Archive for January, 2013

The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center (or the Opera House as it is popularly known) has a very solid dance program each season which brings every year to Tel Aviv most of the best ballet and modern dance companies world-wide. We used to be subscribed for a few years to the series, but the lack of time pressed us into giving up and attending only occasionally the ballet performances here or in other places in Israel. This time we changed the tickets to a cancelled opera performance for what was probably one of the picks of the ballet (actually modern dance) season this year.




Deborah Colker was born in Brazil in 1960, she started her own company named now Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker in 1993. The style she developed is based on the celebration of the human body and on the artistic and acrobatic skills of her dancers. Some of the more recent performances show more sophistication in combining music, dance and stage accessories that amplify and enhance the efforts of the dancers. It’s no coincidence if the style reminds Cirque du Soleil, as Deborah created one of the most recent performance of that company.


(video source Cia Deborah Colker)


The program brought to the Israeli audiences is named Mix and brings together parts of the two first shows of the company created in 1994-1995. Six different pieces with a duration of around 10 minutes each deal with the relations between the human body and the environment, between men and machines, and between couples. The most daring piece and the one that will be remembered by all audiences who have seen the show is is the final one, which is danced on a vertical plane, creating a very special experience for dancers and viewers and challenging the sportive skills of the dancers. I have seen the idea perfected in the Cirque du Soleil’s ‘K’ show one decade after this program was created, and it seems that Deborah Colker really pioneered an idea that is still striking and daring even today.

The dancers gave last night a fantastic show, and even if the acrobatic thrills in some places seemed to prevail over the artistic emotions there can be no doubt about their dedication to the art they are making, and about their passion (and the evident pleasure of the leader of the company who showed up on stage at the end to thank the audiences) to dance and to be here. A great evening of modern dance.

Once the future was projected in movies as a colorful and peaceful environment, where most of the human challenges will come from encounters with other civilizations and the confrontation with humanity’s own thirst in discovering the Universe and breaking all its frontiers. Then the dark political fiction interfered, as movies like 1984 and Brazil brought up to screen the social nightmares  of a world dominated by totalitarianism. Nowadays almost all movies that deal with the future seem to be dark dystopias that describe the planet after some kind of atomic, biological or ecological apocalypse, or in the best case a society that became some kind of Orwellian nightmare. Director Rian Johnson‘s Looper is no exception, as the world of 2044 or 2074 in the film is dominated by violence, human life has lower price than ever, and the technology progress did not bring to mankind any happiness (neither cleaner streets). Time travel was invented but quickly forbidden, as organized crime took over, and as with any forbidden substance or weapon it is the mafia that controls the illegal trade.




‘Loopers’ are paid killers whose mission is to execute in cold blood in the year 2044 the victims targeted by the mob of 2074 to die. The trick and the trigger of the story is that 30 years later it may be decided that the looper is the one to die, and then if the sentence is not put in action a loop is created. Loopers are not allowed to feel any mercy, not even to their own self in the future. The smart script of this film, one of the smartest that I have seen lately avoids with the twist of a sentence the hard questions asked when the two instances of the same paid killer (Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meet in one of the scenes that is hard to forget for anybody who saw the film. ‘Too complicated, let us not enter the details’. And if details are left apart, this story works perfectly, and the ending makes a lot of sense in a story which could easily get too complicated and too hard to follow.


(video source SonyPictures)


It’s hard to tell from this film that writer and director Rian Johnson is almost a newcomer in the world of Hollywood. Not only the pace of the film is perfectly tuned accelerating and slowing as the story demands, and the cinematography choices he made seem efficient and the story and dialogs create the atmosphere of distrust that lets the viewer ask all the time what is meant by the sequence he watches and what comes next, without explaining things too early or too late – there is also something in the realistic style he picks that makes the story credible and the characters resonate with viewers despite the unusual situations they are facing. Bruce Willis proves once more that he is much more than an action hero actor (although the fans of Die Hard will find here a few scenes that will remind them their beloved character), Joseph Gordon-Levitt approaches the role with a self-confidence and a palette of nuances that makes me believe that we may have in him another megastar of tomorrow,  while Emily Blunt confirms the good vibrations I felt watching her in The Adjustment Bureau. Looper is a more than satisfying action thriller, it is one of the best written, directed and acted films I have seen in the last year.

