A Pocket Full of Clemsonite

May 7, 2010

Postwar Germany in Cinema

It seems like I only have interests to point out random or even spurious connections between certain films, from different areas or regions. At least that’s what’s visible when one lands on a page discussing the Japanese ghosts and the Jacques Rivette film (see the earlier post here). The thing is, I never know if it’s something more than that, and if it seems so, then why not approach the idea?

Failing once more to harness my attention, it has come into the path of a recurring theme for German filmmakers, and possibly for German artists too. Namely, the memory of two films I have seen before came back into my mind while watching a third. All these three films dealt one way or another, with life in postwar Germany. Actually, there are some more dealing with this subject, but for one reason or another, they do not fit into my pattern, or they pursue other goals.

Let’s start with Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Maria Braun”. The first part of this film depicts the state of indigence the Germans after the end of the Second World War were going through. Just rubble everywhere and people can’t make ends meet. Maria’s husband is in prison for years to come, so she has to provide for herself. Well, she ends up selling herself, and while she’s at it she starts climbing the social ladder of the nascent postwar Germany.

Werner Herzog’s Dieter has another fate. He was just a kid during the war, and the fact that during an air raid he saw a plane so close to his house that he actually was able to distinguish clearly the pilot, made him want to become an airplane pilot himself. But this wasn’t exactly possible a few years down the road, being a citizen of a defeated country, where getting enough food for survival was an acute problem (he even remembers the first time when he saw in a shop window the first sausage; no, nobody could afford it). So the best thing to do was to go where the airplanes were. Hence he immigrated to the US. Successfully trained as US Army pilot, he has the misfortune to fall prisoner in Vietnam, after his plane was downed. He then spent several years there, reliving the war famine until at last he was released. Now, living in his California house, he cannot forget what he went through and made sure he will never miss food. Stuffed in his basement, in a secret place, we can see impressive amounts of food staples, like flour, rice, sugar, canned meat etc. If only he could turn back time to leave some of them to himself from the past, during those two episodes he survived.

For some reason, Istvan Szabo’s “Taking Sides/Furtwangler” and Lars von Trier’s “Europa”, although dealing with the same issues, do no resonate with me here. They do elsewhere, on other topics, just not here.

I recently discovered an Eastern German take on this postwar German landscape, owed to Frank Beyer, the same director who gave us “Jakob the Liar” (but not the version wit Robin Williams!), a sad story about the attempts of a Jew during WWII to lift the spirits of his community. Well, this time, in “Carbide and Sorrel”, we have a romanticized story of that dark age of 1945. The story sounds implausible: a single, nonsmoking worker in a cigarette factory from Dresden is asked by his coworkers to cross half of the Germany to Wittenberge (obviously, both cities belong to what would become the Eastern communist Germany, i.e. DDR) in order to bring some carbide from his brother-in-law’s factory, so that they can weld their equipment needed to start manufacturing cigarettes anew. It may sound implausible, but it turns out it is based on a real story. That endeavor existed, and at the time of shooting this film, the original protagonist. No, he wasn’t chased that bad by both the American and the Soviet troops like the one in the film, nor was he so successful romantically along the road.

Well, even if he were real or not, it wouldn’t make a big difference. The worker’s exploits are funny, but it’s not that kind of funny. Instead, let’s remember that this film was made in 1963. In this context, we can understand (and practice a little bit the long time practiced habit of “reading between the lines”) that if the man was almost always hungry during his travel, this was a picture of those years of hunger. That the widow factory owner sold her jewelry to buy him food in expectation of a hot night, even the funny consequence of him being a vegan (in my opinion, the only thing that is structurally foreign to the script) and thus disappointing the host and raising her doubts about his virility, none of these are able to erase the fact that during that time Germans did sell their gold in exchange for the scarce food.

In a comical key, we see serious themes being approached: the endless numbers of wandering refugees on the roads, the mined lands (in the amazing scene of him looking for mushrooms after not heeding a placard warning passers-by about the forest being mined), the loneliness of war survivors, the black market, even the deplorable state of housing and factory buildings in a country where almost everything turned to ruin. But above all, the sometimes confusing power structure and the fear of being randomly caught by the American or the Soviet army forces along the way. Yes, different zones in Germany were controlled by either the Americans or the Soviet troops. But there wasn’t a clear-cut division (even if it were one, it likely only added to the bureaucracy involved), so we totally forgive the unlikely scene where the guy captures the American boat, because we then see that he has to send salutes to both sides of the river, one belonging to the Russians, the other to the Americans, in a re-enactment of the famous final scene in Chaplin’s “The Pilgrim”.

Well, not even the occupation troops are omnipotent. As in the old “Ten Little Indians” story, the seven barrels of carbide are lost, and then regained, but have to be traded for, since the troops need welding too. Carbide is also an asset, troops are interested in it too, or it can be traded for cigarettes, or even for means of transportation. Or… it can be used for fishing! There must be some historical account hidden here, I suspect it was a popular way to get fish back then. Also, even the mushrooms he collected had market value: they provided transportation for his barrels. Adding into the mix the need for love, we can easily see how people vied for essentials: a job providing food, the food itself, love (even of the fast variety was better than nothing), some clothes and maybe honor. That’s about it. The rest was pure survival.

I must also mention the issue of the protagonist’s succession of encounters with the authorities. While he first met the Soviets a couple of times (and then dupes the helpful American once), he is then chased by the Russians and arrested while trying to sell one carbide barrel in order to be able to transport the last one to the Dresden factory. There is something I’m missing here, but it appears that after he escapes and recaptured, it is the local German authorities that set him free once again, apparently because they believe he pulled a nice trick to the Russians (it must be because of the barrel which was filled with instead of carbide to begin with, from the factory). This gives us the idea of conflicting authorities, even competing ones, reminiscent of the Yugoslav man from Emir Kusturica’s “Father is Away on Business” who is deported during Tito years for commenting positively on the Russian Communism. Yes, there were different brands of communism out there, but in our case, here, it most likely was only an expression of “local autonomy” of the German authorities (although I can’t completely rule out a communist local dissent, since obviously the Red Army promoted their local fidels in key positions).

The two remaining barrels arrived at their destination, but Germany is far from winning the soccer World Cup (it happened in 1954, year also marking the end of this chaotic postwar transition period for Germany; alas, this is only true for West Germany). Our man, having accomplished his mission, knows what comes next: after duty, comes pleasure. So he heads back to his sweetheart. Well, not so fast. A bike would be good, but nothing works as planned, including the unexpected flat tire. Yes, economy is still way down the drain.

A final word here: this seems to also be the final word of a relative thaw in East German cinematography. While the social comments were kept low, it was still too close to home, and a sequel or another film in the same vein would have been too much for the German Communist Party, closely guided from Moscow. This historical development makes this film perhaps an invaluable document about those days.
But, again, if you know to “read between the lines”.


