sâmbătă, 30 martie 2019

Battle of Britain, based on the book by Derek Dempster and Derek Wood - 10 out of 10

Battle of Britain, based on the book by Derek Dempster and Derek Wood
10 out of 10

On most levels, indeed, maybe all, this film is perfect.

You could not find a more spectacular, majestic cast, made of the creme de la creme of British and World cinema:

Michael Caine as Squadron Leader Canfield, Trevor Howard, Ian McShane, the iconic, godly Laurence Olivier, Cristopher Plummer - who became recently the oldest nominee for an Oscar - , Michael Redgrave, Robert Shaw and so many more outstanding artists.

This motion picture is from that point of view as good as the best possible lesson in acting.
More important would be the educational role it can play from a historical, moral, meaning of life point of view.

The pilots that have defended Britain and with that the rest of the free world have done so sacrificing themselves in many cases.
They are role models, the real Supermen that we should strive to emulate, much more valorous than the cartoon characters that have inundated the big and small screens.

In 1940, it looked like Nazi Germany would be able to overcome and eventually invade Britain, which had very few pilots and planes to defend the island under siege.
This glorious film is dedicated to the heroes, men and women who have given their life to save the nation and maybe the rest of us from a possible fascist subjugation.
For an excruciatingly long period the Germans had the superiority in the air, in terms of firepower and flying machines at their disposal.

It could be argued, perhaps this exceptional, fabulous film is a case in point, that the crucial, cardinal, decisive element has been the dedication of the British pilots, who have been helped by others from all over the world...America, Canada, Australia and so many other countries, who fought like Supermen and Wonder Women to prevent th free world from becoming a Nazi play field.
Some millennials might complain about the special effects, the many fights that take place in the sky and which could only benefit from the special effects of 1969.

I would say that to complain about that would be more than superficial and lame, it would be the equivalent of dismissing Michelangelo in favor of some contemporary creator who can dazzle the public using modern technology, 3D images, but still be far from one the geniuses that will stand the test of time.

We should look at this motion picture in awe, not wanting to be convinced by flamboyant effects that what is on the screen is credible, explosions look real, but aware of the Real Tragedy, Valor,  Bravery, Superheroes involved in the real Battle of Britain.

The glorious film is not inspired by real events, uses artistic license to inflate one or another aspect, the extraordinary courage of the heroes.
It is, to use another genius for a metaphor, just as The Last Supper, only in my case I do not believe in the actual 12 apostles, Jesus and any of the other religious implications, but Leonardo da Vinci has painted a rendition of what humanity believed- many still do - to have been one of the most important, divine moments ever.

In fact, the unbelievable accomplishments, acts of outstanding valor made me think of one passage in the fundamental book about cinema:

Adventures in the Screen Trade by the late, regretted, phenomenal William Goldman.

In it he talks about one incredible premise wherein a character in a movie climbs walls to this impenetrable castle, avoids all traps, finds the impossible path and then the well guarded woman he wanted to get to is by a miracle alone, without protection.
We would not believe the script, but it happened with...the Queen of Great Britain.

The other impossible example took place in the second part of World War II, during an operation depicted in A Bridge Too Far, directed by another cinematic God, Richard Attenborough.
William Goldman could not write a credible passage for the crossing of the Rhine, where a first wave of allied soldiers is decimated and massacred and a second wave has to cross, seeing that it is suicidal.

The formidable winner of two Academy Awards for his scripts explains that it is hard to convince audiences to be live scenes like that, although they ...
Actually happened!

The whole Battle of Britain is hard to believe, but it took place and the Supermen and Wonder Women were real, unlike the fare we - I mean, some, I don't- watch in Avengers, Transformers and other such paraphernalia.

