movies


Comedies age. All things age actually, films included, comedies included. Seeing 50 years later a film that you remember having laughed at until falling under the chair (this is a Romanian expression, I hope it’s clear what it means) is risky. The experience was interesting and surely much different.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060474/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060474/

 

Filmed in 1966, a little more than 20 years after the end of WWII, ‘s La Grande Vadrouille represents a certain step in the evolution of the French (and not only French) films about the war that devastated Europe and the whole world. Taking distance and starting to allow ridicule replace at least in part hate and contempt for the German former enemies was not a completely new thing, I can remember ‘s Babette Goes to War which preceded it with seven years. Yet, in this story about three British airmen parachuted in occupied Paris and saved by a band of French civilians including a famous music conductor (), a humble paint-man () and a blue-eyed blonde puppeteer () the enemies are still all bad and stupid. It will take a time for the ‘good German’ to show up in war movies and even more time for the cinematographic acknowledgment of the collaboration with the occupiers. Meantime all French are good guys. Or good girls. Or good nuns.

 

(video source StudiocanalUK)

 

The film enjoyed huge success, it was actually from its release until 2008 the most successful French film of all times. I remember having seen it in the late 60s in Romania, and I read about film fans from China for example enjoying it as a huge success after the end of the Cultural Revolution. To a large extent the success is due to the presence on screen of the two greatest comedy actors of the French cinema at that time – and . Both were huge stars and had brought them together on screen in a previous film, and now wrote the scenario of La Grande Vadrouille especially for them. Most of the time they are together on screen and the comic qualities of the two enhance each other, the chemistry between them is obvious and so is the pleasure of acting. Years have passed and I did not fall under the chair any longer, laughs turned into smiles and nostalgia, and I can also see the naivety of the script and the schematic story line – but it’s certainly mostly me.  The two are again together in my mind, at least for the next 50 years.

The Sense of an Ending‘ is quite a demanding film. Its target audience is the mature + age, those who have in their minds and souls enough memories that have had the time to be forgotten or intentionally buried. It also demands some patience, as its characters, as many, probably most people in life, do not reveal themselves immediately and are neither exuberant, not very empathetic. It takes time to discover the human motivations of many of us, it takes cinematographic time to discover characters like the one of Tony Webster, the quasi-retired owner of a small shop of vintage cameras in London, who once aspired to become a poet. But then, in cinema as in life, you may be highly rewarded.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4827986/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4827986/

 

The story, inspired by the Man Booker Prize-winning novel by , puts on screen a slow build-up of the young days of the main hero, who suddenly receives a small heritage from the mother of his ex-girlfriend, probably the great unfulfilled love of his university years. The almost forgotten affair with a girl named Veronica from presumably a higher class family is discovered by viewers and re-discovered by Tony, as his memories come back, some of them extracted with difficulty, exposed because of the need to share and despite the will to leave some of them forgotten. Actions in the past have had unknown consequences on the lives of other. Veronica was some kind of a mystery for the young man, maybe because of the class differences, maybe because men never fully understand women, or maybe because some dark family secrets that are never fully revealed and do not become more evident even after 40 or more years. The ambiguity of the details is part of the reason I liked the story, as in life out of books and screens not everything can and will be explained. However, the pieces of the puzzle come together and build for the hero and for the viewers an alternate, even if partial, version of the past. The final moral of the story is that changing the past can change the present or even the future. We are not only what we wish to be, we are also what our memories determine to make of us.

 

(video source StudiocanalUK)

 

The British style of living and being, its discretion and understatements fit so well this story. Director is only at his second big screens film. I hear that his debut in India with ‘The Lunchbox‘ was kind of a sensation. He succeeds to lead with skill his wonderful team of actors, plays well the card of ambiguity, and seems to understand to details the soul and dilemmas of the characters. Attention however, it’s also a personal story, so what we see on screen is always what the hero, Tony Webster sees, what we know is what he can and in some cases chooses to remember. is a wonderful actor and succeeds with talent and discretion in the lead role, even avoiding from us to become to engaged with him until he deserves it. I can be only sorry that spends so little time on screen in this film, she is an artist I love and respect. Keeping the mystery around her character is however what was required by the script and needed here. The only more severe fault that I could find is that the younger actors playing the decades back flashback episodes do not resemble in physiognomies or characters their older selves. I could not recognize at all ones in the others. This gap left apart, ‘The Sense of an Ending‘ provided me with one of the most sensible and thoughts-provoking cinema experiences lately.

