Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Auteurs of Christmas


Imagine the festive morning through the eyes of Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Lars von Trier, Wes Anderson, Werner Herzog and more in The Auteurs of Christmas.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Blue is the Warmest Colour


Blue is the Warmest Colour
(original title: La Vie d'Adele—Chapitre 1 et 2)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
France, 2013


Ogłoszony w ostatnim dniu imprezy, w niedzielę 26 maja 2013, zwycięzca 66. Międzynarodowego Festiwalu Filmowego w Cannes, zmiótł mnie z nóg, choć przyznaję, że po jego obejrzeniu zupełnie nie spodziewałam się, że ma szansę wygrać główną nagrodę. „Blue is the Warmest Colour” to nie tylko pierwszy film przedstawiający homoseksualny romans, który zdobył Złotą Palmę - równie bezprecedensowa była decyzja kierowanego przez Stevena Spielberga jury, aby wyróżnienie przyznać trzem osobom: urodzonemu w Tunezji francuskiemu reżyserowi Abdellatif Kechiche i aktorkom Adèle Exarchopoulos i Léa Seydoux, potwierdzając tym samym, że dzięki swoim odważnym, emocjonalnym, znakomicie zagranym rolom są w równej mierze współtwórczyniami sukcesu tej imponującej opowieści o miłości dwóch kobiet. 



Powstały na podstawie komiksu Julie Maroh, chwalony za delikatność i intensywność, już okrzyknięty przełomowym w pokazywaniu lesbijskiej miłości i seksualności kobiet, ten epicki (179 minut), choć równocześnie ekstremalnie intymny film to jedna z najpiękniej zaobserwowanych historii miłosnych, od pierwszego pocałunku do ostatecznego pożegnania.

Blue is the Warmest Colour” to głęboko poruszający portret młodej dziewczyny i jej drogi ku dojrzałości. Rozgrywająca się na przestrzeni kilku lat fabuła, zgodnie z francuskim tytułem koncentrująca się wokół życia Adele, została podzielona na dwie części (oficjalny francuski tytuł "Życie Adele rozdział 1 i 2"). W pierwszej bystra, kochająca literaturę, raczej małomówna uczennica szkoły średniej w Lille, której rutynowe nastoletnie życie składa się z chodzenia do szkoły i plotkowania z przyjaciółkami na temat flirtów ze szkolnymi kolegami, stopniowo zaczyna odkrywać swoją seksualność. Na tym etapie nie czuje potrzeby kwestionowania norm społecznych: dziewczyny umawiają z chłopakami i tyle. Niemniej jej pierwszy, krótki heteroseksualny związek okazuje się nieudany. Pożądanie i namiętność są zupełnie nieobecne w stosunku do zafascynowanego nią i uchodzącego w oczach jej znajomych za idealnego Thomasa. Adele nie czuje do niego niczego. Wszystko zmienia się, gdy przypadkowo mija na ulicy piękną, niebieskowłosą studentkę sztuk pięknych Emmę (Seydoux). Krótka wymiana spojrzeń na zawsze zmieni trajektorię jej życia. Wrażenie, które Emma wywiera na Adele, nie pozwala jej o niej zapomnieć. Dziewczyny spotykają się ponownie przy okazji pierwszej nieśmiałej wizyty Adele w lesbijskim barze. To, czego Adele brakowało w związku z Thomasem zostaje szybko wypełnione przez jej romans z Emmą i mimo zaczepek i zniewag ze strony dotychczasowych koleżanek, wszystko inne przestaje się liczyć. Łatwo zrozumieć, dlaczego. W momencie kiedy dziewczyny dostają szansę aby zdjąć z siebie ubrania, dochodzi do eksplozji namiętności. Idąc ze sobą do łóżka, zawiązują wyjątkowo silną więź fizyczną, którą Kechiche rejestruje w sposób jaki niewielu reżyserów mało dotąd odwagę. 

 
Jest coś porywająco radykalnego w pierwszej scenie seksu - dwie osoby w łóżku, co więcej, dwie kobiety, bezceremonialnie doświadczające totalnej, niczym nieskrępowanej przyjemności. Około dziesięciominutowa kawalkada całowania, lizania i jęków jest zdecydowanie najdłuższą, najbardziej graficzną i intymną sceną lesbijskiego seksu w historii kina głównego nurtu. Być może seksu w ogóle. Trudno będzie dyskutować o tym filmie nie mówiąc o tych wydłużonych, naładowanych erotycznie ujęciach, które już odbiły się szerokim echem i z pewnością przesunęły granice naturalizmu na ekranie. Kamera w filmie Kechiche lubi być blisko ludzi i ich twarzy, chwytając nie tylko ruchy i spojrzenia, ale teksturę ich skóry, osiągając niemal rzeźbiarską precyzję i wrażliwość w łapaniu szczegółów ciał. Pokazane w bezprecedensowy sposób chwile intensywnej namiętności są integralne dla historii i przywilejem dla publiczności jest ich długości i dosłowność, ponieważ pozwalają zrozumieć poziom intymności i zdefiniować to, co łączy i przyciąga do siebie bohaterki filmu. Namiętność przedstawiona jest w sposób naturalny i bardzo zmysłowy. Kechiche nie eksploatuje tych chwil, nie ma na celu nimi prowokować, z pełnym szacunkiem pokazuje po prostu ideę wspaniałego, nadzwyczajnego momentu bliskości dwóch szaleńczo zakochanych w sobie osób. Sceny seksu są tylko częścią kompleksowej narracji a reżyser z powodzeniem obrazuje ten sam stopień zażyłości, bliskości i intymności także w scenach, w których aktorki mają na sobie ubrania.

