Archive for February, 2013

Everything is clear from the first to the last of the shots (and there are many shots of all kinds) of Battle Los Angeles. The aliens are here (having arrived under disguise of a rain of meteorites) and they are after mankind. Mankind fights back and the US marines are on the front line. Chances are slim, but marines, the US and mankind will prevail.





The story is so simple that there is almost nothing to tell. While Earth seems to be losing most of the battles with the invading aliens, Los Angeles is one of the last remaining battlefields. A group of marines is sent in a semi-suicidal mission to save civilians and bring them to what looks like a safe zone. The commanding officer is young and inexperienced, the sergeant (Aaron Eckhardt) with an Iraq war record and appropriate traumas will soon prove to be more capable of leading the fight.  War of the Worlds (like in H.G. Wells, including finding the vulnerability of the aliens) meets Iraq war movies. Even the graphics of the film mix the alien movies monsters with urban guerrilla a la Iraq – and they actually look quite good. The rest of the story does not matter.


(video source ClevverMovies)


While Aaron Eckhardt holds the lead role of the tough marine sergeant whose destiny is to take charge and save mankind, it is the performance of Michelle Rodriguez that I most enjoyed in this film directed by Jonathan Liebesman, a director who specializes in action movies. Rodriguez also made a specialty from playing muscled and sexy young women that bad guys should avoid upsetting. She may ask herself what will happen after the age for such roles will pass (it happens to everybody) but this is her personal concern. I love movies that are what they claim to be (I also like the same kind of humans actually) and this is why I liked in the limits of the genre Battle Los Angeles. To Liebesman’s credit it must be said that he does not try for one moment pretend that this film is anything else than what it is, there is no characters evolution (in humans as well as in aliens) and no tentative to make anything else but a good action movie. To a large extent he succeeds, or at least nothing is bad in what resulted.

Usually telling the end of a film is considered a spoiler. In the case of Argentinian director , Chinese Take-Out (Un cuento cino in the Spanish version) it would be a spoiler to tell how it begins. I actually watched the usual late comers to the cinema hall and wondered whether the film experience is really complete for those folks who entered even only two minutes late after the start of the projection. So, I won’t make the mistake of revealing the start of this quite charming feel-good film, I will just say it’s quite relevant.





The film tells the story of a grumpy mid-aged owner of  a hardware shop in Argentina named Roberto who lives alone, refusing almost any relation with other human beings excepting his suppliers and customers (well, even with these ones only to the point where they do not walk on his toes).  He is a good and decent man, and a very bad communicator at the same time. The last thing he needs in life is the appearance of a young Chinese man, Jun, frightened and disoriented, who looks for his uncle in the search for somebody to support him in finding a new way in a new country and who has no-one to rely on but Roberto whom he met accidentally. None of them speaks any word in the language of the other, and each hides traumas from the bast that justify their own barriers in communication. The whole movie is about finding ways to communicate and building a friendship that will help both in overcoming the hurdles of life.


(video source Daniel Martinez)


Films about overcoming cultural gaps doubled by barriers of language and making human communication possible despite of them have been made in the past, the one I happen to remember is the Israeli Noodle, which was telling the story of a stewardess who finds herself taking care of an abandoned Chinese kid. What makes the story different in Un quento cino are the background stories of the two heroes and the fact that Ricardo Darin and Ignacio Huang are right on spot for the two leading roles. One of the nice ideas of the film is that Jun (Huang) does not really speak one word of Spanish during the whole film, he speaks Chinese, but no translation is available. The language gap is more than a emotional trick or a comic pretext in this film. It is the very glue upon which the relationship and eventually the friendship between the two characters is based upon. Although it is aimed eventually to be a feel-good movie (and succeeds to be so) Un quento cino avoids falling into cheap melodrama because of the discrete humor built upon the day-to-day situations, also based on the fact that in the absence of words the characters need to use gestures which to some extent remind the pantomime style of the early cinema comedies. A discrete and pleasant film.