‘Planet of the Apes’ generated by now enough big screen and TV series film to be considered a genre or at least a sub-genre by itself. While the original series was playing more in the post-apocalyptic stories space with the original movie one of the strong head of series creation, the more recent remake started as a sci-fi thriller. The second and now third film in the series see the two themes converge as enough bad things happened on Planet Earth for mankind to become again endangered species. Actually both apes and humans seem to be endangered in this latest and the two species are caught in a deadly war that may prove to be fatal to both.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/

 

The premises of the story are similar with the majority of the other films in the series. Humans have made enough fatal mistakes and their psychological, biological, but especially character problems make of them inferior (on the moral if not also on the intelligence scales) to the apes. On the ruins of what was once our civilizations gangs of human survivors and herds of ape survivors fight for their own existence and between them. It’s not a modern war, it’s more like tribal fights.  Which is no less cruel or spectacular in cinematographic terms.

 

(video source 20th Century Fox)

 

When this new series started and I saw the first film (I think that I missed the second) I appreciated the technical performance of making of each one of the apes a character of its own using computer graphics enhancement, but the story seemed thin and conventional. This third film has the same problems, actually it got worse. Visuals are impressing but the story got not only conventional but full of cliches. It’s a deja-vu post-apocalyptic story with religious and moralistic tones, and having it spoken 80% of the time by apes does not make it smarter. Some of the choices of director also seemed to me uninspired. Some of the apes talk a sign language, other a primitive form of the language of the enemy (English, of course). Arms are an odd mix of modern weaponry, tribal bow and arrows and beginning of the 20th century guns. etc. It’s difficult to talk too much about acting, as playing the human model for the apes computer image requires special skills – I assume they are OK as the effect is fine, but it’s not a novelty any longer and the film relies too much on those. So I assume is a fine actor but I need to see more of him, while does what we expect from him in the human bad guy role.

The ending of the original Planet of the Apes was mind-blowing, one of the most memorable final scenes in the history of cinema. What we have in War for the Planet of the Apes is so far from that. The action twist and the meaningful reflection on the future of mankind that were turning the original into a great movie was replaced by a so expected and conventional image with moralistic and religious pretensions. This says almost all about the failure of this film. Faithful fans (and I am among them) will go and see this film. Many will be disappointed, as it is heavy of staff we have already seen so many times. Good cinematography and special effects are also repetitive and cannot save it. One of the characters is called Bad Ape and repeats his name many times in the movie. He may have said ‘Bad Planet’ as well.

The name of the film was not enough deterrent to go and watch Atomic Blonde which was brought for an early screening at the cinematheque in my village one day after its world premiere in London. I have no regrets about deciding to go and see it, as the film is much more than the name says, and by far exceeds the level of most of the comics-inspired movies (not that there is something wrong with them, its just that too many of them are childish). It actually may be one of the best action entertainment films of this summer, with a story complex enough and interesting enough to draw the attention, and excellent execution on all that relates to the action parts of the film.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2406566/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2406566/

 

The dark and violent spy story in Atomic Blonde takes place in the last few weeks and days of divided Berlin. The Wall is going to fall, and the epoch of the games of lies and treason fights between the secret services of the powers on one side or the other of it is speeding up to the point of losing control. Last minute accounts are violently settled and everybody prepares for the day after. A list of the active agents has the value and power of an atomic weapon. In order to get hold of it, the British MI6 agency sends the feminine equivalent of James Bond – the super-spy and super-killer Lorraine Broughton played by . She is ten times as deadly as any of her male competitors and is a master of double or multiple spying games. Success is by no means ensured however and the road to it is paved with uncountable numbers of corpses.

