Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα critique. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα critique. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Πέμπτη, 8 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Ida (2013)

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Writers: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz 
Stars: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Production: Poland | Denmark | France | UK
Duration:  82 min

Ida is a strong, uncompromising film, whose immense power and raw beauty are indisputable. This is a winner film. Magnetic, raw, real. For its direction, its content, its everything. Yes, "Ida" is my favorite 2014 film and a masterpiece. 

1960s, Poland. Anna is a young novitiate nun and about to take her vows. She was brought up by nuns and was nurtured with Christianity. Before she takes the ultimate step she is urged by her superior to visit her last living relative, her aunt. Wanda is a formerly powerful judge of the regime, now an alcoholic and full with guilt. She meets with Anna and unfolds the secret story of her real identity. Anna is Jewish and her name is Ida. 

A lost secret family chronicle will be revealed to Anna - now Ida - frustrating her innocent and pure soul. She will decide to follow Walda on a journey of discovering her past, what happened to her parents and why her aunt is so depressed. 

This poetic depiction of the lost past of Ida guides the narration in a delicate and profound way. The subtle direction, infused with an amazing composition of frames, together with the profound silence offer few clue elements that are mostly hints on where the path of Ida is going in life. 

Pawlikowski chooses to show with his frames - through the cameras of the talented cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal - an unprecedented intensity in those two women's lives. This films has such an integrity, it knows what is doing and where is going, and this is one of the things that add up to its greatness. 

The framing of the shots plays a crucial role in the poetic illustration of life and especially of Ida's life. Concealing or intensifying details or even changing the center of attention has unexpected results. You feel there present, but not in the way you think. You feel you see more than you are shown, you sense everything that happens on screen, the characters' pain, feelings and so much more. You get lost but this is the magic of it. 

Ida will be faced with life itself, her choices and dreams, her own destiny. Wanda will be faced with her own past and the guilt she carries for years about choosing the regime instead of her family. Redemption will struggle to find its way through those women's lives and love will unfold again in order to transform the painful past. 

Both Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska, the first experienced and the second in her acting debut, synchronize their performances creating a harmonic but intense acting duet. The crudeness expressed with the extraordinary black and white photography helps them achieve what I call symmetrical beauty in the film. They fill each other and their relationship. With the determination of the one and the submission of the other, those two characters evolve, creating something unique. 

This magnetic film talks about the power of choice, the burden of guilt and the darkness of lost secrets. It opens a dialog about desperation, devotion but above all about human connection beyond any kind of religion. Religion is just a shelter, a cover, something to help people define their identities. But people give power to people. And actions fuel people's lives. And we shouldn't forget this. 

Δευτέρα, 3 Νοεμβρίου 2014

Reality (2014) by Quentin Dupieux

71st Venice Film Festival 

(first published in the e-book of Nisimazine

REVIEW: Reality by Quentin Dupieux (France, Belgium) – Orrizonti

Quentin Dupieux, director of the infamous Rubber (2010), has come to Venice with luggage full of distorted realities or better to say a strange need to explore the idea of mixing everybody's dreams, making us wonder if anything of what we saw was part of a twisted game. “Reality” struggles hard to find the necessary balance between its real purpose – if there is any - and the overachieved surrealism it inevitably shares.

Jason is a peaceful cameraman living in California. He is dreaming of making his own film, where television sets are the most dangerous thing in the whole planet. They produce those weird kind of waves that slowly make humans more stupid, while their ultimate goal is to extinguish them. He approaches Bob Marshal, a film producer, who gets overexcited with his crazy idea. He will sign the deal as soon as Jason gets the perfect groan in 48 hours.

But Jason's is not the only story we discover. A young man working as a TV presenter on a food program has an unstoppable need to scratch himself, thinking there is something terribly wrong with him, while everyone else thinks he is overreacting. A young girl witnesses a videotape coming out of the insides of an animal, while her father cleans it in order to embalm it. Nobody believes her, but we will come to know that this videotape somehow is the answer to loads of questions. All of those stories, as distant as they might seem with each other, they share something in common; the same confusing connection that leads to nothing more than a dead-end.

In the world Dupieux has created, parallel dreams stream like parades of surrealistic thoughts and acts on one's self and the perception of reality. While the first scenes seem indifferent, you do get hooked on the way the story evolves. The head-exploding music makes sure to achieve that in a conscious but also a deep subconscious level, while the physical effect of it can be disturbing for some time after you watch the film. You too immerse in a deep dream along with the characters. You too step by step lose the sense of reality presented to you.

Dreams lost in dreams in an endless maze with no exit signs. A surreal world where nothing makes sense and somehow everything fits in a distorted kind of way. This is what is being achieved through Dupieux's direction and the narrative he has chosen. His images betray his blurry vision though and the fact that none of these has any clear purpose, only to throw us into the endless world of dreaming.