My round through the local museums in Israel took me a few weeks ago to Bat Yam where the local museum of art opens for the young generation of artists coming the countries of the ex-Eastern block and especially from the former Soviet Union. The name of the exhibition Cargo Cult says something about commercialization and the relation of the artists with the world of technology and materials, airports and transportation machinery, but also about their own journey of the one made by their parents to the new old country. variety of means, very non-conventional means, nothing from the balance and some would say the stiffness of the traditional Russian art




The museum is by itself one of the most original structures that I have seen lately, a cylindrical building dwarfed by one of these water towers which are part of the local landscape in any Israeli city and were part of the mythology of the Jewish settlements in the first decades of their existence.




A few years ago I visited an exhibition at the Museum of Contemportary Art in Ramat Gan which was gathering works of Russian immigrants formed at the solid realistic schools of art in the former Soviet Union who had immigrated to Israel. There is almost nothing similar in ‘Cargo Cult’. This is undeniably an exhibition of young artists living in Israel. Sure, this is a specific sector of the art community in Israel, and these young folks are not denying but openly affirming their roots but they also have a clear approach to art and the materials art is made of that is post-modernist and their dialog with the culture of the area they or their parents came from is sustained from here.


Ivars Gravlejs from Riga gathers in his Shopping Poetry project objects acquired in shops and supermarkets and photographs them near their cash counter invoice in a reflection of the relationship between object and value, between the image and its numerical representation.




One of the older generation artists is Moscow-born Mikhail Grobman born in 1939 invited several young artists to make fluorescent replicas of works by Grobman. The semi-dark room raises questions and thoughts about the works and their amplification through reproduction.




Maxim Komar-Myshkin was born in Moscow in 1978 and died in Tel Aviv in 2011. I do not know how to describe his unusual creations – maybe stellar works?




New Barbizon Group is a team of five female artists – each creates a group of drawings and paintings reflecting reality and including probably the strongest social messages of the works in the exhibition abut the condition of women, artists, immigrants in a society like ours.




A separate room gathers Igor Guelman-Zak’s miniatures and a big neon-lights panel labeled Change – bringing to our attention the reality and scope of art, and the relativity of the relationship as expressed in the dimensions of the two very different groups of works.

An interesting exhibition and a refreshing view of an artistic community which showed up among us, another lesser known result of the immigration in a country that continues to be a melting from many points of view including art.

The festive entry today in the blog dedicated to the festival of Purim deals with Queen Esther – one of the beloved characters of the story of Purim and history of Jews. Uncounted Jewish little girls chose her as the character that they mask in for the festival. This may be a rather new tradition however, bu the image of the beautiful and dedicated woman fascinated illustrators of the Bible many centuries back. I browsed the Net for information and reflections of the Biblical character of Queen Esther in art, and first of all in painting. Here are a few findings, I hope that you will find them beautiful and interesting.





Ancient illuminated manuscripts are among the first to provide representation of the Queen Esther image and exploits. Here is a splendid old Jewish manuscript, one of the oldest and finest in the British Museum collection, from The North French Hebrew Miscellany, 1272-98, representing King Ahashverosh holding out his scepter to Queen Esther.





Another beautiful example of illuminated art representing the Purim story is the Megillat Esther, a scroll with the biblical story of Queen Esther, read during the Purim festival, created by the Jews of Ascona (now in Italy) in 1784, which can be found nowadays in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.





The Metropolitan Museum in New York contains in its collections a beautiful study by Claude Lorrain from the beginning of the 17th century representing Queen Esther approaching the palace of the King of Persia. The vast staging allows for an elegant and complex landscape in Baroque style.





Rembrandt’s Haman Begging Esther for Mercy painted in 1655 is one of the power pieces of the collection of the National Art Museum in Bucharest. It is dark in coloring (as many of the masterpieces of Rembrandt) and powerful in the composition which emphasizes the relations between the three characters of the Purim story.





