Archive for September, 2014

Limba romana pare sa fi precedat engleza in a descoperi sau inventa o expresie care asociaza fluieratul cu ireverenta, si lipsa de frica fata de autoritatea si disciplina consacrata incorporata in notiunea de ‘whistleblower’. ‘A fluiera in biserica’ spuneau romanii cu un secol sau chiar doua in urma si chiar daca expresia romaneasca nu are claritatea definitiei englezesti (o persoana care expune fapte ilegale sau imorale care se petrec intr-o organizatie si le aduce ,de obicei dintr-o pozitie interna organizatiei, la cunostiinta autoritatilor sau a publicului larg, este clar totusi ca majoritatea ‘suflatorilor in fluiere’ sunt si ‘fluieratori in biserica’. Biserica fiind lumea noastra cu marile ei corporatii sau cu organizatiile guvernamentale care de multe ori intrec corporatiile in dimensiuni, bugete, dar mai ales in pierderea din vedere a scopurilor in care au fost create si odata cu aceasta a busolei morale.

John Le Carre este unul dintre autorii mei preferati. Astept cu nerabdare aparitia fiecarei carti noi semnata de el si imi doresc si ii doresc multi ani inainte dincolo de cei 83 pe care ii va implini peste cateva saptamani, si mai ales multe carti inainte, cel putin la fel de bune ca cea despre care scriu acum. Cand am ajuns in lumea libera acum 30 de ani unul dintre primele drumuri pe care mi le amintesc si acum a fost la o biblioteca publica unde am experimentat nesatul alegerii libere din rafturile unei colectii de carti necenzurate. Prima carte pe care am citit-o in calitatea mea de om renascut liber a fost ‘Oamenii lui Smiley’ (‘Smiley’s People’) despre care doar auzisem dar pe care nu putusem pune mana in Romania lui Ceausescu. Citisem insa cumva, nu stiu cum ajunsese la mine un exemplar al cartii ‘Spionul care venea din frig’ (‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’). Am fost captivat, am jurat fidelitate, si nu mi-am incalcat juramantul de atunci incoace. Unii stau la coada noaptea dinaintea lansarii unui produs nou Apple. Eu daca as face un gest similar ar fi pentru o noua carte semnata John Le Carre. Din fericire, cartile lui imi sunt astazi accesibile la o distanta de cateva apasari pe taste, in ziua lansarii.

 

sursa http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2013/0509/A-Delicate-Truth

sursa http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2013/0509/A-Delicate-Truth

 

Le Carre scrie in genul ‘carti de spionaj’ si o face cu aplomb de o jumatate de secol. Lumea pe care o descrie, lumea care ne inconjoara, s-a schimbat enorm in acest rastimp. Perioada de varf a razboiului rece in care si-a facut Le Carre debutul a fost urmata de perioada ‘destinderii’, de fisurarea si descompunerea treptata a blocului sovietic, de caderea Zidului si tranzitiile de tot felul din zona fosta comunista. Precum serviciile de spionaj occidentatale si in special cel britanic aveau nevoie de noi amenintari pentru a-si justifica existenta, si personajele negative din cartile lui Le Carre si-au schimbat in anii 90 nationalitatea si locurile de munca. Au aparut traficantii din marile retele internationale de comert de droguri si arme, dictatorii republicilor asiatice si ‘rechinii’ de la carma corporatiilor globale, dar mai ales teroristii, islamici mai convinsi sau mai putin convinsi. De cealalta parte a baricadei par insa a se afla cam acelasi gen de ‘luptatori din umbra’ – functionari publici sau intelectuali recrutati vreunei cauze, oameni de birou sau agenti de teren, cinici sau idealisti – toti par in esenta a fi croiti din aceeasi stofa ca si ‘oamenii lui Smiley’ cu decenii in urma. Si Londra ca decor pare a fi aproape neschimbata, doar telefoanele mobile si mesageria internetica au inlocuit ireversibil cutiile postale parasite la margini de drumuri de tara.