July 10, 2009

Bruno At A Glance: The True Distorted Mirror

(A funny thing that happened before the actual feature presentation was the US Air Forces advertisement. Besides the fact that a military camp shows up in the movie, it makes you feel the lack of the slogan “don’t ask, don’t tell”.)

Once you get over the first reactions of disgust during the first minutes of this movie (see the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes here and a trailer above), the rest of the exaggerated stuff becomes bearable. Kind of like an immunization that makes you dig further and get the message. Because there are some reasons why at least some of the film’s skits were put in place.

A character from the Austrian TV fashion world, looking significantly different from Borat, is revealed to us after the first moments when we get to hear a Scooter song. He has a “suicidal” take on the fashion (I won’t reveal what caused what), and he is subsequently fired. While Borat was driven by the wish to “make sexy time” with Pamela Anderson, this time we have a very non-standard Austrian gay guy driven by the need to get famous.

His trajectory may seem a bit haphazard and the plot may seem minimal, and I’m not going to deny it too much. But I want to make a point here that there actually is a certain structure/plot, albeit different from the Hollywood typical recipe.

The careful watcher can identify a number of cultural themes that Sacha Baron Cohen is making fun of. Actually I think that the main purpose of the whole thing is to make people acknowledge them. The main pupose of this post is to discuss these succinctly.

So, beyond the satire aimed at the fashion world, we get to laugh at:

– the desperate will of Hollywood parents for their children’s accomplishment in the world of movies. The list of conditions made by the TV host -to-be Bruno to the parents of the would-be stars is at least breathtaking.

– the shallowness of the humanitarian approaches of the stars: they only want to embrace fashionable causes, so that people will worship them more and more;

– the inferior status of the Latinos, which were told to pose as chairs and tables when Paula Abdul came in the house having no furniture;

– the political correctness tendency related to African Americans shown during the show at which Bruno was invited as a single parent. Frankly, even I have difficulties in finding a term for European Americans, or for African Africans;

– the very little margin for alterity people allow: the hotel personnel was completely shut off mentally at the sight of two men entangled in bed with erotic paraphernalia. Another memorable scene was the one with the psychic.

– the selectivity of fame’s gatekeepers: they only promote straight people, so the gay Bruno decides he wants to become straight. A pretext for lots of other commentaries.

– the empty pretenses of certain Christian pastors aimed at converting “sinners”, they only want conversions to their religion, showing a clear lack of understanding toward the personality and needs of other people. There was a much milder joke than I feared with the first preacher about proselytizing, but this one was not well received by the people in my little Southern town (although they laughed quite loud at other jokes);

– the attitude toward women within the church, explained by use of the second preacher’s words, who was explaining Bruno that although women are boring and meaningless, they would be better for him;

– But all these pale in comparison with the great finale when Bruno finally landed a wrestling gala’s moderator job as “Straight Dave”. Let me get this straight (pun partially intended): wrestling is a male preferred fun thing to watch, which is very close to NASCAR, and additionally the wrestlers actually move and fight in a fashion that is considered by many (but not by its fans) as “gay”. Well, the crowd was cheering in the beginning, but when the fight turned into a gay body contact, although it still seemed similar, people became disgusted and angry. Oh, the Celine Dion track from “Titanic” fits magnificently in this scene.

I believe the bottom line is he started from the straight scene and he replaced it with gay behaviors, heavily exaggerated. in this fashion he managed to make a distorting mirror like the one Hans Christian Andersen created in his “Snow Queen” tale. Only this mirror of Bruno allows us to see right, while Andersen’s mirror makes people see nice things as being ugly.

Who knows, maybe Bruno can be credited with handing us the mirror of truth. Thumbs up from me for this demential comedy.

May 6, 2009

Close-Up on Joan of Arc: from Jacques Rivette’s “Jeanne de Pucelle” to Carl Dreyer’s “La passion de Jeanne d’Arc”

I am still under the effect of a rather random arrow of time when it comes to watching films. Mainly, this means that, since I am making up on new releases over time (when they are no longer new releases), I am at the mercy of certain momentous interests and fortuitous coincidences as to the time the films I am watching in a particular period were made. Well, sometimes it works for me, and other times not.

I remember many years ago, when I finally got to see the entire “Nixon” directed by Oliver Stone. There’s nothing particularly bad about this film, except that it’s almost a dry historical account of the most important events of his political career, obviously culminating with the famous Watergate scandal. In retrospect, it has a lot of good background information, and very little, if any, fictional element. But this richness in details makes this film good scaffolding if one wants to watch the amazing “Secret Honor” directed by Robert Altman. There is one heck of a close-up on a political character which will be difficult to be ever surpassed.

The two parts Jacques Rivette film “Joan the Maid” / “Jeanne la Pucelle” have this historical quality. We see the re-creation of the fifteenth century of a France at its lowest point during the 100 hundred year war. There’s little humor involved, the director limits himself to watch Joan (Sandrine Bonnaire) going through her adventure of freeing Orleans from the British troops and coronation of her king, then through her prison ordeals culminating with her being executing by burning on a stake for heresy. This is not quite a “period drama”, though. At least, if we are to compare this film to the late Eric Rohmer’s “Astrea and Celadon” , with which it has some similarities in style, we are focusing more on the legend, and in this case the legend is the character Joan, including her frequent contacts with the saints who inspire her in her deeds.

We do not see epic battles. Instead, we get to see a few people fighting here and there, winning some and losing some. Needless to say we don’t get to see any special effects. Everything is so concrete that you begin to wonder where God and the other saints in all that soup are. So yeah, we are mainly seeing the humans. Normal people, including the Dauphin and the haunted Joan, evolve or devolve throughout the film.

We get to see a less known side of Paris (the non French one, back then it belonged to Burgundy, a British ally) and the king’s humiliation, when he admits to have made a pact with Bourgogne. We also get to visit a castle where Joan is detained for a while and we even get a glimpse of the motivation that drives the castle’s seigneur to deliver her to England. Further, we get to witness the trial proceedings, which to me look like a rigged trial against a political dissident carried out in a communist country. We finally see what makes her abjure and then recant her abjuration, which leads her straight to the burning stake, with barely a communion granted at the last minute. Joan is sent to Heaven while the Holy Cross is shown to her from the sides.

Yes, lots of good material here. Well, the natural question comes then: where’s the close-up? The answer regarding the close-up to a film made in the mid 90’s is in a film made in the late 20’s. Or it can be one of the answers, if you like this better. At least, this was what I saw in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Passion of Joan of Arc” .

Passion, that is, like the narratives of the lives of saints, containing the accounts of the ordeals they have gone through. It is worth mentioning that Joan of Arc, despite being excommunicated for heresy, was eventually beatified in the twentieth century, not long before this film was made. Starting from the records made by hand in the fifteenth century, Dreyer’s film focuses on her trial in Rouen, which is condensed to one day.