 

(video source Universal Pictures)

 

The director of the movie is , actually a first timer in film directing, but a master of stunts with more than 80 films on record. No wonder than that the fights in the film are superbly directed. I have not seen better since The Matrix. Leitch succeeds however much more – he builds a violent but credible story that shows the world of the classical John le Carre novels falling down together with the Wall in a Big Bang. No need to say, is fit to the task, and calling her the feminist answer to all the misogynist action movies we have seen in the last 100 years is no exaggeration.  Unless you really detest violent action movies, you should like this film.

At a time when peace or at least co-existence near our neighbors seems as remote as ever and when the level of confidence in the political class seems to be at a historical low, it’s quite comforting for us, Israelis, to remember the times when the Prime Minister was a national hero, a man of vision, a person of unprecedented modesty who chose to quit politics and spend the last decade of his life as a member of a kibbutz, living a simple life, engaging in manual labor, working and living together with his neighbors and comrades. True, he had his political enemies also, and he was not exempt of controversies, but controversy is a way of life for Jews in general and Israelis in particular. The opportunity for these thoughts was provided by the documentary film Ben-Gurion, Epilogue which was co-produced (among other) and broadcast by ARTE TV and the Israeli Channel 8 stations, and screened in Israel and at festivals around the world. The film is based on the editing of about one hour worth out of several hours of a filmed interview given by the former Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion in the spring of 1968, several years after retiring from politics.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5934542

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5934542

 

It is interesting to judge the portrait that is convened by this film from two points of view. One is the persona. While Ben-Gurion was a very visible public figure and a popular one in the decades before and after the making of Israel, there are less and less people alive who knew him. We are now left with written testimonies and with this kind of films. From this interview he appears as an individual of great intelligence and modesty at the same time, a man who was both aware and proud of his role in history and at the same time humbled to have been instrumental in the important events he was part of.  Then it’s the political dimension. The Ben-Gurion who talks to us from the recovered filmed interviews was not only a man of vision but also a pragmatic moderate in policies. He provides his views on controversial issues related to the attitude of the allies to the Holocaust that was happening during WWII and the reconciliation with Germany that had happened after the war, about the victory in the Six Days War and the consequences of Israel having won the war and occupied so many territories. For the Israeli audiences there are no astonishing news, the fact that Ben-Gurion would have preferred to negotiate the majority of territories for peace is known for decades, but this position is very well articulated in the film and so actual in the present we live in today.

 

(video source Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia)

 

There are no very tough questions asked, and there is an attitude of deep respect from the young journalist to the old statesman which is never left during the discussion. We still learn a lot about the man, his life, his passions, his positions on important issues, and much of these still resonate. The discovery of the film (with no sound) and of the tapes of the interview (with no image) and the way they were brought together are an interesting story by itself, and the ‘the making of …’ documentary is worth watching as well. More film material taken from newsreels and other interviews were added in order to put the exact moment the interview was given (less than one year after the 1967 victory of Israel in the Six Days War) and the personality of David Ben-Gurion in its historical context. The title of the film is a little misleading, as Ben-Gurion does not take a ‘testamentary’ approach at any point, seems to be in good physical form and had a lot of plans among which writing his memoirs. He unfortunately did not complete these and I wonder if notes of fragments are available. He lived for another five years and even gave more interviews later. This film is an important testimony of his personality and positions after retiring, but the epilogue may still wait to be written.

 

The action thriller The Call which takes place in the Los Angeles area brings to the center of the action a category of people who seldom appear on screens in most of the movies dealing with police work – the emergency call responders. The opening scenes of the film do a fine job not only in describing the atmosphere and (2013 level) technology at the 911 LAPD response center, but also of defining the job, the responsibilities, the professional and human qualities that are required from the people whose voices one first hears when placing an emergency call. It’s a good start for an interesting action movie, that could have been quite special. Unfortunately, director  and his team did not succeed to make it one.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1911644

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1911644

 

