Archive for May, 2013

As everybody is bracing for the second series of the new Star Trek series, I realized this is the right moment to see the first episode which somehow I missed a few years ago. I am a fan of the Star Trek TV series and movies, so there were little chances for me not to like this film. The passing of the torch from Gene Roddenberry who created the original series to J.J. Abrams makes a lot of sense to me, as I see in Abrams the successor of Roddenberry in creating science-fiction which keeps the right balance between science and fiction while adding human and in the best moments philosophical meanings to the action on screen, with an universal message that while the Universe may be infinite and the borders of knowledge just expect to be pushed further and further, the basic values that govern this Universe are the same, whatever form they wear.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0796366/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0796366/

 

The story in this first series of Star Trek is a prequel to where the original series started in the 60s. Same as George Lucas did with Star Wars, we are being brought to an earlier phase of the conflict between the Federation and the Romulans, and we get to know all the familiar characters of the original series at an earlier age. Rigorous science was never the strong point of Star Trek, one accepts the conventions in order to enjoy the show, so the space travel as well as hint of alternate universes Abrams likes is used here as well, and it’s not necessary to analyze it too closely to find some flaws. What counts is however the way the young actors build their characters and how they drive them towards becoming what we know that they will be in the series that began back in the 60s. The effects around are pretty standard for the space wars kind of movies, and the old tricks like the ‘transporter’ have kind of a ‘retro’ look. Here lies actually part of the charm of this film, and this balances to some extent the ‘teens on space ships’ moments, or even the ‘intergalactic sex’ scene (yes, there is one, not too explicit, do not worry).

 

(video source muiemanelistilor)

 

The presence of Leonard Nimoy as old Mr. Spock living thanks to some time travel tricks to meet his young self played by Zachary Quinto ensures continuity and connects well with the older TV series. Young captain Kirk is played by Chris Pine and I probably need to wait for the next series to see how he evolves into the character of Kirk as I remember him. A few good actors I know from TV series (Karl Urban, John Cho) add good supporting acting to the cast. Reasonable action combines well with nostalgia, but this combustible is already burnt out completely in the first episode. I hope that the coming series will find something new and interesting that speaks not only to the captive audiences like myself but also to the broader ones who were less exposed to large doses of the older Star Trek series and movies.

 

 

Felul in care este scrisa ‘Mamica la doua albastrele’ are multe elemente din romanele ‘de tensiune’. Aproape ca as putea spune ca aceasta carte a Doinei Rusti aparuta in colectia “Ego.Proza” a editurii Polirom, 2013 si-ar putea gasi locul si in rafturile dedicate genurilor ‘horror’. Elementele determinante ale persoanelor si date cheie despre trecutul lor ne sunt descoperite treptat, modul in care  sunt tranmise cititorilor face ca atitudinea acestora fata de personaje sa se schimbe pe masura ce avanseaza in lectura, si este comisa la un moment dat o crima al carei autor este dezvaluit doar in ultima pagina a cartii.  ’Horror’-ul acestei carti este constituit insa dintr-o materie putin diferita de cea obisnuita a romanelor genului. El este mediul social corupt si vulgarizat al societatii romanesti din deceniile dinainte si de dupa 1989, degradarea relatiilor umane, pierderea valorilor si lipsa oricarei perspective reale de mai bine in viitor. Este somnul decentei care naste monstri.

Primele 10-15 din cele 80 de capitole scurte de 2-3 pagini care compun cartea introduc personajele principale, produse tipice ale clasei mijlocii bucurestene. None Bulgaru este operator de televiziune si traieste o viata tipic plafonata, cu ceva deasupra liniei de plutire, ca multi altii. Este casatorit cu Flori, asistenta medicala intr-un mare spital bucurestean, locuieste impreuna cu mama sa Geta care aflam ca i-a crescut pe None si pe Iuliana (sora plecata de multi ani la munca in Spania si stabilita acolo fara sanse de intoarcere) ca mama singura dupa ce familia fusese abandonata de tata pe la inceputul anilor 80. Perechea are o fetita in pragul intrarii la scoala primara despre care vom afla mai tarziu ca este adoptata, si care pare a fi tipul copilului alintat din cauza neglijentei parintilor prea ocupati cu ei insisi si a limitarii acestora. O domnisoara Goe cu telefon mobil, laptop si cont fictiv pe Facebook. Chiar si legatura extraconjugala cu cantareata Li Zeta pe care None o cunoaste in timpul filmarii unui interviu este coplesita de aceeasi mediocritate, este mai mult o incercare de evadare din propria plictiseala si limitare, esuata si in comunicare, si sentimental, si sexual.