It is seldom that Hollywood gets it right when it comes to describing the realities of the world we live in, and especially when the relation between the American policies and the rest of the world are concerned. Director Paul Greegrass‘s ‘Green Zone’ comes however closer than many other films of the genre, maybe with the exception of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. ‘Green Zone’ – which makes no claim of being based on true facts but looks and feels much closer to truth than many other movies that do – is both a very efficient thriller as well as a political statement.




Officer Miller (Matt Damon , Greengrass’s lead actor in the Bounty movies) is one of the many people the United States sent under uniform to fight for a war that history still needs to decide if it was a right or a wrong war, but almost everybody nowadays agrees that it started for the wrong reasons. The story focuses on the weeks and months after the American victory over Sadam Hussein, the search for WMDs, the decisions (which now we know were wrong) to discharge the whole Iraqi army and political structure and build from zero a democracy in Iraq. Not only is the disconnect between the theories of the American politicians and commanders and realities in the field complete, but the gap is also filled with lies and disinformation. Miller is the typical American hero trying to do the right thing, but doing the right thing in the wrong situation soon puts him in the situation to go rogue and fight his own side’s political and military mechanisms which at least in part are involved into supplying the high political echelons with the information that they want to hear. Of course, there is another side to this war, and the film has the quality of providing an image of that side which is far from the stereotypes. The Iraqi general trying to provide the true information to the American and reach a compromise, as well as the ‘collaborator’ who has his own personal motivation in the suffering he went through under Sadam are both credible and human, supported by excellent actors (Yigal Naor, Khalid Abdalla) in the supporting roles. The key phrase of the film which one of the characters tells the American officer resumes better than many other sources the logic (if there is a logic in such situations) of what happened in Iraq in these times – ‘It is not for you to decide what happens here’


(video source  PearlandDean)


The other very good part of the film is the way the Iraq of the first months of the American occupation is being filmed. In many moments it reminded me post-apocalyptic movies. The country looks like scorched land, populated by the hungry and thirsty phantoms of the defeated local population and by the high-tech silhouettes of the conquerors who seem at the same time to belong to another world but also end by being covered by the same dust and prey to the same basic human fears. Greengrass is very efficient in filming action and a quite complex intrigue ends by being clear and catching, and the actions scenes make sense and belong to the logic of the film.  The story of the Iraq war is far from being fully written or brought to screen, but when later things will get summed ‘Green Zone’ may be viewed as one well drawn piece of the puzzle.

In Zilele Regelui (Editura Poliron, colectia fiction ltd, 2008) Filip Florian abordeaza o perioada din istoria Romaniei care este aproape Terra incognita. Este vorba despre perioada venirii in tara a principelui strain Karl Ludwig de Hohenzollern, si despre anii in care Romania incepe procesul de modernizare accelerata, de transformare a structurilor sociale si creare a celor politice impreuna cu institutiile statului modern in devenire. Este o perioada nu numai de mari schimbari, ci si de mari pasiuni, de conflicte politice, de clasa si personale, ale caror intensitate a facut ca multa vreme abordarea epocii sa fie dificila si pentru istorici, nu numai pentru scriitori. Principele insusi in carne si oase si cu slabiciunile sale trupesti si omenesti este personaj al cartii, dar dimensiunea sa istorica domina intreaga naratiune. Pe de o parte avem de a face cu locotenentul prusac pe care concursul de imprejurari il aduce pe tronul principatelor in partea opusa (geografic, cultural) a Europei decat cea a nasterii sale, cu dilemele, nesiguranta, timiditatea si durerile sale de dinti, pe de alta parte el este Principele care declanseaza imensele schimbari ale perioadei in care se desfasoara actiunea cartii.