The development of the story is rather interesting. Jordan Turner ( in the lead role) is an experienced emergency operator who had made one fatal mistake returning a call in a situation that allowed for the caller to be kidnapped and murdered. Many months later, she finds herself in a situation that seems similar to the incident that continues to track her day and night. It’s her opportunity to do things right, and to save lives. The dialog between the operator and the kidnapped teenage locked in the truck compartment of the car of the abductor is well built, has tension and catches the attention. The problem is that the script authors did not dare to build all or most of the film on the call itself. At some point in time they may have felt that the accumulated coincidences could not hold the story any longer, and they switched the call off. From that point farther the film became just one of these many action thrillers in which usual people become unexpectedly heroes. The issue is that in order to make these happen the script authors had to invent more coincidental situations, plus to build some reasoning for the motivation of the kidnapper. All these are just usual action stuff, and not very good one.

 

(video source Movieclips Coming Soon)

 

delivers good acting as she always does, but she seems to be in danger of accumulating roles that look too much one with the other. The rest is just another action film, especially in the last third of the screening time. It’s a pity for the film that promised so much at the start. The good thriller about the emergency responders is still to be made.

Îmi amintesc o discuţie la care am asistat, purtată acum vreo două decenii, poate puţin mai mult, în birourile companiei de hi-tech în care lucram. Compania trecea printr-una din acele schimbări de identitate rezultate din procesele de ‘Merge and Acquisitions’ (M&A) foarte uzuale în branşă, în care companii mai mari cumpără companii mai mici pentru tehnologiile acestora, sau pentru clientelă şi acces la noi pieţe de desfacere, sau companii cu profiluri şi expertize care se completează unele pe celalalalte se unesc pentru a forma o companie nouă. Invitasem un expert în ‘identitate corporatistă’ (există o asemenea expertiză!) şi acesta ne explica rolul esenţial al semnelor grafice care ajung să reprezinte companiile şi produsele lor în ochii consumatorilor. Simbolistica corporatistă nu este de altfel o disciplină complet nouă, litera ‘M’ rotunjită a simbolizat pentru consumatori burgerii lui MacDonalds mult înainte ca ‘f’-ul lui Facebook să însemne ‘reţele sociale’. La modă în acea perioadă erau săgeţile (neapărat spre dreapta, de preferinţă în sus, dar niciodată spre stânga sau în jos!) şi Cercul. Chiar am lucrat şi eu o vreme la o companie al cărei simbol era un cerc roşu.

 

  sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/


sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/

 

Cercul este şi simbolul şi numele companiei care apare în filmul “The Circle” (“Cercul”) regizat de James Ponsoldt, inspirat de cartea cu acelaşi nume a lui Dave Eggers, cu Emma Watson în rolul principal şi Tom Hanks într-un rol cheie secundar. Câteva cuvinte despre principalii realizatori ai filmului. Născut în 1978 în Georgia, James Ponsoldt nu este foarte cunoscut. Acesta este al cincilea său film, dar primul pentru marile studiouri şi cu actori foarte cunoscuţi în rolurile principale. Filmele sale precedente aparţineau categoriei ‘indie’ (independente, realizate de studiouri mici), trei dintre ele au fost prezentate la festivalul major al genului care are loc în fiecare an la Sundance în luna ianuarie, şi se ocupau de teme romantice sau de problemele adolescenţilor. Dave Eggers în schimb este un nume destul de cunoscut în literatura şi publicistica americană, articolele şi cărţile sale abordând teme sociale, legate de actualitatea imediată. Cartea “The Circle” din care s-a inspirat filmul (al cărui co-scenarist a fost Eggers) este primul său succes de public. Emma Watson a devenit celebră întruchipând-o pe Hermione în seria ‘Harry Potter’ şi şi-a consolidat recent statutul de vedetă jucând rolul Belle din ultima versiune cinematografică a clasicului “Frumoasa şi Bestia”. Tom Hanks nu are nevoie de nici o prezentare.

