Archive for January, 2016

If you really need to put genre tags or labels on movies, ‘Sicario’ would belong to the ‘psychological thriller’, ‘violent drug action’, ‘Mexican border’ categories. While each of these naming would have its dose of justification, ‘Sicario’ succeeds to be more than these, actually it is one of the more interesting films in a pre-Oscar Awards season that does not make me too enthusiastic.

 

surce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3397884/

surce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3397884/

 

The film directed by the Quebecois  starts and develops for a while on the lines of a violent well-made and fast-paced thriller about American drug enforcement agencies fighting a bloody war against the smuggling Mafia on the two sides of the Mexican-American border. As the story advances we realize that there is much more than a war of gangs going on, and the questions that are asked are not only about the number of victims or arrests, or the amount of drugs that is confiscated or makes its way to the ‘customers’ but about the balance between law and efficiency, the price of human life and the tragedy of families who are collateral victims of the violence.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

The quality of the film is built of the combination between the sure hand of the director, the music of Jóhann Jóhannsson and the splendid acting of (in a role that fits him as a glove) and  who grows in the viewer eyes from a don-Quixotesque policewoman one can see only in movies to a key character for the whole story and a real person who carries on her shoulder the huge dilemmas of deciding between good and bad, between the rule of law and the need to win the war on crime by any means.

If you like any of the genres I listed at the start, you will not be disappointed by this film. If you are not the fan of any you still can enjoy this powerful drama and professionally made film, which exceeds the borders of the genres.

 

I expect something different, something smart, something deep, each time I am seeing a film written or (lately) directed by . Many of his films are not one-time experiences, the second or later viewing brings new understanding and discovers of new layers under the one of the original story which is also not obvious or readable from the first time. This may be the case also with Anomalisa, which is also the reason that I am cautious in sharing my disappointment with this latest film of Kaufman, which seems to me to be the more obvious and less sophisticated work that he has made or written in the last two decades.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2401878/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2401878/

 

The story is apparently simple. Michael Stone is a famous author of one of those successful ‘How To …’ business books. He comes for one night in one of these mid-America metropolis that look so much one as the other, he checks into one of these hotels that that look so much one as the other, calls one an ex-girlfriend who is one of those women that look so much one as the other. We soon realize that all the persons he talks with have the same voice, that all women have a very look-alike appearance. Actually, if we pay attention and we know some psychology, Michael may suffer of the Fregoli delusion, a syndrome in which patients believe that other people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise. And the name of the hotel he checked-in is Hotel Fregoli! Or maybe the psychological condition is just a metaphor for broader human estrangement.

All these until he meets Lisa. Or Anomaly-Lisa. Or Anomalisa. The woman who may be the Different One.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

I will not continue telling more in order to avoid spoilers, but rather refer on a few details to film-making. Stop-motion, the animation method used by , and Charlie Kaufman provides a very special look to the film and shifts much of the expression and emotion to the modeled characters, sets, and lighting. All work well together, the faces seem like masks in a theater that reflects the reality but is also somehow different, and so is the surrounding combination of familiar and strange. We are in kind of a dream. yet the situation, characters, suffering is all well-known and very human.

The second part of the story and its outcome, however, quite disappointed me.I had the feeling that too many smart ideas were invested in too small a story. But, as I said, it’s a film by Charlie Kaufman, and I may have not gotten it all.

 

Cititorii de limba romana se bucura de cativa ani de posibilitatea citirii cartilor lui Amos Oz in traducerile aparute in seria de autor publicata de editura ‘Humanitas fiction’ in coordonarea Denisei Comanescu. Este o ocazie de a cunoaste opera unuia dintre cei mai importanti scriitori isralieni de astazi, si unul dintre candidatii pereni la Premiul Nobel pentru Literatura. ‘Evreii si cuvintele’ aparuta in 2015 in traducerea Ioanei Petridean este o carte diferita de precedentele din serie. In primul rand nu este vorba despre o carte de fictiune ci despre un eseu avand ca tema aventura spirituala care este istoria evreilor si problema extrem de complexa a identitatii evreiesti. Apoi cartea este scrisa in original in limba engleza si nu in ebraica contemporana in care sunt scrise majoritatea cartilor lui Amos Oz, si este rezultatul colaborarii intre scriitor si fiica sa, Fania Oz-Salzberger, de profesie istoric.