Peronajele principale si naratorii actiunii sunt dentistul Joseph Strauss pe care principele il invita sa-l insoteasca in calatoria in noua sa tara si … motanul acestuia Siegfried. Despre prezenta motanului in poveste si ca povestitor se poate comenta in mai multe feluri, eu l-am vazut ca pe o voce alternativa care incearca sa dea o dimensiune in plus naratiunii, pe de o parte fantastica, pe de alta putin comica, si el va fi si cheia finalului oarecum ‘hollywoodean’ al cartii in care am sesizat din nou o nuanta de ironie dar si dorinta de a rezolva povestea intr-un happy-end. Caci finalul este de fapt inceputul ‘zilelor regelui’ adica incoronarea principelui si inceputul domniei lui Carol I, rege al Romaniei independente, si pacat ar fi fost ca personajele principale – dentistul Joseph si sotia sa, sarboaica Elena – sa nu se regaseasca in rezonanta cu bucuria momentului. In general tonul cartii lui Filip Florian este mult mai pozitiv si mai optimist decat majoritatea celorlalte carti scrise in ultimii ani in literatura romana contemporana.




Prima parte a Zilelor regelui se ocupa in mare masura cu socul cultural al personajelor la intalnirea cu tara in devenire de la extremitatea de nord a Balcanilor. Deoarece Karl Ludwig nu este eroul principal al cartii, scriitorul pare sa fi ales sa descrie socul intalnit de acesta la contactul cu noua tara prin intermediul devotatului sau dentist, de origine nationala identica cu a principelui. Ajuns in capitala principatelor Joseph invata la o bere sau la mai multe, de la conationalii sai care l-au precedat despre  obiceiurile locului:

‘La prima halba, poate si la a doua, Joseph a ascultat si a priceput cum se facea politica la Bucuresci, cum se fura pina nu mai ramasese nimic de luat, cum nu putini, visind la tron, sperau ca principele Karl sa obtina un imprumut insemnat si strain, sa umple visteria, apoi sa se intoarca in tara lui. La halba a treia, sorbind mai potolit, au vorbit despre cum putea fi invatata romana, o limba suierata, indulcita de vocale ca de sirop, care nu semana deloc cu limba lor.’ (pag. 45)

Viitorul rege insusi incepe sa fie confruntat cu realitatile tarii pe tronul careia ajunsese:

‘Si mai exista o cifra. Posaca. 8000. Atitia oameni numara armata aceea de vodevil. In rest, pe masura ce cunoscuse locuri si fapte, cercetind mai ales spiritul locului si starea de fapt, domnitorul incepuse sa descopere vraistea si lincezeala din ministere, drumurile desfundate, scolile si spitalele sarmane, jaful si delapidarile din prefecturi, din politie, si din celelalte institutii, putinele felinare cu petrol din Bucuresti si multele imputiciuni ale orasului, zvonurile, sforariile si taberele din politica, placutele plimbari la Sosea, satele ca niste catune oropsite, periferiile ca niste sate mocirlite, cochetul parc Cismigiu, unde intuia mina si priceperea unui gradinar german, indolenta si mirsaviile din tribunale, plicticoasele seri de teatru dintr-o sala nu prea mare si insuficient luminata, ciulinii de pe cimpuri, tirgusoarele prafuite, puscariile pline cu vinovati si nevinovati, rochiile si bijuteriile fastoase ale doamnelor, holera care bintuia ca ielele (iar ielele, in tara aia, faceau prapad), tihna manastirilor de cimpie si splendoarea unor mosii, precum cea a mitropolitului Nifon, de la Letca. (pag. 51)

