Archive for November, 2015

When it comes to films inspired by books I find the discussions about whether the book was ‘better’ (or not) than the film futile. I also do not consider films being ‘true’ to the books that inspired them as being a necessary virtue for this category. Literature and cinema are very different forms of art. They create emotions and they trigger thoughts each in very different manners. Even if the words in a play by Shakespeare or in a novel by Tolstoy are the same as in the film inspired by  these, emotion comes from a different place for readers, theater audiences and movie audiences. It is somehow easier for me to avoid this kind of discussion in the case of the very ambitious project that was undertaken by already famous actress  for her debut as a film director, as I did not read (yet) the memoirs of  that bear the same name – A Take of Love and Darkness.

 

series http://www.natalieportman.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-love-and-darkness-poster-2/

source http://www.natalieportman.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-love-and-darkness-poster-2/

 

From what I get from critics and friends who have read the book, Portman selected out of the very rich and complex memoirs that cover the first fifteen years of the life of Jerusalem-born Amos Oz one specific thread with a personal touch about the relation between the young boy and his mother and focused the film on it. This may have been a fine choice, as the change of perspective and the decryption of the character of the young woman who came to Mandatory Palestine from Europe before the breaking of the war, her cultural shock, the building of the relationship with her son, the facing of historical developments and family crisis ending in the suicide that marked the biography of the writer – all these make of some fascinating material. And yet, the film seems to miss the target, it is slow and seems long despite its under 100 minutes duration. It may have been the deep respect for the text which let director Portman believe that she must be true not only to the spirit but also to the letter of the book. Maybe a more mature director, maybe Portman herself ten or twenty years from now if she continues on the directing path would have had courage to build a more independent story with the risk of competing with the words of the writer. She did not do it, unfortunately.

 

(video source Jorr)

 

The result is a very literary film, and this is not meant as a compliment here. There are a few beautiful things in this film. Cinematography by Slawomir Idziak is exquisite – with the metaphors of dreams, of the Old Country, of the darkening skies of Europe covered by the birds of prey. Portman’s acting is also sensible and touching at the key moments. The labyrinth of Jerusalem’s narrow streets has both charm and also enhances the sensation of claustrophobia and pressure. Two many other aspects are however missed by: the roots of the psychological and physiologic decay of the mother, the build-up of tension between father and son that leads to the decision of the boy to change the course of his life. I am afraid that the non-Israeli audiences, or audiences not familiar with the history of Mandatory Palestine and the making of Israel will have a hard time understanding the details and the atmosphere, and there is not enough consistency in the characters (not to speak about action) to make them interested in the drama. I usually dislike using off-screen voice in movies. The words spoken off-screen are the most beautiful part of this film, and this is no wonder, as most of them are quotes from the book of the great writer who is Amos Oz. Their role in the film is to explain what the director could not translate in images. This is a problem. ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ never takes off as a movie.

 

Action films have a problem this fall. The reality of the crazy world we live in is not only rapidly closing in the horrors and destruction imagined by script authors, but it is overcoming it also at some moments. ‘Spectre’ the 2015 edition of the adventures of Agent 007 has a number of TV screens that bring to the world TV audiences information about terror attacks taking place in locations like Mexico City, London or Capetown. Unfortunately they do not look much mode dramatic than what we have lately seen on the news about Paris.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/

 

So what is left for Agent 007 in a film set (or at least made) in 2015 at the time the news on TV screen compete and overcome the horrors imagined by Fleming and his followers? Director Sam Mendes brings into the story some of the recurring themes from ‘Skyfall’ as well as a number of characters from the new generation of Bond’s companions.  is already comfortable in the role played in many episodes by Judy Dench, and the next generation of Q () and Miss Moneypenny () start to gain an air of familiarity.  continues to divide the fan base, bu then, was not this always the case with all Bonds since Sean Connery left the role of the Eyebrowed One? Action is more than reasonable, it is actually quite good in ‘Spectre’ but this is not something we should be surprised in a Bond movie. The only surprise is actually the lack of surprises.

 

(video source Zero Media)

 

With the new team taking control with good action, with a Bond widow () worth every second (there are not too many) spent on screen and a Bond girl () who seems here to stay at least for one more film why do I feel still so much missing in the new Bond? One of the reasons may be that the bad guys do not look so bad. It is not that  is a bad actor, but we do know that in 2015 most of the bad guys have very different ideologies than the politically-correct one brought on screen by ‘Spectre’. Old secret services configurations are outdated, and even the evil state surveillance does not seem too high a price to pay in a world dominated by terrorism. The no. 1 enemy of the new Bond film seems to be again reality.