 

(sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm2659976448)

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm2659976448

 

“Cercul” din romanul lui Eggers şi filmul lui Ponsoldt este numele unei companii din Silicon Valley, o poveste de succes imaginară dar în care recunoaştem cu uşurinţă profilul, structura şi modul de a opera al unor giganţi ai industriei hi-tech cum ar fi Google, Apple sau Facebook. “Cercul” este însă mai mult decât un nume, este şi un concept pe care se bazează întreg ecosistemul format din produsele companiei. Întreaga lume este conectată la “Cerc”. Utilizatorii au acces nelimitat la informaţie, dar şi informaţia despre utilizatori este fără limită şi accesibilă tuturor. Compania are un succes enorm, peste 80% din întreaga populaţie a Americii şi procente însemnate din populaţia lumii fac parte din “Cerc”. Atât de omniprezentă este compania, încât o propunere de a transformă sistemul de vot american în sistem obligatoriu, bazat pe înrolarea (tot obligatorie) a tuturor cetăţenilor în rândul clienţilor companiei nu pare de loc deplasată. În definitiv “Knowing is Good. Knowing Everything is Better.” – “A cunoaşte este bine. A cunoaşte totul este şi mai bine”. Aşa sună unul dintre sloganurile companiei. Oare?

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm1570374912

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm1570374912

 

Cercul este o formă geometrică perfectă şi perfecţiunea sa îi atrage pe creatorii de simboluri identitare. Dar cercul este şi o formă geometrică închisă, oricât de mare ar fi raza sa. Cercul este o formă geometrică simetrică şi aparent democratică, dar are un centru, şi dacă centrul nu joacă după aceleaşi reguli ca punctele echidistante de pe circumferinţă, atunci democraţia este doar aparentă. Cititorii rubricii CHANGE.WORLD vor recunoaşte în problematica filmului teme familiare. Una dintre ele, cea principala, este echilibrul între avantajele comunicării permanente şi riscurile acesteia pentru siguranţa informaţiei şi protejarea vieţilor private ale utilizatorilor reţelei Internet. Lui Mae Holland, eroina filmului i se întâmplă lucruri aparent minunate după ce reuşeşte să se angajeze la una dintre firmele cele mai prestigioase din Valea Siliconului. Muncă este interesantă, i se oferă asigurare medicală permanentă (adică 24 de ore din 24 şi complet monitorizată) nu numai ei ci şi tatălui său suferind de o boală degenerativă în evoluţie pe care nu îşi putea permite material să o trateze, devine parte nu numai dintr-o companie dar şi dintr-un sistem de relaţii complex care la un moment dat îi salvează viaţă, poate contribui şi simte că poate schimba lumea în bine. Care este însă preţul acestor avantaje şi realizări? Abandonarea completă a oricărei intimităţi, expunerea vieţii personale, a familiei, a prietenilor unei supravegheri permanente. O întâlnire cu amplificare exponenţială între o reţea socială (din nou Facebook pare modelul cel mai apropiat) şi ‘Truman Show’, filmul în care Jim Carey îşi trăieşte viaţa ca un ‘reality show’ vizionat de întreaga planetă.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm338572800

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm338572800

 

Tema secundară dar nu mai puţin acută şi actuală a filmului este cea a vieţii sub presiune permanentă în mediul corporatist. Poziţii precum cea în care reuşeşte să se angajeze eroina filmului după un interviu neconvenţional şi nemilos care mi s-a părut a fi una dintre cele mai bune scene ale filmului, sunt dintre acele locuri visate de aproape orice locuitor al acestei zone de mare densitate a tehnologiilor avansate din California, şi de aproape orice inginer, programator, expert în domeniile calculatoarelor şi comunicaţiilor din lume. Se cer celui care a ajuns în această poziţie nu numai calităţi profesionale remarcabile, dar şi un tip special de relaţii cu colegii de lucru, cu care se află în echipă dar şi în permenta competiţie. Viaţa celui care lucrează în acest mediu se contopeşte cu viaţa companiei, frontierele între viaţa particulară şi cea profesională sunt şterse, şi ca ore de lucru, şi ca priorităţi. Înţelegerea scopurilor economice şi sociale ale companiei, adeziunea personală şi sprijinirea acestora prin faptă par cu atât mai paradoxale cu cât cei mai mulţi dintre experţii din domeniu nu rămân cu aceeaşi companie mai mult decât câţiva ani. Chiar dacă reuşesc, chiar dacă şi-au creat o carieră plină de realizări profesionale şi avansări, ei vor schimba locul de muncă peste câţiva ani, uneori traversând stradă la unul dintre competitori, sau căutând noi căi de a-şi diversifica palmaresul personal şi a evita să fie consideraţi ‘plafonaţi’. Apropos, această abordare este foarte diferită la companiile americane în comparaţie cu cele japoneze de pildă, unde este cerută o adeziune similară cu scopurile companiei, dar în care este apreciată loialitatea şi stabilitatea, şi în care de multe ori compania în care începe cariera unui expert este şi cea de la care el (mai rar ea, în Japonia) iese la pensie.

