Entries tagged with “Romanian cinema”.


The success of the Romanian cinema in the last decade or so did not spring up from nothing. Although the cinema in Romania was more strictly censored and controlled by propaganda during the Communist period, a handful of talented directors existed and they made a few good or at least decent films in a difficult ideological environment, with very little technical means. One of these directors was . Something strange happened though with him and most of the film directors in his generation after 1990. With some exceptions they seem to not have been able to use to the best the freedom of expression (political and stylistic) or to adapt to the technical progress that became soon and fast available. Many of their films seem to be stoned in the past, repeating mistakes and perpetuating stereotypes that belong to a different era. Pita’s Kira Kiralina is a good example on this respect – a cinematographic failure on almost any respect.

 

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2497852/

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2497852/

 

Kira Kiralina brings to screen a story by – a writer of Romanian origin who charmed the French readers in the 1920s with his stories of passion and brigands located in the the North of the Balkans and especially in the cosmopolitan area of the last hundreds of kilometers of the Danube course before reaching the Black Sea. It’s a fascinating zone, a land of legends and passions which could be the stage of great stories and movies. The problem with the script written by  and the screen version of  is that they did not create a cinematographic vision parallel to Istrati’s text, but rather chose the easy path of having a screen character read the story off-screen and what we see on screen is kind of an illustration of this reading. If we put together the scenes where the main character remembers and reads loudly the episodes of his childhood and troubled teens age, we probably get many minutes with the actor smoking and writing on the same sheet of paper. Such techniques are maybe fit to TV theater or low cost TV dramas, but not to big screen movies. Story telling is broken, more an exemplification of the monotone reading of the book text. Characters are introduced by the voice of the story teller and not but what they achieve themselves on screen. Some of the action scenes are a complete failure, like the dramatic shooting between the sadistic father of the two kids, and the brothers of the mother, or the revenge scene taking place a few years later.

 

(video source RollerCoaster PR)

 

The cinematography of a few of the scenes (filmed out-doors) and the exceptional costumes (designed by Oana Paunescu ) offer a glimpse of what this movie could have been. Unfortunately, they are just exceptions and the overall conception fails to provide a credible description of the world at the mouths of the Danube at the end of the 19th century and of the heroes created by Panait Isrtrati. The orthography even of the name of the film (‘Kira Kiralina’) is different in the distribution from the one of the poster (‘Kyra Kyralina’) and for some reason unknown to me different from the one used in the Romanian versions of the book (‘Chira Chiralina’). Actors work is irrelevant, they all seem stiff on screen, fresh newcomer faces as well as the known Romanian actors in the cast. The very last two scenes of the film (even if one of them us too verbose) happen after the story teller task was completed, and they give a hint of what this film could have been if a different approach was chosen. It’s too little and too late.

 

The landscape plays a central role in Dogs (Caini) the first long feature film of Romanian director . Visuals, actually, together with acting play the most important tasks in this film, which is very different from many other features that can be seen on commercial screens or in festivals. One may say this is at the expense of story telling, although there are a few very interesting elements in the story as well. It takes place in a frontier land, at the Eastern border of Romania, where wild fields burnt by the sun meet the Danube at the end of its trip across Europe. As many frontier spaces, it’s a place with its own rules, where applying state laws and even morality or simple human laws implies risks. It is also a space which is far from cities and civilization, but not from the side effects of urban crime and especially of corruption which seems a recurring theme in all Romanian movies (it was featured in all the three Romanian films I have seen at the International Film Festival in Haifa).

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5088794/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5088794/

 

There are two sources of inspiration for this combination of strong drama and violent thriller. The first can be found in the deep hisotry of Romanian literature which had a distinct naturalistic trend at the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, with tough stories and characters in short stories and novels about family feuds, conflicts about owning land, and erotic passionate intrigues, mostly located in the Romanian rural space (which was at that time the dominant social environment). The second one is from the gangster and horror movies of the last two decades. I do not know whether Tarantino has seen this film, but I am pretty sure that Mirica has seen Tarantino’s, as well as some of the Korean horror movies. The combination of the two sources of inspiration together with the excellent sound and image work, plus a dose of humor, make some of the toughest scenes that I have seen lately surprisingly palatable.

