Broken Sky (2006)
★ / ★★★★
Written and directed by Julián Hernández, “El cielo dividido” or “Broken Sky” bides its time (two hours and twenty minutes to be exact) to tell the story of a couple (Miguel Ángel Hoppe and Fernando Arroyo) who started off as loving and eventually ended up cold and distant. One of the main reasons for such a schism was Arroyo fell in love with another man. Although this led Hoppe to seek attention from Alejandro Rojo, does his new partner have the same qualities as his former lover? This movie was painful for me to watch because of the fact that there were extended scenes of lack of dialogue for no reason whatsoever. It would have been fine if the narration was consistent because then the audiences would know what was going on in the characters heads. When we are left to watch the grieving characters doing whatever they choose to do, it’s not a good thing especially when the characters themselves do not know what they should do next. The whole movie was supposed to be poetic because of the music, the passionate sex and the absence of dialogue. But the way I saw it was the director got a bit too lazy. Instead of painting us a picture of the emotional turmoil that the characters were going through, he decided to sit back and “let it all unfold” when, really, there’s absolutely nothing to drive the story forward. Instead, we get redundant scenes of guys being in bed, going to clubs and stalking each other. It wasn’t an insightful or relatable experience when it should have been because most of us are familiar with heartbreak and rejection. This monolith of a movie could have easy been just above an hour long. Now, I can handle movies that are different and have an art-house kind of feel to them. But for me to ultimately enjoy movies that are “different” (or any movie in general), I look for an emotional core–whether such a core is droll, depressing, childlike, suspenseful or simply a slice-of-life–but “Broken Sky” didn’t have that basic quality. We see characters who are sad and angry but if they (and the filmmakers) don’t let us make a connection with them, why should we care what would happen to them? I’ve seen other self-obsessed characters portrayed on screen having an easier time to let me in. If you have insomnia, this soporific picture is your cure.
The September Issue (2008)
★★★ / ★★★★
Anna Wintour, the extremely influential editor of Vogue magazine, stated it perfectly in the very first few minutes of this documentary: Most people are scared of fashion and that’s probably why they make fun of it. Personally, I don’t think fashion is a ridiculous subject at all because it covers every aspect of beauty–something that is very important to me–not just when it comes to the clothes but the attitude that comes with them. Directed by R.J. Cutler, he documented all the hardwork, the conflict, the stress and the funny moments of what it took to release the September issue of Vogue. Two people are at the forefront: Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, the editor and the creative director, respectively. I love that the movie covers the history of the two so we get some sort of idea where they came from and what it took for them to be where they are now. Although Wintour and Coddington have very different personalities, both of them are aware with how brilliant the other person is. Instead of competing with each other, they constantly push each other to be more critical and to continue to redefine beauty. While Wintour is truly a very intimidating ice queen, she’s not a total diva like how fashion editors were presented in motion pictures. She has her more tender moments, especially when she spends time with her daughter. On the other hand, I found Coddington to be very admirable because she’s not afraid to push for what she wants to be included in the magazine even if Wintour says “No” to her ideas time and time again. She’s a romantic and she remains to be a sweet individual despite the harsh realities of the fashion industry. While the two giants do have their disagreements, they share one crucial bond: They are very passionate with what they do and they want the magazine to be at its best. I was so engaged with this movie because there were times when I agreed with Wintour and there were times when I agreed with Coddington. I found it fun to see which photos would make it to the magazines, which was really hard at the same time because the photographs were stunning. This documentary is obviously targeted for people who are interested in fashion. However, for those who could care less about fashion should see this as well because it will undoubtedly show them that fashion is not a joke (though sometimes it can be). Like other more traditional jobs, it requires a lot of long hours, heartbreaking rejections, stress due to everything not going according to plan, and best of all, a thick skin.
Cowboys & Angels (2003)
★★★ / ★★★★
The premise of “Cowboys & Angels,” directed by David Gleeson, was a shy and a bit naive 20-year-old (Michael Legge) who moves into the city because he wishes to have more excitement in his life. While looking a place to live, he gets paired up with a gay fashion student (Allen Leech). I’m glad this did not turn out to be one of those movies where the main character meets someone gay and realizes that he, too, was gay. In fact, I’m glad that this film wasn’t just about one thing. There’s something very modern about it; I felt like I watching a movie from the perspective of a real twentysomething. It was able to balance several subplots with ease: Legge’s frustration with being laughed at by girls whenever he shows interest in them, his inner conflict between being a civil servant or a student in an art school, his blossoming friendship with Leech, his unattainable crush (Amy Shiels) who has a history of dating women, and his temptations toward drugs to soothe his loneliness. Right from the get-go, I was interested in getting to know the lead character because he seemed to have this inner charm that most people failed to see (maybe it’s because of his lack of sense of style?). I thought the best parts of the film were the scenes when he would try to make a connection, sometimes to the point of borderline desperation, to the point where I just felt bad for him. I remember thinking, “Aww, I’ll be your friend!” because it was easy to tell that the constant rejections were eating him from the inside. I also enjoyed the scenes between Legge and Leech just hanging out in their apartment. They had this sort of bromance going on and it was really cute. That scene when Leech told Legge, “I’m going to do to you what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I laid my eyes on you” (or something along those lines) was really funny. I thought this film was going to be one of those thoughtless LGBT films but it turned out to be pretty unpredictable. If you enjoy LGBT films, see this movie if you can because it just might surprise you.