Prezentarea perioadei prin intermediul unor eroi straini permite nu numai o detasare obiectiva in aprecierea situatiilor si a moravurilor locale, dar si o descoperire a teritoriului bucurestean in care se desfasoara cea mai mare parte a actiunii. Din acest punct de vedere cartea poate fi citita si ca un jurnal de calatorie apocrif, in care orasul cu reperele, culorile, frumusetile, mirosurile, praful si noroaiele sale devin din ce in ce mai familiare eroilor. Si asa, pe masura ce tara si orasul se ‘occidentalizeaza’ pentru eroi ceea ce numeau la inceput Bukarest devine Bucuresci. Ca bucurestean la origine, unul dintre pasajele preferate ale cartii este pentru mine cel in care Joseph suie impreuna cu iubita sa Elena pe turnul Coltei, locul cel mai inalt al orasului in acea vreme:

‘Nu-i interesa sa descopere incendii in departare, nu se gindeau la ziditorii turnului (niste soldati suedezi din armata lui Karl al XII-lea, rataciti in rasarit dupa infringerea de la Poltava), au numarat treptele, erau o suta optzeci si opt, habar n-au avut ca fusesera doua sute paisprezece (pana la cutremurul devastator din 1802, care retezase tuguiul cladirii), au privit zarile uimiti si imbratisati, tacind, nadusiti din prea multe pricini: vipia, urcusul in spirala, bucuria, nesatul si afectiunea pentru sutele de rindunele care isi facusera cuiburi sub stresini. Din inalturi, Bucuresciul se se dezvaluia altcumva decit il vazusera sau il ghicisera vreodata. Norii de praf care urmau carutele si trasurile aratau ca niste pete marunte, acoperisurile si hornurile asteptau ploile si frigul, turnele bisericilor si clopotnitele parca nu mai zgiriau cerul, Dimbovita lucea aprins, iar Bucurestioara mohorit, pentru ca apele acelea erau orientate altfel catre punctele cardinale, palatul domnitorului, de unde Carol I sigur lipsea (alungat de zaduf, de treburi si de plictis), nu era cu nimic mai falnic decit unele case boieresti, maidanele se zareau maronii, iar pilcurile de paduri intr-un verde prafos …’ (pag. 152)




Mai sunt multe alte aspecte ale acestui proces de cunoastere a noii patrii si a zonei in care se poate bea ‘licoarea pe care o puteau numi in trei feluri, raki, ouzo sau mastica’ (pag. 143) – aluzie la conexiunile balcanice ale locului. De exemplu cea culinara:

‘A baut vin, a cercetat platourile abia sosite, unul cu ciuperci inabusite in smintina si altul cu o pulpa de porc la tava, rumena, acoperita cu maghiran, boia si felii de sfecla coapta …‘ (pag. 139)

… sau cea arhitectonica descriind un conac boieresc al vremii:

‘Piatra alb-cenusie, slefuita, venise cu doua sute treizeci de ani in urma din carierele de la Rusciuk, iar intregul conac, ridicat de mesteri unguri, in unghi drept si plin de simetrii, cu etaj inalt, cu doua intrari in beciurile boltite, cu acoperis cu olane, cu cercevelele ferestrelor rotunjite in partea de sus, identice, cite opt pe laturile dinspre cimp si cite sase pe peretii dinspre gradina …’ (pag. 141)

Partea finala a cartii descrie procesul de tranformare accelerata a principatelor, intrigile politice, crearea institutiilor statului, razboiul de independenta cu ororile si suferintele sale, spre incoronarea care va marca borna de inceput a ‘zilelor regelui’:

‘Pe urma, timpul, Dumnezeu stie si cum si de ce, n-a mai curs ca riul lenes si urit mirositor, capatind alta cadenta, deodata, asemanatoare cu galopul bidiviilor de soi, cu zborul ciorilor gonite de ploaie sau chiar cu fuga locomotivelor prin cimpie, cind nu erau nevoite sa frineze. Iar daca timpul, acum, tot nu mai aducea cu lentoarea Dimbovitei, ci cu alunecarea pe sine a unei locomotive, trenurile incepind sa circule binisor prin tara, provocind incintare pretutindeni, nu doar in jumatatea de sud.’ (pag. 217)