The moments in the film that are meant to be humorous, fail to communicate any connection with the content. This constant attempt to revive the plot with funny moments is not enough to explain any of what is being shown. While Dupieux can't stop mixing his narrative, we keep wondering how such a promising idea of dreaming in a dream got stuck in all those flat characters and their tiresome realities. This flatness is probably used on purpose in order to intensify the hollowness they carry or probably the fact that they are just plain visitors in those dreary dreams.

There are many questions raised about the definition of our dreams as much as the perception that we have for the realities that surround us. For some of us it is complicated – or intentionally complicated - like in Dupieux's mind and for some others is simpler or indifferent. Those questions only meant to be left unanswered in a film that flirts with the vastness of the subconscious and manages at the same time to convey a frustrating self-conscious feeling. If you have never been lost in a dream, this is your chance to discover how that might feel. Are you ready?

Τετάρτη, 9 Ιουλίου 2014

Castaway on the Moon (2009)

Director: Hae-jun Lee
Writer: Hae-jun Lee (screenplay)
Stars: Min-heui Hong, So-yeon Jang, Jae-yeong Jeong
Production: South Korea
Duration: 116 min
Imdb score: 8,2

I found out about this film from some friends and from the moment they described the story, I have to tell you I was hooked. I wanted to watch it very badly. Based in South Korea, the first scene introduces us to a heavy atmosphere. A man is on a bridge calling with his bank. They inform him that he ows a great amount of money and that reassures him about his decision to commit suicide. But the story doesn't end here, it has actually just begun.

Some hours later, he will find himself in an island into the city itself, a deserted place, where all his attempts to find help go futile. Soon, he will discover the beauty of it all; he is a castaway on a place where nobody can find him and suddenly all this sounds very appealing. His daily attempts and struggles to find shelter and food give him exactly what he needed, hope. 

Min-hee Hong appears to be weak and vulnerable in the beginning of this story, but experiencing this intense and unique trip through loneliness and survival, he proves to be more than persistent. During his struggles he will get a strange message from an even stranger observer. Of course somebody would see him, he is after all castaway in his own city. The mystery person will follow his every step and will want to help him after all. But the stubbornness he has developed and the need for hope are stronger than any kind of external help. Soon he will realize how necessary the procedure of survival is to him, but also the communication with this strange person. 

The mystery person is being introduced to us in the beginning as something different. You keep wonder what has this girl have to do with our story, but soon you realize how roughly connected she is to our castaway. A young girl trapped in a virtual world, locked into her own universe, suddenly sees some light in her dark room when the image of this weird "alien" - as she calls him - enters her extra macro lens from her tall window. 

Through the direction of Hae-jun Lee that lingers between deep drama and light comedy, the film's atmosphere is being intensified with sorrow and grief by the long, slow face shots of the two characters. Hope and salvation though, are intelligently hiding behind every dialog or scene, only to re-appear in times when most needed. This unique story speaks truthfully, enslaving anyone that decides to walk in its path. Mesmerizing and incomparable!

Strong and soft, this movie touches your heart unexpectedly via its emphasis on human relations. How we have become ignorant of our need to be around people and to live free of society conventions. How this internet-based, information-bombarded and careless world has made us into human-machines who need to work all day, be on their computers and ignore everything else. How have we become like that? Loneliness is our constant friend and we are afraid to be ourselves around people, sheltered from our own insecurities, blocked by our cyber-addicted brains. 

But wait, there is more. There is freedom even when you walk in darker paths, there is salvation from yourself and there is, purely and truthfully, Hope in its best form. This is what this movie is all about. A reminder that we people are tightly linked with each other and that we can change the course of our future by taking our own lives into our hands. Love is, after all, the answer to everything. 

You never really know where Hope will be hiding, the only thing you need to do is find and grab it!

Δευτέρα, 24 Μαρτίου 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch (screenplay)
With: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
Production: UK, Germany, France, Cyprus, USA
Duration: 123'

And here lies a vampire world so much different than the one we are used to. Two lonely creatures, drifting through the years, through the centuries. They share a deep love for each other and a deep respect for the world they live in. Their names? Adam and Eve, in an ironic reference in religion, one of the few that follow. 

They are in this world for centuries, they have met historic personalities, they have influenced some of them, they are no random souls. They are maybe the last - or the first - of their kind, lost and drifted in a world where everywhere is constant danger. Through many references in literature, science, history, music and film those creatures make a meaning out of themselves. 

It is such a poetically beautiful movie. The harmony that flows within, the deep and unspoken love it vibrates. Those melancholic creatures face the same - almost - problems with any other human being. She is a unique optimist with features 'out of this world'(how beautiful Tilda is) and He is a talented creature, tired of his own self and solitude and blessed with a deep view for the world of music. 

You will not see many characters in this story. Adam and Eve meet with one of their mentors, Marlowe, an old figure (based on the true Christopher Marlowe who is considered to have written some of Shakespeare works according to historian James S. Shapiro) who eventually will drift away. Eve's younger sister, Ava, will disturb their peace by invading in their world, something that is obvious she does once in a century (which is often). Their relationship will be tested as Adam in not a big fan of Ava, while Eve loves and appreciates her little sister, even if she is over the top. 

