; movieschocolatebooks: September 2013


Monday, September 30

Head In The Clouds- the glimpse of a diva! by Cheltuitus Banus

Imi place Charlize Theron. Are ceva...il are pe acel ceva ce te face sa o urmaresti, sa o admiri, sa te intrebi oare ce mananca de este asa de frumoasa si deosebita prin eleganta? Te face sa te intrebi din ce lume este. Head in the clouds e un film de duminica dupa amiaza, nu te solicita prea mult, o povestioara draguta, emotionanta, actori frumosi, curatei, interpretare buna, de televiziune...nota 7 , parerea mea. L-am vazut si mi-am dorit sa il vad pentru Charlize Theron in primul rand, apoi pentru a vedea the beginning in relatia dintre ea si Stuart Townsend si apoi, pentru Penelope Cruise.

Poveste despre o fata, Gilda Bessé, ce isi face propria viata, fara reguli, incercand sa placa in primul rand ei, sa guste toate placerile vietii, sa fie libera si femeie in adevaratul sens al cuvantului- feminina si capricioasa, intr-o vreme in care femeile nu prea stiu ca au putere si inca descoperindu-se intr-o lume a barbatilor...Adevarul este ca isi permite acest lux, deoarece conform rolului are puterea materiala si sociala de a fi si face doar ceea ce vrea. In fuga ei de a-si trai viata la maximum, intalneste fel de fel de personaje ce nu lasa amprenta asupra ei, decat daca ea doreste acest lucru, un fel de barbat din punct de vedere emotional si sexual- asa sunt lasati sa ii patrunda in lume Mia- Penelope Cruiz si Guy Malyon- Stuart Townsend. Povestea ei implica Anglia anilor 1930 si Franta in timpul razboiului.

Stuart, cel destept si corect, isi face rolul ca la carte, fara prea mari eforturi, este curat si neinspirational, este insipid, inodor, incolor, ca apa- e buna si sanatoasa, dar mai bun este un pahar de vin... In acest film, doar langa Charlize mai are cate o sclipire si atunci doar cand pune mana pe frumusetea aceasta de femeie...adica, scuze, dar nu ai cum sa ramai imun la asa femeie. Este atat de stangaci in rol incat pare chiar comic si face filmul sa scada in ochii privitorului doritor de un film atragator. Penelope este o frumoasa, focoasa si atragatoare prezenta in film, care desi are rol, mic fura scenele de cele mai multe ori, este superba in interpretare, este ea...spanioloaica si atat; respira feminitate, imprastie in jurul ei sexualitatea sa, este femeie, fiinta sexuala in cel mai frumos sens.

Intorcandu-ma la Charlize Theron, se vede cum este la granita dintre model venit sa se faca actrita si actrita posesoarea unui Oscar, pe merit, se vede seriozitatea si implicarea actorului adevarat. Am spus ca este la granita dintre cele doua, pentru ca este un film in care isi face meseria cu ups and downs. Pe parcursul filmului o vezi cum se transforma in actrita, in diva, in model... schimbatoare si sclipitoare, nu doar ''mobilier frumos intr-o camera frumoasa''. La inceputul filmului rade tamp si aiurea, este pisicoasa... prea pisicoasa, te arunca intr-un film categorie B televiziune, de urmarit cand nu ai ce face si vrei sa urmaresti un film la tv in loc sa crosetezi sau sa faci un rebus. Pe parcursul filmului, in toata acea poveste draguta si emotionanta, categorie B, o vezi cum se transforma si realizezi ca poate mai mult, ca poate fi actrita buna, ca filmul acesta nu este pentru adevaratele ei posibilitatile, ca aceasta filmare nu o 'expoateaza' la maximul abilitatilor ei.

Aceasta impresie am avut-o privind imaginea ce mi-a ramas in minte si anume, cea in care disperata ca ambii ei prieteni vor pleca la razboi, incepe sa se sarute cu personajul interpretat de Penelope Cruise si o musca atat de tare incat ii da sangele, iar ei nu ii pare rau...priveste vinovata, plansa si disperata spre Steward, cerand parca ghidare, cerand sa nu mai fie pierduta. Charlize este un soare un filmul acesta, prin rolul dat si prin interpretare, este vesela si atragatoare (nu ca Penelope care este o felina prin miscari si felul ei de a fi, prin prezenta prin respiratie si priviri). Se vede ca interpretarea este un pic stangace, este mai mult o exersare a actului artistic pentru ceva mai maret decat ''head in the clouds'', dar te face sa vrei sa mai vezi ceva cu ea, pentru ca o vezi ca are potential pentru un film cu adevarat bun. Charlize este povestea Cenusaresei ecranului, este varianta fericita a modelui devenit actrita... nu este actorul nascut, este actorul ''facut'', dar diva prin prezenta, miscari, zambet, definitie, nu prin capricii si ''aere''.

Stuck in love

Much as I appreciate the relaxing nature of a chick flick, it is almost tiring to watch the international cinema produce, every year, happy-ending romances in the line of Crazy Stupid Love, Love Actually, Leap Year, or No Strings Attached. Stuck in love makes no exception to the rule: it is about love and the way beautiful people respond to being over-loved or loveless. It is almost depressing the way these movies tell the stories of incredible good-looking people, misleading the rest of the world into believing that good things only happen to beautiful people or that such stories are real. It feels as if the rest of the world doesn't stand a chance unless they are handsome, successful, intelligent, ageless, living promising lives.