As face o nedreptate cartii daca nu as mentiona dimensiunea umana a personajului lui Joseph Strauss, dentistul prusac venit in principate pentru a-l servi pe Karl Ludwig, care ii ramane acestuia credincios dincolo de ruptura relatiilor poate inevitabila cand principele creste in rang si in statura devenind rege. Sacrificiul personal al servitorului uitat, care ia in grija odrasla nelegitima a domnitorului fara ca acesta sa afle vreodata de existenta lui, cu riscul de a-si pierde propria familie si iubirea vietii sale, si descoperirea treptata a noii patrii, asimiliarea ei de catre erou si a eroului in ea, sunt descrise cu minutiozitate si de dezvaluie treptat cititorului, dand nastere unui personaj poate neasteptat de cititor dar care dupa lectura devine o parte din peisajul epocii. O epoca pe care incepem sa o cunoastem mai bine si datorita unor carti ca ‘Zilele regelui’.

War is no party. Not even a hunting one. Neither are consequences of war, or trying to make justice and catch war criminals. The Hunting Party written and directed by Richard Shephard whose Matador I have seen a few weeks ago (and liked much more) is good action entertainment, but if you know nothing about the Balkans and the Balkan wars and you rely on this movie in order to get an idea about the tragedies and atrocities that happened 20 years ago in that part of Europe, you can get a distorted image about the region and the history.




Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) is a TV reporter who was once famous. While covering the war in Bosnia he had a nervous breakdown during a live coverage of the war atrocities, which cost him his job. A few years later he will be back in the country apparently healing from the wounds of war, trying together with his ex-cameraman (Terrence Howard) and the young apprentice in journalism (Jessee Eisenberg) who happens to be the son of one of the VPs of the TV network they used to work for, to find one of the most famous war criminals who escapes international justice, UN forces and all the spying agencies. No need to say, they will succeed in a few days where all the big fellows failed for years.


(video source jesseeisenbergfan)


Judged only as an action movie The Hunting Party is not a bad movie at all. Richard Shephard has a sure hand, and Richard Gere is more than credible in the role of the journalist whose life is turned upside down by war and becomes a war criminals hunter. He actually is the only character that has a motivation to do it in the script, why the other two get attracted into the mortal game is a mystery. There is a big problem with describing such a complex conflict as the Balkan wars through the simplistic simplistic perspective of an action movie, not only because the script takes parts on national lines, but also because many better films have already been made by Serbian, Croat, Bosnian directors about this complex conflict. Films with real dramas, true humans, good guys and villains, not vaudeville ones. In a tentative to distance the story from the action B-movies the heroes see on TV screens on a couple of instances Chuck Norris jumping out of the water to kill the bad guys in one of the flicks of the genre. Unfortunately, this is not enough. The Hunting Party is just by a bit better than the Chuck Norris movies.


The Web site in Hebrew of the Beit Lessin Theatre has under the name of the theater an addition which translates like ‘the most Israeli possible’. This is probably kind of a slogan meant to attract audiences and it certainly does, as Beit Lessin is nowadays one of the most popular mainstream institutions of its kind in Israel. It is not necessarily a good thing in my eyes. Israeli when connected to theater unfortunately means for me a very strong tendency to compromise when it comes to the artistic level of the staging, an acting style which in most cases resembles vaudeville or TV satire whatever the genre or the subject, and especially a way to bring reality to stage which targets mostly cheap entertainment and avoids asking questions or raising too touch or in a too tough manner the social or political questions of the day. A very bourgeois approach.




Things are different when it comes to Hanoch Levin – a playwright, director and writer that I just start to discover. Levin seems to have been for the first part of his career the emblematic opposition figure, questioning all the slogans and slaughtering all the holly cows of Israeli nationalism and religion. He later focused on the more human dimension of the Israeli social fabric, the life of the small people, their weaknesses and personal conflicts. His writing is a combination of human drama, sarcasm and comical relief, his heroes live in a double cage, with dreams broken and movements constrained by the chains of the social conventions and the limitations of their own characters. The language is something in between Chekhov and Ionesco, expressed in a beautiful Hebrew, specific to Levin, articulated and somehow outdated.


