Archive for June, 2012

Hard to put ‘Chico & Rita’ is an a category and this is a testimony of the fact that animated movies, even those that are created in the ‘classical’ 2-D format like this one transcend nowadays genres and express more and more different emotions and messages. Walt Disney (the guy who authored Fantasia) would have been delighted. ‘Chico & Rita’ is a musical (with wonderful Cuban and jazz music), a melodrama, and a political film. All packaged in a beautiful and colorful wrapping which makes it a pleasure to watch and listen to.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235830/

 

I should say that the animation is not the best side of the film, and probably stills look better than the movie itself. In the epoch when so many animation tools are available at the cost of a laptop accessible to any college student this may have been an intentional decision. On the contrary, a lot of effort was deployed into reconstituting the time and the places of the action – the Havana of the 1940s and 50s and in present times, the New York and the Las Vegas (and for a few sequences the Paris) of the clubs where some of the best music ever was created by such giants as Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker or Duke Ellington.

 

(video source Andalucia1960)

(video source lilianasuarezt)

 

The film is also a pseudo-biography, but here we need to be careful. The torrid love story between the pianist Chico and the singer Rita, which starts in the Cuba of the last decade before the Communist take-over and continues tracking them while they try to make their way in the US of the 50s may be loosely based on the characters of two real time musicians (Bebo Valdes who actually wrote the original music in the film and Rita Montaner who was the star of the Tropicana club in Havana and then had a short but spectacular career in the US). However the real life paths of the two were different than the ones described in the film, Bebo Valdes lived after 1960 out of Cuba, while Rita Montaner died in 1958.

 

(video source trailers)

(video source GKIDSFilms)

(video source GuardianMusic)

 

To some extent the ‘Chico & Rita’ reminded me the wonderful Israeli animated film ‘Waltz with Bashir’ by Ari Folman. As there, at some point in time I lost the difference between film with actors and animation and I completely immersed in the story (and the music in this case). ‘Chico & Rita’ also tries to tell a story that is human, but also has a strong political message. Beyond the world-wide success in the last 10-15 years of the Cuban musicians lies a more complex and sometimes tragical story of the sparkling culture of music, entrainment, night life that was put on freeze or sent in exile for many decades by the Communist regime in Cuba. It was rediscovered starting with the 90s when Cuba slowly started to re-open to the world, but how many destinies of musicians were cut short or annihilated in these years. The true story of those years is yet to be told, written and brought to screens. It is important is that the music survived and is now back for anyone to enjoy, including those who will see this movie.

 

La 56 de ani Marta Petreu beneficiaza deja la Editura Polirom de una dintre cele mai neobisnuite serii de autor. Primele trei carti publicate in 2011 apartin fiecare unui gen diferit. ‘Apocalipsa dupa Marta’ aduna poemele uneia dintre cele mai originale voci care si-au facut debutul in poezie in anii 80. ‘Cioran sau un trecut deochiat’ o reprezinta pe Matra Petreu in postura ei de filosof si istoric al culturii, ocupandu-se de tineretea unuia dintre personajele cele mai disputate ale secolului 20 al culturii romanesti, in perioada preferata a cercetarilor sale (a scris carti si despre Ionesco si despre Sebastian din acea perioada,  fiecare dintre ele si pasionanta si sursa de polemici). Tripletul este completat de acest roman puternic, original, incomod si neobisnuit, cu un titlu care il plaseaza de la inceput in spatiul miturilor de sorginte biblica. Cel putin in aparenta, caci Armaghedonul Martei Petreu se dovedeste celor care ii vor citi cartea a se afla in alta parte decat il vor banui dupa lectura primelor zeci de pagini.

