Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Podcast of Radio Session about Cambridge Film Festival and Romanian Cinema

You can find the recording of last saturday's Bums on Seats show, on which I was on discussing Romanian New Wave with the host.
I'm on after about thirty minutes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 8

Last day. As tradition there was a surprise film closing the festival. Only the surprise was even bigger, because this year there was a second surprise film.

18:00: Surprise Film 1: Steven Sodebergh's Contagion an analitical, almost documentary style drama about a an epidemic of a new deadly decease. The film avoids classical melodramatic tropes of disaster films (so it isn't Roland Emmerich). A great cast as well.

20:15: Surprise Film 2: The Debt  A drama/thriller with Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain. Really was a surprise, and a pleasant one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 7

11:30: Discussion about The Romanian New Wave on Cambridge105 Radio. Bums on Seats is a weekly radio show dedicated to film. This week I was invited by host Toby Miller to discuss Romanian cinema and it's future during one part of the show. A podcast will be available soon.

15:15: Niki&Flo (Niki Ardelean, Colonel in Rezerva): the third film by Pintilie to be shown at the festival (I missed the first one: "The Oak").

In the third film by Lucian Pintilie shown during the Romanian New Wave section, we find Niki (Victor Rebengiuc), a retired colonel, who isn’t very happy. His son just died, his only daughter is planning to move to the US with her husband and his wife is sick. On top of this he has to deal with Flo, the father of his daughter’s husband and next door neighbour, an obnoxious and eccentric former hippy, who believes himself to be the smartest and best thing the World has to offer, and who loves bossing people around, especially Niki.
With both his children gone and nothing left but routine, Niki’s feeling of unimportance grows and he quietly yearns for the happiness of the past.

In contrast to his previous to feature films (“The Oak” and “Afternoon of a Torturer”, both shown at this festival) “Niki and Flo” has a more connected and straight narrative, though still avoiding classic story-telling techniques. The film moves forwards slowly, and though little seems to happen on the surface of the scenes, beneath them storms are raging, leading us to a blunt and surprising conclusion, which still makes perfect sense.

At some point the film reminds one of Eugen Ionescu’s “The Rhinoceros” where characters are sitting at a table talking in parallel and over each-other, hardly making room for a conversation, but where Ionescu’s work fell into the Absurd, here the situations remind us of the real life.

18:00: Romanian Shorts: five Romanian shorts selected by Anamaria Marinca. Strung Love a hilarious short film about love in high-school during the communist era with Alexandru Potocean. Music in the Blood (Muzica in Sange) a lighthearted drama about a man who believes his son could be the next big manele singer, with Andi Vasluianu and Dan Bursuc. The Counting Device (Numaratoarea Manuala) a comedy about a man who brings his nephew to work to find him a job, only to find that the young man doesn't appreciate an honest and mundane job. Stopover a great short film about a woman having her wallet stolen in an airport and receiving help from an unlikely source. Oxygen a slow-burning, poetic film about those who tried to cross the Danube to escape the communist regime.

22:30: Silent Running: A classic SF from 1972 with Bruce Dern, about a man who is taking care of the last existing plants somewhere on a space station. When the order comes in to abandon the project and destroy all plants, he decides to fight for what he thinks is the salvation of Earth. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Days 5 & 6

With all this moving to London business I didn't have that much time for the festival or the blog. I didn't see anything on Wednesday, so days 5 and 6 will refer to Thursday and Friday.

Day 5:

12:30: Afternoon of a Torturer (Dupa amiaza unui tortionar) This years festival has a section dedicated to the 10th year Anniversary of the Romanian New Wave. This includes five feature films (three by Lucian Pinitilie, selected by the director himself, and two selected by Anamaria Marinca) and one showing of several short films.
This film was made in 2001 by Pintilie, whose work helped the shaping of the New Wave and opened roads for younger directors. The Tarkovsky influenced film moves ahead slowly but shows a gripping tale.

Review I did for the Festival Magazine, "Take One":

Afternoon of a torturer

In one of the earliest films of The Romanian New Wave, director Lucian Pinitilie gives us a glimpse of yet another facet of the communist era and especially its effect on people long after it has fallen.

The film follows a young reporter and an old professor, who had been incarcerated and tortured in the sixties by the communists, as they spend an afternoon at the farm of a bee-keeper, who in his youth had been convicted of parricide and in prison educated to be a torturer of political prisoners, who in the eyes of the government where a far greater problem than mere murderers and rapists.

Years later he wishes to confess his crimes, to cleanse his soul, only to find that not many care about what he has to say. Not his wife, nor his son, not even his victims. So he must contend with a guilty conscience.

The near-plotless film is heavily dialogue driven, most scenes taking place around a table where the three discuss. But expect no Tarantino-style quick and witty lines, as in many other current Romanian films, there is a minimalist approach, with long, still shots following the slow moving, often interrupted, dialogue, intertwining these scenes with a selection of symbolic images of ghosts past.

A film which has laid the basics of the New Wave, it poses the question of what is evil and what is its legacy, throwing black and white into a grey area.

Day 6

13:30: The Paper Will Be Blue (Hirtia va fi albastra): A powerful, even if confusing, film by Radu Muntean with Radu Ipate, Andi Vasluianu (in a brilliant performance) and Dragos Bucur.