Ca multe alte romane ale lui Le Carre. ‘A Delicate Truth’ (pe care eu l-am citit in limba engleza, in editia aparuta la Penguin Books in 2013) cuprinde un joc de identitati si nume false (cine isi foloseste numele real in profesia de spion?) care il lasa pe cititor usor derutat, si care se va lamuri mult mai tarziu in carte. In primul capitol facem cunostiinta cu un ‘Paul Anderson’ – functionar al ministerului de externe, recrutat pentru a fi omul de legatura al unui inalt functionar guvernamental intr-o misiune de lichidare a unui terorist cunoscut la Gibraltar, in colaborare cu eternii semi-rai, agentii unei companii americane de ‘misiuni speciale’. Nu este clar daca misiunea reuseste sau esueaza, iar rezultatul il vom sti doar dupa cativa ani, cand ‘Paul’ care fusese promovat pe neasteptate pe post de consul de lux in Caraibe se retrage la pensie in Cornwall si este contatctat pentru a ajuta in ancheta pe care un tanar si onest functionar o face in legatura cu faptele petrecute cu ani in urma.

 

sursa http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5388581/John-Le-Carre-why-le-Carre-beats-Fleming-hands-down.html

sursa http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5388581/John-Le-Carre-why-le-Carre-beats-Fleming-hands-down.html

 

John Le Carre insusi a fost agent guvernamental prin anii 50, la fel ca si autorul ciclului ‘James Bond’ Ian Fleming, si in doua dintre personajele cartii pot fi considerate dupa marturisile scriitorului insusi intr-un interviu pentru Daily Telegraph, ca fiind alter-ego-uri la varste diferite ale scriitorului. Tanarul Toby Bell care va initia ancheta pentru aflarea adevarului este ceea ce tanarul David John Moore Cromwell (numele adevarat al scriitorului) va fi fost in anii 50 sau inceputul anilor 60 cand lucra pentru MI5 si MI6 (contra-spionajul si spionajul britanic). Sir Christopher Probyn (a.k.a. Paul Anderson) este ceea ce tanarul spion ar fi putut deveni daca si-ar fi continuat cariera in serviciul Maiestatii Sale. Sunt desigur alter-egouri idealizate, care se lupta cu ambiguitatea morala a meseriei, si care se intalnesc la un moment dat si colaboreaza, caci fara initiativa unuia si informatiile furnizate de celalalt adevarul nu ar avea nicio sansa sa fie degropat.

Va iesi pana la urma adevarul la lumina? Cartea trebuie citita pana la ultima pagina, ceea ce nu este dificil deloc, fiind la fel de bine scrisa ca cele mai bune romane ale scriitorului, pentru a afla un raspuns. Poate. Dilema nu este usoara, viata ‘fluieratorului’ intr-un sistem in care se unesc in complicitate interesele marilor corporatii si ambitiile politicienilor de toate culorile devine riscanta in momentul in care se hotaraste sa dezvaluie adevarul. Sistemul va incerca sa-l cumpere, sa-l ameninte, sa-i gaseasca punctele slabe si santajabile, sa-i lovesca pe cei dragi, si in extrem chiar sa-l lichideze fizic. Intr-o lume stramba a ramane drept si in picioare este o aventura care rareori se termina cu bine.

 

 

The traditional Rosh Hashanah posting on The Catcher in the Sand is dedicated this year to the shofar. Jews are (among other things) a nation of musicians and they have been so since the oldest times. King David is said to have introduced music in the religious rituals and some of the oldest musical instruments have their origin in the land of Israel or around. None of them however is that much related to the Jewish holidays and specifically to the New Year and Yom Kippur as the shofar.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.jewlicious.com/2011/08/shofar-its-that-time-of-the-year/

sursa imaginii http://www.jewlicious.com/2011/08/shofar-its-that-time-of-the-year/

 

The shofar is a traditionally made of the ram’s horn. The sound is modulated using the blower’s lips. I have no personal experience, but it looks like it takes both strength and skills to create meaningful sounds. It is mentioned many times in the Bible, the first time in the Book of Exodus, around Mount Sinai.

 

(video source G-dcast – Meaningful Jewish Screentime)

 

Let us first remember the significance of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year and the role of the shofar. Today it announces the start of the High Holidays in the synagogue services.

 

(video source James Barbarossa)

 

There are four traditional Jewish shofar calls or blasts. Here they are explained by Jim Barbarossa, whose trip in Israel in 1996 triggered the passion for the instrument, which now he masters to the point he is surnamed The Shofar Man.

 

(video source partytown2)

 

Here is how actually the shofar sounds during the Rosh HaShannah service in a synagogue.

 

(video source Meira Warshauer)

 

The usage of the shofar is not limited however to the Jewish religious services. Musicians took the instrument, experimented, and created in different musical genres. Here is an excerpt (#2) from Tekeeyah (a call), Concerto for Shofar, Trombone, and Orchestra by Meira Warshauer. (Copyright Meira Warshauer 2009)

 

(video source rodneynewton1)

 

Lighter genres did not avoid the shofar either. Here is Phil Driscol playing the shofar in a trumpet style.

