Paterno, screenplay by Debora Cahn
Once upon a time, al Pacino was such
an unknown entity that when his name was suggested for The Godfather, he was
rejected, and then it took some time to convince executives…
This and other intriguing,
fascinating stories are part of a thrilling book, the Kid Stays in the Picture,
by a former actor, producer and head of the Paramount Studio, Robert Evans who
explains the success of one of the best- in the top five actually- motion
pictures of all time.
The contribution of the cast, the
selection of an Italian director were crucial- a bet had been made and since
Francis Ford Coppola has won it, the producer received a call from Mercedes
America, about a limousine which was the object of the bet, to inform those
paying for it that this model is so limited, only three people would have it,
the pope, the director and some dictator somewhere in the world.
When asking for Al Pacino- after he
had received a confirmation- Robert Evans says that at the other end of the
call, he was asked-
You will have to spell it for me
Then this same story was repeated,
when the actor was requested at another studio where he has started working or
was engaged in the meantime and where he was also unknown and the spelling of
the name was required…
Al Pacino is now a deity, so well
known that any cinefile knows his work, the phenomenal achievements – Scarface,
Scent of a Woman, one can even enjoy- this viewer did- Bobby Deerfield, And
Justice for All, Heat, Serpico and so many more.
Alas, in recent years there is a
feeling that the once outstanding, luminous, excellent artist has reached his zenith
and he is now on a descending curve, well past his glory days alas.
In addition, he could be obnoxious
in the moments of bliss and maximum achievement, according to another quintessential-
better than the Kid Stays in the Picture- work on Hollywood and movies:
Adventures in the Screen Trade by the
winner of two Academy Awards, William Goldman
From this ultimate masterpiece on
the film industry we learn about Dustin Hoffman and his mean behavior on the
set of Marathon Man, when he was cruel with Laurence Olivier and another actor,
plus the whole crew, Robert Redford, after the launch of Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid and in the pre-production for All the President’s Men was also
obnoxious, to say the least.
In Paterno, Al Pacino, has the
leading role of Joe Paterno, a legendary coach – indeed, the most successful in
college history- that has enjoyed acclaim, a zenith, the love of athletes and
Alas, it is the end of this
brilliant – if we discount what we are about to learn- career as a coach and
this man and others in his entourage, in leadership positions at Pen State
University are involved in a sex scandal.
Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile that
instead of being exposed, made to face consequences, punishment and evidently
banishment from areas, premises where he could abuse children, he was
Seemingly a “nice man” his
colleagues and superiors thought this might be just an innocent game, he may
have made a mistake- but all this is unacceptable, because it was not just
once, this monster was a repeat offender.
Paterno is not Spotlight, even if
the sexual scandals around the Catholic Church and some aspects regarding this
type of horrifying offence against children- as young as ten, perhaps younger-
are similar in their abhorrence, the lenience that the serial abusers received
from their superiors and at times, from the law.
What makes watching Paterno
worthwhile- even if this is not exhilarating or one of the best films of recent
history- is the fact that the protagonist is a complex character and so many
people love and regret him, even after the scandal broke out, tough measures
were called for and revelations made clear that, although he was very “busy
„with couching, Paterno knew about what happened.
In the age of MeToo and so many
scandals involving clergy, film producers, stars, directors and executives, the
attitude of forgiveness seems to encourage more abuse and suffering.
One can feel compassion for an old-
actually eighty-four years old- coach, who has done so much for his football team-
he highlights the fact that 85 % - was it? – of his players went on to pass
However, the question remains: what
about the victims, tens of young boys have been repeatedly raped, abused- at
one point, the old protagonist is asking his family, while he reads a report of
the vile acts perpetrated by the villainous Jerry Sandusky, what is sodomized?
In conclusion- you could do better
than watch Paterno, which is not as astounding as recent features like: The
Square, Nelyubov, A Fantastic Woman, On Body and Soul or The Insult…or perhaps
the glorious Leviafan, one of the best films ever made.
To Catch a Thief, based on the novel by David
Alfred Hitchcock is the director,
Cary Grant and Grace Kelly the stars of this motion picture- with this magic
formula, it is only to be expected that To Catch a Thief is a remarkable film.
It was included on the New York
Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list, on this page:
Alfred Hitchcock was celebrated as
the ultimate filmmaker, the man who created masterpieces under any circumstances;
only a number of professionals, including William Goldman, who has won the
Academy Award for Best Screenplay twice, dismissed this view.
In his phenomenal book, Adventures
in the Screen Trade, William Goldman writes about the mistaken concept of “auteur
theory” which held that outstanding directors- like Alfred Hitchcock- are the authors,
creators of their films and they are to be honored.
The inconsideration for the rest of
the crew is not just rude, it is also absolutely wrong and Goldman and others
insist on the merits of the actors, producers, writers and other members of the
team involved in making a film- as examples, we have the extraordinary contribution
of Special Effects for Jaws and the music composed by Vangelis for Chariots of
In to Catch a Thief, Cary Grant
plays John Robie, a former thief who lives now in the South of France, on the
Riviera and although he claims he is retired and tries to be a model citizen,
he is suspected after some precious jewelry are stolen, in the manner of the “Cat”,
as his nickname was.
The only way the hero imagines to
clean his name is by Catching the Thief in the act, and thus prove his innocence-
although everybody seems to be sure he is the culprit, police and former
John Robie is a complex character,
for in spite of the fact that he had been involved in illegal activities, after
he has arrived in Europe with his parents, as a child with a travelling circus,
seeing his abilities as an acrobat to take from those who had plenty; he is also
a good man.