This 2006 film by Radu Muntean focuses on the night of between the 22nd and the 23rd of December 1989, when in Bucharest the Revolution was in full swing. People were in the streets, the Ceauşescu’s had fled and Communism had basically fallen. Yet a full-out war was still going with several sides shooting at each other, even though nobody knew exactly on whose side they were now.
Costi is a young man in a Militia unit on a patrolling mission through the streets. Seeing civil revolutionaries celebrating freedom and fighting to the defend it, he deserts his unit to go and fight with them. Not knowing what the final results will be, and not wanting to get into trouble, the commander of his unit decides to go looking for him.
What follows is a record of the chaos which has dominated those final moments of the Revolution. There is violence, there are gun battles, yet nobody knows what really is going on, with contradictory orders and contradictions dominating the scene.
Watching the film you will find yourself confused as to what the motivation of some of the characters are, or who exactly is pro- and who is antirevolution, but this is the confusion you share with the characters themselves.
Despite the ambiguity, the things which remain clear are the human emotions, the fear of death, the desire for freedom or a mother’s worry for a son gone missing. These being the elements which deliver a strong and engaging film.

18:15: Tridentfest 2011: For those who don't know, Tridentfest is a sort of festival within the festival showing films made by Arts Picturehouse (the main venue of the festival) employees, who prove to be very talented writers/directors/actors. From 1 minute films which make not much sense but are hilarious, through 5-10 minute more serious attempts and leading to the 30 minute epic "The Purple Fiend" it was greatly enjoyable throughout (and very silly indeed). You can see the films and learn more about the guys on Project Trident.

20:30: Occident + Discussion: Cristian Mungiu's hilarious debut (between this and "Tales from a Golden Age" it is hard to believe that this is the man who made "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days"), the film which kick-started the Romanian New Wave, opened the road to Cannes and other festivals. Although a comedy, the film doesn't lack a solid backbone, with a Pulp Fiction style triple-parallel story and engaging characters (and Ioan Gyuri-Pascu).

Anamaria Marinca was supposed to be present at the screening and afterwards participate in a discussion with Verena von Stackelberg (a German enthusiast of Romanian Cinema, who helped put the section together) and film-critic Steve Williams. Unfortunately she couldn't be present, so the organizers thought that any Romanian will be better than none, which is why at the start of the film I was invited to participate in the discussion. Apparently I didn't do to bad in a discussion focusing on the cause and past of the Current and its possible future.

“A Romanian comedy?” I heard someone asking in disbelief after the film was over. And truly, the main memories evoked by the words “Romanian New Wave” are usually tedious long shots of aborted babies and people walking. It is no wonder then that it is hard to believe that one of the founding films of the new wave, Cristian Mungiu’s (yes the one who bagged a Palme d’Or with “that abortion film” as critics like to call it) 2001 hit “Occident”, is a hearty comedy. But fret not, if you have come to see people coping with a society crippled by 40 years of Communism, you will not be disappointed, for this is exactly what the films delivers. But in their problems and tragedies humour somehow found its place.
In a “Pulp Fiction” inspired triple narrative, we learn the stories of: 
-two lovers, one of which wishes to leave the Go-forsaken country for a better life in the West;
-a girl being abandoned at the altar, and her mother trying to find her a suitable husband via an agency, from, you’ve guessed it, the West;
-a man coming back to Romania from the West in order to return the belongings of a friend who has passed away there.
It is a delightful film with a surprising craft in combining humour and drama, the latter feeling close to what real life might have to offer. The added bonus of a brilliant cast make this one of the feel-good winners of this Festival. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trailerul zilei: J. Edgar

Biopic dupa viata tatalui FBI-ului, J. Edgar Hoover, cu Leonardo DiCaprio in rolul principal si sub regia lui Clint Eastwood. Deci sperante mari.

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 4

Another bloody day

23:00: Red State - Kevin Smith's surprising turn as a non-comedy non-View Askew director, with no cameos by himself or Ben Affleck or Jason Mewes or the rest of the crew. Starting of with a classic teenagers torture by redneck community exploitation flick, the film turns into a violent shootout film with unsure political messages. A bit of a mess, fucking entertaining though

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 3

Today was a violent bloody day filled with vengeance and self-made justice.

16:00: Drive + Q&A with director Nicolas Winding Refn Jesus! An intense movie, altering quiet moments with uncensored violence. Surprisingly good and one to make you think. Review below.

22:30: Sympathy for Mister Vengeance As I said: Jesus! If you have seen "Oldboy" you know what you are in for, though this time the story is a bit more grounded. Still, beautiful images, shakesperean vengeance story and characters, and great acting...oh and bloody, gruesome violence. Enjoy!

Enter Hero. Enter Psycho. Enter Saviour. Enter Devil. Enter Driver.
Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed protagonist in Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film about a Hollywood stuntdriver, who makes some extra cash by doubling as a get-away driver, THE get-away driver.
A stoic character who apparently hasn’t heard of the term “adrenalin”, the man is as calculated and precise in his life as he is when he is doing dangerous stunts for action movies.
Enter Carrey Mulligan’s angel-faced, kind-hearted, single mother, Irene, who cannot but disturb his self-imposed apathy, as evidenced by his shy, child-like smile, which shows up whenever she’s around.
Despite his illegal preoccupations, Driver has strong personal principals, showing unconditional kindness towards Irene, her little son, and even her husband, after he returns from prison.  A true gentleman. Also a psychopath.
When former associates of the husband show up and threaten the woman he won’t verbally admit he loves, his response is quick and extremely brutal. Hammers are used for purposes the makers did not intent, lives are ended by shot-guns and heads are bashed in with boots. All in their uncensored inglory.
Channeling Robert de Niro’s Travis Bickle and Chan-wook Park’s OldBoy, Driver makes his own justice, and woe to those who stand in his way.
The film repeatedly goes from naught to sixty in mere seconds, from very intense quiet moments to explosive scenes of violence, blurring the line between hero and villain. It will draw you in from first to final breath. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Universitality and Cultural Diversity: Interview with Deepak Verma

I am sitting here with Mister Deepak Verma. Am I saying it correctly?