 

sursa www.elefant.ro

sursa www.elefant.ro

 

Doina Rusti a dorit sa-si implanteze romanul in stricta actualitate si pentru a realiza acest efect a inserat la fiecare cateva capitole ale naratiunii care un episod care il descrie pe premierul Victor Ponta conversand internetic cu o sustinatoare anonima care semneaza ‘mamica la doua albastrele’ pe fundalul evenimentelor politice romanesti din a doua jumatate a anului 2012. Pentru mine aceasta gaselnita scriitoriceasca a functionat destul de bine, ea largind contextul actiunii si dand celor ce se intampla in carte si o tenta politica, dar pariul s-ar putea sa devina riscant pe termen lung, caci in cativa ani probabil ca putina lume isi va mai aminti despre evenimentele anului 2012 si desigur nu cu aceeasi acuitate.

Dezvoltarea actiunii si a personajelor rezerva destul de multe surprize cititorilor. Niciunul dintre eroi nu este exact ceea ce pare la inceputul cartii, si nici trecutul care se dezvaluie treptat nu numai cititorilor ci si personajului principal nu este cel care parea sa fie la prima relatare. Daca ar fi sa generalizam putin ‘Mamica la doua albastrele’ poate fi citita si ca povestea imploziei unei celule familiale care era construita pe aparente si lipsita de liantul emotional care sa o poata sa faca fata presiunilor unei lumi care din multe puncte de vedere a luat-o razna. Daca actiunea primei parti a cartii se desfasoara in mare parte in spatiul unui apartament de bloc bucurestean dintre cele mai banale, sfarsitul cartii nu ii va mai gasi pe niciunul dintre eroi in acelasi loc. Niciunul dintre eroii care supravietuiesc vreau sa zic …

 

sursa - Doina Rusti

sursa – Doina Rusti

 

Comunicarea internetica pare sa fi luat in mare masura locul comunicarii umane in lumea in care traiesc personajele cartii Doinei Rusti. Acestea isi petrec o mare parte a timpului butonand telefoane inteligente si laptopuri, iar sentimentele se exprima nu atat prin dialog cat prin SMS-uri sau postari pe Facebook si pe blogurile personale. Acest gen de comunicare este insotit de toate pericolele specifice mediei, de la mascaradele sau indrazneala extrema ascunse in spatele anonimitatii, trecand prin intelegerea gresita a mesajelor datorita distorsionarii cauzate de mesageria de text lipsita de limbajul insotitor al semnelor si gesturilor din comunicarea directa, si pana la accesul (interzis prin lege, dar cine controleaza …) al copiilor la continut indecent. Toate personajele sufera de pe urma acestei mis-comunicari internetice, de la prescolara Carina pana la  primul-ministru. Este una dintre primele carti din literatura romana in care pericolele comunicarii pe net sunt puse in evidenta in mod aproape explicit, si in mod sigur vor urma si altele.

Daca este un personaj putin neglijat in cartea Doinei Rusti el este cel al fetitei adoptate de cuplul None-Flori. Cred ca prima intrebare pe care i-as pune-o autoarei daca as avea sansa sa o intalnesc sau sa-i pun intrebari pentru un interviu ar fi ‘Ce credeti ca se va intampla cu Carina dupa sfarsitul acestei carti?’. Aproape ca intr-un film al lui Polanski fetita inocenta se dovedeste a fi aproape un monstru, dar cine este de vina pentru asta? Acesta ar putea fi subiectul unei viitoare carti a excelentei prozatoare.

With Pozitia Copilului (Child’s Pose)  the Romanian cinema seems to complete a cycle that started almost a decade ago with Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu). The path was marked by a number of prizes at important cinema festivals around the world, with the first candidacy of a Romanian film for an Academy Award, but more important by the recognition by viewers that Romania is one of the locations where some of the most interesting movies come from, and that a specific style, a consistent set of themes, and a typology of characters combine to make the Romanian cinema distinct from other film schools. It did help that many of the actors in these films are constant collaborators of the leading directors of the ‘wave’, some of them becoming familiar faces to world cinema spectators. Luminita Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache – the lead actors here – acted also in Moartea Domnului Lazarescu, while Vlad Ivanov was the evil figure in 4,3,2.

