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The French invented cinema and the Americans turned it into a big industry. If Hollywood loves making films about Hollywood, why should not make the French also films about the French cinema? Especially if we are talking about a director () who already made a very successful film about Hollywood (“The Artist“). Here is his daring approach to a genre which is surprisingly new for the French cinema – movies about movies. “Le Redoubtable” is a daring endeavor because the subject is one year in the life of one of the most controversial film directors in the history – ., a complex artist and personality who is also still with us, making films and even commenting on films made about him.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687334

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687334

 

The year is also not any other year, but 1968, one of the milestones in the history of the 20th century, a crossroad also in the history of France. The revolts of the students that peaked in May of that year had several sources of inspiration – anarchist and Maoist ideloogies among them, but also works of philosophers like Jean Paul Sartre and, yes, movies, among which ‘s “La Chinoise“. The French director had gained fame in the decade before with some of the best known films of the French ‘Nouvelle Vague’. Some had ideological content, some other ‘just’ revolutionized (together with films by and a few other) the language of cinema. “La Chinoise” had marked the final of that period and the start of another, a much more politically oriented stage in his creation. It also marked the beginning of the relationship soon to turn into marriage with . (the second for Godard, after he had married and divorced Anna Karina). The implication of Godard in politics and the rocky marriage with Anne are the principal topics of “Le Redoubtable“. The Godard in the film does not come very clean from this historical re-evaluation on screen which is based on the novel-memoirs of his ex-wife. He appears as a ‘gauchist’ intellectual who sides with the revolt and hates police, but his behavior and way of life belong to the class he despises. His ideology seems more anarchist and quite remote from realities.  He fails to understand the totalitarian ways of his idols Mao and Che and is stupefied when “La Chinoise” is rejected by the Chinese embassy as ‘reactionary art’ and he is refused a promotion trip to China. His joining of the May 1968 revolts leads to confusing speeches in the meeting halls at Sorbonne, including an outrageous rant paralleling Jews and Nazis. He is, as many other before him, a victim of a revolution in march that devours its idols. Eventually he makes the right choice understanding that an artist can better serve the revolution by means of art, and for a while he looks better holding a camera on the streets of Paris in 1968, or founding the Djiga Vertov collective of politically active filmmakers. This may lead to another impasse, an artistic one, but that will not be part of the story in this film.

 

(video source TIFF Trailers)

I liked the film. uses a technique that he already successfully applied in “The Artist” – talking about a past period in the history of the cinema with the cinematographic tools specific to that era. He even added more nuances, as different episodes are filmed in different styles adapted to the content. We see the scenes with Paris on barricades filmed with ‘Nouvelle Vague’ hand-held camera. A trip by car in which a crowded mix of film-makers and actors get a speech from their driver about the simple taste in cinema of the masses, so remote from their experiences, is filmed in a static car, like in an American movie of the 30s or 40s. At the peak of the domestic crisis the unbearable soundtrack covers the voices of the disputing lovers.   created a Godard who oscillates between his (well deserved) ego and surprising moments of lack of confidence, who thinks in an ideological and doctrinaire manner but knows little about the people the ideology is supposed to serve, who models his life and art to politics and has little understanding or patience for his own adulating audiences. The relationship with Anne () is almost permanently one-directional, a crisis in building from the very first moments. Both actors do fine jobs, and they are placed in an environment that brings brilliantly to life the period for those spectators who lived it as well as for those who did not.

Focusing on politics and the stormy marriage between Jean-Luc and Anne, “Le Redoubtable” tells less about the cinema that he made – and 1968 was actually a very prolific year, as were the coming 3 or 4 years, although much of what he did was documentary of collective work within the Djiga Vertov group. The one scene that show him at work is filmed one year later, and hints to the fact that, at least for the coming period that was to last about another decade, Godard made a choice. Between art and revolution, he explicitly chose revolution. The final judgment about this period may have not been pronounced, and this film could be part of a re-opening of the discussions and more important – seeing again his films. Godard is Godard, and he never seems to accept to rest.