Sorry, I’m not from England, so I wasn’t…

Well neither am I.

Fair enough.
We just came out of a viewing of “Mumbai Charlie”. This is your first directing feature…

This is my first directing film, I’ve directed a lot a theatre before. So when I wrote the film I had the idea, well its based on this real story of this community in India who worship Charlie Chaplin, it’s based on this doctor who loved Charlie Chaplin. When the Earthquake happened in 2001, he wanted to bring laughter to this community so he set up this Charlie circle, teaching people how to walk like Chaplin, how to find their inner moustache, which is kinda what the film is about. So I wanted to have a bit of a laugh at that with the film. The short film is about that, about finding this business-man, who all he thinks about is business, making money, and he realizes that he not living his own life, his living his dad’s life, and when he meets this community, he finds his inner Charlie, that’s what the film is.

How did you first discover Chaplin?

Well I’ve watched Chaplin for years, but I think when I found this article one day on the Tube about a community in India, where they celebrate Chaplin’s birthday every year, I’ve obviously compounded all that experience as much as I knew, and I realized that the guy was very much like a god of film, I mean a lot of what he did…now we don’t really realize that it was Chaplin that create it. The comedy. I mean he’s universal, and universal comedy is a bit like gold dust. Cause nowadays you can watch a film and maybe some people like it and some people don’t, at the time, everyone loved Chaplin. Everyone. I just came back from Kerry where they did the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival, where I had this film as well, and they absolutely loved it. And you really realize how much love there is for Chaplin still. And Chaplin’s son Christopher did some of the music. The estate helped us, and we used “The Great Dictator” speech, which is just beautiful.

I’ve been a huge Chaplin fan for a few years now, and even though I hadn’t seen any of his films for quite a while, watching your movie now evoked those emotions of…magic.

Well yeah. It’s magical. He really talks to you. You do a little [wiggles his upper lip in classical Chaplin fashion] and you look at the camera, and…there’s a bit of Charlie in everyone. And that’s what the film’s about. About finding that. Cause I think we’re living in a very…erm, the speech that we use from “The Great Dictator”, which is like: we found speed, but we’ve lost the way. We’ve lost the way. Everything’s fast, everything’s quick. We’ve lost the moment. And it’s about finding the moment, which is what all of Buddhism, all of Yoga, all about any form of meditation, spirituality is about, about being in the moment, and that’s what he is. If you look at Chaplin, he is in that moment, right there! That’s all that matters.

One thing said about Chaplin is, that he gave a voice to the impoverished, to the people living in the Depression, do you think that your film, which is set in India gives a voice to…

Well I think that was the point, I mean obviously he was brought up from a poor background, he was in the workhouse, his mum was ill and poor and all of that, but inside him he had this journey that he had to make. And when he made films later on he always referred to his youth, the tough times that he had. A lot of his films…”The Kid” I think is great because in a way the Kid is him, some of it, that character, the boy, the little boy. And also, I’m from India, I was born in India, and we’re from a quite, well-to-do family, but you’re still on the streets, you’re still ducking and diving, so I wanted to really use that, just to be in India, to work in a slum, the people in the slum, and just kind of get to know them. It’s just a pleasure and a privilege really, and quite moving for me is that, while working, this time they really treated me like an Indian, cause usually they treat me like a tourist, white man, cause no matter how good my Hindi is, it’s still got a little accent.

You said Charlie found a bit of himself in the Kid, do you think that in this film there is a part of you in the main character?

Absolutely, I mean I think when…well there’s a doctor character who teaches everyone how to be Chaplin. The character of the Doctor is very much me, he’s somebody who wants to change the World, he’s got his own idea of the World, that people don’t necessarily understand what he’s talking about half the time, but some of the time they do, and when it works it works, when it works you see what he’s talking about, you see what the message is. And his message is: Follow your truth, follow your bliss. Which is kind of what I’ve always done, you know, follow the truth, follow the art, do what you really want to do, not what other people brainwash you to do. And that’s what the film is really about.

Chaplin is universal, but he is a Western creation, and in the film we have him recreated by someone in the East. Now in 1998 you founded Pukkanasha Films, the productions of which combining cultures, cultural entities…

Well, yeah, I think I would say that I want to tell stories which are universally appealing, whether they’re English, American, Indian, whatever. Obviously the first couple of projects that I want to do have got that cultural context, but, we’re looking at a Spanish project, we’ve got an American project, and so, I think to set out to do a diverse project is not the way I work, I want to a project where the characters have a great and amazing journey which appeals and speaks to everyone, and so there’s a story. I believe there’s structures in filmmaking, there’s designs, and you go to do this and you got to do that, but I think with “Mumbai Charlie” some people watch it and think “What is that?”, it’s a bit strange, it’s a bit magical, and the aim is a bit “Alice In Wonderland”. It’s a bit “Alice in Wonderland” inspired, when he drinks the medicine from the doctor, who’s a bit like the Mad Hatter, so all of those influences are there.