If one wonders what the charm of the old and perhaps silent films is, watching “The passion of Joan of Arc” can release much of the mystery, for it is a beautiful example of how emotion was expressed in film in a time when the talkie was nonexistent yet (there are a few late recreations of this fashion for communicating expressions, two titles come to mind: Mel Brooks’ “Silent movie” and Aki Kaurismaki’s “Juha” , both are “technically” silent films). We are given the chance to observe first-hand the emotional expressions of Joan, here played by Marie/Renee Falconetti. No, this time we do not have a pretty girl to watch. Instead, Joan’s face is everyone’s face, when dealing with accusations, schemes and betrayals, verbal abuses and she has little in control over what will happen to her. This is when we see her dressed like a man, with a male haircut, wide wondering eyes, freckles, tears and so on. She knows what she had seen, and remains undeterred by suggestions that she has in fact communicated with Satan. Even at the sight of the instruments of torture, she cannot understand why the heretic is her, and her torturers are in fact people of God. The only shed of light comes from the prison’s window, cross-shaped, which leaves on the floor a distinct shadow of the cross (yes, we can definitely recognize here what Lars von Trier had done with it in his “Epidemic”). But this cross is fading whenever the judges are stepping on it.

The illiterate girl falls into the trap of believing one priest as being the messenger of her king, but on the other hand she does not fall into other theological traps (“are you in a state of grace?”). But instead, she irritates her judges by telling that regardless of God liking or not the English, their fate is to leave France, except the ones who will die. Another sensitive aspect is her male outfit. She is even made to choose between remaining in this outfit (which by now we identify with her personal integrity and pride) and participating to the Catholic mass. A trick into a trick built into another trick.

Long story short, she can’t win. This actually means the fight is too uneven and the outcome has already been decided for her: the English want to make from her an example, so that the French will fear fighting against the English, due to the punishment associated with this. What she can do is choose between her death and her soul’s death. In other words, she can either sign a statement in which she abjures her stated heresies, or she will be excommunicated and executed. She takes the advice of some people in her court and she signs, but also marks a cross on the document, this meaning “I actually didn’t mean that”. Well, formally she has complied with the request, and instead of death, she gets the smaller sentence: life imprisonment and humiliation.

In Rivette’s version, her changing of mind is caused by the harsh treatments in prison, the French filmmaker is even staging a rape attempt. Here, Dreyer hints to an access of remorse when she gets the prisoners’ haircut: she is also stripped of her dignity. Realizing what she has done, she “abjures the previous abjuration” and ends up on the stake which was prepared for her long before that.

In the execution scene, carried out in Rouen, we get to know another character; the crowd. They are definitely aware of Joan’s ordeals, but they simply do not have the power to stop it. They are witnessing her death (beautifully shot), and realize she remained one of them, and the judged killed a saint. A public revolt ensues, but once again the city is ready for this, so the soldiers reply wielding chain maces against them and eventually kick them outside of the city walls.
This is where Joan’s legend will live on, and from where it will return with a vengeance. Now, Joan’s spirit is inseparable from the French popular spirit, and this is what (as we are suggested in the film) will ultimately change the war’s outcome.

This was my second incursion into Dreyer’s films, after viewing Ordet, and from this perspective I am not very competent to lead to the fine details. All can I see is that his films are growing into you, and will leave an indelible mark. Yes, Dreyer’s spirit is living into us, even without us knowing anything about it. This encounter is so rewarding…

April 28, 2009

Nagisa Oshima’s “Realm of the Senses”: An Engrossing, But Also a Grossing-Out Film

This is a piece of cinema that I long suspected it was censored in the US. “I Am Curious” comes to mind, but also the fact that it’s next to impossible to find a copy of another “art-house porn”, Lars von Trier’s “Idioterne”. Well, lately the less-important Caligula was released on DVD, as well as Pierpaolo Pasolini’s “Salo”, re-released by the Criterion Collection. Still, I managed to get a copy of “Realm of the Senses” from Amazon UK. Well, little did I know at that time that the Criterion Collection was planning to launch its own US version.

If the question is “was it worth it?”, the answer might depend. It was worth for me to see it. On the other hand, although the price is not terribly high, I can see why this film can constitute a big no-no to a lot of people. Even judging by the above list of “questionable” films, one can foresee what its problem is. Yes, it has sex galore. And, most importantly, not that kind you see in porn productions. Hence we can gradually reach the conclusion that it’s actually a film on its own, the fact that a lot of sex happens in it does not make it at all a member of the porn genre.

What do I mean by this? Merely the fact that the main point of the film is not to titillate the viewer, although, with such a subject, such side effect (as well as the opposite effect, when it comes to certain sex acts) is inevitable. The film has a coherent plot with all necessary parts, which seems to have a (relative) psychological sense, not because such “sexual infatuation stories” happen often, but because this one seems to be based on a well-documented real fact. It happened, but this does not mean we’re watching a documentary. Perhaps the event was famous in its time just because of its nature.
Well, I want this review to remain online, so I’m not trying to scare people here, or to use incensed wording. (and maybe I am still learning the skill of expressing difficult words in fashions that are “easy to swallow”). I remember that even filmmakers have such difficulties sometimes (in the same vein, there is a particularly sensitive scene in Almodovar’s “Talk to Her”, I won’t name it, for which the director has taken additional precautionary measures).

We are dealing with a prostitute, which we get to know that she is actually the wife of a teacher, who got into debt and then sent his wife to work in a brothel, to recoup the debt amount. This woman seems to have a specific tactile sensitivity, I am even amazed at how many times can she have a climax each day. We are also dealing with the brothel’s owner, who became attracted by her and thus begin an illicit sexual affair with her. I am saying illicit, because, although we are in a brothel, but because he has a devoted wife. These two start by meeting secretly, by hiding themselves from the wife, but eventually nothing else really matters, they keep doing it without control. It’s the image of this obsession spiraling out of control that I believe has a lot of power, and which warrants the fact that you’re witnessing a plausible psycho-erotic event. You can call it erotic folie a deux or otherwise.
The first things we do not quite like to watch are some variations on their sex making (some even including other, not so gracious, people), most of them seeming to come from the woman’s attachment to the man. She also has a strange obsession with knives; she is having jealousy accesses when she threatens him with it and so on. Great, so we have the gunpowder keg, we even have the fuse, all we need is a lighter.