The truth is that this story doesn't have a beginning or an end. It catches a part of those creatures' lives into this world. They are both a bit retired from life and don't have so much contact with humans as they used to. Adam has given up hope on the human race and his suicidal attitude worries Eve deeply. 

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, the talented independent American filmmaker who has a devoted cinephile audience whatever he does, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a poetic story of two vampires. The melodic, psychedelic music in the scenes and the slow sequences reveal an auteur with artistic depth and a will to create everything ritually. From how they drink blood (never violently taken anymore), how they make love, how they walk and behave, how they see the world. The time he gives to its characters to evolve, to express their true feelings, works soothingly in the course of the story. 

"Only Lovers Left Alive" is a genuine art film that shows us where the true meaning of life is, even if you are immortal. This movie has created a constant discussion about the melancholic nature of every human walking in this world, having already a truthful attitude towards everything it deals with. In its fiction is utterly genuine

Παρασκευή, 7 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Fruitvale Station (2013) (greek)

του Ryan Coogler με τους Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer (ΗΠΑ 85')

Η πρώτη μεγάλου μήκους ταινία του σκηνοθέτη έκανε πρεμιέρα πέρυσι στο φεστιβάλ του Sundance. Απέσπασε τα βραβεία της επιτροπής και του κοινού, ενώ συμμετείχε και στις Κάννες στο τμήμα “Ένα Κάποιο Βλέμμα”. Εξέπληξε πολλούς όταν και έλειπε από τις φετινές υποψηφιότητες των Όσκαρ, την στιγμή που περιμέναμε την Ακαδημία να κάνει την διαφορά. Κρίμα.

Ξημερώματα Πρωτοχρονιάς 2009. Ο Oscar Grant δολοφονείται από τον αξιωματικό Johannes Mehserle στον σιδηροδρομικό σταθμό Fruitvale στην Καλιφόρνια, μπροστά στα έκπληκτα μάτια εκατοντάδων επιβατών. Κινητά μαγνητοσκοπούν μία πρωτοφανή αστυνομική βία απέναντι στον Oscar και την παρέα του. Η συμμετοχή σε έναν καβγά αποδεικνύεται μοιραία.

Ο Oscar είναι ένας νεαρός που παλεύει να βάλει την ζωή του σε τάξη. Η φυλακή τον κράτησε μακριά, του έμαθε όμως να διαβάζει τον εαυτό του μέσα από τους άλλους. Η αποδοκιμασία της μητέρας του και η δυσπιστία της αρραβωνιαστικιάς του τον ωθούν στο να κοιτάξει τον εαυτό του κατάματα. Η κόρη του τον χρειάζεται περισσότερο από ποτέ.

Η τελευταία ημέρα της ζωής του Oscar δεν είναι τίποτε άλλο από θραύσματα του παρελθόντος που επανέρχονται στο τώρα. Η ανησυχία, με ένα μείγμα αμφιβολίας είναι εμφανής παντού, στο πρόσωπο, στις κινήσεις, στις λέξεις που χρησιμοποιεί. Κάθε κάδρο αποδεικνύει την σταδιακή αλλαγή των αποφάσεών του. Ο ίδιος, σαν να νιώθει τι θα συμβεί, κάνει μερικά βήματα προς τα πίσω. Μικρά βήματα που μπορούν να κάνουν τη διαφορά, κάτι που ο Oscar δείχνει να μαθαίνει.

Το εκπληκτικό σε αυτή την ταινία είναι ότι απουσιάζει κάθε προκατάληψη. Δεν προσπαθεί να διδάξει, ούτε να υποδείξει το σωστό και το λάθος. Αφήνει την τελική κρίση σε εμάς. Ποιος έφταιξε, τι έγινε, γιατί; Δυνατή, ειλικρινής και κυρίως συγκλονιστική για τις αλήθειες που κρύβει.

Εξαιρετικές ερμηνείες από την μοναδική Octavia Spencer και τον πρωτοεμφανιζόμενο Michael B. Jordan. Απολαύστε. 

Τρίτη, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Captain Phillips (2013)

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (based upon the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" by)
With: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Duration: 134'
Country: USA

One of the movies that claim the title “Movie of the Year” has already six Oscar nominations for this year, along with Best Achievement in Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Barkhad Abdi. Having almost 70 nominations, the movie has already claimed a position in the “favorites” list.

The screenplay (Billy Ray) of “Captain Phillips” is based on the the book “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” (2010) by the real Richard Phillips who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean as part of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.

The US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years as IMDB informs us on the movie's page, where it has scored 8, 1 so far. With most of the nominations gained for the performance of Tom Hanks and his co-star Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips” has become everyone's favorite action thriller of the year.