What do you think about how different cultures are represented by the English media: films, tv. Obviously, you’ve been on “Eastenders”, and you were amongst the first characters to bring cultural diversity. What do you…

I am very proud to be in that position, where the character was the first Asian/Indian character there, whom the people just saw as a character and just loved as a character, and not as some Indian guy. And that for me is very important, and I think it’s very wrong to just start being diverse, and I think that that’s where some of the Film Council, the ex-Film Council, and some of those organizations…you know, organized diversity does not work. It just doesn’t work, it’s a failure, and it doesn’t really say anything. It’s just ticking boxes, and employing people who…I don’t think people from certain minorities should get a leg up. If you’re good, you’re good, if you’re not good, you’re not good. So I really believe it’s about the story, and this film was made with private money, and it is what it is, you know what I mean? I’m not ticking any boxes, I’m just doing what I want to do. To me that’s really, really important, because I think that’s where this companies get it wrong, where an x amount of money will go to black filmmakers, and x amount will go to Asians, I think that’s wrong, I think it should go to the best filmmakers, and if none of them are black, fine, and none of them are Asian, fine, if all of them are Asian, great. That’s what I think, which people won’t like but.

Do you think your cultural background has hindered you from finding any work in England?

No, I think if it’s hindered me it’s something that has to do with what I do as a person, and if anything has propelled me, it’s what I’m doing. I have this saying: “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.” And if where you’re at is telling you to seek stories, than people will follow you. But if you keep barking about how “I’m Asian, and he doesn’t earn enough money…” But that’s not the way to…I think it’s rather about what you want. At the end of the day it all comes down to script, and character and obviously idea, that’s all it’s about, it’s about nothing else. When form-filling takes over that, which a lot of times it does, a lot of film-makers do get financing because they just know how to fill in forms and they’re from a particular cultural background. That does happen, it does. People will deny it, but it happens. I think that’s just gonna get nowhere. You might take the forms and send them to DCMS and say we have that many blacks or Asians, and it doesn’t do anything for me. I think it is the same for theatre, I think it’s just about what is interesting.

You are now preparing a musical version of “Wuthering Heights”, what other projects do you have lined up theatre-wise?

“Wuthering Heights” is going to be a musical with a big West-End angle, that’s the idea; “Mumbai Charlie” as a feature, people love the film, so, see how that goes. And I’m working on “Jane Eyre” as a theatre show as well, using Calcutta as a place. Cause “Jane Eyre” is about a girl who is raised in a convent, and kind of finds herself, I think most things I write are about persons finding themselves. So I am working with some actors I know. What I like is to have the idea, get the actors, do the workshops and I am quite lucky who you pay them and they do it. You just don’t wait around for subsidies, just get one with it. There’s always ways to do things.

Until you get started on the feature length version, what is in the plan for “Mumbai Charlie” now?

We’re going to festivals. It’s playing in L.A, we’re playing at AFM [American Film Market, I think] I hope, where we are doing an independent screening, period. And, it’s won an award at the Honolulu Film Awards, which is an interesting place to win an award, it’s going to Atlanta Shorts Fest, it’s going to various festivals. Where take it around the festivals, and then we can see where we stand here.

Sounds good.


Ok. Thank you very much. Good luck.

Thank you. 

For more information about the Cambridge Film Festival click here

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 2

This day was a bit a more relaxed.

17:30: Mumbai Charlie - a funny half-hour film about a young business man from Mumbai who rediscovers himself when he meets the Charlie Circle, a group of people who worship Charlie Chaplin. Warm recommendation, regardless if you like Chaplin or not. Q+A with director and crew afterwards

18:30: Interview with Deepak Verma - writer, director of Mumbai Charlie. Interview will be uploaded at a later moment.

22:30: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - horror film written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, with Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. A blatant disregard for horror conventions, the film is full nicely executed jump scares, though lacks some deeper horror qualities due to exposing the monsters from the very beginning. At points it felt funny, or like a scary version of "The Borrowers". It was intense throughout, and genuinely frightening at moments, but it didn't get under my skin as other classic horror films did and didn't really stay with me afterwards. Recommended none the less.
(recenzie in romana la un moment dat)

Imported Review: Drive (2011) from The New Yorker

[..]Naturally, the Driver lives alone. Down the hall is the apartment of Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). The Driver meets her and, against regulations, falls in love; at any rate, he cracks a smile, and twitches the toothpick that sits at the side of his mouth, so something must be stirring in his soul. The boy’s father, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is in jail, and, when he comes out, the Driver, far from showing hostility, befriends him, and offers assistance—a courtly, old-fashioned gesture, as though he lacked any better way of expressing his feelings for Irene. If Lancelot had lived next door to Guinevere, he would have done the same.[..]

Read more

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cambridge Film Festival 2011, Day 1

The Cambridge Film Festival has begun yesterday, and today I managed to view three films, one of which was for the festival magazine, Take One. (make sure to take one when it comes out)

I will try and keep a short festival diary on each of the 10 days, and hopefully will even manage to do it (at least on most days).

So here's today's:

12:30: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - as expected it was a very satisfying film, with a brilliant set of actors and a talented director (Let The Right One In's Thomas Alfredson). Let's just say I smell Oscars, aplenty.
(recenzia in romana urmeaza cat de curand)

15:00: Mann v. Ford - made for TV HBO documentary, interesting subject, unimpressive film. Review attached below.

17:45: Resistance - a war drama taking place in an alternative 1944 where D-Day has failed and the Germans have invaded Britain. In a small village in Wales all the men have suddenly disappeared to fight in the resistance, leaving the women under German occupation. Having nothing left home a German general wants to settle here, and tries to form a bond with a local woman, who cannot turn down the help he offers, but does not want to give up her husband. A subtle, slow drama with great performances, much in tone with Tinker, Tailor.... With Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen. UK release on November 25th, well worth seeing it.
(in romana, recenzie, cand am timp)

Mann v. Ford

It’s Erin Brockovich, the TV-documentary version, and that could be enough said.
This 2010 HBO documentary follows a community of Native Americans as they are trying to find justice after learning that the rainbow coloured sludge the Ford Motoring Company has dumped on their land during the 60’s is actually highly toxic, causing serious health problems to most inhabitants of the area.