Winston Churchill has concluded about the Ubermensch that fought and won the Battle of Britain:

"Never was so much owed by so many to so few"

On the Basis of Sex by Daniel Stiepleman - 8.8 out of 10

On the Basis of Sex by Daniel Stiepleman
8.8 out of 10

If this motion picture lacks something in terms of cinematic achievement, perhaps a certain lack of suspense or too many clichés as The Guardian has noted, it more than compensates through the compelling inspiring, role modeling story.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is such a household name that she is now known as RBG and half or more of America prays, wishes her to live at least beyond the terrifying prospect of The Orange Fool nominating another Brett Cavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Even here, in my land,  I hope for I do not believe in prayer, that this Super Heroine lives to be 100 or more on a bench that now has a conservative, perhaps we should say a reactionary majority and if we look at the recent ridiculous, appalling performance by the most recent Judge, there are creepy individuals in there.

America used to be such an inspiration for the rest of the world, the Land of the Free, greatest democracy and best system.
It was Deities like RBG that made it so honored and esteemed.

Alas, there came Trump with his MAGA troops, real deplorables, just as Hilary Clinton, said, albeit it was a pity that the remark became public and thus a tragic truth may have also affected her campaign.

Felicity Jones is splendid in the leading role, just as Armie Hammer, who has the part of Martin Ginsburg, a remarkable, modern, not just exceptionally intelligent, but also endowed with an outstanding EQ, which seems to be more important than IQ.
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg studies law at Harvard, teachers and men in general are still sexist and retrograde, holding the view that women must take care of the children.

They see Martin Ginsburg, eventually one of the best tax lawyers and experts in the country, as the bread winner.
In the case that would be brought in front of the Supreme Court and would propel RBG to the first ranks of the creme de la creme of the legal profession, the "traditionalists' would repeatedly invoke centuries of tradition and natural law.

As a student, when invited to talk about her goals, her perspective on law, Ruth would joke sarcastically that she will just live in the shadow of her husband, although not in these words.
The heroine is appalled to see that many American laws are discriminatory against women and she would argue that they are thus unconstitutional.

Her opposition thinks they have a bright idea and use the computers of the Defense Department to count the laws that may be impacted, if the request made by RBG would somehow be approved in the highest court.
The case they try to make being that there are too many acts in the legislature that would need amendment or complete change and thus the RBG position is preposterous.

Furthermore, the opposition team of men argues that the economy would suffer a calamity, millions would lose jobs, wages would plummet and Armageddon would descend.

However, it is for the Supreme Court to set a precedent, if it so chooses.
There is a history of humiliation and abuse for women, who could not study at Harvard, appear in front of the Supreme Judges and were forbidden so many other things one hundred or just decades before.

It is also true that the MeToo movement has demonstrated that women still face abuse, discrimination, harassment to this day.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes a very compelling, convincing plea for the rights of women, the need to ensure equality for the future generations, even if for some time, even her side thinks she is going to crash and lose with a bang.

On the Basis of Sex is a fabulous motion picture that shows part of the life of one of the greatest Americans, one of the few with some power to keep in check the outrageous man that has done so much to cast such a large shadow over the phenomenal image that the American system had in some parts of the world.

"Sad" as the orange fool keeps saying about others, when he is the worst thing that happened for the dream of democracy in countries that aspired to emulate the US and are now laughing at the ridiculous mouse that the mountains have generated.

Long live RBG and may Trump go out fast to the dustbin of history.

Leanders letzte Reise, written and directed by Nick Baker Monteys 8.1 out of 10

Leanders letzte Reise, written and directed by Nick Baker Monteys
8.1 out of 10

Alert: getting started on this note and dealing with a trip to Russia, the subject matter became too political and thus you may disagree with the perspective of this viewer…therefore this is not a spoiler alert, but rather a warning that it may get too fundamentalist and digress from the Leander Trip.

Although there are aspects to object to, characters that are not exactly prime material for role models and the journey on the screen takes the public to meet quite unsavory personages, involved in what Putin denied to be a Russian intervention, this motion picture is rather interesting and unusual.
Jurgen Prochnow is very prodigious, excellent actor with a remarkable 135 credits in films that range from the unknown – but rated by this cinephile here http://notesaboutfilms.blogspot.com/2017/10/note-on-dark-side-of-moon-with-moritz.html - The Dark Side of the Moon to the much-awarded The English Patient to the solid Das Boot, the commercial hit The Da Vinci code and so many more.