Destiny decided that and , the two wonderful lead actors of “L’homme du train” (“Man on the Train“) died a couple of months apart, at the end of 2017. Destiny or coincidence? This question is actually one of the key topics of this wonderful film directed by and made in 2002, 15 years before the disappearance of these two sacred monsters of French cinema (and music in the case of ).

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0301414

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0301414

 

 

This is the story of two men who meet by chance. Monsieur Manesquier () is a retired teacher of French literature who lives an old bachelor life in the bourgeois house where he was born and where he is supposed to die. Milan () is a bank robber who came to the small town to prepare the robbery of the local bank. One talks a lot, the other is a man of few words. We’ll get to know much about the previous life of the first, and almost nothing about the second who is a mysterious gangster figure on the line of characters like the one in ‘s “Le Samouraï“. They apparently have not too much in common, but they will discover soon not only consistent affinities, but also something more surprising: each of them yearn to the way of life of the other.

 

(video source e-cinema)

 

“L’homme du train” is flawlessly executed, starting with the well written script which builds the two characters from a well dosed mix of dialogs and silences, the set that recreates the small town house full of memories from other times, and the superb acting of the two actors.  also plays with cinematographic quotes like the Western-like beginning which brings the stranger to the remote small town to the gardener with the scythe scene reminding . There is a lot of charm in the relationship between the two men who get gradually to know each other, in the atmosphere that surrounds them with signs of the unexpected convergence of their fates. “L’homme du train” is a beautiful movie in the best tradition of the French minimalism combined with ‘film noir’. A gem that brings back to our attention that two great actors that the French cinema recently lost in one of the best films in their respective careers.

If anybody thought after seeing Amour and especially its ending that  turned to be a little bit softer towards its characters and show them some mercy, than his or her expectations will be definitely be contradicted by his most recent film ‘Happy End‘, which to many extends deals with the same theme – the end of the road that expects us all, death and how to cope with it.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5304464

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5304464

 

 

The high bourgeoisie class had already had its prime time in cinema.  is the first great director who comes to my mind, with his sharp and cynical visions in movies like ‘The Exterminating Angel‘ and ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie‘ . Their universe receives a deep and detailed description in this film, we are in the 21st century but the change seems to be more in technology rather than in morals, inner relations, or the way the upper classes relate to the world around – servants in the house, partners and employees in business, or the immigrants of different colors of skin who also populate the Europe of our times. The name of the film, ‘Happy End‘ may as well refer to the sunset of this social class or to the mercy killings of the old and suffering.

 

(video source Sony Pictures Classics)

 

We know from his previous films that is not concerned about breaking taboos. This film attacks several as well. Innocence of child is one of them, the young age being seen not that much as an ideal age, but rather as the period when seeds of evil are being sown. We have seen something similar in The White Ribbon. Respectability of the old age is another, and the character and interpretation of  is the proof. There is decency in his attitude, but it derives from a very different place than the usual convention. At some point it seems that the old Monsieur Laurent tells a story that happened to the character also played by in Amour. Themes are recurring, but what the attitude of the script writer and director is as non-conventional as ever. One new perspective in this film is the exposure to the Internet and to social networking. These play an important role in the story, part of the characters share their feelings and send their hidden messages in the apparent darkness of the digital networking. The sharp critic of the director towards the surrogates of human communication is evident, but he also borrows brilliantly the format of the smartphones screens and uses them to open and close his film.   ‘Happy End‘ is (almost) another masterpiece by .