The comparisons to the 2000 Julia Roberts drama don’t stop here, for on the horizon, as a crusader for these people ignored by the authorities, appears the rescuer, a spunky female lawyer looking like a middle-aged Barbie, complete with blonde hair, pink lipstick and matching figure. A southern accent, a go-to attitude and an optimistic determination make her an appealing character, as the film makers themselves must have noticed, considering the movie often seems to center more on her than the Indians themselves.

There is clearly enough and strong material for a moving movie and a deeper study about the carelessness of major companies about the effect some of their actions have on smaller communities, yet the filmmakers do not seem to be able to handle all this material effectively, the product never surpassing its ‘made for TV’ feel, and as for why it received a cinema release in the UK, remains, in this reviewers opinion, a mystery.
Throughout its course the movie retains a stubborn one-sidedness; victims are interviewed in a Church, the lawyers reinterpret anything said by the plaintiffs into an eloquent monologue, which in any court-room drama would stir calls of “Objections, they are leading the witness on”, and no opposing opinion is ever presented, these elements giving a pervading feeling of self-righteousness.

But as the toxic waste permeates into the ground beneath, the real emotional moments permeate the parade of victimization, and moments such as the one where one community member lists all those who have died or are suffering of cancer on a single street, nick-named “Cancer Row” (hint: nearly everybody) are truly gut-wrenching, and are the saving element of the film.

A David vs. Goliath story, if David would spend an hour and a half talking about how mean and ugly Goliath was and then skipped the fight to the aftermath.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sezon Terrence Malick: The Thin Red Line

Cum de l-am vazut?
Am avut noroc. Cand a iesit "The Tree of Life" cinematograful local a rulat si acest film. Nu stiam la ce sa ma astept, stiam ca e lung, stiam ca un film de razboi, pe de alta parte e Malick, deci stiam ca nu va fi un film obisnuit. Desi unele din filmele mele preferate sunt filme de razboi, genul in sine nu e in top, si fara o viziune originala filmele acestea mi se par degeaba. "The Thin Red Line" se bucura insa  de o receptie critica foarte buna, asa ca aveam sperante ridicate.

Mare parte din cele 170 minute ale filmului urmareste asaltul unui regiment de soldati americani a unui deal ocupat de Japonezi undeva in decursul Celui De-al Doilea Razboi Mondial. Dar desigur nu era cum sa fie o reprezentatie clasica a unei lupte. De fapt planurile, victoria sau esecul au putina relevanta. Filmul se concentreaza pe gandurile diversilor soldati prezentate prin voice-over.

Fata de "The Tree of Life" filmul de fata are un plot-line ceva mai linear si mai bine definit, dar asta pana intr-un punct, parand si el mai degraba ca o frunza in deriva pe un rau lent si plin de meandre, cu ocazionale parti mai rapide si violente.
Filmului ii lipseste un personaj central, oferind in schimb un lung sir de personaje; unele dintre care se leaga intre ele si apar recurent, pe cand altele au aparitii episodice fara a fi direct legate de celelalte.
Si da, asta la inceput e destul de derutant, fiind conditionati sa gasim un erou si sa tinem la el. Dar incetul cu incetul ne obisnuim cu aceasta metoda fractionara, mintea noastra facand loc pentru o poveste mai vasta decat cea a unui singur personaj.
Asa cum "The Tree of Life" incerca sa gaseasca raspunsuri la existenta prin intrebari foarte simple si prin imagini mai mult decat prin actiune, "The Thin Red Line" cauta raspunsuri despre natura omului, a binelui si a raului. Abordarea e directa, prin naratiunile lor, personajele pun intrebari directe, adresate publicului, lui Dumnezeu sau sinelui: "De ce atata distrugere?" "Unde e binele in oameni?" etc.
Nu e un stil usor de executat fara a parea complet patetic sau naiv. Prin cinematografia si imaginile minunate, prin determinarea si credinta sa adevarata in ceea ce ne arata Malick reuseste. Nu ai sentimentul ca vrea sa para profund filmul, ci iti da impresia unei sinceritati nestrumatate de copil.
Filmul e o ploaie de momente, unele linistite, unele de actiune, unele frumoase, altele groaznice. Si chiar daca nu e un fir narativ precis care sa le lege, acestea lasa o impresia puternica asupra psihicului.

Filmul e si o ploaie de talent actoricesc. Fiind primul proiect a lui Malick dupa o absenta de 19 ani, toata lumea a vrut sa fie implicat, motiv pentru care aproape fiecare rol, oricat de mic ar fi, e ocupat de un nume mare, sau daca numele nu e mare, talentul este sigur.
Rolurile mai preponderente (caci principale nu prea exista) sunt ocupate de Jim Caviezel, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte si Ben Chaplin. Dar pe langa acestia avem placerea de a-i vedea pe: Sean Penn, Jared Leto, Miranda Otto, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, Nick Stahl, John C. Reilly, John Savage, Tim Blake Nelson etc. Sa nu mai zicem ca Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Pullman, Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen, Martin Sheen si Mickey Rourke au filmat scene pentru film, dar acestea nu au putut fi incluse din cauza duratei deja extinse.

Alaturi de "Apocalypse Now" este unul din filmele care arata poezia razboiului, in gloria si hidosenia sa. O experienta care nu ar trebui evitata.