He has the role of the main character, the Leander from the title, Eduard Leander.
As he embarks on this mysterious journey, his granddaughter is assigned to meet him at the railway station and see what he is up to, only to find that he is determined, perhaps stubborn is a better word, and he would not abandon this “mission”.

He appears to be on a personal quest, for his own Holy Grail, in that he will not hesitate to cross the most dangerous lines, official or not, some of them not far from where I am, alas, involving the very peaceful country of Russia, which has had nothing to do with the conflict in the Ukraine, but somehow acquired the Crimea, just because those citizens there eagerly wanted that.
It is all nonsense, obviously, and Russia meddles even in American elections, in spite of what republicans see as a clean bill of health, a “complete exoneration” for the worse possible leader of the free world that even our nightmares, or a sick imagination could not have envisaged some years back.

Obama was not the best outcome, at least for parts of the world that felt is too cerebral, uninvolved and detached, but he was one million times better than what looks like the ultimate argument against the American style of democracy, a skewed system wherein Hilary Clinton – and Al Gore before her – has won the popular vote with about 3,000,000 more votes – correct ones at that, in spite of what the orange idiot keeps claiming – than the “best mind, the very stable genius”” , suffering clearly from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and other ailments.

Leander takes a trip to his past, to the East, for he not only comes from there, but he had loved a woman, many years ago and they have been separated during World War II, in which he took part and unfortunately, as we are about to find out, he played a rather vicious role.
On the train taking both the hero and his unwilling granddaughter, Adele aka the very good Petra Schmidt- Schaller, they meet with Lew, a Ukrainian Russian young man, who is very peculiar in that he accepts, is actually proud of his both origins, contrary to what most people seem to feel in Ukraine – which by the way has elections tomorrow, when a chocolate tycoon who has ruled for the past years, inefficiently to say the least, Timoshenko, another rather flawed, known politician, and a comedian that talks admiringly of Jair Bolsonaro – and with that he rather defines himself clearly – fight for the top job.

Lew and Adele will soon get involved with each other, they have sex, and the man would continue to manifest in a rather original way, for he will be willing to go to the end of the world – well, in a civilized, safe form – when this woman, or rather more precisely her old relative, demand or even look like they need his support and company.
They are first guests in the hospitable house of Lew’s family, albeit they do fall in the middle of some arguments there, for Eastern and Western Ukraine seem to feel differently about Russia and the EU, and in the East they still have a war going on, with pro- Russians on one side and those who want to maintain the integrity of the country, government forces on the other.

Russia has nothing to do with it, evidently, for it is only a force for good, trying hard tom protect its nationals – like they might do sometime soon in other countries, perhaps the Baltic states, Moldova, maybe our very own Romania, where a Russian could be beaten up in a bar, perhaps by “little green men with no connection to the Kremlin whatsoever”, and then Putin will have to intervene.
What is very interesting in the motion picture is the fact that the protagonist is both a sympathetic old man, that the audiences start to like, and a repelling war criminal that admits to his past, specifies that he is not just one of those who obeyed orders, but he was the one who told his men to shoot prisoners of war, if in rather complex circumstances, and one cannot be worse than that.

Along this trip, they cross the line – which is in fact on the territory of the Ukraine – where the land is no longer controlled by the sovereign state, where friends of Russia – without official support from Putin – fight to eventually make the motherland Big Again, adding more space, like they have recently done with the Crimea and might do so with other parts of the former Soviet Union.
After all, Vladimir Putin has said that the disappearance of the former Soviet Union is the greatest calamity.