 

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2187115/

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2187115/

 

As many of the good Romanian films in this period Calin Peter Netzer‘s movie can be seen and interpreted at multiple layers. One of them is composed of the social realities of Romania more than two decades after the fall of the communism. Class disparities are more obvious than in other places and contrast with the forced (and false) egalitarianism that dominated the Romanian society for most of the second half of the 20th century. The introductory scenes build for the viewer the context of the relations of the mid-upper class where the main heroes belong, with bourgeois occupations and family crisis, stylish social events and opera master classes. The obsessive relationship between the dominant mother and the spoiled son who seems to behave like an ingrate brute defines the second layer, the one of the personal relations between the characters. When the road accident that turns the world of the heroes upside down happens, the heroes will be obliged to make contact with the other Romania, the one of the pauper country people, with course manners but maybe with more character and moral strength. The system of relations and corruption is immediately put in motion by the mother, trying to protect her son and make him avoid the consequences of his behavior – a social comment about today’s Romania which does not go lost neither for the Romanian nor for the foreign viewer. While this part is more clearly cut, there is no moral judgment made on the rest of the relations, and this is a smart choice made by the director.

 

(video source megatrailer)

 

The rest is left to the actors and they are simply said wonderful. Luminita Gheorghiu as the possessive mother and Bogdan Dumitrache as the traumatized son who makes all the wrong moves at the wrong moments in order to cut-off the invisible umbilical cord  play one of the most meaningful and highly charged mother-son relationships that I have seen lately. Most of the actors in the supporting cast give sincere and expressive performances, which I would rather describe not as acting but as living their roles. A few memorable scenes (the master class at the beginning and the final scene of the confrontation with the family of the kid killed in the accident) may live in the memory of the viewers even longer than the rest of the film. Dealing with a subject that could have easily turned into melodrama or soap opera Pozitia Copilului succeeds to make a sharp social comment that works well with the more universal story of a suffocating love which is touched by miscommunication and tragedy.

Marturisesc ca am fost socat in multe momente ale lecturii cartii istoricului clujean Horia Bozdoghina ‘Antisemitismul lui A.C.Cuza in politica romaneasca’ aparuta la Editura Curtea Veche in colectia ‘Istorie si politica’. Istoria antisemitismului romanesc este departe de a-mi fi straina, am invatat-o si in mare masura am trait-o din experienta si povestirile familiei mele, iar in ultimele decenii am avut ocazia sa citesc cateva carti de referinta in domeniu si in primul rand ‘Imaginea evreului in cultura romana’, de fapt o adevarata istorie a antisemitismului romanesc scrisa de Andrei Oisteanu. Horia Bozdoghina se ocupa in aceasta carte de una dintre figurile marcante ale antisemitismului politic si cultural romanesc din ultimul deceniu al secolului 19 si primele decenii ale secolului 20 – A.C.Cuza – si tocmai restrangerea si focalizarea cercetarii asupra unui singur personaj face si mai flagranta virulenta activitatii sale politice, nocivitatea conceptiilor si consecintele nefaste ale actiunilor sale. Volumul – prefatat de Radu Ioanid – apare sub egida Institutului National pentru Studierea Holocaustului din Romania “Elie Wiesel” si autorul are in bibliografie inca doua studii dedicate personalitatilor dreptei nationaliste romanesti – unul despre Nicolae Iorga si altul (scris in colaborare) despre polemica din jurul ‘cazului Paulescu’.

Ceea ce imi lipsea din cunostinte, in afara de virulenta limbajului si extremismul dus pana la absurd al conceptiilor pe care le dezvaluie aceasta carte este caracterul de precursor al antisemitismului romanesc.