So far, my disappointment has been obvious, yet, there is interesting how, once again, a writer becomes the leading character in a movie that apparently talks books. In the tradition of Wonder Boys or Deconstructing Harry, this movie is about what happens to writers when they take time off from writing. Contrary to the general opinion that misery is the best creative resource, William Borgens (Greg Kinnear), successful writer and proud father of two budding literary wonder kids -Rusty and Samantha- hasn't felt very inspired since his wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), left him for a younger man. Love turns him into a lovesick puppy who would rather stalk on his former wife than make him plunge into writing. Of course, we, the viewers, are totally understanding of his obsession since Jennifer Connelly does anything but growing old. Her daughter's beauty, played by Lilly Collins, fades away to her mother's never-ageing looks.   

Books and life have a cunning way of mingling, once again exposing the thin line between reality and fiction. The richer our experiences and readings are, for that matter, the better writing we produce. Except for the part where the father is willing to overlook Rusty's accusations regarding the promiscuous life of his sister, Samantha, for the sake of cumulative training on human relationships. As a parent shouldn't he at least try, let alone encourage, to get his daughter to value relationships based on anything but random sex? Apparently, he is too focused on wrapping his mind around her book being published and on making sure his son doesn't share the same bed with his junkie girlfriend. That, Stephen King's telephone walk-in as himself and claiming his novel IT is as good as Moby Dick were the drawbacks of a movie wishing to show us how much a writer struggles to embrace every day life in a creative manner.  

In this melting pot of fuck bodies, drugs, addiction, casual sex, edgy daughter-mother relationship, soul mates, writing ambitions and books as far as you can see, a couple of things are really inviting: What We Talk about When We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver and A Good Man is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor. Two excellent authors you should definitely bother to read, while playing Between the Bars by Elliott Smith or The Beatles' Polythene Pam. Your choice! Or in the words of Benjamin Franklin, Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

Sunday, September 29

The Tree

Charlotte Gainsbourg is always a luminous presence in her movies and The Tree, a film about longing and accepting loss, makes no exception. It takes a woman- the talented, former French documentary-maker, Julie Bertuccelli- to gorgeously render the feelings of another woman. The title of the movie refers to a fig tree that acts both protectively and aggressively over the O'Neil family.

The father of the family, Peter (Aden Young), dies of a heart attack, while driving his truck and ends up resting at the feet of the tree. Left with four children, Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the mother, goes through depressing times, yet gains balance for the sake of her family. She needs to start making a living so she gets a job at the office of the local plumber, George (Marton Csokas). The romance they embark on is soothing and refreshing for Dawn, yet, the family's eight-year-old Simone, seems to have a hard time accepting the man. The little girl is convinced her father's spirit dwells in the tree so she refuses to climb down and be reunited with the rest of the family. Nature itself appears to be against the George and Dawn affair so when the typhoon hits the area in a succession of impressive visual effects display, the tree collapses over the house.

Gradually, the leaves of their Moreton Bay Fig start whispering to Dawn's heart as well and she starts seeing George, called upon to remove the disturbing roots and branches of the tree, as an unnecessary presence. Her own needs come second and the well-being of her children is a priority. When she is a mess, lying in bed, Tim, the eldest and the most responsible child, takes care of the rest of them and even gets a job. This is a gesture that pulls the mother out of her numbness and forces her to face reality: she is more than needed, she is vital. The children's interest and fascination with the tree is a shared secret and Dawn, although initially drawn by George's manly attitude towards solving matters, gives in to her motherly feelings.

This is a simple, unadorned movie that feels like a breeze on a sunny day; Charlotte Gainsbourg's lean figure and big eyes stick on your retina in a powerful manner. She has an elegant manner of dealing with pain without feeling too affected or phony. A mother's pain works in mysterious ways, yet never to the prejudice of her children. The tree is a metaphor for the presence of the invisible world. There might be an entrance to the underworld at its roots and Simone feels it. Communicating with her father's spirit, via the fig tree, is Simone's way of telling the world she is not ready to give her father up. She sees her mother's fling as a betrayal and takes refuge in the sheltering branches of the tree.

The Tree has been adapted to the screen by writer and director Julie Bertuccelli (Since Otar Left) starting from the novel Our Father Who Art in the Tree by Judy Pascoe. Apart from the great performances, the movie is incredible in rendering the beauty of the Australian landscape and nature itself in the dramatic pursue of peace of mind and acceptance of personal loss.

Tuesday, September 24

At any price

"Expand or die." As parents, we go to great lengths to make our children follow into our footsteps, whether on a personal level or professionally. And how hard it is for us to accept that they might have a mind of their own and wishes that we fail to understand. Dennis Quaid and Zac Effron, father and son, share no mutual views on life as it is, yet they indulge in the sexual favours of the same woman played by Heather Graham. Different opinions, same tastes, right?

Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) is a hard-working farmer who does everything in his power to keep a good business, his two sons close to him, his wife happy and his mistress satisfied. And he fails miserably in everything: he find himself under Monsanto investigation, his elder son would rather climb the highest mountains than join the family business, his younger one (Zac Effron) is into car races, the wife knows about his affair and the lover complains about his manhood. With an ageing father who accuses him of ruining the family farm and a son who would rather spend his time racing for NASCAR or making out with his girlfriend (Maika Monroe), Henry is trying hard to keep things together on all fronts. 

One remarkable thing about the movie is Dennis Quaid's performance. In the beginning he is portrayed as a family guy, a friendly neighbour and a good business man; yet his grin and backslapping manner of dealing with things and people are too fake. Illegal practises, cheating, failing as a parent unpleasantly surface his perfect image and this crack reveals more than meets the eye. He is himself a son desperate not to fail his own father, an insecure husband, a poor lover and has some false expectations about his two sons. With all these unexpected truths hitting him in the face, Henry is no quitter. Without going soft, he overcomes his fears, takes matters into his own hands, make amends for his lack of ethics, saves his son's neck, takes the blame upon him and finally manages to keep his family together. 