Leanders letzte Reise is a special journey that takes a critical look at the crimes committed in the conflict, just as it also explores the vile past of the hero – who is also an antihero we discover.

miercuri, 27 martie 2019

Dragged Across Concrete, written and directed by Craig Zahler - 9 out of 10

Dragged Across Concrete, written and directed by Craig Zahler
9 out of 10

If the first few scenes of this remarkable motion picture have not impressed this viewer, seeming similar to and undistinguished from other many films, from one stage on, the show became original, intriguing and more than captivating.

The premise and other elements give a sense of deja vu, but that is inevitable, for in the multitude of features with cops and robbers, there must be shared elements.
Mel Gibson is excellent in the leading role of detective Brett Ridgemont and so is Vince Vaughn as his partner, Anthony.
Early on, they catch a drug dealer, as he was trying to run using the fire escape and Brett is somewhat rough with the criminal, or we should say suspect, putting his foot on his neck to obtain the vital information about who else is inside and if they have any weapons.

Their investigation, during which they saw the previous night, at eleven, the dealer coming with the bag of drugs, resulted in an important catch and the arrest of two suspects, albeit in the case of the woman friend and accomplice, the senior detective has been again stepping over the line, once he saw that she had a gun in the purse, although she had denied it and then promised that she would be free, once she tells them where the bag is.
The scene on the fire escape stairs was filmed and then made public, making the superior played by Don Johnson to call the partners, speak about the cell phones that are like politics nowadays, they are everywhere and stating that they are suspended for six weeks, because of the video that showed abuse.

Brett has another perspective on this, for their actions prevented teenagers and others from getting drugs and if they were not very polite in the process, they still deserve compensation and not the shitty salary, which is now gone for so many weeks.
Furthermore, the wife of the detective suffers from multiple sclerosis and their daughter has been abused for the fifth time in a short period, because with his income, they cannot afford anything but this 'shitty' neighborhood.

While he was in an official capacity, in the force, Brett has never taken bribes, made money on the side, although he had been suspended before and has the same rank as he had when he was 28 and his perspectives are not bright and he wants to make some money, now that his efforts and risking his life for the community has just sent him into civilian life.
He is calling on one of his sources, someone he had helped and owes him, for a lead - perhaps like in Glengarry Glen Ross - and finds about a villain, Lorentz Vogemont.

Brett talks about the possibility of getting the compensation he will never have from his employer to Anthony, who is more than reluctant at first, saying his partner must be crazy, only to see things different in a little while.
The young man wants to get married, has just bought a ring to propose that looks like an unaffordable extravagance, now that he has no pay for such a long time and his salary is anyway small, even when he gets it.

So the partners find themselves trying to understand what the vile character of the story is preparing, with quite a few amusing moments...
The senior suspended man of the law has a habit of using statistics, to annoying effect for his comrade and provoking laughter in the audience, who may enjoy also the awkward position in which Gibson is, playing a personage accused of racism, when he had a much publicized low moment when he was drunk and later, in his relationship with his girlfriend, in his real life.

The action becomes terrifying when the sadist gangster starts killing people, first in a grocery shop, then in a car and during the robbery of a bank where he uses his machine gun with sick pleasure.
The intricacies of the plot are novel, creative and it seems that very little happens when and in the manner we expect...at least I was surprised at almost every turn, by the opening up of the body, the use of a hostage in unusual circumstances and more...

Much more.

For obvious reasons of spoiler alerts, which have been avoided, there will be nothing more said about any of the rather spectacular turns that the narrative takes.
If the film was somewhat slow in grabbing the attention, once the speed was increased, it became a compulsive affair, I guess I wouldn't have stopped watching of a tornado arrived...not that there are such calamities here...for the moment, with climate change, they surely are around the corner.

luni, 25 martie 2019

The Dirt, based on the book by Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Neil Strauss - 7.8 out of 10

The Dirt, based on the book by Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Neil Strauss
7.8 out of 10

The critics have been very severe with this motion picture, so far, and they are right in noting that this is not the Bohemian Rhapsody, although, with all the remarkable performance of Rami Malek, technical and other achievements, this cinephile would have given a shared prize to Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen and the winner of the Oscar for Best Actor.