 

(video source TransilvaniaFilmRO)

 

Acting is in many cases the strong part in Romanian films, which owes so much to an excellent local school of theater acting. I will start with the relatively weaker role – the one of the young man from the city who inherits his grandfather’s property and comes in the strange area, triggering the events. fights with a role that is incompletely conceived, maybe intentionally. This weaker part is compensated by the splendid role of the old policeman (), dying of an incurable disease, whose last and pathetic fight to fix things that have gone wrong so many years, a role which brings together moral fiber, emotion, and humor. The trio is completed by the local gang leader played by , one of the top actors of Romania today, if not simply the best, an actor who cannot do wrong.

‘Caini’ belongs to a new phase of the Romanian cinema. No more ‘New Wave’, no more Communism or transition as principal themes. Another type of story, a different approach to film making. Aesthetics are at least as important as the story. There are many good reasons to see this film, quite different from many other. Go for it.

 

The Romanian ‘New Wave’ is not that new any longer. For the last decade Romanian directors succeeded to surprise viewers and juries with their films dealing with hardships of life under the Communist dictatorship, and about the period that followed immediately, a time that carried the sequels of the dictatorship in the difficult transition that the country has undergone. It’s kind of a revenge and recovery both from an artistic but also an attitude point of view, because Romanian cinema was deeply affected by censorship, and the directors of the previous generations enjoyed less freedom than their colleagues in other former Communist countries, having to either compromise, or had their movies severely chopped of, if not simply interdicted. The result was that with very few exceptions both the value and the message of the Romanian films before 1989 was null. More than a decade had to pass, and a new generation of film makers to appear in order to fix and start the recovery process. Results are however briliant.  is one of the best representatives of the new school of directors, maybe the best. All his projects are followed with interest, and they do not disappoint, including ‘Bacalaureat’ (Graduation)

Interestingly enough, the films are differently perceived by the Romanian and foreign audiences, and this was clear in the reception and commentaries at the Haifa International Film Festival where I saw the film, as well as in the questions that lead role actor  was asked from the audience after the screening. He was quite careful in pointing that the film should be taken as what it is, meaning one film representing maybe one facet of the Romanian reality, but not all of it.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4936450/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4936450/

 

There are two main themes in the film: First it’s about the generation gap, about parents sacrificing everything for what they perceive as best for their kids – but is this ‘everything’ the best or even good? Same as in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the film that brought him the Palme d’Or, the hero of Mungiu’s latest film  crosses the borders of law and buries his own moral rules in order to help. It’s just that here it’s not about helping the best friend, but his own kid (same them as in another Romanian production that I liked – Child’s Pose) but by doing this he becomes the master of her destiny – is this really for her good? His goal is to save her from the generalized atmosphere of corruption, from the endless chain of relations the Romanian society and life seem to be built upon, but in order to save her from the system he needs to become part of it. This is the second important theme. The Romanian director seems to look around in anger, at his own broken dreams, at the lost opportunities of his generation who could have made a difference but did not have the courage to do it, ending in compromise.

 

(video source Mobra Film)

 

The role of  is very similar with the one in Illegitimate which I had seen in the previous evening at the festival, but more complex, and the direction style is very different. Mungiu seems to control very tight his actors and makes sure that all intended nuances are there, while , the director of Illegitimate gave much more freedom to the actors, who could improvise and build their own version of the characters. The result is impressing in both movies, confirming  Titieni as one of the best film actors of his generation.

Interestingly enough, the two movies end both in similar manners, with a still snapshot photo – in this case the traditional picture of the high-school class at the end of the graduation ceremony. Everybody smiles to the future, but what all the film told us is that the future is uncertain. Will the next generation have the courage and the luck to be the generation of the change?