Another version painted by Rembrandt of the Purim heroes can be found in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. It is called Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther and is dated 1660.





This intense version of the portrait of the Queen is called Esther haram, is dated 1878 and belongs to a painter from the Victorian period named Edwin Long who painted many historical and Biblical stories giving them an Orientalist and erotic touch.





Contemporary mosaic artist Lilian Broca is well known for several series inspired by feminine Biblical characters among which the one dedicated to Queen Esther is probably the best known. Her technique adapts some of the Byzantine mosaic techniques and materials, and the results are spectacular.


Chag Purim Sameakh! A Happy Purim!

Intr-unul din locurile cel mai putin verosimile se afla una dintre cele mai neobisnuite galerii de arta pe care le-am vizitat. Kibbutzul Beeri este situat in sudul Israelului, nu departe de Netivot si Shderot, langa fasia Gaza, zona care se afla in stiri mai mult cand sunt violente, atacuri cu rachete, actiuni ale armatei israeliene in Gaza. Este si o zona de agricultura intensiva, si care la acest sfarsit de iarna israeliana arata verde si inflorit, relativ desigur la peisajul si clima aride din cea mai mare parte a anului.




Cateva indicatoare destul de modeste dar totusi vizibile te ghideaza spre casa care nu arata altfel decat multe dintre casele din jur si care se deosebeste doar prin firma – Galeria Beeri. Eu nu o cunosteam, dar acum stiu – galeria aceasta exista din 1986 si pana astazi au fost organizate aici peste 300 de expozitii – Acum Galeria Beeri este prima gazda israeliana a expoitiei Spiritul Sapantei rezultate din colaborarea dintre artisti israelieni si romani, expozitie realizata cu sprijinul ICR Tel Aviv.




Banuiesc ca majoritatea cititorilor stiu multe despre Maramures si despre Sapanta, acest loc special celbru prin al sau Cimitir Vesel. Ceea ce probabil mai putini stiu si eu in orice caz nu cunosteam aceasta istorie este ca pana la al doilea razboi mondial peste un sfert din populatia satului era evreiasca (sursa - O comunitate ca mii de alte comunitati din estul Europei distrusa de Holocaust. Majoritatea evreilor Sapantei au fost deportati in 1944 de jandarmii unguri colaboratori ai ocupantilor germani, putini s-au intors de la Auschwitz si cei intorsi nu au mai ramas in sat. Recomand oricui vine sa viziteze expozitia sa asculte video-ul cu Poemul lui Vasile - o lucrare impresionanta a unui poet popular local, care in stilul specific poeziei populare romanesti descrie istoria evreilor din Sapanta.




Spiritul Sapantei este rezultatul muncii comune a doi artisti israelieni si a unui artist local roman, care au lucrat impreuna in sat in vara lui 2012. Expozitia a fost prima data deschisa in cladirea sinagogii din Bistrita. Mai sus ii puteti vedea pe cei doi artisti israelieni (Nora Stanciu si Haim Maor) reprezentati in stilul portretelor de Sapanta de catre artistul roman Dumitru Pop Tincu.




Ce diferit si ce special arata scrisul in ebraica tesut pe stergarele specifice Maramuresului! Oare evreii Sapantei de acum un secol vor fi avut si folosit stergare asemanatoare?






Portretele lui Dumitru Pop Tincu creaza intr-un fel modelul de referinta al expozitiei. Artistul continua traditia portretisticii din faimosul Cimitir vesel cu subiecte inspirate printre altele din ciclurile vietii si din momentele esentiale care marcheaza viata oamenilor din sat.






Haim Manor da replica artistului roman prin picturi pe lemn, care redau in acelasi stil pseudo-naiv persoane si personaje din lumea satului.






