sâmbătă, 31 august 2019

Jane Eyre, based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte - 9.6 out of 10

Jane Eyre, based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte
9.6 out of 10

This is a remarkable, modern, yet faithful rendition of the classic novel, adapted for the modern viewer by an acclaimed director, half Japanese and half Swedish I hear, Cary Joni Fukunaga.

Mia Wasikowska is memorable in the title role of Jane Eyre, the rejected, strong, lonely but resilient, loyal and gritty, resourceful, brave, self sacrificing heroine.
She has the benefit of a first part in her life where she doesn't suffer privations, although we could argue that this makes even harder to bear the following period, where she is cast away and forced to accept the position of governess, which doesn't seem much better than that of servant.

Jane Eyre has a good progress in the education of the child and thus, when Rochester aka imposing Michael Fassbender returns to the mansion, he is pleased with the work.
Nonetheless, their first encounter is awkward, for the horse is scared when the heroine comes in his way, throws Rochester down, who needs the help of the then stranger, whom he would later accuse, perhaps jokingly, that she is a witch and she cast a spell on his animal.

The master of the house is rather outre, has a peculiar behavior and we would later see that indeed, given the trauma, the overbearing secret task he has had to deal with, we can see how his attitude would be severely affected by the unknown adversity he had to face daily.
One night, there is a fire - for the few who read this and are unfamiliar with the quintessential classic, let us just say that a mysterious personage starts the fire - and Jane is the one ho saves the life of the master and presumably the others who live in the mansion.

Eventually, Rochester appears to prefer his governess to the woman that most people think he would marry, but Mrs. Fairfax aka legendary Judi Dench warns her and advices the young woman to keep away, for many masters encourage feelings and emotions in the girls they have on the payroll, only to deceive and send them away.
Nonetheless, this man is different and he really wants to marry Jane, albeit on the big day, there is another obstacle in the way, the fact that he is already married!

Alas, this is the catastrophe in his life.
He explains to his would be (second) wife, that would make him bigamous, that his father had wanted this union, because of the fortune involved.

After a period, his spouse would show her true colors, eventually become mad and then make him face the choice.
In a mental institution, in those days, they kept patients in cages and tortured them...indeed, only decades ago, electric shocks were used on patients.

Rochester has spared his wife that fate, but she has been a constant threat to the lives of those live with her under the same roof and she is the reason her husband cannot marry.
Jane runs away and let's stop here, avoiding spoiler alerts for the isolated reader who wants to see or read about the end on his or her own.

The Dead Don't Die, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch - 7 out of 10

The Dead Don't Die, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
7 out of 10

When you learn that Jim Jarmusch is directing, Bill Murray is leading a cast with Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi and others, yup expect something divine, glorious, miraculous.

That is the first mistake.
One of the rules of happiness is to Lower your Expectations!

Then, if you are not a fan of zombie, macabre, lugubrious films, it would be the second mistake to engage with this horror comedy.
Hence a bias must be confessed here, for this cinephile doesn't like horror or/and zombie features.

Therefore, the possible amusing reference to Kill Bill, one, two or both, doesn't strike a chord here.
Besides, for this fussy, silly, or should I say stupid viewer, seeing Tilda Swinton is enough to diminish the pleasure of watching a movie.

Given that she is some sort of a Replica, a caricature maybe of The Bride from the Tarantino gory, blood soaked carnival, we have here a double whammy:

Disavowed Kill Bill and least favorite Swinton.

What about Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi and the rest?
Such a waste is the short answer.

Otherwise, yes it is a pleasure to watch them, in spite of the material, premise, lack of horizon, absurdity of the zombies and the whole shindig.
In fact, the hat that farmer Frank Miller aka Steve Buscemi wears is one of the few highlights of the comedy:

Make America White Again

And it is red and the fact that this character is so awful and he is eaten by the zombies may actually be such a great thing that the movie deserves a passing note.
Not an A, but a B for the true depicting of the deplorables that wear MAGA or just MAWA hats.

vineri, 30 august 2019

Saturday Night Fever, based on the story by Nik Cohn - 9.6 out of 10

Saturday Night Fever, based on the story by Nik Cohn
9.6 out of 10

One of the best known scenes in the history of cinema is the iconic dance that has John Travolta move with grace in front of Uma Thurman, in one of the best films ever made, Pulp Fiction.