‘Acuzat ca ar fi fost influentat de nazisti si ca ar fi imitat politica nazistilor in Romania, A.C.Cuza a negat vehement aceste invinuiri. El declara, la 28 noiembrie 1936, urmatoarele: “S-a spus ca noi am imitat pe Hitler. Un singur fapt am sa relev, anume ca eu am scris primul meu studiu, <Generatia de la 48 si Era Noua> in februarie 1889, iar Hitler s-a nascut in acelasi an, dar la 20 aprilie; presupun ca nu aveam ce sa luam de la dansul ca doctrina. Nu, domnilor, noi suntem premergatorii lui Adolf Hitler, pentru ca am venit cum am aratat, de la 1889, cand el abia se nascuse.” (pag. 199)

Adeptii protocronismului mai pot adauga o realizare romaneasca listelor lor! Studiul lui Horia Bozdoghina scoate in evidenta inceputurile socialiste si junimiste ale tanarului doctor in drept si in stiinte politice la prestigioase universitati franceze si belgiene, intors in ultimele decenii ale secolului 19 in Iasi, si alunecat in scurta vreme pe panta explicatiilor simpliste si aberante pe care antisemitismul le furniza problemelor reale ale Romaniei in constructie. In 1895 A.C.Cuza pune chiar bazele unei Aliante Antisemite Internationale impreuna cu Nicolae Iorga, dand o dimensiune internationala activitatii sale politice antisemite. Pe plan national colaborarea cu Nicolae Iorga va dura pana la primul razboi mondial, cei doi constituind si conducand Partidul National-Democrat, care il aduce pentru prima data pe A.C.Cuza si in Parlamentul Romaniei. Drumurile politice ale lui Cuza si Iorga se vor desparti dupa Marea Unire si dupa razboi, Iorga moderandu-si pozitiile antisemite si pledand pentru asocierea Romaniei cu puterile democrate occidentale, care in viziunea sa erau mai probabil sa sustina cauza integritatii frontierelor Romaniei Mari. Sirul asocierilor lui A.C.Cuza nu se va opri insa aici, printre tovarasii sai de drum se vor afla de-a lungul timpului generalul Averescu, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Nechifor Crainc, si in partea finala a carierei sale politice Octavian Goga. A.C.Cuza a fost profesor universitar, membru al Academiei Romane, iar la implinirea varstei de 80 de ani, majoritatea intelectualitatii romanesti si conducerea bisericii ortodoxe i-au adus elogii pentru o activitate si o ‘opera’ compusa in cea mai mare parte din manifestari si scrieri antisemite.

 

sursa http://www.curteaveche.ro/antisemitismul-lui-a-c-cuza-in-politica-romaneasca.html

sursa http://www.curteaveche.ro/antisemitismul-lui-a-c-cuza-in-politica-romaneasca.html

 

Inca un element de surpriza pentru mine: Daca in zilele noastre – de fapt in perioada de dupa Holocaust – insusi cuvintele ‘antisemitism’ sau ‘antisemit’ sunt considerate incriminante nu asa stateau lucrurile in perioada in care a activat A.C.Cuza.

“El isi definea antisemitismul ca pe o misiune stiintifica si politica. Pentru el, evreii devenisera problema esentiala a civilizatiei romanesti. Ca profesor la catedra de Economie Politica a Universitatii din Iasi, cursurile sale erau imbacsite de antisemitism.”
(pag. 50)

Limbajul folosit de A.C.Cuza folosea in mod curent termenul ‘jidan’. Programele sale politice s-au ocupat in mod consecvent de-a lungul a mai multor decenii de ‘problema jidaneasca’. Fie ca este vorba despre Partidul National-Democrat de dinaintea primului razboi mondial, despre Liga Apararii National Crestine din perioada interbelica sau despre Partidul National-Crestin format impreuna cu Goga la sfarsitul acestei perioade, programele politice cuprindeau prevederi cum ar fi “expulzarea evreilor din sate, unde nu au dreptul sa locuiasca, excluderea evreilor din armata, eliminarea evreilor din presa romaneasca, exluderea evreilor din toate functiile, …’ (pag. 39) si asta intr-o prima faza. Faza urmatoare includea expulzarea evreilor din Romania in … Madagascar “pentru ca Madagascarul este o insula. Si-i vom putea supraveghea mai usor pe jidani sa nu mai iasa din hotarele ei.” (pag. 219)

