duminică, 27 ianuarie 2019

Dogman, written – with others – and directed by Matteo Garrone - 10 out of 10

Dogman, written – with others – and directed by Matteo Garrone
10 out of 10

Dogman is a glorious, phenomenal motion picture and one of the best this cinephile has seen over the past few years, nominated for the most important cinematic recognition The Palme d’Or.

The film has won a well-deserved Best Actor prize for the incredible, outstanding, miraculous Marcello Fonte and the Palm Dog for the canine cast J at the most relevant film competition in the world – the Cannes Film Festival of 2018.
It is also nominated for the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language and has won the same Best Actor Award at The European Film Awards…

The formidable Marcello Fonte has the leading role of Marcello, The Dogman, a gentle, kind, friendly, modest, soft spoken, short, not perfect – given that some of the troubles he would have are brought upon him in large part, but they are also the result of his own wrong decisions – separated father of a single daughter, Alida.
The hero is so close to the dogs he takes care of that he gives them massages – there is one amusing and emotional – like so many others – scene wherein he makes a bulldog so happy that this one grunts, makes funny noises while the handler touches him.

It is not a job without perils, for in the opening scenes we think he might get mauled by an aggressive animal – seems like a mastiff or a pit bull of some kind – but the protagonist is always patient, so peaceful and humble as to sooth the dogs, often the other characters and the audience.
Indeed, watching this outlandish personage feels like a meditation session or group therapy, for his manner is so serene – well, while he can manage that, without Simoncino to haunt and abuse him – that Marcello seems like a Buddhist, a Zen Master…

Serenity Now! Says George’s father in Seinfeld
Here, it is not a furious man ready to fight with Elaine, but a Stoic, a Saint, a formidable character that is the paradigm of kindness.
However, saintly as the hero is, there is a Devil in the small town by the sea, who has a tense, difficult relationship with the Dogman, who has to cope with adversity and at times horrible abuse.

Granted, the protagonist is himself far from perfect on some levels, an important flaw in his character is the fact that he is a small dealer of drugs and the former boxer, Simone aka Simoncino, comes to take doses from him.
The aggressive bully does not pay for the cocaine he takes from Marcello and furthermore, he presses for his drugs to be delivered even when the daughter of the hero is nearby.

Dogman is not the only victim of the vicious lunatic – as a matter of fact, medical studies have demonstrated that American Football players, boxers and even soccer players that have frequent head contacts with a fast moving ball tend to suffer serious concussions and in many cases, brain injuries.
At one point, Simone is gambling in a video lottery, where he is aggravated that he has lost – was it two hundred euros? – and starts kicking the machine, pushing and destroying it, while the owner of the place tries to reason with him and he has no alternative but to give the deranged individual money.

This infuriated proprietor would then talk with others in the vicinity that had been assailed by the mad scoundrel and he mentions that he could talk with professionals to solve the problem, by which he means hired gunmen that would kill the menace.
He does not get the unanimity needed for such a thing, although one of the ones who are strongly against an attack is going to be hit soon by the Mad Man, who is always trouble.

When he attacks one drug dealer, he gets the upper hand, beating this one and his comrade, only to be shot and probably saved only by the presence of Marcello, who avoids getting involved in medical treatment, stating that he only deals with dogs, but he has no alternative and cleans the wound, extracts the bullet and restores the villain to health.
They seem to enjoy a good time after that – if rather briefly – dancing in a disco, where they take drugs and the boxer brings an attractive woman to dance with Dogman, on demand, being ordered most likely.

Then Simone comes to the Dogman shop and says that he wants to rob the place next door, gaining access through the property of Marcello, who is dead against this, up to the point where he is pushed hard against the wall, squeezed and faced with the prospect of allowing it or be maimed.

He had been this way before, when he was forced to drive Simone and an accomplice to a house, where they stole money and jewelry, throwing a Chihuahua dog that was barking in the freezer, forcing the poor, sensitive Dogman to return to the scene of the crime, climbing up some floors on the exterior draining pipe, to extract the near dead dog and save him…Alhamdulillah.
Marcello will have a very tough time ahead of him, for he is accused and sentenced to jail for the robbery, when he does not want to “be a rat” and help the police make the case against the mad boxer and he is released, he is offered an insulting three hundred euros for his pain – admittedly, if the Dogman had been a more honest, responsible, decent character, he would not want any share of the spoils, but given that he was forced into this breaking in, he would need some money to live, wouldn’t he.

This is a very complex, heartbreaking story, with a tragic hero and a vicious villain, where there is no Super Man, but Marcello is more like Oedipus, faced with a cruel destiny that he appears unable to change in any way…until the end, that is.