The public has been more generous, rating The Dirt with 7.2 out of 10, against the professionals, which saw this as worth 34 out of 100, for some obvious reasons and others that may escape us.
Motley Crue must have been The Devils Incarnate, if we look at some of the excesses that make other rockers and bands seem angelic, in comparison, at least if we think of the celebrated, much more valuable, quintessential rock band film Almost Famous, where the musicians are subdued, decent, Almost Boy scouts when set against Sixx and the others.

In the first three minutes – or maybe the very first –, we have on screen the chance to witness a…

Squirting party girl!

This could be enough to enrage conservative viewers – nevertheless, this is not destined for the squeamish, religious…but come to think of it, these evangelicals have voted for the guy who talked about grabbing pussy and abusing women, entering the dressing rooms of the beauty pageants he controlled, where under aged girls could be naked, which is what the pervert – president must have wanted to see.
Therefore, I retract the above indication that this is not for the believers in Christ, for they hang on to the man who keeps lying, does not publish taxes, cheated with his charity, University – and it looks like everything else – “loves” – in his own recorded words – dictators like Kim of North Korea, and suffers clearly from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, just like the husband of his advisers has stated…plus an incipient dementia and some other serious mental ailments.
Now that I got going with the Orange Buffoon, I think that the seriousness of what he has done, as the vicious leader of the once free world and before that, is much more calamitous than anything the Motley Crue have ever performed.

Six and the rest were just junkies, rock stars from one moment on and not in charge of the nuclear arsenal and the wellbeing of most of the world ultimately and they were encouraged by fans, circumstances, groupies and the whole inebriating atmosphere to be revolting.
And they were.

Some scenes are so disgusting as to make the skin crawl, for they go beyond the usual paraphernalia of celebrities – in the overrated, if you ask this cinephile, A Star is Born, the Bradley Cooper singer character urinates on his pants and walks on the stage to share the moment with the actress I cannot stand, Lady Gaga.
The members of the Motley Crue band engage in what we have seen in other musicals, biographical movies that deal with such pretentious, often arrogant and excessive super stars, destroying hotel rooms with aplomb, taking drugs – like other rockers, Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones come to mind – in quantities large enough to kill herds of buffaloes.

There is a Pulp Fiction moment – reminding us of the scene where Mia Wallace aka Uma Thurman suffers from an overdose that seems to have killed her, necessitating a n injection into the heart, which the panicked Vincent Vega aka John Travolta has to act upon – where Nikki Sixx has taken too much cocaine or some other powerful substance and for a long time he is gone beyond or out of this world.
Indeed, his demise is announced on the news and one of the paramedics in the ambulance has long given up, trying to convince the other man that it is all over, only this was a fan of the band and is determined to keep him alive, or more exactly bring him back from the dead…

“I cannot let Nikki Sixx die”

Others die though, including the daughter of the singer Tommy Lee, just after he had separated from the band – over artistic differences they use to say – and found out that the girl who might have been only four has cancer.
Perhaps the most provoking, challenging moment takes place near a pool, where another rocker comes drunk, drugged or both and challenges the Motley Crue crew, that are not yet at the height of their villainous behavior – although they scared, abused travelers in hotels and elsewhere and committed all manner of other repulsive acts in their daily program.

This other musician takes his penis out in front of the other guests of the hotel, spending time near or in the pool, and urinates near the water and then bends down and licks the urine!
As if this is not enough, one of the Motley Crue thinks this is a role model and such a nice provocation that he has to follow this lead and does the same, with higher stakes for they now each make an effort to lick…the other’s urine.

Repeating my leitmotif: this is innocent child’s play, when compared with what The Orange Sphincter – as labeled with humor by Bill Maher – does.

Homefront, based on the book by Chuck Logan Six out of 10

Homefront, based on the book by Chuck Logan
Six out of 10

The chance to watch James Franco – and once upon a time Wynona Ryder – can be an opportunity that we must take.