Memoria mea de cinefil are ciudatul obicei de a lipi de multe ori filmelor văzute cu mulți ani în urmă locul și împrejurările în care am văzut filmul. Aveam în jur de zece ani când am văzut pentru prima dată ‘Planeta furtunilor’. Anul era aproximativ 1963, iar cinematograful era Union, cel de lângă blocul Turn din Capitală, care cu vreun deceniu mai târziu avea să devină pentru o vreme sediul Cinematecii. Era perioada în care apărea legendara Colecție de Povestiri Științifico-fantastice, părinții mei erau printre fani și prin anii 70 mă puteam lăuda că aveam una dintre colecțiile complete ale acestei serii de fanzine în limba română.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/rm2206525184

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/rm2206525184

 

Re-vederea recentă a filmul sovietic care în original se numea ‘Planeta Bur’ mi-a prilejuit și o călătorie în timp prin vizionarea acestui film despre o călătorie în spațiu. S-ar putea să fi fost unul dintre primele filme științifico-fantastice pe care le-am văzut vreodată, dacă nu cumva primul, dintr-o serie lungă care continuă până astăzi, căci pasiunea pentru gen născută în acei ani nu s-a atenuat ci dimpotrivă. A fost probabil și unul dintre primele filme sovietice pe care le vedeam, și unul dintre singurele, căci în familia mea nu prea era agreată în acea perioada nici limba și nici cultură rusă, dominată în primele decenii ale comunismului de propaganda sovietică. Și totuși era vorba despre un film singular și destul de deosebit chiar și în peisajul cinematografiei sovietice din acei ani. Îmi lipsea însă complet perspectiva, căci filmele americane nu ajungeau în România în acei ani decât în număr foarte mic, și filme ca ‘Destination Moon’ (1950) regizat de Irving Pitchel, ‘When Worlds Collide’ (1951) al lui Rudolph Mate, ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956) regizat de Fred M. Wilcox sau ‘Robinson Crusoe on Mars’ (1964) al lui Byron Haskin erau complet necunoscute publicului românesc.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/rm713418496

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/rm713418496

 

Avea de fapt loc în acei ani o competiție paralelă cursei pentru explorarea spațiului cosmic între cele două mari supraputeri – Uniunea Sovietică și Statele Unite – reprezentând cele două sisteme politice care se aflau angrenate în complexul sistem de relații numit Război Rece care includea diplomație înarmată și un echilibru al terorii nucleare. Cinematografia ca formă de artă populară cu cea mai mare distribuire în rândurile marelui public încerca să oglindească această competiție. Începutul anilor 60 a fost o perioadă în care sovieticii păreau să câștige cursa științifică, dar nu la fel stăteau lucrurile pe plan artistic. Misiunea de a recupera această întârziere a fost încredințată studiourilor de filme științifice din Leningrad. Regizorul filmului a fost Pavel Klushantsev (1910 – 1999). Descendent din partea mamei dintr-o familie de nobili ruși, Klushantzev era cunoscut mai ales ca operator, filmul său cel mai cunoscut până atunci ca regizor fiind documentarul educativ ‘Drumul spre stele’ din 1957. Astăzi am fi numit acel film ‘docu-dramă’, o combinație de explicații științifice despre explorarea spațiului cu efecte speciale care descriu imponderabilitatea, activitatea pe o stație spațială sau drumul spre lună și cu scene jucate de actori.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2123097088

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2123097088

 