The protagonist has fought in the
Resistance, when so many French decided to side with the Nazis and their villainous,
collaborationist Vichy regime, but even this honorable, commendable chapter in
his life is controversial, if we consider that his former colleagues are keen
to see him dead.
True, if we watch the exceptional
The Sorrow and the Pity, a four-hour long documentary about France during World
War II, we learn that there have been animosities within the French Resistance,
where some factions would not want the communists to be admitted in their ranks
and had to make a common front only when prompted by the British.
The hero gets in touch with H.H.
Hughson, who is an insurance agent, working for the agency that has to compensate
the rich victims of burglary, once their expensive, but insured jewels are
This agent provides John Robbie with
the list of the most important precious jewelry and at the top of the list we
have Jessie Stevens and her daughter Frances, played by Grace Kelly- who would
later become the Princess of Monaco- who possess a collection of expensive
The inventive protagonist attracts
the attention of the women at the roulette, where he pretends to have slipped a
10,000 francs chip into the bra of a woman at the table, who pretends nothing
happened for a while and then gives the man some chips from her stack, making
John Robbie pretends to be someone
else, a magnate of the lumber industry and his image is so perfect that the
mother thinks he would be such a splendid, interesting prospect for her gorgeous
daughter…but she will have him checked.
There are some interesting scenes,
including one in the sea, where the hero is talking to the daughter of one of
his former comrades, a woman who wants him to escape with her and travel to
South America, when the competitor, Frances Stevens swims to this conference
and a harsh exchange ensues between the two rivals, infatuated with the same
Another episode has the rich, young
and beautiful American woman driving at dangerous speed, trying to get rid of
the car chasing them, with policemen inside, making one think of the tragic end
of the would be Princess of Monaco, who will have died while driving, years
There is enough action, drama,
romance and amusement to make this feature noteworthy, although we can again
refer to William Goldman and his appreciation that, after reaching a zenith,
Alfred Hitchcock has created lesser films, perhaps in large part because of their
craze, the insistence of so many critics that he is the genius who is alone to
celebrate for the films he –only – directs.
There are twists in the plot,
including an initial capture of a criminal that is actually not the Thief, and
then revelations and moments that remind one of the incredible ending of North
by Northwest, acclaimed in Adventures in the Screen Trade and elsewhere.
Hedi aka Inhebek Hedi,
written and directed by Mohamed Ben Attia
It is unfortunate
that this excellent drama is not coming to a cinema near you- alas neither
soon, nor later- but perhaps you can see it on Netflix or HBO, where we had the
chance to watch it, on one of their Art Film channels, Cinemax 2.
is Tunisian and the audience will become more familiar with issues from this
wonderful country, the one that has opened the way for the Arab Spring, which unfortunately
has had little success, except perhaps for the same Tunisia, where progress has
It is not
all Wine and Roses, as we learn from the characters in the film and if we watch
the news, where we see that this land has problems, but it is nevertheless
better positioned than Egypt- with its ex-military strongman applying tactics
that recall Mubarak and dictatorships- and other Arab countries where
populations have revolted but with little success.
For all the
problems experienced by people in Tunisia, it is clear that this is not Saudi
Arabia either- where women have not been allowed to drive, until very recently,
men and women could not get to a cinema, up to the opening of the first cinemas
a few days ago, and where there are still so many restrictions in effect, from
the burqa to the sharia law with its harsh, medieval provisions.
portrays Hedi with exceptional talent.
The hero is
a young man who faces a conundrum: he has to keep with the traditions and marry
the woman that the family chooses for him, or he will be free to make his own
choice and live his life?
He is on
more pressure when the situation at work- and in the country in general is deteriorating-
with superiors telling employees to get on the road and try to bring in more
This is not
exactly Blake aka stupendous Alec Baldwin from the archetypal Glengarry Glen
Ross telling salesmen that they have to
“ABC. "A", always. "B", be.
"C", closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Always be closing.
Blake: ABC. 'A', always. 'B', be. 'C', closing.
ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Always be closing.”
Hedi has to travel, knock on doors, wait at the gates of various enterprises
and hear the repeated mantra: “business in not good now and we will buy no more
cars in the near future”.
over, the hero is refused, told to leave his business card for the future, but
there are grim prospects everywhere, in dialogues the Tourism business is mentioned,
which has been dramatically affected and it used to contribute such an
important share to the national economy.
perspective, the gloomy outlook is changed when the protagonist sees a woman he
likes, although the start is awkward, Hedi lies and says something strange to
approaches her and explains that the real reason why he was running was
different and in fact, his mother has not broken her hip, it was just his boss
from Peugeot calling him…
the attractive, friendly and rather liberal for the Arab world- although not
for Tunisia and definitely in trouble in places like Saudi Arabia, where she
would be killed for her attire, “misbehavior and all”- woman called Rym is going
out to the beach and the hero comes along.
water, they play games and it is evident that they are infatuated with each
other and they get ever closer, in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, in the
dark of the night, with the lights of the shore glimmering in the distance.
As the hero
gets ever closer to Rym, he confesses that he is about to get married, to the
chagrin of the woman who thought her partner is free…not entangled in such a
protagonist is actually about to get married because his family- his mother in
particular- wants this and his heart is not into it, in fact he is in love with
Rym and wants to be with her.