Jason Statham, before being typecast as the agent, officer, retired army man and other such profiles in which he always kills many villains and escapes from impossible situation with the girl, the heroine and anybody in his care intact, used to be a wondrous actor.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch or London are Casablanca, Some Like It Hot and Goodfellas when set against Homefront.
The movie is watchable, especially when there is nothing else on the other twenty film channels, as happened here last night.

Jason Statham has the leading role of Phil Broker, a DEA agent when very long hair – that is a novelty – infiltrated in a gang of bikers – those who support the ridiculous Orange man in the White House no doubts.
In the opening scenes, the clash with the authorities results in the death of the son of the gang leader, also a drug dealer and criminal, and that would result in a death sentence for the “traitor” Phil.

The hero retreats in a small town with his nine-year-old daughter, Maddy, where they would ride horses and enjoy life.
Her mother has died and the very concerned father is looking after her with such care that you want to weep.

When a bully at the playground faces off the girl, she demonstrates that she has the fighting genes of her father.
The school calls the parents, Cassie Bodine Klum and her husband, Jimmy Klum, and Phil Broker.
The latter talks to the psychologist who has only good words about Maddy and is interested in the father.

Jimmy Klum becomes aggressive in the parking lot, near the school, and we know this is not advisable.
For the new age Bruce Lee can – and will, I do not think there is a need for a spoiler alert here – beat anyone.

This foolish parent is in the dirt as soon as he laid his hands on the back of the apparently innocent stranger.
All this takes place in front of the sheriff and when another fight takes place at the gas station, the man of the law warns Phil.

Cassie is the sister of the local, small godfather, Morgan “Gator” Bodine aka the wasted here James Franco.
She asks for revenge, given that her consort has been humiliated in public, in front of their son.

Three hoodlums, hatchet men for the local drug lord, attack the intruder at a gas station, only to be taught a hard lesson.
Things get ever more violent from here, as we can expect, reaching a paroxysm of action when the hero has to fight many villains.

He knows how and kills all that come near…or far for that matter.
Nevertheless, they find a way to use his soft, weak spot, as happens in all scenarios that we have seen before.

It is rather pathetic at times and we have the usual problem of credibility, when the drug lab explodes for instance.
Shouldn’t that cause more damage?

This is superfluous however, for there is no single, identifiable flaw that we could point and say…

Without that, it was all marvelous.
It is all a forgettable experience and actually, you should give it a miss, if you ever read this and thought about watching the homefront.

Chances for that to happen are about one in a billion.

duminică, 24 martie 2019

The Wild Pear Tree, written by Akin Aksu, Ebru Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, directed by the latter - 10 out of 10

The Wild Pear Tree, written by Akin Aksu, Ebru Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, directed by the latter
10 out of 10

The Wild Pear Tree is one of the most complex, intriguing, philosophical, though provoking, rewarding and worthwhile films you can watch, nominated for the most important cinematic prize, The Palme D’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Cinephiles have learned to expect masterpieces from the Turkish genius, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, nominated for an outstanding fourteen awards at the aforementioned Cannes Film Festival, over the years winning the Palme d’Or, the Grand Prize of the jury and Best Director twice

Winter Sleep, winner of the 2014 Palme d’Or, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury in 2011, and Three Monkeys, for which the now iconic Ceylan has won the Best Director in 2008 join the list of best motion pictures ever made http://realini.blogspot.com/2017/11/note-on-three-monkeys-director-nuri.html
The Wild Pear Tree is so challenging and long, at 3 hours and 8 minutes, that viewers might need to see it again, the under signed looked at the passages dealing with literature and religion twice, given that there are so many hidden messages, scenes where one explanation might be suggested, but it could be something different:

What was the significance of that child, with face and body covered by ants, which have also invaded the body of Idris Karasu, when he rests but appears to be dead – and it looks like his son is ready to abandon – seeing as he lay in the shade of one of the wild trees in the first place, but he is now under the open sky, under the scorching sun – then there is the image of the hero hanging from a rope, which could be interpreted as a dream – like so many of the other peculiar scenes in the film – or an indication that he is considering suicide.
The protagonist is Sinan Karasu, a young man who has just graduated and has to pass an exam to become a teacher, if he gets good results he may get to work in the more prosperous, cultured West, or take a position in the less favored East of the country, but he is most concerned with his writing and publishing The Wild Pear Tree, his first book as a writer.