Din câte se știe ‘Planeta furtunilor’ a fost singurul film de lung metraj de ficțiune regizat de Klushantsev. Orientarea științifică a echipei cu care a lucrat este evidentă în atenția acordată elementelor științifice în raport cu structura slabă și convențională a intrigii și narațiunii. Dacă imaginea rachetelor spațiale ne impresionează prea puțin în comparație cu efectele create pe calculator cu care suntem astăzi obișnuiți, în schimb scenele de imponderabilitate sau descrierea naturalistă a contactului dintre oameni și monștrii care populează planeta sunt executate cu exactitate. Pot mărturisi acum, după  circa 55 de ani, că băiatul de vreo zece ani care eram la prima vizionare s-a ascuns literalmente sub scaun când tentaculele monstrului venusian păreau a pune în pericol viață curajosului cosmonaut. Chiar și în perspectiva de acum, după sute de filme de science-fiction vizionate într-o jumătate de secol, unele scene rămân expresive. Altele sunt mai puțin reușite, de exemplu siluetele de dinozauri cu care Klushantsev și colegii săi au populat planeta par firave ilustrații dintr-un manual școlar. Intriga însăși nu oferă prea multe motive de comentariu fiind cam la nivelul unui episod din serialul de televiziune ‘Star Trek’ care avea să apară cu câțiva ani mai târziu. Cosmonautii sunt surprinzător de independenți și după ce una din cele trei nave spațiale ale misiunii este distrusă de un meteorit hotărăsc singuri, cu abnegație sovietică, să continue misiunea. Cele două echipe de exploratori pierd momentan legătura și se vor caută unii pe alții înfruntând primejdiile. Singura femeie din echipaj va trebui și ea să ia singură o hotărâre crucială de care depinde viața colegilor ei de misiune. Eroism și devotament stahanovist in spațiu.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2504407552

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2504407552

 

Surprinzătoare (în bine) este cantitatea destul de redusă de propagandă într-un film care se vrea și un răspuns filmelor similare americane. Într-un singur moment al filmului este lăsat puțin loc unui discurs de mulțumire pentru sprijinul acordat de popoarele sovietice. Există și un personaj ne-sovietic, cercetătorul Kern, care are concepții puțin capitaliste, dar este totuși un personaj pozitiv. Ni se spune că este finanțat de un grup independent de cercetători. Conceptul de misiune internațională nu se născuse încă, dar suntem pe drumul cel bun. Americanii aveau să reciprocheze cu prezența comandantului Cehov pe puntea de comandă a primei misiuni Star Trek. Kern este și cel care manipulează robotul John, și el destul de bine realizat ca viziune cinematografică, și unul dintre primii roboți din istoria filmului dotat nu numai cu inteligență și spirit de sacrificiu, dar și cu simțul umorului. Mai puțin bine stă filmul la capitolul costumelor purtate in timpul voiajului orbital, încă nu venise moda elegantelor uniforme spațiale.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2474960640

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056352/mediaviewer/ rm2474960640

 

Aspectele științifice ale filmului includ și câteva puncte slabe. Alegerea planetei Venus ca țintă de explorare reflectă stadiul cunoștiințelor științifice existente la începutul anilor 60. Condițiile atmosferice de pe Venus (la fel și Marte de altfel) erau puțin cunoscute și atât sovieticii cât și americanii au trimis sonde automate spre ambele planete. Datele obținute ulterior (o mare parte furnizate de sondele sovietice) aveau să arate că atmosfera planetei Venus este compusă din gaze otrăvitoare, temperaturile și presiunea atmosferică sunt extrem de ridicate și viața așa cum este imaginată în film este practic imposibilă. Într-un singur domeniu au nimerit foarte precis autorii – furtunile.  Altfel, deschiderea căștii spațiale pe suprafață planetei cum se întâmplă într-una dintre scene i-ar ucide imediat pe astronauți. În secolul 21 Marte este tința preferată a explorării spațiale și va fi probabil următoarea planetă a sistemului solar pe solul căreia vor călca, peste câteva decenii, astronauți de pe Terra.