Introducerea cartii ii defineste descendenta din dialogurile intre generatii caracteristice istoriei intelectuale evreiesti (dar nu numai evreiesti) – dialogurile intre tata si fiu (sau fiica in acest caz), intre dascal si elev, intre rabin si invatacel. Nu este insa o carte de ‘dialoguri’ sau Q&A, ci mai degraba o constructie unitara cu o logica interna si o dezvoltare care isi dezvaluie structura pe masura ce cititorul avanseaza in lectura. Stilul este si el unitar si talentul de povestitor (si conferentiar – Oz este exceptional si in dialogurile cu publicul) nu lasa prea multe indoieli in legatura cu identitatea co-autorului care a finisat lucrarea. Referintele la ‘scriitorul dintre noi’ si ‘istoricul dintre noi’ care puncteaza din cand in cand textul sunt si ele trepte in constructia logica a eseului istoric.

 

sursa http://www.lapunkt.ro/2015/10/20/lansare-evreii-si-cuvintele/

sursa http://www.lapunkt.ro/2015/10/20/lansare-evreii-si-cuvintele/

 

Primul din cele patru capitole ale cartii se intituleaza ‘Continuitatea’. Unicitatea istoriei poporului evreu este greu de negat chiar si de catre cei mai inversunati dusmani. Secretul supravietuirii acestui popor care niciodata nu a fost foarte numeros, care nu a cucerit teritorii intinse si nu a construit imperii, care a fost discriminat, alungat, exterminat in atatea momente ale istoriei, si totusi si-a pastrat identitatea si unicitatea este disputat astazi si explicatiile sunt multiple – de la teorii etnice si rasiale, pana la religie si coeziune comunitara. Toate sunt disputate si contestate nu numai din exterior dar si din interiorul unei culturi care incurajeaza dezbaterea. Amos Oz gaseste ca liantul comun si esenta continuitatii evreiesti sta in Cuvant si scriu substantivul de data aceasta intentionat cu majuscule. Existenta unei culturi bazate pe transmiterea informatiei prin cuvinte – scrise si povestite, rostite ca rugaciuni sau soptite in taina de parinti copiilor din generatie in generatie – acesta este secretul supravietuirii si al continuitatii in viziunea autorilor acestei carti.

‘Exista o legatura genealogica. Analele noastre pot fi consultate, istoria noastra poate fi povestita. Dar “scara noastra de masuratori complet diferita” este facuta din cuvinte. … Biblia isi depaseste statutul de scriere sfanta. Desavarsirea ei literara transcende deopotriva disecarea stiintifica si lectura sacra … Este posibil ca alte mari poeme sa fi pus bazele unei noi religii, dar nici o alta opera literara nu a pus bazele, intr-un mod atat de eficient, unui codex de legi adaptat unei etici sociale. … Israelul antic nu a inaltat palate si nu a fost martorul unor miracole, literatura sa este deopotrivaa inaltatoare si miraculoasa. Si dam afirmatiei intreaga ei semnificatie seculara.’ (pag. 17, 20, 21)

Amos si Fania Oz sunt ceea ce se numeste in lumea evreiasca ‘evrei seculari’, nascuti in Israel si avand ebraica moderna ca limba materna. Respectul lor pentru religie si cartile religioase si dragostea pentru limba ebraica reprezinta o recunoastere a unui mod de viata care a abandonat poate perceptele de zi cu zi ale vietii religioase, dar care pastreaza respectul fata de traditie, istorie, cuvantul scris si rostit. Atitudinea lor fata de religie si conceptia raportului dintre religie si istorie care pentru evrei sunt strans legate deriva tot din aceasta conceptie in care umanismul universal si cunoasterea stiintifica fac casa buna cu respectul fata de ideile fundamentale ale traditiilor.