Cartea lui Horia Bozdoghina dedica doua capitole pretentiilor de teorie stiintifica ale antisemitismului lui Cuza si componentei sale religioase. In prezentarea antisemitismului ca pe o stiinta A.C.Cuza l-a avut partener pe savantul Nicolae C. Paulescu, atins si el de virusul antisemitismului. ‘Stiinta antisemitismului’ incropita de acestia nu este altceva decat un amestec de aberatii rasiale, statistici deformate, interpretari de tipologie si istorice rauvoitoare si lipsite de baza. Componenta religioasa este si mai ridicola negand originile istorice evreiesti ale crestinismului si identitatea evreiasca a lui Iisus si propunand nici mai mult nici mai putin decat o reforma a crestinismului care sa scoata Vechiul Testament (‘jidanesc’) din randul cartilor sfinte, precum si invataturile apostolilor care amintesc originea iudaica a lui Iisus. Iudaismul este ‘analizat’ si rastamacit de A.C.Cuza, i se neaga esenta monoteista si i se atribuie elemente satanice. Trebuie mentionat ca o parte din clerul ortodox al vremii a combatut aceste aberatii cu tenta de erezie, dar au fost si destui care le-au sustinut sau le-au tolerat, nu intre cei din urma patriarhul Miron Cristea, ajuns prim-ministru in perioada dictaturii regale.

Sunt urmarite in mod detaliat in carte activitatile politice ale lui A.C.Cuza atat in perioada de dinainte de Marea Unire cat si in cea interbelica. Sunt descrise programele diferitelor formatii politice pe care acesta le-a intemeiat si le-a condus, ceea ce doar pune in evidenta consecventa virulenta a antisemitismului care a stat la baza tuturor. Negarea drepturilor politice si economice ale evreilor, refuzul acordarii cetateniei inainte de razboi si anularea cetateniei evreilor dupa razboi, adoptarea de masuri discriminatorii anti-evreiesti in toate domeniile vietii economice, sociale, culturale, si in final cererea de expulzare a evreilor din Romania revin in mod obsesiv in toate aceste programe politice. Sunt descrise in detaliu si rezultatele obtinute de aceste partide in alegerile din cele doua perioade. Este dupa parerea mea o nota de onoare pentru electoratul romanesc faptul ca in niciuna dintre cele doua perioade partidele extremiste nationaliste si antisemite conduse de A.C.Cuza nu au obtinut un procentaj semnificativ in alegeri democratice. Daca ne uitam la simpatia si colaborarea de care s-a bucurat A.C.Cuza in cercuri largi ale intelectualitatii romanesti putem spune ca electoratul a reactionat in mod mai sanatos decat varfurile intelectualitatii la virusul antisemitismului. Partidele lui Cuza au obtinut sub 5% din voturi in majoritatea alegerilor din Romania burgheza-democrata, ceea ce a dus ca in unele perioade sa fie chiar excluse de la reprezentarea parlamentara.

Chiar si cand au fost adusi la putere de catre Carol al II-lea in decembrie 1937 adeptii lui Cuza uniti cu cei ai lui Goga nu obtinusera nici macar 10% din voturile electoratului, asta in perioada ascensiunii fasciste si naziste in Europa, si in conditiile unei crize politice in care actiunile violente ale legionarilor si ‘lancerilor’ lui Cuza aveau darul sa intimideze si sa influenteze opinia publica din Romania. Un element informativ extrem de interesant este dezvaluirea legaturilor dintre partidul lui Cuza si partidul nazist german, care vedea in el un aliat si un agent in Romania. Venirea la putere a guvernului Goga-Cuza a durat numai 44 de zile dar a avut o influenta nefasta in toata evolutia politica a situatiei din Romania. Primele legi adoptate au pus imediat in aplicare programul antisemit al lui Cuza – au fost exclusi ziaristii evrei din presa si au fost inchise cateva dintre ziarele opuse guvernului, a fost revocata cetatenia romana evreilor care o primisera dupa primul razboi mondial. Antisemitismul a devenit in Romania politica de stat, si aceasta situatie avea sa continue pana la 23 august 1944. Pe drum Romania isi va reorienta politica externa de la statele democrate europene spre Axa, va pierde o parte din teritoriile Romaniei Mari si va fi angrenata in al doilea razboi mondial alaturi de Germania nazista. Odata cu instaurarea completa a dictaturii regale si apoi a celei antonesciene se incheie si cariera politica a lui A.C.Cuza, construita in mod paradoxal pe democratia pluralista pe care a facut atata in practica pentru a o submina.

