Archive for March, 2013

Violent thrillers are yet a rather unexplored territory for the big screen Israeli cinema, and I really wonder why. The Israeli reality even if we put aside the political conflict is quite violent at least if one follows the news. While thrillers and detective stories made their way to the TV series, there are very few productions of the genres on big screens. Kirot (which means Walls, although the English title is The Assassin Next Door) is already four years old, and is one of the rare productions in the genre. It is almost a good one, but …

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1198153/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1198153/

 

There was no problem for the script writers to extract the medium and the characters that populate the movie. Local mafia is said to be in control of the sex industry, and many of the characters that populate it are of Russian origin, and the sex workers are also coming in numbers from the less fortunate countries of the former Soviet Union. So a former prostitute forced by the Russian mafia to become a killer does not seem to be an extraordinary story. Even less is exceptional the case of the young woman victim of domestic violence, with simple and naive dreams that are never to be fulfilled. These two characters acted by Olga Kurylenko and  local rock star Ninette Tayeb are naturally drawn to each other by a shared record of violence and social injustice, by a lack of hope that makes their fate almost unavoidable. The best scenes of the film are the ones where the two get to know each other wining over the distrust and the differences in language and background, starting to trust, then become friends and eventually share fate. The rather non-professional acting backgrounds of both actresses help, bringing freshness, sincerity and emotion in the building relation between the two.

 

(video source hasajersi)

 

The story around is quite expected, and not badly written with the exception of the final which is unrealistic from many respects. The combination of woman killer, women in distress helping each other against violence, mafia movies, all in an Israeli margin-of-the-society environment works well because if does not take over the film, while keeping the interest of the viewers arise and balancing the story so that it does not become too melodramatic. Director Danny Lerner at his second film (he did not make any other film since then) shows quite a talent in directing actors, setting the camera at the right places, building a credible environment an Israeli can recognize. But here is the problem – there was enough good material in the film to make a more blunt social statement, or use some more striking expressive means. Danny Lerner did not undertake this challenge. Daring more and pushing the limits would have helped the film step ahead of the line. It is a decent film, a decent directorial job, and so it risks to be remembered (if at all) – decent, but not more.

 

What else can be said about Anna Karenina, one of the books that were read, brought to stage and screen so many times? We think that we know the action and the characters, and it takes quite an amount of courage for the director and the team who undertakes a new staging or film based upon Tolstoy’s novel to believe that new things can be said and a fresh perspective created, and quite an amount of talent to make it happen. This is the challenge that script author Tom Stoppard and director Joe Wright decided to take upon with making a 21st century version of Anna Karenina and to a large extent I believe that they succeeded.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1781769/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1781769/

 

Maybe I should not be that surprised with Joe Wright. Atonement (also staring Keira Knightley) which I liked a lot had the patient building of the characters and an exquisite capability of melding into the period it dealt with and bringing it to screen. I liked less The Soloist but maybe that was the exception. The idea in this version of Anna Karenina is to transpose literally to screen the concept that ‘the world is a stage’. The story takes place in the world of the aristocracy and high bureaucracy of the last decades of the Russian empire. We all know the history of the crumbling of that empire where the few ruled over a world of misery and suffering they chose to ignore, a world that will soon take revenge. Instead of investing into recreating realistic or naturalistic imagery  of that world, Wright and Stoppard create a theater, one of these fabulous theater houses that were raised in the 19th century Europe, and makes the whole action a play with windows opening to a reality that also is more idealized as in the neo-classical paintings of the period. It’s a daring concept, it takes a few minutes to get used and accept it, but then the action starts to flow and as a view you can focus on the characters – and there is enough novelty here as well for the whole film to be interesting. At some point the concept reminded me Scorsese‘s Hugo, especially as trains and railway stations play a special role in Tolstoy’s novels. but Wright stops a step behind in creating such a complex and wonderful world as Scorsese’s Paris or maybe he is just not Scorsese (yet?).

 

(video source FilmTrailerZone)

 

I was not especially thrilled by Keira Knightley‘s performance, and if I am to add the fade performance of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky, I would say that the two make an uninspired pair of lovers. Luckily they are the only uninspired choice in this film,  as Jude Law gives life and a new perspective to Karenin’s character, Domhall Gleeson shows that there is life after Harry Potter, and together with Alicia Vikander make the lovable pair of this version (as Levin and Kitty). (Vikander is a star in becoming, I loved her acting also in A Royal Affair). At the end they add the dose of emotion everybody seeks in such screenings to declare them successful, which is added to the interesting conception and the fresh perspective on some of the characters in order to make of this Anna Karenina not only a visually beautiful version of the story, but also a film to watch for a few more good reasons.