‘Avram si Moise nu sunt decat simple personaje mitologice? Poate. Dar un lant conceptual si textual exista inca de cand primii israeliti au inceput sa foloseasca cuvantul ‘Brit’. Iar la un moment dat, nu mai tarziu decat secolul al III-lea i. Ch., a fost instituita o traditie scrisa, care nu s-a pierdut niciodata de atunci.’  (pag. 30)

Cu alte cuvinte, nu existenta unui Avram sau Moise istorici este esentialul, ci transmiterea pildelor despre acestia din generatie in generatie!

Supravietuirea istorica a fost posibila tot numai prin carti si datorita cartilor:

‘… dupa distrugerea celui de-al Doilea Templu, au ramas sacre numai cartile si anumite cuvinte. Nimic altceva. … Alungati departe de Ierusalim, deposedati de tabernacul si menora, doar cartile au mai ramas. Atunci cand fugeai pentru a-ti salva viata din calea masacrului sau a pogromului sau dintr-o casa ori o sinagoga in flacari, luai cu tine doar copiii si cartile. Copiii si cartile.’ (pag. 61)

Capitolul al doilea se numeste ‘Femei vocale’ si se ocupa de rolul femeilor intr-o cultura si structura sociala care parea sa excluda aproape complet femeile din universul studiului si al preocuparii cu textele sacre. Sunt aduse in discutie argumente legate de figurile feminine ale Bibliei, de personajele istorice ale unor femei cultivate si destul de puternice pentru a lupta si dobandi dreptul de a-si exprima opiniile, dar si figura simbolica – de legenda si de anecdota – a ‘mamei evreice’ si rolul ei in educatie, in transmiterea traditiei prin intermediul cuvintelor. Si aici este tratata tema raportului intre ‘adevarul istoric’ si dimensiunea sacra a personajelor (barbati si femei):

‘Nu pornim de la premiza ca Sara, Miriam sau Hulda au existat cu adevarat. Dar autorii lor au existat si limba lor a existat … In calitatea noastra de evrei seculari, nu suntem catusi de putin interesati de existenta sau non-existenta istorica a lui Moise ori Miriam. Faptul ca povestitorii au fost personaje reale ne este de ajuns. Putem afirma ca acestia au trait intr-o societate obisnuita, cu figuri materne puternice si hotarate. Intr-o societate capabila sa scrie Biblia, cu siguranta au trait femei precum Sara, Debora si Hulda. Este posibil ca doamnele pe care le-am numit sa apartina unui taram al mitologiei, la fel ca zeitele grecesti – cui ii pasa? – dar cuvintele lor tradeaza o experienta umana cat se poate de palpabila.’ (pag. 116)

 

sursa http://www.porges.net/FamilyTreesBiographies/dan.porges_portfolios/dan.porges.portfolio3_IP.html

Amos Oz; sursa http://www.porges.net/FamilyTreesBiographies/dan.porges_portfolios/dan.porges.portfolio3_IP.html

 

Fascinantul capitol al treilea se ocupa de ‘Timp si atemporalitate’. Intr-o stralucita trecere in revista istorica combinata cu analiza pe texte, autorii arata ca istoria evreiasca pare a face din multi dintre eroii si inteleptii din vechime spirite care pot fi invocate in contemporaneitate si parteneri ai unui dialog continuu, care sfideaza tempralitatea. Unele texte religioase ii aduc pe inteleptii Bibliei in salile de studiu si dezbatere ale scolilor religioase de peste secole sau milenii, ii angreneaza in dispute, le contrazic si le pun sub semnul intrebarii argumentele.