It comes, via a visit the woman makes to her husband. Filled with guilt for the pleasures she is living with her current partner, she feels like dying, so she asks the husband to strangle her. Well, not to death, and the effect of this experience is that the temporary lack of oxygen is emphasizing her orgasmic feel. It something similar to what has been mentioned in the first season of the TV show “Murder One” (I even wonder whether the script writers have found inspiration for that from this Oshima film). Long story short, when she returns, she shares her discovery with her boss, and he enjoys it.
Actually this is when everything gets a dark turn, because the guy stops being able to enjoy the normal intercourse, and he keeps asking her to strangle him. And she keeps doing it. The guy becomes less and less interested in anything except his strange state of suffocation during sex. Actually, his potency suffers.
The final act is now easy to understand. She promises that she will proceed with her strangling even beyond the “safe zone” (now that’s beyond anything that I am comfortable with), and surely she does.

This act was so obvious to me that it will happen, that, also due to some schedule while watching it, I left out the last five minutes of it. Frankly, I wasn’t feeling very comfortable with going back to watch it, anyway. But I’ll do it sometime…

All in all, I hope I was helpful to some people regarding the decision whether to invest in the Criterion version of this film. Actually, some people might even prefer the Blu-Ray clarity (I’m outta here, folks!). But I still claim that this is a good, albeit not very important (except for the moral debate it caused), film, and the cinephiles should watch it. Minors, not so much. Nor is it recommended for the people preferring family movies. I can even see the porn genre fans being somehow disappointed by this. But am not sure.


April 25, 2009

The Misfits Love Stories in Film (p1): Fatih Akin’s “Gegen Die Wand” / “Head-On”

This film is not only for the Depeche Mode fans. Nor is it only for punk rock fans, although Cahit, the main male character, is a big fan. I couldn’t exactly tell if this film has a specific target, although it comes from a very specific intercultural “metissage”. Namely, the director Fatih Akin is a member of the Turkish German minority he is trying to describe in this film (it’s an interesting phenomenon, there are millions of them, brought in as guest workers after WWII, and lately they are affecting even the mainstream German culture). We are introduced into the interference fringes between the traditional Turkish civilization and the offers and temptations of the host culture, the German one, a classic example of Western civilization. Maybe the best way to put this is in such a film, when something goes on, and from time to time, when the film becomes too tense, we chill out watching traditional Turkish singers on a boat on the Bosphorus strait.
Feelings and emotions of people will be charged with this ambiguous cultural load. As an example, Cahit, still grieving the loss of his wife, runs head-on with his car into a building. Saved from death, at the clinic he meets Sibel, who wants to launch herself head-on in the Western world. Her way of trying to convince her parents to let her do what she wants is to cut her wrists from time to time. Because it’s not working too well, she offers a deal to Cahit: to marry together. She’ll cook and clean for him and still will have her life of her own.
Then we’re stepping into the realm of things that are never what they look like. Cahit is not the prosperous businessman he pretends to be, the marriage isn’t what it is supposed to be, and we realize that in a painful shot of Sibel still wearing her wedding gown in the bar being picked up by a guy and leaving with him to his apartment. The only real thing is the ethnic food made by Sibel (and it really looks tasty, only if it wouldn’t go down the drain), very little else to keep these people hooked in the not so tight net of reality.
But it grows. So we understand how, in spite of both spouses’ trysts with other people (Cahit also has a hairstylist girlfriend), they are getting closer. To the extent of a tragic event. In the eve of the marriage being actually consummated (at least), they get to a bar where a guy, knowing Sibel’s ways, wants to pick her up; Cahit defends her and hits him with a heavy object, causing his death.
Now everything becomes real, but grim and extremely personal. Cahit will spend the next years in prison for murder. Sibel, in love, promises to wait for him. And in the meantime she goes to explore her Turkish heritage. Now the past gets back to her, and she falls rather deep. In a way, she is trying to level with Cahit, but it might also be more complex than that.
Not only on the societal level, but also in reality, they do meet. Some years later. Well, let’s just say that what was deemed to happen happens, but let’s also remember that we are in a film which doesn’t cater to Hollywood happy-end addicts. Each will have their own ways, and what they tried to escape, the Turkish culture, will actually become their environment of choice.
One can even wonder; is this some sort of protective cloth, as to not be tempted to make such sudden leaps into the unknown? Are these people “immunized” by now? Or are they just trying to avoid being hurt, after “coming of age”?
I definitely don’t have a definitive answer, but listen to the Oriental music, it’s beautiful. Perhaps that music tries to tell us something.
And maybe you will fall in love with this music and look for Fatih Akin’s great documentary about the Istanbul music, made right after this film.

March 20, 2009

Denys Arcand’s “Jesus of Montreal” clues us into what a contemporary Savior would look like

So far, cinema has acquired quite a few films treating the subject of Jesus Christ in a rich, creative manner. Let me put it straight, I am not referring to faithful (pun not intended) adaptations of the Gospels, but rather author films, or at least have a coherent source of inspiration other than the Gospels themselves. Also, I am ruling out films referring only in passing to miracles or other aspects which are present in the life of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. As a consequence, I won’t talk about Tarkovski’s “Sacrifice” or Carl Th. Dreyer’s films. Finally, when the Biblical reference is just brief, even if it’s a masterful depiction of the Last Supper (as in Bunuel’s Viridiana or in Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H. – the original film, not the TV show), I will skip these as well.

We are left, more or less, with the following list:

– Pierpaolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”, which is apparently breaking the first rule, being a good adaptation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Except that, when you take a closer look, this black-and-white film is more than that (if you watched a color version, it was an abridged version which was colored manually, so there’s nothing in it bearing some of the author’s intent). It could be a story of our time (or that time, early 60s) in Italy, or it could be a story of any time. You could actually watch those simple people and see nothing is idealized; they are under the material and social constraints of their time as much as we are under ours. This approach is unusual for a film depicting the life of Christ. Just because of this, it can be considered an oddity among others, although, as we will see, every film on this list has its share of very individual characteristics.

– Norman Jewison’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a film based on an opera rock. As such, it has some good music on it. Well, even Ian Gillan is there. This film approaches the last weeks in Jesus’ life from Judas’ standpoint, which seems actually intelligible, but of course so wrong (from the eternity point of view, as opposed to the perspective of his times). I have to admit that not everything is golden here, in this film. Aside from music, I especially noticed Jesus’ reaction when, on Palm Sunday, people switched from singing “J.C., J.C., would you pray for me?” to “J.C., J.C., would you die for me?”, and the appearance of modern paraphernalia in the life two thousand times before us, e.g. the machine guns in the temple.

– Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” is perhaps the most faithful to the spirit of the Bible, although from an Eastern Orthodox stand. This film is based on a novel written by the Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, also known for his book “Alexis Zorbas” which became “Zorba the Greek”, a famous film with Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates. Throughout the film we are exploring the human nature of Jesus, who is facing the temptations in the desert and he is resisting them, but is still weak, and resists a final temptation, while on the cross. Namely, he decides he cannot go on anymore and God allegedly sends an angel to free him from the cross and take him somewhere safe. He then marries Mary Magdalene (and YES, he makes love to her, this is maybe why the fundamentalist Christians fought against them being presented at movie theaters in many places in the US) and has children. Only later, something doesn’t seem right, and realizes that the angel is not really an angel, but its opposite. He then is old, but sees his mistake and repents. The final scene is back on the cross, as if all this was a temporal parenthesis which has just been closed and Christ dies, murmuring the redeeming words “It has been accomplished!” As a side note, the acting is uneven, Willem Dafoe is not so great as Jesus Christ; instead, David Bowie is marvelous as Pontius Pilate.

– Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” is a trademark Monty Python production, meaning it’s filled with this acting group’s jokes, centering a fictitious Brian, who happened to have been born in the same night and a few houses away from the place where Jesus Christ was born. This life in the shadow of the chosen one will mark Brian’s life, until a few random events make the Jews believe that he is the One and follow him in his absurd quest to free Judea from the Romans. The story focuses on the last part of this inadvertent “Messiah” and despite having lots of casual jokes; it has a few good, thought-provoking points. Again, this is not a film that is recommended for people who are rigid in their Christian faith, but rather for those able to think by themselves and discern what’s perennial from what’s only incidental in the Great Story.

But my main goal tonight is to discuss “Jesus of Montreal”, the film I have recently watched, the one showing up in the title. Right now I believe it is better than “Last Temptation”, it is deeper and is better placed to our time than other such productions. It is both a discussion about the essence of faith in God as God (and not as a mere convention) and about the art as Art, and not cheap commercialism, in this case movies a la Hollywood or TV ads.

The story begins with Daniel, a former valedictorian in his Dramatic Arts School, who preferred to travel around the world and appear in random underground theater plays. He is asked to resuscitate a Passion Play script about Jesus Christ, which is to be enacted around Easter in a Catholic church in Montreal. Well, those in the know about what Montreal can do to religiousness can already guess that this will be a highly unconventional performance. It is, mainly because the script was based on the latest updates on the archeological discoveries in the Middle East. But not only that: Daniel sets off his troupe by looking for good actors who happen to do other things in other to make ends meet. One is a porn movie audio dubber; another actress is making TV commercials relying on her physical beauty, although she wants to really act. This is obviously a parallel to the gathering of the Apostles, but also to the theme of Mary Magdalene the prostitute. After all, they are all (except Daniel) prostitutes by not being faithful to their profession, but instead making such compromises.

The most haunting series of scenes is with Daniel taking the Christ-of Theater role while attending a TV ad casting where his Magdalene has to undress in order to get the OK for having the right physical assets to show up in the ad (an awful Grease-like dancing number). He destroys everything in there, as Jesus caused some mess in the temple for the money changers. Later, he is summoned to trial, he pleads guilty and refuses to be represented by a lawyer. The judge sees here a reason for him to be examined by a forensic psychologist. What ensues from this Pontius Pilate-like encounter? A statement according to which he is better anchored in reality than most judges.

The play is successful. The public likes it (although some of them cling on “Jesus” as if he were the real Jesus; it’s fun to see a mix of actor, audience and police guards there), but obviously the priest and his higher-ups has a big problem with it. Actually, he doesn’t have a problem with his own life, in which he has a relationship with a woman, he even doesn’t have a problem with the plastic saint figurines he sells to people who can’t afford, as he puts it, psychotherapy, and goes to hear the priest absolving him/her of their sins for much cheaper. He might have a problem with quitting the religious order for living with the woman, because this would leave him completely broke. Actually, the funniest scene occurs when the priest tells the actors that they should change the way they are interpreting the play, and they mock him by giving him a sample of the “repertoires” they could use in acting. Affected style, NY-style, slang-style (with flamboyant Canadian cusswords), kabuki-style. Awesome.

Long story short, a final show is put on “stage” by the actors. The police arrives before the end and tries to stop the play, but some people from the audience are intervening and a fight ensues. During the scuffle, Daniel, who is on the cross playing the crucifixion scene, suffers a head concussion and is taken to ER. He recovers for a while, his female colleagues take him to the subway station where he plays his last act, and falls unconscious.
The irony continues, he is now taken to a Jewish hospital, where he actually dies. But Jesus continues his miracles, he gives life to a practically dead man via a heart transplant and eyesight to a woman via a eye transplant.

Still, the temptations are not over, after his death a consultant is advising the rest of the actors to found a theater company bearing Daniel’s name, and its goal would be to stay away from commercialism and stick with real theater play. We can only guess the actual confrontations with the reality, knowing that they have made compromises before. Will this proto-Christian model live on in the world of theater?

We don’t know, obviously, the answer to this last question. We still know that a man died for his ideals, and that his friends value his sacrifice and want to keep his effort’s memory alive in their lives. This is basically at the root of any imaginable Christian movement, and shows that the engine that gave the humanity Jesus Christ almost 2000 years ago is not necessarily dead.

And, most importantly, this film gives us an image of the scenario of “What if God was one of us”, as Joan Osborne is saying here, lyrics here. It’s no little thing.

Thank you, Denys Arcand, the God-fearing cinephiles salute you!

March 3, 2009

The Story of Marie and Julien – A Rivette-ing Romance Beyond Life and Death

If we are to make an inventory of the ghost-like characters in European films, what do we have? The first ones coming to mind are the angels in Wim Wender’s “Himmel uber Berlin”, remade with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan as “City of Angels”, the silent man in Kieslowski’s “Decalogue” and maybe the basketball playing dead friend of Lilja in Lukas Moodyson’s “Lilja 4Ever”. Nothing really helpful in making us understand what happens in a slowly-paced film like almost all Jacques Rivette’s.

So, what is going on here? The film is structured as a shift from Julien toward Marie. The first part, titled “Julien”, starts with their conversation during a dream. Surprise, they actually meet in person shortly after that. And while more than a year ago, the last time when they met, everyone was having another partner, this time it seems they both have the slot available for the other. It’s just that Marie appears to play a little “hard to get”. But Julien is patient: after all, his profession is vintage clock repairing, and this involves a lot of tedious and boring work. An advantage of his line of work might be that he is a perfectionist, and he also senses when something is out of tune.

That way, he soon senses that there’s something weird about Marie. On the screen, we can definitely see something that can be labeled as mental instability, but it could be more. So much more that it is too complicated for Julien to solve.

The gimmick used by the director to nudge Julien toward the solution is the blackmail plot. He had found some compromising materials about a woman, owner of a doll manufacturing business, and agrees to return them for a hefty sum. Since there are three such materials, there will be three transactions. The first one is undertaken by Julien, the next one by Marie. And something happens.