W miarę jak Adele i Emma wchodzą w poważnym związek i zamieszkują razem, zmierzają się z problemami i wyzwaniami, w obliczu których staje każda para, bez względu na to czy hetero czy homoseksualna. Kechiche w przekonujący sposób przechodzi od kwestii tożsamości seksualnej do kwestii przynależności klasowej. Film okazuje się przenikliwym komentarzem na temat rozbieżności społecznych i tego jak kochające się osoby starają się przezwyciężyć, często bezskutecznie, dzielące je różnice i jak ich związki rozpadają się mimo, że łącząca je więź fizyczna jest bardzo silna a seks doskonały. Kontrasty pomiędzy bohaterkami zostały pokazane w drugiej połowie filmu, w której obie podejmują karierę zawodową i ich priorytety zaczynają się konkretyzować. Początkowo dla młodszej, wrażliwej nastolatki pewna siebie i skora do błyskotliwych spostrzeżeń filozoficznych Emma, stanowiła bramę do doświadczeń wykraczających daleko poza ograniczenia i schematy jej konserwatywnego otoczenia, tak w szkole jak i w domu. Ale kiedy Adele rozpoczyna pracę jako nauczycielka w przedszkolu, podczas gdy Emma realizuje się jako malarka, Kechiche zaczyna ujawniać, jak ich odmienne osobowości, tło klasowe i edukacja, zwłaszcza w kwestiach kultury i sztuki, stopniowo oddalają je od siebie. Różnice między dwiema kobietami dają się zauważyć bardzo wcześnie, przy okazji pierwszego spotkania z rodzicami. Emma zaprasza Adèle na kolację z jej liberalną i tolerancyjną matką i ojczymem, którzy w pełni zaakceptowali tożsamość seksualną córki i obecność Adele w jej życiu. Swoboda z jaką toczy się rozmowa i zaserwowane wyrafinowane danie (jedzenie jest bardzo ciekawym motywem w filmie) są dla Adele zupełną nowością. Obiad w jej domu ujawnia bowiem zachowawczość i konserwatyzm rodziców Adele, całkowicie nieświadomych związku ich córki. To bardzo kochający ale stosunkowo prości ludzie, dla których kresem aspiracji jest stabilna praca i szczęśliwe małżeństwo. Przy stole wyczuwa się zupełny brak zrozumienia i otwartości na jakiekolwiek odbiegające od „normy” pomysły na życie.


Można zapewne argumentować, że film dotyczy bardziej fascynacji i namiętności seksualnej, niż miłości. Niesamowita kompatybilność seksualna Adele i Emmy wpływa na inne elementy ich relacji. Okazuje się, że seks potrafi silnie połączyć dwie osoby, które w rzeczywistości mogą mieć ze sobą dużo mniej wspólnego, niż chciałyby w to wierzyć. Świat Emmy to wysoka kultura i sztuka, dyskusje na temat Gustava Klimta, które skrajnie różnią się od zainteresowań i pragnień Adele, realizującej się dzięki pedagogice, gotowaniu i pielęgnowaniu ich związku. Głównym motywem filmu nie jest więc seks, ale to jaki skutek wywiera namiętność, wzajemny pociąg, pożądanie na relacje różnych osób. Intymne sceny fizyczne są zaledwie jednym z elementów głębokiego studium związku dwóch młodych kobiet, od pierwszych, pełnych euforii momentów, do zakończenia, oswojenia bólu po utracie ukochanej osoby i pogodzenie się z faktem, że coś minęło bezpowrotnie, zostało zniszczone, i nie da się już tego naprawić. Sceny seksu w „Blue is the Warmest Colour” z pewnością okażą się punktem odniesienia i wzorcem dla obrazowania fizyczności w filmie - ale tak samo będę nimi, intymne zbliżenia twarzy Exarchopoulos i wszystkich wylanych przez nią łez. Jest bowiem więcej takich bardzo fizycznych momentów - nie tylko łzy, ale rzeki smarków płynącą z nosa Adele w nadzwyczajnie intensywnej i gorącej scenie konfrontacji. Ciemniejszy etap związku nakręcony został z tą samą pasją i szczerością, w równie sensualny sposób przedstawiając te mniej seksowne momenty z życia Adele: agonię, ból, kłótnie, przygnębienie i rozpacz.