‘Chiar si astazi anumiti evrei sustin ca traiesc doar in concordanta cu un cronometru interior al colectivitatii lor. Multi altii au fost victimele unei treziri bruste, in clipa in care istoria secolului XX le-a invadat si distrus temporalitatea evreiasca. Sionismul, marxismul, laicismul, viata moderna, moartea adusa de Waffen SS.’ (pag. 136)

‘Holocaustul nu a dat nastere unui Ecclesiast de data tarzie. Sinucigasi da. Indivizi care au pierdut lupta pentru sens, da. Dar nimeni nu a scris, dupa Auschwitz, “nu este nimic nou sub soare”. Cumva, circularitatea si repetitivitatea istoriei nu au mai reprezentat o optiune.” (pag. 138)

Temporalitatea istoriei evreiesti nu este una lineara. Inteleptii din vechime sunt contemporani evreilor din totdeauna.

‘Analele evreilor contrazic afirmatia facila conform careia istoria este scrisa de tabara invingatoare. Chiar si atunci cand au pierdut, si au pierdut ingrozitor de mult, israelitii, iar mai tarziu evreii, au avut mare grija sa scrie singuri istoria. Le-au spus copiilor lor, cu onestitate si fara ocolisuri, toate lucrurile rele care s-au intamplat: pacat si pedeapsa, infrangere si exil, catastrofa si fuga.’  (pag. 164)

‘Facerea, Isaia si Pildele sunt piramidele noastre, sunt catedralele noastre gotice. Raman in picioare, infruntand trecerea timpului. Au hranit o intreaga pleiada de urmasi: de la Mishna la Haskala, de la poezia medievala sefarda la literatura ebraica moderna, de la Gotthold Ephraim Lessing la William Faulkner, cu totii ne-am adapat din aceste fantani adanci. (pag. 141)

 

Fania Oz-Salzberger  sursa https://twitter.com/faniaoz

Fania Oz-Salzberger
sursa https://twitter.com/faniaoz

 

Capitolul final se ocupa de nume si de identitatea evreiasca in relatie cu iudaismul religios – de evrei ca individualitati si in colectiv si comunitati. Interactia cu alte culturi este abordata in cateva aspecte esentiale, desi acest subiect este mult mai vast. Sunt dezbatuti termenii de baza – iudaism, evreu si sunt identificate momentele si contextele istorice in care au aparut aceste cuvinte si felul in care au evoluat ele in timp.

Un aspect esential este faptul ca definirea evreilor s-a petrecut in exil si reintoarcerile in Israel (prima dupa exilul babilonian, in secolul 6 i.Ch., a doua in perioada moderna sionista) au modificat din nou perspectiva:

‘Candva, in perioada scursa intre momentul distrugerii Primului Templu si constructia Celui de-al Doilea Templu, israelitii au devenit evrei. … Intorsi in patria ancestrala, evreii repatriati s-au dovedit a fi plini de energie, cu o deosebita constiinta nationala si binecuvantati cu o conducere hotarata – semanand foarte mult cu simbolicii lor urmasi, doua milenii si jumatate mai tarziu, sionistii care au visat si au implinit cea de-a Doua Intoarcere.

Exilul a fost determinant in cristalizarea identitatii evreiesti si a termenilor sai fundamentali. Limba ebraica a fost liantul continuitatii, o limba care nu a fost niciodata moarta. Chiar in perioadele istorice in care comunitatile evreiesti vorbeau limbile locurilor in care traiau, evreii au continuat sa se roage in ebraica, rabinii si elevii lor au citit si dezbatut cartile sfinte in ebraica, au scris tratate si interpretari noi. Au existat intermitent si perioade de inflorire a literaturii ebraice laice, si au fost create si doua dialecte – idis si ladino – pe care evreii le foloseau in viata de zi cu zi. Cultura evreiasca pana foarte aproape de perioada contemporana a fost legata de cuvintele si literele ebraice.