Marie sees someone that shouldn’t exist. It’s the deceased sister of the blackmailed woman. She even sends a letter which somehow arrives to Marie, and the two women communicate. That way, we understand that these two are alike, and this means for us that even Marie is dead. We can even track down the reason why she returned in life after staying in the limbo for a while. The other woman had some unsettled “affairs” with her sister, and apparently Marie was still unfulfilled by her life, and especially her love life, that she responded the dream call from Julien. And now, the impossible is happening: although her deadline is near, she doesn’t want to leave this realm again. The question remains: but what if she doesn’t heed the calls from above? What will happen? Nobody really knows the rules…

I am throwing a bone or two here. In order to better understand this “ghost” story, we must relate it to other important ghost stories. Here are two.

– Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” is a film comprised of a series of ghost stories adapted from a book written by a Westerner, which westerner collected them in Japan. And the first one seems to have part of the key. In this story, a samurai hit by some sort of financial crisis leaves the city to work for a wealthy important figure. Although he loves his beautiful, loving and hard-working wife, he decides he will have higher chances to succeed if he were to marry another woman from his future master’s entourage, in the hopes that he will eventually able to restore his wealth and return to reinstate his old wife. Well, long story short, things don’t go as planned, so he starts thinking more and more about the loving wife he left behind. When he no longer stands his current nagging wife, he leaves his status and returns. He arrives at dusk at his old wife’s house, and during that evening they share memories and plan to restart their life together, full of hope. The samurai’s surprise is immense in the morning when he wakes up, because all he can see is a run-down building, with nothing usable, and after he gets out someone tells him that his wife had actually died some time ago.

Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Ugetsu Monogatari
– This is a story of wartime, when a potter is decided to make it big by selling pots in the market to the soldiers. He earns big, but he also loses big, and he was that close to losing everything. His first encounter with a ghost happens in the market, when a local princess approaches him and asks him to bring her some of the pots she had just handpicked. Upon arrival, he is invited to stay the night, and it turns out that the virgin princess needs a husband. What’s a man to do than accept, in these conditions? Yes, but when he is running some errands in the market, everyone runs from him when they hear where he is staying. Lastly, a priest tells him that his new wife is a ghost and this relationship is forbidden, so he must act toward his deliverance from it. Back “home”, he learns that the princess was actually killed in a family feud and she returned to earth to find true love which she missed in her life, but she had now found in his person. Nevertheless, he leaves (let’s skip his departure’s details).
– In the meantime, his wife is killed by some hungry rogue soldiers wanting her food. When he returns home, upon entering the door he sees the devastated house with nobody inside. He gets out through the back door, returns to the front door and reenters. So (this is a masterfully handled scene) he meets inside his wife who was already worried for him, and his child was sleeping next to her. These facts will be negated early in the morning, when the neighbors arrive and tell him his wife was dead, and obviously she had already vanished.

Now it’s time to go back to the story of Marie and Julien and see what we have. We have indeed a story of love and a story of madness which has pushed Marie to suicide before. She doesn’t want to leave, but somehow she agrees that she doesn’t have any choice. She even shows Julien that she is left unharmed by the sharp knife, the blood doesn’t spill. She warns him that after her departure he will completely forget her. She even leaves shortly after the knife scene, when only Julien bleeds.
It’s actually quite an amazing scene; we are seeing it from both worlds. We see Julien seconds after Marie has vanished; acting as if he had really forgotten Marie, during the phone conversation he clearly exhibits this. We also have the view from Marie’s “window”, looking at Julien and his dog, she is also looking at her dry wound, and suddenly, the blood starts dripping.
Yes, somehow she’s back here, she needs emergency care, and let’s forget about technical ramifications as canceling her death certificate and so on. We are talking here about saving a soul or two, about saving a life, or about a life returning.

Indeed, seeing this film is not about “watching paint dry”, as a Gene Hackman character once said about Eric Rohmer’s film (incidentally, this film was produced by Rohmer’s “Les film du Losange”). Actually it’s about watching red paint dripping again. And it’s magic. Luminous, and having a clockwork precision. Jacques Rivette is a painter (as in La belle Noiseuse), a filmmaker (as in Julie and Celine Go Boating), a theatrical script writer and director (as in Va savoir), but also a clock master, as in Story of Marie and Julien. Gone are the minutes like “Gone in 60 seconds”, such films that take maybe 2 ½ or 3 hours have something to tell.

But if you’re in a hurry, it’s very likely that you’re going to miss it…

March 1, 2009

Marco Ferreri’s “La grande bouffe”, not for the faint of heart, or *art

Imagine a certain group of influential people who have reached their expiration date on this earth. A good example that can be
found today is the investment bankers’. Except that they’re not the first, and certainly not the last. A somewhat practical question is: how to describe their disappearance? Since we are not talking about, say, dinosaurs, lost hundreds of millions of
years ago, but about humans, it has to be done by resorting to human traits. And since for the human watcher, the following
assertion applies: “I am human, therefore nothing human is foreign to me”, as Terence once said, it must have a special effect
to stick to certain traits that are human, but exacerbated. Abominable, disgusting traits or drives will work, too.

Nowadays, people have a high disrespect of the financial establishment, whose greed is already proverbial, and this world is
crumbling under its effect of its own greed. So it would make sense that, if one wants to make a film about such guys, describing them die while incessantly eating would not be too far off.

There is a problem, though, with this approach. It’s not that it’s not realistic, in the artistic sense. It’s that the idea was
used decades ago, for the purpose of describing the end of bourgeoisie, as we know it. (La grande bouffe) is maybe the pinnacle of this approach. Let’s review: four successful people (all males), for reasons that are not fully explained (but we are allowed glimpses into it), decide to retreat in one week-end to a manor and, taking advantage of the great chef skills of one of them, to eat first class food until they literally die. We get to see awesome gourmet dishes going down their throats. Whose theirs? Well, the characters have the actors’ last names: Ugo (Tognazzi) the chef, Michel (Piccoli) the entertainment business tycoon, Marcello (Mastroianni) the airline pilot who can’t spend any single night without getting laid, and Philippe (Noiret), the sexually-repressed judge. As we can see, opposites come together here as parts of the same socio-economic niche.

We are introduced into their preparations for the final rides of the four protagonists (or knights of Apocalypse?) and arrival
to the manor, where we witness an unforgettable adaptation of Othello’s monologue “To be or not to be, that is the question”,
in the manor’s yard, with a cow’s head in the hand. One has to suspect that Jeunet’s (mostly known for “Amelie”) “Delicatessen” take on post-apocalyptic gourmet food, is in fact a pastiche (a pretty good one, I must say) of Marco Ferreri’s film.