‘Ilegitim’ (or ‘Ilegitimate’ in English) starts with a very normal family scene. Around the family table we see the father (), a man in his late 50s (we’ll soon learn that he lost his wife one year and a half ago), and his four children, the elder in the 30s, the younger (brother and sister twins) just out of their tween-age. Father gives a small conference filled with platitudes about time, which the kids seem to follow jokingly, less than half interested. They speak quite vulgarly for a family of intellectuals (father is a surgeon, the elder brothers follows the same professional path) but this is normal in today’s Romania as I hear (I do not live there for more than 32 years). The end of the movie is again very normal, a still family photo where everybody is smiling happily to the camera. However, nothing is normal with this family between the opening and the closing scenes of ‘s film.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt5002394/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt5002394/

 

There are several reasons not to like this film, which does not avoid shocking its viewers, although I would say it’s doing it not in an ostentatious manner.  I have already mentioned one – the high amount of profanities. The other one is certainly approaching one of the last taboos not yet completely explored by cinema – incest – although there are precedents (for example in Bertolucci‘s The Dreamers). But then, the Italian maestro was not afraid to take risks and to shock in several key (and top) points of his career. I can understand people who are inhibited by these reasons when watching ‘Ilegitim’ but I believe that they are losing quite a lot. The film is very well conceived, interestingly made, and continues some of the themes already taken upon by the Romanian cinema (forced aborting during the communist rule and the dilemma pro life – pro choice after the change of the regime, responsibility for the attitude or lack of attitude during the previous regime, the children’s right to question the behavior of their parents). There also is here a beautiful although twisted love story, which is again to understand and maybe sympathize, or to hate.

 

(video source Agentia de Film)

 

The script is co-writen by lead actress and by director who created the background and the situations, while letting the actors decide on the exact words and gesture that translate those into life. The result of this script writing and directing style is a spontaneous, natural, and sometimes naturalistic screen rendition, which looks fresh and authentic. Actors enter well the game, and the mix of professional actors mixed with non-professional works well. Best are  again who creates the portrait of the young woman whose feelings and way of life are put to a hard test and succeeds to enter the role with a winning combination of fragility and determination, and who plays a role quite similar in the general linesto the one in ‘s ‘Bacalaureat’ (Graduation), and a similar terrible choice to make between his moral convictions and the perceived ‘good’ for his child.

There is a breaking point in the story telling, just at the place where in more ‘traditional’ scripts the climax of the action slides into the solution (which can be a car chase, or gun shooting, or the heroes living happily together. You need to see the film (which I highly recommend) in order to learn what the writer and director decided to pick, I will just say that this is one of the possible solutions, and not necessarily the most obvious. The film could have ended in tragedy, in happy end, or something in-between which is called life.

 

‘Somnul insulei’ (‘The Sleep of the Island’) is a film that looks today quite tired. Sleepy and tired. It is to some extent a combination of the time it talks about (the Communist dictatorship period) and the time it was made (a few years after the fall of the Communism). Many of the exiled artists – including film makers – who flew from Eastern Europe returned after 1989 to their countries of origin trying to re-build their careers and artistic paths. Some of the resulting movies were remarkable, and this one had in it the promise and premises but does not completely deliver. It does reflect however a mood and a state of mind and the life experience of director  and of the author of the book the film is inspired from, .  The themes of exile, return from exile and relation between the artist and a repressive system are actually part of their biographies.

 

sursa imaginii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TckBTj599k

sursa imaginii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TckBTj599k

 

Writer Daniel Raynal () returns after many years in exile to the island state whose Governor and his acolytes control every move of their citizens and every detail of their lives. We are not told too much about the reasons of his return – idealism? longing for his friends and young years? He tries to make a difference and to fight the system. He soon will learn that his friends changed, and in time will realize that for an individual there is no other way but compromise or death.

 

(video source Paunescu Marian)

 

The distopic view is supported by a visual conception that combines the claustrophobia and misery of the lives of common people with the megalomaniac spaces of the Governor’s palace. The director used the spaces inside the huge palace built by Ceausescu in Bucharest in the last decade of his rule, then deserted before becoming part of the House of the Romanian Parliament of today. Unfortunately good ideas of the film and the fine acting of such great artists as  are annihilated by the poor technical means the Romanian cinema had to work with in the early 90s, and by the lack of skill in story telling which makes the whole film look sleepy, with unintentional relation to the title. The good ideas and and some memorable lines and situations are not enough to make of this film good cinema.