She is a
dancer and offers performances, with her colleagues, to the dwindling numbers
of foreign tourists who come for the lovely beaches, the inexpensive packages
offered by Tunisia.
soon travel to France and Hedi decides he will travel there with her, in spite
of the obstacles, of having to sneak in to get his passport and whatever
luggage he can get, discussing this with his lover.
they would stop on the way to the airport and get his papers and things, but he
prefers to get there later at night to avoid confrontation with his mother and
the rest of the family.
the details, it needs to be said that this is very emotional and the hearts of
the protagonists are broken, it is difficult- next to impossible. – To decide
where to inflict the pain- mother or lover?
It is not
the terrible option offered in Sophie’s Choice, but Hedi has to inflict pain
and he will suffer no matter what the choice is.
Carmen Jones, based on the book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Given the acclaim, the recognition
received by this musical, it is perhaps surprising to reject it, as this viewer
did, in spite of the two Academy Award nominations, for Best Actress in a Leading
Role and Best Music, the two wins at the Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture –
Comedy or Musical and Most Promising New Comer
Maybe even more serious and
therefore more important, this motion picture was included on the final list,
Nominated for the Palme d’Or, probably the most relevant award- even more
revealing than the Oscar-at the Cannes Festival, and a nominee for the Best
Film from any Source at the BAFTAs.
Finally, this feature appears on The
New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list available here:
One can look at this two ways:
first, and probably the best
perspective would be of appreciating the modern- although sixty four years old-
adaptation of Carmen by Georges Bizet, which makes the story popular and available
to mainstream audiences, those people who never enter the sophisticated and inaccessible,
also expensive Opera Houses.
Maintaining a positive attitude-
which is by the way the key to a long, successful professional and private
life, as multiple positive psychology studies confirm- we need to appreciate the
promotion in leading roles of African American characters, they are also
present in the other, supporting and extra roles, but the main issue is their prominence
as the most important personages.
The second view would lament the
dilution and the “stealing „of the subject, taking a more prestigious art form-
the Carmen famous opera – and “diminishing it, making it smaller, less
appealing, exhilarating by dragging it down, and for some extreme music lovers,
it could even mean destroying their beloved Carmen.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” from Hamlet,
At the same time, because the
soundtrack has all the famous- even for nonprofessionals, those who never walk
into the Opera – tunes from Carmen, the music is astounding, reminding one of
another famous quote:
”De la musique avant toute chose” Paul
In Carmen Jones, everything happens
at an army camp, where everyone is African American- most likely because of the
despicable segregation laws applied at the time, and long after that.
Carmen Jones aka Carmen from the
original Georges Bizet chef d’oeuvre is the star of the show, admired, wanted
and difficult, persistent, brave, determined, gritty and looking to get another
Evidently, if the man is actually
willing to forget his fiancée and succumb to the seducing powers of the
protagonist, Carmen is probably doing all those involved a favor, for the alleged
love is just an infatuation, given its frailty.
The famous bullfighting becomes
boxing in a new age musical drama that is surely worth watching: panels at the
Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, The New York Times and most importantly the
Cannes Festival cannot all be wrong!
Although, having said that, aren’t
the original lyrics sublime, enchanting, mesmerizing and glorious?
“L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser
Et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle
C'est lui qu'on vient de nous refuser
Rien n'y fait, menaces ou prieres
L'un parle bien, l'autre se tait
Et c'est l'autre que je prefere
Il n'a rien dit mais il me plait
L'amour, l'amour, l'amour, l'amour
L'amour est enfant de boheme
Il n'a jamais jamais connu de lois
Si tu ne m'aimes pas je t'aime
Si je t'aime prend garde a toi
Si tu ne m'aimes pas je t'aime
Mais si je t'aime, si je t'aime
L'oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
Battit de l'aile et s'envola
L'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendre
Tu ne l'attends plus, il est la
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite
Il vient, s'en va puis il revient
Tu crois le tenir, il t'evite
Tu crois l'eviter, il te tient
L'amour, l'amour, l'amour, l'amour
L'amour est enfant de boheme
Il n'a jamais jamais connu de lois
Si tu ne m'aimes pas je t'aime
Si je t'aime prend garde a toi
Si tu ne m'aimes pas je t'aime
Mais si je t'aime, si je t'aime
The Week of, written by Adam Sandler and Robert
Steve Buscemi stars in this comedy,
but the merriment of learning about that is soon annulled by the realization
that his presence in this feature is just a waste of talent and for viewers it is
most likely a waste of time, although, if one has voted for the Donald, why not
enjoy something like this.
Perhaps the way to look at this is by
using the lenses of “absurd humor or theater”, in the manner of the pioneering
Eugen Ionesco, one should look for roaming Rhinoceros on the streets and find
Adam Sandler has the role of Kenny-
and he is one of those responsible for this calamitous (?) material- a would be
father-in-law that tries to make the upcoming wedding a success, even if he
does not have the financial acumen, the willingness to spend more in order to
ensure all goes well.
The other in-law is Doctor Kirby, a
reputable surgeon played without enthusiasm – perhaps understandable given the
quality of the script- by Chris Rock, who talks on the phone early on, but
while he is operating on a patient, whose beating heart is visible and
It is not just Kenny calling this
doctor while performing his duty and the calls are so long as to become
annoying- it is doubtful is there was anything jocular in there- and the
attempts of provoking hilarity are silly- the touch screen is insensitive to
the efforts of the surgeon and he uses the limbs of the man who is unconscious,
on the operating table.