The first night of feast passes as planned, with only pictures of naked women on the screen. But the next morning Marcello
threatens to leave unless he can get his hands on some girls. So he snags a few “lost souls”, but there’s also a “real woman”,
a grade school teacher, attracted by the men’s clout and the good food, who will come to spend the night with them. This woman is actually a character which can also be found in “end of times” films like Jiri Menzel’s “The End of the old Times”
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097681/) or Eldar Ryazanov’s Cruel Romance / The Girl Without Dowry (see a lyrical excerpt here ), a woman-accessory, without actually being considered fully as an equal. Although the scenes in which she is involved are extremely funny. First, she wants to tie the missing buttons of Philippe’s pants, and then she moves on to… you know what. Philippe’s reaction is maybe the most hilarious scene in the entire film: he asks her to marry him. He even sticks to his decision even after she gives herself (not because she is being “frivolous”, but out of the *goodness of her heart*) to the other suffering guys there.

We get to witness several side effects of over-eating, effects which should be reviewed by some corporate decision-makers in
financial institutions thriving on pushing credit. First, it’s the “*art” from this review’s title, which is actually a sign of relief from the stomach pain. Also, Marcello gets to know another painful effect on what he hurts most: severe difficulty in
maintaining erection and reaching orgasm. This, more so than overeating, is pushing him to death. Last, but not least, is the
logical problem of residue: if you’re eating too much, there’s the obvious problem of feces, which nastily overflow and give
everything a brownish flavor. Over-producing consumer crap issue, anyone?

Words to the wise: I consider this as mature artistic vision, and the author is not to blame for the vision his artistic eyes
are set on more than Zapruder getting on celluloid the murder of a president. And, if we do not reduce Marco Ferreri’s film to
a Nostradamus-like prediction of the end of the financial burgeoisie, we can appreciate it for what it is, in its wider scope.
It is, to a certain extent, parallel to another masterpiece of the cinema which can sometimes be perceived as abominable, just
because it speaks clearly about some human traits that are less praiseworthy, and some viewers lack the inner hinges to fully
grasp it. I am talking about Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salo”, in which Italian fascists do unspeakable things to a group of
youths, in a visionary warning about a consumerist society which has no saints, no morals, and will likely end up by reducing
itself to nought. Unfortunately, in this case of Salo, the director fell first prey to his vision. He was assassinated close to
the beach where Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 was shot, and later his film was banned for so many years.

Coming back to “La grande bouffe”, everything goes as planned. The whores, not getting the point, leave after overeating a few times (they also exhibit a few side effects of eating too much), and the teacher assists them while they make steps toward their passing, A specific scene, when she gives pleasure to a dying Ugo who doesn’t stop eating, is reminiscent of a scene in Roman Polanski’s “What?“.

But it is the magnificent ending which is leading us back to the philosophical question “To Be or Not To Be”. Since the dead bodies have taken the place of the meat in the fridge, the next batch of fresh meat which is delivered cannot fit in, hence it is left in the yard, next to the dogs and other animals. A carcass is even put on a smaller tree. Leaving us to wonder which is the next carnivorous species who will replace this breed that has just disappeared. Like the sheep in Luis Bunuel’s “The Exterminating Angel” ( recently released in the US in the Criterion Edition) replacing humans in another bourgeoisie-bashing film made by a director happy to hit on bourgeois morals.

Needless to say that this is not a film to recommend watching with minors or people with rigid morals around. Judging by my
experience, I would not even recommend a masterpiece like Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” to be watched in such conservative environments. But the deep meaning of the film is, ironically, very understandable even by the adopters of “doom and gloom” attitude. So, it’s more about being flexible enough to discuss it, even view it as a scenario coming time and again in the cyclical historical time, make steps to come to terms with it, and move on.

September 8, 2008

Fatih Akin – Auf den anderen Seite (US: The Edge of Heaven)

Filed under: cinema — Tags: , , , , , , , — floreign @ 9:28 pm

Recent intrasem intr-o discutie despre un alt film al lui Fatih Akin, Gegen die Wand / Head-On. Cum imi placuse destul de mult filmul, abia asteptam sa merg la cinematograf sa-l vad si eu pe urmatorul, Auf den Anderen Seite.
Ei bine, ieri am reusit sa-l bifez. Ca, de, desi teoretic as putea sa ma dau pe torente, practic nu am tupeul. Asa ca ma multumesc cu mers la mozi, inchiriat Netflix sau cumparat filmele.

De data asta am dat de un film mai putin turbat, si mai mult asezat. La fel ca in precedentul film, actiunea se leaga de Germania (Bremen si Hamburg), insa finalul tot in Turcia are loc. Avem asadar tema reintoarcerii acasa a turco-germanilor. Mai mult, acum avem implicati chiar si germani. Mama lui Lotte are revelatia pildei lui Ibrahim, aproape identica cu cea a lui Avraam/Abraham, realizand ca diferentele sunt mai mici decat credea ea.
Pana la un moment dat, filmul are un fir epic dublu. Intai ne este prezentata povestea profesorului universitar de germanistica, german de a doua generatie. Tatal acestuia se ataseaza la batranete de o prostituata tot originara din Turcia, propunandu-i o relatie stimulata banesc. Batranul nostru este extrem de gelos si o cam ia pe “raki” (presupun ca e un fel de rachiu, desi de multe ori “moravurile” turcilor in tarile vestice vs purismul – fara alcool si porc – din tara de origine m-au cam deconcertat in timpul vizionarii). Femeia este sincera cu profesorul, ii spune ca are o fiica de 27 ani, si ea stie ca lucreaza la o fabrica de incaltaminte. Ii mai spune ca ea de fapt “iese la produs” mai mult ca sa-i poata asigura scoala fiicei sale, si, astfel, un viitor.
Lucrurile se termina prost, intrucat, la un moment dat, batranul, beat, o imbranceste pe femeie, iar aceasta cade, lovindu-se la cap de un colt de metal si moare. Prima moarte, abia plauzibila. Il vedem pe barbatul batran intrand in inchisoare (iar mai tarziu intrand in Turcia, expulzat fiind din Germania). Fiul sau se muta in Istanbul, unde spera sa gaseasca fiica femeii decedate careia vrea sa-i sponsorizeze studiile. Cumpara o librarie turco-germana si incepe o noua viata acolo. Contactand rudele acesteia, obtine o fotografie a femeii, careia ii face copii pe afise, afise pe care le posteaza prin oras. Nu o gaseste, iar atunci cand merge la autoritati sa ceara informatii, functionarul da de ea in baza de date, si il trimite la superior, care-i sugereaza sa gaseasca pe altcineva caruia sa-i sponsorizeze studiile, se pare din motive politice.