What critics and audiences call ‘the Romanian New Wave’ is not that new any longer. Already in its teens it has focused on the present times, and the recent past of Romania – the last decade of the Communist era and the ‘transition’ period the country went through after the fall of the Communism. By doing so it neglected a tradition built into the history of the Romanian cinema – the historic movies. The first grand Romanian movie made more than a century ago was already a historic film, bringing back to screen the War of Independence of Romania in 1877 several decades after the event. The genre was taken over and polluted in the Communist period by many films which not only brought on screen heroic episodes and heroes of the Romanian history but also distorted it on the lines of the National-Communist propaganda of the regime. This may be the reason Romanian directors, producers, and audiences as well avoided the genre for a while. It is only in the last few years that historical themes came back to screens in more significant movies – the war period and the Holocaust first. Now ‘Aferim!’  by Radu Jude goes further back in the past, to the first half of the 19th century. His film (blessed with an important prize at the Berlin Festival early this year) however has also strong and explicit implications in the realities of today’s Romania as well.

 

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4374460/

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4374460/

 

Folks who know the history of Romanian cinema and remember some of the films made decades back will recognize elements of atmosphere and quotes. The ‘Eastern’ genre which took the structure of the classical American Westerns bringing on screen local characters or even changing the landscape to the fields, forests and mountains of the Romanian countries was popular in the 70s with the ‘Haidouk’ series but also in the works of Dan Pita (the ‘Ardelenii’ series). The inspired black and white cinematography credited to Marius Panduru  and the very conventional generic that opens the film brought in mind the even older ‘Tudor’ by  made in 1962 which dealt with events that took place 14 years before the year 1835 when ‘Aferim!’ is situated. The violently naturalistic nature of some of the scenes has also its roots in the Romanian literature (Liviu Rebreanu’s novels) which were also brought to screen.

Yet, this film aims more. The story of the local sheriff (let us use this name for the sake of the international audience) and of his son searching for a fugitive gypsy in the forest and swamps of Wallachia is not just a road movie or an initiation story from the perspective of the young lad destined to inherit the profession of his father. It is a deep and cruel reflection of the prevailing attitude not only of the ruling class but of the whole or great majority of the population of Romania towards other nationalities. The story and the characters come in a frontal manner against deeply rooted stereotypes like the welcoming attitude of Romanians towards strangers or the positive role of the Orthodox church in the moral fiber and education of the masses. It is actually a priest who speaks on screen a tirade full of prejudice against all categories of strangers living or getting in contact with the Romanian at that time – Gypsies of course, but also Jews, Turks, Russians, etc. Folks less familiar with the history of Romania should know that by 1835 Romania was still broken into smaller countries under Turkish, Austrian and Russian rulers – so what is seen on screen has a historical perspective. It is however the relation with the present that comes in mind immediately for those who know history and present. Romania as other East European countries have a big social and ethnic problem with the lack of integration of part of their Roma (gypsy) minorities. The roots of this situation lay to a great extent to the slavery practiced on this minority until mid 19th century. Slavery was abolished (in 1855-1856) but prejudices stay.

 

(video source Agentia de Film)

 

The merit of Radu Jude is to avoid any excuse or sweetening of the historical facts, while telling a coherent story and creating characters who are not only credible but also memorable. He carefully builds the atmosphere, habits, language of the time in a well documented manner. He is helped by a fine team of actors -  and as the father and son, as the fugitive (would have deserved maybe more screen time to give more complexity to his character), and  as the cruel but credible landlord. Two of the best actors of Romania from the older generation  and  appear in short roles, which shows that even important artists were interested to be part of this cinematographic experience. I feel that ‘Aferim!’ is a film that was much talked about since its release, and will be even more talked about in the future.