 

 

 

Gauthier Valence is a successful actor. He plays in a prime time soap opera which earns him enough glory to be recognized in the streets and markets and enough money to allow him to put on stage the most ambitious production any French actor dreams about – Moliere’s Le Misanthtrope. Of course he sees himself in the lead role of Alceste, but for the second role of the play, Philinte, he wants to get the participation of his friend, Serge Tanneur, who retired a few years before in a remote corner of France, on the shores of the Atlantic. When traveling to obtain his friend’s (and maybe rival) participation in the production he will find not only that Serge believes that he is the one fit for the lead role, but also that in order to enroll him he will need to engage in a game of rehearsals, first for one day, then for the rest of the week. Did Serge really give up acting, or is he playing a game of power with his old friend and rival, who apparently has so different conceptions about life and acting? Who is the playwright, who is the director, who is the actor in this play?

 

source www.unifrance.org

source www.unifrance.org

 

The series of rehearsals that the two actors play occupy much and the best part of the film. I am just sorry that I did not know how important a role the text of Moliere plays in this film, I would have read it before, as the feelings of the two characters are often expressed by the two actors using the replicas of the play and through the way they act alternatively the roles of Alceste and Philinte. It is amazing how fascinating are the scenes where we see the two men working together and confronting each other. Their role swapping is at the same time a fight for control and a way of marking the differences in their approaches towards acting and towards life, it defines the relation with the other characters (yes, there are several women in the story and one of them plays a relatively small but key role – cherchez la femme), and the complex relations of respect, rivalry and friendship between the two of them.

 

(video source FilmsActu)

 

‘Alceste a bicyclette’ (English title – Cycling with Moliere) directed by Philippe Le Guay is the second excellent French film that I see in the time of a few weeks (the other one was Dans la maison), and the lead actor (as Serge Taneur) is again Fabrice Luchini who is also a co-author of the script. His partner is Lambert Wilson whose figure is maybe recognizable from a number of Hollywood productions, but who really gets here a great role in the tradition of the French theater and cinema. There is some good camera work by Jean-Claude Larrieu using the fabulous beaches at the Atlantic and the endless roads with the heroes riding bicycles, but most of the action takes place between the walls of the decrepit and overpriced house where the two actors rehearse Moliere. It may be the dream of any French actor to play Moliere or a play turning around Moliere’s texts. It is the dream of any lover of French cinema and theater to see such a film. But better come prepared. Read Le Misanthrope first!

 

We are in the same world as in the ’24′ series. America is again under attack and the good guys are again in a race against the clock in order to detect the exact location of the threats and neutralize them. The vision of the script is however so simplistic and one sided that nothing really interesting happens in ‘Unthinkable’ despite the amount of money and talent invested in it. The film is labeled as ‘psychological thriller’ but exactly the psychology complexity specific to the genre is completely missing. The thrill to the extend it exists comes from the usual action movies sources.  The moral dilemma of allowing or not torture is dealt with at comics books level.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0914863/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0914863/

 

If we try to detach the film from what we know about politics it’s not however a bad film of all. As an action thriller with a violence that touches the territories of horror it works pretty well. However the flaws of the vision leave their print on the story and especially on the characters. Two interrogators, one from the FBI closer in approach to the rule of law and the classical methods of interrogation and investigation (Carrie-Anne Moss), the other a professional torturer in the service of the good causes (Samuel L. Jackson) make an ‘unthinkable’ team and will be put in the situation to use the ‘unthinkable’ methods in order to extract information from a terrorist who planted atomic bombs in populated areas of the US. The latest however (Michael Sheen) is the weakest character in the movie, we never get any explanation about the reasons that led an average American young to become a potential mass-murderer of historic dimensions. Even 24 made a much better job in depicting some of its evil heroes.

 

(video source undertoes)

 

I expected this film from a few years, because I liked a lot director Gregor Jordan‘s Buffalo Soldiers. His director hand just improved in the years that passed, but what a difference in vision, from the subtle irony, the comic threads and the anti-militaristic approach of that movie then and the routine simplistic action movie approach in Unthinkable now. The good team of actors do their job with the talent you expect from their names, this film barely passes the threshold of ‘acceptable’ due to the simplistic script and schematic situations the characters are facing and to the way they resolve them.

‘Cronicile genocidului’ este prima carte a lui Radu Aldulescu pe care o citesc, si din relatarile prietenilor si cele citite pe Internet se pare ca nu este alegerea optima. Dupa mai multe romane care s-au ocupat de ultimele decenii ale perioadei comuniste Radu Aldulescu a trecut cu aceasta carte la perioada post-decembrista, cu tarele si sechelele sale. Rezultatul este, dupa recenzii pe care le-am citit, sub nivelul cartilor sale precedente. Cred totusi ca am un avantaj relativ fata de mai bunii cunoscatori ai literaturii lui Aldulescu, caci am putut sa ma bucur de descoperirea inca unui scriitor roman contemporan de incontestabil talent, iar cartile urmatoare (si precedente cronologic) pe care le voi citi imi vor prilejui si o crestere calitativa a lecturii (daca cele scrise de altii sunt corecte).