We follow the extraordinary story of a captain who, while on duty in the Indian Ocean, his cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. We watch with extreme precision how the captain realized the menace and how he managed to prevent the hijacking by using all means from his crew, the ship and his own head.

While proving to be prepared with solutions for preventing the incident, he is unaware of what will follow next. The horror and fear he will face in the hands of these “fishermen”, who are nothing more than poor men in need for money for the boss who rules their lives.

Muse, the leader of this mission thinks that he got lucky choosing an American cargo ship. He believes its crew and captain will obey his orders and hand him the ship's money. But he miscalculates and soon realizes nothing is going to be easy with this captain.

The story unravels slow revealing its characters feelings. While we observe the growing tension we cannot help but notice this peculiar relationship created between Captain Phillips and the leader of the hijackers, Muse. 

Looking at each other deep in the eye, they are trying to show who is in control. Muse wants to impose his domination over his own crew, but mostly over the captain. Captain Phillips though, wants to preserve his own authority and is trying to maintain a neutral attitude towards the pirates. And he also tries the same thing: to show his own crew that he still has control.

After some serious incidents, everyone realizes that things have changed into worse. The pirates act recklessly doing the unthinkable. They kidnap Captain Phillips for at least two days, while the American coast guard along with trained marines await the appropriate moment to attack and disarm or better, eliminate them.

The negotiations fail to come to a desirable result and the USA justs wants to get rid of the targets. The morality that is hidden behind all these, the power America shows over anything named as terrorism or pirates is overwhelming. If you stand in front of the Americans as an obstacle, they will do anything to take you down in the name of national security. The movie tries hard to remind us this.

All this tension unraveling throughout the movie, bursts out at the last sequence, where Captain Phillips collapses. And here is where the sublime performance by Tom Hanks takes place. Weak and confused he gives up, he falls apart, he loses the control he fought for. His vulnerability is magnificent on screen. 

DiCaprio managed to steal the 'Best Actor in a Leading Role' nomination from Hanks, and me being a fan of both of them, cannot help but think this: Hanks has already proven his value, while DiCaprio still fights for a position in the Oscar Hall of Fame. Well, maybe Leo will get it this time.

One thing I admire in Paul Greengrass's direction is that he managed without any Hollywood tricks and effects to exhibit this slow growing tension and succeed in giving us a thrilling action movie with great performances (don't forget Barkhad Abdi's nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role).

One of the feelings I cannot hide for this movie, is my deep sadness over those poor Somali people who had no choice but to hijack, threaten, kidnap just to survive. They live in a world so different, where they grow up under war conditions. Even though this movie focuses on a more American way of dealing with things, it still makes us wonder why these people have no choice but turn to crime.

Τρίτη, 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Frances Ha (2012)

Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (screenplay)
With Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
USA, 86 min

In noisy and busy New York a lot of young people are struggling for a better life. One of them is Frances. She doesn’t really have an apartment since her temporary job in a dance firm is not really offering her a decent salary and as she declares being a dancer, she is actually a struggling one trying to stand out.

“Frances Ha” is the silent surprise of last year. An independent American production with a pretty black & white photography, young actors and most of all a freshly point of view of how young people are these days. Even if it is based on New York with its neuroticism borrowed by Woody Allen’s remarks and movies, the film speaks for everyone. For all the struggles every person, who experiences the western society’s “diseases”, deals with.

The film of Noah Baumbach is inspired by the French Nouvelle Vague and the characteristic Woody Allen vibe of “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall”. In its content, the awkwardly designed character of Frances always has a talent of bringing unintended questions and blurred (but truthful), life and love, statements.

She lives with her best friend, Sophie, who she considers as her soul mate. They share an apartment together and a wonderful life – almost in a childish way - but when Sophie decides to move elsewhere with someone else, the deep disappointment in Frances’s face is more than evident in herself and her own life. It somehow makes her realize and think over her own life purpose and how she would be able to survive in hectic New York.

The later crisis between them will almost force her to face this big blank wall of self reflection. This eventually will result into reinventing her own goals and plans, to actually confront her own self.

Life for Frances is something she needs to endure, but her own existence and well – being depends mostly on other people. She is social and quite extrovert, but she shares a quite rare intimacy only with the people she chooses, or better to say, with the people who really don’t bother judging her bold and nervy social behavior.

The clean and abrupt – almost tidy – editing of the movie gives away Baumbach’s random direction attitude. It feels like he put together all his frames and shots somehow unintended. This procedure’s honesty is an element missing from other contemporary Americans. It is marvelous and so beautiful to see how his direction’s simplicity, even though is not completely new or innovative, helps him recreate through his own perspective.

Frances drifts around New York, she imposes herself into other people’s lives, she tells exactly what she thinks and is so genuine that you cannot do anything but admire and secretly envy her freedom of character. But she is also sensitive and talented, maybe not made for the big lights and major dance performances, but her style and life values are there permanently to remind her – and us – that we need to keep up and promote our own dreams any way possible.