Al doilea fir epic incepe in Turcia, unde o vedem pe fiica femeii decedate, Yetel, incercand sa scape dupa participarea la o manifestare publica de protest (nu mai tin minte ce se intampla in Turcia, atata ca se leaga de numele lui Ocalan, si ca celelalte fete sunt capturate de politie, iar trecatorii aplauda si felicita politia pentru captura). Scapa, insa din neatentie pierde telefonul mobil, si astfel da de gol pe celelalte participante, care sunt prinse. Ajunge pe un acoperis de cladire, unde ascunde pistolul. Isi procura acte false cu care zboara in Germania. Acolo nu are bani, si nu risca sa se prezinte autoritatilor drept refugiat politic, intrucat se teme ca i-ar putea fi respinsa cererea de azil. Mananca in campus, doarme in sala de curs unde preda profesorul din primul fir epic, Nejat Aksu (scenele astea de contact aduc a Trois Couleurs ale lui Kieslowski). Se imprieteneste cu Lotte, care o ia acasa, si dupa un timp, o poveste de dragoste se infiripa intre Yetel si Lotte. Mama Lottei nu este chiar incantata, asa ca uneori iese cu scantei. Rolul mamei Lottei este jucat de Hanna Schygulla, iata, dupa treizeci de ani de cand a fost starul lui Fassbinder. Ea nu intelege ce se intampla cu Turcia, si-ii spune fetei ca oricum toate problemele vor fi rezolvate in momentul in care Turcia va intra in UE (dupa care urmeaza reactia organica “Fuck the European Union!”, la care mama Lottei reactioneaza calm, insa ferm – tu la mine in casa sa nu mai injuri).
Din pacate, la un moment dat masina fetelor este oprita la un control de rutina, iar Yetel fuge, stiind ca nu are acte. Este prinsa, si ajunge intr-un adapost pentru imigranti, de fapt locul nu arata rau, insa ce este mai rau este ca dupa un an de zile, autoritatile ii refuza viza de azilant. Motivul oficial este ca, fiindca Turcia a aplicat pentru aderarea la UE, este putin probabil ca ea sa se confrunte cu pericole majore odata intoarsa in Turcia. Totusi, odata deportata, ea ajunge in inchisoare, si asteapta un proces care s-ar putea termina cu o condamnare de douazeci de ani de inchisoare.
Lotte o urmeaza le Yetel in Istanbul, si ajunge sa locuiasca in chirie la Nejat. O viziteaza pe Yetel la inchisoare, si aceasta ii spune cum sa dea de arma. Lotte ia pistolul, il pune in poseta, insa pe o strada mai dubioasa, niste copii ii fura poseta si fug cu ea. Totusi, Lotte le da de urma pe cand acestia isi imparteau prada, insa unul dintre ei, ca intr-o joaca, ocheste si trage in ea.
A doua moarte aiurea, si, pe cand la moartea prostituatei, am avut un sicriu mergand cu avionul pe directia Germania-Turcia, acum avem unul mergand dinspre Turcia inspre Germania.

Abia acum vedem titlul filmului. De cealalta parte: doua lumi diferite, atat politic, cat si ca obiceiuri si cultura. Care vor converge in virtual, dincolo de genericul de final al filmului.

Mama Lottei si tatal lui Nejat (pe care acesta il reneaga ca tata, pentru ca a comis o crima) pleaca, fara sa stie, in acelasi timp, catre Istanbul. Il cunoaste pe Nejat si se muta in fosta camera a fiicei sale. Merge la inchisoare la Yetel pe care vrea s-o scape de inchisoare – dorinta fiicei ele – , care isi cere iertare pentru fapta sa (intre timp a aflat ca Lotte a fost impuscata cu acel pistol pe care ea il ascunsese). Dupa ce Yetel este eliberata, ele vor merge spre locuinta lui Nejat, care este plecat sa-si vada tatal.
Avem, iata, scene ale iertarii si reconcilierii intre Est si Vest, care in mare parte ne scapa, pentru ca regizorul le plaseaza in timp dincolo de genericul de final. Negresit, aceasta solutie artistica are darul de a stimula spectatorul de a-si proiecta propria versiune a impacarii dintre protagonisti. Iata, un film neosificat, cu atatea finaluri cati spectatori va avea. Intrevad un efect benefic al filmului asupra turcilor suparati pe germani, rad si asupra nemtilor rasisti anti-turci.
Si, daca e pana acolo, povestea este si mai generala, nu doar turco-germana. Este povestea intalnirii a oricaror doua lumi, si a sperantei intelegerii adevarate intre ele, bazate pe elementele care le unesc, asa cum pilda lui Ibrahim/Abraham este comuna celor doua culturi.

Note de subsol:
1. Destul de cinica viziunea vesnicei aspiratii a Turciei care mai binele reprezentat de UE. Recunosc aici destule din trairile mele anterioare aderarii Romaniei la UE, pe care am sarbatorit-o, surpriza, in Hamburg (ca la momentul respectiv eram deja rezident american, asta este o cu totul alta poveste). Revad lumea corupta, mai ales moral, care ar vrea o viata mai buna, insa fara sa renunte la privilegii.
2. Scenele din Turcia au un pitoresc aparte. Casele vechi (de ce nu sunt ele oare intretinute?), muntii, Bosforul, pana si benzinaria prapadita de la inceput, care revine in final, toate ma fac sa invinetesc de ciuda 😉 Chiar muzica apartine interpretului care intr-adevar murise de cancer cu cativa ani in urma. De fapt Fatih Akin a realizat si un film despre muzica jazz turceasca, poate il voi gasi si pe acesta pe undeva, are Meredith ce are cu muzica orientala…
3. Suspectez un fel de “transfer al generatiilor” intre Hanna Schygulla, care aici joaca rolul mamei lui Lotte, insa in Berlin Alexanderplatz-ul lui Fassbinder joaca rolul uneia dintre prostituate (rolul celeilalte fiind jucat de Barbara Sukowa, poate ati vazut-o in Lars von Trier’s Europa) din anii republicii de la Weimar, pe cand prostitutia parea a fi un lucru destul de normal, data fiind rata somajului in acea perioada, catre femeile care vin din est. Aici vedem o turcoaica, insa stim cu totii povesti despre est-europence.

Vorba unuia: rapandule de-astea vrea Basescu sa-si aduca inapoi in tara in al doilea mandat? Pai da, daca nu ai vazut civilizatie, nu ai cum sa o produci, as spune eu. Chiar daca stateai in noroi pe cand vedeai civilizatia.
Mda, se apropie iarasi alegerile, si mai bine tac o vreme.

September 3, 2008

Deep Throat a fost intai un film, si abia apoi informatorul in cazul Watergate!

Filed under: cinema, Franturi de America — Tags: , , , , — floreign @ 2:51 pm

Citeam astazi intr-o carte despre filmul banat Deep Throat, am aflat cu surpriza ca nu pentru dezvaluiri politice, ci fiindca era un film neortodox. Hartuielile legale cu puritanii i-au adus si un renume, care s-a rasfrans in cazul Watergate, unde informatorul anonim din Casa Alba si-a ales acest pseudonim.
Mda, este adevarat, filmul nu este important in sine, ci pentru precedentul juridic pe care l-a creat.
Nixon stie…

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