; movieschocolatebooks: February 2014


Wednesday, February 26

Housekeping by Marylenne Robinson

My name is Ruth. I grew up with my younger sister, Lucille, under the care of my grandmother, Mrs. Sylvia Foster, and when she died, of her sisters-in-law, Misses Lily and Nona Foster, and when they fled, of her daughter, Mrs. Sylvie Fisher.

This is how the story of Ruthie begins in Housekeeping, taking us in the little town of Fingerbone, Idaho, yet, it is also the liberating story of a disciplined Marylenne Robinson, whose passion for metaphors translated into a modern classic. Once again, I marvel at my own ignorance and the fortuitous discovery of great writers that I have never known before. Not only did I rejoice at my own finding, but I also felt small while reading this grand book. Marilynne Robinson’s first novel, Housekeeping, published in 1980, came strong from the very beginning. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, yet it won the PEN/ Faulkner Award. The book has a frightening beauty that resides both in the storyline and the vivid descriptions of nature. Housekeeping, much to its ordinary and apparently easy nature, is rather a burden for the strong, a skill that we come to define as we grow into adulthood. However, to certain people, housekeeping and sticking to a certain place is an unbearable task they get to perform, yet never to enjoy. When the pressure is beyond endurance, they flee the house and the place as their uneasiness comes to life.

Front Cover

Edmund, husband of Sylvia, meets his maker on the bottom of the lake near their home, the town of Fingerbone. Never to be found, either man or train, Edmund Foster lives only in the prefabricated memories of his grandchild, Ruthie, as a tall man, of few words, whose death in the train derailing triggered a chain of unfortunate events. The wife and the three daughters, Helen, Molly and Sylvie, are left to cope with loss and their grief takes on different forms, estranging them from one another and the rest of the world. Molly takes the path of missionary work at the end of the world, Helen marries into unhappiness and one day drops her two daughters -Ruthie and Lucille- on her mother's porch and drives herself into the lake, whereas the drifter, Sylvie Foster Fisher, takes a halt from her transience and comes to take care of her nieces, upon her mother's death. First left in the care of the grandmother's two sisters-in-law, aunts Lily and Nona, the little girls' ephemeral sense of normalcy is shattered by the aunts' weirdness and then by their younger aunt Sylvie's eccentricity. Lucille grows into ordinary adulthood, whereas Ruthie comes to identify herself with Sylvie's free spirit. A transient, Sylvie is full of tales on the road, of countless people she comes to shortly know and take their stories upon herself. Homemaking, the wintry landscape, the isolation, keeping herself and her sister safe and the house is too much to bear for Lucille who escapes into the saving arms of a school teacher but also for Sylvie who fails in her caretaker role. Ruthie finds herself caught in the middle-growing apart from her sister, always at a loss for words, at ease in the silent company of her aunt and nature itself.

Robinson is a crafty painter of nature and landscapes, of the driving force behind everything that surrounds us and Ruthie, her character, is the voice she uses to beautify the greatness of nature, her transparent eyeball. Ralph Waldo Emerson described the “transparent eyeball” in his 1836 essay titled Nature. His rather mystical approach to nature echoes in Robinson's novel, especially in the episode when Sylvie and Ruthie steal a boat and go to a remote island where the former claims to have seen and tried to feed the ghosts of some children living in an abandoned house. Much to the strangeness of the idea, the entire scene is so vividly depicted that it becomes difficult not to believe that there are certain mystical forces in nature.
Water is the driving force of the novel. It keeps the town alive, it takes lives and it hides the darkest secrets. The lake is old and full of mystery, it is a playground for the people in winter, a source of life for both the people and the animals living around and it is Sylvie and Ruth's escape plan. Both lake and the nature itself are main characters in Robinson's novel where humans are transient, whereas water and land are immortal:
If one pried up earth with a stick on those days, one found massed shafts of ice, slender as needles and pure as spring water.
The two girls' struggle into adulthood is hard and they come to learn the high price of loss. Death becomes a natural matter, difficult to grasp, never explained, yet more alive in their lives than any other certainty. Their mother's suicide, their grandmother's death, their grandfather's disappearance teach them to survive, even though they choose different paths in life. Lucille rebels against her aunt's bohemian ways and joins the rows of ordinary, proper life, whereas Ruthie drifts away from school, normalcy and life itself, joining her aunt's transient ways. Their realistic story, full of praise of the wonders of nature, depicts the manner in which events shape us into adulthood and our paths in life. The frailty of human nature is never tediously portrayed in Robinson's novel; it rather feels alive and raw, on a journey through life as it is, in painful glimpses at its truth and essence. Apart from the lovely story and her talent for drawing the greatness of nature, Robinson has a soothing, humane voice that softly speaks to us of grace and redemption and all we can do is bow to her generosity.