Nothing that others – or society and the media – enforces us to do should happen. Success is an overestimated situation that can destroy as easy as it can build human lives. The point is to live and experience through feelings. But the other, more valuable hidden point is what you produce in this world to actually have a meaning for some people, even if you can count them in one hand.

This is what “Frances Ha” is about. It is for the small, not of great significance, lives of people who are actually very important, even more important than the already seemingly important ones.

The essence of this film is completed through these lines:
"I want this one moment. It’s what I want in a relationship…It’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them, and they know it, and they love you and you know it but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes, but not because you’re possessive or it’s precisely sexual, but because that is your person in this life."

Τετάρτη, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Director: Alain Resnais
Writer:  Marguerite Duras
With: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas
Duration: 90’
Production: France, Japan

Elle is a French actress shooting a movie in Hiroshima. She meets Lui, a married Japanese architect. Together they share their opinions about the war, about life and love, until all of their past is being unraveled.

This movie and its story have a strong sentimental base. At the beginning the war pictures and the words that accompany them are breathtaking. We are being introduced to a couple that met in Hiroshima. The details of their relationship and their background are being slowly revealed.

First everything is about the war. As the story goes the focus changes and goes to the couple’s past, particularly Elle’s past. Then, she will slowly expose herself to buried memories and feelings. The strong and confident French actress will become a scared little girl and nothing can save her. She is exposed to love, sentiments, and strong feelings. Slowly she will remember that once she did fell all these again. The turbulence that the past provokes makes her act in complete denial of the present.

The constant denial of Elle’s lover depicts the general denial of such a destructive war that makes your heart doom. The power of her own story is so magnificent that deletes somehow the struggle of their departure (she has to go back to France to her husband, he is married in Hiroshima).

Several images scattered create the essence of memories tried to be forgotten through the years, the alcohol though, manages to withdraw them from the oblivion darkness to the realistic surface of the present. He listens carefully as the moments of grief and despair she recalls appear, pretending to be the lover she lost once and for all.

All these information she reveals, do expose why she has lived what she has lived, but not in any case justify the actions of her surroundings towards her. Her betrayal is so powerful her own parents lock her in this basement; she is being constantly humiliated for this unfortunate – but so fortunate for her still – affair with the German soldier during the Nazi occupation.

She loved him with all of her human senses. She never regrets her love for him and now this Japanese man makes her relive this strength in her soul. He makes her remember the true love she once experienced and so tragically lost. She is deadly afraid that all these will happen again. Scared and alone she starts drifting through Hiroshima, trying to settle her thoughts, trying to put her own feelings in order.

He is following her, trying to convince her to stay with him, but she – like a dog experiencing a traumatic incident – believes that such a strong love will result to her “imprisonment” again. The loss, the emptiness, the grief of losing a lover were so intense, she never wants to live it again. The unclear ending proves not only that the destinations does not even matter, but also that strong feelings can overcome any type of fear ever existed in one’s mind and soul.

Yes she probably stayed, we don’t know for how long, we will never know, but at least she managed to talk about this traumatic experience, to let it out, there exposed, ready to be judged or dismissed. She managed to somehow accept it deep in her heart, without accusing or regretting, but only sharing it, reliving it and finally discarding it to permanent oblivion

Κυριακή, 6 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Director: Woody Allen     
Script: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay
Duration: 98 min
Production: USA

After an almost destructive last movie (yes I mean “To Rome with love”), where the script and its characters were tasteless like a dessert with no sugar, Woody Allen leaves behind the wondering around in Europe and goes back to good old inspiring America, specifically to San Francisco.

There he introduces us to the wealthy idle Jasmine, or better to say the ex – wealthy but still idle Jasmine. Jasmine comes back from New York, where she lived as a princess, drenched in luxuries, spoiled by her extremely rich husband, to San Francisco. There she will stay with her sister, Ginger, for as long as it takes her to step up on her feet again. Cocky, arrogant and mainly vain, Jasmine will confront all the mistakes of the past, the tragedies she endured and she will finally have to face herself.

Woody Allen (thankfully) managed to come back with a freshly script and a well structured - but so weak - character, that of Jasmine, after a big long disappointed cinematic run through the last years. Here, he takes his neurotic obsessions and transforms them, through Cate Blanchett’s divinity, into a total collapse of the fake life. Jasmine lived for years without caring for what’s inside people, without paying attention to anything else rather than her own social life and vanity. Now everything she loved in her life have gone so tragically wrong that she needs to accept reality and make amends with the past.

She moves in with her younger sister, who is living a modest life with two kids, trying to be happy and satisfied, even if she picks out the wrong guys – as Jasmine gladly points out. Ginger is the complete opposite of Jasmine, however they give to each other – without realizing it – the moral support they both need, even if Jasmine clashes with everything that doesn’t fit in her socially “perfect” world.

Through the magnificence of Blanchett’s acting, Allen manages to show the downfall of a woman who never managed to confront her problems and preferred to look away. In a fake rich life she had everything she needed, fake friends, temporary luxuries and nothing really deep, nothing really satisfying or truly happy.