(video source תיאטרון בית ליסין )


It is actually the second time we see Melakhat Hahaim (The Labor of Life). The first time it happened maybe 25 years ago, by the time we were new in the country and we were going to our first theater outings here. I do not remember how we chose Beit Lessin but this was the first theater we subscribed to, maybe because it was the most Israeli :-) This play may have been the first Israeli play we have ever seen, we remember very little of that version that is now considered a ‘classic’, it was acted by Yossi Banai and Tiki Dayan, and we must have laughed at the comedy moments, but I doubt we understood then all the details of the text. I now enjoyed it differently, as I could appreciate the sharp but yet compassionate look the author took at the life of couples, at the dichotomy between the fear of loneliness and the compromise of mediocrity, at the acceptance of the unavoidable physical decay, and at the fact that not all dreams can be achieved, eventually most prove to be broken. Levin’s text and the acting of Sasson Gabai made the performance more than acceptable despite the mediocrity of the rest including staging (Roni Pinkovitch) and sets. Hanoch Levin deserves more than what the most Israeli theater can offer today.

Evan Christopher was back last week in Tel Aviv, three years after his tour here, and it was a great opportunity to see and listen to him again in the 3rd concert of the Hot Jazz season at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.




California-born Christopher set base in New Orleans, which is one of the principal sources of inspiration for his style and repertory. The second one is the French manouche style which he became familiar with during his residency in France, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.


(video source klikonojazz)


The evening was dedicated to the New Orleans music and to saxophonist and clarinetist Sidney Bechet. Born in New Orleans in a Creole family Bechet’s carrier had up to a point similarities to Christopher. He also had the occasion to know European music and especially French jazz, the first time in the 1920s as a member of the Revue Nègre band, that included Josephine Baker, and later in the 1950s, when he settled in France, where he died in 1959. He knew Django Reinhardt and the hot jazz guitar (manouche) style. Here is one of the pieces from Bechet’s repertory played last Friday by Christopher, Petite Fleur, as recorded by Bechet in concert at Olympia in 1954.


(video source Desdemona2002)


The only clip I could find on youTube with the image of Sidney Bechet playing live was a version of St. Louis Blues.


(video source Gypsy Jazz School)


One of the interesting aspects of the Hot Jazz series is the meeting of the foreign guests with the local musicians. it’s always interesting to see the dialog between cultures and styles taking place in the language of jazz. Christopher’s partners last Friday were the Israeli group Swing de Gitanes composed of Yaakov Hoter and Alon Sagi on guitar and the excellent contra-bass player Oren Sagi. The three young musicians make gypsy jazz, here they are playing Tchavolo Swing.


(video source Dave Kelbie)


Much of the music that Christopher does today is also manouche. Here is one of the best examples I could find on the Internet, with one of the bands with one of the groups he created in France Django a la Creole (the name says it all about the fusion of New Orleans and French jazz traditions) doing the Farewell Blues. Do I hear echoes from Hora Staccato in the introduction?


(video source MarioMaccaferriRules)


Last, you can listen to another played by Evan Christopher on Friday in the concert in Tel Aviv – Songe d’automne - here is the version played together with The Rosenberg Trio.

Daca filmul acesta ar fi fost facut acum vrei zece ani ar fi fost considerat un eveniment cinematografic. In 2000 sau 2002, inainte de ‘Moartea Domnului Lazarescu’ si de ’4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile’ un film care sa abordeze cu atata sinceritate, seriozitate si sensibilitate perioada tranzitiei anilor 90 ar fi fost o reusita suprema. Faptul ca in 2013 pot scrie oarecum critic despre acest film realizat in 2009 arata cat de mult a progresat filmul romanesc in acest ultim deceniu.