At any price takes a close look at the hardships of being a farmer, the issue of genetically modified seeds, the pressure of keeping a successful business and the illicit practises of doing agriculture. There is a striking contradiction between Henry's perfect, green, healthy corn fields and the dirt that makes his business. Another surprising blow comes from the violent turn the movie takes when Dean and the son of his father's competitor (Clancy Brown) start an argument that takes them from the racing track to the corn fields. It is, after all, a cruel, imperfect world that threatens to erupt and bury everyone. The simplicity of the old times, as Henry remembers them himself, has lost ground to the industrialised business of genetic modifications.

Henry’s rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron) takes a chance at making it all the way to NASCAR competitions, yet his own inner conflicts make him freak out and fail. The small town mentality and his own limitations throw him into adulthood and he comes to accept his fate: he will work for the family, expanding his father's business and making the farm more prosperous than it is. Pretty  newcomer Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend Cadence and the discreete Kim Dickens are the tough ladies behind the men who fail to appreciate their support and love.
On the whole, At any price is not an emotional movie, yet it kind of juggles with the dramatic moments, turning the story into an ambiguous one, in terms of morals and ethics. In life, you need to expand in order to avoid failure, yet it is crucial how you choose to grow as a person or to how you come to accept the questionable choices. 

Tuesday, September 17

Only God Forgives- good girl turned bad

Only God Forgives este o ciudatenie de film, in care diferentele culturale sunt clar demarcate, de genul, fiecare cu lumea sa. Ryan Gossling isi face rolul pentru care a fost ales, o copie a filmului Drive...urmarind filmul mi s-a parut ca revad scene, miscari priviri, pasaje muzicale...mi se pare un deja vu...asa am cautat regizorul si am descoperit ca era acelasi in ambele filme- Nicolas Winding Refn ...Ryan o fi muza sa.

Plot simplu si un pic fortat, dar sustinut de actori bine alesi. Actorii par unii aruncati in lumea altora. Asiatici ce se desfasoara in lumea lor inconjurata de rosu, mult plastic, kitch, sunete si tacere. Vorbe putine, dar simbolistice si bine punctate, miscari lente si incarcate de semnificatii, muzica tailandeza, sabii, taieturi si schingiuieli la care doar asiaticii se pricep sa uimeasca prin simplitate dar notabililitate, de iti raman pe retina si... curatenie exemplara. Pe de alta parte, este cealalta lume, a non-asiaticilor, care sunt aparent integrati in viata si afacerile tailandezilor din film, este lumea celor shallow, a celor lui aici si acum, a defaimatorilor si celor ce ar face orice, trecand peste familie si integritate, pentre a-si realiza scopurile, indiferent care ar fi acelea.

In aceasta lume a kitch-ului apare EA- Kristin Scott Thomas. Ea care altminteri este o lady, o eleganta si o neanteleasa lumii de rand, Ea doamna... Ea transformata in bad girl, in mama de mafiot, in femeie de afaceri ilegale, in vampa cu tendinte incestuoase. Sincer, am fost socata de aparitia ei, dar fascinata in acelasi moment (exact cum a fost si Nicole Kidman in Paperboy) ...asteptam sa o vad cum vorbeste, cum gesticuleaza, cum priveste si se misca. M-a fascinat prezenta ei si am retinut-o instantaneu, o cautam prin film, prin firul povestii. Isi face rolul bine, este veridica, ma asteptam sa nu o prinda acest rol...Pentru mine este o lady a ecranului si ca orice lady, nu e nevoie sa fie inteleasa sau sa dea explicatii, stii ca ceea ce face este bine si este corect...Dar de data aceasta a fost diferita si altcineva in locul ei ar fi alterat rolul si personajul...Este perfecta, afectata, trashy-casual...Cat de eleganta poate fi o vampa femeie de afaceri ilegale, conform rolului. Rolul ei este de mama indurerata, ce isi cere razbunarea cu orice pret dar care, in acelasi timp, are de rezolvat si afaceri legate de traficul cu droguri din care isi castiga existenta. Isi minte, denigreaza si manipuleaza mezinul pentru a obtine ceea ce vrea- razbunarea. Se comporta exact cum o cere rolul, pana si culoarea unghiilor, rosu aprins, duce la crearea personajului sau. Nimeni nu comenteaza in fata ei, nici chiar fiul ramas in viata, dar denigrat pana in ultimul moment. este the boss... Este vampa ce isi pastreaza o linei fragila a ceea ce este Kirstin Scott Thomas, o vezi in tot ceea ce face, ii vezi umbra clasicitatii, desi isi face rolul foarte bine...Poate chiar aceste dedesubturi o fac atragatoare si remarcabila in noul rol.

Saturday, September 14

Frozen River

The is something of Alice Hyatt of Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More in Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) of  Courtney Hunt's Frozen River. Less drama, yet the same strength and power of endurance. Take two single moms, fighting poverty, discrimination and racism, make them strong and fearless and throw them into a harsh winter, living in shabby house trailers, a few days before Christmas. This is not a Frank Capra Christmas kind of picture, with happy families gathered around the Christmas tree, singing carols and waiting for angels to earn their wings, this is real life- where Christmas is another empty day, with nothing to offer and much to lose.

Meet Ray Eddy, mother of two boys, struggling to make ends meet and buy a double-wide trailer; that gambling-addicted husband of hers took the family savings and left for Atlantic City, leaving his car behind. Ray finds the car at the hands of Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham), a Mohawk young woman working at a bingo parlour. Together, they strike an unusual partnership and the car is the perfect means of transportation to traffic illegal immigrants from Canada into the United States across the frozen St. Lawrence River. Their initial need for money grows into an unexpected friendship and when they find themselves in a crisis, they both turn out to be generous, good-hearted women who value motherhood and second chances most. 