Before that though, there is the spectacle of a much younger Travolta, exuberant and in top form, mesmerizing audiences and other dancers, on the floor where he spends every Saturday Night in a Fever of expectation.
The hero is Tony Moreno, an Italian American who at the age of 19 lives with his now unemployed father, a very religious mother, Flo, a sister and grandmother.

The brother, Frank Jr., is revered for the fact that he is a priest, Flo is crossing herself most often,looking at the picture of the clergyman, that hangs in a special place in the house.
All this would change alas, when the young man finds he hasn't got his calling anymore, abandoning religion to the chagrin, deep sorrow of his mother.

Tony aka John Travolta knows the future doesn't look good, seeing as he has a job with little prospect of a promotion, if any, the neighborhood doesn't compare well with Manhattan and the joy of his life is the local dance floor, where he shines.
Audiences will probably find the hair style - he is very sensitive about that, upset when his father hits his hair - pants, shirt, shoes and moves hilarious.

I wonder about this...
How come the figures in Pulp Fiction seem to be so cool, classy and somehow destined to be eternally appreciated and what Travolta does in Saturday Night Fever looks comical now, dated and ludicrous.

There are some other aspects that have not aged well.
The hero is actually an antihero when it comes down to his attitude towards women friends, that he treats with contempt, arrogance and often rudeness that borders on harassment and maybe worse, according to the standards of the present.

Seeing as he is the best dancer, an exalted performer that has the other dancers stop and make a ring around him, we could understand that this would have the effect of corruption, it all goes to his head and starts thinking he is the King of the world.
However, Tony does have a complex character, for coupled with his cruel behavior, he does have moments of magnanimity and self criticism.

When he wins an award with his partner, he can see that it was not fair.
The judges were prejudiced against Puerto Ricans...maybe Trump was one of them.

And Tony takes a stand.
Saturday Night Fever was nominated for an Oscar for John Travolta and it is included on the New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list.

The Red Sea Diving Resort, written and directed by Gideon Raff - 8.7 out of 10

The Red Sea Diving Resort, written and directed by Gideon Raff
8.7 out of 10

Although much less known than the Entebbe operation - a very good, recent film on that subject is reviewed at realini.blogspot.com - The 
Red Sea Diving Resort was the cover for a much bigger rescue plan, that involved in the end hundreds of Ethiopian Jews, trying to reach Jerusalem.

Sudan has been until a few months ago a dictatorship and it is not clear what the new deal made with the military junta will bring, but in 1979, when this story takes place, it was getting much worse, with executions, abuse of women, children and many innocent civilians.
Officials are used with this continuous attack on human rights, so much so that when the person in charge at the Ministry of 'Turisam' - that's what they have written on the official sign, outside their offices - talks with the investors aka Mossad agents willing to take the decrepit Diving Resort and offer it as a touristic attraction, he seems unperturbed by frequent shots...

When the foreigners are puzzled by the gunfire, the Sudanese official dismissed the noise...

'The president has many enemies...
Now he has a few more'

He wants a large bribe in order to allow the investors to take a defunct resort and resuscitate it, but they would negotiate and eventually, the host would say...

We have finished the business in the oriental manner, let us celebrate in the western way...
And he takes out a bottle of alcohol that was presumably illegal.

Chris Evans will be remembered by large audiences for his roles in the Avengers movies, but I rather see him in films like this one, where he is cast as Ari Levinson, the Mossad operative who leads the action.
He would gather a dream team, people he has to travel to Belize, among other places, to convince to participate in a very dangerous game of cat and mouse with the Sudanese military and the militias, some of which have been known to cannibalize their victims.

Mossad leaders are opposed first, then reluctant to continue with what looks like a preposterous plan...to buy a resort, smuggle a multitude of Ethiopian Jewish refugees to that place and then have them transported to a ship nearby, with the help of Navy Seals.
The Israeli military have some of the best trained and fighting forces in the world.

