Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MOVIE: Escobar: Paradise Lost

Escobar: Paradise Lost: The paradise that is lost is a surfing spot near Medellin, Columbia.  The Escobar reference is to Pablo Escobar, the Columbian drug lord.  The years are 1983 and 1991.  A young Canadian named Nick (Josh Hutcherson) and his brother, Dylan (Brady Corbet), come to Columbia to run a surf camp.  Nick becomes infatuated with a woman named Maria (Claudia Traisac) who is opening up a medical clinic for the poor.  The clinic is paid for by her uncle, Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro).  I had forgotten that Escobar was an elected Columbian senator.  In the early scenes when you see Escobar interacting with his extended family, you start to wonder whether the storyline is going to present Escobar differently than his media image.  Andrea Di Stefano, who authored this fictional script, is also the director.  He has an interesting idea and, with Del Toro as Escobar, a superb actor giving a superb performance.  Unfortunately, part of the potential suspense was lost by opening the film in 1991 and then returning to 1983.  The second and larger problem is Nick as played by Hutcherson.  You have no idea why Maria is attracted to Nick nor do you have any idea why Escobar takes Nick under his wing, even knowing that Maria is a very favored niece.  Dylan, the brother, is more complex a character, but he virtually vanishes from the film once Maria and Nick start living at the Escobar compound.  Hutcherson has some strong scenes towards the end of this 120 minute film, which leaves you wondering where this guy was earlier when he could have listened to his brother’s warning.  The film is in English and Spanish.  While there is an undertone of violence, there is no on screen violence during the first two-thirds of the movie.  The film kept me involved, but Nick was just not a believable character.  If, like me, you are a fan of Benicio Del Toro, you won’t be disappointed.  Del Toro’s performance is the primary reason for seeing this movie.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed OUt the Window


The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared: a Swedish comedy.  I have no experience with Swedish comedy or even knew it existed.  The underlying premise of this delightful film is that things happen and, in the spirit of Forest Gump, you just flow with it.  The movie opens with plans to celebrate Allan Karlsson’s 100 birthday.  Allan is ensconced, unhappily, in a retirement home.  Instead of joining in his birthday celebration, Allan escapes by climbing out his bedroom window.  He walks to the bus station where he purchases a ticket for as far away as his money will take him.  While waiting for the bus, a biker crosses Allan’s path.  The biker needs to use the bathroom but the suitcase he’s carrying won’t fit; he tells Allan to hold the suitcase.  The bus arrives but the biker is still in the bathroom so Allan boards the bus with the suitcase.  As things happen, the suitcase is full of drug money.  The nominal storyline is that both the drug traffickers and the police are looking for Allan.  I’m not familiar with any of the actors, but a character named Benny  (David Wberg) merits special mention as the most indecisive individual I’ve ever seen portrayed.  There is also a scene involving an elephant that is hilarious.  The real story, however, is the life of Allan.   As he embarks on his road trip we learn that since he was a kid, Allan has had a propensity for pyrotechnics, and his fetish  for explosives has lead him to an interesting life.  The flash backs include drinking scenes with Franco, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin as well as scenes with Ronald Reagan and J. Robert Oppenheimer.  Robert Gustafsson plays Allan, a person who simply tells everyone exactly what he’s doing and who embraces life in a free flowing dance.  You will be amused for most of this 115 minute film.  While the majority of the dialogue is in Swedish, there are transitions to English when Allan is in America working on the Manhattan Project, Russian while with Stalin, and in Spanish when with Franco.  There are also dialogues in French, German and Italian.  The subtitles are very readable.  I’m told the novel upon which the movie was based is even more delightful.   Felix Herngren is the director.  Remember:  “Life is what it is and does what it does.”