Both Melissa Leo (21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) as Ray and Misty Upham as Lila, a relative new comer with a reputation of television and independent films, give excellent performances. They turn the story from social drama into a tale of moral complexity. Frozen River is not only about fighting impoverishment or depicting the hardships of immigration, it is more about developing the two women's relationship and their broken lives. Ray and Lila cannot afford to be anything but mothers, femininity is a luxury beyond their reach -Ray keeps buying bubble bath salts for the jacuzzi she cannot afford- and perseverance and lack of perspectives is what keeps them running. However, don't expect a Thelma ans Louise kind of friendship where pretty ladies hit the road and choose their end; these winter women don't say much to one another, yet feel each other's pain and stick together. 

There is a poor, biased America at the end of the rainbow that fails to shine in Hollywood golden letters. Its tears roll quietly on the wrinkled cheeks of its women who know only poverty, worry, unhappiness, lousy jobs and discriminating looks. Frozen River is a movie about the unpleasant, yet genuine lives of these women warming the harsh wintry landscape with their good hearts. Balleting on thin ice is what Courtney Hunt promises us to watch in her movie and she stays true to her word.

Thursday, September 12

Weinrichs 1895 Lait 32 % Cocoa

Fine milk chocolate in a cobalt blue, elegant wrapping. 1895 is written in grey and silver and it kind of gets to you: it looks sophisticated so it must be something else. And it is: too much milk and not enough cocoa. Can there be anything as too much milk in milk chocolate? Sometimes. The milk taste lingers long after the piece melted and it leaves you hanging, waiting for another wave of pleasure for your taste buds.

Weinrich's 1895 Lait 32% Cocoa (zazou.ciocolata) Tags: germany chocolatebar milkchocolate weinrich 3034cocoa
It has 32% minimum of cocoa solids, 13% skimmed milk powder and 10% dried cream, which makes it unbelievably milky. It smells like cocoa yet it tastes like milky. Definitely, a bar for milkaholics. Let us take a trip down the history lane to find a few things about this bar. In 1895 Ludwig Weinrich and Paul Drüge set up the “Herforder Biscuit – und Cakesfabrik Weinrich & Drüge” but the latter leaves the business in 1912 so it all goes to the Weinrich family who starts making chocolate after First World War.So they have a pretty long tradition in the field. The same company produces VIVANI Premium Chocolate, a top brand in the area of organic chocolate. Two years ago the company reinvented itself and Weinrichs 1895 Finest Chocolate came on the market in different flavours.
 Weinrich's 1895 Lait 32% Cocoa (zazou.ciocolata) Tags: germany chocolatebar milkchocolate weinrich 3034cocoa

So Weinrichs 1895 Lait 32 % Cocoa  has got tradition and looks, yet I was not surprised. As a matter of fact, German chocolate seem to have the same sweet, milky taste, regardless of the brand. It does not compare to Swiss or Belgian chocolate which is creamier and an opportunity to peel off different layers of taste as it softly melts in your mouth. In brief, I was impressed with the outside but left unsatisfied with the inside. One bar down, more to go!

Tuesday, September 10

The Broken Circle Breakdown

Best Actress and Best Screenplay from Tribeca and the Audience Award and the Europa Cinemas Award from Berlin for 112 minutes of magnificent cinematography, aka The Broken Circle Breakdown. It is a movie about the joy of music and the sadness of life that fill the existence of two people: musician Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens). It is Dutch director Felix Van Groeningen’s story of passion for bluegrass music, the art of tattooing and life's lack of generosity.

In a series of flashbacks, the movie builds itself into three stories: the love between Didier and Elise, their fight with Maybelle's cancer and the sufferance of the two parents who outlive their child- all wrapped up in the bluegrass music played by Didier's band. I have to confess my taste in music has led me on different paths than bluegrass or country music, yet I gave it a try and Hank Williams and Bill Monroe made it worthwhile. Which always makes it funny- the way a movie not only draws a beautiful story, with great performances but how it also opens new perspectives on different directions. I believe the special music played by Didier's quintet with Elise as a lead singer hugely contributed to the success of the movie; it resonated with their happy times but it also turned their dim journey into a peaceful one. 

Apart from the musical gain, the movie is interesting in the way the love story revolves around an atheist, Didier, who is open about his anti-American/Bush policy on stem cells -which, to a certain extent, is what pulls the film from its natural flow- and a free-spirited Elise. Didier's outbreak during a concert is supposed to show the viewers the mess and anguish he is going through, yet it feels a bit uncanny. However, the performances by Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh are passionate and compelling. Given its sad subject and the depiction of the chemo process Maybelle undergoes, the movie is meant to be a tear-jerker; however there are some funny scenes in the film such as the welcoming one offered by the members of the quintet who all sing The Lion Sleeps Tonight for the little girl. Actually, it is the way the director chooses to mark the dramatic moments in the movie: with the help of music meant to soothe the hearts or the passage of the wounded.


The way the story weaves back and forward through the years adds up to the movie's tension and it is painful to watch how the two struggle to face tragedy: Didier chooses reason whereas Elise wants to believe. She wants to believe so badly that she changes her name to Annabelle Monroe, puts on a smiley face and pretends to be fine. Didier yells his pain to Elise and to the rest of the world and the song from which the title of the movie draws inspiration -a religious hymn Will the Circle Be Unbroken? made popular by numerous bluegrass and country singers in the United States since the 1920s- comes to define their live: a broken circle that can no longer be mended. Music is not always some all-purpose medicine; for Didier and Elise, life is cruel and lacks generosity and its complex and volatile ups and downs bring them to their downfall. However, although The Broken Circle Breakdown is a sad movie, it fails to turn into a melodrama since it is well edited and connects the tragic moments to the musical ones, turning the story into a journey worth taking.  