Początki romansu potraktowane zostały z równą uwagą i delikatnością jak momenty zwiastujące jego koniec. Tęsknota za kimś, kogo ciągle darzy się uczuciem jest namacalna a emocje z tym związane, łatwe do zrozumienia dla każdego, kto był kiedykolwiek był rozpaczliwie zakochany. To zdecydowanie najbardziej zmysłowy i intymny film, jaki kiedykolwiek widziałam, będący kompleksowym spojrzenie na ekstazę i agonię pierwszego związku, wspaniale ilustrujący zarówno euforię jak i bóle miłości. To opowieść o budzącej się seksualności, potraktowana z delikatnością, z troską i dbałością o niuanse. Uczuciom tym towarzyszy przejście od młodości do dorosłości głównej bohaterki, zagranej genialnie przez względną nowicjuszkę Adele Exarchopoulos. Jej indywidualna podróż ulokowana jest pośród tętniącej życiem, elokwentnej grupy mniej lub bardziej wyrafinowanych znajomych, rodziny i jedzenia. To rodzaj kina, które jest bardzo atrakcyjne dla francuskiej widowni z licznymi i wyraźnymi odniesienia do literatury i kultury, poruszający kwestie edukacji i wyrażający upodobanie do dobrego jedzenia i spotkań towarzyskich.

Blue is the Warmest Colour” Abdellatifa Kechiche to film, który z pewnością wywoła kontrowersje i będzie bez końca dyskutowany ze względu na wyjątkowo bezkompromisowe i graficzne treści erotyczne i skupienie się na społeczności LGBT. To opowieść o miłości, w której homoseksualizm jest zjawiskiem normalnym. Idealnie pasuje do naszych szybko zmieniających się czasów, w których związki gejów i lesbijek w końcu uznane zostały za tak samo ważne, namiętne, romantyczne i pełne niuansów jak te heteroseksualne. Ma on jednak o wiele więcej do zaoferowania niż dyskusję na temat preferencji i tożsamości seksualnych. To poruszający i niesamowicie emocjonalny portret miłości, oda do nie dającego się okiełznać uczucia, które ogarnia, gdy poznaje się kogoś wyjątkowego. 
 

-----------------
Na koniec utwór, który już na zawsze będzie mi się kojarzył z tym filmem. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Post - Rotterdam

few films from the recently ended International Film Festival in Rotteradam, that interest me the most

Let Fury Have the Hour
USA 2012
Director: Antonino D'Ambrosio



Various musicians discuss how their art was largely a reaction to the conservative politics of Reagan and Thatcher. Public Enemy, MC5, Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Clash, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Billy Bragg, Manu Chao, Gogol Bordello, DJ Spooky and many more.

This attempt at documenting a broad social history behind a wide range of popular music from the 1980s till now consists of an exuberant mixed-media collage incorporating art, music, animation and performance. The film brings together 50 writers, playwrights, painters, poets, skateboarders, dancers, musicians and rights advocates, each revealing that we can re-imagine the world we live in and take an active role in making that vision a reality.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/let-fury-have-the-hour/

They'll Come Back  
Eles voltam
Brazil 2012
Director: Marcelo Lordello



Cris (12) and her brother are thrown out of the car by their parents after their endless squabbling. That marks the start of a brief ramble through northwestern Brazil. In this modern fable, an upper-class teenager learns to see the world from a different perspective.

For all its simplicity, the opening scene is extremely effective. From a great distance, we see a car stop by the side of the road in the middle of a panoramic landscape of hills. Two figures get out of the car. We don’t know why and can’t make any judgement. They turn out to be Cris (12) and her slightly older brother who - rightly or wrongly - have been ordered out of the car by their parents. They don’t know where they are; initially they assume that their parents will come back for them.
In beautiful shots by cameraman Ivo Lopes Araújo, the film then shows the adventures of an upper-class teenager whose eyes slowly open on her quest for familiar territory: she realises who she is, where she comes from and in which country she lives. In his first fiction film after several documentaries, Marcelo Lordello shows a journey that is certainly universal for adolescents, but here subtly moves through a country that despite - or precisely because of - the rapid economic developments, is confronted with major contrasts between the classes. They'll Come Back, which has already won several prizes at the festival in Brasilia, makes it clear that the creativity of filmmakers from Recife and Pernambuco is still going strong: among those previously successful in Rotterdam are Cláudio Assis, Gabriel Mascaro, Marcelo Gomes and Kleber Mendonça.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/eles-voltam/

Carne de perro  
Dog Flesh
Chile, France, Germany 2012
Director: Fernando Guzzoni



Solidly nerve-wracking debut about Chilean fiftysomething who can no longer escape from the burden of his dark past as a Pinochet thug. Shot by unsurpassed camerawoman Bárbara Álvarez (De jueves a domingo). Just to reassure you: the dog was not harmed in making the film.