“The Circle” s-a bucurat până acum de o primire destul de rece din partea criticii. Am şi eu destul de multe observaţii în legătură cu viziunea regizorală care mi s-a părut prea plată, ratând ocazia de a crea o imagine vizuală expresivă pe măsura ambianţei pe care o descrie, şi despre unele scene şi personaje secundare care caricaturizează prea gros aspecte reale din viaţa corporatistă. În liniile sale principale însă “The Circle” mi-a plăcut. Emma Watson a fost excelentă – ambiţioasă dar vulnerabilă, gata să-şi asume riscuri personale dar nu şi să-şi trădeze idealurile. Tom Hanks schiţează în câteva tuşe imaginea creatorului de industrie după modelul marilor nume din hi-tech, inclusiv complexitatea rolului de leader, de factor de schimbare, dar şi aspectele întunecate legate de scopurile mediilor de afaceri care în cele din urmă trebuie să genereze profit. Filmul evita să ia poziţii clare, spectatorii sunt lăsaţi să îşi formeze propriile lor opinii şi cred că asta este bine, deoarece problemele aduse în discuţie sunt probleme complexe, care nu au toate un singur răspuns ne-echivoc, sau cărora li se caută încă răspunsurile.

 

(articolul a aparut in revista culturala Literatura de Azi – http://www.literaturadeazi.ro/ )

‘s career spreads now over half a century of writing and directing horror movies. He is considered the master of the Italian cinema of the genre, which also bears the name of ‘giallo’ (yellow – the color of cheap paper on which pulp fiction used to be printed) combining the elements of horror with supernatural (magic, witchcraft) stories. His almost complete lack of limits into bringing violence to screen has earned him critics and led to being avoided by some, but his style and coherence make his films always worth being watched if you accept horror as a genre of entertainment. He is long enough in the industry to have been a contemporary of Fellini who appreciated his work and with whom he shared cinematographers, sets, and even themes. Viewers will find in ‘Profondo Rosso’ (or Deep Red as the title is known in the English version) many topics, techniques, or symbols used by recent films of the genre, but we should not forget that this film was made 42 years ago. We can consider  as an intermediary between Hitchcock and the creators of modern slasher films.

 

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073582/

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073582/

 

What makes a film like this one different from the rest of the crowd composed of ketch-up consuming horror films? First it’s a very well written crime story which succeeds to keep its logic despite the high rate increasing amount of corpses, and despite the apparent involvement of the super-natural elements. It creates thrill from the very first opening scene, and keeps the interest alive most of the time until an ending which makes sense and does not fall beyond the ending of some of its famous predecessors. Next it’s the setting – the city of Rome that we know from the films of Fellini which seems to be really quoted here, sophisticated apartments, abandoned mansions. Most and above all it’s the cinematography. and his director of cinematography Luigi Kuveiller make alternate views of the set and close-ups, fixed and mobile camera work, and create a palette of colors where the red in the title takes a dominant role.

 

(video source Arrow Video)

 

The last element behind the success of the film was in my opinion the choice of in the lead role. The British actor had become famous with his role in   ‘s Blow-Up . His role here is a continuation in a different setting (very Italian vs. very British) on that role, with the same obsessive search for truth. Two of the supporting actors – (preferred actress and collaborator of until today) and succeed also to build very credible performances. All the above contribute to making of Deep Red a significant milestone in the history of thrillers.