Lucrarile Norei Stanciu sunt mai mari in dimensiuni si mai elaborate. Una dintre ele suprapune motivul pictural cu cel al broderiilor, alta arta-mestesug specifica zonei. A doua preia motivele ale culturii ‘elevate’ intr-o inramare specifica artei populare.

Expozitia este deschisa la Beeri pana la mijlocul lui martie, dupa cate am inteles in continuuare va fi prezentata si in alte locuri in Israel si o recomand celor interesati – si ca valoare documentara, si emotionala, dar si pentru o intalnire mai putin obisnuita intre spatii culturale indepartate geografic, dar cu multe apropieri culturale.




‘Lumea secreta a nomenclaturii – Amintiri, dezvaluiri, portrete’ de Vladimir Tismaneanu, aparuta la editura Humanitas in 2012 poate fi citita in mai multe feluri. Pe coperta a IV-a gasim o caracterizare semnata de autor:

‘Cititorul, pe care il invit sa ma insoteasca in acest voiaj intr-o lume stinsa, dar ale carei ramificatii raman atat de prezente, va gasi in carte deopotriva recuperari istorice, demitizari politologice, secvente portretistice, un efort de explicatie si o marturisire.’

Carui gen apartine deci cartea? Nu pot sa o caracterizez exact nici macar la sfarsitul lecturii si nici dupa o partiala a doua lectura a unora dintre capitolele care mi s-au parut cele mai interesante. Am gasit in carte prea putine pasaje de analiza istorica sau politiologica pe masura numelui si reputatiei autorului. Am gasit multe secvente portretistice inegale in consistenta si in abordare. Am gasit multe marturisiri, unele interesante, altele mai putin. Am gasit multe explicatii si justificari ale biografiei personale. Stiu ca Tismaneanu este o persoana controversata pe scena publicistica si politica romaneasca, implicat in polemici si dezbateri trecute si actuale. Pentru tismaneanologi cartea aceasta este este de interes prin detaliile despre biografia personala a sa si a familiei, dar marturisesc sincer ca nu exact asta am cautat eu in ea.

Si totusi sa incep de aici, caci Tismaneanu nu numai ca nu ascunde ci prezinta deschis originea sa in lumea nomenclaturii mijlocii, discuta in carte in detalii despre biografia parintilor, rolul lor in formarea ideilor sale, in viata si cariera sa.

‘Problema nu este in ce familie te-ai nascut, ci cum te raportezi la trecut, cum il valorizezi, cat de dispus esti sa accepti ca persoane de care ai fost extrem de atasat au fost implicate in experimentul totalitar. Unii o fac explicit, altii implicit, iar altii deloc. Nimeni nu poate impune copiilor departajari transante de biografia propriei familii, dar cand acestia devin persoane publice, indeosebi intr-o democratie nascuta dintr-o revolutie anticomunista, propria lor credibilitate reclama sustinerea adevarului istoric, nu ocultarea ori chiar falsificarea sa.’  (pag. 153).

Randurile nu sunt scrise despre el insusi, dar au destula generalitate pentru a fi aplicabile.





In ce masura reuseste Tismaneanu insusi sa ramana fidel adevarului istoric in aceasta carte? Problema este din nou amestecul de genuri si de stiluri. Titlul promite revelatii senzationale sau cel putin inedite din ‘lumea secreta’ a clasei de parveniti, impostori, calai si demagogi mai mici sau mai mari, mai rai sau mai ridicoli adusi de istorie vreme de jumatate de secol la conducerea Romaniei. In realitate putine sunt lucrurile de esenta pe care un bucurestean de rand, contemporan si aproximativ din aceeasi generatie cu Tismaneanu nu le stia inca din ‘epoca de aur’. Una dintre putinele informatii inedite cel putin pentru mine a fost ca departajarea de clasa a nomenclaturii a inceput inca din vremea ilegalitatii, a sederii conducatorilor comunisti trecuti si viitori in inchisori si lagare:

‘Am cunoscut personal fosti detinuti de la Vapniarka, mi-au povestit cum trebuiau sa cedeze mancarea din pachetele primite de acasa”tovarasilor din conducere”, timp in care ei erau hraniti cu mazare furajera. Cu alte cuvinte nomenclatura nu s-a nascut in momentul preluarii puterii, ci exista inca din ilegalitate.’ (pag. 203-204).