In Chile, people look to the future. They work, dream of success, lose themselves in shopping and saccharine soaps. They prefer not to think of the dictatorship of Pinochet, who drowned the country in fear from 1973 to 1990. Except, that is, for types like Alejandro. This shabby fifty-something worked in one of Pinochet’s torture prisons. Now he lives on the fringes of society, unable to reinvent himself. When one of his former colleagues commits suicide, this emotionally handicapped macho completely loses it. His wife and daughter leave him. His trusty yet noisy dog has to take the full force of his temper tantrums. Fernando Guzzoni makes his debut filming Alejandro very close up. His paranoia is almost tangible, the mood bordering on claustrophobia. Despite being oppressive, Dog Flesh is not moralistic. With a star role for Alejandro Goic, who was himself tortured by Pinochet’s bullies.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/carne-de-perro/


Harmonica's Howl  
O uivo da gaita
Brazil 2013
Director: Bruno Safadi



A sun-drenched fluid love story between Antonia, Luana and Pedro. Possessed by passion, they are imprisoned in a puzzling game of attraction and rejection. Sensory experience forms part of the trilogy around the star Leandra Leal.

In the opening scene, which lasts for minutes, we see a gigantic container ship slowly sailing by at dawn. At the end of the film, Brazilian director Bruno Safadi shows an enormous cruise ship, but then in the middle of the night, filmed in the same way with a fixed camera from a distance.
In between, Safadi focuses on three beautiful, young, affluent people: Pedro, Antônia and Luana circle each other like floating islands. Restless. Adrift. Possessed by love. Possessed by themselves.
The form is experimental; the title only appears on screen after half an hour and the powerful, penetrating soundtrack often tells a completely different story from the suggestive images. This hypnotic, alienating film is part of Operation Sonia Silk, a project supported by the Hubert Bals Fund and made by a collective of filmmakers, actors and crew who shot three feature films in two weeks on a very modest budget. 

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/o-uivo-da-gaita/

Rio Belongs to Us  
O Rio nos pertence
Brazil 2013
Director: Ricardo Pretti



After receiving a strange picture postcard, Marina knows there’s nothing else to it but to return to Rio de Janeiro, the beautiful city that here seems threatening and almost enchanting. Part of a collective inventive film operation.

This could be two films. Either it’s a film-noir thriller, in which information emerges in fits and starts in a roller-coaster ride to inevitable danger. Or it’s a psychological drama with a poetic bent, in which the viewer is immersed in the memories of the troubled protagonist. The protagonist is Marina, who returns to Rio de Janeiro after an absence of 10 years. The motivation was a mysterious postcard, but Marina herself doesn’t really know why she is back in town. She looks for answers with an ex-boyfriend and her sister, but doesn’t get any further. Gradually, daydreams and reality start to mingle and paranoia grips her. Rio Belongs to Us was made on a modest budget of less than 200,000 dollars, but that can’t be seen in the design. The camera effectively captures the light and space of the metropolis, which can be stunningly beautiful one minute and threatening the next.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/o-rio-nos-pertence/


Tropicália
Brazil 2012
Director: Marcelo Machado



An homage to Brazilian innovators from the 1960s, such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. A vibrant collage of news footage, video clips, photos and psychedelic graphics, the film also evokes the Tropicália bric-a-brac aesthetic.

Tropicália was a short-lived artistic movement that exploded out of Brazil in the late 1960s, with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil as its chief instigators, and Glauber Rocha as their counterpart in cinema. It was a reaction to the country’s turbulent socio-political history of the 1960s and 1970s. Like the Brazilian Modernists before them, the Tropicalistas believed in ingesting aspects of the European and American vanguard as well as traditional Afro-Brazilian and indigenous cultures, with the aim of creating a contemporary music that was uniquely hybrid. The influence of the music, with its heretic use of elements ranging from 'imported' electric guitars of The Beatles to traditional pífanos (flutes) played by folk musicians, had in return a long lasting effect with contemporary musicians. Beck and David Byrne, Nelly Furtado and Sonic Youth are some of its most well-known acolytes.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/tropic-lia/