Romanul incepe cu o inmormantare. Este inmormantarea mamei povestitoarei, si anul este 2010. De aici incepe povestea vietii Micai, vaduva lui Ticu. Aceste diminutive duioase ascund insa foarte putina afectiune declarata si foarte multa tragedie. Povestirea descrie doua generatii din viata unei familii dintr-un sat ardelenesc din apropierea Clujului. Doua generatii dintr-o perioada care cuprinde razboiul, perioada comunista, dezolanta tranzitie. Locul in care are loc cea mai mare parte din actiune este descris in termeni aproape biblici: ‘… nu exista peisaj mai trist decat Cimpia Transilvaniei, toamna. Pe platoul larg dintre Somes si Valea Saratii, intre Maratori si Piriul Piglisei, Cutca se lateste spre cer ca o sopirla mare. Vazuta de sus, asezarea are forma unei cruci piezise. ‘ (pag. 175). Presimtirea Apocalipsei, prezenta anticamerelor ei este pretudindeni. Majoritatea locuitorilor satului sunt pocaiti, Strajeri ai lui Iehova. La cedarea vremelnica a Ardealului de Nord unul dintre personaje spune: ‘Nu e nici un pericol. Dumnezeu ne dau un semn ca timpurile sint aproape. Vine Imparatia lui Dumnezau. Stiam, nu mai e mult si vine Apocalipsa. Sint semne in cer si semne pe pamint.’ (pag. 49) Realismul istoric si social al romanului ardelenesc se intalneste cu realismul fantastic. 70 de ani mai tarziu: ‘Ploile pornite deodata cu moartea lui Mica nu s-au mai oprit, nu sase saptamini, cum am prevestit eu, ci noua, zece, poate mai multe. Ploua si nu se mai oprea, de s-au revarsat riurile in cele mai mari inundatii care au lovit tara.’ (pag. 55).

 

sursa http://www.bestseller.md/carti/fictiune/acasa-pe-campia-armaghedonului-marta-petreu.html

 

Figurile puternice, memorabile, ale lui Mica si Ticu strabat acesti 70 de ani de istorie cu stoicismul si indarjirea specifica ardelenilor, cei din realitate si cei din literatura. Mica, cea crescuta pentru o vreme la greco-catolicii din Cluj, isi vede repede spulberata o poveste de dragoste fara sansa de implinire, se marita cu cel impus de familie, si se devine o mama care lasa putin sa se intrevada din vreun sentiment pozitiv fata de cei trei copii ai sai. Si totusi educatia nu este lipsita de o demnitate iesita din comun: ‘Dupa parerea ei, nimeni pe lume nu este destul de vrednic sa vada lacrimile ei si ale copiilor ei. Sentimentele nu trebuie aratate, asa ne-a invatat Mica – si ne-a crescut verticali ca lemnele si fara dreptul de lacrimi cu martori.’ (pag. 15). Tatal urmeaza calea pocairii si religia devine componenta principala a vietii sale. ‘Sub un cer de cenusa care isi cernea sumbra lui lumina asupra pamintului, in iarna uscata a anului 1954, Augustin, barbatul uscativ de numai treizeci si trei de ani, s-a pocait: s-a convertit la religia adevarata si-a intrat in Poporul de Legamint … Noul regim, care ameninta ca le ia tot ce au si-i baga in colectiva, era, s-a gindit el, un semn ca timpurile se aproprie de sfirsit. Hotarit, si-a spus el, socrul sau, Indrei, are dreptate, cei sase mii de ani ai lumii se vor termina in curind. prea s-a intins domnia Satanei. O chinga de fier si cenusa inconjura lumea si o stringea intr-o imbratisare zvircolita.’ (pag. 87)

Schisma religioasa, una dintre multele care au fragmentat istoria Ardealului este concentrata in cartea Martei Petreu in microcosmosul familiei. Barbatul care o iubise pe femeia care nu-l dorise pe el, ci pe rivalul sau sarac, devine un ascet si propovaduitor al unei drepte credinte. Ea ramane adepta religiei dobandite la oras, dar in ascuns, caci respectul aparentelor controleaza cel putin la suprafata comportamentul. Atmosfera de tensiune este perceputa amplificat de catre copii. ‘Era razboiul zilei celei mari dinaintea scufundarii pentru vecie a lumii acesteia. Da, era lunga bataalie dintre armatele vrajmase, exact cum ne tot spunea Ticu. Era crincenul razboi al sfirsitului, Armaghedonul adevarat de pe Cimpia Armaghedonului. Si trecea chiar prin mijlocul casei noastre.’ (pag. 150)

 

sursa http://ziuadecj.realitatea.net/cultura/e-oficial-marta-petreu-a-devenit-un-clasic-in-viata--65188.html

 

De aici poate rezulta si unul dintre putinele motive de insatisfactie rezultate din lectura acestei carti. In toata prima jumatate a lecturii am avut senzatia ca tin in mana unul dintre romanele ultimative care descriu Romania postbelica pana in ziua de astazi. Acuitatea observatiei sociale, claritatea judecatilor politice si religioase, personajele puternice descrise pe fundalul unei lumi care se razvrateste contra nefirestilor schimbari care ii sunt impuse lasa locul in a doua jumatate a cartii conflictului de familie si incercarii de a-i absolvi pe eroii principali de vinile morale in primul rand fata de ei insisi, si apoi fata de cei foarte apropiati. Nu neg insa ca este posibil ca alti cititori tocmai in aceasta deplasare a interesului spre planul personal si memorialistic sa gaseasca esenta cartii si placerea lecturii.