In prea putine pagini rasuna vocea politologului si a istoricului. Cand se aude ea este clara, la obiect, si cu referinte precise:

‘Politologul Ken Jowitt a scris despre modelul de castel medieval baricadat al comunismului de tip sovietic. Mentalul stainist, ca si cel fascist, era de fortareata asediata. In Romania, fostul cartier Jianu din Bucuresti a devenit, in 1948, o asemenea fortareata, cu securisti in civil circuland pe strazile din zona, ca sa vada cu cine se intalneste, cu militieni plasati in gherete in fata vilelor in care salajuiau magnatii totalitari cu familiile lor, cu doctori aflati zi si noapte la dispozitia mai-marilor puterii.’ (pag. 20)

Greu de vorbit despre obiectivitate cand este vorba despre familia apropiata, despre prieteni sau profesori care i-au format autorului gandirea si l-au sustinut in cariera (Ovidiu Trasnea de exemplu). Personaje istorice care au avut cariere similare sunt judecate diferit si difera nu numai aprecierea activitatii lor dar si limbajul folosit – a se vedea si a se compara de exemplu portretele lui Leonte Rautu si Miron Constantinescu.

Cand este vorba despre cineva din familie sau un personaj simpatizat de autor prezentarea este idealizata, lecturile, muzica, cultura sunt apreciate:

‘Punea muzica clasica la un patefon Telefunken (il cumparase cum se spunea pe atunci “de ocazie”). Ea mi-a vorbit pentru prima oara despre Arturo Toscanini, despre David Oistrah, despre Yehudi Menuhin, despre Emil Ghilels, despre Sviatoslav Richter. Am ascultat la ea, de pe la cinci ani, de obicei sambata seara, simfoniile lui Beethoven dirijate de Toscanini.’  (pag. 105)

In schimb, despre un personaj mult mai aspru judecat cum era Nicolae Moraru, este scris:

‘Citea cu pasiune ‘Roman Gazeta’, ‘Literaturnaia Gazeta’, si alte publicatii sovietice. N-a acceptat niciodata destalinizarea. Avea in biblioteca personala cartea filozofului francez Henri Lefebvre ‘La somme qui reste’, am inprumutat-o de la el, avea paginile neatinse.’  (pag. 263)

Dincolo de anecdotica sunt puse si intrebari mult mai dure legate de angajarea parintilor sai in miscarea comunista, si de continuarea timp de decenii a acestei colaborari (sau mai mult decat colaborari). Referindu-se la mama sa:

‘Mai tarziu am intrebat-o in repetare randuri, mai ales cand mama a citit ‘Primul cerc’ de Soljenitin, cand a citit Vasili Grossman: Dar cum se poate sa nu fi stiut, nu erati acolo? Exact intrebarea pe care o pun si copiii nazistilor: Voi n-ati vazut nimic? N-ati stiut? Intrebarea mea era, mai exact: N-ati vazut pentru ca nu puteati sa vedeti, sau n-ati vazut pentru ca nu voiati sa vedeti? Cred ca nici nu puteau, nici nu voiau sa vada. Si cred ca raspunsul cinstit este ca lucrurile nu erau evidente.’  (pag. 53)

Nu la fel de intelegator este insa Tismaneanu cand se refera la Ion Gheorghe Maurer, si in orice caz nu pune aceleasi intrebari:

‘M-am intrebat adeseori ce-a cautat Maurer, in anii clandestinitatii, in Partidul Comunist din Romania? Ce putea avea comun distinsul avocat cu proletarii fanatici gen Dej, Moghioros si Apostol ori cu croitorese de provincie gen Ghizela Vass sau Marta Cziko, cea care avea sa devina atotputernica sotie a lui Alexandru Draghici? Cum a putut nu numai tolera, dar si incuraja egocentrismul vindicativ si antiintelectualismul visceral al lui Gheorghiu-Dej?’ (pag. 141)

Daca a pus intrebari similare parintilor sai si care vor fi fost raspunsurile – nu este dezvaluit in aceasta carte.