Hawaii, written and directed by Jesus del Cerro 8 out of 10

Hawaii, written and directed by Jesus del Cerro
8 out of 10

Hawaii is an interesting story about...communist Romania, the relation with the paradisical island is mentioned near the beginning.

Dragos Bucur is good as Andrei Florescu, the same is true about Andi Vasluianu as the vicious, loathsome villain, the Secret Police officer Scarlat, but Cristina Flutur as Ioana Balan was less convincing.
Granted, the role was rather difficult, complex, the woman being an agent of the Securitate - and by that, a member of something similar to the Gestapo and the KGB - and at the same time, the love interest of the hero, the Juliet if you will of this drama, which is a thriller and a love story.

Andrei Florescu is an intrepid taxi driver, one who deals in the black market, risking with that a long jail sentence in the communist days, when the dollars he transacted, the Kent cigarettes he offered for services were crimes against humanity, so to say.
Everything changes when he is asked to take a client from the Intercontinental hotel and this has a message and a chain with a cross for him, asking for a meeting to take place later.

Andrei Florescu takes Vasile Florescu with him to the meeting; the latter had tried to escape from the tyranny in a hot air balloon, years before, with two friends, one of whom has just sent the Intercontinental message.
Surprisingly – in fact, it seemed rather farfetched – they have the pleasure of meeting with the American Ambassador, although why would his Excellency want to meet with these two people is a bit difficult to guess.

Vasile Florescu has been named the inheritor of a large property in Hawaii – hence the name of the film – with thousands of hectares and a value of about three million dollars – considerable, but enough reason for the highest representative to be involved in this?
Another reason might be that Vasile could be assumed a sort of dissident, a more likely reason for an ambassador to want to communicate…

The family of Andrei is not overjoyed by the inheritance that comes with strings attached – if they claim it outside Romania, in an American embassy elsewhere, they will be able to have it.
Nonetheless, if they do not get there in this period, the Romanian communist state would come into possession – they would confiscate any such private property; they are into sharing, like their present day disciples Corbyn, Melenchon, perhaps even Sanders.

Andrei is determined to travel to Yugoslavia and then defect, but for that he needs a passport and at the office for these documents he meets Ioana Balan aka Cristina Flutur – not very suitable for this role.
She is a Secret agent, in charge with the dossier of the Florescu family, suspected of antigovernment activities or at least designs, and she meets again with the man who likes her, unaware of her occupation.

The idyll develops so much that the woman who had pledged loyalty to the state and its vicious repression machine, to which she belongs, starts to have doubts and begins to feel attached to her target.
Her superior officer is Scarlat aka the very good Andi Vasluianu – Omni present in local films – who appears to want to use his influence and authority over his subordinate to gain sexual contacts.
Is they had been mutually pleased in the past with this bond – although he is married and we could presume that this had been a case of abuse – she is not willing anymore and hence she is raped.

Ioana is a good swimmer and she wins a competition – that could have been limited to the villainous Securitate agents, but there it is – where the loving Andrei is in the audience and admiring.
The Secret agent solves the case by saying that there are no reasons to suspect that the Florescu family has nefarious plans – she cites the brother in law, who is a communist fanatic.

However, Scarlat has had other sources, suspects foul play and has Andrei arrested in a showdown of competing males, with the villain torturing the good character and telling him the real profession of his lover.
It can all look preposterous when they decide to manufacture a hot air balloon, to fly over the Danube – successfully this time – they get all the neighbors to participate and then kidnap the vicious brother in-law.

On the one hand, heroic attempts have been made to cross the border – I meet regularly at the pool a man who had climbed on the cars of a train that was destined for Hungary and the West, only to be caught at the border.
However, to make this from material destined for the propaganda demonstrations, with the portrait of the tyrant prominent on the balloon appears more like a metaphor, without a chance to have happened in real life.

This is an interesting, but not very good film.

vineri, 25 ianuarie 2019

Katie Says Goodbye, written and directed by Wayne Roberts 9 out of 10

Katie Says Goodbye, written and directed by Wayne Roberts
9 out of 10

Thank God for Cinemax.
They aired this extraordinary film last night and they have on offer so many other incredible productions.

Katie is the heroine of this motion picture and a Wonder Woman, a role model on some levels.
She is only seventeen and lives with her rather abusive mother, Tracey.

The parent does nothing for the teenager who has to support her, pay the rent - indeed, she gives Tracey the money to pay and this vicious woman doesn't- work as a slave for an indolent figure, who has her nails painted, make up arranged for her by the poor girl.
They live in a small place where there are no good prospects and Katie wants to Say Goodbye.

She would like to move to San Francisco, but her wages as a waitress would not be sufficient.
Especially if we consider that she has to support two people.