‘Poporul nu mai avea profeti si regi. Invatatura lor nu a inflorit in palatele si academiile unor imperii victorioase. Cultura lor nu a dat nastere unor eroi si soldati care sa o protejeze, nici unor printi care sa o patroneze, nici unor binefacatori care sa doneze carti sau instrumente stiintiice. Eroismul lor umil s-a manifestat intre zidurile joase ale salilor de clasa, si a fost detestat de catre neevrei, era vulnerabil si neslavit. Cuvintele au fost catedralele lor.’ (pag. 221)

 

Amos Oz si Denisa Comanescu la Tel Aviv

Amos Oz si Denisa Comanescu la Tel Aviv

 

‘Cine este un evreu? Oricine se lupta cu intrebarea “Cine este un evreu?” Iata definitia noastra personala: orice om indeajuns de ticnit, incat sa se numeasca evreu, este evreu. Este el un evreu bun sau unul rau? Asta nu poate spune decat urmatorul evreu.’ (pag. 237)

Definitia personala a lui Amos Oz si a fiicei sale nu este originala. A exprimat-o in cuvinte asemanatoare insusi primul premier al Statului Israel, David Ben-Gurion, desi el nu a avut puterea sau poate vointa politica sa o transforme in lege. Opiniile autorilor trebuie citite si in contextul dezbaterilor care au loc astazi in Israel si in lumea evreiasca din Diaspora si este bine de tinut cont ca ele nu sunt impartasite de toti evreii sau expertii in cultura si istorie evreiasca. Exista si opinii mult mai extreme care leaga identitatea evreiasca mai strans de perceptele religioase, de continuitatea etnica si genetica. Exista si interpetari mai liberale care doresc sa deschida iudaismul oricui si-l asuma si in orice proportie o face. Si exista si teorii care neaga aspecte esentiale ale istoriei evreiesti, caracteristicile care fac din evrei o natiune, pana la a declara insasi notiunea de ‘popor evreu’ o fictiune.

Cultura evreiasca nu fuge insa de dezbatere. Dimpotriva. Un ultim citat in acest sens:

‘Si astfel continuam sa discutam in contradictoriu. Avram cu Creatorul sau, Tamar cu batranii tribului, profetul cu regele, Hillel cu Shamai, hasizii cu “opozantii lor”, ortodocsii cu laicii…O civilizatie vie este drama perpetua a luptei dintre diversele intrebari, in afara influentelor si a emfazei, o dezbatere neobosita despre ce este grau si ce este tarata. Revolta de dragul inovatiei.’   (pag. 234, 236)

Dialog perpetuu, dialog intre evrei, dialog cu alte culturi, dialog cu insusi Dumnezeu. Aceasta este esenta culturii si istoriei evreiesti.

Inchei cu cateva cuvinte despre editia de la ‘Humanitas fiction’. Ioana Petridean s-a confruntat nu numai cu o traducere din engleza, ci si cu continutul unei carti care discuta amplu despre limba ebraica – cea veche si cea contemporana – si despre istoria unui popor despre care exista o imensa baza de cunostiinte scrise. Reusita ei mi se pare aproape impecabila, textul romanesc cuprinde nu numai informatia extrem de bogata tradusa in mod riguros, dar si elocinta si caldura scrierii lui Oz. Sunt adaugate note explicative extrem de folositoare care se adauga notelor bibliografice de la sfarsitul cartii. Aici am o nedumerire, caci notele bibliografice nu folosesc trimiteri directe din text, ci sunt grupate pentru cele patru capitole – nu sunt sigur daca a fost alegerea autorilor sau a editorilor romani, dar mi s-a parut neinspirata.

Publicul cititor de limba romana – cel din Romania dar si cel din afara hotarelor tarii – are bucuria sa cunoasca in ‘Evreii si cuvintele’ un text de o mare valoare si complexitate despre istoria si identitatea evreiasca, despre textele si cuvintele care le-au definit si le-au asigurat continuitatea si supravietuirea. O carte pe care o recomand cu caldura.