Too many people are supposed to attain
the happy ceremony, given that most of them are supposed to pass through the
home of Kenny, willy-nilly, and this is again an element that is supposed to
make you roll over in laughter…but is it going to work? Allegedly.
One of the first guests is a man
with no legs, whose condition nevertheless was unknown to the organizer who has
to cope with this adversity- and oh so many others! - with a the first inconvenience
at the airport where he finds that the wheel chair belongs to the airport and
the man pushing it is not the nurse he was hoping for, but a temporary help.
The chair that does arrive would not
fold and therefore the car has to be left with the opened hood- they need to
stop anyway, because the disabled man needs to use the restroom and no, he has
no diaper and this is a number two emergency anyway, for which he cannot wait,
in spite of the laments of the desperate Kenny.
Evidently, when they stop, the wheel
chair, which would not fold to make more space in the car, does not open now
and this is ridiculous…the protagonist has to take the legless man in his arms
in a restaurant on the way, then in the house, where he is the first unpleasant
surprise for his wife.
There will be a series, for they
have a cousin who has another condition, in which people cannot smoke, drink,
listen to music – at a wedding, comes the obvious rhetorical question!- and
almost anything else, because they would all be triggers and the young man will
One very slightly funny moment- and
there only very few…three maybe? - is connected with this absurd situation, for
they are at a sort of a dance club where the people have to well, dance, but
without music, because that is a trigger.
From the side of the groom, many
people come and Kenny has reserved rooms at a very bad hotel, operated by a
pleasant man from India- maybe- who has a Buddhist trance meditation attitude
to most of the disasters taking place in his property…and there are so many.
The would be father in law wants a
presidential suit for his rich surgeon in-law, only there is nothing like that,
except a room that is slightly bigger and which has a color TV- that would be
pointed out when the honored guest would arrive, with the only result that this
is impressed by the…terrible state of this accommodation.
The organizer sees the lamentable
state of the hotel he is recommending and tries to suggest some improvements,
such as…a chandelier from his own house- that would fall on the head of the
surgeon- some supposedly additional touches of class (?!), including a photo of
his grandmother…you were forewarned, the humor- if there is any- borders on the
The touch that this viewer liked- Alhamdulillah
for that, otherwise this would be the ultimate desert of the comedy genre! -
was the contribution of the Indian hotel owner- in retrospect this man was a
pleasure to watch and it is in large part because he had little to say and he has
a charisma that was not spoiled by the preposterous dialogue- and his inclusion
on the room of a…
Toaster! With four slots!
Otherwise, the exorbitantly wealthy
surgeon- who has such a rich clientele that people at the party ask him and he
mentions the sad- was it?- Rosie O’Donnell- it was probably somebody else, but
of the same obscure importance for this cinefile-has to be happy that he has…color
television in his luxurious J room.
A very much played theme – to a nauseating
point actually – regarded the man without legs, who, given his advanced age is taken
for a war veteran in various locations, from the baseball field to the dance
room, where people come and thank him for his service and Kenny and others
encourage the false belief that he lost his legs in the war, fighting for his
and their country, when the truth is he lost them to diabetes- if you do not
see it, this another outré attempt at humor.
There is even a puffed up attempt of
using the mayor, public money and a city hall to host the ceremony- disguised
as a thank you ceremony for the “war hero”- seeing as the hotel of the most
charming character in the motion picture is now leaking everywhere.
In conclusion, try one of the Best
Comedies of All Time, from the AFI or another prestigious list and avoid this
failure…seeing as Steve Buscemi has had other great performances in some of the
best films of all time, may you could consider either Reservoir Dogs or Fargo…
L’embarras du choix aka The Embarrassment of
Choice, written and directed by Eric Lavaine
Wow, what a tragicomedy can erupt
out of Tinder!
French films can be mesmerizing,
outstanding, fabulous chef d’oeuvres, like The Artist, Amour, Happy End, 400
Blows, Des Hommes et Des Dieux, L’Auberge Espagnole, Manon des Sources and so
The Embarrassment of Choice proves
that they can also be exactly like Hollywood fare, which actually is inspired
by French originals at times: La Cage aux Folles, Le Diner de Cons and others.
Alexandra Lamy has been the star in
a film reviewed here - http://notesaboutfilms.blogspot.ro/
- Vincent, which was really a waste of time, annoying and unpleasant for the
In this story of Choice, she
portrays Juliette, a forty years old woman, handsome, attractive, talented, friendly,
perseverant, kind, amusing, although at times exceeding the limits.
The heroine is incapable to make up
her mind and she is out of a relationship because she cannot decide and choices
are made for her by her father, who is a remarkable chef, and her friends.
Since she is single now, Joelle and
Sonia, the protagonist’s friends, decide that Juliette has to use Tinder to get
out, cope with her adversity, and get over the trauma of a break up.
Paul is the man that the heroine
meets in a bar, she finds him more attractive than in the pictures and they
like each other, spend a great time together and decide at the end of the first
date to date again the following day, when it all seems paradisiacal, again.
At the end of the second day, the
heroine wants to come to the hotel room of the Scottish man she so likes- when
he said he is from Scotland, she reduced it to England, prompting him to
explain that Scotsmen are not pleased by this relocation or diminution.