De la inceput este evident ca viziunea lui Aldulescu din ‘Cronicile genocidului’ asupra lumii romanesti a anilor 2000 numai optimista nu este. ‘oriunde dadeai sa te duci si sa te intorci oamenii isi bateau joc de viata lor in fel si chip: atmosfera surasaturata de plins, esecuri, lumea invirtosindu-se in balele diavolului.’ (pag. 11) ‘Vremurile s-au rasucit, s-au dat peste cap si-au dat la iveala un rai si un iad al betivilor, pe linga raiurile si iadurile viciosilor, obsedatilor si pacatosilor de toata mina.’ (pag. 22). Eroul principal al cartii este un barbat in jurul a 60 de ani, pe nume Robert, zis Diavolul, un fel de suma a esecurilor personale si sociale ale vremurilor – ducand o existenta precara, prestand meserii marginale, dar exercitand o fascinatie asupra femeilor (sau cel putin a unui gen de femei) mai tinere, greu de explicat chiar si dupa ce aflam intr-un tarziu ca exceptionalele sale performante sexuale se datoresc unui priapism. Nereusind sa faca fata costului traiului in Capitala, Robert si sotia sa neoficiala Andreea cu copilul lor se stabilesc intr-un oras de provincie pe nume Frasineni, una dintre acele localitati rurale transformate in orase de ceausism, crescut in jurul unui Combinat al unei industrii neclare, si transformat pana la nerecunoastere pentru Robert, cel reintors in zona dupa trei decenii de peregrinari ratate.

 

sursa ce-am-mai-citit.blogspot.com

sursa ce-am-mai-citit.blogspot.com

 

‘Pe soseaua bulevard central si pe strazile care dadeau in ea treceau jeep-uri ca niste tancuri de lux si limuzine scumpe de toate neamurile, iar pe dealuri aparusera cateva vile cu fatade zugravite-n culori ca niste tipete, cu terase vaste, geamuri imense, fumurii, de termopan, curti pavate cu dale de gresie si marmura, garduri si porti din fier forjat cu camere de supraveghere pe ele, imitind domenii din filme cu clanuri mafiote si magnati miliardari – un alt soi de vis de aur, la care n-au visat la o adica neam de neamul lor de activisti si secretari de partid judeteni, primari de comune si orasele de provincie, directori si sefi de sectie din combinate, deveniti peste noapte patroni, oameni de afaceri prosperi, consilieri locali, sefi de filiale de partid, parlamentari, multimilionari in dolari si euro emanind o pricopseala ce pare sa-si traaga vlaga dintr-o plamada duhnitoare, invirtosata, de chin, saracie lucie si potop de nenorociri de toata mina, precum accidente de circulatie cu tot mai multi morti si raniti pe sosele tot mai aglomerate, boli mortale indesindu-se si diversificindu-se aidoma unor pedepse nemaiprididind sa faca fata pacatelor tot mai multe si mai grele, morti subite sau agonizante provocate de droguri, alcool si alte soiuri de vicii, crime ivite din certuri la betie, tilharii, rafuieli, razbunari, suiciduri, matriciduri, fratriciduri, cataclisme naturale tot mai dese si cu tot mai multe victime, conflicte armate si atacuri teroriste.’ (pag. 39)

Radu Aldulescu foloseste procedeul amestecului intre intamplarile prin care trec personajele sale de la periferia societatii cu comentariul politic de actualitate atribuit altuia dintre personaje, ziaristul Laurian Susanu, care in ziarul de provincie al Frasinenilor scrie ‘Cronicile genocidului’ – articolele care dau titlul cartii. Locul personajului in intriga cartii pune sub semnul intrebarii identificare totala a ziaristului cu autorul, dar ideologia generala a cartii nu lasa indoiala in legatura cu faptul ca opiniile si analizele autorului nu pot fi prea indepartate de cele redate in carte:

‘Multe evenimente postdecembriste, precum cele din martie 1990 de la Tirgu Mures sau mineriadele s-au autoproclamat din capul locului si sint catalogate si azi de cei interesati in acest sens, drept actiuni ale societatii civile dornice de libertate si democratie, fara niciun amestec din partea Securitatii sereiste, care la vremea respectiva, mai mult decit acum, cind deja s-a infipt in pozitia prosperitatii capitaliste, inca trudea din rasputeri pentru inventarea unor noi obiecte ale muncii: partidele istorice nascute pentru a periclita democratia originala iliesciana, prin vinzarea tarii strainatatii sau aducerea inapoi a mosierilor si patronilor care au impilat taranimea si clasa muncitoare, pina la venirea comunistilor salvatori; regele care a plecat din tara cu un vagon de lingouri de aur si vrea sa se intoarca pentru a mai suge din bogatiile tarii; ungurii care tinjesc dupa Ardeal; golanii, drogatii si vindutii din Piata Universitatii care atenteaza la unitatea statului de drept si a democratiei originale, etc.  (pag. 127)