Cred ca pana la urma in ceea ce priveste obiectivitatea este aplicabil un paragraf scris de Tismaneanu in contextul mentionarii memoriilor lui Popescu-Dumnezeu:

‘Pretentia obiectivitatii ne este nici o secunda atenuata de recunoasterea faptului ca autorul nu are cum sa fie un martor lipsit de interese personale, un personaj situat deasupra valtorii.’ (pag. 222)

Cei care se vor aventura in citirea cartii trebuie atentionati in legatura cu inca un aspect. O mare parte din sectiunea memorialista mai ales este ocupata de insiruirea relatiilor de familie, cu liste de nume ale unor persoane si personaje cu care Tismaneanu sau familia sa au fost candva in relatii, si care au foarte putina importanta si zero interes pentru cititorii care nu au trait sau nu au avut relatii in lumea protipendatei comuniste. Un exemplu (din multe):

‘Cel mai des ai mei faceau mese cu Grigore si Maria Cotovschi, la ei, la parter, ori la noi. Veneau Francisc (Feri) si Aurel (Riva) Mihai: el lucra la arhivele CC, ea era aistenta universitara de rusa, mica de statura, cu o voce mereu ragusita. Riva, nascuta Malcik, facuse parte in anii 30 din CC al UTC, se cunostea de atunci cu Ceausescu. Mai veneau doctorul Cornel Kaplan, si sotia sa, Tea, el a fost vreme de un deceniu seful Sectorului Special (medical) din cadrul Gospodariei de Partid. Era nepoata de frate a lui Chisinevschi, a lucrat in Ministerul de Interne, cred ca a fost chiar secretara comitetului de partid in anii ’50. Era profesoara de sport.’ (pag. 50)

Memorialistica se imbina cu portretistica in cartea lui Tismaneanu. Un capitol special ii este dedicat lui Nicu Ceausescu, de fapt in acelasi capitol este inserat si un portret al lui Petre Roman, si sincer sa fiu nu stiu daca acesta din urma nu este chiar mai negativ decat cel al fiului dictatorului. Ultima treime a cartii cuprinde o galerie de 17 portrete de cateva pagini fiecare ale diferitelor personaje apartinand sau cu legaturi oarecare cu nomenclatura. Este foarte inegala in nivel, stil, continut aceasta galerie care pare sa adune articole de presa sau de blog scrise in momente diferite de timp, cu interesul focalizat pe aspecte diferite. Ea cuprinde portrete ale unor membri ai Birourilor Politice, dar sunt inclusi si profesori ai autorului si scriitorul Alexandru Ivasiuc. Unele dintre aceste portrete sunt bine schitate si dau o imagine exacta si informatii esentiale (Paul Niculescu-Mizil, Miron Constantinescu, Alexandru Draghici, Dumitru Popescu-Dumnezeu, Ionescu-Giulian), altele par a suferi de subiectivitate excesiva intr-un sens sau altul (Eugen Florescu, Gizela Vass, Ovidiu Trasnea). As fi fost foarte interesat sa aflu mai multe detalii despre refugiatii politici greci care s-au aflat in Romania anilor 50, 60 si inceputul anilor 70, dar capitolul care le este dedicat este extrem de dezlanat si scris la modul anecdotic. La fel, despre personaje ca Mihai Roller sau Pantiusa Bodnarenko va trebui sa astept alte carti (poate tot ale lui Tismaneanu) pentru a afla informatii mai complete si mai consistente.