Sunday, September 8

Merci milk chocolate

This elegant Merci Milk Chocolate took me down the memory lane and made me recall the days of my childhood. Growing up under Ceausescu's regime when all international products were banned as mark of the destructive capitalism, we are left with a relatively narrow range of options when it came to chocolate. So when my father and us, the kids, bumped into an Arab student camped in a dormitory in town -the same place where my father worked as a supervisor- the funny, black as pitch young man invited us for a juice and bought us a box of Merci chocolates from one of the three stores in town selling goods for foreigners. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a ten-year old girl to run her fingers through the curly, thick hair of a black man and eat the incredible small flavoured bars of Merci. Submissive, frightened victims of the totalitarian regime and living under the constant fear of Ceausescu's Securitate, my parents forbade us to share the joy or the chocolate with our friends or classmates and made us keep it all secret. 
Instead of turning this into a bad memory, it is a very pleasant recollection of how my senses- touch and taste- were tickled and how the sweet conspiracy brought me and my brother closer. All these years later, we remind each other of that autumn sunny morning, of how the young man's hair felt like, of his big smile and perfect white teeth, of how we secretly hoped to get home as soon as possible to taste the chocolates. And the flavours -Hazelnut-Creme, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond & Praline-Creme, Milk Chocolate, Coffee and Cream & Dark Cream- how they delighted our senses and made us the happiest kids alive. 

Now, all these years later, I have discovered the Merci Milk Chocolate bar which is actually a small posh box of four individual chocolate bars. This 100g chocolate bar contains 32% cocoa and 23,5% powder milk and it tastes more like butter. It melts quickly in your mouth with a silky smooth and the dominant flavors are powdered milk, caramelised sugar and a light note of cocoa. Its sweetness made me think of Cadbury chocolate and its smell of vanilla is intoxicating. My tooth for chocolate does not mean I am less picky when it comes to rating chocolate. Yet I did not feel disappointed at all by this creamy chocolate bar. It is affordable and it makes a great lovely gift in different tastes: hazelnut, dark, coffee or caramel. 

Thursday, September 5

To the Wonder by Cheltuitus Banus

To the wonder sau cum sa creezi poezi si balet in acelasi timp. Ce a reusit Malik sa faca? A reusit sa creeze imaginea dragostei, a actului in sine de a face dragoste, de a te simti indragostit, de a o exprima, de a respira dragoste de a auzi dragostea...La prima vedere te astepti sa vezi un film clasic: introducere, cuprins, incheiere, replici, actori ce sa iti ia gandul de la film, in cazul in care acesta nu este bun sau ar avea scapari, o muzica ce sa anunte sau sa sublinieze actiunea. Ei bine, nu! El aduce trecutul in prezent. Aduce timpurile glorioase ale filmului mut, in actualitatea noastra si il extrage esenta, ii ia momentele de tacere, le combina cu muzica si cu sunetele sau mai bine zis muzicalitatea cuvintelor pentru a creea actiunea. Actorii au replici minime, mai bine zis nu au replici, dar au roluri, au roluri comlexe chiar. Rolul lor este de a exprima stari, folosindu-se de puterea expresivitatii lor - acum se vede daca ei sunt adevarati sau nu, se vede daca au puterea lui ''vino-ncoa'' sau nu, daca au puterea artistului. Si Malik a ales bine, a ales actori cu mare putere expresiva: Ben Affleck - Neil, Olga Kurylenko- Marina, Rachel McAdams- Jane, Javier Bardem- Father Quintana, Tatiana Chiline- Tatiana. Fiecare dintre acesti actori isi joaca rolul pentru care au fost alesi, intr-un mod surprinzator de nou...fac altceva decat ce te-ai fi asteptat. Daca nu esti pregatit pentru Malick, nu te uita la acest film, daca nu iti place sa asculti o opera clasica sau sa urmaresti un musical nu ai ce sa apreciezi aici, pentru ca poti spune ca Malick a adunat toate artele si le-a combinat si mixat in asa fel incat sa iasa un film mash-up.

