Archive for September, 2011

A sickroom with a kino view – Pina, La Sconociuta, Män som hatar kvinnor

It was a great beginning of September, with all in it, movie-like or not. Then, quite decently I might say, a virus came to show me where I really have to be with my feet, that is, on the ground. But, before being locked in the sickroom, I got the chance to see Pina by Wim Wenders.
What a beauty, what a style, what a flow of emotions! Dance, a great philosopher once said, is the signature of divinity and Pina Bausch’s activity proves that it really is as sublime as the wise quote suggests it.
The 3D documentary is a sensitive tribute to the great choreographer. It is also totally indebted to her shows. So, there is not much left to say about Wim Wenders’s own contribution to it, except maybe his view on Wuppertal and its surroundings used as outdoor scenery for the dance pieces from Bausch’s works; here his work worths every penny.
But I think Wenders is a bit over-sentimental making the dancers gracefully and very meaningfully staring into the camera with their own commentaries on Pina Bausch from off camera. The content of these interludes are not bad or unnecessary, but the method does not assure a fully valid dialog with the dancing parts, which are awesome. What we learn about Pina from her dancers is that she was rough and gentle in the same time, a perfectionist who offered freedom of creation, freedom that often, intimidated, scared and exhausted the dancers but also made them discover themselves. For them Pina Bausch was a real guru and some of them now feel orphaned.
My conclusion on Wenders’s Pina is that if you see it and you didn’t know who she was, you might want to find out more and that if you did know who she was, you might really want to visit Wuppertal and get on that monorail and see some of her shows at the Tanztheater. The bottom line is that we have to see those shows! Book your tickets quickly!

With Wenders’s Pina my highbrowed cinema experience of mid-September ended and, with the virus bleakly pressing down my brain and a half closed wound on my elbow, I took a dive in thriller movies. It really helped me kill my virus and close the wound!

The first was Giuseppe Tornatore’s “La Sconociuta”.
It is a harsh story of an abused prostitute who tries to change her luck with some of the old interloper methods she picked up on her long journey in a hell of a life. Tornatore uses quite disturbing flash-backs to depict the heroine’s past. Then, with all the violence the Italian criminal world can offer and the good quality suspense, the story evolves slowly but surely to an ending more suitable to soft family dramas. Anyways, the movie keeps you alert and two of the characters are hard to forget. The main character “Irena” is played by Ksenia Rappoport with such delicacy that when the first uncommon gesture appears you feel totally lost and from that point on you’ll never know what to expect from her. But in the end the melodramatic ending fences her in. Michele Placido offers a great performance as a villain, the pimp; my stomach could hardly stand him. Maybe it was the medicine’s effect but he really is what you can hate and fear the most, a nightmarish character.

A Swedish thriller! Sounded very tempting by simply being a Swedish thriller. There are not many, I found only 25 titles on the internet. “Män som hatar kvinnor” (Men who hate women) directed by Niels Arden Oplev is one of them.
Now this was the entertainment a sick and injured patient like me needed to be cheered up with! It has everything! Investigative journalism against big industrialists and their dirty businesses, murder investigation, tutorial abuse, child molestation, nazism, computer hacking, serial killers, consensual and non consensual sex, car chase, girl on bike, bright future promising amount of money, pregnancy and heart breaking family drama. That is the short list!
All these elements of the story, that might seem a bit too many for one story only are firmly handled by Niels Arden Oplev. Thus, the story line being easy to follow, you have plenty of time to play the detective but also to enjoy one of the most satisfying revenge scenes seen on-screen which I’ll bet you’ll watch with an honest grin on.
The novel the movie is based upon, written by Stieg Larsson, has a second adaptation called ”The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” to be released this december.
Meanwhile, my throat is better, my impressive wound slowly turns into an insignificant scar, I am back on may feet and ready for the road again.

Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen

(slightly spoiled)

Thank God! Woody Allen switched off the auto-pilot used partially in “Whatever Works” and full-time in “You’ll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”. It is not his most original work but is definitely narrated with the freshness “You’ll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” lacked so much.

“Midnight in Paris” is, as the title promises to be, an ode to Paris and all its charms. In addition it is also an ode to good ol’ times, not the ones we witnessed but the ones we read about in books, see in the movies and learn about in history class.

Midnight is a special hour when yesterday, today and tomorrow meet. It is the moment when the hero takes a leap in time, the moment Woody Allen chooses to feed us and his hero the magic of never-known but always longed-for better, cooler, more dynamic past.

We are offered what only cinema, of all arts, can offer, dreamlike time traveling. Cinema can curve time, we’re so rigidly and linearly trapped in, in the most natural way. It is science-fiction Woody Allen style, escapist style, using up all the possibilities and tricks a time travel in Paris of the Golden Age can offer. It is not a journey as unexpected as the one in “The Purple Rose of Cairo” but still an entertaining one.

The artistic milieu our hero lands in is astonishing, of course, and he has some revelatory encounters; the one with the surrealist group is probably the most intriguing and, in return, Luis Bunuel gets something very important out of this bizarre meeting but he is not yet aware of it. But we are and what a treat it is!

“Midnight in Paris” is well spent quality time with Woody Allen. We are not witnessing a chef d’oeuvre, but it’s definitely an enjoyable film and maybe even worth seeing twice. The cast, this time, is a success curing me, at least, of the “Tall Dark Stranger” cast trauma. Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll are adorable, but Adrien Brody was the one who took me home.

The past, as glamorous as it is, as welcoming as it seems in the realm of cinema, was once the harsh present for the ones who lived it. The present is always too prosaic, no matter when or where, is what we all want to escape most of the time. That not being possible, maybe present is to be faced with gaiety and courage as Hemingway describes it. Use your dreams of perfection as the lance against quotidian dullness and indifference. Make present a past worth escaping to. Make present your Belle Epoque and never wait for the Future!

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