Filmul ‘Planeta furtunilor’ a avut totuși răsunetul său la momentul respectiv și a atras și atenția distributorilor americani. Aceștia au cumpărat filmul dar nu l-au distribuit ca atare, ci au folosit o parte din scene, în special cele conțînând efecte speciale, pentru a crea două filme americane independente: ‘Călătorie spre planeta preistorică’ realizat în 1965 de Curtis Harrington, și ‘Călătorie spre planeta femeilor preistorice’ realizat în 1968 de cunoscutul regizor Peter Bogdanovich sub pseudonimul Derek Thomas. Timpul însă nu a stat în loc. Primele episoade ale serialului de televiziune Star Trek au fost realizate în 1966, și în 1968 avea loc premiera filmului care a schimbat cursul istoriei genului science-fiction: ’2001, O Odisee Spațială’.  Lui Pavel Klushantsev filmul nu i-a purtat însă mare noroc. ‘Planeta furtunilor’ a fost primul și ultimul sau film de ficțiune. Eșecul programului spațial sovietic în competiția cu cel american avea să ducă și la reducerea interesului pentru filme sovietice de gen. După el Klushantsev s-a reîntors la genul documentar, filmele sale despre Luna și mai ales cel despre Marte realizat în 1968 având elemente vizuale foarte spectaculoase. În 1972 și cinematografia sovietică avea să realizeze un mare salt artistic prin ‘Solaris’ a lui Andrei Tarkovsky.

Una dintre versiunile în limba rusă ale filmului cu subtitluri în limba engleză poate fi văzută pe youTube la https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN14uPTPUWk.

 

(Articolul a aparut iniţial in revista culturală ‘Literatura de Azi’ – http://literaturadeazi.ro/)

 

Ise yarar bir sey‘ by Turkish director is a combination of art and road movies quite different from the other films (not too many, unfortunately) that I have seen coming from Turkey. If I am to compare her style with a cinematographic school that I know better, I would pick the Romanian ‘minimalist’ cinema of the last 10-15 years. ‘s focus is very much on the details of everyday life, her actors are all very well selected and directed and the insight to their psychologies and motivations is deep and sympathetic. The overall vision does not avoid symbolism, as well as a critical but not necessarily direct approach to reality.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214084

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214084

 

The heroes of the film are two women belonging to two different generations, who meet in a railway station before taking together the train on an overnight trip to a remote city on the seashore. The elder one is in her 40s, she seems confident and cultivated, and likes to observe life and other people with an empathetic look. She declares to be a lawyer, and we later understand that she is also a poet, a detail that we discover gradually and which plays an important role in the story. The younger one is in her 20s, she is a nurse who dreams to become an actress, vulnerable and under stress because her trip has an unusual goal – helping a friend of a friend to die. Somehow obliged at the beginning by the closed enclosure of the traveling train (where more than half of the action takes place), the two women forge a dialog that helps them know each other and us understanding piece by piece who they are. At the end of the train trip the poet joins the younger woman in her deadly mission. Is this by curiosity? Maybe to understand what makes a man want to die? Or rather to avoid his death and the potential torment that the young woman would go through if she performed the deed – forbidden by conventional moral and by laws?

 

(video source Binbir Dizi)

 

I liked the film, but I should warn other that this is not easy stuff. has a sure hand as film director, the cinematography is beautiful, the acting is excellent. There is a lot of quality of the poetic kind in this movie, but it is slow developing, it asks to be discovered, and some of the best stuff comes by the end, and is buried in characters development, in off-screen or loudly read text including some poetry, with situations that are interesting on the psychological plan, but far from spectacular. One scene, the 25 years reunion of the high school colleagues that the elder woman attends (that was the initial goal of her trip) offers a one shot very sharp view through the middle class of the Turkish society, and this is the one that reminded me similar scenes in two Romanian movies. It’s beautiful and interesting, but somehow detached from the rest of the film. There is also no decisive conclusion to the story, the message seems to be about life and death being part of the same unique universe, but this is left to the viewers to reach. It may also say that beauty is in the details of life as observed by the principal character, but it may not be worth clinging to it at any price.