‘Lumea secreta a nomenclaturii’ este mult mai putin decat promite si decat ma asteptam, si altceva decat ii spune titlul.

Two of the five documentary films competing for the Academy Awards (‘Oscars’) that will be distributed a few days from now deal with the conflict between Jews and Arabs, between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land. The Gatekeepers was distributed commercially and is on screens for several weeks here in Israel, while ’5 Broken Cameras’ was presented on cable TV a couple of months ago, and this week it was broadcast again, including an almost prime time spot scheduled for tonight on the most popular mainstream commercial channel. This is a good thing, and for the Israeli audiences both movies are highly relevant, as they show different aspects and different perspective of the conflict. There are many differences of course in styles, approaches, characters but the reality is the same, a complex reality with many pieces of puzzle and the more you know, the better.





The concept and the story of the making of ’5 Broken Cameras’ is pretty unusual. Israeli film-maker Guy Davidi met in 2005 Emad Burat, a Palestinian inhabitant of the village of Bil’in. This place is well known in the area because the wall of separation between Israel and the Palestinian territories passes in the neighborhood, separating inhabitants from their fields and orchards, and this led to several lawsuits and permanent protests and confrontations with the army some of which turned violent, which were also widely covered by the Israeli and international press and TV. Emad received in 2005 a first camera from Davidi, a camera which covered not only the incidents around the construction of the wall, but also the life of the inhabitants and of the family, the permanent tension between occupation, protests and the need to run normal lives. Since then he is filming until today, actually if I am not mistaken being a cameraman became his profession. In time five cameras broke, most of them during the various incidents, and the cameras themselves became together with the material that was filmed part of the testimony.


(video source movieclips TRAILERS)


At no moment does the film make the claim that it is impartial. It would be an impossible claim to make as the five cameras are hold by a person directly involved in the conflict, the commentary is made by the same person, and what we see and hear is a part of the close and harsh reality the author and his family lives in. Eventually both ’5 Broken Cameras’ and ‘The Gatekeepers’ despite their differences share the same problem. Their contents are highly relevant for the Israeli audiences, and the Israelis should watch them in order to understand the consequences of the occupation, the suffering of the other side, the dangers of the status-quo and of the lack of progress in the peace process. However, this is not the whole picture, this is one piece of a complex puzzle, of a long history, complicated present and uncertain future. Of course, there is that much one film (or two films) can show, and reflecting one aspect of the reality is important. The film should be taken for what it is, and the piece of reality that this film is showing should not be confused with the whole reality, as as part of the truth does not equal the whole truth.

If there is such a thing like a film to smart to enjoy ‘Duplicity’ written and directed by Tony Gilroy would certainly qualify. It is not that scriptwriter Gilroy misses smart stories in his CV – he wrote the ‘Bourne’ series (based on Robert Ludlum’s novels), ‘Proof of Life’ and ‘Devil’s Advocate’each of them smart. The problem with Duplicity is that he did not find a better director than Tony Gilroy  to direct a script which has many surprises, hidden angles, flashbacks and twists but too few of them are being turn into moments of good cinema suspense or emotions.





Duplicity is the story of two ex-spies (one CIA – Julia Roberts, one MI-6 Clive Owen) who go private and plan a big scam by getting hired by two competing moguls in the shampoo industry. In a world where eavesdropping is the rule, where nobody trusts anybody, where every word hides a lie which hides an even bigger lie being a couple of spies and lovers means first of all trusting each other? Is trust possible? this is the permanent question and the answer is so many times no that when time comes to answer yes the answer is simply not credible.


(video source OfficialTrailersLTD)


The two lead actors create chemistry and they cannot act bad, but chemistry and good acting is not enough, especially as both Roberts and Owen look or are made to look in this film a little bit beyond the peaks of their respective sex-appeals. This may be intentional, as even sexy spies start getting old at some point, and this is a credible situation of life, but simply does not fit the profile of an action movie. On the other side the twists and layers and flashbacks in time are so many and so often that at some point in time I lost interest in watching the action, and believe me, this seldom happens to me in an action movie. Duplicity simply tries to hard to be smart, and the style of director Gilroy does not make justice to the scriptwriter Gilroy.