To the wonder este apogeul filmului mut in zilele noastre, este exprimarea vizuala a actului dragostei, cu suisuri si coborasuri, fara a fi ofensator sau fara sa vizualizezi clar ceva...El sugereaza, te face sa iti pui creierul sa gandeasca mai departe...este emotie pura...in care natura este si ea parte, are rol- zgomotele naturii sunt part and parcel a filmului...actori, muzica, replicile scurte, dar bine punctate, muzica, natura vizuala si auditita sunt un tot, sunt filmul pe care il privesti. Malick a devenit prin acest film un compozitor si pictor, in acelasi timp.  Pentru el, importante sunt atingerile scurte, dar insinuante, privirile pline de inteles, culorile mediului, vantul, fosnetul frunzelor, hainele actorilor si sunetul vocilor lor. Ben affleck este prototipul americanului ce se lasa purtat de momentul acum, ce traiste momentul, se fereste de decizii importante, se lasa atras de o poveste frumoasa dar nu ii face fata cu responsabilitate. Marina este frantuzoaica bruneta, indragostita de dragoste si usor superficiala, finetea si senzualitatea ei umpland ecranul fara sa se forteze sa fie sexi sau sa fie dezbracata... este senzuala prin ochi, prin mimica si gestica, prin haine, prin impletitura parului, prin buze, prin felul in care merge, dar mai ales prin felul in care priveste…Jane este prototipul femeii americane de succes, al celor de pe coperta Sports Illustrated, al celor ce se plimba pe plajele din Miami Beach iar in acelasi timp au un ranch pe undeva prin desert, este iubita blonda din trecutul personajului principal, ce are o frumusete cuminte,clasica, home-cooked girl ce se exprima mai greoi si adult. Este fata americana din trecutul cu cowboy si ranch-uri. Father Quintana este cel din urma personaj, dar nu cel mai putin important si expresiv…rolul sau este al clerului real cu sine, al celui ce se indoieste si nu ar vrea sa greseasca, al celui ce sufera la rascruce, al celui ce ar face ceea ce trebuie dar si ceea ce vrea, ceea ce inima cere…Se vede cum sufera, cum incearca sa se redreseze pe calea sa, se lupta cu sine, se lupta cu doronta de a fi barbat, se vede cum isi domesticeste si incearca sa isi potoleasca demonii umani, cei ce l-ar face sa fie barbat in adevaratul sens al cuvantului, isi potoleste dorintele si asta il chinuieste si se vede prin voce, prin soapte, prin privirea pierduta- am citit undeva ca daca un barbat are privirea pierduta in zare, cauta ceva, ceva ce nu este langa el, ceva ce doreste mult…Father quintana se lupta cu dorinta de a fi barbat…hainele preotesti uneori par chiar mici de el, masivitatea sa masculina neincapand in straiele preotesti. Descrierea personajelor este insiprata de lucratura lui Malick, de jocul sau cu luminile si umbrele, cu insinuarile, atingeriele, si simplitatea imaginilor. Cadrele, imaginile sunt simple doar in aparenta…sunt comori pentru visatori. Malick este artist in adevaratul sens al cuvantului, cuprinde sub cupola sa toate artele pentru a o crea si sustine pe cea mai noua- filmul.

Fish Tank

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery said Charles Caleb Colton and he couldn't be more right; Andreea Arnold's movie Fish Tank (2009) might be in the same vein as Ken Loach's films, yet it is a poetic drama that shares with the viewer more than social realism. It is a story of attitude, love, humour and vulnerability that feels ruthlessly sincere, yet rewarding.
Mia's story is no fairy tale: she is a 15-year-old aggressive teenager, (Katie Jarvis) who abandons school, walks the streets, loves to dance, drinks as a hobby, swears, hits and rejects people. She leaves with her irresponsible mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her younger smoking and drinking sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), in an underprivileged block of flats, in a poor neighbourhood. Joanne's latest boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender) seems to be a normal grown-up who shows some interest in her dancing routine and encourages her to follow her dream. Mia is obviously attracted to the man and soon enough a certain sexual tension builds up.
Mia's trials and tribulations lead her nowhere; she gets the dancing audition she has been practising for only to discover it is for an adult show, she attempts to get close to Connor only to find he is a manipulative, opportunistic man, she acts on her impulses only to learn there are real life-threatening consequences to her reckless actions. The movie feels like watching a fish tank where the future of the poor unfortunate creatures can only mean permanent entrapment or the possibility of being flushed down the toilet. Only this bruised brave little fish -Mia- chooses to leave the aquarium and end this rough coming-of-age story in an unexpected manner.

The newcomer Katie Jarvis is as genuine as she can be since she drew the director's attention while she was having a fight with her boyfriend in a railway station. She gives an honest performance of an angry, petty adolescent longing for human affection, yet rejecting any attempt to reach to her. She has a quick temper and a big mouth, starts a fight on the spot and does not care about the others or the repercussions of her actions- she drags little Keira through a muddy field, almost drowns her as this is the only way she can express her frustration and disappointment. Even so, Mia has no expectations and takes life's blows as they come, in a self-defending manner. Is there any basic humanity left in this bruised girl? Michael Fassbender's talent comes as no surprise to anybody; he is so convincing and charming that he makes it almost impossible to despise him as Connor. His character- that made me remember Peter Sarsgaard as David Goldman in An Education (2009)- is good-looking, tender, understanding, warm while easily melting down Mia's defence shield and getting to her. Their game of rejecting and giving-in is what makes the movie so powerful and heartbreaking.

There are some scenes in the movie that simply stir an ill feeling in you. Connor takes the three of them on a trip and he then attempts, with Mia's help, to catch a fish. After they do, Mia's foot is hurt and he takes her piggyback. He plays with her emotions only to reveal his true intentions later. In another scene, Mia breaks into Connor's house, rummages through his stuff only to find some painful images on his camera. Her eyes gaze into the camera in an expressionless manner while her breathing is getting heavier. She then squats and pees on the carpet, in the middle of the living room, like an animal who cannot control its actions.

So, Mr. Loach should feel flattered that a talented director such as Andreea Arnold skillfully took a social story and turned into a sensitive, dynamic, heart-wrenching, brilliantly acted film that won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the 2010 BAFTA for Best British Film.

Tuesday, September 3


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Central Station/Central do Brasil

Journeys are always liberating experiences that force you into contemplating your strength and accepting your weakness. Central Station/Central do Brasil (1998is a road movie that follows an older woman and a young boy across the Brazilian landscape in an impressive journey about the unexpected chances that life throws at you, to better yourself and discover love.