Giacomo Casanova, the great lover of the 18th century and maybe of all centuries does not stop to inspire creators. The first of them was of course himself, with the life he led and with the memoirs that he had wrote. Many other followed, starting with Mozart until the film makers of the 20th and 21th century. The latest is the 2014 Casanova Variations – an ambitious piece of art film co-written and directed by which looks at his last days. Was he tired of the endless search and conquests of women? Did he have any remorse concerning the broken hearts and broken lives that he left behind? Who was him after all? A genius turning love affairs into art, or one of the manifestations of evil?

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2614400

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2614400

 

You need not be concerned about Casanova Variations being too serious or too dry in dealing with these issues. It is actually conceived as a performance in a film, the staging of an imaginary opera called ‘The Giacomo Variations’ which is filmed and photographed live, describing the final days of the life of the great heart-breaker (), retired as a librarian in the Dux Castle in Bohemia to write his memoirs, and receiving the visit of a mysterious woman ( – maybe a forgotten lover, maybe a publisher trying to steal the manuscript which tells about his adventures. The story on stage triggers the rendition on screen of the story in the past, and the whole film alternates past and present, life and theater, music and acting, the real life heroes, the actors, singers, and the audience in the opera house. Actors and heroes become one big ensemble and the whole show an elegant dance of the imagination based on the music of Mozart (mostly). It’s entertaining, but this is not everybody’s kind of entertainment and part of the viewers of the film risk to be surprised and confused.

 

(video source Filmladen Filmverleih)

 

Any movie in which John Malkovich is on screen has the potential to become not only a movie with John Malkovich but also a movie about John Malkovich. Casanova Variations is no exception and the role of Casanova merges with the role of the actor who acts as Casanova on stage enabling the permanent games of transition between the two threads of action, between imagination and reality, between the heroes and the actors. In one memorable sequence the actor – singer seems to collapse on stage and a real physician in the audience jumps to help, just to discover that she herself became now part of the show. It’s just one of the many jewels that combine art and life in this film. I also need to mention Veronica Ferres who gives Malkovich a superb replica in a role that seems to gather the power and dangers in the many women Casanova knew in his life.Those who love film, theater, opera, history and the combination of these will find many reasons of joy in this film, which may not solve the mystery of Casanova but makes good refined entertainment out of it.

 

 

I am not a great fan of ‘true crime’ stories, books, or films. And then, there are exceptions. The Iceman directed by is one of them, and I will try to shortly explain why it succeeds in my opinion to do better than many of other similar films (the genre is very popular in American cinema).

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1491044

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1491044

 

Richard Kuklinski was a real person. He was a paid hitman in the service of the mob, who by the time he was caught in 1986 had allegedly more than 100 people murdered on his record. The amazing thing was that he succeeded to keep his real ‘profession’ and source of income hidden from his ‘normative’ family for more than 20 years, living a comfortable life in the suburbs. His beautiful wife and two daughters never guessed the real person that he was. Split personality? Possibly – an extreme case anyway.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The film works well on many plans. First of all this is due to , an actor with many supporting roles in his record, who gets here the opportunity to bring to screen a character who seems to care only about his family with no apparent feelings about other people, not even respect for their lives. Yet, his first mistake and hesitation that triggers his downfall is the hesitation to kill the teenager young girl who witnessed one of his crime, maybe because she reminded him about his daughters. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent as well, with as his unsuspecting wife and as the mob chief who hires him to part ways later. There is little explanation about the background and motives of his deranged and criminal behavior. The references to his brother and one flashback of his childhood may be considered insufficient, but actually I believe that it’s better so. Too much explanation would have spoiled the chilling effect of being exposed as viewers to his dark personality and deeds. As it stays, it’s a study in crime with enough details to make it hard too forget, and enough non-clarity to leave it open to interpretation from viewers.

 

« Previous PageNext Page »