Medalia de onoare este un film bun din multe puncte de vedere. Este bazat pe un scenariu bine scris, aduce pe ecran personaje si conflicte credibile, si spune multe adevaruri despre Romania anilor 90 si modul in care o parte din societatea romaneasca a trecut perioada tranzitiei. Problema filmului este ca multe dintre elementele sale pozitive repeta, aproape ca citeaza alte filme. Victor Rebengiuc si Mircea Andreescu joaca excelent, dar rolurile lor par variatii ale celor jucate deja in filme anterioare. Scena finala a mesei de reuniune pare o parafraza la una dintre cele mai bune scene ale lui ’4,3,2′. Comentariile sociale despre situatia pensionarilor sau despre viata la bloc au fost si ele prezentate in multe dintre filmele precedente. Stiu ca aceasta este viata multora dintre romanii de atunci si de astazi, dar veridicitatea nu se transforma automat in calitate artistica, mai ales daca este repetitiva.




Ideea pe care se bazeaza scenariul este insa originala si interesanta. Ion I. Ion (nume caragialesc de banal care sugereaza prototipul) este pensionar si pe langa problemele materiale ale tranzitiei mai traieste si o cumplita ruptura in familie de care este doar el de vina. In anul premergator caderii comunismului isi ‘turnase’ propriul baiat care planuia sa ‘fuga’ in occident. Din acest motiv este ostracizat de familie, sotia si fiul intre timp stabilit in Canada nici nu-i mai adreseaza cuvantul. (cum de mai intretin vreo relatie cu el este un mister!). Cand o scrisoare de la Ministerul Apararii il anunta ca a primit o medalie pentru fapte de eroism comise in razboi cu 50 de ani in urma, se iveste ocazia sa se reabiliteze in ochii familiei, in ochii vecinilor si mai ales in proprii sai ochi.




Aici trebuie sa remarc doua calitati deosebite ale abordarii regizorale a lui Petre Calin Netzer. In primul rand faptul ca spectatorii sunt lasati sa descopere singuri si treptat relatiile dintre personaje, cauzele aitudinilor acestora, si povestea de fond care declaseaza intreaga situatie. La fel, cu rabdare, cu discretie si cu sensibilitate este descrisa evolutia relatiillor dintre eroul filmului si lumea din jur, sansa de reabilitare pe care o joaca, recastigarea treptata a increderii de sine si respectului celor din jur, cu toate ca nici eroul si nici spectatorii nu pot fi siguri pana in final daca este vorba despre o reconciliere reala sau inca un sir de iluzii si un ultim compromis. Distribuirea fostului presedinte Ion Iliescu in ceea ce se cheama un rol cameo este o gaselinita simpatica, nu stiu daca trebuie neaparat sa ii cautam vreun subtext.


(video source MrCrynickYT)


Interpretarea actoriceasca merita cateva randuri. Victor Rebengiuc domina intreg filmul intr-un rol care aduna in el toata povara epocii in care traiesc si a celei din care au iesit personajele, cu problemele materiale, cu traumele fricii si ale compromisurilor de ieri si ale necunoscutului si incertitudinilor de maine, cu lumea care se schimba in jur si care nu mai intelege vechile conventii si relatii si mai ales care a pierdut orice respect fata de ceea ce era inainte respectabil. Camelia Zorlescu, o actrita pe care eu nu o cunosc aproape de loc ii da replica pe masura lui Rebengiuc, si dovedeste nu numai ca seamana fizic izbitor cu Helen Mirren, dar are si calitati artistice comparabile cu celebra ei sosie. Radu Beligan, Ion Lucian, Mircea Andreescu – joaca minunate roluri episodice si este poate pentru ultima data cand aceste mari stele ale ecranului romanesc s-au aflat impreuna pe genericul acestui film. Dar – si aici este un dar – interpretarile lor sunt pe de o parte magistrale, pe de alta parte tributare stilului vechi de film romanesc, si asta intr-un film care stilistic aspira sa apartina noii scoli laureate cu succes si recunoastere internationala. Putem privi asta ca o nepotrivire de stil, putem privi insa si ca o predare de stafeta, un adio si o reverenta reciproca intre generatia maestrilor actori si cea a mai tinerilor creatori ai noului cinema romanesc.