The young hero is in a perpetual conflict with his father, Idris Karasu, albeit there is a chance that they would bury the hatchet – the son is the one who at times appears to hate his parent –and become close again, after the aggravation caused by the gambling habit of the older man, also a teacher, who has seen his reputation destroyed by his addiction, for which he has sold his house and he has eventually lost all credibility with family and most villagers.

At one point, his son comes to the classroom where he teaches and tells him the electricity has been cut off, for unpaid bills, and mother asks for the money to have it restored, but Idris Karasu states that the money have not come through, only to see he is not believed and furthermore, his son tells his mother that he was completing some form of betting forms, when in fact he was drawing posters for the missing dog that Sinan appears to have chased away, in one of his vicious moods.
The main character has so many sides as to make him one of the most complicated figures in cinema, for apart from his talent as a writer, curious, creative, investigative, brilliant mind, he can be villainous with his father, unforgiving of his past sins that may be amended for, aggressive in some of his interactions with a local writer and then with two imams.

The conversations with writer and religious figures are among the highlights of this motion picture, which does not lack though provoking themes and dialogues, for when facing, later challenging the established author Suleyman, some of the core questions of writing are exposed, if literature has its heart in language at the contact between pen and paper, the frustrations of authors who are reluctant to face readers, the assertion made by Suleyman that it is not what happens, but how one writes about it that counts, seems logical, but it is explored further, when he says that he makes the preparations, bakes the bread and readers eat it.
Sinan meets with Imam Nazmi and Imam Veysel and another intriguing interaction deals with religious issues, from the tendency that people have to gibe too much weight to gold, to the need to have faith as the only alternative, manner of approaching the fundamental teachings, to on of the less known companions of the prophet Mohamed and the fact that some people go down paths of less significance, bringing in less popular characters to make artificial points.

Imam Nazmi rebukes the lesser known figures of the Koran, explaining that people quote the most relevant ones, anyway he seems to favor an approach that does not question the holy teachings, while Sinan argues for individual responsibility, disliking the paradigm in which options are “given on a plate” as he puts it, he would be the one with a more introspective, meditative, questioning mind, prompting the imam to ask him if he would rather live in a world with Allah, or without him and when the answer is yes, he presents the vision of a life of submission, for we are anyway fish in a barrel or words to that effect.

Apart from the erudite, seraphic, high minded, celestial, cultured, esoteric, metaphysical, aerial talks, entreaties of the film there are more mundane aspects, wherein Imam Nazmi is presented as a rather duplicitous cleric, for he travels to ceremonies that could be seen as parties and uses the grandfather Recep as prop, for the old man used to be an imam himself, but he is so old now that he needs help to dress and the family is worried that he may bungle the service which he keeps as a replacement, a tool for Nazmi and then villagers would laugh and this would be dishonorable.
The village is seen as a wasteland by the hero and the young woman he meets in the first part, who also wants to go away, but would be forced into an arranged matrimony, not before she kisses Sinan with such passion, remorse, envy or all of them and more combined that she bites his lip, that would stay wounded throughout this marvelous picture.

Books will surely be written about this chef d’oeuvre, so rich in significance, symbols, and questions that a short note would not do it any justice, except if it encourages others to see it and somehow is successful at making them interested and curious.

joi, 21 martie 2019

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, based on the book by Du Lu Wang - 9 out of 10

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, based on the book by Du Lu Wang
9 out of 10

Crouching Tiger has caused a sensation when it was launched, in 2000, winning 4 Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and many other coveted awards.