‘In epoca actuala miza este enorma si stind la baza unor averi la care n-ar fi visat neam de neamul lor primarii comunisti si prim-secretarii de judet. Vilele, domeniile private din tinuturi de vis, din paradisurile fiscale de la capatul lumii, conturile din strainatate de zeci si sute de milioane de euro ale politicienilor, baronilor locali, oamenilor de afaceri care dupa ce si-au dat din plin obolul tatalui lor, diavolul, au vrut sa se puna bine si cu Dumnezeu, inchinindu-se concomitent ambilor tati, din banii pentru ridicat biserici si proiectind catedrale faraonice ale neamului, asa incit toate aceste lucruri si fapte vin in sprijinul afirmatiei de bun simt ca miliardarii nostri sint mai frumosi, mai destepti si mai puternici decit ai lor, ai Occidentului.’  (pag. 140-141)

 

sursa www.zf.ro

sursa www.zf.ro

 

Pe acest fundal clar se agita un careu de personaje – Robert Diavolul, Andreea, Laurian si sotia sa Brindusa – scufundati in marasm material (primii doi) si mai ales moral (cu totii). Versul eminescian ‘copil sarac al plebei proletare’ revine de cateva ori in caracterizarea eroului principal, dar este vorba despre un proletariat neproductiv intr-o economie care si-a pierdut puterea de a crea ceva folositor si o societate care si-a pierdut busola. Daca textele lui Laurian aduc aminte in unele momente de ‘Racnetul Carpatilor’ textura din care sunt plamadite personajele este cea din ‘D’ale Carnavalului’ doar ca drama concureaza in intensitate cu farsa. Violenta de limbaj risca in orice moment sa rupa echilibrul si sa se transforme in violenta in actiuni, sinuciderile cateodata esueaza si cateodata reusesc, sperantei nu i se acorda vreo sansa. Precum societatea insasi asa cum este descrisa in carte descinde direct si este o consecinta a esecului proiectului de inginerie sociala ceausist, si eroii par a mosteni pacate ale parintilor, parinti care i-au abandonat timpuriu, si inevitabil, isi vor parasi si ei copiii perpetuand un lant al esecurilor si dezastrelor la scara mai mare sau mai mica.

Apar in aceasta carte cateva dintre temele care revin si in carti similare ale autor autori contemporani pe care i-am citit in ultima vreme (Magda Petreu, Florin Irimia) care au drept cadru tot Romania deceniilor de dupa 1989 – soarta cainilor maidanezi vazuta ca un fel de metafora de rea-prevestire a sortii oamenilor, depopularea numerica dar mai ales sufleteasca a satelor. In compozitie cartea foloseste naratiunea temporala, alternand punctele de vedere ale personajelor principale, cu elemente de roman urban, picaresc, si chiar si de ‘suspens’ in partea sa finala.

Talentul romancierului in a construi actiunea si evolutia personajelor este evident, la fel si in manuirea limbajului, sau mai bine zis a combinatiilor de limbaj. Am fost usor decumpanit de aparenta incoerenta a relatarilor din primele zeci de pagini pana cand m-am dumirit ca Radu Aldulescu povesteste la persoana a treia, dar isi adapteaza stilul naratiunii fluxului de idei al personajului aflat in centrul capitolului sau pasajului. De aici trecerea aproape fluenta de la naratiunea confuz apocaliptica a lui Robert presarata cu strofe de manele la primitivismul sentimentelor Andreei alimentate de telenovelele pe care le urmareste in prostratie, de la retorica politica amestecata cu cariesrism si cinism al lui Laurian la senzualitatea fortata incercand sa compenseze frustrarea a Brindusei. Dialogul telefonic intre Laurian si Andreea este o perla de pseudo-comunicare intre doua personaje lipsite de scrupule dar si disperate de propriile limitari, intr-o limba care acum cincizeci de ani ar fi putut figura pe scenele teatrelor absurdului, dar care astazi este perfect verosimila.

Daca este ceva care lipseste cu desavarsire eroilor si viziunii autorului in ‘Cronicile genocidului’ aceasta este speranta. Scrisa cu o mana sigura, cartea lui Aldulescu prezinta o Romanie cu oameni in permanenta zbatere pentru supravietuire, dar fara teluri, ca sa nu mai vorbim despre valori. Daca exista vreo salvare pentru eroii acestei carti, indicii nu am gasit in paginile ei.