 

I am following quite closely the development of the Romanian cinema, and Corneliu Porumboiu is one of the directors whose previous work I enjoyed a lot, especially ’12:08 East of Bucharest’ which was a story about the 1989 events of the fall of the Communism in a small town of Romania, placed under doubt both from a political as well as personal memory perspective. I confess however that I was deeply disappointed by this 2013 film which seems to me to be a dry and didactic exercise in method taken to the extreme where all substance and action become largely irrelevant. The result is simply boring, and the reaction of the audience at the Haifa Festival was a mix of incredulity, sarcasm and revolt with the daring one leaving the screening hall before the end and getting back good minutes of their lives.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3102906/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3102906/

 

 ’When Evening Falls on Bucharest’ tries to tell the story of a delayed day in the making of a film that does not tell anything important. The director (Bogdan Dumitrache) endlessly rehearses a nude screen with the lead actress (Diana Avramut) who ‘happens’ to be his lover. The scene is meaningless, but the director tries to get some sense of it. Almost the same as the envelope of this film which contains meaningless dialogs about the beauty and ugliness of the human body, the cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni or Chinese food. The lives of the characters are empty, their actions are incomprehensible (why does the director go through the pain of simulating an endoscopy in order to postpone a filming day? we never know), and the result is boring.

 

(video source Independenta Film)

 

I know where this is coming from. Much of the success of Romanian cinema in the last decade was due to using a minimalist approach in describing the day-to-day lives of people during the Communist rule, or the transition period that followed. The method fit well the stories, because it is good to speak on low tone about situations that otherwise would generate revolt in the hearts of the viewers. The human dimensions of the characters of those films are much emphasized by the method.  In ‘When Evening Falls on Buchares’ acting is very much according to the method, but the characters are empty, there is no human dimension to emphasize. There is only one good idea in the whole script, one scene in which the scene in the film is mirrored in reality, with the roles of the man and woman switched over. Reality is more efficient than the best directing. The rest is flat. If the director meant to say something smart about the relationship between director and actor, or pass some social message about the emptiness of life in today’s Romania, it all got buried in the huge boredom that this film creates which to some viewers may cause even anger. Talking about Antonioni is even less than an Antonioni quote. The characters of Antiononi exercised existential spleen because they first of all existed. Porumboiu’s characters in this film do not even exist.

 

 

‘Somewhere in Palilula’ has managed to divide in camps not only film critics but also my friends who have seen it. Reactions ranged from enthusiastic acceptance till total rejection. In Romania it apparently had a fairly short career on screen and then disappeared to re-appear in festivals and at the Gopo Awards ceremony, where it received seven awards. With a little help from friends I managed to see the DVD version that was recently released and I formed an opinion of my own.

One of the Romanian film critics (I think it was the late Alex Leo Serban but I am not not sure) said that there are two main trends in the Romanian cinema today. One is composed of the so-called ‘ Romanian new wave ‘ films that deal with past or present Romania, describing bits of life in a minimalist style sometimes combined with a cruel realism, and leaving Romanian viewers to discern beyond familiar images and characters the meanings or the messages. With films like ’4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days ‘, ‘The Death of Mr. Lazarescu’ or the recent ‘Child Position‘ this current succeeded nicely at international festivals . The second trend addresses reality and history through personal directorial visions, which in turn draw their inspiration from classic Romanian literature starting from the two Caragiales. Characters represent extrapolations of reality and of their own selves, and the stories often end in apocalypse. These films recorded fewer public or critic successes, the most representative production before this film is California Dreamin’ by Cristian Nemescu.

With ‘Somewhere in Palilula’ the second trend has now its first remarkable peak.

 

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2332881/

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2332881/

 

Having left Romania for almost 30 years I have not had the opportunity to see anything directed by Silviu Purcarete on stage during this time and I had to settle with two operas directed by him at famous house operas. I know that he is one of the major Romanian theater directors of today, and I know that he has created a world of his own with imagery, colors, characters and multiple dimensions. Somewhere in Palilula is his first film and his invented world extends from stage to screen with the tools and means of expression of cinema.

Of course, the greatest danger of such an artistic enterprise is ‘ theatricality ‘. It is however a danger only to the extent that the edge of the stage is visible in the movie, and the film misses the relationship between what is taking place on screen and cinema viewers. Theater drives its magic out of the intimacy of the relationship between actor and spectator, the ineffable and imperfect timing, the air and dust that spectators and actors breathe together. Those cannot be reproduced in film, where the viewer must be charmed by the impossible and the ideal created for him on screen. To a great extent Purcarete manages to create the magnetism that makes film viewers to watch fascinated what is happening on the big screen and forget that the media has only two dimensions (even in 3-D the third dimension is an illusion created by special spectacles!).