L-as mai vedea o data?
Probabil. Dar nu in curand. Nu e o vizionare pe care sa o poti repeta prea des.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Films as Tabloid Headlines: Guess the Title 2

Man disfigures himself after a botched suicide attempt. The man who tried to end his life by shooting himself in the head last night is believed to be connected or even the leader of the urban terrorist organization which, on the same night, has blown up several buildings containing credit card records.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Films as Tabloid Headlines: Guess the Title. 1

Tragedy strikes Verona City as two teenagers from wealthy rival families commit suicide after their love is forbidden.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Da stiu, ce plm a patit Woody Allen? S-a ramolit, o dat-o pe siropoase, isi injecteaza glucoza dimineata pe post de mic dejun, a devenit senil si acum isi neaga intreaga filosofie (vezi Cioran ), isi tradeaza inca o data orasul care l-a consacrat, New York, New York cu alt periplu pe batranul continent. Si deasupra tuturor, Owen fucking Wilson!

Ciocoflenderilor, sa stiti ca asta e un film care, de bine de rau, nu iti spune povestea din trailer, de fapt, trailerul nu trateaza absolut deloc miezul filmului si din acest motiv da impresia unei comedii gen "been there, done that" si astfel e pus pe raft. M-am dus la film ( da, am si dat bani pe el ) pentru simplul fapt ca regizorul e Woody Allen si refuzam sa cred ca o va face lata cu un astfel de film si daca era sa o faca lata, eram pregatit. Daca nu v-ati prins pana acum, nu a facut-o lata. Deloc.

Pentru prima oara chiar trebuie sa va spun in mare despre ce e vorba pentru ca e absolut necesar, cred eu si suficient, ca sa vedeti filmul. Ok, Gil (Owen Wilson) este un scenarist de succes, dar pe filme de duzina, care vrea sa-si incerce norocul la scrierea unui roman, insa creativitatea se pare ca nu e punctul lui forte. Ajunge cu viitoarea sotie Inez ( Rachel McAdams ) si cu parintii ei foarte bogati si tipic americani in Paris, unde Gil se indragosteste nebuneste de acest oras. Tot aici ei se intalnesc cu un alt cuplu, Paul&Carol (Michael Sheen & Nina Arianda), un cuplu de snobi clasici extraordinar de enervanti, mai ales Michael Sheen care joaca perfect rolul de tip caruia vrei sa-i dai un pumn in bijuterii numai ca sa taca odata, chiar foarte bine jucat. Ei bine, Gil isi gaseste scaparea intr-o plimbare nocturna de seara in care cum sta el frumos pe scarile unei biserici si bat clopotele de miezul noptii, o masina de epoca isi face aparitia cu oameni din anii '20 si il invita pe Gil la petrecerea la care merg. Si aici incepe distractia.

Gil este aruncat in Parisul anilor '20 unde isi intalneste idolii in Ernest Hemingway ( Corey Stoll, never heard, dar a fost foarte tare ), T.S. Elliot, Scott& Zelda Fitzgerald, cantaretul Cole Porter si muuuuulti multi altii dintre care amintim aparitii extrem de amuzante ale lui Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali ( Adrien Brody) cu suprarealistii lui Man Ray si Lluis Bunel s.a.

Apare si Marion Cotillard ca si love interest-ul lui Owen din perioada anilor '20, excelenta si ea poate nu prin rolul actoricesc care nu e foarte solicitant, dar naivitatea si senzualitatea jucate atat de natural si look-ul ei care oricum e mai retro si in viata reala, dau o autenticitate fantastica peisajului.

Owen Wilson, ca tre sa zicem si ceva de el, a fost ok, pe mine oricum ma dispera la culme, dar stilul sau de baietel stanjenit, balbait si incurcat se potriveste cu stilul lui Woody Allen, parca ar fi varianta blonda si mai tanara a lui, asa ca e ok, nu strica cu nimic filmul.

Totusi, desi eu am apreciat extrem de mult filmul, trebuie sa vii pregatit cu un bagaj de cultura generala destul de serios, erau personaje de care eu habar n-aveam cine erau si care era faza cu ei, desi tot radeai la glumele pe seama lor ca te prindeai, este un film pentru care nu-mi asum responsabilitatea in caz ca v-ati uitat si nu erati familiarizati cu artistii din Paris din perioada anilor '20 si La Belle Epoque ( de ce la belle epoque? uitati-va si veti vedea ). Filmul trateaza o tema foarte prezenta, cel putin in grupul meu de prieteni: "frate ce bine eram daca ne nasteam in anii '70 cand muzica era muzica" sau "bah daca nu ma nasteam in Romania" , la ultima remarca nu subscriu, insa filmul incearca sa te linisteasca in aceasta privinta intr-un mod foarte placut si reusit sa nu-ti mai faci atatea griji.