Relatiile dintre personaje descrise in ultima suta de pagini sunt uneori de o cruzime apropiata de naturalism. Cand Marta Petreu a luat premiul Romaniei Literare pentru Cartea Anului 2011 ea declara http://www.romlit.ro/premiul_romaniei_literare_cartea_anului_2011_-_acas_pe_cmpia_armaghedonului_de_marta_petreu: „Am scris repede această carte, în vreo 42 de zile. Am scris-o pentru că am vrut ca oamenii despre care vorbesc în carte să primească din partea mea cantitatea de nemurire pe care pot eu să le-o dau plasându-i pe cerul literaturii române”. Elementul autobiografic pune parca si mai mult in evidenta abisalitatea relatiilor intre personaje. Mama ii blestema la propriu pe cei trei copii nascuti din casnicia fara iubire, iar acestia incep sa creada ca toate nenorocirile anilor vrajmasi de la sfarsitul comunismului si de la inceputul ‘tranzitiei’ se datoreaza acestor blesteme. Suntem, sa nu uitam, in teritoriul care imbina duritatea vietii si caracterelor ardelenesti cu magia Bibliei, dar o magie neagra, prevestitoare de Apocalipse. Iata parafraza celebrului inceput al ‘Anei Karenina’: ‘Orice familie are o puzderie de secrete meschine, sordide, prin care fiecare membru al ei poate fi facut de minune. Secrete prin care familia supravietuieste, dar pe care, daca sunt descoperite, in mindrele vremuri de teroare socialist-comunista, cineva le plateste: facind puscarie de exemplu.‘ (pag. 251).

Doar spre final capata claritate relatia intre mama si fiica, doar atunci, poate dupa scrierea cartii, se limpezesc si sentimentele scriitoarei. ‘Dupa moartea ei, am recitit Biblia. Pentru ea. Pentru ca intotdeauna am crezut ca a facut un pacat mare cind ne-a blestemat. Am aflat ca m-am inselat, ca exista interdictia biblica pentru copii de a ridica mina si glasul contra parintilor si ca exista dreptul parintilor de a-si binecuvinta sau de a-si blestema fiii. Pe noi, Mamica ne-a blestemat… Prea tirziu, dupa o mare suferinta, cind nu mai esti aproape nimic, ajungi sa-i iubesti pe ai tai exact asa cum sint ei. Cum au fost. Cu Apocalipsa si blestemele lor cu tot. Si e tirziu. Si-atunci ai vrea ca Dumnezeu sa existe, si viata de Apoi sa existe de asemenea, numai sa poti sa-i mai intilnesti si sa le spui, chiar si cu pretul de a muri, ca-i iubesti exact asa cum sint ei. Cum au fost.’ (pag. 321-322).

Frumoasa, suprema declaratie de dragoste.

Am citat mult din aceasta carte scrisa frumos si interesant, aspra si ne-lejera la citit. Sunt interesante si pasajele in care limbajul eroilor este preluat in transcriere fonetizanta, si vocabularul aproape solicita pentru bucuresteni ca mine folosirea unui dictionar explicativ al romanei ardelenesti. Cateva neglijente stilistice, mai ales repetitii (o fraza repetata identic de exemplu in paginile 17 si 175, prea frumoasa pentru a fi omisa atrage atentia cititorului atent) cred ca ar fi bine sa fie corectate la o viitoare editie. Intrebarea ramane daca timpul pe care Marta Petreu si-l imparte intre diversele genuri literare, cercetarile si studiile de istoric si filosof ii va permite sa continue cariera de romancier. Intrebarea colaterala este daca iesind din spatiul memorialistic va gasi in ea insasi destula inspiratie si imaginatie pentru fictiune mai putin personala. De dovedit ca este un romancier profund si de calitate nu mai este insa nevoie.