La Playa D.C.  
The Beach
2012
Director: Juan Andrés Arango



Male hairstyles also count - above all in La Playa, a district of Bogotá where many immigrants from the West Coast live. Young Tomas is looking for a better future. He turns out to have hairdressing talent, but is hindered by loyalty and a sense of family duty. There’s a world of difference between the west coast of Colombia and the district of La Playa in Bogata, the capital. Ever since teenager Tomas had to flee his birthplace by the Pacific Ocean because of the civil war, he has yearned for the tropical countryside where he grew up. Everywhere he can, he draws scenes of his birthplace. Life in the city is hard too. His stepfather throws him out, his little brother Jairo is an addict and in big trouble. Together with his elder brother Chaco he is saving for a journey to the North, either the USA or Europe. Just as the sun is about to shine and he’s about to start earning money as a talented hairdresser, both his brothers ask for help and Tomas faces an impossible choice. To the accompaniment of latino hiphop beats, the camera follows the stoical Tomas through the streets of Bogota. A glimpse of the city's Afro-Colombian subculture - in which hairstyles play a major role.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/la-playa-d-c/

Post tenebras lux
2012
Director: Carlos Reygadas



Dreamlike, extremely personal and visually surprising film by the Mexican master. Also puzzling. What do those rugby playing kids have to do with that illuminated devil? And how is the relationship crisis related to the distortedly filmed horses?

Mexican master Carlos Reygadas juxtaposes computer-generated images of a fiery red devil moving like the Pink Panther with B-film horror (a man pulls off his own head); group sex in a sauna with fairytale-like, slightly distorted images of a young girl pacing through a majestic landscape; and an affluent man and his stunningly beautiful wife having existential discussions about their relationship(s) with shots of a junior rugby team. Reygadas, whose feature debut Japón had its world premiere at the IFFR in 2002, compares the rough, associative and instinctive Post tenebras lux (‘light after darkness’) with an Expressionist painting in which he makes room for his deepest feelings, his memories, dreams, desires and fears. At the Cannes festival the film was booed, but Reygadas took home the prize for best direction. Partly financed by the Dutch Film Fund and co-produced by the Dutch company Topkapi Films.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/post-tenebras-lux/

Ginger and Rosa
2012
Director: Sally Potter


 
London in the Swinging Sixties. The start of the sexual revolution, alongside protests against the Cold War. Ideological differences and painful treachery test the friendship of two teenagers. Elle Fanning plays a beautiful role in this new film by Sally Potter. The teenage girls Ginger and Rosa are best friends who grow up in London in the 1960s, under the real threat of a nuclear war as a result of the Cuba crisis in 1962. The friendship between the two is put to the test: Ginger becomes obsessed by her desire to take action and joins protest movements. In the meantime, Rosa falls for the charms of Ginger’s father, who has just left her mother. The mood of the restless 1960s, which is not only shaped by political changes but also by sexual liberation, is effectively captured in atmospheric images supported by a jazzy soundtrack (Dave Brubeck’s Take Five). Sally Potter (Orlando) took on a cast including Annette Bening, Alessandro Nivola and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks alongside the widely-praised leading lady, Elle Fanning, who was 13 when the film was shot.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/ginger-and-rosa/

Blancanieves
Snow White
Spain, France 2012
Director: Pablo Berger






Blancanieves is Spanish for Snow White: the Grimm classic is situated in pre-war Spain, where the daughter of an invalid toreador has to cope with the terrible stepmother. Exciting, silent black-and-white film of course evokes comparisons with The Artist - to Spain's advantage.

Her mother dies in childbirth. Her father, a famous toreador, is skewered by a bull and ends up in a wheelchair. He marries his nurse, who turns out to be an evil stepmother. Instead of a mirror on the wall, she has a fashion magazine that tells her who is the most beautiful in the land. In this Spanish version of the Grimm classic, Snow White is called Blancanieves and hangs around with bullfighting dwarfs. But this is much more than a Spanish remake of a world-famous story; it’s a homage to the heyday of silent film. Pablo Berger, who worked on the film for eight years, situates the story in 1920s Seville. The stylish set is shot in sharp black-and-white. Dialogues are on inter-titles and are accompanied by a hot-blooded soundtrack with a large dose of flamenco. Blancanieves is a gloomy fairytale with an exotic undercurrent.

http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/films/blancanieves/

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Can. Not. Wait.

it's time to stop reflecting on the past year's cinema and start getting excited about this one's. So... 5 movies I'm looking forward to see most. 

Berberian Sound Studio by Peter Strickland


Blancanieves by Marco Berger


No by Pablo Larraín


I'm So Excited (original title Los amantes pasajeros) by Pedro Almodovar



Buenas noches, España by Raya Martin

 
Violeta se fue a los cielos by Andrés Wood

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Another year. Another list.

It's that time of year again when everyone's reflecting on the past year's cinema. So here it is, my very subjective summary of passing year. And as I'm slightly indecisive I just could not make it into usual TOP 10. However, including more films may not be a bad thing. It only means it has been a truly  terrific year, reflecting the strength of cinema around the world.