 

For my festive posting on Passover I looked this year at some of the representations of Moses, the great superstar of the event celebrated by the holiday in arts and music.

 

source http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=2164

source http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=2164

 

As with many other Bible subjects the representation of Moses is very popular in the manuscripts that predate the invention of printing. Above you can see ‘Moses and the Ark of the Covenant’ represented in tempera colors and silver paint on parchment in an illuminated German manuscript about 1400 – 1410.

 

source http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=12927

source http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=12927

 

The most famous representation of Moses is probably Michelangelo’s statue on the tomb of pope Julius II the Church of Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) in Rome.

 

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

 

Raffaello Santi (1483-1520) was Michelangelo Buonarroti’s contemporary and rival. His elegant version of Moses Saved from the Water can be admired in the galleries of Palazzi Pontifici in Vatican.

 

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

 

One of the Baroque painters I like a lot is Guido Reni (1575-1642), a sophisticated follower of Caravaggio. His Moses with the Tables of the Law can be admired at Villa Borghese.

 

source http://klp.pl/admin-malarstwo/images/r_rembrandt_bol/r_rembrandt_rembrandt132.html

source http://klp.pl/admin-malarstwo/images/r_rembrandt_bol/r_rembrandt_rembrandt132.html

 

Another famous representation is of Moses Smashing the Tables of the Law by Rembrandt, which can be admired in Berlin, at the Gemäldegalerie.

 

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Turner,_Light_and_Colour_%28Goethe%27s_Theory%29.JPG

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Turner,_Light_and_Colour_%28Goethe%27s_Theory%29.JPG

 

Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) – the Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis is one of the interesting experimental pieces of work of Joseph Mallord William Turner (c.1775–1851). First exposed in 1843,the painting depicts a deluge scene where the natural effects of light and weather (the atmosphere) help Turner not only create almost abstract effects, but also put in colors some of the Goethe’s theory of light and darkness. Moses is only ideally present in the title of the work, as homage to the writer of the Book of Genesis, where the deluge is described.

 

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

source http://onokart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/moses-ii/

 

What about this sensual version of ‘The Finding of Moses’ signed by Frederick Goodall (1822-1904)? Goodall was an Orientalist who actually traveled to Egypt by the time of the construction of the Suez Canal, when the fascinating country came back to the attention of the Europeans.

 

(video source KukMusic)

 

Switching to music, here is a fragment from the intense oratorio Moses by Max Bruch, interpreted by the  Russian Chamber Philharmonic of St. Petersburg conducted by Jürgen Budday. This is a concert recording from the Maulbronn Monastery, of the performances on June 19th & 20th 2004.

 

(video source apcarter)

 

A real gem is the traditional spiritual sang by The Carter Family in 1930 The Rock Where Moses Stood.

 

(video source PowePuffCandy)

 

A fine way to end is the gospel ‘Go Down Moses’ in one of the most famous versions with the line Let My People Go sung by Louis Armstrong.

 

Hag Sameah! A Happy Passover!

 

‘Incercuit de sorgul hibrid ma simteam deznadajduit.

Stateam in grupul compact al firelor de sorg hibrid, tanjind dupa o scena splendida, ce nu va mai exista: toamna tarziu, in luna a opta, cand cerul era inalt si aerul invigorator, sorgul de pe intreaga campie se inrosea intr-o mare nemarginita de sange. Daca se revarsau apele de toamna lanul se prefacea intr-o intindere de ape, iar testele de un rosu intunecat al firelor de sorg se iteau deasupra apelor galbele si namoloase, chemand cu staruinta catre cerul albastru. Daca iesea soarele, luminand puhoaiele uriase, taramul dinspre cer si pamant se inunda de o culoare neobisnuit de bogata si neobisnuit de maiestuoasa.’ (pag. 472)

Acest citat este din pagina finala a romanului ‘Sorgul rosu’ aparut in a doua editie in 2012 la Editura Humanitas fiction, colectia ‘Raftul Denisei’ la scurta vreme dupa ce autorul ei Mo Yan a primit premiul Nobel. Prima editie aparuse in 2008, traducerea ii apartine lui Dinu Luca. Citatul ilustreaza raportarea lui Mo Yan la trecutul Chinei, specifica nu numai lui ci unei generatii de scriitori chinezi contemporani care in atmosfera de relaxare culturala si politica relativa inceputa in anii 80 cauta in trecutul Chinei si in stilul legendelor, povestirilor si romanelor populare, sursa de inspiratie si reinoirea unei traditii literare curmate brutal de instaurarea regimului comunist la mijlocul secolului trecut. In acelasi timp revine in acest fragment si tema sorgului, planta comestibila si furajera care sta la baza economiei zonei Gaomi din nord-estul Chinei in care se petrece actiunea romanului, si care este cadru si simbol al intregii carti (marturisesc ca a trebuit sa recurg la dictionare pentru a ma lamuri sau a-mi reaminti – daca oi fi stiut vreodata – ce este sorgul). Lanurile de sorg o insotesc pe eroina principala, bunica autorului in primul ei drum spre un maritis traditional la inceputul anilor 20, ele sunt asternut pentru prima scena de dragoste a bunicilor, sursa de mancare si de negot, din sorg se fac leacuri si rachiul care le tulbura eroilor mintea si simturile, aceleasi lanuri sunt cadrul bataliilor crude intre chinezi si invadatorii japonezi, si intre diferitele fractiuni armate chineze la sfarsitul anilor 30.