Am citit cartea lui Horia Bozdoghina pe nerasuflate. Este o lectura pasionanta care traseaza portretul si cariera unui politician cu idei brutale si nefaste care a avut o influenta negativa asupra istoriei romanesti. In acelasi timp cartea este bine documentata, cu citate si referinte permanente care sustin majoritatea afirmatiilor. Unele repetitii puteau fi evitate, si poate ca ar fi ajutat si cateva ilustratii. O editie ulterioara, poate accesibila unui public mai larg, poate va contine unele imbunatatiri. Inainte de toate este insa o lectura necesara pe care o recomand tuturor celor care doresc sa cunoasca evenimentele istoriei romanesti din prima parte a veacului trecut, evenimente care au implicatii si repercusiuni pana in zilele noastre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having liked the last film of Francois Ozon (Dans la maison‘) as well as some of his previous work I jumped on the opportunity of seeing one of his earlier works screened at the local cinematheque. ’5×2′ is based on an interesting idea – telling the story of a relationship in five episodes backwards, from its breaking in divorce to the moment of the ignition, although the idea was not completely new by 2004 when the film was made, as Christopher Nolan‘s Memento was made in 2000 and Gaspar Noe‘s Irreversible in 2002. Although Noe’s film was also telling the story of a relationship, both predecessors were much more violent films. I almost have the feeling that Francois Ozon tried to experiment the same technique of story telling and picked on purpose a quite banal relationship story, broke it into episodes and told it a la reverse, experimenting with the output. Can a director tell a nicer and softer story this way? Will it gain in interest? Will the perspective change because of the story telling technique?

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0354356/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0354356/

 

The answer to the last question is ‘somehow, yes’. The story of the eventually failed relation between Marion (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss) has nothing extraordinary by itself, it’s a rather banal encounter of mid-class professionals, they fall for each other, they marry, they have a child, betrayals and occasional sex games throw some ambiguity in their lives, the parents may or may not influence the couple, and eventually the marriage does not hold, as half of the marriages facing similar crisis do not hold, while the other half do.  The technique of telling the story changes the pace – by making us anticipate what happened BEFORE and not AFTER, after we realize the trick – and the eventual feeling – by telling us the first encounter last the ultimate impression is positive, despite the fact that as viewers we know that in the real logic of time the story does not end well. The director however decided here to reverse time and by doing this, the happy beginning turned into some kind of a happy end.

 

(video source ZahranicniTrailery)

 

Good acting supports the director’s intention. Both lead actors are credible, they play in a sincere and direct manner, and I suspect that if I had seen the variant where time runs normally (actually Ozon made such a variant) I would have been slightly disappointed. ’5×2′ is an apparently simple exercise in story-telling which is smarter than it first seems.

 

I do not have too much time for TV series, so I watch less than a handful of them each season. J.J.Abrams is one of the producers I follow and I try not to miss the series created by him. For most of the time I was captivated by Lost, and I was disappointed when Alcatraz was discontinued. Now another one comes to its end, and although Fringe was far from Abrams’ best, it had enough reasons for me to follow it weekly during all its five seasons.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1119644/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1119644/

 

 

I am wondering whether how J.J. Abrams conceives his series. Lost started like a fictional version of reality show Survivor, to slide soon into science-fiction and then expand into cosmological saga, and this is where it started to lose me. Did J.J. plan this from start? To some extent Fringe followed a similar path. It started as a science-fiction and strange events investigation series, it included even political and anti-corporate messages which got lost in time, and many compared it with X-Files. I personally would have considered this the supreme praise, as X-Files is my preferred TV series of all times. It certainly had its oddities, and its funny science, but this was to some point an element of charm. In the second and third season the science fiction threads became more complex, with the alternate worlds and the communication between them succeeding to keep my interest awake. The romantic thread started or was predictable from the beginning, and it only became more complex in time with the addition of the different instances of the characters in other universes. With time travel an ubiquitous technology the last two seasons projected us in the future, and the salvation of mankind became again the goal of the action. Here I got against lost. Beyond the lack of credibility of the story, the thought that characters I became familiar and resonate with have to save mankind makes me slightly uncomfortable.

 

(video source Jack Smith)

 

There are however many good reason I loved and watched this show for five years. First of all the retro atmosphere was fun and I could resonate with. Semi-crazy scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) exits after almost two decades spent in a mental institution at the beginning of the series, and his retro leanings cover not only science, but also candies and ‘substances’, and the music and the feelings of my younger years. The relation between Walter and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) is one of the most amazing relationships father-son that I have seen on screen or read in literature ever. The love story between Peter and Olivia (Anna Torv) builds slowly but convincingly, and makes us resonate with them. A few more characters around are well constructed, and even the ‘invaders’ have a dimension of their own (I cannot call it human, can I?). Overall the characters are much better than the stories which are pretty routine action, and the simplicity and straightness of the relations between them balances the pomposity and sometimes the over-morality of the action. It’s one of these shows where I would rather remember the small details than the big picture.