When they are in the room, the wild
woman is ready and starts to undress the man who hesitates, tries to protest,
but they soon get naked and have sex, after which, he decides to announce that
he is getting married in a short time- was it a couple of weeks?
Juliette storms out of the room,
after shouting at her partner that he should have mentioned this upcoming event
before they went to bed, not now, when there is not much she can do about it,
except get mad and frustrated- without considering for a moment that she had
been the one taking the initiative…
The friends have to help the
protagonist again, but the most charming, likeable character of all is the
husband of one of them- Cedric was the name? - Who is playing the reversed role
of househusband, for it is the spouse who works and the man who takes a sabbatical...
When the question of sabbatical as
being only one year long at the most is brought up, as opposed to the three years
he has been taking time out, Cedric explains with humor that he did not want to
keep the house at home, as men did in the repellent past, when women had been exploited.
This man spends a lot of hit time
with the cat that he tries to…train, he also uses the pet as a means to address
his wife indirectly- mother will go out with her friends- and there is a
reaction: do not talk to me through the cat, only she does the same on
occasion, for fun.
The women go to a festive
celebration and Juliette says that she will jump on the first man who takes the
salmon fume from the table and that is Etienne Chevallier, a man that is bewildered
by this strange apparition, a woman so drunk that she wants to show him a
unique feat she can muster- taking the snail out its shell with her
And it is a sight, continued with an
express desire of taking the man to his room- yes, again, but with someone
else- on the way she loses one shoe and as Etienne climbs down to find it, the
inebriated heroine comes to edge of the river, looks at it and then starts to…swim.
The next day, we have an episode
from Cinderella, with the romantic hero coming to the restaurant where Juliette
and her father work- the latter is also the owner- and says that he looked
through the town for the woman who owns the shoe, wants to have a meal and
makes the father angry with his statements that claim items on the menu are not
what is on the list.
The father, Richard, is annoyed and
upset up to the point where he finds that this younger man has graduated the
same prestigious culinary school and is actually an expert on food and wine,
but alas, the two men would get along better with each other than Etienne would
A coup de theatre occurs when Paul
enters the restaurant, just as the relationship between Etienne and Juliette is
taking off, and makes an astounding statement, saying that he has broken off
with his would be bride, for he never stopped thinking about the heroine, ever
since they made love together.
The Embarrassment of Choice has
reached a climax, for the woman has no clue who to choose and a series of
supposedly humorous events take place, from the moment when she is talking on
the phone with one man, while the other is proposing and in the confusion, both
want to marry and she says yes to both- with modern technology, she is on the
mobile phone with one- handsets and all- while she accepts the other and hence is
a – classic? - French ménage a trois.
What will she do? Well, she ultimately
makes a choice, but alas, the scenario does not make the public wait eagerly to
see what she does.
Lovers and other Strangers, based on the play
by Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor
In the age of Me-too, it seems that
this film is really dated, at least at times- for instance in the scenes where
the male chauvinist Johnny is asking his wife to admit he is the boss, he will
be a gentle one, but he needs her to admit his position of superiority, which is
so preposterous and passé.
Admittedly, this is a comedy, made
in 1970- which seems centuries ago- and many of the behaviors and attitudes-
including the aforementioned one- are satirized and the feature has no
intention of promoting the image of the man as macho and towering over the
house, it is just that some of the jokes seem like they would have no echo
today, except perhaps in lands where they still apply the sharia- Saudi Arabia
and other Islamic states.
In the first few moments, Mike
Vecchio is expressing doubts about the upcoming marriage to his lover, Susan
Henderson, reminding her that when they discussed marital plans, the arrangement
was that he can pull back whenever and if he feels like it, which is what he
Hal Henderson is the father of the
bride to be, but he is the last man on earth to preach about the benefits of
marriage, given that he has a long standing affair with a woman, an old friend
actually, who often has fits of crying and depression and his wife, Bernice
Henderson keeps pushing her husband to comfort this woman, for he is so good at
it- what a tragicomic suggestion!
Mike has a brother, Ritchie Vecchio,
married to Joan Vecchio- played by a young Diane Keaton, who alas seems to have
smoked some pot before entering the set and not with beneficial effects for her
This marriage is not working, they
should have read the classic by John Gottman- The Seven Principles of Making
Marriage Work and learn about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: contempt,
stonewalling, Defensiveness and criticism.
John Gottman is the ultimate,
quintessential expert, able to prognosticate with an accuracy of about ninety
per cent and more, which couples will stay together and which will not, after
only a few minutes of listening to them.
Ritchie has a clash with his and
Mike’s parents- Bea and Frank Vecchio, the latter is the famous actor in The
Godfather, who made cannoli in the house, before they all went to „the mattresses.
Alas, Bea and Frank are not role
models, the perfect image of a happy marriage, as we will learn, although they
make efforts to stay together, it looks like they should have considered
alternatives, given that sex is terrible for the woman, who thinks this is the
way it must be and the husband has fantasies with another partner.
Indeed, it is again tragicomic when
Bea confesses to her daughter-in-law and tries to convince her that she should
stay with her man, even if he cheats, because they all do, Frank did and she
left the house for a few days, but since she equaled sexual intercourse with an
unpleasant act, she thought in her simplicity that it was the other woman who is
suffering, now that her husband is sleeping with her.
Susan Henderson has a sister, Wilma,
married to Johnny and in this relationship, there are other – and some of the
same- troubles, visible as the night progresses, the man watches Ingrid Bergman
in a classic film and would not budge when his spouse tries to become intimate.