Purcarete invented almost none of these. Theater (or circus) is the world at Fellini, a universe in a studio theater was already created by Charlie Kaufman in ‘Synechdoche, New York’ and the beginning of the film with the locomotive in snow entering something that resembles another dimension reminded me of the first episode of Harry Potter. But the principal inspiration is my opinion the genial Romanian playright I.L. Caragiale, the mentor of all creators who dare to describe the Romanian universe with the weapons of humor. We can find in this movie dozens, maybe hundreds of replicas of those that are remembered later as worth an ‘anthology ‘ – but beyond the immediate laughs which are not missing, these are the materials of which the world of Purcarete is build of.

 

(video source undevalapalilula)

 

I loved the film, the visual experience and the way Purcarete made ​​me live for almost two hours and a half in his world. Trying to understand the reasons many did not like the movie, besides the banal ‘de gustibus … ‘  I guess that some of them could easily fall into the pitfalls of trying to understand what they see on the screen only through the historical context or may have attempted to immediately interpret all visual metaphors or ideas. Careful watching of the introduction, however, should deter somebody walking these tracks . The story of a young physician assigned to the countryside is perhaps inspired by the memoirs of a real person (one may remembers that Chekhov and Bulgakov were also countryside physicians) or all of real characters who lived similar experiences during communism, but the manner the main character is intr0duced, the landscape of the village that seems linked by uncertain roads to the world around, and the introduction of the other characters indicate clearly that this is a different reality – one that was absorbed by the writer director, decanted and recreated as reality into another dimension, with other colors and other tools than those of realistic image playback . There are many interesting and expressive metaphors, but one must avoid excessive interpretation in order to not spoil the viewing pleasure. A film like ‘ Somewhere in Palilula ‘ is the reflection of reality of a painful past and a huge metaphor containing in it a lot of other intelligent and meaningful metaphors, but before anything else it is an invitation to come and live for the duration of the screening in the world created by Silviu Purcarete .

I can not conclude without saying a few words about the special effects, set design and costumes that reach a level in my opinion unique so far in Romanian cinema. It was a movie that solicited to the extreme the team of actors, each of them managing to create expressive and colorful characters that take their place and become part of the universe created by the director. I will mention only that Aron Dimeny has the physiognomy  and expressiveness fit to the lead role, and George Mihaita who at his peak performed here a remarkable role at the other pole than another big film role in the history of Romanian cinema – ‘Reconstitution’ by Lucian Pintilie. Pintilie is the co-producer on Somewhere in Palilula. Which closes another circle .

‘Undeva in Palilula’ a reusit sa-i imparta in tabere nu numai pe criticii de film ci si pe prietenii mei care l-au vazut. Paleta reactiilor a fost impartita intre acceptare entuziasta si respingere totala. In Romania a avut se pare o cariera destul de scurta pe ecrane dupa care a disparut pentru a apare in festivaluri si la festivitatea decernarii premiilor Gopo, unde a obtinut sapte premii. Am reusit in fine cu ajutorul prietenilor sa vad versiune pe DVD iesita recent si sa-mi formez o opinie proprie.

Unul dintre criticii de film romani (cred ca era Alex Leo Serban dar nu sunt sigur) scria ca exista doua curente principale in cinematografia romana de astazi. Unul este reprezentat de filmele asa-zisului ‘nou val romanesc’, filme care se ocupa de trecutul apropiat sau de prezentul Romaniei, descriind franturi de viata in stil minimalist combinat cu un realism cateodata crud, si lasand spectatorii romani sa discearna dincolo de imaginile si personajele familiare sensul sau mesajul. Cu filme ca ‘4 luni, 3 saptamani, 2 zile’, ‘Moartea domnului Lazarescu’ sau recentul ‘Pozitia copilului’ acest curent a inregistrat succese si la festivalurile internationale. Al doilea curent abordeaza prezentul prin prisma viziunii regizorale, care la randul sau isi trage inspiratia din clasica literaturii romanesti incepand de la cei doi Caragiale. Viziunea este personala, personajele reprezinta extrapolari ale realitatii si ale lor insisi, si de multe ori finalul se sfarseste in apocalipsa. Acest gen a inregistrat mai putine succese de public sau critica, cea mai reprezentativa productie inainte de acest film fiind California Dreamin’ al lui Cristian Nemescu.