 

Watching any film by  is an enriching experience, an experience that teaches the viewers some new things about cinema and some new things about life. Live Flesh (“Carne tremula” in Spanish) is not exception. It is a film about passion and desire, it is a melodrama that makes more sense than life itself, it presents five characters whom we get to know by the end of the film better than our own family.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118819

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118819

 

The story has one prologue, one first chapter taking place twenty years later, more chapters in the contemporaneity (meaning 1997) and a prologue a few months later. A young woman (only appearance in this movie as a live person by ) gives birth, it’s the sleepy Madrid at the end of the Franco era, still a policy state, still hard to catch a taxi even if the streets at night are empty, so the birth takes place in a semi-hijacked bus. Twenty years later in bustling democratic Madrid two cops are called to a place where a young 20 years old pizza delivery boy (yes, that boy) has an altercation with a beautiful young prostitute. Shots are being fired, and one of the policemen is hurt and becomes crippled, not before drawing the attention of the young woman. A few years later the boy gets out of jail and plans to revenge the policeman who stole his youth. His revenge involves not only the woman but also the wife of the other cop. We are in full Almodovar melodrama, everybody is in love or makes sex with everybody else, it’s not a romantic triangle but a love and passion pentagon. All funny and sexy, violent and endearing

 

(video source Vhs Archives)

 

The songs of Chavela Valdez inspired part of the story and the approach of . As in many other of his films he makes no moral judgment about the actions of his characters, but we feel that he cares about them all, and would like to make us care too. Although it’s a mix of comedy and melodrama  ‘Live Flesh‘ never goes where we expect, because the director and story teller does not run away from mixing the beautiful and tend with the ugly and cruel aspects of life. performs here in one of the best roles of his early career, and the rest of the team including , , and define each their characters, each of them with his or her own passion and aspiration to love. Although it is hazard that seems to trigger many of the events, the ending provides a fulfilling sensation. The divinity (I mean, of course, the film director) takes care of everything.

 

This season of the Academy Awards has two strong contenders in movies that deal with the events that took place in May and early June 1940. While ‘s Dunkirk used the power of the computer effects to retrace the saga of the evacuation of the British army from the beaches of Europe in the first year of WWII, ‘s Darkest Hour takes us in the shady rooms of the politicians and army decision makers who had to make crucial decisions after the disastrous beginning of the war. While the focus in the first movie was on the collective resistance and heroism, the later puts on the first plan the personality of the man who took upon himself the reigns of power in the most difficult moments of the history of the United Kingdom.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4555426/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4555426/

 

There is a lot of history in Darkest Hour, part of it facts, some other fiction trying to be true to the spirit of history. ‘se non e vero, e ben trovato’ – ‘Even if it is not true, it is a good story’. The vision created by the authors of the script presents Winston Churchill as a candidate of compromise at a crossroad of the history, who reaches the peak because he is the only politician capable of gathering Labor opposition support for a national unity government. The conservative party and the king himself are very hesitant about his nomination, and much of the first weeks (described in the movie) of his prime-ministry will be faced finessing the attempts to have him replaced by an internal party coup, and fighting to take the kingdom firmly on the path of uncompromising resistance to the Nazi enemy and fierce fight to total victory, in the conditions of the defeat of the allied armies and fall of most of the Western Europe under German occupation. It’s a story of political intrigue and the personal story of the controversial politician becoming the leader of the free world at war.

 

(video source TRAILER CITY)

 

Director does in my opinion a very good work in building the story as a political thriller, re-creating to detail the atmosphere of London at war, and bringing to life on screen the characters of the principal players of this historical drama. At some moments he plays with the formats of the frame, we can see the characters and especially Churchill cornered or squeezed to part of the surface of the screen, almost like in two-dimensional paintings, thus creating the sensation of claustrophobia or psychological pressure the heroes find themselves in. Churchill may be one of the most popular historical personalities in cinema, but the absolutely fantastic performance of brings new angles, as we see the quite old politician and flawed human being transforming himself into a leader with the moral force, political skills and strong convictions not only to lead but also to become a model for his country at war. The rest of the actors team is up to the mission as well, including as Winston’s supportive wife, with a nuanced version of King George VI (although his change of mind is not so well explained) and as his young and devoted secretary.