Monday, February 24

August Osage County-poti fi puternic daca esti egoist

August Osage County sau cand femeile conduc lumea. Acest film este despre femei puternice, femei slabe, femei copil, femei mame, femei goale, femei disperate...este despre tot ce reprezinta sau ar putea reprezenta o femeie la un anumit moment din viata. Avem de-a face cu o lume matriarhala, un microcosmos haotic si puternic- cu o Meryl Streep drept- Violet Weston- leoaica- puternica, organizata, egoista, nevrotica, dezamagita, pierduta, regasita, induiosatoare, dar si calculata. Este capul familiei Weston, este mama a trei fete, sora si sotie... toate indatoririle facandusi-le atipic. Sotie cicalitoare, agasanta, egoista, aflata in continua competitie cu un sot ce ii da un sens in viata si o lasa sa fie ceea ce ea isi doreste sa fie, ii ofera lumea in care sa se desfasoare si sa isi joace rolul de primadona. El este si personajul lipsa ce da motivul filmului. 

Violet Weson este mama a trei fiice total diferite ca personalitate, dar unite prin trasatura comuna femeilor Weston: puterea de a se ridica si de a merge spre ceea ce doresc, puterea de a fi in picioare pentru ele insele si scopul lor- implicand sau nu alte persoane, puterea de a-si face si reface viata. Julia Roberts este alaturi de Julianne Nicholson si Juliette Lewis o forta. Sunt surorile ce isi au radacinile intr-o casa plina de amintiri, '' fantome'' ale trecutului ce ies la iveala cu scop si o caldura ce devine personaj al filmului prin repetarea continua si obsedanta a efectelor ce avute asupara familiei. Julia, in rolul Barbarei Weston este mama si sotie abandonata, ranita in orgoliul si feminitatea proprie. Mama ce se considera prea dura pentru fiica sa, dar care vede in aceasta trasaturile si viitorul clanului femeilor Weston, chiar impulsonand-o in acest sens sa supravietuiasca, prin orice mijloace: “Listen to me: die after me, all right? I don't care what else you do, where you go, how you screw up your life, just... survive. Outlive me, please.” ...o indeamna chiar sa i se impotriveasca si sa se se lupte no matter what. Chiar daca pe parcursul filmului se simte ca si cum s-ar ineca in propria viata si propria familie, reuseste sa supravietuiasca si sa se ridice- sa devina o persoana ce se iubeste mai mult pe sine, astfel incat sa se poata bucura de viata, sa mearga mai departe, calcand peste tot si toate...Julia este o forta in acest film, este un munte de hotarare si putere. Juliette Lewis pe care o iubesc pur si simplu de la Natural Born Killers, Cape Fear si Kalifornia, este aici Karen Weston, o femeie cam ratacita de cele reale in aparenta, dar cu un scop precis, acela de a-si reface cu orice pret viata... chiar cu orice pret, cu pretul ranirii si indepartarii de familie... si reuseste. Pare slaba de ingeri si shallow, dar sub aceste feminisme aproape parodiate, se afla o femeie ranita, disperata, calculata.

    Julianne Nicholson este Ivy Weston o sora fada si minimalizata de familie, asemenea unei paria, unei no name no face person, este cea care nu a comentat si nici pus in discutie vreo decizie a familiei, este apa linistita si adanca... este cea care surprinde cel mai mult prin hotarare si atitudine... da totul la o parte pentru a-si trai viata asa cum isi doreste, ajunsa la un punct maxim de indurare, este cea care isca cele mai multe si aprigi valuri in familie prin decizia finala pe care o ia...este rece si fara scrupule, poate chiar cea mai dura si mai hotararta dintre surori... Acesta nu este un film de familie, nu este un film vesel si limpede...este un film ca o viata, mai mult egoista si cu multe palme de wake up call...tot respectul pentru aceste femei- actor!