Cu Undeva la Palilula si acest al doilea curent are acum primul sau varf remarcabil.

 

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2332881/

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2332881/

 

Fiind plecat din Romania de aproape 30 de ani nu am avut ocazia sa vad de tot atata vreme spectacole de teatru regizate de Siviu Purcarete, trebuind sa ma multumesc cu doua spectacole de opera puse de el in scena la marile teatre de opera din lume. Stiu ca este unul dintre marii regizori de teatru ai Romaniei de astazi, si stiu ca a creat o lume a sa, cu imagistica, culori, personaje si dimensiuni proprii. Undeva la Palilula este prima sa creatie cinematografica si lumea sa se extinde de pe scena pe ecran cu uneltele si modalitatile de exprimare ale cinematografului.

Desigur, cel mai mare pericol al unei asemenea intreprinderi artistice este ‘teatralismul’. Acesta este insa un pericol numai in masura in care marginea scenei este evidenta in film, si in care raportul dintre ceea ce se petrece pe ecran si spectator nu are dimensiune cinematografica. Ce inseamna aceasta? Teatrul are o magie a sa care deriva din imediatul relatiei dintre actor si spectator, din inefabilul si imperfectia momentului, din aerul si praful pe care spectatori si actori il respira impreuna. Asta nu poate fi reprodus in film, unde spectatorul trebuie fermecat de imposibilul si idealul creat pe ecran. In foarte mare masura Purcarete reuseste sa creeze magnetismul care face ca spectatorul sa urmareasca fascinat ceea ce se intampla pe ‘panza’ si sa uite ca mediul are numai doua dimensiuni (chiar cand are trei tot doua are, a treia este o iluzie creata de ochelarii speciali :-) ).

Purcarete nu a inventat aproape nimic din aceste tehnici. Teatral este si Fellini, o lume intr-un studio de teatru (sau in cazul lui Purcarete in halele decrepite ale uzinelor ‘Republica’) a creat si Charlie Kaufman in Synechdoche, New York iar inceputul filmului cu locomotiva in ninsoare intrand parca intr-o alta dimensiune mie mi-a amintit de primul episod din Harry Potter. Inspiratia prinicipala este insa dupa parerea mea tot Conu Iancu Caragiale, mentorul tuturor creatorilor care se incumeta sa descrie lumea romaneasca cu armele satirei, si anume acel Caragiale din D’ale Carnavalului. Sunt in acest film zeci, sute de replici din acelea pe care mai tarziu ni le amintim ca fiind ‘antologice’ – dar dincolo de umorul imediat care nu lipseste nici el filmului ele se impletesc pentru a tese materialul din care este plamadita lumea lui Purcarete.

 

(video source undevalapalilula)

 

Mi-a placut foarte mult filmul, si vizual si prin modul in care Purcarete m-a facut sa traiesc vreme de aproape doua ore si jumatate in lumea sa. Incercand sa inteleg motivele celor carora nu le-a placut filmul in afara de banalui ‘de gustibus …’ cred ca se poate cadea cu usurinta in capcanele incercarii de a intelege ceea ce se vede pe ecran doar prin intermediul contextului istoric sau a tentativei de a interpreta intelectual imediat orice metafora vizuala sau de idei. Urmarirea atenta a introducerii ar trebui insa sa inlature aceste piste. Experienta doctorului tanar repartizat la tara este poate inspirata din memoriile unui personaj real (si Cehov si Bulgakov au fost doctori la tara) sau a tuturor personajelor reale similare care au trait anii comunismului, dar modul in care personajul principal este intr0dus in actiune, felul in care ajunge in satul care pare legat de lumea din jur prin drumuri sovaielnice, si introducerea celorlalte personaje indica cu claritate ca este vorba despre o alta realitate – imaginata de regizorul scenarist prin absorbirea, decantarea si recrearea realitatii intr-o alta dimensiune, cu alte culori si cu alte unelte decat cele ale redarii fotografice realiste. Metaforele sunt multe, interesante si expresive dar si aici trebuie cred evitata interpretarea excesiva in dauna placerii vizionarii. Un film ca ‘Undeva la Palilula’ este si oglindire a unor realitati trecute dureroase, si o metafora uriasa care cuprinde in ea o multime de alte metafore inteligente si semnificative, dar este inainte de acestea o invitatie de a intra si a trai pentru durata proiectiei in lumea creata de Silviu Purcarete.