It has indeed a mesmerizing story, although a sardonic critic might still dismiss, at least some parts of it, as cartoonish and far fetched.
After all, when have you last seen people fighting and flying over bamboo forests, and not just once, but as on a regular Wednesday habit.

That was the cynical view, for in fact, the fantasy associated with these flights adds to the charm, originality, creative value of the film , rather than substract from it.
Furthermore, the introduction sets the stage for a different world, a transformed reality, the importance of meditation, martial arts, mind power in this very intriguing, unusual motion picture.

Yun-Fat Chow is master swordsman Li Mu Bai, who talks early on to Yu Shu Lien aka Michelle Yeoh about his isolation, period of meditation in a retreat, where he could not spend more time.
For an absorbed meditation, he would need to be detached from the world, cut all ties and immerse in the infinite, sublime to reach what would be called Nirvana, although not in his religion.

The reason why he could not be absorbed in the absolute, away from the world of the mere mortals is his love for Yu Shu, which he has not confessed.
Sir Te, the elder that has an important position in the hierarchy of the place is sure of his affection and jokes with the woman, stating that Li Mu Bai would soon come clean, or else he would intervene.

However, other important incidents interfere, for a precious sword is stolen and a police inspector is killed.
He had come from a Chinese province, where the infamous Jade Fox had killed his wife and committed many other vicious crimes.

When she was tracked down, she fought with ferocity and killed the investigator, reproaching her protégé for all this clash that forces her to hide and live in danger.
Jiao Long is portrayed by Ziyi Zhang, the actress that for some reason I thought was involved in the recent financial scandal, wherein the Chinese authoritarian officials have made her disappear for months, only to state that she owes the public purse over one hundred million dollars in unpaid taxes.

It could have been another star - it must be an acclaimed artist, or else they would not talk of that vast sum, just in taxes- but I for one never believe what authorities in a tyrannical state say...in fact, I mostly think it is the opposite.
In our communist system, and I am sure this is good for Red China, we had this joke-question for Radio Yerevan:

Is it true that Mr. Popescu has been given a white Dacia (the local car brand)?
No, it is not a car, it is a bicycle, it is not white, it is black and it was not given to him, it was taken away from him.

Jiao Long steals the precious sword, for she has been influenced by the villainous Jade Fox and the young, attractive woman is using the wrong role model for her path in life.
She would fight with master Li Mu Bai and he sees the extraordinary talent, the fabulous skill she has with these flights in the bamboo forest, over houses and all, and he thinks she could become his disciple.

The proud, arrogant young woman rejects the offer with utter disdain.
She would travel in the country and boast that she is not a pupil of the great Li Mu Bai, as people assume, after they see the destruction she causes, but that master is her defeated enemy...

There are many scenes of beautiful, astounding martial arts that go beyond the mere skilled conflict seen in other, more modest features.
The clashes become a wonderful, superb ballet, in which all possible weapons look like being used, from small arrows to swords and various complicated tools of the trade.

Humor has its place when the apparently innocent, naive girl is challenged by various strong, massive men, sure that they can destroy her if they just puff once, only to see that they are no match for the stupendous Godess of Battle.
Indeed, she does not defeat just one or two opponents, she appears to be able to take on a whole army, crushing maybe more than fifty fighters and at the end, the building where they battled is slowly crumbling as a result of the fantastic- literally- power of this small figure.

Apart from the love story between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien, there is a tumultuous affair involving Jiao Long and Dark Cloud, although the latter couple start on war path and only after serious disputes become lovers.

The film is spectacular and thought provoking.
Studies with monks and people who mediate for more than three hours every day have shown that their minds are capable of incredible accomplishments.

One of the cases that comes to mind has a well known polemicist facing a meditator that has gained such a control over his mind that he has managed to deflate, render the man that would dispute with anyone, communicate with adversity, combat with extraordinary vigor rather tame and harmless for the Big Warrior found that he could not oppose the Bright Luminous Meditative Mind.