So here it is:

 1   "Oslo, August 31st" - Joachim Trier, Norway
      "Holy Motors" – Leos Carax, France/Germany
2    "Amour" - Michael Haneke, France/Germany/Austria
3    "Rhino Season" - Bahman Ghobadi, Iran/Turkey
4    "Barbara" - Christian Petzold, Germany
5    "Neighboring Sounds" Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil
6    "Royal Affair", Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark
7    "Moonrise Kingdom", Wes Anderson, USA
8    "Wadjda", Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia
9    "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey
      "Tabu" Miguel Gomes, Portugal
10  "Just the Wind"(Csak a szél) Benedek Fliegauf, Hungary
11  "Found Memories"
      (Historias que so existem quando lembradas) Júlia Murat, Brasil
      "Your Sister's Sister", Lynn Shelton, USA
12  "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Sean Durkin, USA
13  "Le Havre" Aki Kaurismäki, Finland/France
      "Weekend", Andrew Haigh, UK
14  "Angel's Share", Ken Loach, UK
      "Take This Waltz", Sarah Polley, Canada   
15  "Even the rain", Icíar Bollaín, Spain

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Just the Wind


Original title: Csak a szél
Directed by
Bence Fliegauf 
Hungary 2012 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fill the Void


Original title: Lemale et ha'halal
Directed by Rama Burshtein
Israel, 2012 


Saturday, 17 November 2012

A fascinating journey through the continents that is the 8th edition of FILMY ŚWIATA ALE KINO+ Festival


The idea behind the festival is a rigorous selection and presentation of the best films from outside of the so-called Western World. During this year's 8th edition of the festival, taking place in few Polish cities between 22nd November and 3rd December 2012, the organizers - the movie channel ALE KINO and Mañana - invite public for a cinematic expedition to Brazil, a fascinating country that in recent years is growing into a global power, both economically and culturally. The program includes four very different films, showing great richness of the local film industry:
  •  THE CLAUN (O Palhaço) dir. Selton Mello – Brazilian candidate for an Oscar in 2013;
  •  ONCE UPON A TIME WAS I, VERONICA (Era uma vez eu, Verônica) dir. Marcelo Gomes
  •  NEIGHBORING SOUNDS (O som ao redor) dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho
  •  XINGU (Xingu) dir. Cao Hamburger
In addition to Brazil there will be also movies from countries such as Mexico, Morocco, Argentina, Colombia, Philippines, Israel and China, creating a unique set of films previously appreciated at prestigious festivals in Toronto, Venice, Cannes or San Sebastian. 




Thursday, 24 November 2011

Neighbours (1952)



Neighbours
Directed by Norman McLaren
Canada, 1952

A 1952 Oscar-winning short, anti-war film by Scottish-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren. Produced at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, the film uses the technique known as pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop-motion objects.

Two men live peacefully in adjacent cardboard houses. When a flower blooms between their houses, they fight each other to the death over the ownership of the single small flower.

In 2009, Neighbours was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme, listing the most significant documentary heritage collections in the world.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin


Directed by Lynne Ramsay
UK/ US, 2011
Lynne Ramsay’s bold adaptation of Lionel Shriver's 2003 best-selling novel of the same name “We Need to Talk About Kevin” was just named best film at the BFI London Film Festival.
It is not an easy watch and perhaps not for someone approaching childbirth for the first time as “We Need To Talk About Kevin” might just be the scariest film about parenting ever made. It's probably more something to be endured rather than enjoyed and once the credits roll most audiences will be breathing a sigh of relief, happy that it's over. Yet, I think it is one of the best movies I saw this year. It dramatise the before-and-after life of a woman whose son has carried out a slaughter in an American high school. The film has been given a cruel added resonance by this summer's real-life massacre of innocent teenagers in Norway.
Tilda Swinton plays Eva Khatchadourian, once a hip, city-loving travel writer, a woman seemingly full of passion for life. Then frustrated mother living in a big house in the suburbs, with her naive husband, played by John C. Reilly and increasingly malign and manipulative first-born child Kevin. Eventually a lonely woman struck numb by the realisation that she has reared a mass murderer. With Kevin locked up in prison, she becomes the target of anger, hatred and incrimination.
Eva is essentially passive. She calmly receives a savage slap in the face from one of the massacre victim's mothers, feels like she has to hide out amongst soup cans when she spots another bereaved parent in the supermarket and unprotestingly accepts broken eggs, another petty act of revenge, at the checkout or buckets of red paint thrown on her home and car. She grapples with her feelings of grief and responsibility. Did she ever love her son? And how much of what Kevin did was her fault?
Eva was never a perfect mother. Motherhood haven't come easily to this adventurous, fiercely independent, some might say selfish woman, especially when faced with an angry, baby. One of Ramsay’s most memorable sequences shows Eva pushing Kevin's pram alongside a ear-battering construction site so that the rattle of the jackhammers drowns out his screams and gives her a few brief seconds of peace. On the other occasion she quite frankly admits she'd rather be in Paris than sitting with him at that moment. As she's reflecting on her son formative years, throughout which she was convinced that there was something seriously wrong with him, she wonders whether her ambivalence towards motherhood, the weird displacement of pregnancy, could have ultimately affected Kevin's life. Eva is trying to cope with the sins of her son and the guilt of whether she should, or could, have done anything differently.
It's not spoiling anything to mention the massacre at the school - the audience, just like Eva knows something bad is going to happen and spends the film anxiously waiting for it. Wisely, Ramsay avoids showing the event in detail, instead delving deeply into Kevin's complex psychology and his twisted relationship with the family. However, this is not a film about a sociopath, more a tale of how a mother copes with this terrible legacy. Swinton gives us a lot of insight into the character's mounting horror as she realizes exactly the kind of monster she's given birth to.
Lynne Ramsay' s particularly bold use of red and music makes this story even more disturbing. Extremely good movie. The award was fully deserved.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Twenty-Four Eyes


Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita

Japan, 1954

Keisuke Kinoshita was one of the most prolific Japanese postwar directors, producing 42 films in 23 years, and then going on to a career in television. He is noted for his films about the suffering of women, especially mothers, and the strong performances of female stars in them.

„Twenty-Four Eyes” is an adaptation of a novel by the female writer Sakae Tsuboi. Set in a picturesque island in the Inland Sea, and covering a 20-year time span embracing prewar, wartime and early postwar Japan, it centres on the relationship between a primary school teacher and the 12 island children in her first class. (The 12 children explain the 24 eyes of the title). In the course of the film, she faces problems of acceptance by the children and their parents, then ideological criticism from the educational authorities, then wartime privations and losses in her family and among her pupils. The hardships of the young girls in her class, forced by economic privation and/or death of their parents to leave school and support their families, are stressed; as is the destiny of the young boys to become cannon fodder. The film concludes with a tearful reunion between the bereaved teacher and her original pupils, whose ranks are sadly depleted by the suffering of the past decade.

The film evinces a characteristic attitude towards World War II among the Japanese – an attitude of sorrow rather than remorse. In the early years of the Occupation, the Japanese cinema briefly gave voice to anger and protest against the sins of prewar and wartime leaders, who had “misled” the nation, but by the 1950s this attitude had given way to a more amorphous wallowing in sorrow and a general feeling of victimhood. Made soon after the end of the Occupation, when memories of the war were still fresh, Twenty Four Eyes functioned both as a symptom of these prevalent attitudes and an aid to their consolidation; it was welcomed by domestic audiences, giving them the opportunity to indulge in mourning. The film was not only a popular one, it also garnered the award of Best Film of the year from the national film critics. When you consider that 1954 was a year of prodigious achievements in the Japanese cinema – the year of Kurosawa’s "Seven Samurai"– it was an astounding coup for Kinoshita. It appears the critics, as well as the public, responded to a certain Zeitgeist in which a soft and diffused backward look on their own recent past was highly valued.

"Twenty Four Eyes" remained a favorite with Japanese audiences for decades after its production. Its use of music and cinematography alone is conducive to an indulgence in nostalgia. The film is punctuated with choruses of well-known children’s songs, appealing to the Japanese audience’s sentimental memories of their own childhood; and, for modern urban Japanese, the picturesque island setting with its small old-fashioned village community arouses nostalgia for the furusato, the old home town, where life was simpler if more arduous, apparently timeless and changeless. Both triggers of nostalgia, childhood and furusato, are brought together in the children’s song “Furusato”, sung repeatedly during the film.

The heroine, Miss Oishi, played by Hideko Takamine, is a teacher who is modern in dress and educational practice but also very maternal towards her pupils as well as being a mother herself. She voices some critical opinions, but these had become commonplace in postwar Japan, given the benefit of hindsight. Even in the prewar setting, she is not threatening; on the contrary, she is supremely comforting, a loving and loyal friend to her past pupils, and fellow sufferer in the trials and tribulations of the times they live through. She may be more educated and middle class than they are but that does not make her exempt from suffering and loss. She, like the villagers, suffers wartime privation and loss of a child and a husband. They are all scarred and aged by the war. As in wartime ideology, the Japanese are represented as more united than divided. Differences of class, gender and even political opinion are finally rendered less important than a common experience of suffering. The audience is invited to empathise with Miss Oishi and her pupils, and to shed copious tears.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Autumn reading

Now that summer is definitely over I should turn towards the pile of books, I've collected over last few weeks.

The Story of Film by Mark Cousins

A gateway to hours of movie watching.