 

 

All the characters in Emanuele Crialese‘s Terraferma are in search of the solid ground, for safety, for the certainty of tomorrow. And yet, nothing seems to be solid in their destinies. The story happens on a small island near the bigger island of Sicily, an area of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The local community sees its traditional economy based on fishing threatened, its mode of life based on honor and the rough justice of the sea threatened by everything around – decaying fishing crops, invading tourists, the dissolution of the moral fabric of the local society. And then an apparently bigger threat comes as desperate African boat immigrants start showing up at the shores, after having risked their lives in the stormy seas, flying in despair the devastated continent of their birth.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1641410/

 

I am not sure if the programming of this film together with the French ‘Intouchables’ was a coincidence. Both films deal with the problem of the African refugees seen as a symbol of the different people of different cultures trying to enter the Old Continent, same as repeated waves of immigration have stormed its gates all along the history. The same thing happens today in my country, and there are no easy responses, not on what concerns the clash of cultures and mentalities, not on the political or economic planes, and not on the human one. The shared message of the two films with their very different stories told in very different registers is that human beings can find their resources and show solidarity at moments of maximal crisis.

 

(video source FashionTimesMagazine)

 

Despite the story line which is a little too expected and simplistic ‘Terraferma’ succeeds to create emotion, with a few direct and well directed scenes. The story is a coming to age and an Italian family drama in the good Italian tradition to the same extent that it is an immigrant drama. The film is also beautifully filmed, the director and the cameraman obviously love the sea and the landscape of the Mediterranean and make the best of these in a few sequences to remember. With good acting and a message that is fundamentally optimistic in its trust of the capacity of men staying human in the most adverse situationsthe rather anonymous  ‘Terraferma’ did not fall much behind the ‘Intouchables’ which was one of the most successful films in the history of the French cinema.

 

In the year when The Artist dominated the Oscars and achieved international success and recognition, it was a very different kind of a film that dominated the French box office. This film is ‘Intouchables’ and the one of good reasons of its success is that it deals with a problem that seems to be universally actual but especially painful nowadays in Europe and France specifically – the relation between the ‘native’ Europeans and the immigrants who migrate to the Old Continent in search of its freedom and chances of finding here prosperity and escaping the hardships and in many cases the prosecution at home. This encounter is an encounter of cultures and styles of life, which puts to prove everybody’s capability to accept the differences and to live aside or even create stronger relationships despite the differences.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1675434/

 

The two principal characters of the film have each a strong handicap but also other strong points. Philippe (the excellent Francois Cluzet) is quadriplegic condemned to life in a wheelchair following an accident, but he has a wide culture and expecially a lot of money which allow him to afford not only treatments, people to serve him at ease, living in a palace in the center of Paris, and flying on private jets to any place in the world at any time. Driss (Omar Sy) posses nothing and lives a life of a semi-criminal and semi-homeless, but he is young, strong, and has a natural goodness and common sense of the street. The two meet and complement each other, help each other with what the other is missing or has lost, but this is possible because the two share also the will to live, the taste of the extreme, and especially humor. The two directors of ‘Intouchables’ Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano made of this film a feel-good story that tries to pass in a comic and easy way a strong message that the differences can be bridged when and where we can look at the people near us, find their strong and good parts and offer ours to them to overcome the lower moments in life.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsPHXVnt27g

(video source trailers)

 

The film is inspired by true people and by a true story, and here is where I feel a little bit cheated. I feel cheated because if this fact was not so visibly emphasized I would have criticized the film for being to idealistic, its characters too good to each other, differences and situations solved too easily, in other words I would have said that this looks too much like an idealized Hollywood story. Should I risk to do it now? Say that for example if Philippe was not so extremely rich to buy his entourage and way out of any situation by taking another fine meal or private jet flight this maybe would not be the same story. Or say that the final story with the anonymous girlfriend brought up at the exact place by the sea (Normandie?) where the two end to run seems too much like a movie-style ‘deux-ex-machina’ exercise? Or ask practical questions like who help Philippe take food or drinks to his mouth at that encounter? I would be ridiculous, as this is inspired from real life and characters, and all or some may be true. So I will just take the risk of saying that the approach to a very serious problem seems to be a little too idealized, but that overall that is a good feeling movie worth being seen, as there is nothing wrong to feel good even at films dealing with serious subjects.