They have proved that in numerous occasions, Entebbe, The Six Days War and in the permanent battle that takes place at and within their borders.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is just another example, where the Mossad agents have to fight a vicious enemy, cruel and abominable.

When the leader of the militia wants to find who helps the refugees escape and he does not have an immediate answer, he starts shooting women and everyone else in sight.
It is one of the massacres perpetuated by lunatics, monsters in Africa and elsewhere.

But this film is also about courage, dedication, role models, Supermen and the Wonder Woman, brave individuals that face death and help crowds of helpless refugees escape and find a home in Israel.

joi, 29 august 2019

The Flood by Helen Kingston - 9.6 out of 10

The Flood by Helen Kingston
9.6 out of 10

The Flood is a fabulous, emotional, presumably independent motion picture that should have a bigger box office than The Avengers, seeing as it deals with one of the most important themes of our time, emigration, and considering the other, more intractable problem, Climate Change, more and more millions will be forced to move by rising sea levels and other catastrophes.

This film is carried by its simple story and the outstanding Lena Headey as emigration officer Wendy and the incredible Ivanno Jeremiah, in the role of Haile, a refugee from Eritrea, in particular.
Ivanno Jeremiah is talented, charming, serene, civilized, restrained, yet extremely forceful in a memorable, rare performance.

Alas, few will see this feature, but those who will have the chance to attach such a kind, humane, gentle, generous, brave, exceptional character with the idea of the often rejected immigrant.
Wendy is the officer who has to interview the applicant, then analyze the case and eventually suggest that he is deported or his situation necessitates further attention, perhaps he qualifies for asylum, if I have this right.

Haile has a very steep climb out of the hole where he seems to be, for he had attacked a policeman, when he was apprehended, taken out of a Larry which had brought him and other illegals to Britain.
He needs to tell his story and he explains that he had worked in the army, as everyone else had to and had to deal with a very difficult circumstance, when he was ordered to execute a civilian caught while trying to defect from tyranny.

Our hero disobeys the order, allows the prisoner to live, shooting in the air, to claim he has killed him, but he would be caught later, placed in chains, tortured and when he escapes, finds the man he had saved temporarily killed and his corpse abandoned.
There is no alternative here and Haile has to escape from his country, where he would be killed, not before being again made to suffer excruciatingly, although Wendy and especially her superior, Philip, treat the narrative with extreme skepticism.

When the political refugee says that his mother's name is Wendy, Philip is sarcastic, unmoved and says:

'That's a new one...I haven't heard that one before!'

On the other hand, Wendy, who is going through a trauma of her own, albeit we could venture to say that her adversity is nothing when compared with that encountered by Haile, the friend who would die, Nasrat, his wife Reema, changes gradually her perspective.
Just like so many millions of refugees, Haile has to cope with a multitude of problems, from the sinking boat, to life in the 'Jungle' near Calais.

Finally,he is ready to sacrifice his own future, the chances he has, in order to offer pregnant, just widowed Reema a shot at reaching The Promised Land of England.

A sad, fantastic and wonderful story, educational and  inspirational, it should be seen by more people than The Avengers...I repeat that.

Aurora Borealis aka Eszaki feny, written with two others and directed by Marta Meszaros - 8.7 out of 10

Aurora Borealis aka Eszaki feny, written with two others and directed by Marta Meszaros
8.7 out of 10

This is Sophie's Choice in a Hungarian perspective.

Joking aside, for there is very little to amuse one in this emotional drama, Aurora Borealis is a very good motion picture and we can forgive it for a touch of soap opera that comes at the end...indeed, even there, it is not corny, it is what often happened in this part of the world and the feeling that we have seen this before, often in melodramas, is deceptive, an incredible twist is actually fitting in here.

I live in the country next to Hungary, where the Russians have brought the dame disasters that plague the people in this motion picture and therefore I can see where they're coming from...so to say.

Olga is a Vienna based, rich lawyer and the mostly American jokes with counsellors don't have the same ring here, not by a long shot.
Asking people what do you call a few hundred lawyers at the bottom of the ocean and then telling them this is a good start would not cause the same smiles or laughter.