    Monday, February 17

    Loving by Henry Green

    Henry Green is a rather recent acquaintance of mine, an unexpected one, I should say. I hear he was a handsome man, an old-school writer with a declared interest in noting down the way people struck sparks off each other. I wouldn't know as he happened to impart both his wisdom and grace upon other fortunate readers of his, long before I was born. Yet, once I started reading his books, I have got the feeling of the life in it and the way it mirrored back into my own light. And this is something rare and precious in a book, such as Loving, which really struck a chord with my emotions.

    Well, much to my open-mindedness, when it comes to reading, I find myself drawn to books that resonate with my literary taste for magic realism and Loving is so not the case. But we all love stories and we all grew up on the magical, enchanted words Once upon a time so once I began reading, I couldn't put it aside. It was unexpected in style, narrative form, structure, grammar, you name it. In a word, a book with a hidden, mesmerizing touch that sneaked upon me in no time. Loving is the story of the household staff of  Mrs. Tennant's Castle, in the beginning of the Second World War in Ireland. Upon the unfortunate death of Mr Eldon, the butler, Charley Raunce assumes the position much to the bewilderment of the other members of the servant class. Miss Burch, the housekeeper, is the one person who openly disapproves of this sudden change from head footman to butler. Raunce is not only ambitious but he immediately becomes interesting in the eyes of young Edith, an underhousemaid of great beauty. Scheming their way through, the staff manages to draw the attention of Mrs. Tennant who tries not to mingle, following the unwritten rule of class distinction, yet finds herself caught in Raunce's manipulative actions. In her absence, the servants have amusing, intriguing dialogues from the fate of peacocks, to a missing valuable ring, back to the IRA threat, the unexpected visit of an insurance inspector, Mrs. Jack's affair in the absence of her husband, Mrs. Tennant's son. Love is the spice that wraps up everything in a fine veil, rendering the hidden passions behind the actions of the domestic staff. The love story between the 40 year old butler and the younger Edie, the strange relationship between Paddy, the lampman and the other young housemaid, Kate, Miss Burch's uptight manner of judging things and people, Albert the pantry boy, the gin-drinking cook Mrs Welch, and the old nanny, Miss Swift are all drawn in vivid colours, always in a state of curiosity or anxiety. Yet when the ladies of the house take a trip to London, the domestic staff gains a sudden sense of power and certain distinct personalities break the lines. The IRA menace, whether real or imaginary, is used by the butler to control the rest of them, whereas he can go on taking care of his own affairs. The mundane, repetitive description of their actions is overshadowed by the sensitive moments when love settles in:

    ‘Oh Edie,’ he gasped moving forward. The room had grown immeasurably dark from the storm massed outside. Their two bodies flowed into one as he put his arms about her. The shape they made was crowned with his head, on top of a white sharp curved neck, dominating and cruel over the blur that was her mass of hair through which her lips sucked at him warm and heady.
    ‘Edie,’ he muttered breaking away only to drive his face down into hers once more. But he was pressing her back into a bow shape. ‘Edie,’ he called again.

    The tale of the scheming lower-class employees comes to an end in the same usual manner And they lived happily ever after -although you still get the feeling that their lively dialogues go on existing in and out of ourselves, a little world revolving around itself, where human nature lives unfiltered in a seductive and pleasing manner.

    Henry Green chose to remain an anonymous writer all his life and his novels still pass unnoticed, yet to the fortunate eyes and minds, they are rich beyond comprehension, delicate literary jewels that took simple characters out of their dull lives and added sparkle to their journeys. To him, writing was a fine art and his words are a compliment to the practitioners of the craft. In his memoir, Pack My Bag, he described prose in this way:
    Prose is not to be read aloud but to oneself alone at night, and it is not quick as poetry but rather a gathering web of insinuations which go further than names however shared can ever go. Prose should be a long intimacy between strangers with no direct appeal to what both may have known. It should slowly appeal to feelings unexpressed, it should in the end draw tears out of the stone . . . 