Furthermore, she tries to caress,
incite, arouse, cajole the careless, insensitive man who says he wants to go to
bed, he is tired and then she protests that he said this a while ago and their
plan of having sex three times a week would be ruined if this keeps happening
and he has this attitude.
In the first few moments of this
dispute, the husband has a condemnable, but at least calm attitude, which is changing
as they face the mentioned Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Marital
Relations, and after postponing and saying that he owes her one, and then
changing to two, when he is reminded of the recent failure, they get into
outright accusations and open conflict.
He is Criticizing her and she
responds in kind, then they move to Contempt, for he is aggrandizing his past performances-
before she came his functioning was outstanding- and she refers to what
happens- or more exactly fails to happen- recently and he is using Defensiveness,
saying it all started when he met her and she is making him angry.
There is the last Horseman, Stonewalling,
as he keeps placing his head on the pillow to sleep, whenever he is confronted
with something he does not like, even if the wife keeps trying, she is sensitive,
warm, embracing him…until they have a sort of peace, if not enough to convince
audiences that marriage is the key to the gates of Earthly Heaven, it looks
like the contrary is true.
Mike has a friend, Jerry, who is a
bachelor and therefore we have a chance to see what this category has as entertainment,
happiness, but the situations are mostly ridiculous and sometimes funny-as
Jerry is trying to have sex with the maid of honor at the upcoming wedding- if
it takes place.
This woman is called Susan and in
the first place Jerry is reluctant to meet- in his exaggerated view, there are
ten thousand women waiting for him to date and bed them- but once they meet, a
weird game of cat and mouse ensues, with the educated woman quoting Classics,
The Prophet and others and showing interest in meaningful, spiritual, deep
relationship and not in something superficial, passing, as a one night stand: “you
are me and I am you and we are one”
This quote becomes a leit motif, a
mantra, but also a repeated joke, especially when the rapprochement is progressing,
they are about to have sex, but Susan keeps changing the location: “let us go
to my room, let us better return to yours, and then back and forth…”
“Highly amusing, a handful of the cast are truly exceptional” said TIME
“Funny, real and touching” was the opinion of Playboy
The Insult aka L’insulte, written and directed by Ziad Doueiri
The Insult is a very commendable,
thought provoking, intense, complex film, nominated for an Academy Award for
Best Foreign Language Motion Picture, in a year when, astonishingly, the winner
of the Golden Globe in this category was not even included in the top five best
foreign films: In the Fade.
On the other hand, it could be
argued that The Insult was probably just as good as In the Fade- the similarities
do not end there, both films, although in different contexts, deal with the
issue of refugees, the hatred that some extremists fell for immigrants and
foreigners in general.
Nevertheless, both these features
pale to a certain extent pale in comparison with Nelyubov, The Square and Una
Mujer Fantastica- the latter won a deserved Oscar in the category- with Frist
They Killed My Father- directed by Angelina Jolie, as a Cambodian entry- and On
Body and Soul coming on the same excellent level with the rest of the
The starts of the dispute is rather
simple- it is The Insult that sparks a conflict of almost epic proportions,
that after it sets two men against each other, escalates to the point where
parts of the country are insulting, abusing and fighting with each other,
although, Alhamdulillah, this is not part of the fierce, gruesome, terrible
Lebanese civil war, which is mentioned in the motion picture.
Tony Hanna is a Christian that
listens to fiery speeches by politicians that attack the Palestinian- and one
could say any other refugee, immigrant or foreigner that is ascribed the role
of escape goat, the culprit responsible for all that is wrong in the country,
lack of jobs, garbage uncollected, electricity shortcuts.
One day, he is watering his flower
pots on his balcony- this is one early version, altered later on to admit that
he actually knew what he was doing- when a group of men was talking in the
vicinity and the water fell on their head, causing the foreman Yasser Abdallah
Salameh to get angry at the dirt pouring on him.
He is the leader of a big team of
construction workers and he sends a few to climb and attach a tube to the drainage
of the balcony, which is destroyed by the violent proprietor with a hammer,
resulting in the cause celebre: The Insult, the supervisor calling the watering
man an ass hole.
Tony Hanna takes this to the boss of
the guilty party and he wants to hear an apology, which is not forthcoming, not
in the way expected, even if the boss comes to the apartment with flowers and chocolates
and tries to explain that it is more difficult for some men to ask forgiveness,
while at the same time nudging his subordinate to go and ask for understanding
and consider his delicate potion in the firm, from where he can be fired
Indeed, many aspects are political
and social in this excellent film, the owner of the construction firm is a
deputy in Parliament, interested in getting votes- apart from the benefits from
business- and he does not want the Palestinian to work for him, especially
given his penchant for more expensive, but better solutions – he sees German
machinery as reliable and Chinese makes as shit.
After much effort of persuasion from
the boss and his wife, the Palestinian refugee Yasser is walking to the garage
where Tony is a mechanic, with the apparent intention of apologizing, but the
insulted man starts his own abusive speech with you are no good and Shamir (Israeli
Prime Minister in the past) may have killed you all- by you, meaning the
Palestinian he so loathes.