Therefore, she becomes a prostitute, accepting meager payment from the local men...the policemen, mechanics and some visitors.
One becomes a good friend, Bear, played by James Belushi.
The nice, kind, positive, friendly, optimistic, suffering Katie is also admired and supported by her boss at the restaurant, Maybelle aka Mary Steenburgen.

Everything changes with the arrival of Bruno aka Christopher Abbott, who works as a mechanic in the vicinity.
Katie falls in love with this young man, who is quiet, rather tense, affected probably by the time he had spent in jail.

The heroine becomes his lover and when the man is told about the sex his friend had offered for money, he asks her.
Katie tells him the truth, her plan to move to San Francisco, for which she had had these relations, which mean nothing to her...

If you want me to stop, I will stop.

And she does put an end to all that, including with Bear, who is very understanding, supportive and even proud of this remarkable girl.
Alas, Dirk is a villain working in the same mechanics shop with Bruno and is envious and furious that he had never had sex with the attractive Katie.

With the kinder, but still guilty and responsible Matty, he offers Katie a ride and then takes the car off the main road, into the wild.
This is where he demands to have coitus with the heroine.

When she refuses, stating that she no longer does that, she is raped first by Dirk and then by Matty.
Those are monsters, especially Dirk, who boasts in front of Bruno about what happened, saying they had been offered free sex, not that they raped the girl.

Stupid Bruno takes revenge on the woman who loves him, believing what he had heard.

Katie Says Goodbye is an excellent, poignant, deserving, intense, emotional, heartbreaking film, with an unlikely Super Woman, Wonder Human in the person of the strong Katie.

The Search by Richard Schweitzer, with contributions from six others 9 out of 10

The Search by Richard Schweitzer, with contributions from six others
9 out of 10

The Search is a phenomenal drama, winner of the Academy Award for Best Writing and a special prize for the very young actor Ivan Jandl.

This extraordinary feature has also won the Golden Globe in the same category, with another one for Best Picture...Promoting Universal Understanding.

An interesting category that was, but we have it no longer.

The New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list has The Search included with other great works of art.

It is the end of the devastating World War II, in Berlin, where a group of children are brought together.
In a way, they are lucky to have survived, but the trauma, the terrible atrocities they have witnessed will scar them for life.

Furthermore, most of them are now orphans, even if some will be lucky to find a living parent, or another relative.
When they are moved with trucks, they are afraid to get in, because of the horrors they have seen.

The Nazis have used many means to kill multitudes, and using carbon dioxide in vehicles was one of them.
Traumatized and aghast at what might happen, a few break the window of a moving truck and escape.

Among the runaways, we have the hero, Karel Malik, played by the formidable Ivan Jandl.
We would learn later about his story and how he had lost faith and stopped talking at one point.
In his effort to run from further torture, as he fears it, he arrives at a river, where he is presumed to have drowned.

Indeed, when his mother would reach this center for children refugees, she would find that he is dead.
It will be a test of her grit, determination to keep looking for the boy.

As he walks among the ruins of the former German capital, Karel Malik meets Ralph Stevenson.
This character is played by one of the best actor the world has ever had, Montgomery Clift, a troubled man, who would have felt better as the owner of small shop, somewhere in the countryside, those who have known him said.

By not participating in Someone Up There Loves Me, he has launched the career of Paul Newman, passing on the role in On The Waterfront, he gave the world Marlon Brando and finally, saying no to East of Eden, Clift gave the chance to James Dean.
An incredibly powerful man, not literally, although that might have been the case too, Burt Lancaster has stated that his knees would shake when Montgomery Clift entered the room.

The sublime actor was nominated for an Oscar for this film.
Ralph Stevenson offers his sandwich to the visibly hungry boy.

Then he grabs him, trying to protect and offer him the chance to be reunited with his family.
Karel Malek is afraid and tries to run again, until the American understanding his fears, takes a different approach.

Gradually, they become very good friends and the young boy learns English.
Meanwhile, his mother is told at the center for refugees that they have their boy.

Only to discover that another one has taken his place, when Karel was absent for the roll call, the other boy being Jewish, he had to find a way to hide an identity which was anathema for the Nazis.
After the bliss of finding the boy, the tragedy of seeing he is in fact dead, then the resolution to keep The Search.

And maybe she will find him! 

The Sixth Sense, written and directed by Night Shyamalan 9 out of 10

The Sixth Sense, written and directed by Night Shyamalan
9 out of 10

The Sixth Sense is considered to be one of the best films, it is anyway one of the most popular...audiences have included this on the Top Rated Movies list.

It was nominated for six Oscars, including for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the very young and extremely talented Haley Joel Osment, Best Director, Best Writing and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the great Toni Collette.

Bruce Willis is remarkable as a psychologist, Malcolm Crowe, who gets shot by one of his deranged patients at the very beginning of the film.
That is unexpected, isn't it?

