Posted 23 February 2007 - 10:19 PM
Speaking at the screening (in Orlando) was one of the producers, Sean Wolfington, and the star of the film, Eduardo Verįstegui. I have rarely been as impressed with the background story of the film and the film-makers as I was with this one. Eduardo Verįstegui was a major star in the Hispanic entertainment world, but a few years ago he became very serious about following Christ and did not work for years, as there were no scripts that he felt he could be involved in making. Eventually he helped produce this film -- with a first-time writer-director and first-time producers... and the result shows so much poise and confidence that you swear that it was made by veterans. And although the creators have a clear faith-friendly intent, this film will not be recognized by many as a "Christian film", per se. (In fact, Sean said that it has been characterized in print as a pro-choice film and by a different publication as a pro-life film. Go figure.)
Essentially, the film is a day in the life of two people in New York City. There isn't a lot I want to say about the plot, except that it deals with grace and sacrifice and redemption in a profound and moving way. I can't remember the last time I watched a film with tears dripping into my lap, but they did with this one.
The Toronto Film Festival writeup is here. But note that the film that won Toronto was practically a rough cut (?!!) -- it was in final edit while TIFF was underway. When it won, the producers asked themselves if they shouldn't just leave it as it was, but they are confident that their director is improving the film by helping weave extra layers of mystery and subtlety, tightening up and cleaning up the first half.
The official site is here.
I can't wait to see what you all have to say about BELLA. At the moment, I regard it as one of my top film experiences ever.
Posted 24 February 2007 - 08:34 AM
There's a lot of excitement around this film in Catholic media circles. I'm expecting a screener from Wolfington, but I haven't gotten it yet.
Posted 11 July 2007 - 01:01 AM
Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:04 AM
I know something about the release date, but I don't remember whether it's still confidential, so I can't say. It's later than August, though.
Posted 16 July 2007 - 10:48 AM
My understanding is there there are now two potential distributors, and final distribution decisions are still pending. Is there more current info than that, i.e., a named distributor?
Posted 13 August 2007 - 11:17 AM
Posted 12 October 2007 - 04:12 PM
Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:07 PM
Posted 23 October 2007 - 11:55 AM
It doesn't open in Canada right away (who knows when?), so... we wait.
Posted 23 October 2007 - 12:19 PM
Posted 23 October 2007 - 03:45 PM
Posted 23 October 2007 - 04:41 PM
Yes, and such a "guy"/brothers thing too, to reconcile by jostling elbows.
Posted 24 October 2007 - 04:58 PM
A producer on the film subsequently left a message on my voicemail noting that my refusal to support the film had its source "in the demonic." Really? "Demonic"? It couldn't just be that I found the film plodding, easy, sloppy and uneven? In short, I don't think Bella is great. It's not really "Catholic" (in the sense of overt spirituality). And it really isn't pro-life (in the usual sense of that term).Hmmm, "It is what it is" was Nicolosi's response to The Nativity Story, too. Seeing a pattern here?
What is going on is a wildly over the top marketing blitz in which the investors in the project are trying desperately to recoup their investment, by telling good Catholic people that they must support this film to send a message to Hollywood. As with so many other mediocre Christian movies, the only "message" that Hollywood will get if Bella does well, is that the Christian audience has no idea what a good movie is and will rave about anything that remotely mirrors our world-view. . . .
When I saw the film in rough-cut, it was ostensibly to help the filmmakers decide on a name for the movie. I remember saying to them, "I don't know what to call it, it isn't really about anything." (In response, one of the producers on the film suggested that I have "deep spiritual problems"....seeing a pattern here?) . . .
Someone asked me if it was okay for kids. My take is, "No. They'll be bored out of their minds." I don't recommend or not recommend this film. Truly this is the kind of film for which the phrase, "It is what it is," was invented.
Posted 26 October 2007 - 09:53 AM
Yikes. I mean, holy smokes. That's unfortunate.
FWIW, while I enjoyed talking to all the Metanoia principals, I find Barb's charge plausible. And, FWIW, I think her take on the film is reasonable, although my take is different. (Wonder if she would say the same for mine.)
BTW, Ebert likes it. AND he takes a quasi-non-pot-shot at a critical comment in Variety's tepid review.
Edited by SDG, 26 October 2007 - 09:54 AM.
Posted 26 October 2007 - 10:06 AM
When you know, practically from the beginning, what's going to happen at the end of a movie, what do you do with your time in between? Offer to buy everyone in the theater popcorn while you sit this thing out? Check cellphone messages? Catch up on lost sleep?
We opted to just watch "Bella," a Mexican movie in which the outcome is never in doubt, the scenes are endless -- sorry, we meant "poetic"-- and the false beard on the central character's face looks as though it could use a little extra gum.
Posted 28 October 2007 - 03:32 PM
Meanwhile, the film appears to have grossed about $1.3 million this weekend, in only 165 theatres, for a per-screen average of $8,024 -- easily higher than that of any other film in the Top 25 this week except for, uh, Saw IV.
Posted 28 October 2007 - 08:57 PM
Bella has some scenes I found genuinely moving. It has memorable characters who are well-realized and fully convincing. The cast, especially the lead actress, is a remarkable ensemble. And the cinematography -- up-close-and-personal, handheld video -- is really quite creative without any special effects. I enjoyed watching it.
But afterward, as I listened to the director recount the odds he overcame in making the film... how he had no time, no resources, and no sense of what kind of trouble he was inviting, working under impossible pressures and deadlines... well, now I am in a state of utter disbelief. If things really played out as he described, then Bella is a wonder of resourcefulness. And this is his first feature? I'm eager to see what he does next.
How much should a film critic take into account What Was Accomplished in view of What Resources They Had? It's a good question. Bella is to romance and tearjerking drama what Primer was to mind-bending sci-fi. It's a standup piece of work that looks like it was made on a budget ten times larger than what was actually available.
And the idea that this film is in any way promoting the Pro-Choice agenda is nuts. It's a story about particular characters in a particular situation that is resolved in a particular way... it's not meant to represent the ideal solution to single-girl pregnancy. This is the ending that makes the most sense for this story and these characters.
Now, having said all of that, the film runs far beyond acceptable tear-jerking levels. I detached from the film emotionally with about 20 minutes to go (precisely when Nina starts talking about her mother). The movie was working too hard to make me feel, make me cry, make me care. If the film had cut out a good deal of talk, it would have been more intriguing, more involving. It just strives too much.
But it's heart is in the right place, and it's refreshing to see a slow-build romance that has little or nothing to do with making out.
Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet, 28 October 2007 - 09:02 PM.