Through this decaying format of modern life and the emphasis  in the absolute blank in richness, Woody Allen with his known tragicomedy elements, manages to show the true face of today and the ugliness that money really caries. Who needs all the Louis Vuitton if their life is miserable, if the problems are there and you do nothing but keep buying and spending and buying?

The anachronistic storytelling with flashbacks of Jasmine’s previous glamorous life keeps pointing out the fragile nature of the character and how her own inaction has severe consequences in her psychological state. Through tragedy Allen gives comedy and vise versa, showing with his camera, via his unique directing talent, numerous funny and extremely sad situations simultaneously.

The arrogant attitude Jasmine has towards others who she sees as inferiors, as her sister’s boyfriends, is absolutely hilarious. However these are the middle class people who happen to search for the meaning in their lives, even if they don’t own mansions and villas in Cannes, even if their accounts don’t have numerous zeros, even if they happen to live in a poor neighborhood. They have nothing but warmth, love and a constant desire of enjoying life as it is. And Woody Allen seems to know that.

Woody Allen with “Blue Jasmine” is expressing something very specific, trying to show how real life is to all his colleagues, the Hollywood actors, the common people like you and me. So, what do you think, is anyone listening?

Τρίτη, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

The guard (2011)

Direction: John Michael McDonagh
Script: John Michael McDonagh
Acting: Ronan Collins, Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle
Production: Ireland
Duration: 96 min

In Ireland the police department works in a slightly different kind of way. Irish Sergeant Gerry Boyle is the living proof. His personality is quite incompatible with the typical social forms. Raised in Ireland by a strong minded, down-to-earth, sweet woman, who is now struggling by a deadly disease, Gerry finds himself in a daily boring situation of dealing with typical criminals.

Gerry and his unconventional character are everything in this film. Not because it emerges the limitless talent of Brendan Gleeson, but mostly because it depicts how sick of his boring police life Gerry is.

Yes Gerry is a good Sergeant, corrupted to the bone but good (don’t ask how this is possible, it is). He appears to be quite smart when it comes to solving cases and crimes, but he is completely antisocial and brutal with the rest of the world. With the Irish temperament thriving throughout the film, McDonagh has given a well structured story of a pure antihero.

The basic element, that from the first shot shows the level this film wants to reach, is the dialogues with countless references in literature, cinema and history (Lars Von Trier, Polanski, Fellini, Nietzsche etc.). The used vocabulary reforms the whole initial feeling by letting you understand that Gerry is no dumb fellow. And either he feels that his job is less important than that of a teacher.

The “fair game” that is being told here feels a little weird, there is no such thing as “fair game” in Ireland, as simple as that. The humorous veil that has covered the whole story has made the action parts and the escalation of the plot quite magnificent. In many basic scenes things are happening, but you don’t even realize them. There is no music to prepare you; there is no introduction to it. You just watch pure action.

You cannot ignore the amazing, full of chromatic contrasts, photography that gives an extra pinch of vibration to the whole result. I won’t forget the music score by Calexico, the American indie rock band that gave this extra ironic element into the plot. Each scene in “The Guard”, we could say, has a political coloration, some comments, some actions are politically charged. Combining all of this together, with the detached, remote I would say, direction of McDonagh, you have a vigorous comedy crime movie.

Gerry is not a common Irish lad, or maybe he is with the impolite sincerity of his character, but what makes him quite extraordinary is his real devotion to the ultimate good. He might be corrupted, he might not respect his supervisors or even his own profession, but he surely knows how to fight till the end with pure guts.

The director here puts clearly on the table the meaning of heroism, but what he actually does in an evocative way, is to recreate and reinvent the term. Gerry is not a typical guy and definitely he is not a typical Sergeant. He knows that his life has reached the swamp, he cannot go further, and he must act.

He redefines himself through his actions. Reckless one might think, because of the way he does it, but in the end he proves not only to be smart to escape his own misery, but also to fool the rest of the people that he was actually dumb. Only the FBI agent Wendell Everett will realize his genius mind and finally respect him, after the innocent rivalry that thrived in between them, and gave an extra comedy stigma. 

Δευτέρα, 15 Ιουλίου 2013

Sin City (2005)

Σκηνοθεσία: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Frank Miller
Σενάριο:  Frank Miller
Παίζουν: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Elijah Wood, Michael Clarke Duncan, Alexis Bledel, Rutger Hauer
Παραγωγή: HΠΑ
Διάρκεια: 124’

Την είδα ξανά τυχαία στο άχρηστο κουτί, που όταν θέλει άλλο άχρηστο δεν είναι και κάτι τέτοιες στιγμές εκτιμώ την ύπαρξή του. Την είχα δει χρόνια πριν, μαθήτρια ακόμη, σε DVD, όταν νοικιάζαμε ακόμη DVD, εμείς οι μανιακοί.