    Tuesday, February 11

    Disconnect by Nico

    Internetul ne usureaza munca, ne distreaza, ne ridica si ne face mai eficienti, mai omniprezenti, mai mari si mai dezvoltati...dar are limitele sale, in mainile si posesia cuiva ''pus pe fapte si fara ocupatie'' devine himera pentru neinitiati si creduli si plasa de peste pentru oameni cu probleme sociale, psihopati, infractori... Ce am realizat urmarind acest film? Nu este un film care sa te ia pe sus, care sa te binedispuna, care sa te incarce cu energie pozitiva. Este, in schimb, un film care te pune pe ganduri... te face sa te gandesti mai mult si mai bine, daca sa accepti o prietenie de la o persoana necunoscuta sau aproape necunoscuta, pe facebook, daca sa accepti sa vorbesti pe chat -oricare ar fi acela- cu cineva care aparent are acelasi interes sau hobby cu al tau, daca sa dai datele tale unui site de shopping. Te face sa te gandesti daca divertismentul se gaseste doar via Internet, sau daca refularile tale isi au oglindire si rezolvare in discutia cu o persoana necunoscuta de pe internet. Uneori ai norocul sa intalnesti persoane remarcabile, de calitate, inspirationale, alteori ai ghinionul de a ''intalni''' capcane, persoane puse pe aflat ceva sau ce te abordeaza strict cu un interes- material sau divertismet pentru ele... avem exemple date in film... adolescent ce cade in capcana unor alti colegi pusi pe sotii, devenind victima scolii, a gloatei pusa pe aratat cu degetul, bucurandu-se de raul altuia...divertismentul lor, al retelelor de socializare. Mama indurerata ce isi refuleaza problemele conjugale in discutiile cu o alta persoana tot cu probleme de aceeasi natura, dar ambii devenind fara sa stie, victimele unor hackeri pusi pe obtinut bani din tastatura si un al treilea caz, videochat-urile ce isi castiga veniturile exploatand placerile internautilor, frustratilor si celor ce vor ceva nou. Vedem cum oameni singuratici, oameni ce la un moment sau altul al vietii dau dovada de o slabiciune, devin victimele si- sau mijlocul de distractie al altora. Vedem cum dorind sa gaseasca o rezolvare sau sa descarce o stare negativa, devin victime...pentru ca au lasat garda jos, pentru ca s-au expus, s-au transformat in vulnerabili, au vrut sa fie intelesi, au vrut sa isi dovedeasca faptul ca au un loc al lor, ca eventual lucrurile vor reveni la un normal obiectiv, fara sa arate slabiciunea lor in realitatea ce ii inconjoara...

    Mi s-a spus ca sunt prea sperioasa si ca exagerez in ceea ce priveste socializarile pe Facebook...sincer? Nu mai cred asta.... Nu ma imprietenesc de dragul de a-mi creste numarul de asa zisi prieteni pe facebook, nu vreau sa fiu o bifa in lista nimanui, nu vreau sa fiu acolo doar pentru ca da bine, pentru ca arat dragut in poze si pentru ca as vrea aprecierile gloatei necunoscute. nu! acele aprecieri de la necunoscutii internetului nu sunt reale decat daca sunt folosite din start in mod de comunicare comerciala si pentru un PR. NU! Eu vreau sa fiu acolo pentru ca avem ceva in comun, pentru ca te cunosc in realitate si pentru ca atunci cand ma vezi imi spui mai mult decat '' buna'' si treci mai departe, vreau sa contez, pentru ca ceea ce vezi pe pagina mea, sunt eu, o persoana care are sentimente si care are trairi si tot ce este aici, din punctul meu de vedere este ''EU'' , ESTE PERSONALITATEA MEA. De aceea nici nu voi expune tot ceea ce sunt, aici este un loc de amuzament, distractie si schimb de idei. O prietenie pe facebook se castiga treptat, prin discutii, prin idei...dar pentru asta ai nevoie de o viata personala care sa nu depinda de relationarile de acest tip... Uitati-va la acest film fara asteptari, este un film care te surprinde prin putere, ca apa... sapa incet, in timp, dar lasa urme si aveti grija ce si cu cine vorbiti...it may be friend or a foe... Realitatea nu va putea fi inlocuita cu un ecran vorbitor si multi, foarte multi oameni capata curaj si se transforma intr-un mod neasteptat in spatele unor ecrane de calculatoare, stiind ca sunt acasa, in siguranta, fara a putea fi trasi la raspundere sau confruntati cu o situatie verbalizata....putand foarte usor sa se deconecteze de la acea conversatie, fara remuscari si fara sa le pese ce crede sau ce simte cel de capatul transmisiei informationale... Internetul este prieten si dusman, este inaltare si distrugere... este doar alegerea fiecaruia ce va fi...


