone like Viola Davis as a Bond villain?

In any case, there are rumors that Christoph Waltz would also be returning as Blofeld. Now I like him as an actor, but he’s so rubbish in Spectre I really don’t care to see him again. So I guess it remains to be seen how Malek would fare in the role, I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

One thing I am excited about is that Bond is returning to his Jamaican roots. Not only did Fleming wrote his Bond novels in Jamaica, but that’s where the entire franchise kicked off as Dr. No with Sean Connery was filmed there in 1962. Barbara Broccoli gave some hints to the plot in the reveal, “Bond is not on active service when the film starts. He is enjoying himself in Jamaica. We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home. He starts his journey here.” According to Fukunaga, they already shot parts of the movie in Norway (due to weather), but they’ll resume filming in Jamaica the following weeks, Matera in Southern Italy and also Pinewood studios in London.


Well, what do YOU think about Bond 25 news? Let’s hear it!

BLADE RUNNER 2049 review

I’ve seen the original Blade Runner countless times, I’ve bought the movie on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray and recently 4K Bluray Disc. So yes, I’m obsessed with it and to say that this sequel is my most anticipated movie of the year is an understatement. Back in the early 90s, Ridley Scott was rumored to have pitched a sequel idea to the studio folks but he couldn’t get it off the ground mostly because he’s been churning out box office duds at the time. Now finally we get to see a sequel to one of the most influential sci-fi films of all time.

Set 30 years after the event of the first film, LA is still a hellhole with constant rain and cloud looming over the city. Many of its citizens are now filled with new breeds of replicants and Blade Runners are still active and hunts down the older models of replicants who are considered illegals. As the movie opens, one of the Blade Runners K (Ryan Gosling) has found his target, a replicant by the name of Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). Morton is living outside of the city and wants to be left alone but since he’s illegal, K was forced to retire him. After surveying Morton’s place, K found out about something that could put society into chaos. He informed his boss, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) and she ordered him to find out everything he can and get rid of any evident so no one can know about what he’d found.

Unfortunately for K and his boss, the city’s new replicant creator Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) knew what K has discovered and he order his right-hand woman Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) to shadow K’s every move. As K digs deeper, it leads him to an old Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) who’s now living in an isolated location way out of the city. I think that’s all I can say about the story of this film, it’s got some good surprises and fans of the original film will be very pleased with the final results.

Dennis Villeneuve has created a world that’s similar to Scott’s vision but he enhanced it with his own style. Clocking in at around 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it’s a bit too long but Villeneuve did an amazing job of setting the mood and reveal the surprises as the story progresses. Roger Deakins should finally win an Oscar for this film, it’s one of the best-looking films ever made, you need to see it on the biggest screen you can find. His lighting and shot of each sequence is drop dead gorgeous. The script by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green is pretty good, they introduced some new ideas and I thought the story is much better than the original film. Although, I’m not exactly sure what kind of “message” they’re trying to say in this film. The score my Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is excellent, they incorporated Vangelis’ score from the first film and then introduced some new one for this film.

I’m not the biggest fan of Gosling and was a bit skeptical when he’s cast as the lead in this film but I thought he’s pretty good here. His character is kind of mystery and we audience follow his quest to find out who he really is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. I don’t want to give out any information about his character but Gosling’s one note performance fits this character. Even though he’s only in the film for less than an hour, Ford gave a pretty emotional performance as Deckard, let’s just say he finally got some closure.

Leto didn’t really stand out that much, he’s hardly in the film and whenever he appears, he seems to be doing the typical villain who thinks of himself as some kind of God. Hoeks gave a pretty intense performance as the ruthless killer who’ll do anything to please her boss. Robin Wright who seems to be in a lot big movies these days, kind of gave an over-the-top performance as the tough police boss, again her role’s very small and didn’t make much impression on me. The only person who was on the screen as much as Gosling was Ana de Armas, she’s his “girlfriend” and I thought she did a decent job of playing the worried girlfriend/supporter of the hero.

This is a film that would probably divide some audiences, just like the first one did. It’s not action-packed as it’s advertised, pretty much all of the action scenes were shown in the trailers. I do recommend that you see the original film before going to see this one and if you’ve seen it but don’t remember much about the first film then you might get confused a little bit. My recommendation is to watch the original again before seeing this one.

With jaw dropping visual effects, tight direction and some good performances, this is one of my favorite films I’ve seen this year. I’m not going to call it a masterpiece like some critics did but it’s a great film and I’m planning to see it again a couple of more times. If there’s an IMAX or Dolby Cinema theater near you, go see it there.

TedS_post


So have you seen BLADE RUNNER 2049? Well, what did you think?