Μου είχε αρέσει τόσο πολύ που είχα γεμίσει το μαθητικό μου δωμάτιο με αφίσες των πρωταγωνιστών και την είχα εντυπώσει στη μνήμη μου, ώστε όταν κάποιος με ρωτήσει ποια είναι η αγαπημένη μου ταινία να πω έτσι με έναν αυθορμητισμό, «το Sin City φυσικά!».

Και εάν κάποιος δεν την γνώριζε, ήταν η ευκαιρία μου να αρχίζω να περιγράφω το σκοτεινό της background, τις εικόνες που ξεπηδούν από το κόμικ σαν από ένα απόκοσμο σύμπαν, τα ιδιαίτερα γραφικά και τους χαρακτήρες που ο ένας είναι πιο «αμαρτωλός» από τον άλλον και πάει λέγοντας.

Είναι από τις λίγες ταινίες που μονάχα με μία θέαση εισβάλλει ύπουλα στη μνήμη σου και δύσκολα φεύγει από εκεί. Και επειδή από τότε που την είχα νοικιάσει σε DVD έχουν περάσει από τα χέρια μου εκατοντάδες άλλες ταινίες που διεκδίκησαν μία θέση στη λίστα των αγαπημένων, το Sin City κρατούσε πάντα μία περίοπτη, ολότελα δική του θέση. Είχε κάτι άλλο, κάτι διαφορετικό, κάτι άρρωστα εθιστικό.

Θα ξεκινήσω αφηγηματικά για να συνεχίσω με το περιεχόμενο, αφήνοντας το ερμηνευτικό κομμάτι για το τέλος. Η αφήγηση λοιπόν, χωρίζεται σε τρεις διαφορετικές ιστορίες, τρεις χαρακτήρες παίρνουν τα ηνία του κύριου αφηγητή και μας εισάγουν στον δικό τους κόσμο, τους προβληματισμούς τους και κυρίως τις αμαρτωλές καταστάσεις της πόλης Basin City.

Ο Marv, παραμορφωμένος, μεγαλόσωμος και ευαίσθητος, θα θελήσει να εκδικηθεί την αγάπη της ζωής του, την Goldie, μία ιερόδουλη που θα πέσει θύμα ενός διεστραμμένου νεαρού και του προστατευόμενου του. Ο Dwight έχει σιχαθεί την διαφθορά στην πόλη και αποφασίζει να πάρει το νόμο στα χέρια του. Θα γίνει συνένοχος ενός ξαφνικού εγκλήματος που θα τον παρασύρει σε μία σειρά παράνομων δραστηριοτήτων, μαζί με τη συμμορία των ιεροδούλων και την αρχηγό τους Gail.  

Η τρίτη ιστορία με την οποία ξεκινά και τελειώνει η ταινία είναι αυτή του αστυνομικού Hartigan, ο οποίος θα θέσει σε κίνδυνο τη ζωή και την καριέρα του, προκειμένου να σώσει ένα μικρό κορίτσι από τα χέρια ενός παιδόφιλου. Τοποθετημένη σε δύο διαφορετικά χρονικά πλαίσια, αυτή η ιστορία είναι και ο πυρήνας της «αμαρτωλής πόλης».

Οι τρεις αυτές ιστορίες συνδέονται μεταξύ τους, όχι όμως άρρηκτα. Η μία διαδέχεται την άλλη και όλες μαζί συνθέτουν ένα χρονικό απόλυτης διαφθοράς και διαστροφής, εγκλήματος και βίας σε μία πόλη όπου οι κανόνες υπάρχουν στη σφαίρα του φανταστικού και η δικαιοσύνη είναι κάτι ουτοπικό.

Οι χαρακτήρες που παρακολουθούμε δεν είναι ακριβώς αθώοι, δρουν στα πλαίσια της απόλυτης ανομίας γιατί ακριβώς το περιβάλλον και οι καταστάσεις δεν τους επιτρέπουν κάτι άλλο. Σκέψου τι θα έκανες εάν ήσουν εσύ στη θέση τους. Θα προτιμούσες να κατέληγες νεκρός ή να δρούσες προκειμένου να σώσεις τον εαυτό σου και τους αγαπημένους σου; Αντιπροσωπεύουν τον κλασικό αντιήρωα, που όντας και ο ίδιος αμαρτωλός, θα πράξει μέσα στα όρια της ανομίας για να πετύχει τον απόλυτα ηθικό σκοπό του.

Ο γραφικός κόσμος του Miller ξεπηδά από τις σκοτεινές σελίδες των κόμικς του και ζωντανεύει στη μεγάλη οθόνη με τις σκηνοθετικές οδηγίες του Rodriguez και του Tarantino ως guest director (είναι εμφανές το κομμάτι που σκηνοθέτησε ο Tarantino νομίζω). Ολοκληρωτικά γυρισμένο σε στούντιο, ο σκηνοθέτης δημιούργησε ένα σύμπαν σκοτεινό και βρώμικο μα και τόσο αληθινό που δεν μπορείς παρά να το συγκρίνεις με το τώρα. Είναι - αν μη τι άλλο – μία υπερβολική αποτύπωση ενός παράλληλου σύγχρονου κόσμου τόσο διεφθαρμένου που το έγκλημα είναι η μόνη διέξοδος.