‘De amandoua partile drumului, firele de sorg se stransesera tare ca in niste placi, unindu-se intr-un intreg, bulucindu-se, inghesuindu-se si masurandu-se unul pe altul, in vreme ce spicele verzi-cenusii nu-si deschisesera inca ochii somnorosi si nu se puteau in nici un fel deosebi intre ele. Sorgul era vesnic si fara de capat, semanand cu o apa care curge murmurand. Drumul era uneori deosebit de stramt, iar frunzele de sorg, scaldate in secretiile puricilor de plante, susoteau frecandu-se de peretii lecticii.’  (pag. 55)

 

sursa www.humanitas.ro

sursa www.humanitas.ro

 

Sorgul apare si in titlul a trei din cele cinci capitole in care este structurata cartea. Actiunea se petrece pe o perioada de doua decenii si readuce in amintirea autorului care traieste intr-un prezent al anilor 70-80 cele doua generatii precedente ale familiei sale. Bunica sa Dai Fenglian mosteneste un sot bogat cu care nici nu apucase sa-si consume casatoria si traieste o pasionanta poveste de dragoste cu Yu Zhan’ao – un amestec de brigand si comandant militar, personaj cu dimensiuni de legenda coborat din basmele si povestile populare traditionale. Avem de-a face cu o lume care se transforma intr-un ritm accelerat de la o societate traditionalista guvernata de legi economice si sociale valabile de secole dar si de credinte si superstitii cu aura de fantastic, intr-o lume a realitatii violente a secolului 20, a razboiului civil intre nationalisti si comunisti, a razboiului de aparare impotriva invadatorilor japonezi. Povestirea nu este liniara, polii ei se afla in perioada de inceput a anilor 20 cand se intalnesc cei doi eroi care creaza axul familiei si in anii 1939-1941 cand invadatorii japonezi ocupa zona, supunand populatia civila unor atrocitati inimaginabile. Osciland si alternand cele doua perioade capitolele cartii cladesc din episoade intretesute saga familiei, cu o bogatie de personaje care evolueaza si se contureaza din ce in ce mai clar pe masura ce noi episoade sunt adaugate povestirii.

Este doar a doua carte tradusa din literatura chineza pe care o citesc. Cred ca traducerea din chineza pune nu numai traducatorului ci si cititorului o problema dubla, caci este vorba nu numai de traducerea de cuvinte ci si de cea a conceptelor, a imaginilor, a structurilor sociale si culturale. De exemplu in cea mai mare parte a cartii ocupantii japonezi nu sunt numiti ca atare (niciunul nu are de altfel nume si nu apare ca personaj) ci sunt numiti pur si simplu ‘diavolii’, in timp ce colaboratorii lor chinezi (armata imparatului marioneta care incerca o restauratie anti-republicana cu sprijinul japonezilor) sunt numiti ‘momaile’. Traducatorul Dinu Luca a impletit tonul liric al unora dintre pasaje cu dramatismul evocarilor violente (si romanul contine foarte multe pasaje de o violenta extrema) folosind un limbaj in care numele si poreclele parca coborate din legenda se combina liber cu injuraturile cele mai obscene. Impresia la lectura este puternica si nu de putine ori socanta. Toate simturile cititorului sunt chemate si puse in miscare pentru a construi o imagine a unei lumi in destramare, dominata si coplesita de violenta istoriei.

 

sursa www.asianews.it

sursa www.asianews.it

 

S-a vorbit despre cartea lui Mo Yan ca apartinand genului numit ‘realismul magic’. Practic insa, analizat povestire cu povestire, nu se intampla nimic supranatural in carte. Exista insa o acumulare de evenimente extreme, de situatii limita si de schimbari de destine care impreuna pozitioneaza ceea ce se intampla inspre magie, desi din cartile de istorie stim ca tot ceea ce este descris in carte s-a intamplat sau s-ar fi putut intampla in acea epoca. Magia atrocitatilor daca vreti. Capitolul care poate se apropie cel mai mult de dimensiunea de basm si magie sumbra este cel in care este prezentata infruntarea intre satenii din satul distrus de japonezi si haitele de caini care se hranesc cu starvuri de om de pe campurile mortii. Cainii sunt aici simboluri ale violentei de care este cuprins universul, dar si ale naturii care isi cere partea sa si joaca un rol determinant in echilibrul (cat exista) al acestui univers.  Daca sorgul este elementul vegetal al acestui univers, cainii il reprezinta pe cel animal, si exista o permanenta si macabra confruntare dar si schimb de materie intre elementele uman, animal si vegetal.