Furthermore, he seems to continue, even if the wound seemed deadly, for the rest of film, where his presence has something outre, peculiar.
He is waiting for a boy, Cole Sear aka the astonishing Haley Joel Osment, and tries to communicate with him.

The analyst even suggests a game, to try to win the confidence of the child who could be about eight.
I will say a few things about you.

For every statement that is true, you approach and enter the room.
Whereas when I say somethings wrong, you will move towards the door.

Given that the assumptions are partly wrong, the tender patient leaves on the first encounter.
But the adult- let us call him that, even if we will and he will find that he is something different - and the boy grow closer to each other.

Alas, the psychologist does not seem to get across his wife, Anna Crowe.
She sits at table in a restaurant and does not appear to hear Malcolm.

At home, she keeps watching the video - this is 1999 - tape with their wedding.
Meanwhile, Cole experiences traumas, dramatic events.

He is visited by ghosts.
Night Shyamalan has a penchant for dark, mysterious films, where obscure forces are at work:

Signs, The Village, Unbreakable

Alas, his more recent productions have failed to deliver marvelous results.
Even Glass, number one at the box office now, seems to be a rather unaccomplished work, from what I have read in The Economist.

Cole has access to details, information that is stunning for those around.
For instance, in class, he tells his teacher that he knows he used to stutter when he was a child.

The professor becomes furious and shocked by this revelation...

How did you know that?

And he starts stuttering again, in anger.
In one scene, the boy is trapped with his mother Lynn Sear aka the formidable Toni Collette, in traffic.

He tells her that there was an accident and the woman is dead.

How do you know?
She is right here near me.

Given he has always been a special child, she assumes the worst, that he is confabulating.
But he is not and she would have proof...

He starts telling his parent about visits from and talks to his grandmother...

You thought she never came to see you dancing, when you were a child.
But she did, she went at the back and saw you.

When you went to her grave, you asked her a question.
She told me the answer is:

Every day!

This would prove to the mother that the child does have special abilities.
As for Malcolm...

Alas, he will have a very nasty surprise, right near the end.

Crimson Tide by Michael Schiffer Eight out of 10

Crimson Tide by Michael Schiffer
Eight out of 10

The debut of this captivating motion picture is more than sobering; it is terrifying, for it states the people who have access to the launching button of the nuclear weapons, the trident missiles in the case of the western allies that could start Armageddon and the Doomsday Machine from the famous

Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The first is the American president, the second the soviet leader – then the Russian commander in chief – and the third is a surprise, which might be true;

The captain of a nuclear submarine!

In this scary film that deals with what could be the last moments of life on earth, the captain of the USS Alabama is the experienced Ramsey, portrayed by a giant of the big screen, Gene Hackman.
To begin with, he welcomes on board his vessel a new X.O., Commander Hunter aka the fabulous Denzel Washington.

This acceptance would not come before the towering captain asks about hobbies, horses – they would have a dispute later on the color and the origin of the Lipitan horses that seem to come from Spain.
In one of the first talks around a meal, Captain Ramsey concludes that his new second in command is…


He thinks the Navy means for him to be simple, to obey orders and know where the button for the missiles is.
For his new officer, he has a different theory; he thinks they want him more complex to supplement him somehow.

However, he disagrees with the idea of “philosophy” and mentions with pride – it appears – the fact that he and others like him have learned metals and solid things and not to doubt over military decisions.
He challenges Commander Hunter on the issues of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs and wants to know:

Do you agree with the bombing?
I would not be here if I thought otherwise
You think your answers thorough
I would say…hell…bomb them twice

We have the profiles of the two main officers on board the submarine and the older man is gung ho.
When asked about the enemy, Commander Hunter is of the opinion that the most serious threat, enemy is…war itself.

The situation becomes dramatic when a rebel general takes control of part of Russia and might attack the US.
A climax or a nadir is reached when the submarine Alabama gets the order to launch the nuclear missiles.

These do not eject in seconds, as we find out, and take minutes to be prepared and they have the estimation for the Russian launch
As they are in the process of launching the apocalypse, nuclear holocaust – in the words of the cerebral Hunter, there is another order.

Alas, it is listed as urgent, of extreme importance and refers to the launch of the missiles, but it is interrupted.
This is where an enormous conflict ensues between the captain, who wants to go ahead with the initial command and Hunter.

The latter thinks it could be a message that cancels the launch and has pertinent arguments for that.
A rebellion is needed however, for the stubborn Ramsey would not budge and rather destroy the world than wait.

One side has the upper hand, then the other and we do not know what will happen next, especially after they encounter a Russian submarine and they launch missiles, the vessel is hit…
Crimson Tide is a film with a tremendous subject, there could be none other more relevant than what could happen to the earth…one sunny day, it could go poof and humanity could extinguished.