Concluzie: trebuie vazut, se desprinde dupa primele 10-15 minute de eticheta de comedie romantica cand iti dai seama de fapt ce se intampla, eu sigur il voi revedea cand va aparea un dvdrip. Daca ar fi sa-l rezum intr-o fraza: fata de comediile alea usoare la care te uiti si dupa 90 de minute ai ramas la fel de prost, "Midnight in Paris" parca iti deschide apetitul pentru arta, lucrurile simple in viata si cred ca iti mai ridica putin si cultura, sau cel putin iti da impresia (snobule).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

9 (2009)

La sugestia unuia dintre cititorii blogului care ne-a atras atentia ca ar fi frumos sa punem un review la "9", acel short fantastic si nominalizat la Oscar al lui Shane Acker, pe care Kolcs l-a postat mai de mult si care a devenit feature film. Kolcs ne anunta de pe atunci ca va fi facut si film, cu Tim Burton regizor, pana la urma Shane Acker a devenit regizorul si Tim Burton producer. Stati linistiti, se vede mana lui Tim Burton bine de tot (ma refer la figurat).
Cum video-ul din postul lui kolcs se pare ca a fost removed de NBC, am gasit alt link pe care sa vizionati short-ul pentru inceput:

Dupa cum se vede si in short sau chiar de pe poster pentru cei care nu vor sa vada short-ul, actiunea se petrece intr-o lume post-apocaliptica, lume in care oamenii nu mai exista, ci doar aceste "ragdolls" (nu stiu cum sa le zic pe romana) si niste masinarii, ambele facute de oameni, unele facute strict tehnic si pentru performanta, altele cu putin sufletul inventatorului, va prindeti care-i care. Ei bine si in lumea asta post-apocaliptica, 9 afla ca nu este singura papusica ( pentru ca daca era singura, ar fi fost cam boring pentru un feature film, ci mai sunt inca 8 papusele din astea, cu numere/nume de la 1-8 ). Din aceleasi motive de plictiseala a publicului, papusele sunt acuma inzestrate si cu darul vorbirii si nu orice voci, ci chiar Elijah Wood, Martin Landau, Crispin Clover, John C. Reilly Christopher Plummer si Jennifer Connolly. Puncte in plus pentru marketing, nu? Na si toate cele 9 papusele se bat cu masinariile astea in niste scene de actiune chiar reusite pentru a stabili care are aia mai mare neoficial, oficial masinariile extrag sufletul din papusele alea pentru binele lor ( vezi clasica lupta man against machine ).

Dar nu asta e important, vocile, cat de talentati or fi actorii astia, dar nu m-au impresionat cu nimic, povestea in sine din nou nu prea are substanta. Dar grafica, of, grafica este absolut superba !!! Superba am zis! Nivelul de detaliu, grija pentru personajele nou aparute fata de short, inventivitatea de care au dat dovada artistii in creearea lor, gama larga de decoruri, de la peisaje distopice (inspirate se pare din Viena de dupa razboi ) la reprezentari de catedrale ( e chiar catedrala Notre Dame pentru cei pasionati de trivia ) pana la vile renascentiste injectate cand cu o atmosfera sumbra, cand cu una calda, relaxanta si impozanta. Mai jos am pregatit posterele cu fiecare din cele 9 ragdolls sa va faceti o idee de grafica lor:

Daca tot suntem la un film de animatie, grafic cu multa arta in el, mi-am permis sa fac post-ul ca un colaj de postere, chestii luate de pe ici pe colo ca sa adun de un review care s-a oprit din scris despre jocul actoricesc si firul narativ de ceva vreme si se va concentra de acum incolo pe artwork, character concept si alte chestii interesante, care nu sunt destul de bine constientizate de publicul larg ca elemente indispensabile unui film de animatie. Continuam colajul cu un copy-paste despre conceptul fiecarui personaj in parte. Aici veti citi lucruri pe care chiar si dupa ce va uitati la film, veti descoperi lucruri noi ( Warning: spoiler alert! mai bine cititi asta dupa ce ati vazut filmul sau daca oricum nu va uitati la el, dati-i drumul ) :