For me the rebirth of cinema in 3D, the moment when the technology met with art is not ‘Avatar‘ but Scorsese‘s ‘Hugo’. James Cameron‘s film validated the technology, brought it into the mainstream, and – of course – made a lot of money in the process. Hugo is in my opinion the first great film realized in this technology, taking a rather melodramatic story targeting the all family audiences and using 3D to amplify the visual effects, to create a world of dreams and fantasy – the material great films are made from. Based on the Paris of the 1920th it recreates the city on screen in a manner that is spectacular and sensitive at the same time, and populates it with characters who meld the qualities of fiction heroes and flesh and blood humans.  The complexity of the staging, the attention to the details, the pace of the action and of the moves of the camera, the world of objects who surround the heroes – all this get together in a charming visual experience. We have known many versions of Paris in art, some from books like (Victor) Hugo, some from photos like the ones of Brassai or Robert Doisneau, some from works of art like the paintings of the Impressionist era, now we have the Paris as imagined by Martin Scorsese.




Bringing George Melies into the story is a real touch of genius.This film is a love declaration for cinema, full of respect and quotes from famous movies. The comparison with the other big film about cinema in 2011 The Artist is immediate and makes us forget immediately the simplistic kiddish story. But the story itself has a quality that makes jealous the current Disney productions. This is real Disney stuff, the one that would not make Master Walt blush as would the majority if not all the scripts of the films made by the studios who inherited his name. This is the Disney of Fantasia, the one that made me dream and cross the barriers of imagination.

George Melies actually did break with the studios and retired from film making before the war, and many of his films were destroyed to be used to manufacture military materials. He had a shop in the Montparnasse train station, and even if a round-eyed boy who was making the clocks turn in the station did not really exist – the imagined part of the story is as good and as moving as the real one.


(video source VISO Trailers)


A film like Hugo does not necessarily excel in acting, although big names show up in the cast and do more than a decent job. Ben Kingsley adds George Melies to the gallery of the great personalities he brought to life in his screen career, and Sacha Baron Cohen proves that he can be funny also out of his usual stand-up comedy style. It is however the complex and beautiful world in which the characters move will be the one that we shall remember from this film.



2013 marks two centuries since the birth of Giuseppe Verdi and the opera lovers all over the world will see a lot of staging of his operas in the current season. The New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv is no exception with three new stagings scheduled until the end of the season. The first one is the lesser known Luisa Miller.




Luisa Miller is based a romantic drama by Friedrich Schiller, although the German background of the story stops more or less here and in some of the names of the characters. It’s a story of love and passion, of treason and social passion, with an ending that reminds Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The difficulty of some of the parts in the musical score may be one of the reasons this opera is less popular, because otherwise it has all the dramatic qualities as well as a number of very beautiful musical sections that allows it to be compared and comparable with the best known works of the composer.




The staging at the Tel Aviv Opera is a revival of a classical staging by director Gotz Friedrich (1030-2000) and uses sets from the Berlin Deutsche Oper. I did not resonate to well with some of the directorial ideas, the combination between the chess table floor and the painted Alps landscape in the background did not make too much sense to me, neither the usage of commedia dell’arte clowns as filling actors. Fortunately it was the musical performance that was above average this time. The orchestra always sounds better when conducted by Daniel Oren, and so it did now. Luisa Miller was sang so well by American soprano Leah Crocetto that she made me forget regretting having missed the Romanian Aurelia Florian, and Ionut Pascu was superb (vocally and as stage presence) as her father.


(video source greatartists)


Researching a little for famous recordings available on the Internet allowed me an interesting comparison between two ot the greatest tenors ever. First is a version (sung in concert, only with piano) of one of the most beautiful areas by Pavarotti.


(video source Gobrias)


Now you can compare Pavarotti’s version with Domingo’s. Here is the first act of the opera as staged in London in 1979 with Katia Ricciarelli and Placido Domingo.