The second film in the mini-festival of Steve Jobs movies that I enjoyed last Friday was also the better one. , the director of Trainspotting, Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire may have hit gold again, as his Steve Jobs started to collect awards at the Golden Globe ceremony last night, and became lead contender to the magic statuette to be awarded for Best Actor on February 28. What is the secret?

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2080374/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2080374/

 

The film based on a script by (who also brought to screen the character of Facebook’s Zuckerberg) is very different from the other biopic (‘Jobs’) or from the documentaries dedicated to the man and the entrepreneur who was Jobs. It catches three half-hours prior to three major announcements in the career of Jobs, but does not deal almost at all with the technicalities – they deal with the atmosphere (ordered chaos we can call it), with the encounters of Jobs with people who are close to him – his technical partner Wozniak, his business partner John Sculley, and especially his estrange wife and his daughter, whom initially he refused to recognize in one of these attitudes who built his negative perception as a father and human in the eyes of the public. The situations repeat and escalate, but the relationship with his daughter provide the missing human dimension. We may not understand more of the hi-tech genius of Jobs, but we gain more understanding about the man and father he was.

 

(video source Zero Media)

 

Besides the smart script, acting is the second winning card that makes ‘Steve Jobs’ the better Jobs film. Michael Fassbender avoids replicating the physical characteristics of Steve Jobs and focuses on his personal life and the relations with his partners and close ones (as close as he let them be). Kate Winslet builds the character of Joanna Hoffman who was the right-hand of Jobs but gets a much more extended role than she played in reality. You may not recognize her at first sight, as this role is pretty far from her usual gallery. A Globe is hers already, other awards may follow.

By focusing on a specific segment of Jobs’ personality this movie succeeded to give a better view of the whole. Yet, it’s only one facet of a huge personality that remains from many other points of view an enigma, and maybe character for more movies.

 

 

The entrepreneur is one of the incarnation of the new American Hero in movies, and it is not surprising that the people who made the Personal Computer and the Internet part of the basic fabric of our lives, and turned Silicon Valley in the center of the technological Universe are getting more and more attention from the Southern neighbors in Hollywood. Steve Jobs has his turn as one of these heroes, his premature death in 2011 made of his character an easier to deal with. Easier because he is no longer here to sue anybody, and also because his malady and than death gave an implicit tragic substance to a life of full of achievements but also of personal controversies.  As I have seen in one weekend days both feature films dedicated lately to his biography I have the feeling that none of them would have been possible if Jobs had been still with us.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2357129/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2357129/

 

At first sight ‘Jobs’ directed by would be the most conventional of the two biographical movies. It starts with one epic moment of success (the launching of iPod which changed forever the music industry) to go back in time to the late 60s when the young Jobs was searching his ways in life among music, India, some drugs, girls. He was different, he was thinking a creative way, but we never get a real glimpse of his technology or design insights. The script written by seems rather to emphasize his astonishing business skills, doubled by recognition of talent that can be used in other people, and a set of no-prisoners tools which guided him in his career as well in his personal life. The Steve Jobs in this ‘Jobs’ is almost a persona we are invited to hate.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

What keeps him away from the ugly negative characters space is the acting of . I have read so many bad things about him that his performance in ‘Jobs’ comes as a real surprise. He succeeds not only to recover many of the physical characteristics of the character, but also gave substance and charm to many of the moments of the film, especially in the first part that deals with the early years. Do we come closer to understanding the real Steve Jobs? I do not think so, but I believe that the problem is in the script and not in the acting, which did not walk the extra mile of trying to discover and explain the motivation of the man and the secrets of his extraordinary skills. Yet, while dealing only with the external strata, the film is quite successful in my opinion in retracing the atmosphere of a time where the flower power revolution resulted not only in fabulous music but also in a wave of inventiveness which changed the world in a different place than intended.

Would Steve Jobs have liked this film? I doubt it, and not only because he personally comes out as the rather jerky character in the story. He may also have said – ‘I have already seen this’, fired the team and go deal with the next thing. That was Steve Jobs.