There is a woman behind any great man, or so they say. According to the story told in ‘Hitchcock’ this may never have been more true than in the case of the famous master of suspense that was Alfred Hitchcock. His wife Alma Reville was a talented script-writer, a focused and sharp assistant-director, and above all a dedicated wife who not only did all she could to support in many ways the genial director, but also made sacrifices and put intentionally in shadows her own self to ensure his indisputable success. Sacha Gervasi‘s first(!) long feature film is apparently the saga of making the masterpiece of the horror genre called Psycho, but for me is before all a film about Mrs. Hitchcock.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0975645/

 

One thing that Hollywood knows to do well is movies about Hollywood. This is the case again with Hitchcock, a film which radiates love for cinema, succeeds to be funny and is a reverence at the same time towards one of the directors who was a darling and a maverick of the film industry at the same time, dominating the suspense, horror and spy films genre in the 50s. We see him here at the top of his creativity, after a series of successes which he knows he must avoid repeating in style in order to stay relevant when crossing the threshold of the age of 60. This is not simple even for the legendary Hitch, as the (Hollywood) system would rather have him go on the safe path of blockbusters, and much of the story in the film is about taking artistic and personal risks in order for him to make the movies he wants. His eccentricities and oddities are presented in details and with delights, yet they hide his more serious search for artistic truth and a fight against aging and the drought of creativity he fears will come with the years. Hitch takes an enormous bet, but we all know the results. Psycho as well as his next film The Birds are the two peaks of a fascinating filmography.

 

(video source The JoBlo Movie Network)

 

The cast is fabulous, but here in my view lies also the weaker point of the film (all relative, of course). I was not thrilled by Anthony Hopkins‘ rendition of Hitch. One of the actors I always thought can do no wrong is over-exaggerating in this film the physical dimensions of the character. 17 years ago he succeeded to be more Nixon than Nixon himself in Nixon, and one year later he repeated the performance in Surviving Picasso. In both movies he played the characters from inside, understood and lived them. In this Hitchcock his act has a dose of unexpected artificiality. This only makes even more blatant the superb acting of Helen Mirren, radiating inner strength and intelligence in one of the best roles of her career (and what a career she has!). Scarlett Johansson is what we expect in the juicy role of Vivian Leigh, Hitchcock’s blonde du jour in Psycho. The biggest surprise comes however from James D’Arcy who is such a perfect clone of Anthony Perkins that I suspected for a few seconds that some special effects were used to built a computerized image of the late actor. The Hitchcock wrapping imagined by Sacha Gervasi for the whole film works quite well. The personal troubles of the character are not completed elucidated, this film is not a deep analysis of the creative processes of the great director, but the film is overall fun, and this is the essence of the work of Hitchcock – challenging the viewers but eventually delivering entertainment, not cinema theory. Hitchcock is fun.

This is the second film that I see directed by Jacques Audiard, a cinema personality who seems to have written many more scripts than movies that he had made. I am yet to see Un prophete which is considered his best, but the previous one which was called ‘De battre mon coeur s’est arrete’ was a fine and sensitive piece of cinema, with Romain Duris, one of my preferred French actors in the principal role. Now comes  ‘Rust and Bone’  a striking, cruel, almost naturalist drama, but a sincere and moving film at the same time. Although based on a story that could have easily slid into cheap melodrama it succeeds to create emotion by a direct and minimalistic approach in describing a reality which is not soft with its heroes.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053425/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053425/

 

The two heroes of the movies are broken and vulnerable in different ways. Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts) is homeless and just got his 5-years old son on his back, he comes to the South of France to his sister to find a roof and maybe a job to ensure his minimal living. His only credentials are his fighting skills, mostly exercised in the street, but these eventually help him get hired as a security guard in a night club. This is where he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who is an orca whales trainer in an amusement park. The girl soon will be hurt and lose both legs in a work accident. Broken and lonely she calls the only number she may have had asking Alain for help to overcome the limits of her infirmity. The two come from different worlds, but fate brings them together, a basic solidarity that does not need too many words is at the root of their relation before other feelings develop. He has the physical force to help her overcome her limitations, the bones that wipe aside the rust. She has the soul, the inner force that will help her raise over her infirmity. None of them is a communicator though, and words seldom help in the extreme situations that they face, so the type of relation they develop needs a crisis to test its strength and eventually bring them together.