Και ναι γνωρίζεις με σιγουριά πως τέτοια μέρη υπάρχουν στον πλανήτη, πως τέτοιοι άνθρωποι είναι δυστυχώς μία πραγματικότητα που όλοι θα θέλαμε να μην γνωρίζαμε πως υπάρχει. Όμως το να αποφεύγεις το πρόβλημα, δεν το  εξαφανίζεις κιόλας. Η διαφθορά είναι χαρακτηριστικό της ανθρώπινης φύσης.

Η ασπρόμαυρη φωτογραφία που επιμένει να δίνει έμφαση στο κόκκινο χρώμα, είτε είναι το κραγιόν ενός θηλυκού είτε το φόρεμα ενός άλλου, αποφεύγει να αποτυπώσει το κόκκινο του αίματος. Ίσως γιατί δεν θέλει να αλλοιώσει την έννοια του κόκκινου χρώματος, αυτού του πάθους και του έρωτα, των συναισθημάτων και της θηλυκής παρουσίας.

Το κίτρινο χρώμα που κάνει την εμφάνισή του στο τελευταίο μέρος της ταινίας αντιπροσωπεύει κάτι άρρωστο, κάτι άσχημο, την παραμόρφωση του παιδόφιλου που ο Hartigan θεώρησε πως είχε σκοτώσει. Το μαύρο είναι το κυρίαρχο χρώμα (σε ρούχα, μακιγιάζ και σκηνικά) μαζί με το άσπρο που αποτυπώνεται εντονότερα προκειμένου να ενισχύσει την αντίθεση μεταξύ τους.

Τα απότομα zoom ins δίνουν ιδιαίτερη έμφαση στους χαρακτήρες – αφηγητές και οδηγούν τη δράση και τη βία σε ένα επίπεδο σουρεαλισμού. Ο φωτισμός παίζει ιδιαίτερο ρόλο στην σκηνοθεσία και ειδικά σε μία ασπρόμαυρη ταινία. Τα after effects κάνουν τα χαρακτηριστικά των προσώπων και τις κινήσεις των πρωταγωνιστών πιο ζωντανές, τους προσδίδουν μία απόκοσμη γυαλάδα, μία πιο έντονη αντίθεση με τον αληθινό κόσμο.

Κατά τη διάρκεια της ταινίας, όλη η δράση που παρακολουθούμε είναι κάτω από το πέπλο της νύχτας σε ένα απόκοσμο περιβάλλον, σε μπαρ, σε δάση, σε απομονωμένα σπίτια, σε βρώμικα διαμερίσματα, στα σπορ αυτοκίνητα, σε αλάνες και σε κρύους παγωμένους δρόμους. Το σκηνικό είναι εχθρικό όπως και η ίδια η πόλη. Η μόνη σύνδεση με το αληθινό, πιο ρεαλιστικό παρόν είναι η πρώτη και η τελευταία σκηνή. Η πρώτη σε ένα μπαλκόνι ουρανοξύστη και η τελευταία σε ένα νοσοκομείο με ήχους που ξαφνικά σε επαναφέρουν από τον άγριο κόσμο των δρόμων σε μία πιο γνώριμη πραγματικότητα.

Ο ανώνυμος χαρακτήρας του Josh Hartnett είναι η σύνδεση με την πραγματικότητα όπου η βία είναι συγκαλυμμένη. Ο κίνδυνος είναι πιο ρεαλιστικός γιατί δεν είναι τόσο εμφανής όπως στον κόσμο της Basin City. Γοητευτικός πίσω από το προσωπείο του Hartnett, είναι εκεί άγρυπνος και έτοιμος να σε κατασπαράξει, εσύ όμως συνεχίζεις να ζεις τη ζωή σου μέχρι να αποφασίσει να σου αποκαλυφθεί. Τότε όλα είναι πιθανά.

Θα μπορούσαμε να μιλάμε για ώρες για τη σημειωτική εδώ και ίσως να προέκυπταν πολλά ενδιαφέροντα αποτελέσματα, όμως το Sin City θα προτιμούσε να τα αφήναμε ανέπαφα για τους θεατές να τα ανακαλύψουν από μόνοι τους. Την γραφική απεικόνιση της βίας, τα μηνύματα της σύγχρονης διαφθοράς, την διαστρεβλωμένη ηθική και δικαιοσύνη, τους αντιήρωες που τη συντροφεύουν, το ατιμώρητο έγκλημα και τα καταπληκτική ασπρόμαυρη φωτογραφία.

Μία βουτιά στη Sin City και δε θα είσαι ποτέ ο ίδιος.