Instead of excuses, the racist man
receives a punch in the stomach and he has two broken ribs, for which he takes
his opponent to court, where the judge is not happy with the case pushed by the
accuser and so he decides in favor of the defendant, given the circumstances,
the position of the arrogant Yasser, who will not stop here, with this “corrupt
The case and more importantly, the
film, are interesting, fascinating even from one point on, as it offers complex
characters, none of them is right or wrong, they both make mistakes, have inner
hatreds and scores to settle, past grievances and unsolved issues, traumas that
resurface with violence, resulting in accusations, insults and fights- at
another point, the situation is reversed and the victim punches the former attacker.
A nadir is reached when Tony
collapses at work – it is later admitted that he was actually making a huge
effort carrying a heavy battery, a forbidden act in his condition- and after
this new trauma, his wife gives premature birth to a baby girl that is kept
alive by technology, her life hanging by a thread and this all becomes a media
circus and a reason for different factions to confront each other.
In court, the accusation has a very
good lawyer- who is more than biased against the Palestinians and this is the
main reason why he takes the case- while the defense has another expert, who
happens to be the daughter of the former lawyer and brings forward some facts,
one of them is the medical history of the wife, who has had a couple of
abortions which expose her to accidents like the one she has just had.
But the main fight is political and
historical, for it is demonstrated in court that Tony Hanna comes from a
village only twenty kilometers away from Beirut- and he has never visited since
childhood- where atrocities took place in the past, perpetrated by Palestinians,
who have never paid for this barbarity, which have left the Christian with an intense
disgust for Palestinians.
It is not a complete blind spot, the
hatred is not total and the disability can be cured, for we see the accuser in
one interesting scene, as they come out of the office of the president of
Lebanon, who has tried to make peace, emphasizing for both parties the need for
reconciliation, without which a civil war may erupt again, the car of the
Palestinian would not start.
The Lebanese Christian has an older
BMW that he drives away, looking in the mirror at the old Volvo that would not
start, returns and has the opponent back in the car- he was looking helpless
under the hood- makes a few cable connections and the vehicle is ready to move-
this action might be interpreted as just the urge of the mechanic to fix an
engine when there is trouble, but it is probably indicative of the fact that
there is a chance for peace there and elsewhere.
The Insult invites audiences to
think- which in the age of Transformers and The fast and The Furious 9, is that
the latest installment?- is a big achievement, the themes are as important as
possible- racism, discrimination, refugees and their plight, the horrors of
war, civil or otherwise, making peace…
The Four Sublime States: Loving kindness,
compassion, joy and Equanimity
The Sorrow and the Pity aka Le Chagrin et la
Pitie, written, directed by Marcel Ophuls
The Sorrow and the Pity is one of
the best documentaries ever made and it is one of the few to be included on the
authoritative New York Times ‘Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list:
furthermore, the film maker who
wrote the material with Andre Harris, Marcel Ophuls, the calm interviewer
asking pertinent questions in so many frames has produced, directed and wrote
the script for another chef d’oeuvre- Hotel Terminus- which elaborates in about
four hours- the approximate duration of Le Chagrin et la Pitie- on the escape,
the life in South America and the capture of Klaus Barbie, a loathsome war criminal.
The Sorrow and the Pity takes viewers,
through the intermediary offered by many witnesses, to the dark period of the
World War II, in occupied France, when the Nazis were in control, but unlike
any other European country, the government of Marechal Petain collaborated with
the fascists in a despicable, unique manner, at times issuing laws that went
even further than Hitler and his acolytes.
The documentary is more than
balanced in that, during its long four hours and eleven minutes of material,
the director is talking with people from all sides: former Resistance fighters,
leaders and communists within this organization, former German officers,
soldiers and prisoners of war, members of the pro-Nazi French groups, the
son-in law of the former president Laval, ex-prime minister, Jewish luminaries
and survivors, a woman who has been captured by the liberation forces and then
jailed, although she says she was innocent, in spite of her declared sympathy
for the Vichy regime, there seems to be no side left that is not asked to
express a point of view.
And opinions are evidently as
different as possible, even within a certain faction, unit, like the French Resistance,
whose head, Colonel Du Jonchay, was against the presence of the communists in
his movement and when asked, he explains that these [people had a different
interest, they fought for Russia in fact, a number of them had been condemned and
overall, he obviously had a bad opinion, even when sked by the British to unify
the forces fighting the Germans.
Those present on camera are asked if
they made a difference between ordinary Germans and the Nazis and some Resistance
fighters did not, saying that all were the enemy- the psychology Milgram
experiments seem to demonstrate, apart from the principle of Obedience to
Authority, that the Germans might have followed their leaders not from devotion
to their ideals, but only out of respect for authority.
British people are invited to share
their experience and opinions, one of them is the aristocratic, graceful Lord
Avon aka Anthony Eden, who spoke exquisite French and was very amiable, even
when the issue of the French attitude is brought up: the British and their
allies had had a pact that they would stop fighting their common enemy on their
own, they must consult with their comrades, but alas, the French did not do
that, and that was very vile.
On the other hand, supporters of the
Petain regime, considered that the attack of the British fleet on the French
navy was horrible and ignoble, forgetting to mention that the French commander
received a variety of options- surrender, move to a British port, join the
Allies in the fight, and he refused all of them, leaving the other side with no
option but to destroy ships that would be used by their detestable opponents in
the near future.
Arthur Eden is very graceful when he
is asked about the collaboration of the regime and he says that no person from
another country could judge, unless they have been through the ordeal experienced
by the /French who had to suffer occupation, the humiliation, shortages,
destitution, embarrassment, psychological and physical distress brought by the
occupying armies and the henchmen of the Gestapo, the SS and the Wehrmacht.