Winston Churchill is not only a popular film hero but he is also claimed as a model for many politicians who came after him, until today, when they try to prove that compromises and appeasement are not the right tactics when faced with enemies perceived as evil. He proved to be on the right side of history more than once, first when fighting the Nazis, later when opposing Communism in Europe. Yes, he was was also a human, he liked whisky and champagne and cigars, but this was not what made him great, but the fact that he fought for the right causes. One of the key scenes in the film shows him taking the underground – for the first time in his life! – and confronting the random sample of people in the train car with the dilemmas he is facing. They unanimously express their support for his own uncompromising positions. The moving scene intents to show that his strength derived from the people’s will. It’s a little bit romanticized and of course, fictional, but yet, this seems to concentrate the principal message of the film.

 

Hollywood loves more than anything else to make films about Hollywood. There may be some trivial economic reasons for this, films about films taking place mostly in film studios are easy to make in film studios. There is a more deeper reason however, and this is the Hollywood fascination for movies and for itself. It may be considered self-serving, but when the fascination is shared by audiences the result is good movies. Actually, some of the best movies made at Hollywood take place and are about making films (in most cases in Hollywood). ‘s ‘The Disaster Artist’ belongs to this category, but there is an increased risk as its topic is the making of ‘The Room‘ considered by many the worst film in history and its principal hero is its director, producer, script actor and lead actor,

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3521126/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3521126/

 

The Disaster Artist’ tells the true story of the making of a film which many consider so bad that it should never have been done. Yet, this film is born of the passion and of the desire to prove themselves of two aspiring actors who were rejected by the Hollywood system. We know that Hollywood is a capitalist jungle, that one in a hundred or a thousand make it, that in order to succeed one needs talent and luck. But if talent and luck are missing, can money replace them?  tried to prove it by making ’The Room‘. The result was surprising, just because the film was not mediocre, it was awful. Superlatively awful, to the point to become a success and a legend.

 

(video source A24)

Viewing  ’The Disaster Artist’ asks some troubling questions about what is a ‘good’ film, and what it takes for a film to become a ‘cult film’. Are we living in times of such confusion of values that nothing does really matter? If bad is good, than ‘The Room‘ is the best because it was the worst? What turned it into a ‘cult film’ and what does this mean? I would not say that all these artistic and philosophical questions found answers in ’The Disaster Artist’. The film is well made and it entertains,  does a good job as a film director and as an actor, but I cannot claim that I understand his character (yes, he has passion, but passion is just one component of film or any other art making) or what a ‘cult film’ is. I can however say that I witnessed an episode of the ‘cult of ‘The Room” as the cinema hall at the cinematheque in my city was more populated than in an average evening, most of the spectators were young people who knew and voiced text loudly, in chorus and in sync with the actors, and brought with them spoons. Why spoons? You need to come and see the movie to learn the answer.

Some of the best film achievements have come and will come from places which are under social and political pressure and are being created by film directors who are deeply involved in the life of their countries and have both the talent to make cinematographic art out of their questions and fears, and the courage  to make films that reflect their concerns and reach their own audiences as well as the international ones. “Abluka” (Frenzy) which is only the second film of director was released in 2015, one year before the failed coup and the political actions that followed it in Turkey. It presents a deeply disturbing and dystopian view of the realities of a country hit by terrorism and answering it with the means of force. Hard to say if this is the reality of today or a projection in the future, but after all there are many people who consider the world we live in with its violence, terrorism, repression a dystopian version of the world we used to know and live in ten or twenty years ago, and maybe here we see (or dream as in a nightmare) a cautionary version of the world of tomorrow.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4895740/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4895740/

 

The lead characters of the film live in a miserable slum in the outskirts of a big Turkish city, a typical incubator of violence and terror. We see in the background the shining towers of a modern city and do hear the explosions of the terror attacks that hit it but the life of the two heroes are obviously buried in poverty. They are in a figurative and non-figurative manner the scavengers of their world, performing some of the unwanted jobs that support the system: the older brother just released from prison collects garbage and is a police informer, the youngest one kills stray dogs.  A third brother had disappeared suddenly from their lives a decade ago. They try to adapt and do their best to survive, but they have a hard time communicating, even with each other, and the pressure of the world around overwhelms them. The sliding slope of their lives seems inevitable.

