Thursday, May 28, 2009

SIFF film - LITTLE ASHES. Easily over the heads of Pattinson fans.

Little Ashes
Director: Paul Morrison
Starring: Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson & Matthew McNulty
Rating: R
Tagline: Love. Art. Betrayal

This is the story of the young years of the brilliant but troubled Salvador Dali. It is said that he hid this story from the early part of his life for years, for many reasons but mainly because of his marriage to Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) for 50+ years.

The movie is set during the pre-Spanish civil war when repression and political unrest plagued the country. Frederico Lorca (brilliantly played by Javier Beltran) was the well renowned poet and revolutionary who's chance meeting of Salvador Dali (well played by Robert Pattinson, best known for his roles as Sedrick Diggery in the Harry Potter series and Edward Cullen in the Twilight movie) was like an emotional roller coaster.

Dali - was more than an "eccentric" artist. The man clearly struggled with mental issues from a young age. During the movie he has strange flash backs and hears voices, but they never really explain where those are rooted from. Both being amazingly talented artists in their own right - Lorca and Dali begin to show attraction and love for each other, through their art.

I was interested to see if Robert Pattinson could pull off such a deep and complicated roll. I wasn't totally sold on his roll as the lead vampire in Twilight, however I used the writing and direction as the main problem with his acting in that film. SO I was intrigued to see if he was able to play such a different role than he had in the past. Lets put it this way - if I were to give it a percentage as to how convinced I am, I would give him a 70%. Not quite, but close.

Reason being is that both parts were SUPPOSED to be played as troubled and awkward. I am not sure if this is really how he is in real life (socially awkward, internally tortured and at times childlike) or if he just does a bang up job at those types of roles. Toward the end, when Dali became obsessed with the fame, money and sex - his role became more involved and I was impressed by the emotional tantrums and manic type attitude he took on. The love scenes between he and Beltran were also very convincing, as I wasn't sure how those would be played out.

His signature waxed and upturned mustache, regal clothing and often wearing capes and silly hats - was a lovely part of the movie as well. He would often wear outlandish outfits and play with various accents (often switching from Spanish to French to American, just to curse in different ways) and it was all done very humorously. At times you would see him playing dress up, fidding with head wraps and ties and often got Lorca to play along. If you didn't know this was part of Dali's personality, it could easily be chalked up to random silliness. But they were actually very relevant and accurate details as to his persona.

Other actors who were amazing - Beltran as I already mentioned was amazing. Sincere, emotional, sensitive, everything an inspired poet and revolutionary would be. Marina Gatell who played Beltran's love interest, Magdalena - was superb. She was so in love with him, but was so aware of where his heart was. Her pain and devotion was so touching - her character was a lovely sight on the screen as well. Matthew McNulty played Luis Bunuel - the close friend to Dali and Lorca and the one that struggled deeply when the love the two shared came into the light.

The relationship between Federico Lorca and Salvador Dali should be mentioned. At a time when Catholicism was the main religion in Spain and homosexuality wasn't spoken of, nor accepted, the movie makes this very obvious but heartfelt. You truly feel the love these men have for each other because of their art. You watch Lorca pray and struggle with his feelings and Dali just chalk it up to part of his personality.

The main thing I disliked about this film was the fact that it was all in ENGLISH with Spanish accents. In my opinion, if its set in Spain, it should have been in Spanish with subtitles. Also when Lorca recited his poetry (which was often) he would recite it in Spanish, but then they would have his voice translate it in English, over the top - which confuses the hell out of me to hear it softly in Spanish and English over top. Lorca's accent is VERY thick and sometimes difficult to understand, which made for a few confusing moments.

The twist of the movie (which i will not spoil) is hurtful but a brutal testament of the European art scene during that time and the affect it had on many lives.

Dali will forever go down in history as one of the worlds most talented surrealist painters - however this movie will give you an idea of his life as a young man and how he became the man he was later in life. The sad, troubled youth who struggled with an art he couldn't explain and a love he couldn't express. If you think about it - that kind of repression is enough to drive anyone crazy.

**Note: I did some research on Dali as I was preparing for this review - and I was surprised to find out he passed in 1989 (I was 15 years old) and read some fun and interested facts about him. When you see this movie - I suggest you go into it with an open mind. And maybe have these facts about Dali known when you go:

* He at one point considered himself GOD-LIKE
* Had a residence in the Plaza Hotel in NYC and hosted the likes of Sonny & Cher (and were startled when Cher sat down on an oddly shaped sexual vibrator left in an easy chair)
* When ever signing autographs for people, he would ALWAYS keep their pens
* During a television appearance, on the Tonight Show, Dalí carried with him a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit upon anything else.
* The unlikeliest venue for Dalí's work was the Rikers Island jail in New York City; a sketch of the Crucifixion he donated to the jail hung in the inmate dining room for 16 years before it was moved to the prison lobby for safekeeping. The drawing was stolen in March 2003 and has not been recovered.

Rating **** Go see this movie, the good heavily out weighs the bad

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