    Thursday, February 6


    The last part of the Yusuf  Trilogy, Bal/Honey closes the circle by running in reverse chronological order from maturity to childhood, from Egg to Milk, from fulfilment to loss. Semih Kaplanoğlu, the director, has never admitted that there is a connection among the three movies, yet never denied its semi-autobiographical influence. Nevertheless, there is a familiar touch in the way the movie unravels, a softness that feels too intense to pass. Bal recreates a dying paradise that breathes its last days of beauty under the ruthless wing of life itself. Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2010 and Turkey’s entry for best foreign-language film at the 2011 Oscars, Bal is a quest of the self in the deep mountain forests of the Rize Province, near the Black Sea. Nature is celebrated in a stunning display of woods, rivers, animals, birds, insects, flowers, a universe that feels alive, pulsating in an organic rhythm.
    Yakup (Erdal Besikcioglu), father, husband and beekeeper, suspends his hives on the high branches of the trees and dangerously climbs the frightening heights to tend to the welfare of the bees. Still, the advent of civilization with its plagues breaks the balance and the bees either die or flee their hives. The father is forced to travel longer distances to keep the bees alive and happy, yet this leaves his young son, Yusuf (Bora Altas), a schoolboy with a stammer, at a loss. Yusuf feels the father is the only one who can understand his shyness and struggle with words. Whispering and drinking milk become their secrets whereas the mother, Zehra (Tulin Ozen), is left aside, a reassuring, warm presence that hasn't reached to the boy's sensitivity yet. At school, Yusuf''s inability to communicate and the other children's mockery keep him to himself and on his own; yet listening to a girl's poem reading moves his little heart and gives him courage. Other than his father, the boys has no friends yet his muteness has grown into the ability to see the hidden beauty of both things and people. Nature makes him feel at ease and it is n the woods that he takes refuge when the news of his dead father ruins the unshared happiness of the reward badge from the teacher.

    The story is no novelty, the incredible performances do not come as a surprise, yet there is so much aliveness in the still nature, in the calmness that shrouds the entire movie, in the director's contemplative manner of allowing to camera to linger on every leaf, on every tiny noise, giving shape and heart to nature itself. Bal captures the inner beauty of the world and its mysteries in a remarkable manner that softens the viewer's heart. The lack of dialogue, the still life interior arrangements that feel so Juan Cotán, hanging by invisible strings add up to the peacefulness of the story, rendering tragedy into stillness. Life happens when you are taken aback by its beauty, when you stop to breathe in its mysteries and marvel at its plenitude; its ruthless grip never fails to harm you. And when it strikes you, there is no turning back to paradise, loss becomes real and childhood comes to an end.

    It takes time and patience to deconstruct a character, to unmake him from middle age to childhood, highlighting those essential moments that shaped him into the person he is. It takes great talent and a certain acceptance of the self to paint a life in images. From adulthood to childhood, crossing the trilogy, the viewer is allowed to relieve in Yusuf's eyes the experiences that build him into a strong man. In Semih Kaplanoğlu's movie details hold the greatest importance, little pieces of an intricate, lively puzzle that aims at capturing the hidden memory of things, of time itself. Yusuf feels like living inside a giant maze that takes him on an amazing journey leaving the audiences wonder what will become of the boy who managed to get under your skin with his soft movements, big, intelligent eyes and unspoken emotions. Like honey, life is hard to grasp, yet the victory feels sweet and rewarding; so there is promise in Yusuf's loss of innocence.