It is the story of Dora (Fernanda Montenegro), a former school teacher who has a stand in the central station of Rio de Janeiro where she writes letters for money in the name of the poor and illiterate. She takes the letters home where she and her friend, Irene, decide the fate of the unfortunate beings by throwing away most of them. Bitter and selfish, the woman is stuck with the little boy Josué (Vinícius de Oliveira) when his mother is hit by a truck and dies outside the station. At first, she tries to get rid of the boy by selling him to an adopting family; however she cannot enjoy her new TV as her friend tells her that the nice family is buying little orphan boys for their organs. Remorseful, she steals the boy away and they embark on a bus journey throughout Brazil to find the boy's father.
And that is all you'll get from me as far as the story goes. And I know what you're thinking: another sentimental movie about a kid that melts your heart. And you are right to assume that hearts will be softened and tears will be brought to your eyes. Josué (Vinícius de Oliveira) never complains or whines, he is so serious and adultlike, yet  his big black eyes get to you. He is a vulnerable little boy who keeps his chin up even when tears roll down his cheeks. He acts all grown-up when he makes comments about Dora's clothes or engages himself in sex talks. As an informative note, director Walter Salles found Vinícius de Oliveira working as a shoeshine boy and he beat 1,500 other boys who were considered for the role. He acts naturally and manages his performance with courage and responsibility, making a sensitive, articulate role.   

Also, emotions are triggered by Fernanda Montenegro's performance. Cynical and insecure, unhappy and calculated, Dora does her best to resist Josué' s charm, innocence and need for affection by pushing him, discarding him or tricking him. The boy's perseverance wins her over and Dora grows a heart. Rivalling actresses such as Jeanne Moreau and Giulietta Masina, Fernanda Montenegro turns her initial numbness into a touching sense of purpose. The journey they take saves them both: the boys find a family and she is given a second chance to discover love and friendship. Brazil's incredible landscape and the lovely people they encounter on the road are revealed through their eyes, in a sensitive accounting of the genuine living. It is a land full of life that reflects the fickle world they live in. The director's past experience with documentaries is evident in the realistic manner in which their journey is shot: people are poor, desperate, isolated, yet they are alive.
Again, a movie about a railway station where people collide with each other in their desperate rush, ignoring one another or simply failing to see each other. There is nothing promising in their sense of loss and lack of solidarity, yet two spirits are forcibly connected and true feelings shape in the form of a great friendship: a professional scribe unblocks her heart in writing and a lost child is given hope and a future.

No country for old men- The Bardem by Cheltuitus Banus

...si Dumnezeu l-a creat pe Javier Bardem si a zis: sa faci film, sa fii expresiv si sa nu te multumesti cu roluri ce te ingradesc, sa dai prin tine, puterea Mea de a Ma transforma si de a inspira oamenii...si Bardem s-a supus vointei Lui...si a acceptat roluri peste roluri, in filme diferite, in tari diferite cu regizori diferiti. Bardem- Florentino Ariza in 'Dragoste in vremea holerei' (2007), 'Nu exista tara pentru oameni batrani' (2007), 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' (2008) sau Uxbal in 'Biutiful' (2010)... nu voi aminti de rolul din 'Mananca, roaga-te, iubeste' (2010)- consider ca atunci obosise din a fi maret si il consider un scurt nap, in mijlocul unei zile istovitoare- este ca un moment de pauza sau de stupiditate, pe care toti il avem...necontrolat. Ar mai fi de amintit Father Quintana in 'To the wonder' si Silva in '007 Skyfall'- aceste roluri mi le amintesc eu.

In ''No country for old men'' este raul intruchipat- Anton Chigurh, este masiv (parca hainele ii sunt mici, nepotrivite, nu il cuprind, plesnesc pe el), organizat, calm (ochii ii tradeaza trairile si actiunile- uneori dupa ce le infaptuieste), tacut si inventiv ca villan, este un criminal platit si de neclintit in scopul lui. Este atat de expresiv auditiv si vizual, incat te surprine si infioara prin prezenta. Expresivitatea ochilor lui este hipnotizanta- ochii mari si rotunzi, iar scena de inceput, este macabra datorita ochilor lui Bardem, nu a actului sau de a omora pe cineva. Are un rol de criminal psihopat, cu scopuri clare si de neclintit, este de neinlaturat si de neoprit chiar si de catre cei ce initial il angajasera, chiar si dupa ce isi indeplineste scopul pentru care fusese angajat. Este psihopatul cu scopuri simple dar precise.Trece peste autoritati- sunt doar un mic inconvenient pentru el, calmul salvandu-l de nereusita, trece peste angajatori si trece chiar si peste contrabalansul sau, Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson- nu stiu ce parere aveti despre el, dar mie imi place Woody ever since 'Natural born killers'). Bardem aluneca prin actiunea filmului precum apa raului momentan salvator pentru Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin).

 Filmul incepe cu prezenta surpriza a lui Bardem, transformat si transfigurat, aparent subjugat de lege, dar profitor de situatia ce i se iveste. Demonstreaza de ce a fost ales pentru rol, de ce a fost nominalizat la Oscar si de ce l-a castigat- este cameleon. Este inventiv ca psihopat criminal, iti da senzatia de calm asupara situatiilor, un calm inselator deoarece ochii il tradeaza in nebunia sa...ochii ce transmit forta si nebunie, parca sunt din alta lume...il privesti si iti dai seama ca are ajutor nesperat din parti intunecate, astfel incat reuseste sa se strecoare din fiecare situatie ce l-ar pune in dificultate. De fapt, nimic nu il pune in dificultate, nici chiar arma sa ciudata, ce ar parea greoaie pentru un criminal profesionisr, ce ar trebui sa se miste repede si fara zgomot- un tub cu aer comprimat si furtun...dupa cum spune chiar Anton Chigurh personajul, important este sa alegi o singura arma buna...a lui este la fel de ciudata ca el...i se potriveste de minune... Bardem este unic.