‘It didn’t matter what color your hair was, or whether you were a Protestant or a Catholic, it just mattered that you were a punk.’ This was and probably still is the motto in life of Terri Hooley, the man who inspired the film Good Vibrations directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, whose screening was occasioned by the British film festival.





We are introduced in the atmosphere of the 70s by a number of newsreels of the period. While the flower power, pop, hippie movements were winning over much of the world with their message of peace and non-violence and with their music times were tough for Northern Ireland where the religious conflict entered in a violent phase which was going to leave more then 3000 people dead on all sides. Terri Hooley comes from a political involved family, his father was an idealistic Communist, and Terri loses an eye as a kid in a hate act. His great passion is however music, and with music he tries to bridge the gaps between communities, to bring together people around good and beauty, to what should be normality in a world of conflict and violence. And then the opportunity shows up, as he discovers the young people trying to escape the constraints of the society but also of the conventional culture and express themselves and their feelings in in the visceral and straight roughness of punk music. Hooley will help the emerging Northern-Irish punk bends record and distribute their music, and transform Belfast in one of the punk capitals of the world. Suddenly the city known in the news only for conflict and violence becomes a point of cultural interest, a stage for new and innovative music which crosses communities, religions, and haircuts.


(video source Premiere Scene)


Good Vibration is a simple and direct film about the power of music, about the capacity of doing good in evil times, about the beauty and necessity of escapism. Actor Richard Dorner draws a passionate portrait of a man who lives for music, who believes that music can bridge and heals. It is not an idealized portrait, as family life falls victim to Hooley’s passion, and this aspect is not neglected. It’s not a perfect film, some of the supporting characters could have been developed for example, but overall it’s, well, a film that passes good vibrations. And there is a lot of music of course, I have never been a fan of punk, but I may become one.

According to the news a few months ago Terri Hooley was attacked and abused in his neighborhood in Belfast. Even if 30 years after the troubles the situation in Norther Ireland is much better than it was, healing and reconciliation may have their chance, sequels of the past still show up and the balance is still fragile. The Good Vibrations shop of Terri Hooley opened and closed a few times. Life has ups and downs, but good sometimes prevails.





Sunt coplesit de vestea ca prietena noastra Felicia Antip ne-a parasit intru eternitate.

Nu pot descrie acum cat a insemnat Felicia pentru mine, incepand cu
anii 60 si 70 cand ii citeam articolele din Romania Literara care
deschideau o fereastra catre literatura si cultura lumii, o fereastra
unica in anii de cenzura si opresiune culturala. Nu am visat sa discut
cu ea si sa o cunosc personal vreodata, ocazia mi-a fost data intai de
listele internetice, apoi am avut sansa sa o cunosc personal, sa-i
devin prieten, sa petrecem impreuna clipe de discutie unice in
Bucuresti si in Israel.

Un om cum putini am avut sansa sa cunosc in viata.

Fie-i amintirea binecuvantata.

April 2012 - at Radio Shalom in Bucharest

April 2012 – at Radio Shalom in Bucharest

I am crushed by the news that our dear friend Felicia Antip left us forever.

It’s hard to say in a few words what Felicia meant for me. I first met her in the 60s and 70s, she was a respected journalist, her articles in Romania Literara opened to me a window to the literature and culture of the world, a unique window in those years of censorship and cultural repression in Romania. I never dare dreaming that I will meet and talk to her one day, decades later I had the chance to met her via the Internet fora, later to meet her in person, to spend with her unique moments and dialogs in Bucharest and in Israel.

There are very few people of her human and intellectual quality I had ever the chance to meet.

May her memory be blessed.