British agents are interviewed and
they both relate to the help offered by the common French people, although one
makes a difference between the simple, the workers and the bourgeoisie- the
former offered the support that the latter did not provide- and there is even a
story inserted here- one of the secret agents, Denis Rake, was a homosexual in
a relationship with a German, who did not know the truth and Rake never told
him about his allegiance.
The anti-Semitism of many French was
terrifying, especially when they tried to justify in some stupid way or
another, many innocents have been sent to death camps from France, women and
children, together with men, with the participation – active of passive of
ordinary citizens- even if some claim they have not been aware of what was
One of those who chose to become a
Nazi pretended that, although he knew that Jewish men and women were taken
away, he thought that they would have the same fate as French prisoners of war still
held in Germany, where Maurice Chevalier sang- this is one of the small public statements
that are so embarrassing- the artist explains he never toured Germany, even if
it was said he was killed by various groups, including the liberators, he is alive
He did not tour Germany- maybe, but
this is so preposterous, it sounds like saying I did not walk with that killer,
but endorsed him all the way, admired his bravery in killing so many, applauded
him, cheered him on, but never, ever walked with him in my life!
An incredible number of seven
thousand French men fought wearing German uniforms on the eastern front and
some explained their potion though their hatred of the Bolsheviks and although
one could share the loathing, especially someone who lived under communism-
like the undersigned- it is not sensible to see the danger posed by a lion and at
the same time walk over to be trampled by an elephant.
Promise at Dawn,
written and directed by Eric Barbier
This film is
a memorable achievement, in large part because of the contribution of Charlotte
Gainsbourg, the rest of the cast and the poignant story.
The Anglo –
French actress is the daughter of another actress, Jane Birkin and the
songwriter and singer Serge Gainsbourg- an excellent film about his agitated,
exuberant life was made recently and it was a great achievement.
has taken part- a leading part for that matter- in controversial, provocative
features like Antichrist, Nymphomaniac I and II.
Dawn is different, one could say a classic narrative of chagrin, suffering,
destitution, pain, discrimination and hardship suffered during World War II, starting
in Poland, continuing in France and eventually taking the only French writer to
have won the prestigious Goncourt Prize twice to England.
was born Roman Kacew in Poland, where his mother has always believed in his
future glory, even when they lived in near destitution and when she shouted in
front of discriminating, racist neighbors that her son would become a glorious
writer, a celebrity, a personality, the stupid laughed.
meant that the Kacew family, mother Nina would be the target of insults, targeted
by raids and, as we all know, in danger of being exterminated with the other
millions of Jewish people who have died in the Nazi death camps.
time, Nina Kacew has been trying to work at her business, a tailor shop where
she has had women working for her, making clothes that were very appreciated,
but alas, not paid for.
There is an
especially loathsome woman who comes a t the shop, makes a serious order and
the manager points out that this is very important and perhaps the lady would
want to pay, only to attract the wrath of the pretentious, dishonest customer
who just wanted work and clothes gratis.
when the poor Ms. Kacew is facing bankruptcy, she is knocking at the door of
this fancy, ruthless “client” who starts shouting at her and insults the Jewish
woman with disgusting appellatives, asking her butler to throw the tailor out.
and her son, Roman, arrive in France, with some luggage in which they have all
the possessions left for them in the world, which the clever, astute, perseverant,
dedicated, strong, gritty, admirable, Wonder Woman is trying to sell in antique
shop with great skill.
to be a Russian princess and the samovar that she displays is both precious
because of the make, material, but also on account of its historical importance,
convincing the owner of the antique store to form a partnership with this
He does not
buy the objects, but he says that he will provide other fare, more interesting
for clientele at the hotels, where Nina Kacew would pose as the aristocrat from
Russia and use the abilities already displayed in front of her new business
partner, who is willing to advance some cash.
It is not
all wine and roses, for there are racists here as well as elsewhere in the
world, but the venture is successful, furthermore, Ms. Kacew enters another
business venture with the only taxi driver that had accepted to take the family
when they arrived at the station and other drivers refused the fare.
even this one did not like the prospect of taking so much luggage in his old
car, but the determined Nina Kacew emphasized that his car is not exactly the
best vehicle in the world:
Have you looked at your car? Let us
and trust she has in her son are outstanding- indeed every woman loves and
encourages her children- or as we have it around here – every crow will defend
its chicks- but the heroine of this film is exceptional and nudges, urges her
son with every step he takes.
experiences trauma and adversity, sometimes in hilarious circumstances, like
the time when some Polish combatants challenge him to a duel, in the middle of
to become Romain- is fighting as a pilot in the British Air Force, facing the
German enemy, in fierce battles, with anti-aircraft firing all around,
considerable casualties and some miraculous escapes.
moment makes a hero of the pilot- who had been initially the only one to be
refused an assignment and a rank at the end of training because…he is Jewish-
that helps a comrade escape.
vicious round of German fire, one of the other pilots is hit, not only is his
plane in serious condition, but the man is blinded by the bullets or shrapnel
that had entered the cockpit.
aka Romain Gary helps his comrade in arms to land his plane in impossible
circumstances, as practically a blind man, relying on instructions from his
savior, to the left, now approach, more to the right…
receiving letters from his incredible mother, comforting, encouraging,
supporting, and praising him…long after she has died…