Olga drives a very expensive BMW SUV and has a successful life, but she is about to hear a tragic story from her mother, who is very old now, has just had serious health problems,  albeit she exaggerates them when she doesn't want to answer some questions regarding the distant past.
However, once she starts, she would not stop even before stating The Inconvenient Truth.

In the years following World War II, the dear Soviets took care of Hungary and all else behind the infamous Iron Curtain.
The mother, Maria, was in love with the young man, who is her first lover.

When they are stopped by a patrol, the poor young man is taken at the station, beaten and tortured.
His only chance is to defect and escape the communists, by illegally crossing the border - the small Trumps of the time did not have walls at these borders...there would be one later...The Berlin Wall, just before the Trump Wall, the latter evidently more beautiful, bigger, as the work of the greatest president in history...or is it the worst clown?

The guards at the border shoot and kill the young man and then one of the most excruciating scenes in movies takes place.

Next to the body of her dead lover, the Russians take turns in raping their victim!
They take her into custody as a prisoner, but she has the chance to escape, helped by an Austrian professor.

She would later be supported by her best friend, Edith.
The two women are both pregnant and Edith loves the father of her baby, a Russian Doctor that causes Maria a lot of psychological pain when they first meet, as any Russian actually...they all remind her of the monsters from the border...who were multiplied by millions throughout the lands they had invaded, resulting in one individual that now sits in the Kremlin.

Not sure who the father of her baby is, whether it was her late love or one of the Soviet rapists, Maria feels she has the enemy within her.
Just as in the famous, classic Sophie's Choice, Maria will be forced to choose between two infants.

Let's leave it at that, for there is a chance in about one billion that you read this and then look for it on HBO Go and we don't want to spoil the second part of the film for you.

marți, 27 august 2019

All is True by Ben Elton - 8.5 out of 10

All is True by Ben Elton
8.5 out of 10

When you look at the cast, director and subject matter, you expect a triumphant, extraordinary motion picture, if not as good as Henry V, Hamlet or Much Ado About Nothing, to name just a few gems directed by Kenneth Branagh, at least very good.

The chronicler of The Guardian thinks this film up there, Dancing with the Stars, as a 'sentimental, theatrical, likable' feature.
And he or she may be right.

Variety at the other end has been rather devastating in its criticism of a 'revisionist fiasco...a sloppy soap opera'

This viewer is tempted to apply the Aristotelian Golden Mean, between these extremes and judge this drama as neither a disaster, nor a Magnus opus.

The atmosphere of the movie is rather gloomy, given that we look at the last years of the greatest writer of mankind, when, following the catastrophe of the fire that burned his theater in London, he retires, does not write anymore and does...gradening instead.
This period is not without drama and scandal, for the genius has to defend the honor of the family when his daughter is slandered and he has to face the frequent attacks and insults of a local member of parliament.

This fool is dismissed in an amusing scene, wherein Henry Wriothesley aka the iconic sir Ian McKellen is visiting William Shakespeare and the MP wants to ingratiate and comes to the fore, only to have the noble visitor tell him he has to disappear, being insignificant and in the way...
Later, the genius himself replies to the constant pestering and states that he has been the manager of a phenomenal enterprise, with thousands working to please the audiences, has written extremely successful shows for the pleasure of her majesty and the public and hence he has nothing to discuss with a man so low...

'Anne's daily shit is more valuable than your brain' it was not with these words, but Shakespeare did say somethings similar to the awful man.
There have been speculations, one surrounding the sonnet 'A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted hath thou, the master mistress of my passion...'

In the dialogue between the genius and Henry Wriothesley, we seem to find that Shakespeare loved him.
Perhaps with what we call today gay passion.

It is only imagination, without evidence, except the interpretable, aforementioned sonnet and other details.
As a matter of fact, Variety was dissatisfied with the Liberty taken in creating a version of the last years of the greatest writer of all time that looks like soap opera.

Again, the Golden Mean may be closer to the truth.
All is True is not exactly a soap opera, but it will not make history either.