 

(video source George Payne)

 

Closing the cycle here is Randy Spencer playing the instrument in a spiritual, world music genre.

 

(video source Thewhatsupband)

 

To end with here is a Rosh Hashanah parody song ‘Blow Shofar’ by The Shlomones. There is little shofar sound here, but a lot of talk about it.

 

Shana Tova! A Good Year, with good health and sweetness in your lives!

The name of J. Edgar Hoover not only marks half of century of the history of defending the law and making justice in the United States, but still raises passions until today. The developments after the terror attacks on 9/11 have brought back to the front stage of the public debate the balance between rights of the the citizens to be protected and the rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and about the role of the federal government and its agencies in protecting freedom for the many while respecting the rights of the few. ‘J.Edgar’ the movie clearly belongs to the genre of the biographical documentary, and according to your beliefs you may get out of this film liking or hating it. There is one thing that is hard to deny in my opinion – this film has passion too, same as the character it describes. One may admire J.Edgar for his dedication to the ideals of making out of America a country of law and order according to his own vision or for building out of nothing one of the best government agencies in the US and the world, or one may hate him because of his obsessional search for a no. 1 enemy, or for the methods he put in the service of the cause.  One cannot deny reading the biography or watching this film that he was a man of passion.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1616195/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1616195/

 

There are things that I loved and things that I hated in the way this film was written (by ) and directed by . The parallel running of the auto-biography of the character as dictated 40 years later to a young colleague is smartly run in parallel with the ‘present’ of his late age career at the time of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. One character is already old, the other ages and the story advances. I should actually say one triplet of character, as the extraordinary  (whom I do not like, but I cannot prevent myself to admire) is very well supported by  as the never consumed lover who turns into the eternal secretary of Hoover and  as the eternal friends who also figures up – as rumored by history – as potential lover. All are supported by a  as Hoover’s pious mother, as splendid as you expect. What I liked less is the ex-screen off-screen story telling, hard to digest even under the pretext of Hoover dictating his memoirs at the sunset of his life, or the schematic sound of some of the dialogs – even bad guys seldom speak on cliches as some of the characters here do. Overall the excellent acting and the well kept pace overwhelm the dark sides of the production.

 

(video source Clevver Movies)

 

At the end of the day we get another story big as a cinemascope screen of an American hero. Or anti-hero. Depending of course on your beliefs and on the way you relate to the character and the different threads of the story.   Hoover appears as a historic character who had to be obsessed with a Public Enemy no. 1 be they real or imaginary. In parallel he lived his personal drama of (historically alleged) homosexuality, the dark secret of the blackmailer who could so easily be blackmailed. One cannot deny that he built a fabulous crime fighting institution which definitely remains his principal legacy. However, Hoover was also for almost half a century a Gatekeeper, even one who loved to present himself as a popular hero, in comics or movies. Here is a very different kind of movie about him. One which leads the viewer at the end to ask the question of what was The Gatekeeper defending his country against.

The combination of high-tech thrillers a la James Bond and the so English humor of Rowan Atkinson worked fine for me in the original ‘Johnny English’ and work even better in the ‘Johnny English Reborn’ sequel released eight years later, which I got to see only now. If I am to look for the perfect comedy entertainment I would go for something like this because it succeeds to be funny and anti political-correct, while keeping some logic and sending references to the original movies it is inspired from, without taking itself too much seriously at any moment.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1634122/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1634122/

 

If I am to decide what are the reasons JE works for me better than other similar comedy-parody movies I would of course first of all mention Rowan Atkinson. He is himself, meaning Mr. Bean whatever the role he plays – a combination of Britishness and irreverence, a walking gaffer and catastrophes generator, and yet – a warm human being. The greatest comical character one can identify with since Stan Laurel.

 

(video source Clevver Movies)

 

The second reason are the scripts of the Johnny English films. They actually have logic. Of course, it’s Brit logic, it’s movies logic, but if you really put the script of the two Johnny English movies near the stories of most of the James Bond films, not only you will find them similar, but English may won many of the credibility contests.

This second and I hope not last installment of Johnny English has also the great advantage to bring back to screen one of my mostly beloved actresses, Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame. Did I say that was my preferred TV-series of all times. I did and now you know it all too. I hope that director Oliver Parker (or somebody else) will go on with the JE series, and that Gillian will become Atkinson/English’s Q for a long time.