‘Pentru ca infulecasera carne de om, ochii albi ai tuturor cainilor erau brazdati de firicele dese de sange, iar cele cateva luni de infulecat carne cruda si de viata de lupte desteptasera in strafundurile lor amintiri pe care traiul domesticit de sute de mii de ani le amortise. Ii urau acum pe oameni – animalele acestea care umbla pe doua picioare – pana in maduva oaselor. Infulecandu-le carnea. cainii nu numai ca isi potoleau matele care le chioraiau de foame, ci, mai important, simteau oarecum ca, facand aceasta, arunca manusa lumii oamenilor – ca se razbuna crancen pe stapanitorii care ii tinusera atata amar de vreme in sclavie.’ (pag. 266)

S-a discutat mult dupa ce Mo Yan a primit premiul Nobel despre masura in care este nevoie de curaj si caracter pentru a scrie si a publica asemenea carti in China de astazi. Imaginea prezentata este complexa si nu sunt ocolite contraditiile epocii descrise, si nici nu este idealizata vreuna dintre partile participante in luptele civile din perioada interbelica chineza. Nu exista nici o critica foarte clara a ceea stim ca a urmat in istoria Chinei, desi unele pasaje din capitolul final exprima si dezamagirea eroului fata de destramarea lumii in care au trait parintii si bunicii, fata de micimea contemporaneitatii sale relativ la dimensiunile de legenda ale epocii si caracterelor care stau in centrul povestirii, si fata de felul in care birocratia comunista de comporta fata de unul dintre eroii trecutului. Daca ar trebui sa gasesc un termen de comparatie cu literatura romana, atitudinea lui Mo Yan seamana cu cea a lui Marin Preda in perioada sa de maturitate, cand se uita inapoi spre obsedantul deceniu si mai inapoi spre perioada ascensiunii dreptei romanesti si a rebeliunii legionare. Neaderenta la dogma oficiala este evidenta si in stil si in ton, dar critica este facuta cu manusi, poate cu mainile inclestate in pumni, dar totusi cu manusi, pentru a face cartile publicabile in conditiile in care scriitorul a ales sa ramana sa traiasca si sa scrie in tara si sa publice in conditiile existentei unei cenzuri mai mult sau mai putin severe, niciodata inexistenta sau foarte toleranta. Este o optiune care poate fi desigur discutata, dar cert este ca intenstatea si calitatea scrierii lui Mo Yan nu fac de rusine distinctiile primite si justifica popularitatea de care se bucura.

 

The Danes tried to put a ‘coup d’etat’ at the Academy Awards this year with ‘En kongelig affære’ (‘A Royal Affair’) directed by Nikolaj Arcel. Having seen that stories about royals and especially about queens bring Oscar statuettes every other year, they put together an impressive historic production based on a steamy story of love, sex, insanity and social reform, all based on true events which took place at the Danish court in the second half of the 18th century. Only one story, one film, based only on ‘Amour’ stood between ‘A Royal Affair’ and the Oscar for the best foreign language film.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1276419/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1276419/

 

 

The Royal Affair takes place in the second half of the 18th century, by the time winds of changes were blowing all over Europe originating in the ideas of the Enlightenment, and the kings of Europe were losing their minds or their heads. Denmark was ruled by (another) insane king named Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) who took more interest in his dogs and in prostitutes than in his young, beautiful and English wife Caroline Mathilde (the superb Swede actress Alicia Vikander). Her education abroad made her receptive to the ideas of the Enlightenment at a time when Denmark was one of the more conservative kingdoms in Europe, with politics dominated by puritan clergy. When the personal physician of the king Johann Struensee (the excellent Mads Mikkelsen) gains influence and slowly takes over the affairs of the kingdom  the queen will find in him a companion in ideas, and soon also in bed. The period of one year while doctor Struensee led Denmark saw the introduction of a set of the earliest and most radical reformist legislation in Europe. When the king fell completely into folly and the affair between the queen and the prime minister became to visible for the small conservative country, the clergy, nobility and disaffected branch of the royal family plotted to take power, arrested the prime minister, isolated the king and sent the queen into exile. The country reverted for about two decades back into feudalism until the children of the queen (who had died in the meantime) came to power and set the base of modern Denmark.