 

(video source The Match Factory)

 

The story plays permanently with the balance between sanity and insanity, between reality and and the nightmares of the two heroes. From some point ahead it becomes unclear if what we see on screen is reality, or the nightmares of the two brothers, or maybe the life around became one big nightmare. The wonderful acting of and , makes us share their fears and claustrophobia. The situations the two find themselves are difficult but are not their fault, and actually, if we try to understand their personal perspectives, each of them makes sense. They try to do their best to play inside the system while keeping their human feelings.  So, if the two characters behave rationally maybe the insanity belongs to the world that surrounds them? the world that surrounds us? This film with its grim vision and the tragic fate of its heroes is not easy to watch, but it is true and impressing, the work of a talented film maker.

I usually try to form my opinion about films based on how entertaining or interesting or enriching or none of these I felt that they were during the time spent watching them. Only afterwards I try to understand why I liked or disliked the film, what caused me to find it funny, what I had learned from it, whether I exited as a better being (or not) at the end of the film. In the case of ‘My Life to Live‘ (the original French title is ‘Vivre sa vie’ – ‘Living her own life’) going back to the roots of the pleasure of watching this movie also means placing it in the context of the cinema at the beginning of the 60s, and the extraordinary revolution brought by a handful of French directors was part of, in the way movies are made and the way spectators watch movies and relate to them.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056663

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056663

 

The story in ‘Vivre sa vie’ is pretty straight-forward and there are no explicit social or political messages as in other films by Godard or his colleagues. Nana () is a young woman trying to build a path for herself in the Big City, failing, and sliding slowly on the slope of prostitution. The film follows her unsuccessful attempts to meet ends, followed by a decision that mixes innocence and reluctance to engage in the oldest profession, while keeping alive her ingenuity and desire to live her life. There is no moral hesitation and no risks assessment in what she does. Godard approaches what can be otherwise described as a descent in hell with an apparent phlegmatic approach, almost as in a documentary or as in what we call nowadays a docu-drama. This is reflected in the places he is filming (more or less chic areas of Paris) and in the selection of his actors – the pimps and the customers of the sex trade look no different than any of the other guys next table in the brasserie.  There is only one violent incident in the story that could have been a warning about the dangers ahead, but it is dully ignored. The desire to live a good life prevails.

 

(video source janusfilms)

 

The choice of the actress may have been quite obvious, as had married the year before the film was made. The role may even have been written for her, but the way he directs the young actress is part of his manner of telling the story. ‘s Nana is beautiful and ingenue, she just makes her choice about the way she wants to live her life without awareness about the price to be paid. Is there a final realization of her mistake? Maybe she gets it in the last second of the film, but it’s mostly to the viewer to draw the conclusions.

There are so many cinematographic innovations in this film made at the beginning of the 60s that any list risks to be partial. Filming some of the dialogs without seeing the faces of the actors, using live and sometimes hand-held camera on the streets of Paris, inserting legal and documentary book texts to illustrate the decision of Nana at the key moment when her destiny takes a turn, using close plans of the actors faces to emphasize their feelings (some times with help from the wonderful music of Michel Legrand) are only part of these. I especially loved two scenes: the film in film screening of ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ which is a fascinating declaration of love for cinema, and the dance scene which predates by more than three decades what  will do in Pulp Fiction. No wonder, as  lists  as one of his idols. One element which may seem today experimental was not such actually – it’s the black-and-white film – that was the period of transition to color, which still was expensive and – luckily – the young French new wave directors and their producers could not afford it.

The final of the 12 chapters of the film includes a glimpse on the streets of Paris where people stand in line at the cinema house to see ‘s Jules and Jim. A reverence to his colleague of generation who broke through a few years before, and whose fame was soon to equal.

 

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