This edition of The Story of Film, published to coincide with the fascinating 15-hour film documentary that is now aired in UK TV. Apparently it's the most accessible and compelling history of the medium yet published. The book is divided into three main epochs: Silent (1885-1928), Sound (1928-1990) and Digital (1990-Present). Film critic, producer and presenter, Mark Cousins shows how film-makers are influenced both by the historical events of their times, and by each other. Film is an international medium, so as well as covering the great American films and film-makers, the book explores cinema in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America, and shows how cinematic ideas and techniques cross national boundaries.

Directory of World Cinema: Spain

Bought yesterday at the London Spanish Film Festival this latest volume of the renowned Intellect collection offers an insight into Spanish national cinema through a series of reviews, essays and interviews covering key players and genres in their sociopolitical context.

24 Frames: The Cinema of Latin America

Similar idea: through twenty-four essays, each considering one significant film or documentary, the editors of this volume have compiled a unique introduction to the cinematic output of countries as diverse as Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Skin I Live In


The Skin I Live In

Original title: La Piel Que Habito

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Spain, 2011

“The Skin I Live in” reunites Almodóvar with the first star that he launched – Antonio Banderas. The films Almodóvar and Banderas made together in the 1980s – “Labyrinth of Passion”, “Matador”, “Law of Desire”, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" – formed one of the most iconic onscreen collaboration. Hollywood has truly wasted Banderas's potential. Now, twenty-one years after the 1990's “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” they are back together with a loose adaptation of Thierry Jonquet’s novel ‘Mygale’ (published in English as Tarantula) - the story of diabolical plastic surgeon, whose skills allow him to take control of the people's life in ways unimaginable to anyone but him. The bones of the film's character might be based on the novel, but the rest is all Almodóvar.

“The Skin I Live In” is a story of revenge. Dr Robert Ledgard (Banderas), an eminent plastic surgeon and grief-stricken widower is engaged in an ethically dubious experiment to create a new artificial skin, which he believes, could have saved his wife life. She committed suicide after being horrifically burned in a road accident. Ever since this tragic event Robert becomes obsessed in his search for medical perfection of the idea he developed: heat- and pain-resistant, although still sensitive to the touch, transgenic skin.

In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia (Marisa Paredes, another Almodóvar regular), the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, for reasons known only to her, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig there's Vera (Sex And Lucia 's Elena Anaya), whom he holds captive in his vast, seemingly inescapable isolated mansion El Cigarral.

The less said about the story, the better. Almodovar cleverly uses flashback to unsettlingly reveal who Vera really is, an outrageous, sexually perverse twist that only he could get away with. Almodóvar’s vision is more ominous than anything I've seen before. The subject is extreme, and the plot so grotesque yet, Almodovar is Almodovar - he has the ability to turn highly disturbing plots into something beautiful. He is constantly testing the limits of plausibility – looked at objectively, the plot appears absurd – but his meticulous craftsmanship and confident storytelling ensures it remains riveting. With “The Skin I Live In” once again he revealed his genius for turning the ridiculous into the sublime.

Dr Ledgard is possibly the director’s most sinister character, but his lunacy is rooted in a domestic tragedy which is instantly humanising. I was never quite sure whether Robert is the mad scientist-style psychopath or a tragic hero. His personal life was already messy when he finds himself falling unexpectedly in love with his most beautiful, and certainly the most unusual, patient. Frankenstein is seduced by his own beautiful monster. Elena Anaya, re-teaming with Almodóvar after a small part in 2002’s “Talk To Her”, is fantastic as the object of Dr Ledgard obsessions. Most of the time totally covered by a flesh-coloured bodysuit that clings to her like a second skin, she spends her life locked up in a room in Robert 's idyllic Toledo mansion, a tastefully-designed deluxe prison.

For anyone who's familiar with Almodóvar's body of work, it is clear that while often appearing frivolous, he explores profound emotional and intellectual matters. He loves self-referencing. Same pieces. Different puzzle. In '”The Skin I Live In” Almodóvar, once again, is playing with themes of power, identity and sexuality. Skin is the frontier that separates us from others, it determines the race to which we belong, it reflects our roots, whether biological or geographical. Although Vera decided that “she has to learn to live within her skin”, even if it is a skin imposed by Dr. Robert, she hasn’t lost her identity. Yet, skin is what appears to define us and, our identity is being shaped by the skin we live in and gaze upon in the mirror. Indeed, a crucial scene sees Robert's wife mortified by looking at what has happened to her face after the accident.

“The Skin I Live In” is beautifully put together. Visuals are stunning, as expected. I can't think of any other director who uses colour as well as Almodovar. Endowed with an extraordinary voice Spanish singer Concha Buika is getting the exposure that she so deserves in the scene as potent as Caetano Veloso singing in “Talk To Her.”

This is a thrilling, edgy, riveting and superbly realised piece of work. Fantastically twisted and provocative story that leaves you wondering who’s heroic, villainous, an oppressor or a victim. Bloody excellent movie. Almodovar at his best.