 

(video source VISO trailers)

 

‘A Royal Affair’ enjoys a very careful production, with great attention to details, and is well acted. Best parts are actually the psychological games played by the triangle composed of the king with his insanity combined with childish outbreaks of goodness, of the beautiful and dedicated queen whose trust in good guides her in all deeds except in her private life, and of the charismatic physician who seems to understand well that his path to glory is doomed to end into disgrace at best, and almost certainly into violent death. It is actually the overall production and the careful reconstitution of the life in the North of Europe in the 18th century that is directed with somehow a stiff hand. The historical details may certainly interest and are relevant to the Danes, but less to the viewers who are not so knowledgeable or interested in local history. Although the characters are interesting and the 18th century story is well told, the film lacks exactly that higher dose of personal drama which could have helped him overcome the two 21st century old musicians at their twilight in the race for the Oscars. A little bit of insanity borrowed from the kind could have helped.

Dans la maison (In the House) directed by Francois Ozon is one of the the most surprising films i have seen lately. Adaptation of a play, the screen is so smart that my major question is how is it that Woody Allen did not write it first? or maybe he wrote it under disguise?

 

source www.impawards.com

source www.impawards.com

 

It is really such an Allen-esque story, which mingles real life and imagination, the writer as a creator of life, and life as a creator of literature.  It even has a thread about relations of adults and underage and even if it loses a little bit of steam by the end, talking so much about a good ending for the story that it forgets to create a real good and non-conventional one, it is still one of the smartest and most original scripts I have watched lately brought in screen. The hero is a professor of literature Germain (Fabrice Luchini), smart enough to abhor the re-introduction of uniforms in high school, whose literary ambitions were not fulfilled and who finds a goal (and a change in the routine) in pygmalionizing one of his pupils Claude (Ernst Umhauer) in the ways of literature. As it happens Clude’s subjects are his friend and colleague Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), his house which is the middle class dream for a poor kid from the peripheries, and his family or especially his mother (Emmanuelle Seigner) who becomes the object of his teenage dreams and guilty desires. As the story develops, the house becomes the stage of the action, reality inspires fiction at first just to make room for literary fiction becoming reality, the intervention of the teacher becomes much more than correction of grammar or style, it starts to be correction of destinies. All in a fluent and well paced style for most of the time.

 

(video source abcscope)

 

I liked the acting of Fabrice Luchini, well supported by other fine actors as the two charming Kristin Scott Thomas (as his wife, co-reader of Rapha’s essays and supporting character playing eventually a surprising role in the story) and Emmanuelle Seigner. All of them act solidly, their problems are credible, and we can feel the atmosphere and the torments of the middle class in the French province. The two teenager roles are played with the natural touch and expected freshness by Ernst Umhauer and Bastien Ughetto (the latest is very promising, may he have luck in getting distributed in roles that fit his talent and his face!). Overall it’s a smart and funny movie, worth seeing for many reasons.

 

 

Bass usually takes a back seat in jazz performances. Starting with the location on the stage, where the bass is relegated to the back of the stage (maybe no to dwarf the other instruments some will say) and especially in sounds where the it provides tonal counterpoint and rhythmic support. However in a typical jazz concert the bassists have at best a few solos. Not when Avishai Cohen and one of his bands is on stage! One of the things that is different is that with Cohen the bass dominates the show, is in the center and directing everything else that happens from a musical point of view, not to speak of Cohen’s own personality. Now, after having followed the show last night at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv I need to get back to his older recordings with musicians like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove to see and hear again how he performed when he was part of the band or supporting other musicians.

 

avishay_cohen

 

The band last night at Zappa was not his usual trio (or the one he was performing with all over the world during the last year. Pianist Nitai Hershkowitz is the latest revelation of Cohen, and he is excellent – warm, articulated, with a rich sound and perfect understanding of Cohen’s musical soul. I was less impressed by the guest drummer, the Spanish Jorge Rossi – he is OK but not at the level of Cohen and Hershkowitz, but his presence was fine for the last ‘Spanish/South-American’ part of the show. Cohen himself was impressive, he is at the pick of his strength and maturity, he covers the whole stage and makes the audience vibrate despite of the fact that his music is almost at no moment ‘easy’, he relates to his instrument as to a peer with whom he dances and makes love to, and gets some of the best possible sounds.

 

(video source Avishai Cohen Music)

 

I found on the Internet a full concert of Cohen with his (original) trio from 2012, with many lines of similarity in duration and music with what he did last night in Tel Aviv. His music is complex and sophisticated, piano and bass have almost equal parts, and most of the compositions inspired (also) from the Jewish ethos and Bible characters have personality and dramatic power. If he is around your place (he will be in Romania later this spring for example) do not miss him!