Sunday, September 1

Lindt- Hauchdunne Tafelchen Vollmilch

Another Lindt product, another alluring blue little box, meant to draw your eye and perfectly fit in your handbag. As if responsible health conscious women were carrying chocolate in their purses....Always, I tell you, always carry, above all, a good book, an excellent bar of chocolate and enough money to buy yourself a movie ticket in your purse. Always dress like a million dollars and always feel like a million bucks!

Again, the smell hits you once you open the box and then the sight of the little thin bars is hard to resist. In the beginning, you pick one because you want to savour it in your mouth and you want the feeling to linger forever. But the melt is all over too quickly so you get greedy and stuff two or three pieces at a time. Ladylike, off course.....Once it is safe in your mouth, you are ready to share your smile with the world. The 30% cacao taste is not that strong so you can also appreciate the soft, milky texture. If you focus enough on the pleasure of having the little bar confiscate your senses, you can actually trace a taste of almonds. Or is it just my mind playing tricks on me? Anyway, the flavour is not surprising, yet it is delicious and there is a certain aftertaste that stays with you.

I also tried the bar but it lacks the softness of the little chocolates, though it has the same ingredients. I kept taking another bite in the hope that something exquisite would reveal. Nope. So I stick to the little box. Lindt- Hauchdunne Tafelchen Vollmilch is a tasty milk chocolate. The main problem for me with these chocolates was the short duration of time that each block lasted in the mouth. So I wanted more and more....The sound of softness is something my ears are trained to hear no matter what. Lindt- Hauchdunne Tafelchen Vollmilch is not my Extra Creamy favourite but it has real potential and it is definitely worth trying. Too sweet to pass, peeps!

Luni de fiere by Cheltuitus Banus

Doua cupluri, patru oameni si patru caractere aparent fara legatura: Rebecca- frumoasa exotica, Frantz- doctorul inteligent, Beatrice- femeia ermetica, Didier- barbatul confuz. Nu voi povesti cartea, o carte nu trebuie povestita, ci traita cu personajele, trecuta prin sine. Stiam ca o carte poate schimba un om. Stiam ca pot fi influentata de o carte, ma schimb cu fiecare carte citita, toti o facem... mai mult sau mai putin, voluntar sau involuntar...dar nu ma asteptam sa imi fie teama de schimbare.
Am citit 'Luni de fiere' de Pascal Bruckner. Mi-a trebuit timp sa ma vindec de ea, sa imi revin, sa cred in bun si in bine, in cautarea fericirii, sa ma simt femeie doritoare de afectiune, sa nu pun sub semnul intrebarii actiunile celorlalti asupra mea. Este o carte zguduitoare. Nu este dezamagitoare... din punctul meu de vedere, o carte este dezamagitoare daca are potential prin subiect, iar autorul o cioparteste involuntar... sau este faimoasa pentru nimic.

'Luni de fiere' nu este dezamagitoare, dimpotriva este puternica, inteligenta, sexi, imbietoare si exploziv de vizuala. Isi indeplinedte rolul pentru care a fost creata... socheaza si ramane pe retina, nu o uiti. Iti trebuie forta si rabdare sa o citesti. Este cartea care te plimba prin lumea lucrurilor ce speri sa nu ti se intample. Te plimba prin trei momente clar evidentiate si unite de un personaj- Rebecca, de fapt, este cartea ei, povestea ei, a pasiunii, penitentei, revoltei, daruirii si schingiuirii feminitatii ei, a transformarii ei sub puterea barbatului, sub puterea data de asezarea dragului ei pe un piedestal- ar putea fi cartea motivului piedestaluilui. Momentele ce o creaza sunt moment up- plin de sex, dorinta, daruire totala, depasire a granitelor daruirii, explozie a simturilor, moment down- plin de batjocura si degradare umana, inimaginabil de vizual si improscator de rau si moment in care vrei sa urli si sa zici Gata! Sau nu! Te rog, nu! ...un moment care, teoretic ar incheia ciclic povestea...dar nu o face. Te arunca in disperarea cautarii binelui si frumosului.
Inchei cartea spunandu-ti ca vrei sa te scalzi in putina inghetata cremoasa si delicioasa, sa te saruti cu dragul tau, sa te scufunzi intr-un bine si frumos al tau, sa te ascunzi si afunzi in zona ta de confort pentru ca aceasta carte iti seaca tot ce aveai bun, frumos si iubitor in tine. Te seaca de iubire data din iubire, te seaca de daruire totala catre persoana iubita, te seaca de bunatate si te face sa vrei sa te razbuni, trezeste in tine, femeie fiind, dorinta de revolta dusa la razbunare crunta...'Luni de fiere' sau luni de inaltare si degradare a femeii ca femeie iti ofera si razbunarea... dar nu o mai vrei...pentru ca transforma frumosul in uratul ce a provocat-o, nu o mai vrei pentru ca, desi initial te bucuri de ea, iti dai seama ca sleieste, urateste, omoara tot ce ar putea avea viitor, tot ce era frumos in tine, tot ce erai tu- femeie frumoasa, femeie atragatore cu puteri de zeita, cu putere de a pune un barbat pe un piedestal, de a-l face puternic prin tine, prin inteligenta ta de ridicare si transformare. Cartea arata ca poti sa pleci, fara sa te razbuni...poti si trebuie sa lasi ceea ce nu te vrea! Trebuie sa te iubesti pe tine in primul rand, trebuie sa incerci macar sa te salvezi de raul altora, sa lasi oamenii rai fara razbunare... pentru ca se autodistrug... pentru ca, altfel, devii ca ei, o stafie, un olog fizic si psihic, devii o umbra a ceea ce ai fi putut fi pana la capat ... o femeie ce se respecta pe sine ca femeie, trebuie sa fie descoperita si iubita, trebuie in acelasi timp protejata si eliberata ...