  • The Scientist (Alan Oppenheimer) An inventor who created the B.R.A.I.N. at the request of his nation's leader; thinking it was going to an instrument of progress. The machine was easily corrupted and turned against the mankind. The Scientist promptly renounced the Chancellor and joined the rebellion. He created the nine creations in an attempt to thwart the corrupt and warlike B.R.A.I.N. He hoped they would continue the spark of life. Each of his creations contains a portion of his soul, embodying his qualities and his flaws. He used the Talisman to transfer his soul and supply each with life.
  • 9 (Elijah Wood) is the hero and the Humanity of the Scientist. 9 is goodhearted, thoughtful, and sincere. He is willing to risk his life to save others and is very intelligent. He embodies the scientist's bravery and courage. He seeks the truth and wishes to know the meaning of life, though can act without considering consequences. He often clashes with 1 about keeping hidden. His burlap skin is fastened by a zipper running down his torso.
  • 8 (Fred Tatasciore) is the Bully of the Scientist. He wields a kitchen cleaver as his weapon. 8 wears shoulder-pad armor made with pieces of a carbide-tipped circular saw blade tied together. He is a weapons master and also the least intelligent. He is 1's bodyguard and right hand man. His skin is fastened by three belt buckles on his chest. He likes getting inebriated, as shown by his affinity for magnets, which have the same effect on a creation that marijuana would have on a human.
  • 7 (Jennifer Connelly) is the Warrior. She is the only female creation and 9's love interest. A rebel and a loner, she is willing to take many risks for the good of her people. She is kind and caring, especially towards 3 and 4. Her canvas' color has been bleached away by the sun, leaving her a pale white. She uses a blade mounted on a long staff for fighting, and wears a helmet made from a dead bird's skull, as well as two bird feathers hanging down her back, covering her scar that distorts her number.
  • 6 (Crispin Glover) is the Artist. 6's fingers are ink pen nibs, which he uses to draw. He is white, covered in faded black stripes; his hair is made of ropes and is ink-stained, like much of his body; and his right eye is smaller than his left. He wears a key around his neck, but no one knows to what. The Scientist described him as being peculiar and unable to naturally fit in to his surroundings, and that he sees the world differently from the others. 6 is preoccupied with finding the Source, and only 9 listens to him. On the DVD, under the Deleted Scenes, it is shown that his key is used to open a secret compartment in the box containing the Scientist's message for 9, which plays a music box lullaby.
  • 5 (John C. Reilly) is the healer. He takes sundry parts and makes them work together. He fixes the injuries of the other creations. 5 is caring, nurturing, and the loyal, bighearted "common man" who always tries to play the peacemaker. He is a diligent worker, a meek spirit, and a devoted friend to his people. He is missing his left eye, instead wearing a leather plate. The Scientist remarked that 5 was the first of his creations not to run off or explore the workshop, instead staying by his creator. He has two buttons on his torso.
  • 3 and 4 are twins, and the group's historians. They are unable to speak, instead using flickering lights in their eyes to communicate with each other and show documentaries or photographs to the others. They instinctively hide at the sight of danger. Both wear corduroy hoods made of gardening gloves. They are both very scholarly, voraciously cataloging everything they encounter, building a massive database of their world and its history. There has been much dispute over their genders due to their lack of voice actors and tiny androgynous appearance.
  • 2 (Martin Landau) is a kind, delicate, old inventor. He is fascinated by garbage, and loves to explore the wastelands and look for spare parts. He is not in very good shape, always walking with a cane, and uses a lorgnette attached to his stovepipe top hat as a pair of glasses. The Scientist wrote that after 2's creation, 2 began tinkering with the spare parts in the workshop. 2's part leather, part burlap skin is fastened with many knotted strings. Shane Acker affectionately described him as a "salty old sea dog".
  • 1 (Christopher Plummer) is the traditionalist and the oldest creation. He is extremely clever and intelligent, but also domineering, irritable, quick-tempered, and reluctant to trust new ideas. The Scientist described 1 as struggling to get out of his hands right after his creation. 1 wants to protect the group, but he sees the world only through extremely strict rules. 1 wears a cylinder-shaped hat that is adorned with a one pence coin. He also wears a red cape fastened with a red-purple gemstone, and carries a broken pen topped with a small bell that he uses as a scepter. He is more roughly created than the others.
  • The Cat Beast is the first machine that 9 encounters. It has a cat skull and a red mechanical eye in its left socket and a light bulb in its right, which it uses to see in the dark. In the short film which the movie is based, the cat was the main antagonist. Its design is based on a cat and a monkey.
  • The Fabrication Machine/B.R.A.I.N. is the machine that built all the other machines, and was created by the Scientist for the Chancellor to be a machine of "progress". It has all the Scientist's intelligence but none of his soul, and so does not know right from wrong. It was extremely easy for it to be corrupted by the Chancellor, causing it to hold a grudge against humanity, and it created an army of war machines that wiped out the human race. It is powered by the souls captured with the Talisman. The Fabrication Machine was based upon a hanging spider in one of Vincent Price's poems and a cyclops in Greek mythology.
  • The Winged Beast is a pterodactyl-like machine with knives and scissors for a mouth and a harpoon for its tail.
  • The Seamstress is a snake/spider robot with a broken doll's head and 2's corpse sewn onto her tail. She flashes light through 2's eyes to hypnotize her victims, and then wraps them up in red thread. In one of the documentaries on the DVD, the Seamstress is referred to as 'she' and 'her', implying that the Seamstress is female.
Ziceam la inceput de "mana lui Tim Burton". Dupa ce ati vazut cele 9 papusi banuiesc ca ati ghicit,nu? Linii, pete, chestii alb-negru, figura ciudata, un ochi mai mic ca si celalalt, outsider... numarul 6, nu?
Shane Acker si Tim Burton au dus estetica uratului la un alt nivel. Este incredibil cat de frumoase sunt niste papusi, care la origine sunt niste carpituri de fapt ( 3 si 4 sunt inspirate dupa niste perechi de manusi de gradina ) si ei impreuna cu echipa lor reusesc sa le inzestreze o frumusete de mai ca mi-as dori sa am vreuna din ele acasa ( pe cine pacalesc, as da bani sa-l am pe 6 ).
Inca un lucru trebuie mentionat, acest film desi este de animatie, e al dracu de violent, pe bune, chiar sunt niste scene care te lasa putin cu rasuflarea taiata, ca sa nu mai zic de masinariile alea care sunt creepy ca dracu. Uitati-va mai jos mai puteti uita vreodata la capul unei papusi de portelan fara sa va ganditi la creatura asta?
In final va voi lasa cu ceva concepte grafice ale personajelor si detaliile acordate texturii, componentelor si functiunile lor. As spune despre film ca este o delectare grafica incredibila, nu va preocupati cu povestea, e ok, dar nu ceva spectaculos. Ronnie, cel care mi-a zis sa fac review la "9" zicea ca Rango si 9 sunt cele mai bune animatii care le-a vazut de ceva vreme. Grafic, da, insa Rango e tare si la dialog si la poveste.

Famous Objects from Classic Movies

In categoria lui marqui cu "one thing led to another", cautam chestii de design pentru make-over-ul care il va primi in curand blogul, am dat peste acest al naibii de contagios joc, care poate unii dintre tovarasii nostri cinefili l-au experimentat, daca nu, inseamna ca nu v-ati trait viata pana acum. Ma numar si eu printre ei. Distractie placuta! Iar pentru cei care au facebook, comparati-va rezultatele ;)

P.S. Am uitat sa zic ca jocul e ca un hangman, deci incercati sa bagati litere ca sa va prindeti despre ce film e vorba. Dar sunteti copii destepti, sigur v-ati prins :D