 

2012 was a good year for us, fans of Alfred Hitchcock. Two movies were released centered around the character of the genial and obsessive master of suspense. I liked ‘Hitchcock’ starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren which I saw, a while ago, close to its release date. I had somehow lesser expectations from ‘The Girl’ which bears the anti-promotional label of ‘TV Film’ – luckily I can say that despite the very different approach and the controversial approach in describing the character and personal life of the great director, it also is a very good film, and there are many more good reasons to put it near the most respected and starred companion, besides the year of the release.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2132485/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2132485/

 

‘Based on a true story’ can also be sometimes a deterrent but it is not here either. The reason is that the ‘true story’ is about the relationship between director Hitchcock and Tippie Hedren, the feminine star of two of his movies – the famous ‘The Birds’ and the lesser known ‘Marnie’ that followed. Screen text at the start of the movie makes a case for the authenticity of what follows and to some extent prepares us for a version of the Hitchcock character which was rumored during his life, documented in memoirs and testimonies after his death, but never caught as such on screen until now. A Hitchcock who was not only obsessive in his film making, but also in the relations with the actresses he worked with, a film director of unequaled talent but also an aging man who tried to overcome the inevitable by trying to use the fascination he won with his art and personality in order to bring to bed the much younger stars he worked with, and when one of them like Tippie Hedren rejected him. he was sliding into what we bluntly call today harassment.

 

(video source Tom Engelman)

 

The approach taken by the script and by director Julian Jarold was rejected by many of the admirers of Hitchcock. I do not have an opinion one way or another, but I will observe that some of the great admired artists of our time had their own problems that reflected in their personalities and relations with the teams or women in their lives – to mention Woody Allen, Polansky or Depardieu as a few other illustrious examples. The personal lives after all make good material for biographical movies (like the one we are discussing here) but hardly can shade their cinematographic work. I actually believe that Jarold tried to stick to facts, without necessarily making a moral judgment. According to his own criteria the viewer can consider the ‘Hitch’ in this film as being a harassing maniac, or an aging man falling to an autumnal crisis in his life. What cannot be denied is that one way or another ‘The Birds’ remains like a peak movie in the creation of Hitchcock and history of cinema.

Some fine actors work make this movie even more interesting. Toby Jones creates a very credible Hitchcock with the silhouette and voice of the character we know and love, and enough ambiguity to serve the purposes and ideas of the director. Imelda Staunton almost made me forget Helen Mirren with her rendition of Imelda Hitchcock. Last and best, Sienna Miller has all the beauty and inner strength that makes us believe that there was such a girl who stood up to the advances of the great Alfred Hitchcock.

 

Almost everything I loved in ‘Borat’ is missing in ‘The Dictator’ - the most recent installment from Sacha Baron Cohen. To add to the insult, the title of one of the best films ever made is being hijacked for something that may be as ambitious, but this ‘Dictator’ has nothing of the human fabric, symbolism and melodramatic power of Chaplin’s classical. There is also an almost direct quote with the speech of the ‘dictator’ at the moment of climax of the movie, but the difference between the magic of the moment Chaplin approaches the microphone and the so-expected turn of mood in Cohen’s speech is abyssal.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1645170/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1645170/

 

As in his previous movies Sacha Baron Cohen plays with stereotypes. After cautiously projecting some North Korean and Sadam Hussein frames at the start it focuses on the image of Arab dictator of an imaginary country in the North of Africa. Later the script takes its hero to Manhattan, somehow similar situations with the ones in ‘Borat’ but almost everything is prefabricated. Some arrows are being thrown towards the leftist and ecological movements, and there is even some romance in the plot. Which does not make it less simplistic (bad) and anarchistic (good when coming from Cohen).

 

(video source RepublicOfWadiya’s channel)

 

Gone are the feeling of improvisation, the audacity of the social criticism, the ‘cine-verite’ style. In are some of the Leslie Nielsen parodies gags. Yes, we get some laughs from time to time, but they are more caused by the classical physical comedy jokes, this is not really what I expected from Sacha Baron Cohen. Ben Kinsley is having some fun in an other of those anti-casting roles he is picking lately.

This film placed a challenge to its authors, as it’s not easy to deal with the Arab or Muslim cultures in comedies. The result is too polite, but this will probably not buy the film too many export licenses in Arab countries. However, if I am to compare ‘The Dictator’ with previous films from Cohen and director Larry Charles, I would say that what is missing is actually the ‘chutzpah’.