Nu pot sa inchei fara a spune cateva cuvinte despre efectele speciale, scenografia si costumele care ating un nivel dupa parerea mea unic in cinematografia romaneasca pana acum. A fost un film care a solicitat la extrem si echipa de actori, fiecare dintre ei reusind sa creeze personaje expresive si colorate, care isi ocupa locul si devin parte din universul creat de regizor. Singurii pe care ii voi mentiona sunt Aron Dimeny cu o fizionomie si expresivitate parca inascute pentru rolul principal, si George Mihaita care la apogeul carierei realizeaza aici un rol remarcabil, la celalalt pol decat rolul sau in alt mare film al istoriei cinematografiei romanesti – Reconstituirea lui Lucian Pintilie. Lucian Pintilie este si co-producator la Undeva la Palilula. Ceea ce inchide un alt cerc.

With Pozitia Copilului (Child’s Pose)  the Romanian cinema seems to complete a cycle that started almost a decade ago with Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu). The path was marked by a number of prizes at important cinema festivals around the world, with the first candidacy of a Romanian film for an Academy Award, but more important by the recognition by viewers that Romania is one of the locations where some of the most interesting movies come from, and that a specific style, a consistent set of themes, and a typology of characters combine to make the Romanian cinema distinct from other film schools. It did help that many of the actors in these films are constant collaborators of the leading directors of the ‘wave’, some of them becoming familiar faces to world cinema spectators. Luminita Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache – the lead actors here – acted also in Moartea Domnului Lazarescu, while Vlad Ivanov was the evil figure in 4,3,2.

 

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2187115/

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt2187115/

 

As many of the good Romanian films in this period Calin Peter Netzer‘s movie can be seen and interpreted at multiple layers. One of them is composed of the social realities of Romania more than two decades after the fall of the communism. Class disparities are more obvious than in other places and contrast with the forced (and false) egalitarianism that dominated the Romanian society for most of the second half of the 20th century. The introductory scenes build for the viewer the context of the relations of the mid-upper class where the main heroes belong, with bourgeois occupations and family crisis, stylish social events and opera master classes. The obsessive relationship between the dominant mother and the spoiled son who seems to behave like an ingrate brute defines the second layer, the one of the personal relations between the characters. When the road accident that turns the world of the heroes upside down happens, the heroes will be obliged to make contact with the other Romania, the one of the pauper country people, with course manners but maybe with more character and moral strength. The system of relations and corruption is immediately put in motion by the mother, trying to protect her son and make him avoid the consequences of his behavior – a social comment about today’s Romania which does not go lost neither for the Romanian nor for the foreign viewer. While this part is more clearly cut, there is no moral judgment made on the rest of the relations, and this is a smart choice made by the director.

 

(video source megatrailer)

 

The rest is left to the actors and they are simply said wonderful. Luminita Gheorghiu as the possessive mother and Bogdan Dumitrache as the traumatized son who makes all the wrong moves at the wrong moments in order to cut-off the invisible umbilical cord  play one of the most meaningful and highly charged mother-son relationships that I have seen lately. Most of the actors in the supporting cast give sincere and expressive performances, which I would rather describe not as acting but as living their roles. A few memorable scenes (the master class at the beginning and the final scene of the confrontation with the family of the kid killed in the accident) may live in the memory of the viewers even longer than the rest of the film. Dealing with a subject that could have easily turned into melodrama or soap opera Pozitia Copilului succeeds to make a sharp social comment that works well with the more universal story of a suffocating love which is touched by miscommunication and tragedy.