 

(video source ABCscopeTrailers)

 

The film succeeds to avoid melodrama and radiates sincerity due to a large extent to the splendid performances of the the two lead actors. Marion Cotillard lives the transformation from tragedy to recovery, from being broken to being in control. Matthias Schoenaerts plays the type of man unable to express emotions in words, but expressing his feelings and ambitions in deeds, and sometimes in violent acts. The whole film is quite brutal, physical, but this is the whole idea, the contrast between force and mind, the search for the core of the real strength. Eventually it is the inner force of souls that can overcome the rustiness of the bones. Man is flesh and bones, and these may be vulnerable, but where there is friendship and then love, there may be hope. Unfortunately the last ten minutes or so are expedited in a manner that makes the ending look like a Hollywood feel-good product, it’s not that I disliked the happy-end in this case, but for the first time in this movie the outcome relates to things that do not happen on the screen, so the feeling of being slightly fooled cannot be avoided. Yet, for most of the time there is truth and emotion in ‘De rouille et d’os’, which may not be easy to watch because of the cruelty of a few of the sequences, yet it leaves a feeling of goodness in the memory of the spectators.

 

The best series of the season come from an unusual source – Swedish Television, but I should not be that surprised. Scandinavian and specifically Swedish thrillers and political drama series have enjoyed great success in bookshops, on the big screens and more recently on TV. It should have been only a matter of time until the science fiction genre was approached by the Scandinavian producers and directors, the difference is maybe only in the fact that no literary warning arrived sooner (as it was the case with the wave of Scandinavian thrillers), or at least I am not aware about any major writer or book in the genre. And yet Äkta människor (Real Humans) is a very well written, acted and directed series, that throws the viewers in an alternate but possible future of mankind and while telling a compelling story about robots asks questions about humanity, about our relations with the strangers and the different among us, about our values and our feelings.

 

source http://tallemaja.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/premiarer-pa-tv-i-var/

source http://tallemaja.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/premiarer-pa-tv-i-var/

 

The biggest writer of robots stories ever, Isaac Asimov introduced in a short story written in 1942 the three laws of robotics, and all his robot stories developed around the logic of these rules and the dangers of breaking them:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Asimov’s laws were written on the assumption that robots will always subordinate to the will of humans. They did not take into consideration that there may be a Law Zero, which conditions the actions of robots by the same entity that drives human actions – the thing we call soul or human conscience.  The close future created by Lars Lundstrom is supposed to follow the laws of Asimov, with humanoid robots very close to the shape of humans but still serving the humans in many different ways, from housekeeping and health care to being their sex toys. Then the anomaly happens and a piece of code (what else!) is written by a man who is so desperate not to let his son die that he creates a way to allow the merging of the best in Man and Machine, making the humans more robust and less prone to diseases, aging and physical decay, giving machines the capability to learn human feelings and pain. The human robots (or hubots – expect this new noun to enter quickly many languages) may know better what is good for individuals and for all mankind, the problem is that there is no way to do the good they are programmed for without infringing on Asimov’s laws. To do good they must survive, to survive they must protect their existence, to protect their existence they must sometimes disobey or even harm these humans who are on the side of evil.

 

(video source SVT)

 

The first season of Real Humans follows a handful of independent hubots in their fight for emancipation. They face a group of humans composed of a few more of less dysfunctional families, policemen and government agents with their  personal problems, and with their prejudices. The resulting conflict has elements of thriller, horror story, family and judicial dramas, romance and government conspiracies. The relations between men and hubots have multiple dimensions – love and fear, prejudice and ignorance about strangers, faith and sexuality, and none of these is being expedited, and very little is stereotyped in this complex and smartly written story. The characters are each of them distinct and well constructed, the viewers come soon to know, understand, sympathize or fear them. The end of the first season leaves enough paths open and enough characters alive (or not recycled)  for us to look in expectation for the coming seasons, and with some apprehension to the remakes that cannot be also to late to come. One thing I am sure – although his laws are challenged or even reversed in the story that these series are based, Isaac Asimov would have loved it!